Military Odyssey, Detling 2006
I was unsure whether to go to Detling for a while. I had been previous years, but had found it less than enjoyable. However, with Keith telling me that I could drive a Quad, and that the Garrison would be fielding four guns, I thought this would be a good chance to see if my reservations were well founded.
The next problem was getting there. No point in taking a period civilian car, the jeep needed to be MOT'd and my car was being used to ferry people to various weddings. However, over the hill in the usual tones of a Morris Commercial comes David Petters and Jane Gray. With an offer of a lift, I was all set.
The ride down was fun, I always enjoy riding in a period lorry. Pulling onto the site, we made our way to the Garrison's area. The are they had this year was at the edge of the arena, at least I thought it would give something for us to look at.
The next morning I washed and went to the Garrison's display area. Jane was very dutifully cooking a nice breakfast for people. I must say, the group are very friendly, and a good deal of banter between members is fun to join in with. The Garrison's display was very good, from a distance the guns and tractors lined up against the fence looked impressive. However, what to do for the morning? shopping I thought. So off for a wander we went. Passing the myriad of WW2 re-enactors, we eventually found some older periods, so was nice to have a look at these.
At living history shows, I tend to wonder whether it is appropriate to have a lot of stalls, in the end, is that what the public want?, none the less, with wallet in hand we walked around looking for that elusive bargain, of which a few were found. However, I felt by Monday walking around the stalls had become a little tiresome, but the company was great.
In the evenings a multi period party had been organised. A few of us decided to go along. It was interesting to see various uniforms, although it did seem to be dominated by those in 20th Century uniform. Perhaps re-enactors portraying older periods want to dress up in later uniforms for the beer tent.
The main highlight for the Garrison was the battles. I have grave doubts whether it is at all respectful to those who actually fought that these battles take place, as in many ways they are farcical at best. However, in the end it is theatre, the public want to see this. Four guns, in a staggered formation did look impressive, and the infantry going forward under a barrage, using small straw bales and wooden picket fences for shelter added to the publics enjoyment.
I think the Garrison excelled and looked very professional, I also felt a little bit of competitiveness to get our guns out before the others, although I think (JCs SUB) managed first each time, even if they did have an exhaust that was dragging along the ground.
All in all the weekend for me was slow, and Delting as an event has not endeared itself to me. However, spending time with the Garrison is always fun, and the display is always professional. Would I go again - No, but that is the show, not the group.
By Ben Stephens