Lacock at War

I always seem to have the worst luck. After spending my birthday week driving around the South of England, looking at historical sites, I returned home to find that I had been in driving distance of the ‘War and Peace Revival’ in Kent and had missed the whole thing. So I was thrilled when I when returned to the museum I volunteer in, to find a calendar for the ‘Military Vehicle Trust’. A calendar which listed the War and Peace Revival, but also an event in August: ‘Lacock at War’. I’d been to Lacock once before and was confident that me and my Fiesta could make the trip, most importantly if there were going to be soldiers, tanks and a fly over by a Dakota I was definitely going to be there.

It was a great day, the sun shone for most of it. Although it was on a much smaller scale than the revival in Kent the reenactment groups had really gone to the effort to display their vehicles and dress the part.

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There were a surprising amount of men in American uniform, one of the few women involved in the reenactment (a Captain ‘wom-manning’ a Normandy first aid post) told me this was because a lot of the younger men were big fans of ‘Band of Brothers’.

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It was mainly the older gentlemen dressed in British Army uniform. There was the odd Aussie, RAF and WAAF around, but nothing on the scale of the men in American Army or Marine uniform. Perplexingly there were people dressed in Nazi stormtrooper uniforms. I know it has to be done, but I found it kind of eerie. Especially since you could choose what you wore. I asked the female Captain about rank, and whether people, out of arrogance, gave themselves a higher rank? She said it was usually based on how long you had been with your reenactment group, but that some people were more realistic than others. She was a lovely lady, I really wish I got a photo of her and her young Private (a teenage girl).

There were also plenty of other people in all sorts of costume from the time. I spotted two older gentlemen who I like to believe were retired English spies who had been living in the South of France at the outbreak of war and had cosied up to the Vichy, then, using the Louis Theroux technique of questioning, had extracted secrets which they were now passing back to Blighty.

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Lacock is a quiet town but the organisers had made an effort to spread the reenactors around. A platoon of soldiers marched the streets, stopping occasionally to reposition their rifles. We couldn’t figure out which nationality these soldiers were. They had flags on their helmets, something I haven’t seen before, which at the time we thought were German, but on closer inspection appear to the flag of Rome. However, they were wearing German uniform, and as far as we could make out were speaking Polish. Obviously a niche soldier, most likely an army of another nationality fighting for the Germans. (If you can work it out, please let me know.)

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There were some lovely additions to the day. A burlesque dancer, who didn’t take anything off! But she was lovely and came and had a chat with us. There was also a lovely lady singing 1940s songs, luckily she was so good, and the tent was so full, I couldn’t get a good photo of her. But the highlight of the day, and the reason I decided to go on the Sunday, was the fly past by a Dakota. The pilot really gave the crowd a show, circling the fields, banking, and flying low so we could get a good look at it. I took countless photos, but I won’t bore you with them all.

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I was thrilled to get such a good view of it, and have to share this photo as well.

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I don’t know much about Dakotas, but I’m certainly going to go and find out. What a lovely day, thanks to the Military Vehicle Trust, Lacock and all the reenactors :-).

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