Posts Tagged ‘history’

I’ll be Odyssey-ing You

August 31, 2009


Like the general population of the Village in the cult TV-series “The Prisoner”, there’s something decidedly odd about the British, but being stuck together on this small island we don’t really notice it, but the wonderful part is even when we do notice we just grin and get on with it without a worry in the world and least of all we don’t get self conscious about it. It’s an honest eccentricity which makes us who we are, so just as well we’re comfortable with it. Big reenacting shows like Military Odyssey in Kent really are a magnifying glass on not so much what makes us tick, rather our happy acceptance that we’re nation of train-spotters and how we’re happy to share that with anyone who wanders past.

For those who’ve ever been to Military Odyssey it’s only fair to point out it’s a large multi-period reenacting show where you’ll find Viking camped next to Cowboy, Napoleonic Chevalier next to American Civil War Rebel, German Wehrmacht soldier next to British Para. The total selection is incredibly broad and with the traders and collectors stalls presents a day out with something to interest just about everyone with just the smallest interest in history.

This year we turned up pretty early and thanks to the organised ticketing were inside the County ground within minutes. As always we headed for the stalls first to see what’s on offer, and as we go to a fair few shows like this it wasn’t long before we started to bump into folk we know. Frenchie from AirsoftWorld was the first – running a sniper competition with an airsoft Barrett and an L96. Now big guns are very popular with airsofters so both me and the boy Slug joined the line, only to be disappointed. Sure the thing looks like a Barrett, but it handled like a dead dog and the trigger was heavier than most anvils and rather killed any concept of slowly squeezing it. Still I managed five shots on the target, appaling grouping, but Slug’s single shot hitting was worth gloating over. Not all bad news though, they’ve got an all steel Sten Mk1 on offer, which is under going some tweaking, and a lovely and simple little gun it is too.

Next bumped into Lee who supplies various Yank kit, who wasn’t having a positive sales experience, apparently hardly anyone was buying and the show hadn’t been as busy as last years. Here’s hoping it picked up for him.

Our biggest collective purchase for the day was by Slug in his quest for the US Airborne experience, in buying the rifleman webbing from Soldier of Fortune to compliment the kit he bought at War & Peace. Thankfully there was another Dad on hand with his Airborne obssessed son, and he showed us how to wear it.

Once the stalls were done and dusted, including finding two wargames going on in the pavilion, it was time to enjoy the enormous effort the reenactors put into their displays. Most notable this year were 4JAS, who had a nifty display and spent a good few minutes having a natter with the Slug, also the All American Pathfinders where one of their medic chaps gave a good short briefing on all things medic and answered some relevent questions, similarly in the woods were some Para reenactors with a very well equipped field hospital. We spent a lot of time with them, and to be honest we were so impressed with their surgical kit as to not have asked which group they are, but they were very good. Not only did they have a wealth of enthusiasm but collectively they looked and sounded like Para’s with twinkles in eyes and a vague reassuring feeling they could kill a man with their little finger.

Of course there was a wealth of good displays, and I don’t have the time to mention every single one, but the one which impressed us the most was that of Shrapnel’s Battery who for a humble fee will let you loose with black powder devices, so you can fire a musket, a cannon, or a mortar which is great fun, and really teaches you something about history. Well actually it teaches you just how loud a bang some things can make and  seeing how they let all us lads ranging in age from five through twelve to my forty-five have a go it was a lesson much enjoyed.

History Forums a go-go

April 7, 2009


Internet forums don’t have much of a reputation amongst people with brains – ranking as they do in the common conscience just below blogs for hubs of the nonsensical, the irrational and the dull cynical provocations invented by clock-watching office workers. Those which attract an audience tend to become cliques where backslapping each other for sharing opinions is the primary activity.

For those with a genuine interest in history this is a problem, many history forums are filled with “What am best…?” threads, typically involving folk without enough knowledge nor experience attempting to define which tank, airplane, gun, etc is the best ever. Similarly theres wild “What if…” threads where twisted improbabilities are invented fuelled more by alcohol or drugs than imagination. Lastly there’s the most sordid type of post; the “Duh! Actually the real reason…” the naked revision of history for political milage and both left and right wings are dreadfully happy to devolve themselves to this.

Thankfully it’s not all bad as there are some crackingly brilliant forums around, obviously they suffer slightly from the malady expressed above but it’s not their core activity – not by a long chalk. For all things World War 2 there’s three which have become solid faves for me.

ww2talkFirstly there’s WW2Talk a generally British and Commonwealth fuelled site where the membership verges on the academic historian. This is helped in no small part by actually having some real-life historians on board as well as having some of the owners of many of the best history sites and several veterans as members too. Sure there’s some buggering about but that’s usually contained in the Barracks, an area specifically for jokes, leg-pulling and rants. Generally it has the comfortable atmosphere of a gent’s club with the smell of leather upholstery and just a hint of gin.

ww2forumsSecondly there’s WWIIForums a seppo version of WW2Talk, the two are actually related but I don’t like to pry as to how as it’s very likely to involve a G.I. with nylon stockings and someone’s tipsy Grandmother. Obviously the content is more U.S. related but it’s established regular members are of the same ilk as WW2Talk and that’s what important. Instead of a Barracks they have a Freefire Zone, and bearing such a name does express how heated things can get. It’s interesting to see how a relatively young nation such as the U.S.A. responds to events – typically a youthful indignation to our British weary resignation.  It’s a stunning resource none the less, so God Bless America.

axishistoryforumFinally there’s the Axis History Forum which specialises in all things Third Reich and often with the most incredible detail. This trait can be off-putting to the newcomer but I suggest you don’t let it worry you. All three of these forums offer more than any single person might ever know of course, but AHF goes a little further in not only knowing all the details, but knowing them in English, German and several other languages as well. Rather unfortunately AHF does suffer the usual foolishness of the non-history reader, so it has to stress it’s apolitical stance. One of the folk behind it is Marcus Wendel who also runs the quite excellent Axis History Factbook where he declares on the home page it is not a nazi site and neither is he a nazi. Probably too many visits from members of one of those piss-poor forums I berated at the beginning, shame.