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Wartime re-enactment is winner for estate
Published 06/05/14

MAPLEDURHAM echoed to the sound of battle as it hosted a Second World War re-enactment display.

More than 2,000 visitors attended the event, which took place in the grounds of Mapledurham House on Saturday and Sunday.

The attractions included a submersible tank which drove up and down the Thames and a Forties jive hall with dance demonstrations.

A wartime police office and prison cell was set up on “Letsby Avenue” with pictures of wanted fugitives such as bootleggers and counterfeiters.

Dozens of replica war vehicles were on display, including tanks, machine-gun trucks and the iconic German motorbike and sidecar. Actors portraying historical figures including Winston Churchill, President Dwight D Eisenhower and General George Patton oversaw the military operations.

There were also replica camps complete with washing drying on the line while a women’s recruitment office featured a game where visitors were challenged to milk an artificial cow, one of the tasks required of women in Britain during the war.

The highlight on each day was a mock battle involving hundreds of soldiers — the first won by the Germans and the other by the Allies.Hundreds of members of 30 re-enactment societies took part, playing the parts of German, American, Polish and British troops.

The Mapledurham estate was where much of the 1976 film The Eagle Has Landed was made.

The film, which starred Michael Caine and Donald Sutherland, told the story of the Germans’ failed attempt to capture Churchill.

The estate used the money it received from the makers of the film to restore its watermill.

Estate secretary Lola Andrews said the event was very successful and attracted twice the number of visitors than the first re-enactment staged last year.

“The feedback has been amazing,” she said. “I’ve been receiving emails and phone calls telling me how superb it was. It was so popular and couldn’t have gone better.”

The event was organised by Dave Norris, of the NISI Re-enactors, and Dave Allaway, commanding officer of the Screaming Eagles re-enactment society.

Mr Allaway said: “All the re-enactment groups were fantastic. They interacted well with the public and made sure there was plenty to see and do before our big battles in the afternoon. The mill was occupied by the German troops on Saturday and Americans on Sunday. Next year we hope to stage a battle there.”

PUBLISHED 06/05/14

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