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Remembered Today:

Andy

Why do we do this?

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McIntee

It's a difficult thing to answer, but for me I think I can state two main reasons for it. First of all, I have a very strong and powerful urge to understand. To really understand. I can read first hand accounts, after action reports, see pictures and film from or about the wars (I study both world wars) and I feel sort of detached from it all. I desperatly want to come closer to it. I want to understand what it feels like to be under fire. I want to understand why battles were fought and why the men fighting them did what they did. When I found out that members of my own family had been killed in the war and others had survived it, I found myself attracted to them. They were from a different time, I would never have known them, yet I feel a bond with them, something I can not explain or understand but which I need to explore. I have many questions and no answers and that is how it'll stay. I'll never come close to understanding but I will keep trying and hopefully, what I learn might be of use to others.

Which brings me to my other reason. The need to remember them. And make sure that their legacy lives on. I liked Sue's post just above mine. Do it for the men. We owe it to them not to forget. We can't forget the lessons they learned because they were hard lessons to learn. I'm only 21 and I'm going to study history, I'm going to study the world wars. I don't know what to do with my degree when I finally get it but I think I may teach. It's the right thing to do.

John

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ianw

As has been said , a very interesting thread.

One underlying attraction seems to be that we find we like other Great War obsessives. Any man (or woman) who likes wandering around a CWGC cemetery in the rain is my sort of Pal !

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burlington
The War will be remembered - the men will be forgotten.

I do it for the men.

Sue

So many men. So many 'known unto God'

I wonder how many families have forgotten or ignore what happened to their relatives.

I know that my uncle in law who fell in WW2 has been forgotten/ignored by my family in law and there is no desire on their part even to visit his grave.

Indeed, my father in law never spoke of him.

All gets forgotten unless WE remember.

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Michelle Young

Difficult to explain........ I got interested 18 years ago and haven't looked back since! I had the great good fortune to marry a man who shared my interest, and we spent our honeymoon on the Somme. I placed my wedding bouquet on the grave on a unknown soldier. Remembrance sort of sums it up.

Like many others, its a passion, and how can we explain a passion?

Michelle :blink:

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David_Bluestein
fluer fluer fluer you have it all wrong i porteay ww1 british and GERMAN.

But if you ever go to a muliperiod event or ask john in the shell hole in ypre.

most of the ww2 german reenactors are a good lot.

but there are a couple who take there hobby to far.

Let me come to the support of Trenchie; I am not a reenactor, but have enough passion and interest in the Great War to fuel a dozen reencators. I believe in many ways, 'you are who you reenact.'

I believe there is good and bad in every lot; but I am safe in saying of the British soldier of 14-18, that he is a man I would have been proud to know, and now proud to remember.

This brings me to Nazi or German SS enthusiasts, and or reenactors of such soldiers. To have an interest in the history of the German SS is one thing, because I do too. But to hold them in high enough esteem as to reenact them, even celebrate them, makes me shake in my boots. I have met many Nazi collectors over the years, and most are NOT 'who they collect, and or reenact' but all too many, many are.

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spike10764

The Great War was a true turning point in history and the modern age of which we are all part was spawned there. I for one, found at school,that the War was not given it's full due in History Lessons. It seemed in the 70's-teachers were ashamed of it(and ashamed of competitive sports etc-but thats another story). What a waste-if we can't learn from the major event of a century-what can we learn from?

I always liked History, and on discovering my family connection to the Battle of the Somme started research.Now I can't stop-nor do I want to

How much I don't know!

I feel this is something I am drawn to-the need to ensure that people like my Great Grandfather will not be forgotten.

Also as they say in Cumbria the forum's "right good crack" B)

Spike

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Guest Johnsonm

Like many other responses I normally find it very hard to explain to some of my friends why I keep going back to France and Belgium to visit the battlefields . You have to have done it to even try to explain . The thought of wondering whether I'm walking where my grandfather walked at Arras and wishing that I could go back there just for a moment or so . Also the great bunch of friends I have made in the WFA in the past 18 years . An number of personal thoughts but but it all becomes clear when I am standing in front of the headstone of Private Buckland in Vendrese cemetery and knowing how he died in September 1914 and the importance of remembering them all . When it comes down to it , as Sue said , we do it for the men

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Steve_McGarry
If you like a good story - there are a million of them. If you like to regard the sweep of human history - well it happened here, you can walk among the Dead and the places that they made immortal. If you crave peace in your life - perhaps paradoxically ,you can find it here. If you like to question and think - you sometimes may get the hint of an answer and often a surprise and another avenue opened.

Ian, old mate... is this original.....pure poetry ...just about sums it up for me... :)

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garyem1

This is a great thread, and i agree with all of you, Steve McGarry,s post about IanW,s post was great, IanW that post says it all.

gary

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trenchwalker
fluer fluer fluer you have it all wrong i porteay ww1 british and GERMAN.

But if you ever go to a muliperiod event or ask john in the shell hole in ypre.

most of the ww2 german reenactors are a good lot.

but there are a couple who take there hobby to far.

