REMEMBER ME A personal photo album of my time as a WWII re-enactor between 2002 and 2012
by Mark Anthony Craig
INTRODUCTION “Vanity! Vanity!” I can hear my friend Wayne Stokes mock. “There’s always photos of you from every event!” He’s right – of course. But I’m the one who always brings my camera, and always tries to find the time to take some photos of other members at the WWII re-enactment events I have participated in since 2002. But I can’t be everywhere or have the luck to photograph everyone and everything. I do try to encourage everyone in our group to take their own photos and to send them to me to add to our archive – and some do. But others make themselves too scarce or are just very camera shy. So why do I like these particular photos of myself? Probably, like everyone else, I want to look my best. I spent all of my younger years battling a weight problem, which led to me being bullied as a child and teenager, and resulted in me having very low self-esteem for most of my life. I always saw myself as being “ugly”, “the fat one”, “the outsider”, not “normal”. As a child, outside school, I spent most of my time either gardening or writing my own novels (I even had one published when I was 16). I didn’t mix well with kids my own age; I was too mature for their antics and subjects of interest. The only pastime in which I socialised was in amateur dramatics at RAF Valley Theatre Club, where – I suppose – a hidden extrovert lurked inside me, somewhere. As a teenager I even thought about becoming an actor, but my father discouraged it as being a profession in which few made it big and earned enough to make a living. After I finished university in 1986 (qualified as a landscape architect), started work in Liverpool City Council in 1988 and bought my own home, my life simply slipped by – all too quickly. I stopped the amateur dramatics in 1986 and so, outside of work, had no social life. I came home, spent time in the garden, but mostly watched television. I was the epitome of a couch-potato. Bored, and probably boring to everyone else who knew me.
And it was whilst watching television that my interest in 20th century history was awoken. A 1988 documentary “Dear America – Letters Home from Vietnam” which used original hand-held cine-camera footage of American GIs in Vietnam larking about, combined with well-known actors reading out their real letters home to loved ones deeply moved me. I felt empathy with what they had gone through: drafted into the army, sent out to a country they knew nothing about, made to fight a war they didn’t fully understand and witnessed so much suffering, and then spat at in the streets when they returned home by an American public who didn’t agree with them having gone there. I thought: “That could have been me and my generation!” It upset me, and out of interest I collected a complete set of the GI’s uniform and equipment of the period. That set me off collecting militaria, and soon I had also purchased a full set of WWII RAF pilot’s uniform and flying equipment. This was an interest I had had since being a child when my father was in the RAF, and I had been fascinated by the exploits of fictional pilots like Biggles. By 2000, as my interest in collecting militaria expanded, I was curious to know what it was like to have been a German Army soldier in WWII. In this country, we are taught to despise the Nazis and everything they stood for. And quite right too! But the Nazis were a political party – not the people themselves. We’d lived in Germany in the mid-1970s, in a small village near Monchengladbach, and the people there had been friendly and welcoming, nothing like “the Nazis” which some people still wrongly refer to them as. I wondered what it had been like for an ordinary German male like me in 1938/9 – being forced into the military, brain-washed into believing that it was his duty to follow the orders of their country’s dictatorial leader. At least, in Britain, the option to become a conscientious objector had existed – even though you may have spent the rest of the war in jail. But in Germany, dissent led to you being taken out into the street and shot infront of your family and friends. And, as in most other armies, most of the soldiers simply had to follow orders, go into battle and were expected to die as cannon-fodder
whilst the generals watched from a distance, plotting their next countermoves on the battlefield, and on a strategy to boost their positions within the political elite when the war was over. I can still remember the first time, around 2000, when I tried on a German Army uniform and looked in the mirror. It was so unbelievably smart and did a great job at flattening the flab I had at that time. Hugo Boss did an amazing job when he gave the standard German Army uniform a makeover in the 1930s – even today it still remains as a powerful symbol of the Germany of WWII. He made it look appealing to young soldiers who might not have wanted to be in the service, but who could not fail to take pride in their appearance when wearing it. I continued collecting, but my collection was private and personal to me. I had, and still have, a fascination for flying clothing and equipment from 1939 to the present; the development of state-of-the-art technology of the time amazes me. It had been a holiday to Devon in 1998 and a visit to Plymouth Castle where I saw re-enactors in 18th century period costume demonstrating the firing of a cannon which made me realise that people actually dressed up in period military clothing in public. Thinking of my own collections, I wondered if people re-enacted WWII. Unfortunately, in those days before I knew how to use the internet, I had no way of finding out. My local libraries in Wirral had NOTHING about the hobby of re-enactment, so my interest lay dormant until mid 2001 when a colleague at work showed me how to log on to the internet and use a search engine. At that time, there was only a small amount of information about WWII re-enactment available on the web. Few groups had a website of their own, but I found some that did WWII German. However, they seemed to have their events much further south than I wanted to travel and I waited until I found a group that was nearer to home. That first group was the “World War Two Group” and I teamed up with them at the start of the 2002 season after making contact with their leader, Graham Friend. They didn’t have a website of their own, and I would later go on to develop one for them.
