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Victory Show - Cosby 2009
 
     
 
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Cosby Victory Show 2009

Words and photography Mike Freer, additional photography Stuart Freer

Foxlands Farm, near the village of Cosby in Leicestershire was the scene of the United Kingdom’s largest military re-enactment event and is as much a symbolic venue to the various military living history groups, as Max Yasgur’s farm, New York, was to all those Woodstock music lovers forty years ago in 1969.

This was the author’s first visit to this event and the scene on arriving at the farm was like something out of a Second World War film set. There were German, American, British and Russian armies dug in and over 200 military vehicles present. The author was impressed by the attention to detail from the uniforms used to the operational procedures as demonstrated by the very loud motor firing display. One of the trenches was covered in artificial snow, while another, illustrating a trench captured from Japanese soldiers during the Battle of Iwo Jima, was scattered with broken Japanese Beer bottles.

There were many fighting units represented, but worthy of note was the 101st Airborne Division, US Army, The Screaming Eagles. This unit played a major part in the Normandy Landings and the Battle of the Bulge.

Much to the amazement of the author was the very large German military presence with Luftwaffe paratroop, Panzergrenadier and Waffen SS units represented.

The Fallschirmjäger (paratroop) units were part of the Luftwaffe and played a major part in the invasion of Norway and Denmark. By the end of hostilities, they had been awarded 134 Knight’s Crosses. The Panzergrenadier units were motorised infantry elements of the Heer (German Army) which was part of the Wermacht (German Armed Forces) and fought on all fronts. The Waffen SS was the combat arm of the Nazi party and was not part of Heer and comprised Panzer, Panzergrenadier, Infantry, Mountain Troops and Police. The present re-enactment groups are keen to stress no affiliation to any right wing parties.

The battle that followed saw a motorised Panzergrenadier group attacking a British Army line of 25 pound field guns (the largest assembled since the Second World War). With German troops and armoured vehicles advancing down both flanks, it looked as though the British position would be over-run. Suddenly, a US Army armoured group appeared from the trees and saved the day. With lots of smoke and pyrotechnics, this was a most realistic presentation.

 
     
 
     
 
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Hawker Hurricane I - G-HUPW - Minnmere Farm Partnership - United Kingdom
 
Piper L-4J Grasshopper - G-AKAZ - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Hawker Hurricane I - G-HUPW - Minnmere Farm Partnership - United Kingdom   Piper L-4J Grasshopper - G-AKAZ - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Hawker Hurricane I - G-HUPW - Minnmere Farm Partnership - United Kingdom
 
North American P-51D Mustang - G-MRLL - Hardwick Warbirds - United Kingdom   Boeing B-17G-105-VE  Flying Fortress - G-BEDF - B-17 Preservation Limited - United Kingdom   Boeing B-17G-105-VE  Flying Fortress - G-BEDF - B-17 Preservation Limited - United Kingdom   North American P-51D Mustang - G-BTCD - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom
 
Piper L-4J Grasshopper - G-AKAZ - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom

Following the exhilaration of the land battle, it was the turn of the aerial component to demonstrate the role of air-power during the Second World War. The flying display was very tight and close to the crowd-line.

Piper L-4 Cub wearing the tactical code 57-G opened the show with a stunning demonstration of the aircraft’s STOL (Short Take Off & Land) capability along with its low speed manoeuvrability in its wartime artillery spotting role. She wears the markings of the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division during the Normandy Battle. The Piper L-4 was a much sort after price by the Luftwaffe due to its very low speed and agility.

Following the identification of suitable targets, a North American P-51D Mustang was called in to conduct attacks. This turned out to be ‘Marinell’ (s/n 44-13521) resplendent in the markings of the 504th Fighter Squadron/339th Fighter Group while based at RAF Fowlmere in Cambridgeshire. She is presently operated by Hardwick Warbirds.

Another P-51D later appeared in the guise of ‘Ferocious Frankie’ (s/n 44-13704) operated by the Old Flying Machine Company. She wears the code B7-H of the 374th Fighter Squadron/361st Fighter Group, RAF Bottisham in Cambridgeshire.

Peter Vasher’s immaculate Hawker Hurricane Mark 1 R4118 arrived prior to the show and landed on the farm-strip. This is a genuine Battle of Britain veteran serving with 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron, RAF Croydon and shot down five enemy aircraft. She later gave a breath-taking flying display. She has been restored to her original Battle of Britain condition.

To compliment the Hurricane was Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXB MH434 of the Old Flying Machine Company. She is probably the most famous of the breed and is completely original, unlike most Spitfires that have been re-built using new components. She is in the markings she wore with 222 Squadron and is credited with two and a half “kills”. She later flew with the Dutch Air Force as H-105 with 322 Squadron.

Following all the recent engine problems, it was a relief to see Boeing B-17G ‘Sally B’ (s/n 44-85784) back in the air once again following all the hard work and perseverance of Elly Sallingboe’s B-17G Preservation Ltd based at Duxford.

The flying display finished with a few passes by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Douglas Dakota ZA947 painted in the markings of 267 ‘Pegasus’ Squadron. This was a fitting end to this splendid World War II living history production.

 
North American P-51D Mustang - G-BTCD - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom   Boeing B-17G-105-VE  Flying Fortress - G-BEDF - B-17 Preservation Limited - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXb - G-ASJV - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom   Hawker Hurricane I - G-HUPW - Minnmere Farm Partnership - United Kingdom
 
Piper L-4J Grasshopper - G-AKAZ - Privately Owned   Hawker Hurricane I - G-HUPW - Minnmere Farm Partnership - United Kingdom   Piper L-4J Grasshopper - G-AKAZ - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom  
 
Boeing B-17G-105-VE  Flying Fortress - G-BEDF - B-17 Preservation Limited - United Kingdom
 
Touchdown Conclusion
 

The Victory Show held at Cosby in Leicestershire over the weekend of September 5th & 6th was a great success and at £10.00 entrance charge, represented very good value for money. For anyone with an interest in modern military history, this is a “must see” event. This show is one of the best in the field of living history events and is not just a display of static vehicles and people walking around in military uniforms but demonstrates, realistically, the day to day lives of the guys and gals in the trenches and the fighting on the front line.

It was also interesting to see the story of the Second World War shown from both perspectives, with a very large assembly of German fighting units. No doubt the polictaly correct brigade was horrified to see people parading around in Waffen SS uniforms, but that’s part of the history of the Second World War.

The flying display held in an adjacent field with a landing strip was equally spectacular, though perhaps, maybe another hour could be added next year. Being a small field, the aircraft flew close to the crowd-line displaying many top-side passes to please the photographers. The only thing that marred the day was the lack of sunshine.

Overall, a very well organised event and very much enjoyed by the author and his family. A great day out with plenty of action for the boys, both young and old. Also something for the ladies with wartime fashions on display and all those handsome GIs strutting around. A well deserved five star rating.

 
Touchdown Rating - 5 out of 5
 
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