By Dan Shea
The 29th annual War & Peace Show was held on 20-24 July, 2011. It was a rousing success, as always. While some older vendors had rotated out, other, newer vendors had started their time at the show, so the massive “Boot Sale” (a car “Boot” in the UK is the trunk, and a “boot sale” is like a flea market to Americans) of militaria was full of trash and treasures – not each being the same to all attendees. Some of the people with us could not for the life of them understand why we spent solid folding money on items they wouldn’t give a nickel for, but we collectors were as happy as could be with our finds.
For the uninitiated, the War & Peace Show takes place on The Hop Farm grounds, and covers about 400 acres. You read that right – 400 acres of tanks, military vehicles, tents full of goods for sale, model tents, and reenactors. It’s a crazy good time, and it takes at least three days to walk through viewing things. People from all over the world attend this show, and vendors from all over bring their militaria to sell there.
The South of England is beautiful in mid-July, and attending this show is always a prelude to adventures in the area. It’s also a gathering place for the tribes, where all of those interested in military history of the modern era tend to gather – from the late 1800s to yesterday, the weapons, vehicles, uniforms, and militaria are there. In traditions forged over the last three decades, various groups have adopted times they will be in this beer hall or another, or be at this reenactment battle or that ‘40s dance event. You have to attend the show several times to learn where these meetings are at, and enjoy the camaraderie.
SAR would like to thank Rex Cadman and his crew for their excellent show, and we look forward to seeing them again in 2012.
The Kelly’s Heroes:
Malcolm Dunlop with his group; The Kelly’s Heroes. We thought it would be nice to take a bit deeper look into one of the reenactor groups so people can understand how deep the commitment to reenacting is – using their own words.
“Who are The Kelly’s Heroes? We are a Living History Group depicting American G.I. Military Police (nicknamed) “Snowdrops” of the 2nd Armoured 502 MP Company. Formed in 1999 by Malcolm Dunlop & Colin Dawson, the 2nd Armoured 502 MP Company, “Kelly’s Heroes” now stands at 28 members, who come from all walks of life. The group displays at many events throughout the year, in the UK and abroad at major events such as the War & Peace Show and the IMPS Combined Ops Headcorn also Liberation parades in Europe. “Kelly’s Heroes” regularly join forces with the German Living History Groups The Second Battle Group SBG. & Kampfgruppe Stahlkrieger to stage battle re-enactments “Hollywood-style” for the public. With plenty of gun fire, explosions and fake blood, all the scenarios we do are scenes from famous war films such as The Battle of the Bulge, Kelly’s Heroes, Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan and are the battles the spectators, young and old, love to see. The group also offers a complete battle service for events people would like to stage. We can supply troops, vehicles, weapons, and the scenario; in fact the whole battle package. We also undertake Film and TV work, using the vast amount of equipment and vehicles at our disposal. Next year at the War & Peace Show 2012 we will be re-enacting scenes from Saving Private Ryan & Kelly’s Heroes.
At the 2011 War & Peace Show, their Battle of the Bulge display was awarded Best Large Living History Display, and the Visitor Choice Award Runner-up. Visit them at http://thekellysheroes.co.uk/ and come see them at the War & Peace Show. The War & Peace Show
Location: The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent, UK. (This is in The South, located southeast of London and about evenly in between Maidstone and Tunbridge-Wells)
Show website: www.thewarandpeaceshow.com
Promoter contact info: Rex Cadman. Best to use the website and link through email.
Date & Location of next show:
The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent, UK
2012 – 30th Annual Show 18th to 22nd July 2012
2013 – 31st Annual Show 17th to 21st July 2013
2014 – 32nd Annual Show 16th to 20th July 2014
Focus of show: Reenactors of military units from all modern times, emphasis is on the military vehicles and having correct uniforms and kit. Located on 400 acres of displays, live unit reenactment of many different units from Croatia to WWII to Vietnam. Huge militaria sale area, with thousands of vendors selling everything from deactivated firearms to vehicle kit and period dress.
Dress: This show is outdoors, with a lot of walking and potential rain and mud. Be prepared to supply your own seating arrangements anywhere you go, including to watch the military vehicle demonstrations.
Hotel hints: Holiday Inn Express are everywhere, most hotels in the Paddock Wood area are booked way in advance, so you will probably have to book outside the area if you haven’t done so already.
Power & Plug types: 220 volt 50 cycle, UK three prong type plugs. It’s unlikely to find U.S. or Euro plugs in most hotels.
Country warnings: Like any country, there are areas that are not safe to travel in. A good rule of thumb is to stay out of city areas at night. Ask the locals for advice on danger areas.
Cultural hints: The British love pubs, pub quiz nights, and Karaoke, as well as football (soccer to American speakers), cricket, rugby, and jokes told in a wry manner. They utilize 300% more of the English language than Americans, and are generally very precise speakers. The Brits have a long military tradition, which is evident in their culture and museums. Ordering food in pubs is generally done at the bar with payment in full; then it is brought to you.
Tipping: 10% is generally fine in restaurants, less to a taxi. In many pubs tipping is not considered correct, offer to buy the barkeep a drink for later.
Currency type: GBP – Great Britain Pound. Generally see-sawing of late at 1.5 to 2.0 USD per GBP. For up-to-date conversion, try www.xe.com/ucc/. Slang expressions for currency include “Quid,” which is one GBP.
Getting around: Rental cars will have UK style right hand steering, and driving is on the left side of the road. Unless you know how to drive with a left hand shift – the pattern is the same – order an automatic. We advise finding the first parking lot in sight after getting your rental car, and learning the reverse geometry if you are a Euro or U.S. type driver. The trains are quite reliable, as are buses. For directions to the Hop Farm, please go to www.thehopfarm.co.uk/visitors/18
Military Museums to see: In London; Tower of London’s Weapons display and the Imperial War Museum are of note and there are many others. Portsmouth- Fort Nelson cannon museum. Royal Armouries in Leeds in the North. The UK has a well developed museum community, check the Royal Armouries website at www.armouries.org.uk/home and search “English Heritage” for other sites. For tank aficionados, www.tankmuseum.org.
Tourism: Two excellent resources online are www.visitbritain.com/ and www.visitlondon.com. If you are in the area for the War & Peace Show, look for a visit to Leed’s Castle (not in the city of Leeds up North, it’s just north of the show site) which was the Queen’s castle since the 1200s, and is an amazing family visit. For events in Kent, try www.kentmessenger.co.uk.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V16N1 (March 2012)|