Not all heroes need special powers

I came across 2 documentaries, both presented by Jeremy Clarkson and anything that Mr. Clarkson usually presents, usually turns out hilariously well and is always a gem to watch. That and I always sucked in by a good documentary. Take for example, the afternoon I spent watching a documentary about the Colossal Squid …

The Victoria Cross : For Valour (2003)

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces.

Jeremy talks about it’s history, how it’s made and how it has become extremely hard to receive one since the award was created. It is primarily told through the life of Major Robert Cain and the story of his extreme bravery.

There is no other word to describe the Major other than heroic. The stories you hear of him, and indeed of other VC recipients throughout the documentary will leave you to question yourself … when faced with such a challenge as they have, what would you have done? Would you, as the Major did, having been seriously wounded, continually engage German tanks while armed with just a Piat?

What is even more admirable is the fact that these VC recipients prefer people do not know they’ve received one. They say it makes them uncomfortable to receive such an honor when all they did was do their duty. “Inspiring” just falls short in describing this piece of film.

The Greatest Raid of All Time

This documentary features the successful raid of the St. Nazaire dock, called Operation Chariot, in German-occupied France. The raid consisted of 622 men from the Royal Navy and Commandos, and of the 622, only 228 were able to return to England. 169 of the raid party died and the rest ended up as prisoners of war and were shipped to different German camps.

When the plan for the raid was revealed you can’t help but think it sounds something like out of a movie plot. A “suicide attempt” seems like a very apt description of it actually. Their mission was to ram and eventually blow up the Normandie dock gate; the dock being used by the Germans for repairs of any large ships like the Tirpitz, and was heavily guarded.

The film also discusses the choice of involving the Commandos rather than other British forces. It goes on to feature how they were trained, which has been adapted to how the forces are trained nowadays. How our perception of what kind of person becomes a commando will most likely be farther from what they were.

From start to finish, this documentary will awe you and is just full of valor and the only monument for this great mission is a small rock  in Cornwall.

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