My first event was Eden Camp during the easter bank holiday weekend. That first weekend was a complete turning point for me, as I had the best fun I had had in my life up until that moment. Not only was I surrounded by other re-enactors who all had the same interest as myself, but whilst wearing my German uniform around the museum I found that all the visitors wanted to talk to me about my uniform, rifle, equipment, and about me and why I was a re-enactor. To top it all, everyone wanted to take my photograph and I started feeling like a film star or pop star constantly having my picture taken. It was amazing! The most interesting thing was that all that low self-esteem I had been afflicted with for most of my life withered away as I found myself in the limelight, with more people wanting to talk to me than I could ever have imagined. They didn’t look at me as an uninteresting and overweight person (which I always perceived people did when the looked at me!). This was the exact opposite, and it made me feel good about myself. My confidence was boosted even further when I saw some of the pictures taken of me by other members in the group. Until then, I had hated nearly all pictures of me – the overweight child/teenager/young adult. My mother still has a photo of me taken at school when I was 13: I had bloated fat cheeks, long greasy hair (as was the fashion in 1976!) and hated seeing it whenever she got it out to admire it (I won’t even begin to describe the psychedelic patterned shirt and matching tie I was wearing in it). However, the photos of me at re-enactment events were different. I was smiling; I was happy. And in many poses, I didn’t look “fat”. I looked “normal”. Yes, I am vain, I admit it. And I’m an extrovert too. But as I get older, I want something to remember a time when I was happy, when I was (sometimes) “thinner”, when I was “younger”, and when I had confidence. A confidence I had lacked for most of my life. These are the kind of photos I want my family and other people who knew me to remember me by when I’m too old, withering away, or no longer around. These photos are of me having fun; having the time of my life. And where’s the harm in that? November 2012
TOP RIGHT: Metheringham Airfield, April 2002: My second event and first battle reenactment. It was so cold there was ice on the tent in the mornings. I miss Graham’s friendship. I learned a lot from his expertise. But a rift came between us in 2006 and we parted company. ABOVE:
Ramsbottom, May 2002: At this event I was nervous walking in a normal street in uniform carrying a weapon (albeit deactivated and harmless). But when, on the steam train, I met a group of veterans and they told me they really appreciated re-enactors like me wearing German WWII uniforms, I felt much more at ease. “They weren’t Nazis,” the veterans explained. “They were ordinary lads, just like us, put in uniform and told to fight. There were two sides to the war. Wearing what you do keeps the memory of what we experienced alive.”
Eden Camp, Easter 2002. The DUKW was at the entrance to the museum and I kneeled on a pile of sandbags. But when I got home I started experimenting with PaintShopPro to doctor photos from events..
Foxfield Steam Railway, July 2002: It rained so heavily on the Friday night when we arrived that the field was flooded and camping impossible. We cleared the café of chairs and tables, and all slept in there with the roaring fire. The only time I felt I looked okay in that motorcyclist’s rubber coat was with my arms up; my friend Phil Allen once commented that it was usually so long that I looked like a Dalek (you could hardly see my legs). I’ve worn it very few times since!
