It all started way back in July of 2017 after a visit to the Military & Flying Machines show. As ever the show was very good with an excellent World War 2 battle, albeit it lacked a commentary. I made the ‘mistake’ of sending an email to the show organisers congratulating them on the show but adding that the battle would be better with a commentary and that I would be happy to have a bash, never really thinking they would take me up on the offer. 2018 was a gap year with no show, but in the spring of 2019 I received a Facebook message from the team that organised Military & Flying machines. They were relaunching the show, now renamed Echoes of History, and would I be interested in helping out with the commentary? So that’s how, two years after my original email, I ended up in the arena with a microphone as the main show commentator at Echoes of History.
I relate the above story for two reasons, firstly to show that it isn’t so hard to ‘get involved’ and secondly to declare my personal involvement in this event. I should also add that I had a great time helping to deliver the event and consider myself fortunate that I could tell all of our visitors about the show and what they were watching in the arena. Seeing behind the scenes was also a great learning experience, I’ve been attending such shows for longer than I care to recall but until now have never really given a thought to all the work that goes into putting them on.
OK, so let’s move on and see just what Echoes of History had to offer…
Around the camps
A brilliant collection of vehicles and a varied collection of reenactors attended the event. So far as vehicles were concerned this included the rarely seen, in the UK, 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm howitzer, while the reenactors ranged from the Napoleonic period (1799-1815), the American Civil War (1861-1865), the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World (1939-1945) War right up to current times with Iraq and the Gulf.
The arena was a perfect size for the event, not huge but plenty big enough to host the vehicle parade and later on some battle demonstrations. With the vehicles running around the outside of the arena visitors could get a good close-up view of some exceptional military hardware and one splendid historic racing car.
World War 2 Battle
At 2pm we were transported back to early August 1944 with the World War 2 battle. D-Day had happened and the Allies had fought their way out of the Normandy Bocage Country and were pushing on into France. We were at a junction on a road that leads toward Paris, a road that was being used as a secondary supply route by the Allies.
Unexpectedly supply convoys were being interdicted with the loss of men, vehicles and equipment. It doesn’t take long before local intelligence and some reconnaissance identifies the presence of a camouflaged German position which had been overlooked by the British Armies in their hurry to push on. The position includes a German PAK 3.7cm anti-tank gun, supported by infantry anchored around a concrete pillbox.
This troublesome German unit had to be removed and a scratch Combat Command consisting of both British and American troops has been hurriedly put together, their task being to defeat the Germans, and so the battle begin…
The battle went pretty much as expected with the British starting the attack. A German counterattack was turned back by the arrival of American paratroopers, after which the Allied soldiers forced a German surrender.
Reenactment groups taking part in the battle were:
- Popski’s Private Army (British)
- No. 3 Commando (British)
- 101st Airborne Infantry (American)
- Regiment 6th Falkschrim Jager (German)
- Ruckmarsh Kompanie (German, displaying as 12th SS Hitlerjugend Division)
Overall a great battle with a great story.
No 3 Commando
Taking to the arena over a lunchtime slot was No 3 Commando with a weapons demonstration. These guys really looked and acted the part, I do hope that my photographs go some way towards doing justice to their presentation.
For something completely different the show was very happy to host the The Tigers, Children’s Motorcycle Display Team. These young people were exceptionally talented in handling motorcycles, a look at the pictures below illustrates this better than any of my words.
Two flypasts from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight were scheduled, a Spitfire for the Saturday and a Dakota for the Sunday. Sadly the weather on the Saturday, mostly high winds, grounded the Spitfire but for those that attended on the Sunday the Dakota made up for this with a number number of expertly positioned flypasts.
Look carefully at the open door, you can see the load master waving.
My good lady wife Dee also took this short video, very nicely done considering it was made ad hoc on her phone.
Echoes of History was an excellent first show, coming as it does from the team that has previously given us Military and Flying machines that came as no surprise to me. Speaking personally I was very pleased to be involved and thank Colin, David, Russel and Marion for trusting me to deliver their arena commentary without ‘buggering it up’! Thanks also to Tony, my good friend and fellow student of history, for supplying many of the photographs on this page.
My special thanks to Luke, who managed the reenactment groups, and Sean, working as arena manager, for all their help, undoubtedly my efforts were the better for their support and guidance.
In 2020 the show is on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August, so let’s end with the new show poster!