While doing some research on the Otter light armoured reconnaissance car (the results of which will forthcoming as part of Service Publications WoW series) I came across an entry in 7th Recce Rgt's WD to a visit to that unit, on 21 April, 1943, by the 1st Canadian Division German Demonstration Team. This group of proto-reenactors replicated a German infantry platoon, giving demonstrations of German drill, commands, and infantry tactics. They also acted as subjects for training 7th Recce personnel in controlling PoWs. The War Diarist was impressed by their "rigid discipline" and the speed with which their brought their weapons into action.
I have seen pictures that were taken in late March, 1943 of Canadians in vaguely convincing German uniforms, including replica Stahlhelm (of which I actually have an example), armed with Bren guns and Lee Enfields. The only other record of this unit I have found is correspondence from January, 1943 between CMHQ and the British Ministry of Supply ordering 100 sets of imitation Germans tunics, side caps, belts, leather equipment and helmets, most of which was delivered by the end of February.
Anyway I would be interested to know if anyone else have found references to this early form of OPFOR. From the quantity of equipment ordered, and the fact they were visiting units from other divisions, that only 1st Div formed such a team.
Interesting in the images that British 1914 Pattern Leather Equipment is being used as German.
I would have thought that by 1943 the British and Americans would have captured enough German equipment in North Africa and Sicily that they would not have had to make copies. One transport packed with German helmets and flown back to the UK surely would have been cheaper than tooling up to make copies?
"I would have thought that by 1943 the British and Americans would have captured enough German equipment in North Africa and Sicily that they would not have had to make copies. One transport packed with German helmets and flown back to the UK surely would have been cheaper than tooling up to make copies?"
There's an episode of Dad's Army where the platoon are done up as German soldiers for a training film that's post-poned, and are subsequently mistaken for the real thing - perhaps the obviously incorrect touches were deliberate to help avoid this sort of situation?
This kit was ordered in January, 1943. Maybe there was not all that much captured German kit available (in good condition at least) prior to the mass surrender of Panzerarmee Afrika in mid-May. 7 Recce attached an officer to a British Recce regiment in Tunisia in early 1943 and the only piece German kit he brought back was an MG15.
I am a bit puzzled by the 1914 equipment, the material ordered from the Supply Ministry included belts and leather equipment - maybe they simply used 1914 equipment instead of going to the trouble of making imitations of what the Germans actually used. They went to a lot of trouble with the helmets, however, which are pretty close to the M35 except they lack bushed vents and have liners based on the Mk.II. They cost 15 shillings each and were made by Grimson & Slater Ltd of Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire (manufacturers of springs and steel furnishings.
There is reference to German OPFOR teams visiting units in the UK in Band of Brothers (the book by Ambrose, but there was such a team depicted in the mini-series also). I've read about them elsewhere, but not in any detail. Your post, and Clive's photos, are of great interest. Thanks for sharing it here.
One could surely write an interesting book about the "odd jobs" of the uniformed serviceman/woman during the war. Laundry units, making and moving inflatable tanks and trucks, typewriter repairmen, barrage balloon operators, meteorologists, etc. etc. etc. What's the statistic; something like one in 27 men were actually front line infantry? I frankly find the other stuff easily as interesting. Wray Stevens book about being a bandsman for the duration was very good. I wish more fellows who had done odd jobs had written about them.
Without trying to hijack this thread, [and feel free to start a new one Mike], I would like to hear about more unusual wartime vocations.
Here (I hope- I don't have much luck with photobucket are pictures of my British Stahlhelm. I found it in Winnipeg in 1993, and i know of others in various collections They show up on ebay now and then with various fanciful attributions. The liner is based on the Mk.II but is specially constructed for this helmet. It weighs about 1.3kg and is made of magnetic steel. The rolled rim is a bit wider than on a German helmet and it lacks the vent bushings of the M35 Stahlhelm.
I've read about this, but not seen photos. Thought it germane to this thread about Canadian soldiers in German uniform during the Second World War. "IF Day" was a simulated invasion of Winnipeg in 1942.