Re-enacting good or bad?

Discussion in 'General' started by Owen, Jul 10, 2006.

  1. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    I am all for anything that keeps the memory alive.

    Whilst I am not a re-enactor myself, those that I have met are sticklers for absolute accuracy and that is of enormous benefit to researchers like me.


  2. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    I have encountered re-enactors in several places - there are some gentleman who do WW1 and are so serious, they don't wash - they would welcome lice as an authentic experience. And then there are of course the fat SS men. I was in touch once - legitimate research guv'nor - on a rather strange forum with some Belgian and Alsatian gentlemen who were intending to 're-enact' the battles over the Somme from June 1940 and when I asked how they would do the Colonial Troops, they replied that some of them would black up. I never followed that one up.

    I've met Essex boys who bought a tank or a jeep because they could. There are those who tell me they do it for fun and those who do it because they can - I've employed some in films and they've been lovely, some knowledgeable, all enthusiastic and helpful. A lot of them say they do it 'to honour the soldiers who fought...' or some such similarly vague reason which I've never been quite able to square. Once, I got extremely frustrated with some dopey students who had interviewed a bloke in the SS uniform at some event or other - and a very spotty young Herbert he was too, but all the way through the short piece, they didn't think once to ask him why?

    I heard a nice story from a friend who still works in TV, of a group of re-enactors and I won't say which side, but suffice it to say that they could talk the leg off your donkey about authenticity and 'getting it right' but when asked to get dirty, took huge exception - "Do you know how much this kit costs?" etc..... It's no weirder than Airfix modelling in my book, but it is a hell of a lot more expensive. I'm sure there are a lot of people on this forum who indulge in hobbies that their families consider somewhat strange or obsessive. I mean, I support Tranmere Rovers, how weird is that?

    As long as it's your hobby, and you treat it as such I don't have a problem, but I must admit, if I was an elderly Dutch or French person and saw this lot turning up to drive around my neighbourhood, I'd be somewhat puzzled - or perhaps vexed. It's obviously an industry with some wealthy people involved. I think, as with all things which people consider slightly beyond the pale, I'm only interested in the people who have an insight into it and can be eloquent about what they do.

    I'm very interested in this subject - there isn't as far as I know, much material on the subject in Europe. If anyone fancies making a film or a book, or some sort of project with this subject, let me know.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    When they are good they are very very good , when they are bad they are rubbish.

    Now please put that album back up cos I want to see the photos .
    Having seen your stuff posted in other threads it'd be good to see an album with pics in one place.


    PS. If the album isn't back up by this time next week you're banned. :p
  4. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    I did not know they made fonts that small.
  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    What's a 'one-star review' ? is that the thread rating ? I've never tried using that. It must be a bit difficult to do with only a few posts. The old 'reputation' seems to have disappeared. I can only vote up or down now so presumably that means 'only' one point and I don't see how comments can be left anymore.

    If forum obsessives such as myself can get in a state with the new format (Don't like it, by the way) then there's a fair bet that others are probably not always achieving the desired postings either.

    It's a difficult thing, re-enactment. Not black and white at all. The viewer's prejudices have a lot to do with it as well. I'm quite comfortable with an accurate, detailed portrayal of an unglamorous British unit but the more airborne it gets or the more transatlantic then the less comfortable I become as it seems that it's being done to glorify the portrayer. I see no reason why anyone who's not being paid should want to portray someone they didn't admire so I'm afraid that rules out German re-enacting for me. It's too close to a tribute.

    Please post the kit pictures back...especially if there is a 1940 portrayal. :smile:
  6. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    I've not seen any WW2 reenactments. Closest I've come to it is playing Brits & Gerry's with branches for guns as a child. But I was a child and had no concept of the horrors of war.

    I'm in a strange place having discovered a German line through family tree research. I doubt my great grandmother even knew she was half German when she was orphaned in Edinburgh in 1866. Can't help but think, did my Dad with the British Army potentially fight against his own kin? And if they did know about the German lineage, how did the family feel when my Dads brother was killed after being torpedoed by a U-Boat? So it does make me curious about the "other side".

    Is that the picture you originally posted back in the gallery? It doesn't cause me any offence as I'm ignorant about the equipment I'm afraid. To be truthful all I could think was I wouldn't mind a jumper like that today because it's flippin freezing here in Scotland again.
  7. Combover

    Combover Guest

    Ha! No, it wasn't that one, that's my trusty submariner's jumper! Well worth the money.
  8. Combover

    Combover Guest

    I refuse to do 'Para/ Airbourne/ SAS/ Commando/ etc as it isn't representative. Just the normal 'non-glamourous' portrayals for us.

    Like I said, the reason for the thread was to hear people's views on the matter, rather than to bemoan any rating. I thought it had obviously stirred emotion enough to warrant givinig it the rating it got, but no further information was forthcoming, hence the thread asking for comment.

    I may ask VP to do a 're-enacting' section in the gallery so it is kept separate from the likes of Ron's wonderful photos. That might make it a bit more acceptable.
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    Re-enacting WWII is to politically-charged for me. I prefer the simpler, black-and-white times, which is why I liked playing "Bad Guys and Indians" so much when I was a kid.
  10. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    This post may seem slightly acidic but I really would like to know people's opinions on this. Clearly it was a waste of effort putting a gallery of the different uniforms up, but people's honest opinions on the matter would be fully appreciated. Good or bad.


