Skip to Main Content

The War: Companion Guide for the PBS Documentary Film Series

Episode Two: When Things Get Tough

Photo of Pearl Harbor bombing
Assault wave, Salerno. Allied troops pour ashore at Salerno, wading through the surf under heavy machine gun and shell fire from hidden enemy positions back of the beaches. One of the landing craft is set aflame by an enemy shell. Another shell just misses an LCVP (landing craft, vehicle personnel) and sends up a plume of smoke and water. Between 1940 and 1946. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

January 1943 - December 1943

To liberate German-occupied Europe, the Allies started by invading Africa in November 1942, fighting the Germans in French Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. As the German and Italian armies retreated eastward, the Allies gained a launching pad for their invasion of Sicily and then Italy.

By September 1943, the U.S. Fifth Army had landed at Salerno, just south of Naples, and after initial heavy resistance, the Americans moved inland to join British forces.

Africa — Tunisia

Image of Isabelle V. Cedar Cook

"They invited all of the troops—American British, French—to march in full uniform."

Isabelle Cook's story

Image of Ralph B. DeForest

"Yesterday German planes bombed the rear command post hitting two fellows in headquarters company."

Ralph B. DeForest's story

Image of Edgar Norman Henry

"I avoided looking at the dead GI that I passed on the way to the slit trench."

Edgar Norman Henry's story

Image of George Scanlon

"And the Germans wired back, 'Do you realize you're gassing us?'"

George R. Scanlon's story

Monfrey H. Wilson's story

"There was rumor that we were going home but General Terry Allen made a speech..."

Monfrey H. Wilson's story


Italy — Sicily and Salerno

Image of Joseph Stephen Acsai

"I'm proud of one thing ... I didn't lose any lives."

Joseph Stephen Acsai's story

Image of George David Harris

"It's hard to work on a piece of equipment when you're being shot at."

George David Harris' story

Raymond E. Kellogg's story

"You're happy you're home, but you're sad for your brother and your friends that you left over there ..."

Raymond E. Kellogg's story

Image of Jarman G. Kennard

"On my 16th mission, May 11th, 1943, my luck almost ran out. Catania, Sicily, was the target."

Jarman G. Kennard's story

William Robinson Wilson's story

"...he said, ‘Lieutenant, we don't make mistakes.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, sir.’"

William Robinson Wilson's story