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World on Fire | Season 2 | Episode 2 | PBS

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♪ ♪ Hello, Mother.

HARRY: I have brought my wife to a place of safety.

Yes, along with the child you fathered out of wedlock and a refugee.

Scum of the earth, we’re letting into this country.

Scum of the earth has been saving your country!

DAVID: It’s payback time.

LOIS: I’m an ambulance driver.

I was trying to do my bit.

BRIGGS: Consider yourself a single unit.

RAJIB: How are we doing, Sergeant?

I have no choice but to fight for my country.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (Morse code beeping) ♪ ♪ (wind whipping) ♪ ♪ (engines rumbling) (truck clattering) (men chattering indistinctly) (men chattering, laughing) You took your time– last man out of Dunkirk, was you?

It’s good to see you, sergeant.

Lads, Lieutenant Chase has decided to join us.

All right, sir.

War’ll be over in six weeks!

It’s good to see you, Joe.

You too, sir.

JOE: This is George, sir.



Welcome to hell, sir.

(sizzling) Well, if the sand doesn’t get in your ass crack, then the flies will get in your wedding tackle.

That’s how we lost our last officer.

Septic foreskin– nasty.

Not seen much action yet, but maybe the Italians were just waiting for you to arrive, sir.

That’s Rajib.

In charge of the Sappers.

Same rank as you but more convincing.

Bit full of himself, but…

I’d be full of myself if I’d singlehandedly blew a hole in a mountain so the Scots Guards could get through and chase the enemy.

(plane roars close overhead) Every afternoon, the Italians fly over just to show us they know where we are.

They never attack, sir.

But I think you kept your dignity, that’s the main thing.

(muted) off, Sergeant.

How’s that Polish wife of yours?

You ever see her again, or did you go home and make it up with the one you got up the duff?

My wife, Kasia, is safe.

She’s in England, living with my mother.

I thought you said she was safe.

♪ ♪ (birds chirping) JAN: That is the thing about Gandalf.

He has tricked Bilbo Baggins into having a party for the Dwarves.

ROBINA: You say he forced Bilbo to host a party with no notice and then recruited him to undertake an arduous journey?

That is what is good about the story.

Bilbo decides to do it.

I need to read more now.

♪ ♪ Once your court case is over, perhaps he’ll relax more.

You have Jan here.

You have Grzegorz here.

You need to shape up.

I cannot hide what is inside me.

Oh, of course you can.

You aren’t the first woman who’s been compelled by circumstance to hide their anger.

Every rock bun at the Women’s Institute bears testimony to a woman’s rage.

(glass slams on table) (Vera babbling) (bird crowing) ♪ ♪ Next leave I get, we’ll get a stonemason to put Dad’s name on under Mum’s.

Josie Bennett and Douglas Bennett.

Second billing.

It’s what he’d have wanted.

(tress rustling in breeze) There you are, Dad.

Happy now?

Pacifist proves his point by getting killed by Hitler.


I’ve got to go.

Me too.

I’ve got a date with a battleship.

I mean, I’ve got to get away.

From here.

No, you can’t do that, Lois.

You’re all I’ve got.

We’re all we’ve got now.

I wanted to die.

In that house.

When it started coming down, I didn’t run.

I waited.

I just wanted it to kill me.

(bird crowing) (train clattering) ♪ ♪ (door closes) (people talking in background) NURSE (speaking French): HENRIETTE (speaking French): (door slams open) ♪ ♪ MÖLLER: SOLDIER (speaking German): (groaning) PATIENT: No!

(speaking French): (breathing heavily) ♪ ♪ (door closes) NURSE (speaking French): SOLDIER (speaking German): (indistinct chatter) (whispering in French): (winces, groans) LUC (speaking French): (sighs) HENRIETTE: LUC: HENRIETTE: LUC: HENRIETTE: (phone ringing) LUC: HENRIETTE: (playing Chopin’s Nocturne No.

9) GORDON: The second man we’ve lost this week.

To Jack.

He was a fine pilot.

