Band Of Brothers Filming Locations Explained
While the majority of the narrative in Band of Brothers primarily unfolds in mainland Europe, the majority of the filming actually took place elsewhere. This iconic ten-part miniseries, adapted from Stephen Ambrose’s bestselling non-fiction book of the same name, recounts the experiences of Easy Company, the 501st regiment of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division during World War 2. The series chronicles Easy Company’s journey from their training in Georgia in 1942 to their involvement in the European campaign, culminating in the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany.
Filming for the series spanned between eight to ten months, with the majority of it occurring in the home counties of England, which refers to the counties surrounding London. The British government extended a substantial tax incentive to Band of Brothers in exchange for shooting the series in England. This was similar to the deal struck by Steven Spielberg, one of the series’ co-producers, for filming his other war project, Saving Private Ryan, in England. Consequently, the presence of British actors in the Band of Brothers cast can be attributed to the UK production.
Although Easy Company’s actions take them through various European countries and multiple locations, the production itself rarely departed from the home counties.
Hatfield Aerodrome, a former British Aerospace factory situated in Hertfordshire, England, served as the primary filming location for the vast majority of Band of Brothers. Director Spielberg and producer Tom Hanks had previously utilized this location for parts of Saving Private Ryan. The expansive open field at Hatfield Aerodrome was transformed to represent twelve different European towns, including Bastogne in Belgium, Eindhoven in The Netherlands, and Carentan in France. To recreate the Ardennes forest for the Battle of the Bulge sequence in the episode “Bastogne,” a fabricated forest was constructed. Additionally, the abundance of disused aircraft hangars on-site proved advantageous for the production, as they were used to store props and equipment. One hangar housed World War 2-era tanks, jeeps, and ambulances, while another contained wardrobes, and yet another was filled with mannequins used as casualties for the battle scenes. Presently, the former aerodrome serves as the de Havilland Campus of the University of Hertfordshire.
Ironically, the airfield take-off scenes depicting D-Day in the first episode of Band of Brothers could not be filmed at Hatfield Aerodrome. Instead, the production turned to North Weald Airfield in Essex, a neighboring county, to capture the commencement of Easy Company’s journey into Normandy. Notably, North Weald was a genuine tactical location utilized by British planes during World War 2. Nevertheless, the planes seen taking off from the airfield in the episode were created using CGI.
While the majority of the training sequences in the first episode of Band of Brothers were filmed at the aerodrome, the village of Hambleden in Buckinghamshire, another neighboring county, was chosen as the setting for the scenes depicting the village of Aldbourne. Hambleden, known for its picturesque charm, was also featured in the 1968 British film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
In addition to the aerodrome and villages, certain scenes in Band of Brothers required filming in real forests. However, the filmmakers opted to remain in close proximity to Hertfordshire, capturing these sequences in two forests within the home counties. The Bourne Woods in Surrey were employed for some of the training exercise scenes in the first episode. Bourne Woods has become a sought-after filming location for numerous prominent films, including Gladiator, Children of Men, and another Steven Spielberg project, War Horse. The Ashdown Forest in East Sussex was utilized for a sequence in the second episode, “Day of Days,” where Easy Company confronts 105mm German guns after landing in France. Ashdown Forest, also known as Hundred Acre Wood, served as the inspiration for the original A. A. Milne Winnie the Pooh stories and has been featured in two Winnie the Pooh films, Christopher Robin and Goodbye Christopher Robin.
For the scenes set in Austria and Germany, the cast and crew of Band of Brothers traveled to the Bernese Oberland region in Switzerland, specifically the hotel Giessbach. This area prominently features in the final episode of Band of Brothers, “Points.” Sections of the Bernese Grimsel Pass were utilized as the location for Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. The Swiss village of Brienz stood in for the Austrian town of Zell am See, and the grand hotel where the main characters stay in the tenth episode is, in reality, the hotel Giessbach.
While the vast majority of Band of Brothers’ story takes place in mainland Europe, the bulk of filming took place elsewhere. The classic 10-part miniseries, based on the non-fiction bestseller of the same name by Stephen Ambrose, tells the story of Easy Company, the 501st regiment of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division during World War 2. The series follows Easy Company over the years, from their training in Georgia in 1942 through a European campaign that culminated with the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany.
Filming of the series took between eight and 10 months and mostly took place in England’s home counties, the name given to the counties surrounding London. The British government offered Band of Brothers a significant tax break if they agreed to shoot the series in England; Steven Spielberg, a co-producer on the series, received a similar deal for shooting another war project in England, Saving Private Ryan. The UK production accounts for the high number of British actors in the Band of Brothers cast. The miniseries traces Easy Company’s action through several European countries and numerous individual locations, but the production itself rarely left the home counties.
5 Hatfield Aerodrome
The vast majority of Band of Brothers was filmed in Hatfield Aerodrome, a former British Aerospace factory that occupied a vast swath of land in the county of Hertfordshire, England. Spielberg and Hanks had previously used the location to shoot parts of Saving Private Ryan. The large open field was used to represent twelve different European towns, including Bastogne in Belgium, Eindhoven in The Netherlands and Carentan in France. The production team even constructed a fake forest to simulate the Ardennes forest for the Band of Brothers’ Battle of The Bulge sequence in the episode “Bastogne.”
The location also proved useful to the Band of Brothers production due to the abundance of disused aircraft hangars. The massive production used these hangars to store props and hardware; one hangar was filled with World War 2-era tanks, jeeps and ambulances, another was filled with wardrobes and yet another was filled with mannequins that served as corpses for the battle scenes. The former aerodrome is now the home of the University of Hertfordshire’s de Havilland Campus.
4 North Weald Airfield
Ironically, the D-Day airfield take-off scenes that punctuate Band of Brothers’ first episode could not be filmed at the Hatfield airfield. To capture the beginning of Easy Company’s journey into Normandy, the production used North Weald Airfield in the neighboring county of Essex. Fittingly, North Weald was an actual tactical location used by British planes in World War 2. However, the planes seen taking off from the airfield at the episode’s end are CGI.
The vast majority of the training sequences from Band of Brothers episode one were shot in the aerodrome. However, a real village, Hambleden, was used for the scenes shot in the village of Aldbourne. Hambleden is in Buckinghamshire, another county neighboring Hertfordshire. The picturesque town also features in the 1968 British film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
2 Home County Forests
Additional scenes of Band of Brothers had to be filmed in real forests, although the filmmakers did not stray far from Hertfordshire, shooting in two forests in the home counties. Surrey’s Bourne Woods was used for some of the training exercise scenes in episode one. Bourne Woods has served as a filming location for numerous high-profile films, including Gladiator, Children of Men and another Steven Spielberg project, War Horse.
Ashdown Forest of East Sussex was used for a sequence in episode 2, “Day of Days,” wherein Easy Company faces off against 105mm German guns after landing in France. Ashdown Forest is also known as Hundred Acre Wood, the home to Winnie the Pooh in the original A. A. Milne stories and a filming location for two Winnie the Pooh films, Christopher Robin and Goodbye Christopher Robin.
1 Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
For the scenes set in Austria and Germany, the Band of Brothers cast and crew went to the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland and the nearby hotel Giessbach. The Bernese area features prominently in Band of Brothers’ final episode, “Points.” Parts of the Bernese Grimsel Pass were used for the site of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. The Austrian town of Zell am See is represented by the Swiss village of Brienz and the grand hotel at which the main characters stay for episode 10 is, in reality, the hotel Giessbach.