Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Why wasn't this around when I was studying history?

   I've asked this question any number of times whenever I go out to an "Education Day" as a historical reenactor. I'd have much preferred this to dry lectures, corny filmstrips (yes, not films, but FILMSTRIPS. "Turn the crank when you hear the bell on the soundtrack."), and classmates who saw no value to history.

   In any event, this came up because Robby and I participated in a World War I Education event at the Grey Roots Museum and Archive in Owen Sound, ON. Led by our friend, Jeff Brown of the King's Company and of History Matters, we journeyed to that town to present a lecture/display on the German Soldier in the Great War. Jeff gave the talk, Robby was the "living, breathing, not-talking manikin for the uniforms, and I... held his coat. I was muscle and assisted in the uniform changes. About two dozen local folks attended and it went well.
   I also took photos... for three reasons. First, for the family; Second, for our reenacting group, the King's Company, and third, to make Robby's history teacher jealous. Robby was out of school for the day to take part in education on the other side of the desk!
   My boy showed four impressions:
         1) An early war infantryman
Brass buttons, Picklehaub, and 98G rifle.
The backpack didn't fit at all, so Jeff is crouching
behind Robby, holding it up for the photo.

Calfskin pack, canteen, bread bag, and bayonet/
entrenching tool combo. Note the marching boots
- very uncomfortable, he said

The Junge Landsher on guard.
The field is beside the main building.

Aufmarchieret! Vorwarts!
Here you see the natural lay of the pack;
the straps were WAY too long.

The second impression was an early/middle war medical orderly - Rob wants a hat like that and really enjoyed the side arm!

It's really the same jacket as above with the Red Cross
armband, "captured" British belt, dressing pouch,
cap, and Luger (non-firing reproduction) with holster

This was half the fun!

Rear view. Rob found this uniform quite comfortable -
more so than the British kit he often wears at these gigs.
 Third impression - late war infantryman with the fly-fronted jacket, Stahlhelm, and grenades. The rifle - a Mauser 98G - is not a reproduction. Jeff also brought along a "Commission Rifle" made and used earlier, and a plastic and wood dummy of a Lewis Gun.
Very business-like! Note the "potato masher" grenade
on the belt.

Rob may look distressed but he's learned to be calm and
not look excited at these events.

From the left. We realised that we had the entrenching
tool on the wrong side. The round pouch above the
canteen is a gas mask carrier.

VERY business-like!!

Lastly, the late war Stormtrooper... a tough customer indeed!
Burlap covered helmet, puttees and British
"Ammunition boots", "Waterwings" (grenade
bags, gas mask canister on the left hip, and
assault shovel on the back.

He can throw pretty far!

A good view of the assault shovel and the rifle slung
around the neck.

The assault position with grenade and trench knife.
The black-piped red shoulder straps are for the
5th Pioneer Battalion under Hauptmann Rohr. This was
the first stormtrooper unit, testing the new tactics
and equipment. The members went on to train the
stormtroopers for the whole army.

Once in the theatre, Rob as given the gas mask to
demonstrate. All he could think of was "Are you my
Mommy?" (for Doctor Who fans, it's obvious!)

Of course, Robby could keep a straight face all the time. With Jeff snarling and mugging off camera, we got this one!
Obviously NOT a Prussian... despite the uniform.

I don't really need to say that I'm proud of my son. I am... tremendously so.
I truly enjoyed working this event with Rob and Jeff, although all I did was help Rob do quick changes in uniform. This is education that's fun to see and offer.


  1. Those are brilliant pictures. Living history is such a great way to make it real for people, you are quite right about that.
    The only sad thought I had in looking at the early war pictures is that your son Rob probably wasn't much younger than the German student troops who died at the kindermord at 1st Ypres.
    Thanks for sharing these!

  2. Thanks, Padre! Robby will be 18 this summer; I don't doubt he would have been in or close to the cohort that suffered at Ypres.
    Truth to tell, we had a crazy good time doing this event. We're planning to do another for a group of local grade 10's in the Owen Sound area in May with a large group of WWI reenactors. Robby is already signed up for the German Lehrcompanie. I don't have a uniform and I might not be able to attend anyway due to ministry events. (Well... maybe. I'll talk to my dean.)

    1. By the way, Padre, if you're at any reenacting or gaming events in Ontario, make youself known to me. I'll be on the look-out for you.

      John G

    2. Thanks John. I would like that a lot. Deus vult, my next posting will be back to Ontario, possibly Borden or Kingston. I have a lot of wargaming friends in SW ON and the prospects for canoe trips are better as well. SE AB is not friendly to paddlers.

  3. Some great photos, what a way to learn about history!!!!!!!!!

    1. I agree, Ray. And the weather held. too. And we went to Dairy Queen for "Blizzards"!