A five-part documentary presented by Lieutenant-General Sir Leonard Thornton about Bernard Freyberg, Lieutenant General, 1st Baron Freyberg, VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO & Three Bars (21 March 1889 – 4 July 1963) who was a British-born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient, who served as the 7th Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 to 1952.
Lt. General Sir Leonard Thornton was the WRITER/PRESENTER of the series, the second television programme that Lt. General Sir Leonard Thornton had presented for Television New Zealand; the first being "Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story'.
The basic idea for the series on Freyberg came out of a concept Sir Leonard has long held for a series covering some of New Zealand's other military leaders throughout our history, including Maori and colonial leaders from the Land Wars such as Te Rauparaha and Von Tempsky.
Sir Leonard suggested the story of Freyberg to then Director-General Allan Martin after 'Gallipoli' had been finished, and once the idea got underway it became obvious who the presenter should be.
During the Second World War Sir Leonard became Freyberg's Chief of Staff and was therefore excellently placed to record the story of New Zealand's greatest soldier at war.
Call To Arms
At the turn of the century Bernard Freyberg was an average pupil at Wellington College. Yet within a few years he would be a national hero, and darling of Britain's smart set. This first episode traces Freyberg's astonishing rise to prominence.
Crisis of Command
When war erupted in 1939, New Zealand promised Britain she would send a complete army division to help in the struggle against the Nazis. Yet there were only 600 full-time Kiwi soldiers. Freyberg's task would be to raise the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force and lead it into battle - in Greece and on Crete.
After the twin disasters of Greece and Crete, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force regrouped in Egypt. Soon the Kiwis would be thrown into some of their most devastating battles, the desert campaign against Rommel's panzers. At times the fate of the whole division would hang in the balance.
Into the Mire
After their costly victory over Rommel in North Africa, the New Zealanders were moved to another front, in the rain and mud of Italy. Freyberg was placed in command of one of the most difficult operations of the war - the attempt to break through the German line at Cassino. His actions sparked an international controversy that has raged for nearly half a century.
After the fall of Rome, the spotlight shifted away from the war in Italy, but the New Zealanders still had more than a year of heavy fighting ahead of them, against some of the toughest troops in the world. Even when Germany surrendered, the Kiwis were still in danger. Now they faced an enormous force of communist partisans, and Freyberg's task would be to avoid sparking a new war between East and West.