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Posted on Jul 10, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Britain Celebrates WWII Commemoration Day

Armchair General

To add to the glorious weather, a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight made several passes over our heads, turning victory rolls and filling the air with the deep throbbing sound of its Rolls Royce Merlin engine. Although the pilot could not of course hear us, the crowd applauded with each pass – this is England at its greatest, celebrating its history despite modern woes.

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Down on the ground, RAF Officers relaxed before the next sortie. Alas, I was too late for the nearby mission briefing…


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Nearby, vehicles from the arena arranged themselves in a parade, with commentary from the tannoy announcer. Here’s a Bren Carrier – it looked most ungainly as it wobbled and jerked around on its treads. And there’s that Greyhound again. All the vehicles on display were in full working order.

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And what better way to demonstrate the working order of said machines, than to have a Jeep race! And then a quick cuppa, of course. Everything stops for tea.

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Here are some of the heavier weapons – an artillery piece and a Bazooka laid out with the rest of a trooper’s kit.

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As you’d expect, there were LOTS of Jeeps – of all different types. I always meet Jeeps, wherever I go. One day I’ll have the set. Fortunately, they had plenty of supplies and fuel to go around.

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To end our day, a mock battle was staged with some US soldiers storming a German pillbox. It’s lucky my two young children were further away than I was – the sounds of the blank rounds and the explosions was quite deafening. Here’s the squad, pinned down by enemy fire. Fortunately, they have their own heavy machine gun to lay down some suppressive fire of their own…

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Under cover from some of their squadmates, the men charge!

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The bulk of the squad hits the dirt whilst three men go forward, including one wielding a deadly flamethrower. Note that the nearby foliage has caught fire from the explosions! This could be taking realism a little too far…but soon the day is won and the pillbox is taken. And a good time was had by all.

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To round us off, here’s my daughter with my friend Roach – she had a good time too.


A Britons, we should never forget our history – it makes us who we are, and that’s something to be proud of.

To view the complete set of images from my visit, go to the ACG image gallery here.

A J Summersgill

Some links that may be of interest:

Commemoration Day

1st Infantry Division


Thunder from Heaven

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