Jul 122011
 

Weekend of the Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 of July found the Ponderosa  Centre in Heckmondwike was the scene of skirmishes and an pitched battles as once again they held “SPAM” the Ponderosa Wartime Weekend. The aim of SPAM is to transport visitors back to to the 1940’s, give them a taste of what life was like for the civilians and and soldiers of all nationalities who fought their way across Eastern and Western Europe.

Bigger and better than ever before gunfire could be heard though out the two days as  Allied and Axis reenactors who were  living in and around trenches, foxholes, dugouts, bunkers and a TV set style derelict village sent out patrols to reconnoitre and probe their enemies positions.

The weekend included a Spitfire flypast on Saturday while on both days military vehicles including three US tanks, a Hellcat,  Marder Tank-killer, British Daimler Dingos, US M3 Halftrack,  SdKfz 251 Ausf. C Halftrack, Wyllis Jeeps and Kubelwagen all owned by private collectors and members of the Northern World War 2 Association and Military Vehicles Trust were just some that could be seen on static display and in a drive by parade.

Many of the same vehicles also took part in the grand finale each day. A western front battle with TV quality pyrotechnics which pitted Germany’s Panzer Grenadier Division Großdeutschland, 21st Panzer Division and Infanterie Regiment 208 against the US 101st and British 6th Airborne, with the East Yorkshire Regiment. The end of scenario has Axis units prepare and launch a counter attack against advancing Allied forces, but the combined  British/US Armour and  infantry push them back with American tanks destroying the Germans fuel dump before finally over running the thier positions as the axis resistance collapses.

Below: The last stand of Großdeutschland. British 6th Airborne division accompanied by members of the French Resistance overrun and destroy one of Germany’s Elite units at the Ponderosa Heckmondwike.

Should this leave you wondering what the Ponderosa Wartime Weekend looked like from  reenactors point of view here are a couple of shots

A reenactors view, of the Battlefield, at the Spam Wartime Weekend Heckmondwike 10th July 2011. Images © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

A reenactors view, from the living history, of the Spam Wartime Weekend Heckmondwike 9th July 2011. Images © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

May 162011
 

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.

Nov 072010
 

www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk

Saint Mary’s Church Ecclesfield also Known as “The Minster of The Moors” is the final resting place of Rev. Alexander John Scott, Chaplain and close personal friend of Admiral Lord Nelson. It was to Rev. Alexander John Scott that Nelson spoke his last words  “God and my country.”  below decks of the Flagship HMS victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson died at 16:35 on the 21 October 1805. His friend Scott lived to the age of 72 and died in 1840.

Its odd that Scott should have  been buried in Ecclesfield. He was not born in the area and didn’t live in the area. He was in Ecclesfield visiting his daughter Margaret, a well known writer of the time  who was married to the then Vicar of Ecclesfield Alfred Gatty, when he was taken ill and subsequently died. What is stranger is travel five miles  by road and under what is now a Tesco car park is where the Walker Iron Works of Masbrough was. They cast about 80 of the 105 guns carried by HMS Victory into Battle at Trafalgar. Closer still is the village of Grenoside, only two and a half miles away, where Samuel and Aaron Walker began to manufacture Iron in the early 1740s before relocating and starting in 1746 as Walker Iron Works of Masbrough.

Photographers Technical info

  • Camera Nikon D700
  • Lens Nikon 50mm f1.8
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture F8
  • Shutter 1/200
Nov 012010
 

07:00 hrs ,as the military call it, is an early morning start at St Dunstan’s in Sheffield, this morning Im  covering the beginning of a fund raising challenge 10 squaddies 10-marathons 5 days.  Ten soldiers, (or Squaddies) from 39 Engineer Regiment Cambridge, and their support team. The team totalling around 14 are undertaking  10 Squaddies, 10 Marathons, 5 Days challenge to raise funds for the only charity to provide direct support, rehabilitation  and training to service personnel and veterans blinded in conflict.

If  the challenge of 10 Marathons in 5 days wasn’t “hardcore” enough for these members of the British Army,  “just to make it a little more interesting” they will be also carrying 40lb Bergen’s and wearing combat boots” on a gruelling test of endurance. Thirty-four year old Staff Sergeant  Jim Offord (the man  behind the fund raiser) and nine fellow soldiers will complete a marathon every six hours,  day and night, followed by six hours recovery time as they tab from St Dunstan’s Rehab & Training centre in Sheffield on the 1st of November  to finish at St Dunstan’s centre near Brighton in East Sussex on the 5th of November.