Penmaenmawr, September 2002: A beautiful location and sunny weather. We did some excellent photo shoots at the campsite in the hills. This was one of the first times I posed with Abbie the German Shepherd, sadly no longer with us. The organiser failed to pay us, and it would be 10 years until I returned to Penmaenmawr’s WWII event.
Cranfleet Lock, October 2002: Another event where the weather was freezing. Mark (Tiny) Adams and I arrived on the Friday night, after dark. The wind was bitingly cold, so we slept in the cellar underneath a bungalow next to the canal. The flooded gravel pits reminded me of Holland, so my PaintShopPro skills were used to paint in a windmill.
Ullenhall, March 2003: My second season started with a private training weekend south of Birmingham. This is one of my favourite photos for the colours of the decaying bracken and the pine trees giving a very different quality of light than usually seen in my photos.
FAR RIGHT: On the set of “We Can Make You Talk”, 2003: That open-mouthed expression made me look so young! I was gutted when most of my footage wasn’t used in the final cut of this History Channel documentary. ABOVE:
Eden Camp, Easter 2003: When the Germans were POWs being brought into the camp and searched for contraband, the other guys usually hid knives, food items or silly stuff like rubber chickens on themselves. With no prop to hide, and in desperation, I asked step daughter Leanne if I could borrow her Cadbury’s Crème Egg to hide in my breadbag ….. and thus the Legend of Anton and confiscation of his Crème Egg was born.
Arnhem, September 2003: Oh the shame when I forgot to take my Denison to Holland, and I had to ring future (now ex) wife Angela to post it to the campsite where we were staying. Tiny and the others still joke about this faux pas today!!
Foxfield Steam Railway, July 2003: Such was the impact of my acting performance at Eden Camp, sobbing over having my Crème Egg confiscated by the Allied guards, that a few months later the group decided to award me with an Oscar. I still have it on display today.
TOP RIGHT: Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, July 2003: Another opportunity to pose with Abbie. For over a year I kept this photo as my pc’s desktop. BOTTOM LEFT:
Cranfleet Lock, May 2003: By this time in my re-enactment career, I had discovered that I played a corpse very well, and that British and American re-enactors liked to have a “dead German” to pose with. I was always willing to let them have that glory, but on this occasion it took Matt Leman-Lawrie and myself over half an hour to find a place along the canal where there wasn’t any dog muck in the grass!
OPPOSITE: War & Peace Show / Amsterdam tour, 2003: A doctored photo. Matt and I posed on the motorbike combo at the War & Peace Show in July, then I painted us into an upward looking photo I took later in the year when we were visiting Amsterdam in September.
Eden Camp, April 2004: Another year, and the Crème Egg scenario was still being played infront of the public. Graham, Matt and the other “Allied” officers all took in turns to either eat it or squish it under their boot to boos from the public. At the event in August, I’d forgotten to bring a Crème Egg – and let the others know. But when we did the show, EVERYONE ELSE had one except me – and they piled up their Crème Eggs in my cap as I was being searched. It was so funny!
Foxfield, July 2004: The previous summer, at Ramsey, James Bristow had let Allied Assortment down at the last minute and I had stepped in to compere the fashion show. I did it so well that when James failed to return, I became established as their new permanent compere.
War & Peace Show, July 2004: On the last day of the event, I found a seller who had the German pilot’s summer flight-suit. I was ecstatic that I had actually found one – and amazingly – it fitted me. Ex wife Angela raced to a cash-point and raided the last £120 we had in the account to pay for it. With it, I could finally start my German pilot collection.
FAR RIGHT: Tamworth Castle, August 2004: The flight-suit on its first official outing (with temporary life-jacket).
The last time I ever wore my British Airborne gear
Arnhem Tour, September 2004: My third and last visit to Arnhem with th the veterans. This was the BIG one that commemorated the 60 anniversary of the Arnhem landings. The streets of Arnhem were packed with thousands of visitors cheering at us as we marched between them.
