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The War: Companion Guide for the PBS Documentary Film Series

Episode Six: The Ghost Front

Photograph shows the Fifth Marine Division cemetery where some of the 4,189 U.S. Marines killed during the battle of Iwo Jima are buried. Also, an American flag at half-mast in tribute to the late President Roosevelt, and Mount Suribachi are in the background.
Murray Befeler, photographer. The price of Iwo Jima. 1945. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

December 1944 - March 1945

The Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s final major offensive of the war, began in December 1944 in Belgium’s Ardennes Forest. It not only slowed down the Allies’ drive to the Rhine River; the winter weather, the coldest in Europe in decades, took a huge toll on troops on both sides.

The Pacific Theater’s most dramatic moment came during the battle to take Iwo Jima, when U.S. forces raised the American flag on Mount Surabachi, the island’s volcanic peak that was a honeycomb of Japanese defensive bunkers and tunnels.

Battle of the Bulge

Image for Margaret Henry Fleming

"How did I feel through all of this? Scared to death, naturally..."

Margaret Henry Fleming's story

Image of William A. Foley, Jr.

"I was moved to give him the drawing. I tried to rescue it from his body some months later."

William A. Foley, Jr.'s story

Leon Kent's story

"'...We will be back with reinforcements.' Not exactly words to warm the cockles of our hearts."

Leon E. Kent's story

James H. Langford's story

"We moved past the prisoner cage and saw six to eight German prisoners there."

James H. Langford's story

Joseph Shimko's story

"We didn't know actually what was going on; all we knew was that the Germans were attacking."

Joseph Shimko's story

Guy Martin Stephens' story

"You hate to lose. I mean, you hate to say, 'I give up and I surrender.' But it was a real relief..."

Guy Martin Stephens' story

Iwo Jima

Image for William Brooks Allen

"When they fire those phosphorous shells there at night, you could hear the screamin'."

William B. Allen 's story

Image of Kenneth Earl Bramlett

"...The first few times I wasn't scared, but this time [on Iwo Jima] I was really scared."

Kenneth E. Bramlett's story

Gilmon Brooks' story

"I'm thinking, This must the end; the island must be secure."

Gilmon Brooks' story

Image of John L Cockburn

"I was glad I was there for the history of it, same for Pearl Harbor."

John L. Cockburn's story

Image of Hoyt B. Condra

"I told a buddy sitting beside me, 'My God, they're killing them all.'"

Hoyt B. Condra's story

Image of William J. Dolan

"There was little use for a dentist on the battlefield."

William J. Dolan's story

Image of Jesse Gibbbs

"Somebody whispered to me, 'You know what you're holding in your hand? A land mine.'..."

Jesse Gibbs' story

Image of Herb L. Hammond

"You can't see 360 degrees, and every crack and every crevice is potentially an enemy."

Herb L. Hammond's story