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War and Peace Revival – Because you can’t ration the best show in the world!


war and peace show team

War and Peace Show Team – Ashley and Terry Elliot and Rex Cadman

The War and Peace Show has been at the Hop Farm in Kent for the past 25 years. With rumours ‘dot-dot-dash-dashing’ on the reenactor grapevine and hushed whispers of the event closing its doors, we can faithfully poo-pah rumours and say ‘huzzah!’ to the new phoenix rising from the ashes/ water logged fields. War and Peace Revival won’t be the same….it will be even better! Based at Folkestone Racecourse it has given Rex and the team scope to plan the reenactment fields and entertainment area more carefully, with better facilities for the public, vendors and performers!

Imagine watching the choreographed reenactments and vehicle displays from the grandstand…a market place dedicated to vintage fashion and homewear as well as the separate military stalls…and being able to get there by train instead of car with only a short walk to the station!

I wanted to find out what the man behind the world’s largest and most renowned military show had in store for us in 2013….

What made you decide to start again with the UK’s largest military show?

After 30 years of the show we started to feel that it had lost its momentum and was becoming a bit predictable – not perhaps to the vast majority of our public visitors, but certainly to
some of our exhibitors and Officials. After a very tough 30th anniversary show we felt we were left with two choices; to call it a day and close the show on a high, or to close it and relaunch at a new venue with a new name. Having spoken with some of our valued friends within the military vehicle world during late summer, we realised that closing the War and Peace Show without anything else was not what any of us really wanted, so we were really left with just one choice: to relaunch a new and improved version.

WWI trench reenactment

WWI Trench at War and Peace Show 2012, taken by Kitten von Mew

What has been your overall favourite moment?

The Sunday night Officials get together in the Dray Bar in 2000 where my friend and later business partner, Brent Pollard, who owned the Hop Farm, gave me permission to go behind the bar and pour my own beers. When spotted by the staff, who immediately attempted to take control of the beer pump on my behalf and shoo me out! Brent stepped behind the bar and said to his staff: “Rex is my friend and tonight if he wants to, he can give the whole goddamed bar away!” Those words resulted in one of the finest parties we’ve ever had, which saw over 50 Officials dancing on the bar. It was, without doubt, one of our most successful shows and many of us wanted to celebrate it and share it together.
.. and your funniest moment?

There have been so many, but I suppose one of the funniest memories we have involved my brother Rod and our workshop crew and Mike Stallwood of R&R Services and his workshop crew. Mike’s team took a corroded M38 A1 Jeep chassis and fitted a Ford Escort engine, gear box and back axle, adding military wheel rims and fairly tired bar grip tyres. Meanwhile, in our workshops, we took a very moth eaten Jeep body, one time property of Andy King, completely re-skinned it, welded on wings, bonnet, and seats, fitted a windscreen and all the little trinkets that would make it look like a wartime Jeep. Between the two workshops, both efforts were grafted together and without too close an inspection a very acceptable WW2 looking Jeep had been created.

On the Sunday of the Show, a T34 belonging to the Stallwood camp “broke down” in the Arena. Tony Lawrence, the Arena commentator was asked to put out a public address for replacement batteries to be brought into the Arena for the dead tank. The very smart Jeep miraculously appeared and drove up to the tank, parking at the rear where batteries were duly passed up to the tank crew. Meanwhile quite a substantial crowd of several thousand people lined the Arena barriers, waiting for the tank to fire into life.
All of a sudden the tank fired up, throwing up lots of black smoke – quite common on the old T34s. The driver, Tim Fuggle, rocked the tank back and forwards several times as though the brakes were sticking and all of a sudden the tank lurched backwards at speed, straight over the rather smart looking Jeep! As you can image – the gasps from the crowd could be heard for some distance. For me, the funniest moment of that entire escapade was at about 10.30pm when I was passed by two guys running hell for leather clutching a Ford Escort back axle that they had salvaged from the wreckage believing they had won themselves a gem! Like all stories, you really had to be there to see it. And to top it all, judging in those days was not the exact science that it is today – as the Jeep won Best Jeep in Show!

