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WW2 Winter Tactical Camp, Armidale State Forest, Armidale NSW

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A typical weekend tactical event – Armidale.

Group members regularly participate in tactical weekends, and Armidale presents a fine opportunity to recreate an authentic approximation of a wartime experience.

The Setting

Armidale State Forest, and in conjunction with local police, the organisers have signposted the perimeter to indicate that blank ammunition will be in use over the weekend. The pines provide an ideal European-style environment, and the undulating land offers the opportunity for stalking / ambush scenarios. July and it’s cold; very cold.

The Participants

The theme for the event has been publicised months beforehand and invitations distributed to other re-enacting groups. Impressions in attendance are German SS, Heer, Falschirmjäger and Volkssturm; Russian infantry, Polish and British Paras, and Partisans.

Camp

Participants begin arriving on the Friday and establish a central camp. The key element is authenticity: nothing other than period-appropriate items should be visible, and this includes the tents themselves. Sub-units create their own areas nearby while campfires are prepared and hay is distributed to those who wish to create a more comfortable bedding base.

Members have either prepared their own packed / tinned rations (with suitable repro labels) or brought meat and vegetables to be cooked over the fire. Authentic mess gear, cups and utensils are used, and water has been brought onto the site for washing-up only.

The first then evening provides an ideal opportunity to catch up with other members over a hot meal and warm drink under the stars.

Day 1

Many members are active before dawn, brewing coffee, tending the fire and bemoaning the lack of sleep thanks to the cold night and the hard ground.

After breakfast, units assemble for a weapons inspection and safety check, then a run through of the first scenario. This might involve stalking and ambush tactics or capture the flag. Rocky outcrops provide ideal vantage points. Groups then check for noisy or loose equipment as they move out and take up their positions or starting points. Umpires likewise set out to take up their positions. Silent movement is stressed, as is the use of authentic hand signals and commands.

Engagement.

Controlled movement and blank firing, the success of which is determined by the umpires at the end of the activity, when all parties come together for a discussion and debriefing. Similar scenarios may then be repeated in another location.

Lunch, and more home-made rations. Wood supplies replenished.

The final session of the day may then involve variations on the above or individual sub-units refining their own tactics. Photo-shoots are also organised for group histories and publicity. Weapons stripped and cleaned.

The evening is another opportunity to go over the day’s events, secure the camp-site, prepare another meal and crack open another bottle of good-cheer in the hope that the warmth it brings will ward off some of the night’s inevitable chill.

Sunday morning unfolds and is played out before dawn in the usual fashion, but new scenarios are planned for the day with different terrains and locations requiring different tactics. But always the emphasis is on safety, cooperation and authenticity.

The body tends to ache after a weekend in the field but the experience leaves indelible memories.

 

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