Sunday, January 4, 2015

WWII Battle of the Bulge Reenactment

My sister is the best gift giver.  She finds weird and quirky things that you love.  This year she gave passes to a Battle of the Bulge reenactment at Ft Ben.  Yeah that's right Fort Benjamin Harrison about 15 minutes from my house.  The craziest thing is this has been going on for the last 17 years!   I am a nerd of the first order and have seen most of the out of the ordinary things Indianapolis but had no clue this had been going on for 17 years!

Ethan, Jake and I stopped by the 20th Century warfare museum also at Ft Ben.  Its a small and interesting little museum of all military conflicts that occurred in the 20th century.  It focuses on WWII and Vietnam but has some nice artifacts from WWI.   A couple of the highlights of the 20th Century warfare museum are below.

This is a Russian Maxim gun used in WWII next to saddles from the first world war.

They have a huge model of the USS Indianapolis which looks like it was once a float in a parade.

Creepy Waffen SS uniforms that were taken in the aftermath.  The uniforms seem so small.  Hard to believe you could pack evil so tight.
Which I failed to take a picture of here's look at the Vietnam portion instead

After our brief visit to the 20th century Warfare Museum we moved on the Battle of the Bulge exhibit which is the starting point of the reenactment. 

It was a nice little day by day breakdown of the battle using some first hand accounts and what appears to be the actual military reports.

There were several artifacts including a torch used to warm up German tank engines so they could be started quickly and be rolling from cold in 20 minutes 

The highlight of the day for me was meeting Harold Shaddy who was with the 75th Infantry Division from October 20th 1944 through the end of the war.

The boys and I spent about 15 minutes talking with Mr Shaddy. What a cool experience. He told us his story of being called,  up then selected for special college training in Brooklyn before being sent to Europe in October 1944.  Mr Shaddy shared a number of stories, including stealing 4 big boxes of chocolate bars from the red cross and some stories about releaving the 82nd Airborne , as well as his participation in the Battle of the Bulge.

The most striking thing for me is that when Mr Shaddy was fighting for his life in the Ardennes he was only 20 years and 2 months about 9 months older than Ethan.   That really brought the whole thing home for me.

The reenactment itself was small about 10 participants.  They did a nice job of putting on a show and making noise.   Highlight was the MG 34.   Only shot once but wow.

Great day and fun with the boys.  We were invited back in March for another reenactment of the Eastern Front.

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