The Bovington Tank Museums’ Tankfest 2017 is over and what a grand show it was with plenty of delights for the armour enthusiast while providing excellent entertainment for the more casual visitor. The show was a sell out for both days but despite this sufficient space was available for all to watch the arena events and stroll around the living history encampments in comfort.
One of the themes at the show was the Centenary of the WWI Battle of Cambrai and to recognise this a tank each from Britain, France and Germany was present. Admittedly the British Mk IV and German A7V were replicas, but with only 1 original A7V in existence (in Australia) this was entirely acceptable. I was left wondering if these 3 vehicles have ever before been in company together.
Sadly the wholly original German JagdPanther and Stug III both went unserviceable and so visitors were denied the opportunity of seeing these perform in the arena, although they were available for close inspection in the Tank Park. Regardless there were a number of exceptional and scarce vehicles that did display, for me the undoubted star was the Vickers Light Tank Mk IV from the late 1939 period. It was an amazing restoration and a big thank you to the young gent who restored it for taking the time to talk to me about it.
In the Tank Park was an exceptionally scare T-34 / 76, I’ve never seen a 76 model before and the Museum informs us that this is the only one in the UK.
The story of the tank is really the story of the men who who operated and fought in them. Accordingly in this gallery of pictures I have tried to include a good number of pictures of the crews, some presently serving in our armed forces and some representing those of previous generations.
As usual captions are quite simple, but this time including the occasional creative touch. The images are presented in roughly chronological order.
Getting good photographs of the battle at Tankfest can be a bit of a challenge because the arena is surround on 3 sides by us, the public, while the other side contains the gentlemen of the press. Nevertheless the battle was a good show (as usual) and with the aid of Photoshop to remove evidence of the 21st Century I managed to get some pictures that satisfied me.
The scenario was set in 1944 in Normandy, just after the successful D-Day landings.
Living History Camps
As usual there were a good number of living history camps, covering mainly the WW2 period. What never fails to impress me is just how much the reenactors know about the people that they represent. Thanks are due from both Tony and myself to all who took the time to talk to us and pose for snaps.
The show guide was, as always, an excellent quality publication and essential for visitors wanting to get the most out of the show. It included a programme of events, a map of the site and historical articles supporting the individual displays. With glossy full colour throughout and with 30+ pages it represented great value at only £5 and a super souvenir of the day.
For anyone travelling from afar – we came from North East Essex – and attending the show for more than one day overnight accommodation is really a must. Being Dorset, a popular tourist destination, accommodation is plentiful although beware that very close to the show it books up fast. Wareham is only 6 miles from the show and has at least two hostelries, these being the Red Lion and the Anglebury House . The latter is particularly interesting as Lawrence of Arabia stayed here, as have I and assuming that the management hasn’t changed in the last 2 years I can thoroughly recommend it – you can even have breakfast where Laurence once drank coffee!
However for the last 2 years we have stayed at a hidden gem of an inn in Middlemarsh, called Hunter’s Moon.
Hunter’s Moon is excellent value at only £70 per night (price correct as of June 2017) for single occupancy of an ensuite room with all the expected trimmings such as TV, tea / coffee making facilities and bathroom toiletries. Also included is a full English breakfast.
The welcome is friendly and genuine with a table for dinner being automatically reserved for guests – this is necessary as the ‘Moon’ is also very popular with the locals. The food is wholesome and very tasty, I should perhaps offer my apology for the picture of my half-eaten steak pie. I had intended to take a picture as the meal arrived but my hunger pangs and taste buds got the better of me and it was half gone before I realised I hadn’t taken a snap!
Hunter’s Moon is a 30 minute relaxed drive from Bovington Camp, it’s all on quiet local roads and the journey is no bother.
So another Tankest has ended.
I’ve been visiting the Tank Museum since I was a young boy of 11 or 12, first taken by my parents and I’ve loved the museum ever since. Off the top of my head I couldn’t say how many Tankfest shows I’ve attended.
As ever the the show continues to impress year on year with a unique display of armour professionally and imaginatively displayed.
Thanks again Tank Museum and I certainly will be back soon… and for Tankfest 2018…