Re-enacting good or bad?

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

  1. idler

    idler GeneralList

    That's rather missing the point. When it's being done properly, it's a means of stimulating interest and informing people who might not bother to stop and read a wall of text on a display. Wary as we all are about battle reenactments, you can't deny that it's the sort of thing we probably would have loved as kids and aroused our interest.

    However, I can understand how that would be viewed differently in Ulster where enactment was a daily occurrence.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    I think each to his own and I am sure many folk learn from Combovers and colleagues Re-enacting.
    Sure thing you do get the odd sour berry but we all know that and we pass by accordingly.
    It takes many courses to make a feast.

  3. Combover

    Combover Guest

    I'm still awaiting a response as to why you would feel sorry for me if you saw me? I don't understand why, would you care to elaborate? No motive behind this, just interested. :smile:

    Owen and myself have also put up numerous images to show us at various historical battlefields, something which, you assumed does not go hand-in-hand with re-enacting and buying kit. Perhaps you would do as well to visit one of the bigger shows like the victory show or come and see my group at any event we do and you can see for yourself. We're not to be pitied and would enjoy showing the kit etc to you, although I suspect you wouldn't.

    Also, it's not really 'playing' although I do enjoy it, but please don't try and dumb it down by making out it's make believe. I was actually reading a news sheet, for no other purpose than it has suitable information in it for the exact date of the event I was at. Nothing less.
    Five-Five and Jen'sHusband like this.
  4. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Just returned from this:

    (If I'd known the tweeter was there would have said hello - sorry!)

    I got a short lecture on PBI kit and how it evolved from 14 - 18, demonstrations of rapid fire and various drills. One talk was from an experienced ex-soldier, wounded twice. G-father killed in WW1, Uncle in WW2. Got to handle some of the kit. SMLE's were not deac but there were deacs available. I heard stuff I knew and stuff I did not know. I was educated. One talk came close to reducing me to tears (real and laughter). And one pay book had a naughty WW1 postcard ! Worth going for that alone.
    I have to feel sorry for some folk!


    Five-Five and Combover like this.
  5. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Combover and Fruitcake - you guys know I think you guys are some of the few representing the dogs bollocks side of re-enacting *cough* FIRE *Cough*.

    I dabble... not so much over the last year due to writing, and have researched a very specific impression and made the occasional error as well. That said many re-enactors are frankly... eugh. I've met SS re-enactors denounce all SS warcrimes, and lecture me on how wrong I am regarding their combat performance... allsorts.

    Some re-enactors are shocking, some of those who consider themselves 'good' are infact walking re-enactorisms who carry captured weapons, use tons of non-standard kit, and when one proves these muppets they are wrong, they will show you a single photograph (of an unrelated unit and event) and argue that is the norm. I cannot stand these twits and sadly they make up a great deal of the hobby.

    Recently I lost a member as he wasn't willing to follow a Kit Guide I wrote (25 pages on the unit, full images of insignia/explanation of terms and history), buying all the wrong gear, even the wrong vehicle... so he left as he felt that I wasn't being accomodating. He has since joined another group who has far more... colourful standards.

    Many are happy to get more numbers, indeed I've been told by Sealed Knot chaps that 'authenticity doesn't matter its about spectacle' which I can somewhat see the argument in but... well there is a good reason that I will not battle, last one I did which was rather 'accurate' was in 09 - just Brits with tank support vs Germans. Since then even the big shows just merge the two and create a-historical silliness. Doesn't matter how good your kit is if the live action side of things is a silly charade.

    But yes, sadly most re-enactors do not care for the history/past they claim to do it to 'educate' and that... personally is the worst and silliest side of the whole thing currently. I've learned a huge amount of basic Tommy knowledge, which has helped me appreciate accounts more, for example food, sleeping in kit, how you wear it/fire it - how good period camo really is at 300 yards and vehicle identification... again its basic (many would argue silly) but it certainly has its uses.
    Five-Five and Jen'sHusband like this.
  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    A couple of comments:

    I have seen only a very few re-enactors or living historians. Those I have seen and talked with have been dedicated, conscientious, and extremely well-informed.

    I have not seen large numbers of re-enactors at a battlefield site but I have read that some truly dedicated "super hard cores" among our Civil War people do indeed take living history as far as they can safely go with it, including eating only period food, not washing, dirtying up their clothes and kit, sleeping in the open and/or going without sleep, etc. This at least gives more of the real look of combat soldiers, and gives a few participants a faint glimmer of the physically grueling life of a soldier even when not under fire.

    Yet while I respect those who go so far, I am not sure that I could do the same. Like all boys, I played soldiers when I was a child. That's probably where my interest in WWII and military history started. A few years ago, a veteran I knew and liked died. Afterwards, I went to London to meet his family for Remembrance Sunday. They were in the march past with his old mates from the Royal Marines, and before they stepped off they invited me to wear a vintage RM beret, as they were doing. They told me that Warwick would have wanted me to do so, but I declined the honor because I wasn't family and it seemed undeserved somehow. I think I'd feel the same if I put on a WWII uniform as a re-enactor; that's not who and what I am. Such feelings are very subjective and hard to put into words, and I understand those who feel and act differently.
    Combover likes this.
  7. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    Idler - You have hit the nail on the head when you say "the sort of thing we probably would have loved as kids" however I stopped playing soldiers when I was about 13.

    Combover - See above. If you enjoy yourself then that is all that matters. Whatever floats your boat.

    I have attended a few events where reenactors were playing / acting / portraying / reenacting and have a number of photographs.

    If this is your thing then great. Have a cracking time. You asked for opinions and I gave you mine.
    dbf likes this.
  8. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    There's a place for reenactment...and it's there - it's NOT on our tv or cinema screens unless they're prepared to work UP to decent standards and production values. I've seen just too many landsers that look as if they've been manning the goulaschkanone rather than any other gun...