Liverpool Maritime Museum, September 2004: An awesome shot of me with the Pier Head behind. This view is gone today, new buildings now in the way. What sticks in my memory about this was the two policemen coming up to me and saying, seriously, they would have to arrest me for carrying a weapon in public. The passing visitors stopped, open mouthed in astonishment, waiting to see what would happen next. I said: “Oh yes? You and whose army?” Then the police officers broke into smiles and admitted they only wanted to handle my MP40.
Kettering, June 2004: Quite an odd event for the time, as I was the ONLY German. I was a sniper hiding in the bushes, firing at Andy Marsh’s group who – unusually – were all dressed as Black Watch. Karl Beautyman kicked me down a grass embankment: he didn’t hurt me, but it looked effectively good (as we were later told by concerned spectators).
TOP RIGHT: Eden Camp, Easter 2005: Eden Camp was always one of the most popular events with everyone. Whatever the weather there (usually cold!) we slept inside the barrack hut with electric lights and heaters. Bliss, compared to camping in the snow and ice which we seem to do everywhere else. Graham liked tapping me with his stick. My grey scarf hid the double chins after a winter of indulgence. ABOVE:
Severn Valley, June 2005: My interest in the 1940s and 1950s extends beyond militaria. I love the everyday civilian clothing of that period, and especially what men wore in those days. Call me “old fashioned” if you like, but in normal every day life I get fed up wearing t-shirts, and jeans which - despite wearing a belt - these days always seem to slip down your backside. Braces never let you down (or your trousers!)
Severn Valley, June 2005: My wish is that, when they’re older, my kids will remember and appreciate the times we’ve spent together at events.
TOP LEFT: Elvington Air Museum, May 2005: Like I’ve said elsewhere in this album, I love collecting pilot gear from WWII to the present day. To be honest, if I was 18 again, I think I’d want to try to become a military pilot as a career. I like going to air museums that have aircraft of all periods, and if I know aircraft which you can go inside are there, I will take my more modern pilot gear for a photo shoot inside them. This is my Mark IV RAF flightsuit with Type G cloth helmet and P type mask, all dating from the 1970s. ABOVE:
Foxfield, July 2005: In that year, I bought this lifejacket, believing it to be a German “pilot’s” one. It was – in fact – only used by pilots attached to the Navy and not Luftwaffe bomber crew. I used it for a few events and then sold it at the end of the season for the same money I’d paid for it.
Edwinstowe, May 2005: Whilst at this village event, I asked myself why my local community group couldn’t organise a similar one in New Ferry where I lived. It did, six weeks later! I also remember doing a spectacular body roll at this event after being shot in the back as I tried to escape.
On the set of “ATA Girl”, May 2006: Those who know me will find this photo rather at odds with my allergy to alcohol – it burns my throat and gullet like acid, resulting in anaphylactic shock and death within an hour. As we were doing this scene for a student film in a dance hall – and I can’t dance! – I decided to play the ogling drunkard. The “beer” was cold tea with bit of fairy liquid for froth. Yeuk! I acted in a typical “drunken letch” manner – copied from my observations of people I know!!!!
Stanley Hall, Bridgenorth, June 2006: One of the most bizarre events we ever attended – a private party bash for 200 very rich guests who paid £3000 each for tickets. Many of them were young doctors, bankers and lawyers from the North West, who turned up to watch us, knights on horseback, “aliens”, get smashed and snort drugs openly infront of us. A Tardis was placed in the middle of the arena – and no explanation for its presence was ever given. At night, couples had steamy sex inside it which my two sons, who were there with us, found hilarious.
TOP LEFT: War & Peace Show, July 2006: 2005 had been an ‘annus horribilis’ for me in many ways – my marriage to Angela being rapidly followed by our separation just 4 months later. But yet more nastiness was to strike in 2006 when I fell out with my re-enactment mentor Graham Friend and ended up leaving the WWII Group. Beltring was where the argument really kicked off as the Chinese whispers grew to a crescendo over what type of uniforms we should or shouldn’t be wearing. Maybe I should have used that MachineGewehr on someone who really pissed me off in the weeks immediately after this event. ABOVE:
Thwaite Mill, June 2006: 2006 was also a bad year for my weight. I’d taken to comfort eating and the pounds piled back on. Looking up always made the chin profile look better…..which is why I love this photo.