(gun firing, bullets clanging) Well, he was okay.

That was in poor taste.

DAVID: Was it, Stephen?


He was a fine pilot.

(playing Chopin’s Nocturne No.

9) (people talking in background) HENRIETTE: (indistinct shouting) LUC: SOLDIER (speaking German): HENRIETTE: LUC: HENRIETTE: LUC: HENRIETTE: (door rattling) SOLDIER (speaking German): (knocks on door) (knocking continues) (door rattling) (knocking) (door rattling, bell ringing) (door rattling) SOLDIER: LEUTMANN: SOLDIER: (footsteps departing) ♪ ♪ HENRIETTE: LUC: HENRIETTE: Luc… (yelps) SOLDIER (speaking German): HENRIETTE (softly): SOLDIER: (guns cocking) LUC (speaking French): (door opens) David, all the pilots we’ve lost and all you can do it joke about it.

Can you think of a better response?

I think we’ve both lost enough mates to stop treating death like one big joke, don’t you?

I think I’ve lost enough mates to know it is one big joke.

I worry how it effects a chap if he can’t show any sorrow.

And the morale of the others.

I didn’t say I wasn’t sorry.

The laughter isn’t hiding my feelings, sir.

It is my feelings.

Perhaps it’s a Jewish thing.

Well, if you can’t laugh about half the world hating you, what can you laugh about?

(sighs) HARRY: Last time most of us were engaging the enemy, we were retreating.

Getting out of Dunkirk to save our own skins.

Today is different, because today we’re on the front foot.

We move to position one, secure Bardis, and clear the way for the next regiment.

Rajib and the Sappers will make sure we don’t get blown up along the way.

Eh, we’ll try to make sure.

We lay minefields east and west to limit the enemy’s escape route.

What if the Italians fly over, sir?

You lie very still, hold your balls, and pray.

(soldiers chuckling) Just like any other night, then.

HARRY: It’s imperative that we go undiscovered– if Operation Compass fails, we lose the eastern Mediterranean and the Suez Canal.

And if we fail, the Nazis cut off our oil supply and they have Europe secure in their grasp.

We lose North Africa to the Nazis, we lose Europe, too.

We lose our oil supply, we lose the war.

So British forces will drive the Italians out of Egypt, and after that, we drive the Nazis out of Europe.

Yes, come on!

(men cheering) MAN: First drinks are on Sarge.

RAJIB: Nice speech.


You fought the Italians elsewhere?


The Italian soldiers didn’t want to be there.

In fairness my men didn’t much want to be there either, but it’s amazing what you can get the lower classes to do for three square meals and a little bit of money to send home, hey?

(exhales) What about you?

Where have you fought?

Northern France, Dunkirk, home.

Home was the bloodiest.

(chuckles) Okay, well, I’m sorry to tell you that my boys are such a good unit, you’ll be going home again in no time.

And maybe we all will.

(footsteps approaching) FRAU KUHNE (speaking German): MARGA (speaking German): FRAU KUHNE: GERTHA: MARGA: GERTHA: GERTHA: MARGA: GERTHA: MARGA: GERTHA: MARGA: GERTHA: MARGA: (footsteps departing) (Vera crying) Hello.

Sorry I’m so early.

Joyce isn’t here yet.

But I am, so…

Thank you.

If you don’t mind.

You look exhausted.

Do you have time to sit for a while?

(cooing) I feel as though my life is happening to somebody else.

That’s how it is.

When the Germans killed my mother.

That’s a good way of saying how grief is.

I don’t think it’s grief.

I wish it was.

But I know what grief feels like and this isn’t it.

(Vera babbling) She’s very beautiful.

Your baby.

Thank you.

It must be hard for you, on your own.

It is.


But you wouldn’t be without her?

I mean, after your loss, at least you have something to live for.

People say that, don’t they?

And I agree with them when they do.

But, inside…

I would be without her tomorrow.

I don’t think you mean that.

I do.

(Vera cooing) What will you do?

Now that you’re here?

The same as you– find a way to get away.

How do you know that’s what I want?

