Living History Vs Walting - are there occasions where it is o.k. ?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by dogs_bollox, Jul 26, 2010.

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  1. Is all 'Living History' walting or not ? What about the Roman and Medieval re-enactors ? Do they provide insight into what it was like to live and fight in those long, distant days or are they too walting ?

    I understand that re-enacting something very recent or current is walting as you could do it for real right now. But what about doing stuff that you couldn't possibly do now like fighting in armour ? Or Napoleonic Wars or Boer War or WW1 ? Are these folk helping to privide authentic extras for the film industry too ? Is it walting if it's beyond living memory ?

    And what about ex-Mob lads who served in the 70's and are now owners of period Land Rovers all hooked up FFR and with their old kit (in larger sizes) mooching about the place at these shows?

    I should say that I'm not a re-enactor or living history enthusiast - just curious. Are these the three degrees of walting ?

  2. Arrsepedia has an entry on this subject that is pure genius, a ranking and grading system based on how modern the period and how elite the unit/group/squardron etc is supposed to be. Nail on head in my opinion.It must be pointed out that within re enactment, there rages the button counter verses jubbly debate depending on levels of authenticity. Many of the best living history enthusiasts are just as concerned about tanning their own leather, hand sewing diligently researched clothing and kit etc. you cant re enact any combat, no one can kill/maim anyone else.But you can explore and explain crafts that are bygone, and do period drills and explain the reasons why. The UK living history market (Heritage market) has moved away from the big battle event and to mini shows and more educational talk to the public stuff, with the multiperiod spectaculars being , actually more like a lot of small group encampments together so the public can compare and contrast.
  3. I missed checking Arrsepedia ont his. My bad as my son would say.

    I'll go give it a butchers. I should have posted this in the Beltring thread upon reflection. Ah well.

    Cheers for the info Padbrat ! :)

  4. There have been some cracking threads on the Great War Forum on this subject over the last couple of years. Living on the former Great War battlefields I see these Re-enactors on an almost weekly basis. I do believe there is a fine line between what is educational and what is just not acceptable to some people. One of the main gripes about these people is them turning up to burials of recently discovered WW1 soldiers and also to memorial services, dressed in their garb. Many people, including the CWGC, frown on this. I certainly do. In my eyes it takes the focus off what people are really there for be it a funeral or memorial service and places the focus on the re-enactors. This is simply not acceptable. At the recent burial of an Australian Soldier at Prowse Point Cemetery, south of Ypres last week the official CWGC stance was that re-enactors in military uniform were not to be in the cemetery. One turned up but by all accounts remained outside.
    On the other hand, re-enactors can give a lot of flavour to educating folk on life and equipment of the men they portray. In 2007, whilst leading a coach group for the 90th anniversary of Passendale, we came across a re-enactors camp near Cross Roads Farm, Ypres. I stopped the coach and let them have a look around. It was a mix of British and German re-enactors (The Germans being German). Most of the Brits were actually serving soldiers and officers. I remember one was a serving RAMC MO and prtrayed his WW1 counterpart. The whole display was absolutley fascinating and very interesting. There is also a very professional group out there called the "Khaki Chums" who do it professionally for TV Docos and other work.
    I do frown when I see them going "into action" though. A couple of years ago in the grounds of the Passendale museum at Zonnebeke, a couple of them dressed as Germans (Brits) carried out a lame section attack. One threw his plastic repro stick grenade and then proceeded to throw his teddy into the corner when he couldnt find the grenade and walked around trying to locate it shouting it had cost him €30 at a militaria fair.
    Another main gripe about WW1 re-enactors is the size of some of them. In no way do many of these represent the men (and women) who served in this period. Granted, there were some overweight soldiers in service during the war but I doubt any 25 stone waddling bubblebutts served in the 1st Bn Bolton Wanderers. Unfortunatley thats what we see more and more of from re-enactment groups.
    I also find it very wierd indeed, those who re-enact WW2 SS units. I cant remember if it was last year or the year before at one of these gatherings (War and Peace show?) where a serving Policeman and his family were all filmed dressed in WW2 German Garb, him as a Nazi and his young kids as Brownshirts? Fookin Wierdo. Just my tuppenceworth.

