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Josh Gates exclusive interview: Hidden Nazi Bunker unearthed and examined in premiere of Expedition Unknown

Has history got the D-Day invasion facts wrong? Gates and an expert explore an unearthed German bunker off Maisy Beach more inland than Pointe du Hoc. Pic credit: Discovery.
Has history got the D-Day invasion facts wrong? Gates and an expert unearth a hidden German bunker off Maisy Beach, inland from Pointe du Hoc. Pic credit: Discovery

Expedition Unknown is back on Discovery this Wednesday in a supersized two-hour premiere.

It’s a new decade and a new year for Discovery star Josh Gates, the network’s main event for addictive, informative and entertaining explores across the globe.  Gates effectively is on the hunt for a hidden Nazi Bunker and finds it, unearthing and going inside.

With a sharp mind and a thirst for adventure, Gates has spent his career investigating history’s greatest legends and mysteries. Now, in a brand-new season of Expedition Unknown, he faces his most controversial excavation and dig yet and one as mysterious as his Egyptian excavation of last season which was aired live.

Always thorough, Josh’s investigation reveals forgotten mysteries surrounding the historical battle considered the most important of the last century.

In the 75th year since the event, Gates headed to Normandy with a British author and military expert, Gary Sterne, who has challenged the historical records of what we know as “The Longest Day.”

Josh and his military historians used cutting edge technology while presenting some game-changing secrets about the WWII invasion, including a newly revealed Nazi bunker as well as an unexploded bomb found off Normandy’s coast.

As we previously reported, this season, Gates will also take us on daring expeditions here in the USA This includes a search for a large U.S. commercial airliner which vanished over the Great Lakes right at the onset of the Korean war to give the living relatives of the lost souls some closure.

He also explores the history of humanity and where many of our genetic paths have started in a quest across Africa to unearth the many missing links between modern man and our earliest ancestors.

We also head over to the U.K. as Gates follows the footsteps of a Celtic warrior queen and travel with him as he journeys to the islands of Seychelles to decipher a cryptic code that may lead to lost pirate treasure.

Finally, in a two-part season finale, Josh will sail into the enigma that is the Bermuda Triangle on a dangerous voyage of discovery.

Wednesday is his night on Discovery Channel, as the show returns in for a two hour special

The full night of exploration will see more programming with Josh to accompany Expedition Unknown, taking us all on a wild ride on every continent. Following the investigations, Josh digs in deeper on Expedition Unknown: After The Hunt.

Beginning on February 12, right out of Expedition Unknown, viewers can tune-in to the all-new series Expedition X starring Josh Gates, Phil Torres and Jessica Chobot. Following the investigations, Josh digs in with more intel on Expedition Unknown: After The Hunt.

Exclusive interview with Josh Gates

Gates here shown inside an unearthed Nazi bunker off Maisy Beach. Pic credit: Discovery.
Gates is shown inside an unearthed Nazi bunker off Maisy Beach. Pic credit: Discovery

Monsters & Critics spoke to Josh Gates on Monday about his new season.

Monsters & Critics: We saw the snippet of you and Gary Sterne beginning to unearth this bunker.  Is this going to be a bigger than one episode event for Expedition Unknown or are you keeping it to this premiere?

Josh Gates: Well, it’s a supersized event. We’re doing a two-hour season premiere. So the episode is going to be one night, but it’s going to be twice the Expedition Unknown.

M&C: You’re a historian, he’s a military book author, Gary Sterne. He’s a British born researcher and author who has published contradicting historical reports of these Normandy battles. Did he share any of these ideas with you?

Josh Gates: Yeah, we talked a little bit about that, though it’s not a main focus of the show. What is certainly true is that Maisy Battery is a place that had been pretty well forgotten by history. It’s a huge complex of structures there, and when Gary first found it, he has an amazing story.

He bought an old uniform and found an old map in the pocket, an old wartime map, and on that map was an area, right around this place called Maisy Battery, which was labeled, “Area of high resistance.”

And he knew the area pretty well. He was a military historian and enthusiast, he’d been there many times and he didn’t remember anything in that area. And so when he went over there, it was just fields and everybody said to him, “There’s nothing here.”

And so he started quietly buying up land over there because he had a real belief that there was something buried there. And, in fact, if you go to Maisy today, even before our work with Gary, it is a massive complex of structures. Huge howitzer gun emplacements, there’s a hospital, there are command bunkers. It’s a pretty lethal offensive position.

It’s a few miles in from the beaches, with guns that would have easily reached out to the beaches.  So the thing that’s interesting about D-Day, as it’s been popularized in film and television, is that we tend to think of it as the fight for the beach. That these guys had to take the beaches, that they had to scale the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc.

And all of that’s true, of course. But I think the larger picture, that a lot of people don’t realize, is that these ships and these men were still being shelled from installations like Maisy that were further inland.

What I wanted to invest more into was the archaeology of the site.  What is for sure unmistakable, and even Gary’s fiercest critics would agree, is that this guy effectively dug up this enormous complex nobody really thought was there.

So we’re kind of leaving it at that. The idea that even 75 years after the most famous invasion, there’s still archaeological work to be done, there are still remnants of this pivotal moment in modern history to be found, is just so surprising.

M&C: How did you guys cross paths? 

Josh Gates: Well, we felt like D-Day was a really interesting topic, as we are at the 75th anniversary of the invasion. And so many people who were a part of the invasion are no longer with us. And very soon nobody who was a part of the invasion’s going to be around.

We really wanted to go and look at the work that’s been done at D-Day from an exploration perspective. What’s still be doing there? And I have to say, I was shocked at how much work is still happening.

