This was the 31st annual War and Peace show (now a revival) at the new venue of Folkestone Racecourse (UK), a far cry from the previous years in the Mud Bath of Hop Farm. The event was advertised as the “World’s largest military vehicle festival “
Even the venue is steeped in history- right in the heart of “Hellfire Corner”, so named due to the pounding it took during the Battle of Britain in 1940. The racecourse itself was used as part of Operation Fortitude (South) during WWII. Dummy aircraft (below) were set up along the racecourse to make it look like an airfield and deceive the Germans into thinking the D-Day landings would be made in Calais not Normandy.
I have always been somewhat sceptical of re-enactment events as there always seems to be a disproportionate amount of “certain” German uniforms, so I did ask the question and the reply was nearly always “because they look smart”…not much you can say to that. So it was refreshing to see such a variety at War & Peace.
From the moment you enter it’s like going into a vast open air museum. With “camps” as far as the eye could see, the constant buzz of military vehicles and the ability to purchase anything and everything from a mortar shell to a deactivated LKG light machine gun.
The weather was hot, too hot, and you had to feel for those dressed in full uniform, in particular the guys in the British SAS ghillie suits (so glad I became a Tankie).
The staged battles were impressive and you had to admire the work and preparation that went into the organisation. Throughout the weekend, the air was filled with the sounds of explosions and machine gun fire.
I was amazed at the effort the re-enactors put into these events, throughout my time there I met people from all over Europe (and much further afield) who had set up camp at the event, living and breathing (as best they could) the characters they were depicting.
Images of the French Resistance (above)- the Croix de Lorraine on the armband, the symbol chosen for the resistance by Charles de Gaulle. Plus FFI on the helmet- French Forces of The Interior.
|Some friends from Bovington Tank Museum were present, who amongst other vehicles were caring for the fabulous Valentine IX DD Tank (the first application of Nicholas Straussler’s design )
|More friends- I had last seen them at the Parola Armour Museum in Finland, carrying out some last minute repairs
There was of course the obligatory collection of Jeeps as at most shows, but some fabulous and unusual examples; it was so refreshing not to see just rows of Willys Jeeps.
Just to give you an idea of some of the various camps that were set up- living history at its best. One of the days was a schools day, with thousands of local schoolchildren in attendance; I never recall a history lesson being like this.
|Inside the “Vietnam” living history camp (above), sorry I cannot show the Operations room due to the amount of “risqué “pictures.
||Spot the carrier pigeon in the basket!
Nieuport 17b (below) replica painted to represent the aircraft flown by Captain Albert Ball VC. On May 17th 1917, his aircraft crashed after a long duel with the younger brother of the “Red Baron” Lother Von Richthofen, and he was killed.
Well we were in the UK
Rex Cadman and his team wanted to make the show bigger and better and no-one can doubt they achieved this.
I loved the time I spent there, fascinating, exciting, educational and emotive. I have completely lost my scepticism and value immensely the efforts of all those involved to bring history to life.
I only briefly touched on the show in this article, and there are lots more photos on Facebook.