Northampton & Lamport Railway, September 2006: I don’t necessarily like this photo – as I don’t like most that were taken of me that year, but at least careful positioning of the microphone masks the double chins.
TOP RIGHT: Crich Tramway Museum, April 2007: Wayne Stokes persuaded me to go to Crich for the first time. He was determined to make me realise I could still have a great time re-enacting without the WWII Group. I always interacted well with other groups, and my downed pilot scenario got me into ‘Allied only events’. In 2007, the original kapok lifejacket was loaned to me by a colleague who found it the year before during a house clearance. ABOVE:
Churnet Valley Railway, April 2007: Wayne and Maggie kept putting pressure on me to agree to set up our own re-enactment group. I was worried that we wouldn’t have the right contacts, or have the time to organise members, but eventually I gave in and in May 2007 we officially started Northern Forties.
Churnet Valley Railway, April 2007: With the “Victorian Westerners” group, who also do British Airborne - and take nice pics of me!
Thorpe Camp, May 2007: Wayne can be very persuasive; he even got the owners of Thorpe Camp to agree to allow me to attend their traditional ‘Allied only’ event. Since then, each year, Northern Forties has provided a Luftwaffe camp with all our pilots at this museum. I love Wayne’s expression in this photo: he uses it when he gets his own way….. or one over on someone ☺
Howarth Village, May 2007: I must also thank my long-time friend Phil Allen. He never took sides between myself and Graham, and has remained friends with us both (independently). I admire Phil’s knowledge of Luftwaffe history, and if it were possible to bottle his sense of humour to sell, we’d be millionaires. He loved his Goering outfit until 2012 when some newspapers said some members of the public objected.
Crich Tramway Museum, August 2007: On the second visit of the year to Crich, a modelmaker brought along his 1:1 scale replica ME109 cockpit to display. He was ecstatic to find me, a German pilot with all the correct flying gear, to pose inside it for him.
Northampton & Lamport Railway, September 2007: With Paul George’s help (another WWII Group defector), we were able to establish Northern Forties’ Luftwaffe pilots’ camp. Note the original kapok lifejacket on loan.
TOP RIGHT: Churnet Valley Railway, April 2008: An unusual shot, posed on the spur of the moment when suggested by the photographer attached to the “Victorian Westerners”. British housewives finally get to show they mean business to that nasty Luftwaffe bomber pilot. The original kapok lifejacket finally became mine that year when my colleague who found it agreed to sell it to me after letting me borrow it for a year. ABOVE:
Fort Paull, June 2008: I loved the two years we did this event. A brilliant setting, with bunkers, hills, and lots of places to hide. Here, we invented the “hunt the downed pilot” game, with me hiding in the grounds of the museum and visiting children helping the Allied troops find me. It was awesome to have so many people hunting for me – giving a rare feeling of what it must be like to be a criminal (or downed pilot in enemy territory) on the run. This is what I call my ‘James Bond pose’. Mean and dangerous!!
Fort Paull, June 2008: With some late 20 century aircraft also on display at the museum, I took my more modern pilot gear, this time including the Mk I bone dome that fits over the G type cloth flying helmet.
Thorpe Camp, July 2008: We tried to recreate the ‘Hunt the downed pilot’ game, but the site was not large enough for it to work. I love this pose, although I admit I paint-smudged the double chin on this one!
Ramsey, August 2008: One of my all time favourite photos of me, it was taken by my daughter Shannon. I’d crouched against a wall, so had to look slightly upwards at the camera, thus slimming the double chin profile and no need for any touching up as in the photo at the top of this page. I like it when that happens! I was also have a very good hair day. ☺ I often use this photo as my avatar on blog sites.
