In 2017 I attended 5 shows where living history groups combined with military hardware to give us 21st century folk a small glimpse of what warfare has looked like in times past. I have posted photo essays of all these shows and quite rightly commentated on them in extremely favourable terms. All that I have written of the other shows still stands but in my personal opinion Military Odyssey 2017 raised the bar for excellence at this kind of show.
Pretty much whatever period of history your interest may lie in Military Odyssey has it covered including Ancient Greek Hoplites, Privateers, late 19th – early 20th Century British Army, the American West, World War I, World War 2 and right up to the present day.
The arena battles were well choreographed with supporting commentary to put the action into context and to ensure the audience understood what was happening. The main battles were well supported with battle demonstrations in the small arena and various ‘mini actions’ around the site, including the Vietnam War, Vikings and a splendid recreation of the ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’.
The result was that all visitors were well catered for be they serious students of history, casual visitors or families.
Around the Camps
Wandering around the show and demonstrating in the living history camps was an impressive array of re-enactors. The important thing – as I learned to my cost – was not to call the guys who looked like pirates as such, in fact they were representing legal pirates known as Privateers!
Napoleonic War – a Skirmish Against Irregulars
We were transported back to Spain in the early 1800s for a skirmish between the red coats of Wellington’s army and Spanish irregulars loyal to Napoleon, led by a French Imperial Officer.
First Boer War – The Diehards
As previously stated all of the battle re-enactments were of a very high standard but for me The Diehards were especially convincing. Well equipped and well drilled, these guys moved as if they meant it and you could at times be forgiven for thinking that there was really animosity between the ‘red coats’ and their Boer adversaries. A particularly nice touch was the recreation of the Congreve Rocket – shades of the film Zulu here as the rocket troop were overrun by the attacking warriors.
World War 2 – a Meeting Engagement
As usual the grand battlefield finale was a World War 2 battle. I surmise that in this instance the battle was a meeting engagement set in Northern France, August 1944 centered on the closing of the Falaise Pocket. Here the retreating remnants of a German Panzer Division met the advance reconnaissance of American and British armoured infantry units.
Specific photographic captions are not required as I believe that the images speak for themselves, but perhaps a few words regarding the vehicles pictured may be of interest:
- German tank ‘Red 211’ – this represents a Panzer III. It is in fact a very good replica made on the chassis of a British Army FV432 personnel carrier.
- German self-propelled gun ‘Black 101’ – this represents a StuG III assault gun, again this is a very good replica built on a British Army FV432 chassis.
- German half-tracks – these are in fact post-war Czechoslovakian built versions of the SdKfz 251. To all but the ardent enthusiast these are indistinguishable from the originals.
- American armoured car – this is an original M8 Greyhound as used by US Army reconnaissance units in World War 2.
- American half-tracks – these are original and are M3 and M5 half-tracks one of which is a classed as a gun motor carriage mounting, as it does, a 105mm howitzer.
- British tracked carrier – this is original and is a version of the Universal Carrier, more usually referred to as a Bren Gun Carrier.
Vietnam War – the Tet Offensive
The various living history groups representing the Vietnam War were arranged together in a camp that could not fail to impress. Not content with the camp, they put together a mini-action representing the Tet Offensive that took place in 1968 during the Vietnamese New Year holiday, taking the US forces by complete surprise. Rather than simply a meaningless gunfight the audience was treated to a briefing by representatives of both the North Vietnamese People’s Army and the US Army before the action (unexpectedly) started.
And so an amazing show came to an end… the question is can Military O top the 2017 show in 2018… maybe, maybe not…. but regardless I’m confident that it will still be a GREAT SHOW and I’ll be back!
My thanks to all the re-enactors, vehicle owners and organisers for a most enjoyable weekend.