Monday, 21 September 2015


Bovington!  Everyone's favourite tank museum, was having a 'Warfare through the ages' weekend and what a weekend it was. Instead of going through it all I'm going to use the gift of pictures and some favourite moments for this, which was our last event of the season.

Dawn on the first day. Except for slightly cold feet I'd been quite comfy in my coat and blanket but got up to find mist and a bit of frost, the mist was just being burnt off by the sun. There was a real moment where a number of vehicles and a tank suddenly began to take shape, you could almost imagine being a German observer in the next field going 'Die Amerikaners sind hier!'

Getting ready time! due to the timetable we did public drill and the battle quite early, leaving plenty of time to watch other events and the tanks.. and visit the beer tent. 

                                 Yes, it is that tank, but no Brad Pitt, I think I stood in just as well. When the tanks are rolled out in the morning and the staff/stewards come out there is a marvelous soundtrack of 633 Squadron, where Eagles dare, Battle of Britain theme, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Wagner and other epic tunes heard all around even over the sound of tank engines (just).

During a demonstration of drill on the Sunday we stood as a big unit on one side whilst the British did their piece and one guy from the 60th rifles, Micheal, was clearly having trouble getting a shot off. leading to a growing murmur of 'OhhhhhHHH' with each non-event, until he fired and got a 'YeaaaaaAAHH!' before falling back to a 'ohhhhhhhh'. Poor guy, though he took it well. At the end he ran on, knelt and fired! to a great applause from us all, only to have his Sergeant shouting across the field 'You orrible littleman, get over here now!' and he dashed off, holding his hat on, to great merriment from our side. Later on the battlefield he got another cheer. 

 A interesting change from the usual fairly flat field with a few trees was a redoubt for our guns, barricades and trenches. Also having MORE FRENCH than British, so how we could lose on the Sunday defending a redoubt against inferior numbers was beyond both sides!  It was suggested we could attack and lose but the script was written before they knew the numbers, or more likely it wasn't really important to the organisers as long as things went bang!

Like Spetchley it was good to see different groups and different time periods, which lead to several discussions on what makes people choose a particular one.. or what faction.. having often been asked 'So why did you choose the French?' I wonder if Confederates have awkward questions about slavery and a FAQ type response about the right to succesion/Union invasion... Do English civil war reenactors tend to be politically left or right of centre depending on whether they choose Royalist or Parliment or is it all just playing a part for fun?
The royalist side on the battlefield had a great preacher with them, hollowing insults and damnation across the field. It was also a spectacle to see men with fire pikes (pikes with the heads on fire) attacking the barricades at the end.

Saturday night saw a bit of a sing along and a great deal of various bottles going round and round, our own bard, Eric, gave us some great tunes, and I gave a rendition of Free spirit by 'The men that will not be blamed for nothing' which I'm sure was magnificent and Soldat Davide got up and gave a fantastic animated story of his early life as a soldier with many, many '.. through the wind, and the rain, and the snow!' punctuating the epic tale to a chorus of 'En avant! en avant! en avant!' 

Russian tank making it's own smoke screen, fighting a battle on a muddy field that tanks had been raced round was also an experience.

At four o'clock on Sunday there was a parade with all participants, although I don't think they all turned up.. and then the end was looming, a couple of times at the weekend I'd felt a bit sentimental about it being the end of a great year, the year of Waterloo 2015 as well, and the loss of our friend, Barry. Wollaton, Dover, the little museum in Horsham, the fanfare of Horseguards, the awesomeness of Waterloo, Painshill, Bovington... These people I had marched and fought and camped out and drank and ate and sang along with.. we were taking the camp apart for the last time until next spring and going our separate ways. There were many hugs, hand shakes and promises to catch up.

Au revoir and not Adieu! (or is it the other way around) until the AGM.

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