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GI44-45 Living History Group [England]

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Normandy report. Last part.


In the early hours of the morning of June 6th, whilst I was tucked up in my sleeping bag, Glen, Eric, Jon Moore and Tom Sainter were making their way on the last leg of the miss-drops event.



This photo taken on the drop zone area south of Grainville, shows what the guys were up against. They made their way through some of the marsh land before then heading south alongside the tracks of the Cherbourg to Paris Railway.






Later they were picked up and headed back to our camp at Hiesville. The next day it was an early start as we made our way to the first of a number of ceremonies that would attend throughout the day.







The first had Eugene Cook in attendance, after the ceremony I got chatting to him and asked whereabouts he was from in the US, he replied Pennsylvania. Another odd coincidence the occurred, as I told him my GT GT Grandfather had enlisted in Co F, 111th Pennsylvania Volunteers in August 1863 at Norristown, PA. Eugene replied, “Norristown?!- I lived there for over 40 years!” With that common denominator becoming apparent, Eugene and I chatted for some time.



Later during the day we returned to the church at Hemevez, where we participated in a memorial to the troopers killed by the Germans, by this stage it had a great significance and meaning.





In the evening we had a meal with the guys from the Belgian friendly 101st and then later, Tom, Jon, Manny and I made our way to spend some time at Utah beach, it being an appropriate ending to June 6th.



June 7th and time to head home. The weather was atrocious; the week had not seen very good weather at all. However not deterred we still had one last item on our agenda; a visit to the US Cemetery at Coleville Sur Mer. It made natural sense to seek out the graves of the solders we had learnt about, and as before, with previous visits finding some of the graves of those killed had special meaning. R.I.P-


- Pfc Daniel B. TILLMAN

- Pvt Robert G. WATSON

- Pvt Anthony J. HITZTALER

- Pvt Robert E. WERNER

- Pvt Delmar C. Mc ELHANEY

- Pvt Andrew W. KLING

- Pfc Elsworth M. HECK




Our time at the cemetery was very limited, on these trips it always seems that we are doing things right up until the last minute. It took over an hour to get back to Hiesville, and then set down our camp. The heavens opened just as we did so, it seemed the weather was having a joke at our expense.






Time was really, really against up by this time, we had about and 1 ½ to get to Cherbourg. The only blessing was that the weather improved and we had clear roads with no traffic. By the skin of our teeth we managed to get to Cherbourg, suffered a diversion due to major roadworks in the town, but eventually rolled onto the ferry.



My blood pressure subsided slightly and we began our journey across the channel. I have to say I had a fantastic week. Great company, working alongside people from various living history groups, who all brought something different and meaningful to the event. The thing I like about these trips is that I am with like minded people, who want to soak up every experience and who don’t have attitudes of self importance. Yes, it was full on with something happening very day, but I think anything else would make it quite dull.



Next year, if a similar miss drops scenario takes place I’ll be keen to take part in all three nights and perhaps give the Carentan march a miss. Looking forward to it already.




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  • 4 months later...

The groups just had its AGM and there are some exciting events planned for next year. Our next jaunt is a week long trip walking in the Footsteps of the Bloody Buckets, as Team SNAFU, Belgian Ardennes,,, less than two weeks time. Looking forward to it.


Feedback on our work is always welcome!

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Meanwhile, soon to be released is the 5th edition of our group magazine, "Strictly GI44-45", containing articles and images of our endeavours representing the GI of WW2. Few Living history groups offer a magazine to its members which documents their work in hard copy for posterity.


Want to be part of a group that is going places? Then sign up to GI44-45 for 2013!


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Seems that Webshots, a site I have been using for years has gone down the pan- and with years worth of my uploaded images. So my apologies to anybody who reads the GI44-45 thread. All the images have gone and I'll have to start afresh using photobucket or similar.


Very frustrating, the same thing applies to my Hawley Reproductions thread.

