The University of Texas at Austin
  • Filmmakers get knighted for WWII documentary

    By News Administrator
    Published: Nov. 1, 2007

    Growing up, Grosvenor heard bits and pieces of his father’s war stories, but it wasn’t until 1998 when he got a copy of a recording of an interview Bill did with a friend that he was able to hear the entire account. What Grosvenor heard blew him away.

    “I heard bits and pieces of it growing up but it seemed like another world, it didn’t quite register,” Grosvenor said “Listening to the cassette was the first time I had heard it in one continuous story. I was stunned.”

    He immediately played it for Kelly.

    “We looked at each other and said ‘we’ve got to make a film,’” Grosvenor said

    The documentary shows how the selfless acts of Bill’s rescuers helped him stay ahead of the Gestapo for seven months in 1943 and 1944 after his plane crashed until his “eventual arrest and incarceration in a brutal Nazi prison in Brussels.”

    Revisiting the prison was a defining moment in the film and for Bill, Grosvenor said.

    “We knew there was a possibility that he would freeze up and not talk but he didn’t and really faced up to a dark time in his life,” Grosvenor said. “He blew out the cobwebs and put a lot of emotions to rest that he had inside.”

    Another key moment was locating and excavating Bill’s plane. Grosvenor said the Belgian Aviation Historical Association had tried for years to get access to the plane, located on private property, with no luck. The landowner finally relented, giving filmmakers the opportunity to gather some of their earliest footage in Belgium.

    “Dad was like a kid in candy store,” Grosvenor said.. “He brought back his seat belt because it was the last thing he touched before he bailed out.”

    The plane’s engine, radio, oxygen tanks and other items are displayed in a museum in Belgium.

    Interviews with Bill’s rescuers and Resistance fighters are also a focal point of the documentary.

    Kelly said the number of people involved in Bill’s story they we were able to track down and interview was surprising.

    “When we started talking about the project in the summer of 2000,” she said, “David and I never dreamed of the scope of the story we were about to tell. We knew that Bill had crashed and was on the run for seven months before he was captured and imprisoned. That information and the remains of a dog-eared address book were really all we had. The longer we researched the story, the bigger it became.”

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