A rip-roaring and fantastically action packed fun day out for all the family.
On Saturday 28th June, braving the weather and a long journey THB ventured to the Chalke Valley History Festival in what was sure to be a fantastic day out and despite the weather’s best efforts, it certainly did not disappoint.
Now an annual historical event, the CVHF was first started in 2011 and was the brain child of history writers and enthusiasts, James Heneage and James Holland. The festival only seems to have gone from strength to strength as more and more people venture each year to a small field nestled in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside.
The day started with a fantastic talk by British actor Damian Lewis, which focused primarily on arguably his best known role, where he played Lt Richard ‘Dick’ Winters in the critically acclaimed WW2 HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers. You can hear all about this talk in our next post, which will look behind the scenes at the making of the much loved series.
As soon as the talk was over, people rushed outside to witness the first of the day’s airshows. The US P-51 fighter was the first one up, spinning and diving through the Wiltshire skies it made for quite the spectacle. This specific model, nicknamed ‘Jumpin Jacques’ saw active service during WW2 from early 1945 in Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany and still has the bullet holes and shrapnel marks to prove it.
But the P-51 was only the tip of the iceberg for what the CVHF had planned, as the show only got better and better, for the P-51 Mustang was followed by the B-17 Flying Fortress, a colossal flying machine which filled the sky.
‘Sally B’ is the UK’s only operational Boeing B-17 flying fortress still in existence. On their final fly pass, the crew released a smoke trail from their engines in a special remembrance tribute to all those crews who did not make it back during WW2. This was followed by the C-47 Dakota transport airplane, which was utilised by the Allied paratroopers during D-Day.
And finally the one we had all been waiting to see was the Spitfire and Hurricane which both roared in over the top of Wiltshire hills to a resounding reception. Unfortunately owing to the terrible weather at the time I was unable to get any photographs of this fly-by which was a bitter disappointment, for it was absolutely brilliant. Especially enjoyable was listening to the Merlin engines as the Spitfire flew in incredibly low before banking off to perform his victory roll. (Below is a photo taken by CVHF)
But the day was not just about Second World War airplanes, it was packed full of things to do for all the family. Sword training, archery, jousting, a WW1 trench experience were just a few of the things on offer to guests.
With the living history section, people could get up close and personal with various weapons from throughout the ages as well as a selection of military vehicles as re-enactors donned their uniforms and brought history back to life for the public.
There was various live re-enactments for spectators to enjoy including a battle from the American War of Independence between the American rebels and the British Red-Coats, as well as firing of WW2 weapons including a British field gun (images of both can be seen below).
With the 70th anniversary of D-Day having just passed it seemed fitting that there would be a talk by veterans who were there to conclude the day. Fred Glover from 9th Para and David Render a tank commander from the Sherwood Rangers provided a real eye opening and fascinating talk about their own experiences of D-Day and the Normandy Campaign. I will do another post purely about this talk as it really does deserve its own post, so keep your eyes peeled out for this to follow shortly.
It really was a great day out and a brilliant experience, I cannot recommend it enough and I am already looking forward to seeing what the CVHF team have planned for next year.
Below is a selection of some of the best photos from the Living History Section of the festival and the rest of the day. Selecting these was no easy task, I started the day with a completely clean SD card, but ended up taking just over 600 photos…some of these can also be found on the THB home page.
There will be more to follow from THB soon, including a behind the scenes look at the making of the Band of Brothers Series as well as a post on the talk at the CVHF by the D-Day veterans who were there.