The 28th annual War & Peace Show, in association with the Invicta Military Vehicle Preservation Society, was held on July 21-25, 2010 at the 40-acre Hop Farm Family Park in Paddock Wood, Kent, England. Celebrating the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, this year the War & Peace show paid homage to three great Second World War events: The 70th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk, the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the removal of children from towns and cities to escape the Blitz.
For the first time the RAF Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, gave a full performance above the show, as part of the Battle of Britain tribute. Additionally, iconic aircraft of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed aerial displays that included the Lancaster bomber, a Hurricane fighter and a Spitfire.
A major display was constructed to show how 338,226 British and French soldiers were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940. This included a beach scene with a bombed out and abandoned period fishing boat, a display of nearly 20 military vehicles of the kind that went to France in 1939, and a road block using former Whitbread Drays and abandoned military vehicles, to illustrate the difficulty retreating British soldiers had in reaching Dunkirk.
The removal of children from the Blitz-threatened towns and cities to the countryside was covered via a major photographic exhibition of close to 200 original photographs.
The show is a Mecca for military vehicle enthusiasts and is the world’s largest military vehicle spectacular with a complete range of vehicles from the massive “Dragon Wagon” tank recovery trucks to tiny Austin staff cars. Tanks, trucks, artillery tractors, scout cars, motorcycles, commando bicycles were everywhere as well as the ubiquitous Jeep. In all, over 3,000 vehicles were in attendance. Not only are all these vehicles on display, but in a special field the heavy equipment such as tanks and various tracked vehicles are put through their paces on a dirt course to show their diverse terrain ability.
Another great attraction to the show is the massive area where over 1,000 stalls are set up for militaria vendors to sell their wares. Collectors from around the world come to the show to hunt for, and find, items for their collections. Uniforms, badges, kit, gear, medals, ordnance and guns are all on display and for sale with many selling deactivated machine guns of a type and rarity at affordable prices that makes Americans sigh with jealously since they can’t bring any of them home with them.
Additionally, a large area is set aside for military re-enactors. These re-enactors take great pride in the attention to detail and accuracy that they are representing from all eras of modern military history from World War I to the present.
The War & Peace Show is also about fun and enjoyment for the whole family. They have a wonderful entertainment program with music, dancing, comedy and fashions from the 1940s period and the kids are not forgotten either with lots of attractions for children including the funfair and the Hop Farm play areas.
The War & Peace show is billed as the world’s largest event specializing in military history and is dedicated to keeping alive the courage and determination of those who fought for freedom. This is a show that is a “must see” event and can’t be fully explored in just one day. Whatever your interest in military history is, this is the place to be. The next War & Peace Show is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20 through Sunday July 24, 2011 at the Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent, England. For more information visit www.thewarandpeaceshow.com.
German SS troops stand ready at their post with their MG42. A British Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Jeep from the North Africa campaign. Note the Italian Model 37 machine gun and the Vickers K gun. A Vickers machine gun post at the ready. Looking for a Chinese Type 50 (PPSh41) to round out your collection? One can be yours for just £195 (about $325) – as long as you live in England… These World War I re-enactors have recreated a typical British trench section at the junction of Pudding Lane and Week Street complete with mud and water in the bottom of the trench. Trenches were named so soldiers knew where they were during the war as all trenches looked alike. Such was life on the front lines along the Somme. A selection of MG34s to choose from for only £825 each (about $1,325) Just gotta have a Chinese AK-56-2? It will only set you back £199 (about $320) Deactivated machine guns are very prevalent at the War & Peace Show. Here is a selection from one vendor of Russian PPS43s, U.S. M3 Grease Guns and British Stens. A wide selection of armored scout cars on display. A post of the 4th Marines on Guadalcanal with their guns at the ready. Shown are two trench shotguns, a 1928 Thompson, M1 Garand, a Japanese Samurai sword, sniper ‘03 Springfield, paratrooper M1 carbine and a 1918A2 BAR.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V14N6 (March 2011)