WWII and Beyond

Today, we started our latest trip: headed to the northwestern and northern states: The Dakotas, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, etc.

We began our trip by visiting Peoria, Illinois with Monte and Aleta to see a reenactment of one of the battles of Normandy. Before the battle we were briefed by representatives of both sides (Axis and Allies) to learn about their uniforms, weapons and the backgrounds of their regiments.

The last speaker was a member of the U.S. Signal Corps who represented those who used carrier pigeons for communciations.  Virtually, every nation in WWII used carrier pigeons. The U.S. trained over 52,000 pigeons and used over 36,000 in combat.  And, we also learned that Maidenform designed the best pigeon “bra” used to carry pigeons near your chest.

 

One of the most interesting things we learned was that later in the war, the Allies had shot down so many German planes that the Luftwaffe was overstaffed.   However, the infantry was understaffed due to fighting on two fronts.  Goering decided to convert his airmen into infantry…giving them minimal training and poor leadership, then sending them into battle. This was very interesting to me as Mona/Monte’s dad brought home a war souvenir….a Luffwaffe bayonet.  Until today, we didn’t know why a Luffwaffe officer would need a bayonet!

Axis Camp

After the briefing, we walked through the Axis encampment.  There were lots of different kinds of vehicles and arms…all of which we’ve heard about, but never seen before in person…including a fully operational Panzer.

Even though I knew these were no threat to me, it was still scary to see these tanks that had killed so many of our people right in front of us and ready for action.  I was also a little creeped out by the German re-enactors….they were a little too authentic.  Ah, but history is history and events like this will hopefully help us avoid mistakes of the past.

At 1:00 it was time for the battle. We watched men from both sides melt into the woods with their camo uniforms.  Suddenly, rifle fire!  Then machine gun fire.  Soon men were falling on either side…..and a German howitzer was quickly put in place just in front of us.  The ground started shaking from the howitzer rounds and we were surrounded by smoke and the smell of gunpowder.

German Panzer v Allied Mechanized Howizter

Then an Allied self-propelled howitzer slowly got into the action.  It looked as though the Allies were easily going to win……until the Panzer got into the fray.  Once he joined in, the battle was virtually over.  The Panzer ruled!  Tackling target after target….and this giant was as quiet as my Intrigue.  Amazing to see this large of a machine go so fast and so quietly!

As I said, the battle was soon over and it was time to leave.  Tried to visit Jonah’s for oysters, but they were closed.  Settled for Joe’s Crab Shack….love their steamed pots!  Afterwards, we parted company with Monte and Aleta and headed west.

We’re now just outside of Iowa City. Tomorrow, we head for South Dakota!

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