  5. Absolutely agree with you flying monkey, actually I would be very loathe to portray anything which could be misconstrued as being at the expense of dignity, but yes thats a personal thing. Untill very recently there were actual veterans of ww1.. and even as these pass into memory there are many people to whom the great war casts a very real and visceral shadow across families. Ancient history is a far safer bet in this respect, but some people are fascinated by these later periods. The argument is education verses entertainment. I also disagree with 1st person presentations, as you cannot portray the past from this perspective, where you actually "are" that persona speaking in (your version of) olde english for example.. I consider it fundamentally wrong and ungenuine to even try.. you are better off talking to the public about your stuff AND THEN LISENING TO THEM, the general public are not so general, and its their history too, preparing game in a tudor kitchen for example.. I once saw an old gamekeeper (who was in the visitors crowd)tell a reenactor how best to prepare rabbits.. no amount of research will tell you what that old boy has spent his lifetime doing, its a 2 way thing.
  6. I saw this thread and instantly thought of giving DB the link to Arrsepedia . If you've not seen it yet it's here

    Re-enactment - ARRSEpedia

    I think a lot of people have a problem with WW2 re-enactors who are obessesed with the Waffen SS . There's also the problem of obese middle aged bank managers recreating a killing machine
  7. Perhaps these people are of the generations that weren't allowed to dress-up as kids and play war because it wasn't Politically Correct and are now regressing into a childhood they never had?

    Maybe the practice of "dramatising" events that no documentary seems to be without these days has given the lead.

    I'm old fashioned. I'd love to see the equipment used in a First Dressing Station or RAP from WWI and have it all explained in detail. I don't need someone dressed as a BEF RAMC officer to do that but then I'm not of the MTV generation.
  8. I went to the War and Peace show a couple of years ago out of curiosity, to find 9/10ths of those dressed as the SS were Germans. Now THAT was disturbing...and not just to me, even the British re-enactors were surprised. However one of them pointed out that most of them were old East Germans.
  9. I got free entry into a military vehicle show last month because I was driving my 109" FFR, does that count?

    I was quite chuffed, saved me a tenner and I just parked in a row of similar Land Rovers and wandered off for a look around!
  10. Well said mate, I am with you. Like you, I am of the MTV generation and it begs the question whether that has something to do with it...
  11. I have been rather doubtful of reenactors until recently taking cadets on a trip to the Somme, we came across a group who visit the area every July. They put on an ecellent display with them going into character explaining where the regiment they represented where on the 1st of July 1916 , their objective etc,then they explained in detail the uniform and equipment. They had an aid station set up ,this was manned by current RAMC ,others included one guy just back from Afghanastan and a CSM who does this as a hobby.
    Very well presented and educational and an eye opener for the kids. They said they have only one problem member, one guy walks the frontline in uniform at night, apparently he has caused a few accidents and heart attacks!!!!!!!




  12. modern people are too dumpy for pretty much any historical period. but that aside yes can be a valuable educational aid, though now Im not a kid I would rather visit an empty battlefield having read some good history about the site.. your own imagination is a more powerful tool that the imposition of some reenactment groups , who tend to filter heritage and present 1 interpretation of it.

    I would recommend as a read" hot interpretation: the heritage of war and conflict" by D Uzzell 1989 (I think thats the title) ..argues that the emotions should be engaged as well as cognition in these might think this is all a bit right on and lefty, but It always suprises me that nobody in an ss uniform gets filled in every summer.
  13. I think its excellent that re-enactment groups keep history alive and in the eyes of joe public - if left to the UK education system, people would soon be entirely ignorant about anything except imagined colonial guilt......

    Personally, I have no problem with people re-enacting SS units. I don't think its ever a good idea to airbrush out unsavoury aspects of history. If you ban SS depictions, then you'd have to ban Soviet Commissars/NKVD and numerous other 20th century national depictions.

    The one group that does stick in the craw is those re-enacting current operations: I don't know how they have the gall to dress up as Herrick foot patrols whilst that war is still ongoing.
  14. 4T, they have the gall because they want to be noticed and given attention. Also easy because they dont have to handcraft any kit or beat armour into shape and fit !! unsurprising the way you a general rule the more recent the conflict the "hotter" the issue re emotive effect.
  15. .. then again.. are they raising any money for good causes ??
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