The Battle of San Pietro DVD c 2008 All Rights Reserved
These films have have digitally restored. See what that means.
* San Pietro (1944, 36:00, B&W) Exclusive edition!
Director John Huston's "San Pietro" was one of the most dramatic and controversial combat documentary films to come out of World War II. Almost alone, it portrayed dead and wounded American soldiers and civilians on the battlefield (though always with reverence) and unflinchingly revealed the face of War. It's release was delayed by the U S Army, who said it would be bad for morale and that it portrayed the controversial Italian Campaign in a bad light. (Commanding General Mark Clark, one of the most widely criticized US commanders, looks distinctly uncomfortable talking about the Battle in the film's introduction.) The Italian campaign was controversial because it's primary purpose was to draw German divisions away from France and relieve the pressure on the Soviets in Russia. That meant many months of heavy, costly fighting for the Allies slogging over mountainous Italian terrain that favored the enemy, with few tangible results, other than the opportunity to assault the next ridge. An ugly series of battles of attrition.
General George Marshall was the film's savior in 1945, saying, "This picture should be seen by every American soldier in training. It will not discourage but rather will prepare them for the initial shock of combat." The film was released as a training tool. Huston was redeemed, decorated and made an honorary major. The film was not seen by the public until after the war, with several graphic scenes edited out (Those scenes have been restored here.) In 1991, The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being, "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
In addition to engrossing combat footage, the film shows a series of maps that give an unusually through explanation of the ongoing tactical situation.
The Battle of San Pietro was fought from 8-17 December, 1943, with Fifth Army forces attacking from the south against the heavily defended German "Winter Line" in and around the town of San Pietro Infine, south of Monte Cassino, between Naples and Rome. The Germans held the high ground and poured fire down into the Liri valley on advancing, exposed, Allied troops. After four successive, costly Allied attacks and enemy counter-attacks, the Germans pulled back from San Pietro, once both flanks (Mount Lungo and the Sambucaro peaks) were in II Corps' possession. It took six weeks of heavy fighting -- from early November to late December--to overcome the Winter Line. Fifth Army sustained 16,000 casualties. By January the Fifth Army had reached the Gustav Line defenses and began the ferocious Battle of Monte Cassino.
When accused of making an "anti-war" film, the film's director, John Huston replied that if he ever made a "pro-war" film, he should be taken out and shot. Although a few short scenes were recreated on the battlefield, most of the action you see here was filmed under combat conditions by Huston and his gallant group of combat cameramen who repeatedly braved direct fire and heavy bombardment to preserve this unique record. They experienced the shock of war along side the troops they were filming, and saw what they saw, which no doubt led to the remarkable passion shown in this extraordinary film. Uplifting final scenes from the liberation of the town of San Pietro put into perspective why such a heavy price was paid.
* Rifle U.S. Caliber .30 M1: Principles of Operation (1943, 15:00)
The Battle of San Pietro, like most of the rest of the Italian Campaign, was fought over terrain that was best suited for the Infantry. The US Infantry's fabled rifle was the M1. Although the it has attained legendary status as the companion of the vast majority of US troops, it's truly revolutionary role is still not fully appreciated. Designed by the brilliant John C. Garand, the M1 was the first semi-automatic rifle issued en masse to the army of any nation. After ten years of rigorous competition against other designs, in 1936 it officially replaced the bolt-action Springfield M1903. Limited production followed, and significant refinements continued until the outbreak of war in Europe, when full production began in earnest.
The M1's semiautomatic operation and eight shot clip gave U S forces a significant advantage in firepower and response time over the enemy. German and Japanese soldiers were usually armed with slower acting, short clip, bolt-action rifles that required a significant interruption in sighting between shots when the bolt was worked, had to be reloaded more often, and had a slower rate of fire. The M1 would fire as fast as you could pull the trigger and the gas operated autoloader reduced recoil so a trooper could keep his cheek pressed to the stock, following a target without working a bolt. This allowed U.S. troops to pour out a considerably greater volume of accurate fire on target than an equivalent number of enemy troops. General George Patton called the M1 "the greatest implement of battle ever devised." The impact of the semiautomatic M1 on the battlefield was one of the chief inspirations for the next generation of assault rifles, and it proved an outstanding rifle throughout its service in World War II and the Korean War.
This World War II Army Signal Corps film takes you inside and out of the operation of John C. Garand's ingenious design.
* Rifle, Caliber .30, M1, M1C (Snipers) and M1D (Snipers) DS, GS, Depot Maintenance Manual Including Repair Parts and special tools lists. 76 pages in Adobe Acrobat .pdf file format. This is the M1rifle technical manual, including tools & equipment, inspection, maintenance, trouble shooting, overhaul, description & data and more. (M1 manual is viewable on a computer DVD player. Don't have a DVD player on your computer? We can put the manual on a separate CD-ROM.)(Click here for info,)