Renishaw Hall, June 2008: My friend Paul Cooke took this stunning photo of me. He tried to copy those ‘heroic’ looking shots that appeared on recruitment posters in the 1940s. It shows off my Luftwaffe equipment very well indeed, particularly the oxygen mask with the leather face guard to keep the face warm at higher altitudes where the thin air is also much colder.
TOP RIGHT: Beaulieu Motor Museum, May 2009: A now classic pose for me is to sit in my deck chair reading a German newspaper in the middle of my display. Having such a display means I get to sit in relative comfort for most of the day. Sometimes, I even fall asleep…… ABOVE:
Foxfield, July 2009: After finishing compering the fashion show, and before changing back into military costume, I did a “gangster pose” with Phil Allen’s Thompson. My son Ashley, who was heavily into American 30s culture at the time, was very impressed with this photo.
FAR RIGHT: Thorpe Camp, July 2009: How many times can I get caught, frisked and marched off by Allied troops? Every scenario is slightly different, which means it never gets boring for me. Different people, different reactions. BELOW:
War & Peace Show, July 2009: I really appreciated Ashley coming along to this event; it felt good to have his support for a change as he had dropped out of re-enacting for a number of years. He appreciated it too – particularly the singer ‘Kitten Von Mew” whose bum he held in another photo, and the strippers who entertained (him and) the Vietnam GIs in the camp next to ours on the Saturday night!
Ashdown Camp, July 2009: Acting my socks off, as usual. Oh the pain! I love performing in public ☺ The weather was hot that day – hence the sweaty red face.
Crich Tramway Museum, August 2009: I love this shot of myself and Paul Cooke as two downed pilots on the run. I’d bought another original kapok lifejacket off German eBay, and a second summer flightsuit at the War & Peace Show, so now we could have two pilots dressed the same. Look down when camera is high = no chins visible ☺
Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, September 2009: Slap bang in the middle of fields at this event, it inspired me to try out that 1930s “farm worker” look. The corded trousers I bought just before the event (not seen in this photo) are the most comfortable pair of trousers I’ve ever worn (USELESS FACT, I know, but it filled a space) ☺
The Victory Show, September 2009: For this event, our friend Jens had come over from Germany to join us. Three pilots in one shot! I wish I’d managed to keep up with my speaking German after school where I did it to ‘A’ level; it’s so hard to relearn and keep up with the language when there is nobody else to practice with on a daily basis.
Fort Perch Rock Museum, Summer 2010: An event my daughter Shannon and I did only 2 miles from our home at New Brighton. A rare chance to include my 1:48 scale Heinkel HE111 on the display.
“Eric & Ernie” September 2010: On the set – supposedly the BBC headquarters in London but actually the Masonic Hall in Manchester. “Don’t tread on the vinyl!” was the frequent shout from the art director. His fake vinyl letters BBC were on the marble floor.
“Eric & Ernie” September 2010: My first day filming was at the Winter Gardens in Morecambe. I asked Bryan Dick (Ernie) and Daniel Rigby (Eric) to pose with me, whilst Emer Kenny (who played Zsa Zsa in Eastenders and was playing Eric’s wife in this) used my camera to take the photo. My god, how buttoned cardigans, flat caps and silly expressions can make you look 20 years older!!
FAR RIGHT: RAF Waddington International Air Show, July 2010: An awesome event where we had to perform infront of thousands of people, and with an ME109, Hurricanes and Spitfires flying overhead at the same time.
Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, September 2010: I like doing new things. In this photo I was being taken by truck under escort to North Thoresby village. When having my photo taken like this, I try to remain in character. Here, I was trying to do the ‘dejected stare’ that I assume a recently captured German pilot may have given when being taken away for interrogation.
