Hell in the Pacific is a History Documentary programme.


Hell in the Pacific

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 propelled the United States into World War II and marked the beginning of the war in the Pacific - a war fought in places that looked like paradise, and turned out to be hell. Hell in the Pacific is a compelling and provocative 4-part series telling the shocking story of the Second World War conflict in the East. It breaks down the traditional view of this conflict as a war between merciless Japanese and heroic Allies. On remote islands and in dense jungles both sides threw away the rule book in a descent into pitiless horror.Transmission coincides with the 60th anniversary this year of the bombing of Pearl Harbour and release of the blockbuster film of the same title.

Hell in the Pacific is the story of those who were there: the Japanese pilot who bombed Pearl Harbor; Allied captives forced to build the Thai-Burma railway; Marines who killed their Japanese prisoners; an Australian combat nurse who survived a mass execution; the pilot who dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima. Using rare colour and black and white footage and nearly one hundred eye-witnesses, the programmes reveal the extraordinary part both sides played in a conflict unparalleled in ferocity.

This was not just a war between the Japanese and American military. It was Britain's 'forgotten' war and a war in which many other countries - Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Burma and Singapore - played a part. It was also a war waged against civilians, leading ultimately to the world's only use of nuclear weapons.

This first of four episodes covers the early part of the war in the Pacific. One of the most bitter battle arenas of the Second World War, Pearl Harbour represented the trigger that led America into the greatest conflict ever and the eventual liberation of the people of Asia and the Pacific. On the 7th December 1941 Japan launched surprise attacks across the Pacific region, setting battleships ablaze in Pearl Harbour, then routing the British in Malaya and capturing Singapore itself: the greatest humiliation in British war history.

The Japanese now seemed unstoppable and after being at war with China for a decade and shocking the world with atrocities like the Nanking Massacre, they believed their destiny was to rule Asia under the Emperor, for them a living god.

Writer, producer and director Jonathan Lewis directed his first film at the age of twenty-three. His television credits include Before Hindsight, People's Century, Stalin, The Boer War and the filmed dramas The Treaty and The Plant. His many awards include an International Emmy for Best Documentary for Master Race.

Genre: History Documentary

Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)