Can we expect any VIPs at the show (cast of war movies? Vera Lynn? Etc)

The old War and Peace Show often welcomed celebrities and VIPs, with many of them coming as private individuals. It was something that we prided ourselves on in that they felt able to visit our show without being subject to intrusive behaviour or being used as a PR tool. Over the years we’ve had royalty (foreign and British), film and pop stars, government officials and senior police and service personnel – many of them we only hear about afterwards! We’re at very early days with the planning of the new show, but we’re delighted that the cast of Allo Allo will continue to support us in our new War and Peace Revival. We fully expect the usual mix of celebrities to continue, and will as always respect their privacy. I’m reliably informed that people are amazed at who they meet in the stalls or bars at a War and Peace event. I once spent the day with a very famous local musician who seemed to know as much about War and Peace as I did. By the end of the day I had discovered how!
When you ran the first ever W&P did you ever imagine it would end up being so hugely popular and vast?

No! Actually when I became involved in 1989 as part of an organising team of two, I dragged my long suffering then secretary Barbara into the team and we set out to double the amount of vehicles that had been at the previous show. Our dream was to eventually see 1,000 vehicles – we never imagined that one day we would see 4,000!

I always knew it had scope to be something great, but I never dreamed it would get so big and with such a huge worldwide reach. We have literally welcomed visitors from every country of the world – now that’s some claim that not many shows and events can make!

war and peace vintage market stall

Items at War and Peace 2012 in the market area. Taken by Kitten von Mew

So there you have it, the same fantastic team recreating and remoulding the greatest military show on earth so that it may become even bigger and better than it was… But don’t forget the reenactment groups who make the event what it is, if it wasn’t for their amazing displays and dedication to War and Peace then goodness knows where it would be today.

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UK Based WWII Reenactors Needed!


Hello!

As many of you know Mr. Mew and I are getting married on 2nd June and are creating a relaxed 1940’s weekender at Bitton Station.

We will be getting married on the steam train and the whole event will be open to the public, with a dance in a local hall in the evening.

We are looking for WWII allied force reenactment groups to attend the event (American/ English/ Scottish…Navy, Foot Soldiers, ATS, civilian groups, RAF…) and helf create a real atmosphere. There will be a little space to display vehicles and equipment and you can sell things too.

In return we offer free camping down the way and a great bank holiday weekend. Local press will be covering the story as well as vintage and wedding magazines/ blogs, so great publicity for all.

Please contact info@avonvalleyrailway.org urgently to let us know if you would like to attend. It is the Queens Jubilee weekend, so spirits will be high!

 

Best wishes

 

Kitten von Mew

My Article in WWII Reenactors Magazine – May Edition


Kitten von Mew by Ade Pitman

I have been terribly lucky with most of the events I have attended so far. Although subject to a dust bath at War and Peace, I would rather this than an impromptu mud wrap from a passing jeep! Although hot and sometimes itchy in their WWII uniforms, men have it reasonably easy at such events as the more dirt they pick up (minus Ketchup, toothpaste and coffee), the more authentic their outfits look. Less can be said as a lady trying to look the epitome of glamour as you stagger around open fields in your 1940’s heels and hippedy-hop down dirt tracks impressed with deep tyre marks. Sometimes you spend more time making sure you don’t fall down than you do enjoying the event. I cannot count the number or times I have staggered across a potholed track in my 40’s outfits, having to save myself from embarrassment by either ending in a light jog or looking over my shoulder and tutting loudly at the lack of health and safety for ridiculous shoe wearers such as myself…It’s as if military events weren’t made for high heeled shoes! The horror!