    In the area where I live (West Cumbria) there are groups who dress up at various times to re-enact the lives and / or invasions of the Romans, the Vikings, the American marines in the American War of Independence. From time to time staff at the local museums also dress up in different uniforms or costumes to better illustrate an exhibition at their museum (which have included the WW1 and WW2 years). There is nothing inherently wrong as such with 're-enactment'.

    The thing that can upset people with WW2 re-enactments (for example) is often the reason why some of the groups do it. So, if it is something you enjoy and your reasons are good, by all means carry on.
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    It would be rather bizarre to have only one side in a re-enactment. Civil War buffs play both sides, and swap if one side is short on troops.
  12. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    No harm in it but certainly not for me.
    Any time I see these people I almost feel sorry for them.

    Instead of spending a small fortune on Dressing Up why dont you spend the money on going to the Battlefields?
    dbf likes this.
  13. Combover

    Combover Guest

    Why would you feel sorry for me? What's there to feel sorry about?
    Jonathan Ball likes this.
  14. Tanja van Zon-Anderson

    Tanja van Zon-Anderson Senior Member


    Last night I saw on TV that there will be a re-enactment in Assen (the Netherlands).
    They ae practising already a couple of days. I understand that the allies will be played by dutch people and the germans will be done by the germans themself.

    The reason for this event is the libaration of Assen.
    The re-enactment itself is the commemoration.

    I think that this is a good way to tell the story.


  15. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.


    Quite honestly mate if you enjoy it then that's all that matters really. I have a few of the really good Pen and Sword DVD's of Normandy and Arnhem and personally I find the use of re-enactors in them a distraction. The thing that's struck me is the fact that the Uniforms and equipment always look immaculate i.e pressed trousers and polished rifles. I appreciate the collections will be a pride and joy of the owner but for me the realism is missing.

    With regards to any antipathy towards WW2 Re-enactment specifically could it be due to the fact that it's still within living memory to many?

    Anyway, I'd quite like to see te photos in the Gallery. No issue from me in that regard.
  16. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    "With regards to any antipathy towards WW2 Re-enactment specifically could it be due to the fact that it's still within living memory to many?"

    That would be true, were it it not for the fact that the the veterans on this site form such a small percentage of the whole membership and yet the general feeling appears to be against enactment that involves SS wanabees.

    I confess to finding this situation most heartening !

  17. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    I have no problem with historical reinterpretation - for eaxmple, the volunteers (mostly, not all, students) who portray Redcoats in the Citadel in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Individuals who dress accurately and illustrate it to schools - a picture is worth a thousand words, or an hour of talk.

    But some examples from personal experience. 40th anniversary of D-Day show in the local park, in the West Midlands. My father was an officer in the Royal Warwicks in the war; not on D-Day, but later and he had friends who had been. Numerous errors by those purporting to be 2nd Battalion, including dubious lanyards. Dad was too gentlemanly to pick them up. At the same event, there was a 'battle' between yes, you've guessed it, various assorted SS and various assorted US Airborne. There truly was a sense of 'playing at it'.

    At the 60th anniversary of D-Day event at Lepe in Hampshire - accuracy had advanced, and not everyone was SS or US airborne. But there were actual veterans present, and when the re-enactors marched past there was an 11th hour intake of breath when it was realised that the SS were included (they were asked not to).

    I did not see it myself (even though I was there), but heard from a colleague that in Normandy in 1984, the group representing the Hampshire Regiment marched past the actual veterans who greeted them in silent disdain - any corroboration?

    To be fair; when I was viewing the 60th anniversary exhibition of 1945 in Green Park on a preview, I joked to a fellow academic historian that no-one seemed to want to be 123 Field Bath Unit, or 3rd Division advanced Postal Section. Lo, there was a Postal Section represented. Kudos for that. A friend has a very accurate representation of the Field Security Section of 1st Airborne Division, and treats it seriously.
  18. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Speaking of the airborne the very first site I came upon while seeking info on my Father's parachute battalion was was that of a re-enactment group based in Florida and Tennessee. Didn't have a clue what re-enactment was at the time and was bemused by the sight of grown American men running around in British para gear. I remember writing to my brothers and saying something along the lines of, "Get a load of these guys!" ... :smile:

    It didn't take long to realize that re-enactment/living history groups were part of a world wide phenomenon. When it's done well it's quite wonderful and I'm thankful that these enthusiastic people are out there keeping alive a history that is easily forgotten.

    I found it interesting recently in a thread where we were trying to identify an Arnhem photo that someone suggested it might be re-enactors. As we know many manipulate their photos of group activity to give them a WW2 era look. Very few ever pull it off convincingly in my eyes, but maybe that's just as well.

    Regards ...
  19. Combover

    Combover Guest

    What, like this?
    geoff501, Owen and Rich Payne like this.
  20. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I don't understand your comments.
    Have you seen the pics here on post #8

    Spot on uniforms & haircuts at a Memorial & cemetery on an old battlefield.

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