“I created the 10 Soldiers, 10 Marathons in 5 Days to support St Dunstan’s as we want to give something back to a charity that helps fellow soldiers. I threw in the idea of wearing our Bergen’s filled to weigh 40lbs, plus combat boots to keep it interesting and opted to do 10 Marathons in 5 Days as I couldn’t find a record that it had been done before. Said Jim.

The original aim of the this mammoth effort was to raise £4,800 for St Dunstan’s but that target has already been smashed and the Engineers have reached £10,000 more than double their initial figure.

Staff Sgt Jim Offord, (front) and team members from 39 Engineer Regiment , Lance Corporal Dean Howard, Corporal Dave Little, Sapper Darren Pallatina, Lance Corporal Rich Holmes, Corporal Mark Cammock, Sapper Garry Scott, Lance Corporal Dave Hopkins, SSgt Darren King, Sapper James Payze, Captain Jo Miles, Sgt Steve Bedford and, Lance Corporal Lee Melia with support team members Ami Offord paramedic and Arlene Howard sports physio. Who will be working to complete the 10 Squaddies, 10 Marathons, 5 Days Challenge carrying 40lb Bergens. The team aimed to raise £4800 for St Dunstan’s Charity for blind ex-Service men and women but the figure now stands £10,000 raised…1 November 2010 .Images © Paul David Drabble

Rough Guide to the route……..

Monday 1 November The team left St Dunstan’s Sheffield around 8am aiming to arrive at Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell, near Nottingham at 4pm. From there they will head for Loughbourgh University arriving on Tuesday 2 November. The second day sees the group tab to Nuneaton via Leicester before heading for Staverton Park Hotel Daventry where they will arrive on Wednesday 3 November. They will leave Staverton Park Hotel heading for Milton Keynes TA Centre and from there to Sportspace, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. Which they will reach on Thursday 4 November They will leave Sportspace at 12 noon  and march into London along the Edgware Road at 2.30pm on Thursday 4 November to visit St Dunstan’s HQ in Marylebone, where they will be greeted by soldiers the charity works with, ex-Service men and women, staff and supporters. They will leave St Dunstan’s HQ at 8pm to tab to the TA Centre, Northgate, Crawley arriving on Friday 5 November. The team start at 8am to tab the final marathon, through Brighton, arriving at St Dunstan’s Rehab & Training Centre, Greenaways, Ovingdean, east Sussex. Where they will cross the finish line to massive cheers from the soldiers the charity works with, staff and supporters and the people who have followed them through the streets of Brighton.

Aug 262010
 

Lytham held the first of what could turn out to be a very good annual event on the weekend of 21st and 22nd August 2010. The 1940s war weekend was a celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and to help raise funds for a memorial to the members of the RAFs Fighter and Bomber Command which, when erected, will stand on Lytham Green where the event took place. The weekend which kicked of on Friday evening with a 1940s dance held in the park pavilion, included Re-enactors from The Northern World War Two Association who put on excellent living history displays and a battle re-enactment. There was also full size replica spitfire complete with aircrew waiting for the call to scramble, period military vehicles including a German Sd.Kfz. 251 Auf C half-track and a mini assault course for the kids.  The  period atmosphere was helped along by re-enactors from the North West Military Colletors group,  live 1940s music and dancing all in period costume during the Saturday and Sunday bringing in crowds of sightseers. The whole weekend was topped by a flypast on the Saturday by a Dakota of the type that would have dropped allied paratroops into France on D-day and Arnhem later in the war. Sundays fly past was by the last Hurricane ever built, PZ865 was finished in summer 1944, there were 14,533 of them built throughout the war. She bares the inscription ‘The Last of the Many’ on her port and starboard sides.

There is also a video report here from the weekend from Blackpool TV

Aug 052010
 

Covering the recent funeral of Trooper James Leverett, at Sheffield Cathedral last week,  reminded me that back in February of 2010 I was invited to Salisbury Plain military training area to attend the 4th Mechanised Brigades press  day. The day was held to demonstrate some of the training and equipment the unit would employ during their forth coming deployment to Helmand Province which was to be in April of 2010. Amongst the troops who put on the display for us were members of the Royal Dragoon Guards. Below is a slide show of images I shot on the day…

Jul 302010
 

The funeral of Trooper James Anthony Leverett from Rawmarsh in South Yorkshire took place at at Sheffield Cathedral on Thursday 29th of July.

Trooper Leverett of D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group, The Royal Dragoon Guards Killed in in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province of Afghanistan when the vehicle he was travelling was hit by an IED explosion on July 5th 2010.

The above images are available here

Full story can be found on the Yorkshire Post Website