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Collectors & Re-enactors

March 28 2012 at 12:58 PM
Daniel Cox  (Login Daniel_Cox)
from IP address

Response to Lancaster bomber WW2 photo shoot

Hi Flightgearbloke,

Thanks for posting this article showing what I suspect are re-enactors/collectors of service aviation flying gear.

Although I really do appreciate that these enthusiasts through their collecting play a role in the preservation of artefacts from past eras and likewise contribute to informing later generations about those ordinary people from our past who were called upon to do extraordinary things.

I can't help but dislike seeing collectors wear various uniforms and service kit for show etc.

I come from a family with a rather lengthy history of military service.

All four of my Great Grandfathers, two in the British Army and two in the Australian Army served in the First World War, three in Infantry and one in Artillery.

Though they all survived the war, only one came through unscathed simply because he never saw combat action due to the war ending as he arrived in Europe as an 18 year old.

The others were at the Somme in 1916 and beyond, Gordon Highlanders and Highland Light Infantry, one of those lost a leg for his troubles while the other was buried multiple times in shelling yet survived to die young after the war. The one in Artillery (who was wounded by gas) recounted in his diary the horror of losing his men in the mud at Passchendaele. He would never tell anyone about his experiences not even his own son who served in the RAAF in the Second World War.

My two Grandfathers also served in the Second World War, one from the safety of Australia as a Signaller in an Army Anti Aircraft Unit (later he became a Police Superintendent). The other who lost the first house he owned to German bombers during the Blitz went on to land at Bernières-sur-Mer on the 6th of June 1944, as a British Army Driver attached to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division until Germany surrendered.

My Grandfathers got off lightly compared to their cousins who were killed over Germany (RAAF), on the HMS Prince of Wales (off Singapore) and at Tobruk (British Artillery). I also had many other Uncles and Aunts plus Cousins who had served/worn a uniform in the Australian Army, Navy, Air Force and the New South Wales Police or Ambulance Service.

Going further back there were family members who had fought at Culloden, The Peninsula War, The Relief of General Gordon and much more going back even further.

Even I was once a Soldier; I served in the Australian Regular Army (joining as a 17 year old) and later in the Army Reserve all up for around 14 years with no service in Operations (I haven't given in the same way that some of my friends and family have).

Yet despite or maybe because of that family history I won't wear a uniform, not even my old stuff (whats left of it) since I am no longer a Soldier, I wont wear a uniform from another service or era either since I never earned it. Nor would I wear rank or decorations that I havent earned (and that includes medals that were my Grandfathers even to commemorate them).

Like many of my age and older I used to read Commando Comics as a kid my English Grandfather used to also get them for me; I used to think it was so exciting that he was there for D-Day. Yet when I was older, I lent him a book called Caen Anvil of Victory by Alexander McKee. He later told me that reading that book had brought the smell of death back to him and he had started to have nightmares afterward. To this day I still wish I never lent him that book.

So sometimes when I see collectors and re-enactors having a lark as pretend Sailors, Soldiers and or Airmen, wearing uniforms and or rank, trade qualifications, decorations that they haven't earned, I cant help but feel however unintended it may be, that they are belittling service by portraying service men and women as poorly caricatures of the real thing.

I'm sure many people will have a range of differing views on this, so I do appreciate that just because this is something that I don't feel is right. It doesn't mean that those who collect and dress up like they are on the linked article wrong in what they are doing.



This message has been edited by Daniel_Cox from IP address on Mar 28, 2012 10:39 PM

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