Let me come to the support of Trenchie; I am not a reenactor, but have enough passion and interest in the Great War to fuel a dozen reencators. I believe in many ways, 'you are who you reenact.'

I believe there is good and bad in every lot; but I am safe in saying of the British soldier of 14-18, that he is a man I would have been proud to know, and now proud to remember.

This brings me to Nazi or German SS enthusiasts, and or reenactors of such soldiers. To have an interest in the history of the German SS is one thing, because I do too. But to hold them in high enough esteem as to reenact them, even celebrate them, makes me shake in my boots. I have met many Nazi collectors over the years, and most are NOT 'who they collect, and or reenact' but all too many, many are.

true many off them can take it too far.

like in johns shop in ypre the shell hole, he get alot of re enactor come along english civil war ,ww1 and vietnam(dont ask why, But it was quite strange when they were doing patrol around the menin gate).

But he has a british group of ww2 ss. who enjoyed walking out of a evening in full ss gear.(how they survied we will never know)

but in the morning when they were having breakfast and the officer came in they all jumped up and hail him. :blink:

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ianw

Steve/Gary

Didn't consciously realise that I had turned into Kipling ("If") for a moment there ! I was just struggling to put into words what our consuming interest gives us. I suppose at the end of a visit there you just leave feeling humble, proud and uplifted. I can't think of another activity that can deliver this.

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David_Bluestein
But he has a british group of ww2 ss. who enjoyed walking out of a evening in full ss gear.(how they survied we will never know)

but in the morning when they were having breakfast and the officer came in they all jumped up and hail him. :blink:

This is exactly what I mean. If this was 1939, these boys would be goose stepping down some street in good old Berlin.

Forgive my passion; I have family who went to their deaths in gas chambers across Europe, family who fought through N W Europe, Africa and in the air against this tyrannical regime. These kinds of images remind me that such ideologies are sadly still alive and well.

Damn scary!

(Sorry to take this off topic, but had to respond to Trenchies response)

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ianw

There is no way I would take breakfast with the S.S "re-enactors" and if I owned a B&B , they wouldn't be staying there. This all sounds very unsavoury. Most insulting of them to wander Ypres in uniform and had they ended up in the canal or moat, I for one would not have been rushing to fish them out. I suppose our Belgian friends swallowed hard and tolerantly looked the other way.

I think I am right in saying that they would not be able to parade in a similar fashion in Germany without risking a visit to the nick. Absolutely no need for any apologies on your part David. Well said.

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Chris_Baker

Pity there weren't a few "resistance" re-enactors about.

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Guest Hill 60
Pity there weren't a few "resistance" re-enactors about.

Or even some Nuremburg Trial judge re-enactors :rolleyes:

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trenchwalker

well funny you should say that

we did a reenactment in kent a year ago a mulitiperiod thing there was a mock battle on the eatern front we had the ss group of about 20 people.

against 50 REAL russian re enactors.

the russian where making the attack with bayonets fixed and entrenching tools.

about 5 minute later after alot of screaming the battle ended.

the russians wondered off back to there camp.

we then saw the germans walk off.

a later battle report that was spread about was the russian had a hanging finger nail,

whilst the ss had

*5 brokern ribs

*2 brokern toes

*4 brokern thumbs

*brokern collar bone.

i always wondered why the russians looked happy.

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ianw

I would have paid a fiver to see that particular re-enactment. Well done , the Russians.

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Dragon

Why do I go to the battlefields?

I do it becauseā€¦

of the poignancy that something so profound, so horrific, which touched at the limits of what humans beings can do, and can do to each to each other, happened in somewhere so ordinary;

the place where so much deep physical and emotional pain was felt is still so mundane and unremarkable;

yet it is a place where things happened that were so powerful, so disturbing, that I expect the landscape to have a paranormal overlay and sometimes I can sense this;

it is a place where history and the ripples on the explosion in the pool which is history can still be seen, felt and sometimes heard;

when I am there I can cry for the atmosphere and my knowledge of why it is as it is; and when I am not there I can find my imagination and creativity moved by that emotion of anguish;

the events and the experiences of ordinary human beings still finger my being in a way that is impossible to explain.

Gwyn

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Chris_B

I stumbled across this forum after wondering around trying to fill in the blanks of some family history. I had a vague idea my Grandad had been in the Great War, but hadn't appreciated just how many adult relatives of his generation had been involved directly or touched by the War.

Then I discovered that first my Granddad had at least three male cousins and that one, Samuel, had lost his life in such a way that all there was to remember him was a name on a wall, I thought I should do something about it.

I don't know what happened to Samuel's younger brothers or his sister, I've no idea if they had children or grandchildren. I can't say if there's another Burge alive that has given a thought to this man for more than 80 years. I found out the Samuel's father died in 1924, his mother Clara Burge lived until the grand age of 88 and died in 1953, memories of Samuel seem to have died with them.

Perhaps an even poignant story is that of my Grandmother's first husband, John Henry Storer. My Grandmother and John were married for just a week, while John was on sick leave, before he had to return to France. Within three months he was killed. My Grandmother kept his memory all her long life, I never heard her talk of him but she respected his memory - kept his picture and his medals even after re-marrying.

