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.