Gary’s a really interesting example of someone who is still uncovering physical remnants of the invasion. And one of the things that’s really fascinating about Maisy Battery, and what Gary has done there, is it really is the only place in Normandy where you can walk through a site and really experience it in the trenches as it existed in 1944.

Most of the battlefields and other sites have been turned into memorials. They’re incredibly moving places, but it’s hard to get a sense of what it might’ve been like on June 6th of ’44. And at Maisy Battery, you can kind of step back and time and really feel yourself down in the trenches and in the bunkers in a way that’s hard to do anywhere else.

Gary was on our radar simply because he ruffled a lot of feathers when he discovered this place, and people thought he was this mad Englishman who was just buying up this land. People told them there was nothing there, and he’s uncovered this enormous complex there. And he’s continuing to find things.

So with the help of LIDAR technology, we were able to identify additional bunkers, additional sections of the site that have never been looked at before. And it’s just an incredible opportunity for people to see the inside of a Nazi bunker from World War II that hasn’t seen the light of day in 75 years.

M&C: What happens to the artifacts, actually, that you do unearth?

Josh Gates: It’s a great question and one that I’m not totally suited to answer. Gary owns a lot of the land that he’s digging on, so the particulars of that are not totally clear to me. There is a lot of emphasis over there on the preservation of materials, and a real discouraging of the treasure hunting of items from World War II.

So in the city of Cologne, which was totally obliterated actually by the allies, there is an enormous archaeological preservation going on in cataloging of all of the items that are found in and around the city.

We were able in the show to go to some of the warehouses there and just see these endless collections of items that have been uncovered from the area.

Also, the other part of the premiere that, to me, was in some ways the most exciting, is we’re also working with these guys that are doing a sonar survey of the waters off of the invasion beaches.

So whereas everything on land has been kind of sanitized, the ocean there is really a time capsule of the battle as it happened. And there are hundreds of ships that were sunk in the invasion, either shelled or mined or torpedoed.

And so the ocean is slowly swallowing all of these wrecks and consuming them. And so there’s an effort underway now to really catalog all of these shipwrecks and to photograph them, and to use photogrammetry to digitally render them in 3-D for future generations. Because these are also graves. There’s a lot of people who died out in the waters off of the invasion site.

And so to be able to go out there and take our cameras down, and to see some of the wrecks from D-Day, was really eerie and emotional. And I’m just so impressed with the work that’s being done out there. So this is a chance for viewers to really see World War II in a very up-close and personal way. And so I’m really excited to share that with folks.

The idea is to leave everything where it lays and really just to document it digitally. And so there are everything from ships and planes and tanks you name it out there, and they are really the final resting place for a lot of people. I think the idea is just to document them and to leave them in peace.

M&C: Where else are you the series, this season? Where are you taking us?

Josh Gates: We’re going to be going all across Africa on a big two-part special to investigate our ancient human ancestors. Really fascinating story, that is in the news a lot. We are having a kind of golden age of paleoanthropology and archaeology.

We’re making discoveries all the time about our earliest relatives. And so this is an opportunity to travel around the world and kind of meet some of our ancestors face to face, but also to really learn about how our distant past and those relatives, really affect us today.

That was a really fascinating part of that whole journey, is that there’s so much about ourselves that we can learn by looking into our distant past, both genetically, socially. It’s just a really fascinating topic that’s just totally exploding right now.

It is fascinating because we tend to think of inheritance within a couple of generations. We think about our parents, we think of our grandparents. Most of us don’t even really think a generation beyond that.

But we contain genetic material from ancestors going back tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years. And so we all have a little bit of Neanderthal in us, we all have a little bit… some of us have what are known as ghost species, DNA from species we haven’t even identified yet.

And so it’s really interesting to think that a lot of who we are is actually informed, not just by our closest relatives, but by our most distant.

M&C: So that’s going to be a two episode or a supersize one, like the premiere?

Josh Gates: No, we’ll be doing two episodes, a two-part special on ancient human ancestors. We’ll also be investigating a fascinating story of a missing plane in the waters of Lake Michigan. This is a story I knew nothing about until I met the woman who was spearheading this recovery effort.

There was a Northwest Airlines commercial flight that vanished over the waters of Lake Michigan in 1950. It was a DC Ford, had 58 people aboard at the time. It was the worst aviation disaster in US history, and it was swept off of the front pages the next day because the Korean War broke out. And the plane was never found.

It was presumed to have, in bad weather, crashed into the lake. But there are still children alive from people that were on board, and there were still families who’ve never had closure. And it’s a story that really, I think, has never gotten its due.

We all were so fascinated by the Malaysia Airlines story, the idea that a commercial plane could just vanish off the face of the earth. And the fact is, it’s happened before, and it’s happened right here in the States. And so this is a really, really interesting show that follows a group of people that are determined to figure out the final resting place of this aircraft.

M&C:  Will there be any kind of cross-pollination, will you have experts from other Discovery shows on your show, as guests, explorers with you or not? Or are you going to be appearing on other shows? I know that you’re with friends with Ramy Romany…

Josh Gates: Yes. There’s no real cross-pollination in the upcoming slot of episodes, but it’s something that we talk a lot about. There are a number of folks on the Discovery airwaves that I would love to do something with.

So I think that’s kind of a stay tuned answer. I think that that in the future we hope to do more with that and to work with some of the other talent out there on the network.

Watch the exclusive Nazi bunker preview below.

And the Expedition Unkown season preview.

In addition to watching the series on Discovery, viewers can check out new episodes each week by downloading the Discovery GO app.

Viewers can join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #ExpeditionUnknown.

Expedition Unknown airs Wednesdays, premiering on Feb. 5, 2020, only on Discovery.

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