Yorkshire Wartime Experience 7th – 8th July 2018
This is a local event, for some of us, in Hunsworth, Bradford on the CleckHudersFax ridge. This is its 7th year of running and we’ve supported it since day 1.
Pte. Heaton and I arrived on Friday evening, to find Col Sgt. Hebden and Pte. Klejnow already there with the dining shelter up, CPL Lycett had earlier, dropped the 14 man tent off, to return later on. After a couple of beers and catching up at camp, we headed to the beer tent, Pte. Clewlow had joined us by then.
Saturday morning Privates Etherington, Wilson, Sprague, Hallet, Shellcock & Dennington all arrived in good time and we were all on site and ready with an hour to spare. We set up our display in our usual trenches. The display looked quite impressive. Cpl. Lycett used the Jeep to position the 6 pounder under the tree between the two trenches. The two 3" Mortars were sighted in the left-hand trench. The right-hand trench was used as a communications trench. Pte. Etherington had bought a couple of rounds for the 6 pounder. The trenches were then liberally dressed with ammo boxes, personal kit and small arms. Additionally this year Pte. Klejnow and I had rented a live Bren gun. PTE Hancock joined us and helped making for a very strong turn-out.
It was already warm and the heat proved to be a problem for us in full woolen uniform, even in shirt sleeve order. Tin hats had to be worn at all times and proved to be very hot. We always try to be as accurate as possible in our actions as well as our dress, so for the battle, we kitted up in skirmish order, full battledress with skeleton webbing. We had 10 men in the field and 3 LOB firming the mortars, this worked very well, the battle plan, however, as it most times does, went a little odd.
We had been asked to form up behind the Valentine DD tank and follow it out until it stopped. We were then expected to deploy left and right, go firm and put down covering fire so another unit could storm the German defenses. The problem was that the tank never stopped and we ended up almost on top of the German positions completely exposed to their fire. While we were trying to sort out this mess one of the other unit stormed the German positions and it was all over.
After the battle, we watched a superb flypast by a Lancaster bomber from our trench, sadly the fun ended there. The "Tank rides" had been going most of the day, and gotten quite giddy, by the afternoon they had started taking long corners fast and were kicking up dust everywhere. Every time they went past we were treated to a smothering dust cloud. Not only does this ruin hundreds of pounds worth of kit, it is seriously bad for our health. We suffer this as long as we could but were forced to retire to camp.
Sunday was much if the same, but we swapped Pte. Hallet for Pte. Pozniak, he brought his radio gear and sent up in the small communications trench.
Today’s battle went better but not without some excitement. The tank set off early before all the pyro’s had been fired. So we walked out into a barrage of explosions. Every time the tank moved forward we were exposed to another set of explosions, getting slightly singed and showered in debris every time. However this time we were better positioned and managed to subdue an armored car that was causing a certain amount of difficulty. The Bren performed well, with me as no.2 and Pte. Klejnoiw as no.1.The close proximity of the pyros was somewhat unsettling but made for a very authentic experience.
Again the Lancaster gave us another excellent fly past. It’s been two years since we’ve seen it, and then we get to see it twice in one weekend, a nice treat. The tank rides had taken advice from the organizer about slowing down and keeping dust to a minimum, so life was much more bearable in the trenches. At around 4.30 it was time to pack up, the many pairs of hands soon made short work of the de-camp. At 5.15pm we were all packed up and ready for home.
A very very enjoyable weekend for us all.