    A few years back I picked up an (expensive) DVD copy of Eleventh Day, the documentary on the invasion of Crete....and about a third of that was clips of reenactors - and frankly they were absolutely crap! Weapons/uniforms ALL muddled up, it was about as authentic and informative as THIS -
    Paul Reed, ww2ni and Combover like this.
  9. Combover

    Combover Guest


    Absolute classic!
  10. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    I totally agree Phylo.
  11. Combover

    Combover Guest

    I'd just like to mention at this point that we (my group) do not 'battle'. Reason being: they're nearly always shit.
  12. arnhem44

    arnhem44 Member

    No principle objections here too.

    There is a section for modellers..there people can show off their creations and ask for building tips...
    and there too (I mean to refer to a certain dutch modeller's website) you encounter sometimes modeller's who seem to have a fixed obsession with one type of scenery (..yes; waffen SS this, waffen SS that, oftentimes in historic areas where atrocities took place in Ardennes or Russia ..and the Waffen SS tank with SS-Grenadiers always being in victorious pose...but the forum steps over the topic is the model as such..).
    So the same can be catered here; as long as the interest focusses on where to buy this or that jacket, and what is the exact colour of it if you want a tailor made jacket at a certain tailor address in bangladesh, or where this or that group will reenact the next month.
    If something does get fishy, then the forum community responds automatically.
    If the responses do get annoying and not to the point, then simply ignore.

    Go ahead.
  13. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  14. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    On the subject of WW2 re-enactment, there were some re-enactment sessions during the time I was a volunteer for the BBC "People's War". This was to help generate interest in the project so that people would contribute their wartime memories for posterity.

    These "re-enactments" were not only those dressing up in army, RAF or Navy uniforms but also some 'Home Front" re-enactments. For example, one session I helped out at was a wartime "Ready, Steady, Cook" competition (a programme which used to be on BBC daytime TV at the time).

    This involved two professional chefs cooking each cooking a wartime dish and asking members of the public to sample them and vote on which was best. Some of those who helped out dressed up in the 1940s style (although I personally did not). This "re-enactment" proved very popular and I remember there were quite a few people who gave their personal memories of what they used to eat in wartime Britain when many foods were rationed.

    For anyone who wishes to read an article I wrote about this (with a photograph of some of those in 1940s costume), click on the following link:

    One of the chefs who took part in that day's re-enactment, John Crouch, sometimes also prepares meals that it the Roman soldiers garrisoned along Hadrian's Wall would have eaten. At these sessions, there are usually a re-enactment group dressed up as Roman soldiers. It is a good way for school children and the wider general public to better understand the daily life of the Roman soldier. The Roman soldiers stationed along Hadrian's Wall were not repelling Picts and Scots with catapults, spears and swords all the time!

    Click on the following link to read a newspaper article (March 2013) about John Crouch preparing meals that Roman soldiers may have eaten at the Vindolanda Roman fort:

    Vindolanda, and other former Roman forts along the Wall, often have people dressed up as Roman soldiers or sometimes as 'Ancient Britons'. Thus, re-enactment can be an excellent way to better understand aspects of times past, whether it is still within the living memory of some, as WW2 currently is, or from times consigned to the history books long ago. As I hope I may have illustrated, re-enactments do not necessarily even need to about one group of soldiers fighting another group of soldiers.

    Good luck to those re-enactment groups, such as I understand yours is Combover, who help others to understand what life was like in former times.
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  15. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Nope, not many SS fanboys here most of the time. Have a good day too.
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  17. -tmm-

    -tmm- Senior Member

    The trouble with re-enacting is that the WW2 variety only ever appears in the national press in a negative light, so this warps peoples views on the subject. WW2 is still in living memory for many people, so is bound to divide opinion in a way that Tudor, Saxon or Civil War re-enactments wont. As a frequent visitor to WW2 shows and events, and a part time re-enactor myself I think living history as an educational tool is invaluable.

    As an aside, I should also point out that although I have no personal problem with german re-enactors, I think anyone who chooses to dress in an SS uniform needs their head checked, for a multitude of reasons.
    Jen'sHusband likes this.
  18. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    Totally Agree tmm.
  19. start_the_purple

    start_the_purple Junior Member

    Apologies for putting my two penn'orth, but I've just come across this one. I find the family research aspect intriguing, given that the two sides of my family fought for different sides in WWII (British and German). If I chose to reenact any of my forebears, then I could choose from Cameron Highlanders, Black Watch, Kriegsmarine, or...Waffen-SS. Whatever is portrayed, though, I fail to see the 'educational' side of reenacting.

    To my mind, there is nothing wrong with indulging in a hobby, and, if that's what takes your fancy, reenacting is fair enough, but aside from displaying weapons and equipment (which you don't need to dress up to do), there seems to be little else on offer. The justification always seems to be concerned with being in the 'public eye'. Why the need to involve the public? Why is that the raison d'etre for this hobby?

    Let's face it, WWII reenactors just don't look, or act, like their historical counterparts: most are too old to be near any historical front line, and most seem to have done too much eating and not enough smoking. A great deal of effort does seem to go into the reenactor's 'impression', but they generally don't give the impression of being soldiers, which is unsurprising, since they haven't had the training, experience and attention to detail which were manifest in the real thing.

    In short, what is to be learned from watching ageing, overweight men slogging about a field firing blank ammunition? Certainly, the ones I've spoken to are nice enough, and very keen on their chosen 'impression', but, let's not kid ourselves: these are the grown-up equivalent of wee boys 'playing war', and they can't really pretend to be anything else.
    Jonathan Ball and dbf like this.
  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

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