FAR LEFT Ramsey, August 2010: For years I’ve wanted to do a photo shoot inside a & CENTRE WWII German bomber – but, surprisingly, there aren’t many of them INSET: around these days. So I had to make do with a 1960s Canberra aircraft (at least part of one) which had been brought to Ramsey by a collector; he towed it behind a truck. The weather was extremely hot and sweaty on that day – the stain still hasn’t gone from the flying helmet. And – no – there was no wet celery involved, either! LEFT &: ABOVE:
Thorpe Camp, September 2010: During the summer of 2010 I’d been on a diet and lost nearly 2 stones of the weight I had gained in recent years. When I viewed the photos that were taken of me when I got home, I was delighted that they showed no sign of a double chin and I looked slimmer than I had done for some time. This resulted in a massive boost in my confidence and outlook until, just weeks later, the news that I could be made redundant from my job in 2011 set me back on the course of comfort eating on chocolate once again.
Chester, August: With “Dexter”, my sister’s Great Dane who paid a flying visit and stole the show.
FAR RIGHT: Avoncroft Museum, June: Shannon and I spent some time “living” in the period house and working in the vegetable garden. BELOW R: War & Peace Show, July: My son Ashley put in another rare appearance as we were captured by Dutch Resistance fighters. He loved the uniform so much and being part of the unit that he never took it off all week. BELOW:
Northampton & Lamport Railway, September: My first battle with my own (new) blank firing K98. The others had finally persuaded me to get my own gun licence after nine years in the group!
TOP LEFT War & Peace Show, July: With never a genuine Heinkel 111, Ju88 or other authentic German bomber to & CENTRE: pose in, I had to do with a Wellington and Lancaster which both appeared at this event in which the owner let me do some poses. He took this and the shot below it to which I added a little paint magic. BELOW:
War & Peace Show, July: There was also a replica Messerschmitt to play with, although we had to jump inside and do the shots whilst the unsuspecting owner was visiting the loo.
War & Peace Show, July: Some of the cast of ‘Allo ‘Allo attended the event that year, to sign autographs and have pictures taken with them. Phil Allen and I had a group pic taken with the cast members, and to wait over an hour to get our printed photo signed by them all. It made Phil’s year to spend so much time with his comedy heroes, whilst I think Guy Siner (Gruber) thought I was a bit of a nutcase to dress up as a German pilot.
Thorpe Camp, July: I get photographed so often at events that I forget the various poses that I do for others, and it always surprises me when others send me their photos of me and I don’t recall them. This is one of those examples where the light makes an interesting composition that hides the chins and tummy fat (problems at work resulted in me gaining 2 stones in weight this year).
TOP RIGHT: Avoncroft Museum, June: Another year of battling with increased weight, now reaching a peak of 17 stones. And a year struggling with rain, rain.....and more rain! Inbetween showers, it was possible to pose with other re-enactors in this shot between the period barns. Many events would be cancelled because of the weather this year. ABOVE:
RAF Waddington, July: The only event I managed to do that month, as immediately after this I went down with a chest infection so severe that I was signed off work for weeks. I love this shot taken by Tracey – although I don’t recall her taking it; it almost looks as if I’m struggling inside an aircraft with the full gear on. It has become customary for me to wear the mask and helmet, and to stand still so that members of the public mistake me for a dummy. It’s quite amusing making sudden moves and giving them a fright!
Halfpenny Green, May: I’m very proud that Northern Forties is able to muster the largest group of Luftwaffe pilots in the UK.
Cleethorpes, August: It was Bob Gibson’s idea to do a photo-shoot with the “downed” ME-109 which turned up at this event. A little PaintShopPro magic showed I still have the ability to create some interesting compositions.
TOP RIGHT: Stoke Bruerne, October: A pleasant little event “down south” which I went to because Allied Assortment needed me to compere the fashion show inside the village church. When the microphone failed, I had to go into the pulpit to shout like a vicar to the audience. Approaching 50, am I now showing my age? ABOVE
Pickering, October: Another flooded event where we put up our tents on grass “islands” surrounded by standing water. The weather was cold enough to finally wear that toque around my neck (which hides the double chins!).
Victory Show, September: Posing with brothers Melvyn and Steve Heappey with the Storch spotter aircraft which we got to sit in. Unfortunately, after this picture was taken, as I got out of the aircraft, my 72 year old flightsuit ripped across my bottom.