I always have my survival kit at events – Red lipstick is a must. Even if you wear the 24 hour stay stuff, I personally find myself eating it off my lips, so an emergency supply is always a good idea. Next, a loose powder incase of a down pour of heatwave. I actually use a perfumed powder, which is more like a scented talc on a standard powder puff. I load the puff with powder before I go out and pop it in an empty compact that I pop in my handbag. If you are wearing false eyelashes, bring the glue with you as they may decide to become unstuck at the corners and leave you looking as if a couple of spiders are taking a kip on your eyelids…Next up is the inevitable first aid kit of paracetamol, a couple of plasters in case of blisters and any medication. I bring a small compact camera and my phone of which I keep discrete. There’s nothing worse that ruining the vintage ambience by clamping a modern phone to your ear or texting unnecessarily. Embrace your surroundings and people watch. Remember life before emails and mobile phones for a weekend!

Stockings can be a real issue at events. You only need to catch your fully fashioned nylons whilst posing on a half track and that is a £10 stocking down the drain. They aren’t cheap you know boys, unless a Spiv can get you a good deal! I cheat on occasion and wear special fully fashioned stockings that have elastine in them. I pick them up on occasion in second hand shops in the packet. Made in the 60’s, they still feature the classic keyhole and seam to prove that they have been made on the original machines, but have the benefit of a comfortable fit, no creasing at the ankle and they are little more hard wearing than precious nylons that you can save for dinners, dances and less hazardous pursuits. Don’t forget to slip a spare pair in your bag!

If you are feeling brave and heading out in a scrumptious pair of heels, just remember how much walking there is at a lot of outdoor events. If your partner is gallivanting around like a 5 year old at the Wacky Warehouse, just let him go and play and take your time. The last thing you want is a broken ankle after you rush over to stop him buying an elephant foot plant pot for the living room. Sitting serenely on the grass to ‘take in the scenery’ as your poor throbbing feet have a breather is no bad thing. You can also take these resting points as a water stop as keeping hydrated is very important in the summer season. I always make sure I have a flat pair of shoes in the car and a pair of 40’s Heyday trousers, so that if my outfit does get a little vexatious, I can slip into something more comfortable but equally as fitting to the occasion. Rocket Originals saddle shoes are my usual choice and great for dancing in or if it starts to get chilly!

So you have your handbag sorted and a change of clothing in case of bad weather or uncooperative toes. What are you going to wear? If you are stepping out in a vintage dress then CHECK YOUR SEAMS! Im not talking stockings, I mean the seams of your garments. I once bought a gorgeous vintage dress I was going to wear at a USO Dance it looked almost unworn. When I got to the venue I swung my legs out of the car and hoisted myself out of the car, only to hear the unmistakeable sound of my dress tearing at the back. On another occasion I was at my friends wedding in a vintage dress I had tailored in and as I through myself into the spirit of catching the bouquet, the original thread seams that had not been touched came apart and opened top to bottom at my sides. I was clutching the bouquet but suddenly wearing a silk tabbard. If you are planning to dance, especially Lindy Hop, think of your underarm seams, hips and back. Go over them with a sewing machine and new thread if you have time.

To avoid sunstroke, headaches and as a great excuse to buy more things, make sure you have a headscarf or sun hat to shade your head in hot weather and don’t forget those sunglasses! The more authentic accessories you can add to your outfit, the more fantastic you will look. There is nothing like seeing a lady strolling around an event in an iconic hat.

Lastly, the hair. A strong hairspray is a great idea and I use Tresemme Freeze Hold in a white can. If I am pincurling my hair, I will spray it on as a temporary setting lotion before curling. I spray my hair again once I have completed my style. It is super stuff as my hair doesn’t like holding curl at all and aids my Victory Rolls to stay firm and resolute in gusts of angry wind.

On a final note, smile and enjoy the event! No hoity-toity diva looks, smile and the world will smile with you…Be proud to have made such an effort and there is no greater beauty than the beaming face of a woman who has just spotted a bargain on a vintage clothing stall…