Sunday, April 6, 2014

Living History

Polish Troops of the Red Army Overrun a German Position Near Berlin, 1945
Some time ago (here and here) I mentioned that I have done a bit of reenacting in my younger days. I also mentioned that it's a rather expensive hobby. I often wonder how many wives out there have pondered whether or not hubby needed his head examined for wishing to pursue such a hobby. (And to be honest, I have known female reenactors. Their husbands didn't ponder their sanity. For the few I've known had their husbands right beside them.)

Now that lead in photo I got from Wikipedia (surprise, surprise) depicts a group of Polish reenactors (I presume from the source of the photo). Not just the Poles in the Red Army (as you can tell by the Polish eagle on the helmets and on the T-34/85 in the left background) but I'm betting that the "Germans" are also Poles.

What should jump out at you right away? The fact that their are two, yes two, World War II-era Soviet T-34s in the picture. Those are the real deal. While I'm not sure if those tanks belong to the Polish reenactors, I do know that there are reenactment groups in the US who own armored vehicles. Think Shermans and White halftracks yes, those were plentiful at one time. (Not to mention the plethora of WWII-era jeeps!) But there are two "German" reenacting units who own armored vehicles.

The Land Down Under is into WWII reenacting as well. They have a very nice Panzerkampfwagen IV (shown in the video).

One unit (used to be in Missouri in the early 80s, don't know if they're still active) owned a Hetzer. Which they obtained from the Swiss military. Those guys spent a lot of money getting that beast to the States. I think they had to spend a lot getting it in running order as well. But they did and we used to see it at reenactments in the heartland.

The Hetzer, seen in Indiana

There's another unit, the 9th Reenactment Society in Illinois who own (and operate) one of the tanks used in the movie Saving Private Ryan. (Which is a favorite of mine. Of course.) A lot of folks think that's a real Tiger tank. It's not. It's a mock up of a Tiger built up on a Soviet T-34/85. (Remember that opening photo?)

Just to be clear -

Mock Tiger, as used in Saving Private Ryan and Kelly's Heroes

Real Tiger, as used by the Germans in WWII

While the mock Tiger looks cool, a real armor aficionado can tell the difference. And for comparison's sake -

On the left is a T-34/85, on the right is a real Tiger.
The running gear (drive sprocket and road wheels) are a dead giveaway.

But really, at the end of the day, a tank is a tank, is a tank. And therefore cool. Though YMMV.

Well, to get to the point of today's post, FRaVMotC Bayouwulf sent along some photos he had taken at a reenactment. Seems he was inspired to share them with me after reading my post The Tank a couple of days ago. I asked if I might share them with you, he consented. So without further ado, here's some great photos of some guys (and gals) pursuing their hobby. What some folks like to call "Living History". And you know me, I'm all about the history.

Especially if it's noisy, flies fast and makes things go boom. Land, sea or air.

All photos from here on courtesy of Bayouwulf. Thanks buddy!

American Jeep, Scout Car and Halftrack
I count three .50 cals on that halftrack!

Doughnut Dollies
Though they should be wearing Red Cross outfits, I'll not complain.
Hubba hubba!
Meeting of the 101st Wives' Club?
The ladies rock those 1940s outfits!

Paratrooper encampment
And yes, as a retired Master Sergeant I wanted to blow my stack!
What a #&*@%# MESS!
British Red  Devils prepare for battle.
Where'd ya get that camera mate?

British Para Sergeant's Blouse.
If you're a regular reader, that Pegasus emblem should look familiar.
On the "other side of the hill", German infantry prepares for battle.
And that weapon the guy in the middle is holding?
That my friends is an assault weapon, literally.
The Sturmgewehr 44.

In the German camp...
Apparently die Frauen are musically inclined.
Motorcycle and sidecar.
My WWII reenacting unit had one of those.
Ours was a BMW. No kidding.
The Yanks are on the move!
Yowza! Love that Ma-Deuce!
M2 Stuart rolling into the German camp.
And he looks angry!
The Germans capitulate.
Why are we surrendering to two trucks?
Where are the Tigers?
Outta gas Fritz, outta gas!
Thanks again Bayouwulf!


  1. Good post, but you KNOW what I'm going to say!

    Had lunch in town yesterday and saw a guy crossing the street from the Nimitz museum dressed in WWII khakis and a leather flying jacket complete with blood chit on back. Yep, the Nimitz was having another reenactment. Cool museum. You need to come visit.

    1. Ya know, I need to work that into my plans.

      Besides which, it's been a while since I had me some good Texas BBQ!

      (Just had a look at a map, you are not that far from San Antonio.)

    2. Nope, takes less time to get to the San Antonio airport than my usual commute to the Pentagon.

    3. That whirring noise is the gears in my head. Plotting. Planning. Thinking.

    4. Juvat comes to the Pentagon? There's got to be room for a lunch date or after-work drinks on one of those trips!

      And "Tanks" for the tank pics!

    5. I do plan on getting down to DC this year.

      I will keep you posted.

      Heh. No, tank you for reading.

  2. The photos are extraordinary. Partner has done a bit of it and we did a civil war event together last year. BIG fun (though he wouldn't let me bring a cannon home).

    1. He wouldn't let you bring a cannon home? The nerve of the man!


  3. I have to give credit to my friend who is a member of the 1SSLAH, who allowed me to remain with him as an observer within their encampment during the second battle of that day. The last three pictures were taken during the battle and provided up close and personal camera ops. Much better that behind the yellow tape with the spectators. :D

    Thanks Sarge, for posting the pics.

    1. Those were some excellent photos Bayouwulf. Really glad you shared them with us!

  4. Gotta admit--when I saw the title "Living History", I thought that it was going to be a post about Old NFO.

    1. Heh.

      I'll be giggling about that for a while.

  5. Great pictures. I don't miss being in the field under wet canvas at all. I'll probably feel different in another 50 or 80 years. I'll let you know. Ditto the kind of aroma a well tuned Army diesel can throw off.

    1. Don't miss being in the field under wet canvas, the smell of an Army diesel? Where's your sense of adventure?

      Probably the same place as mine!

      Thanks Cap'n.

    2. In re: in the field under wet canvas. I came THAT close (imagine my thumb and index finger nearly touching) to "living the dream" back in 1980 when Big Air Force shut down the continental air defense network. Most all of the radar maintenance weenies were reassigned from ADC to TAC to work on this beastie (from The Wiki):

      The AN/TPS-43 is a transportable 3-dimensional air search radar produced in the United States originally by Westinghouse Defense and Electronic Division, which was later purchased by Northrop-Grumman. It completed development in 1963 and entered US service in 1968. The entire system can be broken down and packed into two M35 trucks for road transport. The TPS-43E2 was redesignated the AN/TPS-75 which is the current transportable air control and warning (AC&W) radar used by the United States Air Force.

      I had more than a few friends that made the switch and their tales of derring-do out in the field... most often in the cold mud of northern Germany during the winter... made me glad that I did the right thing and cross-trained OUT of radar. Living in tents just ain't my thang. Period, full-stop.

    3. Wise choice, Buck. Wise choice.

  6. Excellent photos. Mine were done on film, so I can't share pics of the fake Tiger. I spent most of my time not watching the "battles" talking to the lone Italian in the whole shebang. I did get to meet a survivor of the USS Indianapolis who had a book on it he'd written, autographed by as many of the other survivors as he could find. I believe there are 17 autographs on the front page.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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