Because you are so keen to tell me you can’t grieve your father.

And that you have no love for your baby.

It is as though if you say it often enough, you will believe it yourself, and if you believe it, then you can forgive yourself for getting out.

Do you think it’s unforgivable if I go?

You may never forgive yourself.

But I’m not telling you not to go.

I’m warning you what you will have to be strong enough to live with.

♪ ♪ GEORGE: What are you looking so happy about?

Best have a change of scene, eh?

Change of scene, you’re joking me.

We’re driving ten miles to more sand that looks just like the sand where we came from.

This is gonna be Italian-occupied sand.

Oh great.

Sand with added Italian machine gun fire.

We’re digging in half a mile from their base.

Sitting ducks.

The sergeant said he’s gonna find Germans.

The Italians can’t shoot, Nothing to worry about.

(bullets firing) (bullets whizzing) I thought you said they weren’t good shots, sarge!

They missed you, didn’t they?

(gunfire, men shouting) ISHWAR (speaking Hindi): (bullets firing) If we take out the machine gunner, they’re not gonna hang around with light arms.

HARRY: We’ve got 50 seconds between reloads.

HARRY: They’re reloading– blow it!

(fuse hissing) (clanging) Take cover!

(explosion) Now go, go!

Go, go, go, go, go, go!

(bullets firing) (bullet impacts) (machine gun firing) Grenade!

(explosion) (debris falling) (machine gun fire stops) STAN: Nice bowling, sir.

Bit of a suspect action but did the job.

Good-looking bastards, aren’t they?

I think you might have been in the desert too long, Stan.

(quiet chatter) They don’t seem to have much fight in them.

Mussolini wanted a fight.

Not them.

See if you can find anything useful in here.

I hear the Italians have good food, good wine.

♪ ♪ (doorbell ringing) (sighs) Mrs. Chase?

James Danemere.

I understand you’ve been expecting me.

I’m delighted to meet you.

Um… You were expecting me, weren’t you?

I hope this is the right house– it is Mrs. Chase, isn’t it?

I was told to expect you after Christmas.

That’s what the war office informed me.

Ah– oh!

(Vera crying) I, uh, I understood you’d already given shelter to a young Polish refugee– I was led to believe they were a tad older than… Ah, ah, no, no, no.

Jan, the young Polish refugee, is 12 years old.

That is my granddaughter you can hear.

I wasn’t entirely serious.

Terrible sense of humor, I’m afraid.

Spend too long surrounded by junior staff at the Civil Service who feel obliged to laugh at my awful jokes in the hope of impressing me.

(chuckles) Well, do come in.

Thank you.

A token of my thanks.

Thank you.

Flowers are so hard to find these days.

Well, I probably should have brought two cabbages and a cauliflower but I think we should grab the small luxuries while we can.


Joyce, could you find a vase for these, please?

And show Sir James to his room.

Oh, I just need directions, not an escort, thank you.

I was in the RAF in the Great War, so navigation is one of my few strong points.

Of course.

Ah… Well, it’s upstairs to the right, follow the corridor.

(sighs) I have to say, I have no idea what the protocol or social form is for this situation.

(chuckles) Thank the Lord for that, neither do I.

But if I can reassure you I shall be mostly absent, and when I am here, I will endeavor not to disturb the peace.

Oh, I shouldn’t worry about that.

Peace is in rather short supply, I’m afraid.

I can’t imagine either of us thought our lives would take such a turn, and yet here we are.

Up the stairs and to the left, you said?

Oh, to the… Oh now, is dinner a formal affair?

Or am I to eat in my room like a traveling salesman with a guilty conscience?

Ah, I really had no indication that dining was to be involved.

I’m teasing you, Robina.

I daresay you shall get used to that.

I doubt that very much.

♪ ♪ (dogs barking, men talking) (indistinct chatter) Monsieur.

