On May 14th and 15th the Northern World War 2 Association, or NWW2A, held their “Private Battle Weekend”. Established in 2005 with the aim of recreating, and reenacting the Second World War period as authentically as possible, association members spend most of their reenacting time providing Allied and Axis living history displays and large scale battle reenactments at events across Northern of England. The Private Battle is a chance for the reenactors to don their 1940’s persona’s and spend one or two days war-gaming on a large expanse land, somewhere in Yorkshire, away from the gaze of the public. I spent one day with the Elite Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland of the NWW2A to see what life was like as a member of their Kriegsberichter Zug (war correspondent platoon). I chose to shoot on my modern digital Nikon D700 DSLR camera rather than my old Kiev film rangefinder. I wanted the best quality pictures. I have chosen to reproduce the photographs in black and white in an attempt to put back some of the atmosphere lost by not using film.
Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler” in command of the Eight man squad plus one “Kreigsberichter” of the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland somewhere in NorthYorkshire
Point man “Stefan Kollers”
Above: From a gulley on the tree line Feldwebel “Otto Henning” looks for any unexpected movement as two of the squad move forward across open ground to the wreck of an old tank. Below: Having safely made it to cover Gefreiter “Hans Altmann” looks back as his comrade checks for enemy movement to the front, before calling up the rest of the men.
The remainder of the squad wait anxiously for the signal to make their way across the open ground and into cover.
Having made it into woodland without being ambushed the men of Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland take a breather. Above Right: Using an Esbit stove and German mess kit Gefreiter “Johann Rechenmacher” and other members of the patrol share a coffee while others (Above Left and Below) rest or chat quietly so as not to give their position away.
Below: The Großdeutschland squad anxiously wait for the return of point man “Stephan Kollers” who has been sent ahead to investigate gunfire.
Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler” orders his men into position as they advance on an “enemy position” that is already involved in a fire-fight with other elements of Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland, 21st Panzer Division and 1st Fallschirmjäger.
One Panzergrenadier attempts to work his way towards the strongpoint and find an effective firing position. Below: Feldwebel Otto Henning has already spotted one target.
While attempting to get around and flank the allied strong point, with Grenadiers “Stefan Kollers” and “Hans Muller”, our battle was cut short by fusillade of well placed rounds from element’s of Fox Commando Royal Navy and US 101 Airborne (below).
Above; The long walk back to the camp at the end of day one. Left to right: Fallschirmjäger from the NWW2A, Grenadier “Hans Muller”, Grenadier “Stefan Kollers” and Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler”
NWW2A consists of a number of different groups or“units” ranging from the US and British Airborne troops, French Resistance, British and Soviet infantry, German 21st Panzer Division, Infantry, Luftwaffe and Fallschirmjäger and the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland. Moving away from front-lines units there’s the German Field Police, Deutches Rotes Kreuz , Ensa Moonlight Seranaders and 40’s Civilians & Home Front Auxiliaries.