This year’s War & Peace Revival was favoured by sunny, hot weather, excellent for us photographers and perhaps only a problem for those that failed to take suitable precautions with the application of sun cream and staying hydrated. Another improvement was my own organisation, last year I missed the World War 2 battle and a number of the arena events but this year I made no such mistake and paid much greater attention to the arena.
As usual the collection of vehicles and re-enactors in attendance requires superlatives to fairly describe them. I hope that the following photographs go some way to representing what is perhaps the premier military history event representing the 20th Century.
Around the Camps
There were some great camps and equipment on show this year, among my favourites were the:
- Marder III
- Gordon Highlander of the Western Desert c1942
- Japanese infantry man and tank crew man from 1941-45
- RAM tank (right at the entrance to the show ground making it difficult to photograph cleanly).
- White half-track in German Afrika Korps paint job.
- WWI German lorry and crew.
This list is just a small sample of what was to be seen, best described by the images below:
This year the arena events included a section dedicated to artillery. We were treated to an informative narrative and blank firing of the following pieces:
- British 18pdr howitzer.
- British 2pdr anti-tank gun.
- British 17pdr anti-tank gun.
- American 155mm “Long Tom” (in German markings).
All were impressive when fired but the Long Tom gained most attention. The gun was towed on its own wheels all the way to the show.
Always a favourite of mine, the groups representing Vietnam were as impressive as ever. I particularly appreciated the opportunity took inside the M113 APC and seeing these (two) vehicles running in the arena.
Last year’s battle was very good, but this year’s even better. The Gun Trucks played a significant part with a spirited display of ‘firing’ that lasted for much of the fight. Not to be outdone were the Vietnamese forces who while few in number put on a great display of automatic fire.
Word War 2 battle
‘Epic’ is perhaps the best word to describe the WW2 battle. Lasting some 30 minutes – and even then only ending because of a small grass fire, quickly put out – it featured a great selection of vehicles on both sides. On the German side the very active StuG III replica was supported by the Hetzer and and a good number of SdKfz 251 semi-tracks, motorcycle combinations and infantry. The Americans featured the Super Sherman – not in period for WW2 but it certainly looked the part – a brilliant M8 Greyhound armoured car, a selection of White halt-tracks and US infantry. Us ‘Brits’ were lacking entirely in armour but there was a brilliantly turned out section of paratroops.
No detailed commentary was supplied leaving the audience to decide just what the battle was about. For me it looked like a meeting engagement after the Allies broke out from Normandy with substantial retiring German forces colliding with the spearhead of an advancing American battle group, led by the M8 Grey Hound. More American forces were fed in as as the battle progressed in the form of the Super Sherman and armoured infantry.
As the battle progressed the German forces attempted to outflank the Americans, presumably in an attempt to bypass them and continue their withdrawal to safety….
This year stayed in The Bull Hotel, Wrotham. It was our first stay in this establishment and I can report that we were very comfortable indeed. The accomodation was of a high standard with exceptionally comfortable beds, very good food and a splendid range of beers. Rather foolishly I neglected to take a photo from the outside but i did take some snaps of my room and in the restaurant.
Historically The Bull was an excellent choice since it was frequented by pilots from the local airfields, including RAF West Malling. What is now the restaurant was once the bar where the pilots drank, in recognition of this the walls are adorned with memorabilia from the 1940s.
Service is absolutely first class with all the staff being friendly, helpful and courteous.
I visited the show with my chums Tony and Brian, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that we three all had a great time. We spent two days at the show – Friday and Saturday – and for the modest outlay of £36 (each for the two days) it was great entertainment and great value.
Each time I visit one of these shows I expand my knowledge and experience of history, in this case seeing a running Hetzer was a first for me – absolutely brilliant. The ‘firing’ “Long Tom” and seeing a representation of a Japanese tank crewman were also highlights.
Most of all what I like about the War & Peace Revival is never quite knowing what you will see and the discovery as you explore the show…. rather like the fellow below!