(dog barking) ALBERT (speaking French): HENRIETTE: ALBERT (softly): HENRIETTE: ALBERT: HENRIETTE: ALBERT: HENRIETTE: (footsteps approaching) ALBERT: GERTHA: MARGA: GERTHA: MARGA: GERTHA: (door opens) MARGA: GERTHA: (Gertha crying) ♪ ♪ Like Aladdin’s cave.

Do you ever wonder if we might be fighting on the wrong side, sir?

GEORGE: It’s an old wound, sir.

It’s already septic.

Barbed wire just took the top off.

I’ve done what I can, but you need to look after it.

All right.

Thank you, George.

This sword’s gonna come in handy.

(makes popping sounds) OFFICER: Lieutenant!

Better come take a look!

Sandstorm’s coming!

Looks like a belter!

STAN: God, no wonder they surrendered.

If your life’s this good, you’re not gonna want it to end, are you?

(wind blowing) (Lange sighs) LANGE (speaking German): GERTHA: LANGE: GERTHA: LANGE: GERTHA: LANGE: GERTHA: LANGE: GERTHA: LANGE: GERTHA: LANGE: (crying) (“In the Shade of the New Apple Tree” playing) Is this the wild time you promised me?

Well, it’s early.

You are not like the Jewish guys back in Warsaw, you know?

‘Cause, um, they were all married off by the time they were your age.

You sound like my granddad.

“Why can’t you find a nice Jewish girl to marry?”


Uh, David, this is my friend, Lois.

Uh, Lois, this is David.

I’ll get you a drink.

Just, uh, sit down, please.

So, Grzegorz said you were the singer.

LOIS: Not done much singing lately.

My dad died.

Went a bit mad, and now they worry if they give me a microphone, I’ll just stand there crying.


Sorry about your dad.

So, you gonna proposition me now or wait until you got a drink in you?


What line are you gonna use?

We might be dead tomorrow, so we may as well have some fun?

(chuckles) I’ve got better lines than that.

Word to the wise, mate, don’t use them on me.

I’m bad luck.

I don’t believe that.

My mum died when I was ten.

My house just got bombed.

The love of my life got me pregnant but married someone else.

My dad died.

Oh, and the last pilot to ask me to marry him got killed in the Battle of Britain.

Maybe I’m the good luck you’ve been waiting for.


GRZEGORZ: Here you are.

That’s for you, that’s for you.

(laughter, chatter in background) CONNIE: Hello again, folks.

Hope you enjoyed the interval.

(audience member wolf whistles) (light snoring) These are good.

They help your eyes adjust to night flying.

I didn’t think they were for fashion.

(chuckles) Pirates wore eye patches for the same reason.

I see myself pretty much as a, an air pirate.

(laughs) So is this what you had in mind?

Very much so.

How long has Lois been so… Unpredictable?


But this bad?

That’s since her dad died.

No wonder she wants to run away.

She told you about that, did she?

Seems like a good idea.

She’s got a baby.

It’ll be looked after.

Babies do survive that kind of thing, you know.

Speaks the expert.

Speaks one of those babies.

My grandparents raised me.

And look at me.

More or less perfect.

More or less.

(chuckles) (clock ticking) (footsteps) (door opens in the hallway) (footsteps) (clattering) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (muffled voice talking) JAMES: Now, please understand there must be no further contact.


(distorted radio static) Drops weekly.

Same place.


(wind gusting) STAN: Sandstorm isn’t passing anytime soon, lads, so get bedded down till it does.

(Joe sighs) How do you spell “irresistible”?

Writing to your sister?

My sweetheart.

In case I don’t see her again.

Mate, we’ll be fine.

That thing I said.

You know, about us sitting ducks and all that, take no notice.

I’m just a moaning bugger, okay?


Stick with me.

My looks, your brains, we’ll be just fine.

(lightly grunts) You got some spare paper?

If we’re gonna be just fine, then why do you want to write a letter?

Not that kind of paper.

I mean bog roll.

I’ve already used my three sheets.