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Well, less than two days to go before GI44-45, together with our friends from the UK and the continent, head east to Bastogne to represent the 101st and 28th Infantry Divisions. Both units are representations GI44-45 have done before, and it’s great to be able to re-badge as, “Team Snafu”. We’ll be walking in the footsteps of both units, paying homage to those soldiers who served during the events that occurred in the Battle of the Bulge.


On a personal note I have to say, that I really enjoy this aspect of living history, the experience of being in the right place, at the right time of year, in the right kit, with like minded people is one that really cannot be beaten..








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  • 4 weeks later...

GI44-45 recently returned from a week in Belgium between 14th and 21st December where with friends from the UK and Continent we walked in the Footsteps of 101st Airborne in Bastogne and retraced the Footsteps of the 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry, as they retreated from Ouren on the Belgium, Luxembourg Germany border.

Old meets new- Bastogne, with James Compton a serving member of the 101st!


Outside McCauliffes HQ


Gatecrashing his Christmas Dinner


Out on the town in Bastogne


Memorial on Sunday In Bastogne


Catching up on “Strictly GI44-45”


Visiting the outer perimeter of Bastogne


The eastern Slopes of Ouren- German soil?


Early morning in Ouren



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Christmas on the front line just outside Weiswampach



The route is getting harder


And people start to get blisters



On the way to Rogery



Mail Call at Beho




Even I got mail..





On the retreat from Rogery



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By-passing Vielsalm via Provedroux


German foxholes en route to G/508th positions


One more hill to go before we get to Thier Du Mont and G/508th positions


The last hill and a quick rest


Memorial to G/508th Thier Du Mont


Vielsalm and memorial to 7th Armoured



Town Hall Vielsalm


Where we enjoyed a glass of Friendship


Back to the hotel after four days out and hot shower and hot food


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  • 1 month later...

This weekend members of GI 44-45 Living History Group will be again heading to the Ardennes, Belgium, joining our friends from 2nd Armoured in Europe and 101st Airborne Belgium Friendly, to partake in the annual ‘In the Footsteps’ march, this time paying tribute the Lost Battalion - 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion.


The 551st PIB was activated in 1942 with 800 men and de-activated in Jan 1945 after their fateful attack on Rochelinval when just 110 surviving men were absorbed into the 82nd Airborne Division. Virtually nothing of this unit’s proud history of bravery, liberation and sacrifice was recognised until the 1980’s when veteran troopers and members of their families began recording the battalions’ accomplishments.


Very much looking forward to portraying Col.Joerg's GOYA birds, one of the lesser-known airborne units and walking in their footsteps….




Pvt.Dan O'Dwyer


GI 44-45



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Just had a V-Mail in from the front line. Its going to be very cold!!!


-15 on Friday evening with the wind chill factor apparently in Noirefontaine.... Brrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! :wacko:


Regardless, wouldn't want to be anywhere else.


See you there mate!







Pvt.Dan O'Dwyer


GI 44-45



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  • 4 months later...

Just because I haven't posted on this particular thread for a while doesn't mean we haven't been doing things..


Last weekend we were at Trowbridge Wiltshire, England, for their armed Forces weekend celebration. Rumour has it that the 79th used to play baseball in the park that we were displaying in..


Portraying pre-DDay 4th Infantry...


Portraying the 4th Infantry pre D-Day...














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  • 1 month later...
This weekend, GI 44-45 will be making the long trip down to Woolacombe Bay, Devon, England, to portray the 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division at the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of the US D-Day Assault Training Centre.

The U.S. Army Assault Training Centre was established on 1st September 1943 to teach and train American infantry the tactics of amphibious assault in preparation for D-Day, 6th June 1944. During its six month existence over 10,000 troops passed through three week training courses before putting their new found skills into practice on the beaches of Normandy. Colonel Paul W. Thompson, then commandant said … “If the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, then the Assault Training Centre contributed in no small measure to the success of D-Day”.

To commemorate this historic anniversary a two day event will take place in Woolacombe at the very heart of what was the Assault Training Centre on Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September 2013.

Looking forward to the opportunity of being part of this unique event and walking in the footsteps of those who eventually ended up on the Normandy shores.
Report and photos to follow...
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