Peak District sees war break out!

The top brass gathering for last year's event...
The top brass gathering for last year's event...

Wartime history enthusiasts from around the country are converging on the Peak District this weekend.

The highlights of the popular 1940s weekend at Rowsley Station include a full battle re-enactment between German forces and Allied troops with life-like pyrotechnics bringing to life the chaos of war.

The event also includes the firing of 155mm Howitzer Gun and a German tank making its debut.

Scores of rare military vehicles will be on show and a packed programme of entertainment will include popular Al Bowlly impersonator Brandyn Shaw, historical talks, a big band, dancers, interviews with US war correspondents and more.

Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the two-day event that aims to let people truly appreciate the way people adapted to life in World War Two and show how both the military and civilians survived.

Home front displays at the event will include an original Anderson air raid shelter and a Spitfire Fund demonstration, showing how aluminium was donated to support building the much-needed aircraft.

Re-enactment groups taking part include La Voix Du Nord French resistance fighters, Lincolnshire Regiment Display group and Arnhem Allied Assault, both highlighting the British Infantry Kampfgruppe Zoltay recreating a Hungarian field post, plus the Combat GI Living History group and more US forces in the Jump 44 82nd Airborne.

Russian troops are represented by the 2nd Guards Rifle Division.

On the German side, there’s the Grossdeutschland Aufklong and the Kampfgruppe Beere.

WWII Living History will be looking at the Women’s Auxiliary Service and Beyond the Chindwin is representing British and Chindit fighters who took part in the brutal conflict in Burma.

The event is organised by steam enthusiasts Peak Rail and a full train service will be running throughout the event.

Jackie Statham of Peak Rail said: “Our 1940s weekend has been a massively popular event for us and it’s wonderful we’re about to celebrate our 15th birthday with such a fantastic festival this year.

“Our line-up is undoubtedly one of the best on record.

“New this year is the Arnhem Allied Assault Group, who are a small group of like-minded people.

“They tell the story of Operation Market Garden from both aspects of the land and airborne prospective with special emphasis on the river assaults made by the 4th battalion Dorset Regiment and Polish Paras.”

A large US camp will give visitors a sense of being in among real GIs, cooking, training, sleeping and playing dice while the MPs are not looking.

British troops will be guarding captured enemy trenches and using local Partisans for information on enemy activities.

The weekend also has a full children’s entertainment programme with traditional wartime games taking place throughout the day in the picnic area with Martin Shaw.

Admission is £12 for adults, £10 for senior citizens and £7 for children aged four to 16. Children under three get in free and visitors in period costume get £2 discount.

For information, go online to www.peakrail.co.uk. Events run from 10.30am to 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday (August 6 and 7).

Peak Rail is based at Rowsley South station off Harrison Way, Rowsley, near Matlock, DE4 2LF.