The Northern Forties Historical Re-Enactment Group are attendees at numerous events across Britain, from country fairs to airshows and the chances are you will have come across a member before without realising it. The 21st and 22nd of May 2011 saw them host their own event at Halfpenny Green Airport near Wolverhampton. Steve Smith went to investigate “Halfpenny At War” for AeroResource.co.uk…..
The event was partly billed as a fly-in and partly as a whole event themed around wartime Britain. Thankfully for the organisers, the weather played ball and was warm and sunny throughout the Saturday at least. It seemed to us that attendance was very good, both from re-enactors and the viewing public, which must have been several thousand over the two days.
Right from the main entrance to the airfield, the re-enactors were lined up, first there were a row of wartime Austin’s before you’d even parked the car!
Heading into the event itself, with an easily affordable entry fee of £4 for an adult, we were immediately greeted by a row of American vehicles, ranging from the extreme Army tow-trucks to the slightly more bite-sizes Army Air Force jeeps – the vast majority of which have suitably clothed personnel hanging around, making for that ideal photo opportunity.
Scattered around the hangar complex, including amongst the wartime buildings still remnant at Halfpenny Green from its days as an RAF base, were small gatherings, many part of other re-enactment groups. There was a Luftwaffe fighter dispersal, a German mobile hospital, a British Commando encampment, and numerous US and British Army camps.
Sadly, with the sheer number of re-enactors attending, many were crammed in wherever they could go, which sometimes meant cutting out the modern clutter from the back-drop was tough, but expected.
One of the hangars was converted to provide a “dance hall” like feel, with food and drink, seating and a dance floor, for those wanted to jive away to the sounds of singers Miss Lola L’Amore and Miss Marina Mae.
Among the line up on the flight line, was a Yak3M and Dragon Rapide, which was giving pleasure flights, Auster ‘RT610’, the local Police helicopter and numerous Cessna’s and Piper’s, local to Halfpenny Green.
The biggest disappointment of the day was the non-appearance of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Avro Lancaster, due to a fairly stiff breeze, but that’s got to be an accepted risk in these situations and nothing the organisers could do about that.
This event was a first for the Northern Forties Re-Enactment Group , but hopefully this will become an annual event, as I will certainly be attending next year, should that happen! All credit must go to the organisers who pulled together an excellent show, although perhaps somewhat lacking in wartime aircraft attendance.
At the end of the day, £4 doesn’t get you a long way in today’s economic climate and for an event such as this, I consider it to be an excellent day out and really one for the kids to learn about times gone by.