Little by little I've found out more about these men, and my Grandad and my Grandad's brother and their brother in Law, all of whom were on the Western Front.

I'd like to think that one day I'll get to the Menin Gate and Vis-en-Artois. Because of the good friends I've made on this forum and elsewhere I have photos of the memorials now and know a lot more of the hisotry of these men.

It is my lasting hope they should not be forgotten again.

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Guest lesley

Why do we do this?

Many reasons - we all need a hobby or an interest. This is one hobby which has turned into a passion. Why? I'm not sure. I'm one of the few who doesn't have a relative who served in the Great War and for a number of years watched Brian from the sidelines whilst he traced soldiers from the Oxford and Bucks. He persuaded me to go to France with him to find his Great Uncle's grave. Standing at Pozieres cemetery looking at the graves and reading the names on the memorial brought home the fact that all those names on our computer were once living breathing human beings with families. I wanted to find out more about them.

As Will said - I also enjoy it. I find history fascinating and I enjoy the challenge of following a trail in search of new information. Being able to share this interest with an equally interested partner just doubles the pleasure.

Last but not least I have made a number of wonderful friends all with a common interest.

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BRIAN TALMER

LEST WE FORGET

I do it because I lost two Great Uncles in the Great War. They fought for the freedom of others and I hope to keep the memory of their sacrifices, and those of the hundreds and thousands of other brave men alive.

Not only has the interest become an all consuming hobby which has given me untold pleasure I have made a large number of new friends whom I have met at the PRO and on battlefield visits and of course my forum PALS

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Bert Heyvaert

I was intriged - and disgusted - to read the story about the SS re-enactors. As far as I know, wandering around in such a uniform is as illegal in Belgium as it is in Germany. You would certainly get a huge fine for doing it.

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CROONAERT
I was intriged - and disgusted - to read the story about the SS re-enactors.

OK, I agree that "swanning about" in the uniform and continuing the act when "off duty" is a little tasteless (I'd think the same of re-enactors of any unit of any time period, especially that of an "invader"), but ,surely,re-enacting the SS units is simply re-enacting a historical unit which is as necessary as any other? I can't imagine any decent re-enactment of the Battle of the Bulge not including elements of the Liebstandarte, Normandy without the Hitlerjugend or Arnhem without the Hohenstauffen and Frundsberg units.

Ok, there are all the political connotations surrounding the initials "SS", but there were many brave soldiers who gave their all in the ranks of these units (yes, there were attrocities committed, but this is also true of other units on other sides). For these reasons, I believe that Waffen SS units should be portrayed in historical re-enactments and re-enactors of these units have as much right to be there as any other.

Dave.

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David_Bluestein
(yes, there were attrocities committed, but this is also true of other units on other sides).

With respect, what 'other units on other sides' were similarly involved in the systematic annihilation of millions of people in death camps over a period of eleven plus years? I will even go out on a limb and suggest that never in the history of mankind has a force ever enacted crimes against humanity to the degree this regime did.

I am not suggesting that an SS reenactor should not exist. I am suggesting that any man who is that passionate about a his subject, must, I think share certain similar ideologies.

I dont mean to offend; but this subject hits very close to my home, and my family, and I think, we should just choose to agree to disagree.

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armourersergeant

David,

I think it is only natural given your family History that you should be passionately oppossed to the re-enactment of SS groups for by definition they stand for one of the worst evils in History. But I would ask would you be equally anti Russian NKVD re-enactors doing their bit also considering the deaths etc suffered at there hands.

As a young boy I got interested in the Waffen-SS through the books of Leo Kessler, who inciedently i believe is an Englishman called Charles Whiting, who has also written some historical books on WW2 under his own name. This did spur me on too learn more about the SS organisation. I spent many years trying to justify to myself the difference between the Military SS and the General SS and I have to say that it was very difficult to see a clear line of difference.

What I would say is this, there were some very brave men who served under the banner of the SS and some very misguided youngster as well. More there were many who were thorough going ********. This is I am sure true of all organisations going down through History. But especially more so with the SS organisation.

Also I beleive that it is important to show some respect and walking down the street in full regalia when not enacting is the most crass statement that could be made.

I would not criticise anyone for being a memeber of an SS socity of re-enactment and also believe that they have a part to play in the 'game' but also I do not believe that I would put on the uniform myself.

There is a fine line between re-enactment and idolisation and it is this area we should be concerneed about as I once went down that route with a man named Jochen Peiper who I beleive is given a rough ride in certain areas of his Waffen SS career but what is not beyond doubt is that he was adjutant to Himmler at some critical times and can not have failed to have been aware of the camps and all they stood for. no man can then be worthy of my devotion, although I can admire his military ability.

Sorry to waffle on especially as this is not really the topic but I felt it was important to give this view, what I have tried to say is that on one hand I can admire some aspects of the military aspects of the Waffen-SS whilst deploring the other side. But that when it comes down to it you have to understand what they ultimatley stood for. It took me some time to fully understand this!!!!!

Arm.

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