The Second Battle Group plays a key role in "FURY"
July 2013 and the Second Battle Group is appearing at a large public show in Kent, England. We have nearly all of our massive vehicle, weaponry and kit display on show and the weather is scorching hot.
As the membership went about it's business on the display we were approached by an American gentleman named Owen Thornton. Owen explained to us that he was the associate producer for a Hollywood film that was being made which was to be called "FURY" and that the leading actor would be Brad Pitt. Owen had seen our website, been impressed watching the SBG during the arena re-enactments at the show and watching us demonstrating parades and drill for the public. He was also impressed not only with the amount of vehicles and equipment that we had but the fact that we used them correctly as the German Army would have done in combat in WWII.
We explained that the SBG had been established since 1978 and almost since that time we had been in constant touch with many Waffen-SS veterans as well as meeting many of them for the main purpose of learning correct WWII German Army parade drill and combat tactics. Therefore when a certain piece of equipment or weaponry is used the SBG transports it, deploys it and uses it as it would've been done by the German Army in WWII. Another bonus for the SBG is that one of our longer serving members and a seniour SBG NCO, Ian Sandford who eventually became the military & technical adviser to "FURY", is an ex Para who can read and speak fluent German. Over a number of years Ian had painstakingly translated many original German WWII training manuals into English (Flak gun and PaK 40, Half track, motorcycle deployment, and debussing from Half tracks etc. to name but a few) and then passed this knowledge onto the SBG membership.
Owen was impressed and immediately asked if we would supply members and material for use in the film. And who's going to say no to that!.
Originally much of the groups equipment was requested for use but "come the day" we only supplied the SBG's original 3 ton Opel Blitz and SBG member Gary Hurley's original PaK 40. Much of the other equipment used in the film had already been sourced, all of it original including the Pz.Kpfw Mk VI Tiger tank from Bovington Tank Museum.
The producer of "FURY" David Ayer specifically wanted a number of the best looking and best trained SBG members to integrate with the other extras portraying German troops and asked how the Waffen-SS would have acted in the situation that they were being used for in the film. Ian Sandford explained that the Waffen-SS at that period and at that location in the war would've consisted of an ad-hoc type unit containing some of the best trained and hardest fighting men in action during WWII, probably similar to the soldiers from the SS Brigade Westfalen. These combatants could consist of regular German troops and also European volunteers (originally joining the Waffen-SS to stop the rise of communism) and these troops were not only veterans of many theaters of war including the Russian front but were specialised in hit and run tactics. Often seemingly appearing from nowhere, smashing to pieces their targets and then disappearing as quickly as they appeared. However, other elements of such a Brigade could also consist of new recruits including young and inexperienced soldiers but led by seasoned veterans. This was taken on board by David Ayer who wanted to show true realism and to produce a film that showed just how hard the American GI's (and other allies of course) had to fight to produce a final victory. Too often Hollywood type films show the allies storming to victory after a half hearted attempt by the Germans to fight them. This films shows just how hard the Waffen-SS were and how the allies had to become even harder to overcome them.
Some 50 SBG members provided photos of themselves to the film set and approx. 30 SBG members were chosen to take part. Some members spent many weeks on site during the shoot and Ian Sandford spent 3 1/2 months on the film set. Not only did he oversee correct combat training but he also "Dressed" the Tiger for the film, oversaw the painting of the Pz.Kpfw IV, supplied many pieces for the film from his own personal collection, supplied the original photo that the Tiger commanders uniform was modeled on and trained all of the German Troop extras including the Hitler Youth extras in the correct use of WWII German Army weapons, marching and tactics. But it didn't end there as he also advised David Ayer on what German Army marching song to use and taught the extras how to sing the "Teufel Leid" in German whilst marching. The German uniforms used in the film, especially for the Waffen-SS, were some of the best ever produced for a Hollywood movie, no expense was spared. A diverse amount of Waffen-SS camouflage was utilised to portray the different types of units taking part as an ad-hoc unit. Of course, some "Theatrical License" had to be used to make the battle scenes viewable but as far a possible everything is correct.
"FURY" was the name of the M4A38E Sherman Tank commanded by Brad Pitt (Wardaddy).
The bulk of the filming for the SBG took place in the first week of November 2013 and involved constant night shoots. This was to film the last attack scene on the tank "FURY" itself which members of the SBG attack during a night time assault at a crossroads. We won't give anything away here in case readers of this page haven't seen the movie yet. The SBG were the only people given ‘practical’ weapons including MG42's and MP44's amongst other things. The nights were long, but some great scenes were filmed. The scenes we shot certainly looked superb and we’re hoping they're just as good on the finished item – assuming that they don’t end up on the cutting room floor!.
More Photos will be added over the coming weeks.