I attended a WW1 event at Pembrey Country Park over the May bank holiday. It was hosted by Yeoman Great War; a clutch of well-equipped and uber motivated men and women who are eager to talk about WW1 and the role that their character played in the conflict. I am constantly in awe of the participants of history reenactors, who give up their time to impart their knowledge and passion for their interest in our history. In particular the way in which each of the participants were eager to engage with the kids and encourage them to handle the weapons and equipment to give them a sense of what it may have been like to have lived through the conflict. All the participants were particularly approachable and eager to engage with as many visitors to the event as possible, it was a delight to see so many young people spell-bound by the history lessons.
It was thought-provoking to see the range of weaponry and how well maintained each piece was. Observing a demonstration of a Lee Enfield 303 rifle reminded me of my time on Bisley Range firing a 303 and trying to handle the monster ‘kick’ of the rifle.
I was given an in-depth introduction to a machine gun by Andrew including the legislation and procedures to ensure that each weapon is harmless and the fail-safes to prevent reactivation, in addition to the complex resale procedures and safety checks.
The commitment and passion of each participant was palpable, and the care and attention to kit and uniform authenticity was inspiring. A great day out.
I was drawn to an exhibit of an image of an intricate embroidery of regimental badges and engage in conversation with husband-and-wife team, Anne, and Damian Ward. Apparently, Anne had discovered, what turned out to be a bedspread, in the Brecon British Red Cross charity shop, whilst rummaging through a donated bag. The regimental badges represented troops that were operational during WW1.
Their research on the origination of the embroidery took them on an amazing international adventure, which has included 1914 Ypres, the film industry, and an MoD undercover operation in addition to numerous professional historic organisations, to ascertain who produced the embroidery and why, all without any success. They have now written a book of their journey, Twelve Secret Voices (available here) and produced a YouTube video. Additional information can be obtained from their FaceBook site.
Images by kind permission of Anne Ward