(both chuckle) (wind blowing) (grunting) (grunting and coughing) (breathing heavily) (coughing) (wind whipping) (men speaking in background, dogs barking) (people speaking French) ALBERT: HENRIETTE: ALBERT: HENRIETTE: ALBERT: HENRIETTE: ALBERT: HENRIETTE: ALBERT: HENRIETTE: ♪ ♪ (footsteps approach) LANGE: GERTHA: TRUTZ: Jan?

Sir James?

I hear you play chess.

(“Beautiful Dreamer” playing on the radio) Uh-huh.

You’ve been well taught, Jan.

But you need to be more deceptive.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to expose one flank as open to attack, in order to trick your opponent into thinking you’re more vulnerable than you actually are.

And then you spring the trap from the other flank.

You win by deceit.

I win by guile.

That may or may not involve deceit.

I do hope you aren’t encouraging Jan in bad habits, Sir James.

Oh, undoubtedly.

But he’s a very fine player without my help.

Jan was telling me about your, uh, daughter-in-law and her unfortunate altercation in a tea room?

Was he?

Well, “unfortunate” is a very good description.

Well, if there’s anything I can do.

Not really.

It’s a legal matter.

And embarrassing.

Well, as luck would have it, I specialize in both legal matters and embarrassment.

If you want to take me into your confidence, I may be able to help.

(clicks tongue) Ah…


♪ ♪ (children playing in the background) ♪ ♪ (men chattering) STAN: Never thought I’d want to see the sun and the flies again, but anything’s got to be better than that (muted) sandstorm.


(chuckles) Are we in Egypt or Libya now, sir?

Uh, Egypt.


Well, ’cause if I cop it, I’d like to know where.

(sardonic chuckle) Two minutes!

STAN: Right then!

You heard the Lieutenant!

Let’s go!

Move it!

Move it!

Two minutes, lads!

You all know what you’re doing!

We’re infantry.

We do the hard bit.

Joe’s not here, Sarge.


What do you mean?

Where’s he gone?


He went for a dump in the night.

I thought he’d come back.

He must have lost his way in the sandstorm.

How long’s he been missing?

I don’t know, sir.

Could be six hours or more.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (breathing heavily) ♪ ♪ (sighs) ♪ ♪ (wind blowing) ♪ ♪ Cairo, you say?

LOIS: Yes.

It’s in Egypt.

Yes, I– I’m aware of the geography.

That is not what I’m puzzled by.

There’s an ATS ambulance service out there.

If your father were alive, if Douglas was still here, what do you suppose he’d say?

He’d have said “Don’t go.”

And I wouldn’t have paid a blind bit of notice.

I just know I need to do my bit.

And looking after your daughter and keeping her safe is not “doing your bit”?


It isn’t.

I wish it was, but it really isn’t.

You do realize that what you’re doing is quite unnatural?

If I stay here, then I will die.

Would that be natural enough for you?

We’re at war.

We all might die.

I don’t mean like that.

It will destroy me.

It is destroying me.

(exhales) I admire your honesty, if not your judgement.

I know of many mothers who may have wished to do what you’re proposing, but you’re the only one I’ve met who seems intent on going through with it.

I was the only kid in the street with a dad who was a Conchie.

So, being the only one is not a problem for me.

I assume the reason you’re sharing this news with me is because you expect me to take on the full-time care of Vera.

Well, you and Joyce.


Of your son’s child.

(loudly): Yes, I’m aware that she’s my son’s child.

Thank you, Lois.

(sighs) I’m sorry.

But yes.

Not forever.

And why should I help you?

Because… you know what it’s like not to have maternal feelings.

(laughs) Pointing out my shortcomings seems a curious way to curry favor with me.

No, I didn’t mean to insult you.

I was just– I was just trying to make you understand.

Well, I do understand.

I just don’t approve.

But then, I’m sure my disapproval is neither here nor there to you.

(people talking in background) ALBERT: LUC ALBERT: LUC: (people arguing) LUC: ALBERT: LUC: ALBERT: ♪ ♪ (people talking in background) Ah!

Kasia, he’s here!

Oh, Sir James.

We are forever in your debt.

Isn’t that so, Kasia?


Thank you.

