School- children with two veterans (centre) in the front of the Centurion
Wicksteed at War show on June 12-14 was the biggest and best yet with plenty of
armour, including main battle tanks. And for the first time, an extra day was
added to get youngsters involved.
near Kettering, Northamptonshire, is run as a charitable trust and joined
forces with the MVT’s South East Midlands Area to put on the show.
before the show proper was designated Education Day and hundreds of
Northamptonshire schoolchildren descended on the Grade One Listed theme park, the
second oldest in Britain, having opened in 1921. They got to talk to the owners of the
vehicles as well as veterans from the Second World War.
Above: Tank Nut Dave tells children about armour Left: Learning all about the FANYs
The highlight on Friday for most was the visit of 89-year-old
Arthur Jones, a Normandy veteran who drove Shermans in the war. He wanted to
see a Sherman and a friend brought him down to Wicksteed at War. But we had a
surprise in store for sprightly Arthur….
A Sherman used in the
recent Brad Pitt film Fury was on hand so Arthur's wish could easily be
fulfilled. But we wanted to go one better. Wicksteed Park provided a front
loader fitted with a "man cage", completed risk assessments and
method statements, checked the insurance and we were able to pick up Arthur and
deposit him gently into the turret of the tank. Arthur's experience didn't
end there. Members of the SE Midlands Area had attended a special tracked
vehicle marshalling course and, with a hi-viz orange-jacketed shepherds
guarding each corner, the venerable 33-ton tank went trundling around the park
with Arthur delightedly waving from the top. "I thought I was
coming to look at a Sherman," said Arthur. "I never dreamed I'd be
able to ride on one. It's been a fantastic day and I can't thank the organisers
Above: Normany veteran Arthur Jones is picked up by a front-loader Left: Arthur, helped by area secretary John Denney, is lowered in the Sherman's turret
Arthur salutes the crowd as he drives by in the Sherman
One of the highlights of the main show on Saturday
and Sunday was the mounted troop of FANYs – the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.
They were volunteers in the First World War who provided first aid just behind
the trenches. They were on five horses and gave a display with our commen- tator
and local radio presenter, John Griff, having a hard time keeping a straight
face while talking about FANYs.
Another arena display showed the history of the
Jeep and its successors in the British Armed Forces, the Champ and Land Rover.
Local Jeep dealer Westaway, one of the show’s sponsors , brought along the
latest models to bring the Jeep story up to date.
The mock battle on Saturday saw a surprise victory
for the Axis troops, which brought forth good-natured boos from the crowd. But
if the Germans won the first battle, the Allies were victorious on Sunday,
helped by overwhelming armour.
Tim Hawkes, show director said: “I would like to publicly thank all the members of the South
East Midlands MVT and others who tirelessly worked to make the show a great
success. Without their hard work and commitment to delivering a great show
it would not have been as good as it was. Thank you to all of you in your
pink, orange or yellow vests. It is really appreciated.”
The tank park from the top of a very high cherry picker
Part of the tank convoy to honour veteran Arthur Jones
At the Saturday night dance
Some the of SE Midlands organ- isers as seen from the top of the cherry picker
Two veterans, 90-year-old Maynard Follet (left) and Arthur Jones, 89
They won the battle on Saturday but not on Sunday
The RAF's Lancaster was grounded after an in-flight engine fire, so they sent the Dakota instead
Apparently it was a German shepherd dog in disguise . . .
Ultra-rare Willys Overland Jeepster won the best post-1945 award
Cadets from all three services and the Police Cadets did a great job helping with crowd control and erecting and taking down our tents
Best in show (sponsored by Adrian Flux): Rob Bailey
for the collection of vehicles he brought but especially the arena display of
his DROPS Foden with a pallet-mounted 432.
MVT Rose Bowl (Sponsored by the SE Midlands Area):
Stuart Gardener’s Centurion tank (pictured above). Best Armour (sponsored by the MVT): Chris Till for
his Chaffee tank. Best light pre-45 (sponsored by Westaway Jeep):
Heather Bailey for her Standard Flying 10 RAF staff car.
Best heavy pre-45 (sponsored by the MVT): Stuart
Holmes for his Austin K6. Best light post- 45 (sponsored by Barton Hall
Hotel): Graham Beck for his Jeepster staff car, a vehicle most of us have only
seen in photographs!
Best heavy post-45 (sponsored by
the MVT): Jim Burton for his Bedford RL wrecker. Best motorcycle (sponsored by the MVT): Simon Bromley for
his Moto Guzzi. Best education/re-enactor (sponsored by Kettering Park
Hotel): First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.
Stuart Gardener collects the SE Midlands MVT Rose Bowl from MVT chairman Terry Till
Ladies of the FANYs collect their trophy from Terry
Best light pre-1945 trophy went to the SE Midlands Area's newest - and probably youngest - member Heather Bailey
Pictures by Tim Cross, Kevin Lamberth and Peter Clarke
When it became clear that we would have lots of heavy armour at Wicksteed at War 2015, it was thought that specialist training would be a good idea. Our
friends at Armourgeddon, at Husbands Bosworth, offered to help and,
after some regular marshalling instruction using a Land Rover and first
aid instruction, including CPR, a 432 was brought on. We had a demonstration of what could happen if the driver was a maniac or was poorly marshalled. The 432 made short work of some water melons before ending up with Guy Fawkes's less fortunate cousin wrapped around its tracks. It was a sobering lesson and made the marshals even more determined to make the show accident and incident free.