So it was the August Bank Holiday, 2019 and that meant it’s off to the Kent County Showground at Detling for Military Odyssey. Year on year this fantastic show has maintained the standard by which I measure other living history shows and 2019 was to be no different. What was different for Tony, Brian and myself is that we attended for all 3 days and what a great decision that was! Even for the more casual visitor one day is not enough, for the ardent enthusiast of history even three days is a push to take in all of the arena battles, living history camps and the various displays around the site.
We were ‘blessed’ with great weather for the show, in fact at times it was rather too dry and warm, even for the visitors dressed in light shirts and shorts. Regardless the reenactors carried on, some in tight fitting heavy uniforms from the past, evoking my admiration for their dedication and hard work. So on to the show, just what was there to be seen…?
Around the show
As expected there was an amazing collection of living history groups and individuals, ranging from Greek Hoplites (4th-7th Century BC) right through to modern times. The images below show just a selection of what could be seen. After the 3 days I came away with something like 3,000 photographs.
The Die Hards
Undoubtedly the most colourful of the reenactment groups present were the Die Hards. This time they presented the first major engagement of the first Boer War, the battle of Bronkhorstspruit. In this battle a column of men from the British 94th Regiment were marching from Lydenburg to Pretoria when they were confronted by a Boer force and presented with an ultimatum to turn back. The battle started when the British refused the ultimatum.
As usual the action was beautifully and authentically played out. Special mention should go to the commentary which was both informative and entertaining being delivered in such a way as to reflect the Victorian period. The video below shows just the start of the action with the British column being intercepted by the Boers with the ultimatum.
And now some stills of the action….
The Southern Skirmish Association
Re-creating the American Civil War were the Southern Skirmish Association. When we visited the Union troops were camped in the woods and preparing to defend the position from an attack by the Forces of the Confederacy.
Later the action moved to the arena where advancing Union forces clashed with Confederate troops. As usual the action was fast and furious where despite a spirited defence the Confederate forces had no option but to retire and ultimately surrender.
The WW2 Eastern Front Battle
Taking place in July and August 1943 the Battle of Kursk was an attempt by the Germans to pinch off a Soviet salient and shorten the front line. The battle ended as a strategic success for the Soviet forces and saw for the first time a major German offensive stopped without achieving a break through. Around 3,000 German tanks faced 5,000 Soviet tanks making it the biggest single tank battle of Word War 2.
The arena action was, of course, only able to represent a very small part of this battle but was nonetheless very impressive. Of particular note for me was the T-34 tank and the Katyusha rocket launcher, better known as Stalin’s Organ. The action ended in a German withdrawal back to their start lines.
The WW2 Western Front Battle
The Western front battle took us to Normandy in August 1944 and the action around what has become known as the Falaise Pocket. With the German Army in full retreat the scene was set for a clash with a scratch force of British and American troops working to encircle the Axis forces and prevent their escape.
Show Programme & Event Guide
As usual we stayed just outside the village of Detling at the Black Horse Inn, Thurnham. Admittedly cheaper accommodation is available, but none so convenient to she show and none so charming as the Black Horse. The beer, food and hospitality are all excellent and the accommodation is comfortable in small en-suite chalets. A nice touch is the location of the inn on the ancient Pilgrims Way, thus continuing the historical theme of our weekend. We shall be returning to the inn for this year’s show…
And so this was Military Odyssey 2019, another fine vintage of living history. I’m preparing this page rather late, in February 2020 no less… other commitments having distracted me from my website. The benefit of this late write-up is that I am reminded of how good last year’s show was and now have only 6 months to wait for the 2020 show.
The image below shows your webmaster enjoying a fine vintage of the whiskey sort outside the Black Horse after the first day of the show.. so cheers folks, here’s to Military Odyssey 2020!