How did you do it?

Well, my solicitor said that someone had spoken to the police, somebody with considerable influence.

So, thank you.

Oh, it’s– it was my absolute pleasure.

Uh, the man sounded like a pompous ass anyway.


Not guile and deceit?

Kasia is delighted.

Isn’t that so, Kasia?

She just finds it a little difficult to show it.

Isn’t that what you told Jan?

That guile and deceit might be the way to win?

I did.

And it speaks well of him that he can quote me exactly.

I hope you don’t think that I’ve, uh, corrupted him.

I wouldn’t want to muddy his grasp of right and wrong.

It would take more than a stranger beating him at chess to corrupt him.


But thank you for helping me.

I do appreciate it.



I’m just happy to be of use.


(laughing) Thank you.

♪ ♪ RAJIB: Have you written the letter?

Died in battle.

Taking on the enemy.

Usual comforting lie.

It’s not a lie though, is it?

The desert is the enemy.

Worst enemy I’ve ever faced.

Well, here’s to comforting lies.

Hey, Rajib?

RAJIB: To comforting lies.

♪ ♪ ROBINA: I really didn’t think I would have a tree this year.

Yes, it was just standing in the churchyard.

I’m sure nobody will miss it.

I take it that’s your sense of humor again.

Guilty as charged.

(chuckles) No, it was in the office.

There was nobody there.

It seemed a shame not to commandeer it, for morale-boosting purposes.

Do I seem in need of morale boosting?

I’m hardly the person to talk to about babies.

Um, it’s not really my field of expertise.

Um, but… (sighs) in the end, the little mite is your grandchild.

I know.

I know.

But if I say I will have Vera, then I feel like I’m… colluding with her flit.

And if you don’t?

Well, I rather fear she’ll find somebody else to look after the baby and go anyway.

Well, it is Christmas, I suppose.

I, I, I’m sorry.

I, I don’t understand the relevance.

Well, the season when babies are left at the, uh, mercy of a stranger’s kindness.

I think you’re thinking of Moses in the bulrushes.

Oh, yes.

(both laughing) It’s the wrong time of year.

Wrong country, too.


And Old Testament.

(chuckles) And Old Testament.


Well, I, I haven’t known you very long, Robina, but, um, it strikes me you really don’t have a choice.

Besides which, you have a, a ready-made mother in waiting.

Is there?

Well, Kasia, your son’s wife.

I mean, it’s his baby.

She’s stuck here with nothing to do.

Surely with a little gentle persuasion, she’d help.


♪ ♪ It’s Christmas Eve.

(airplane engine whirring) (communication radio static) MAN (over radio): Enemy planes spotted bearing 15 miles out 60 degrees.


Okay, children.

We’re in business.

David, you’re with me.

What, they sent bombers to Manchester?

At Hanukkah.

I take this very personally, indeed.

MAN: Off we go, lads!

(air raid siren wailing) CONNIE: Hi, Doris.

(engine starts) ♪ ♪ (bombs rumbling in the distance, objects clattering) STEPHEN (on radio): David, enemy sighted.

Heinkel ahead.

Can’t see cover.

DAVID (on radio): Viper going in.

(engine roaring) Stephen, he’s in my sights!

STEPHEN (on radio): Take him.

(gun firing) (plane engine swoops by) DAVID (on radio): Heinkel hit.

She’s down.


STEPHEN (on radio): I’m hit.

I’m hit.

(plane engine buzzing) DAVID (on radio): Eject!



(plane explodes) (breathing heavily) (baby crying) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Welcome to the British Indian army.

PEARL: There’s wounded coming in from Libya.

DAVID: Every time I survive, they give me a more dangerous job.

ROBINA: It was nothing to do with choice, or love, for that matter.

KASIA: You’re either military intelligence, or you’re a spy.

You’re not a spy.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ANNOUNCER: Visit our website for videos, newsletters, podcasts and more.

And join us on social media.

To order this program, visit ShopPBS.

“Masterpiece” is available with PBS Passport and on Amazon Prime Video.

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