We had a large contingent from the Area in attendance at War and Peace and it was nice to see Ian Barlow’s BRDM for the first time. He drove this one down from Oxfordshire and it must have been quite entertaining taking it around the M25. Not so much fun for the observer with his head sticking out the top the whole way. It also made exciting appearances in the arena especially as part of the “Frenchghanistan” battle when it was promptly blown up by the Taliban. Better luck next time Ian.
I was very pleased to see that Tobin won the prize for best British soft skin over 5cwt with his Morris and Ian Litchfield was a runner up in the same category with his Austin K5 which graced the front cover of the previous Windscreen magazine.
The highlight of the year was our annual Swinbrook event. Although it was hard to count them I think we had just short of 50 vehicles this year which is just a couple down on the previous year. Not bad considering the weather was not so good. The best part of the event is always the road run organised by Bill, Tony and Don using Bill’s outstanding local knowledge. First stop was at Barrington Park and the site of a US Engineers camp just prior to D Day. Bill had arranged for local MVCG member Jim Lazenby who gave an amusing talk on his reminiscences as the local taxi driver during the war when he would pick up car loads of GI’s and deliver them to and from the base.
Bill had arranged permission for us to go on to the air base at Little Rissington. Although the airfield is still active most of the buildings have been sold off to form a business park. We lined up near the control tower (attracting some interest from those working nearby) while Bill gave some more history on the site. It is a shame that some of the buildings are in a bad shape, but good to see others still in use. A gentle drive through the Cotswolds (or a furious drive for the motorcycle outriders) took us to the Fire Service Training College at Moreton in the Marsh which was built on a WW2 Wellington bomber base where we received a fascinating talk by the College historian. The runways, perimeter track and hard standings are now used for fire training and have crashed aeroplanes, trains and cars on them which the fire crew practice their skills. In addition, a number of replica buildings (including a ship) have been constructed which are also used for fire training. The College historian was very excited to see a sand painted Champ as he remembered using them in North Africa during his time with 42 Commando.
Following this we drove back to Swinbrook via Chipping Norton airfield for a barbecue (expertly managed by Colin and team) and the prize giving. Brian Morgan won the David King memorial trophy for the person who had made the biggest contribution to the event and Paul Gannaway for his Dingo being the most interesting vehicle.
The following day there was a shorter road run in to the historic town of Bourton on the Water where attendees could see the motor museum and have lunch before heading off for home. We actually had some more vehicles arrive on the Sunday which couldn’t make it on the Saturday including Charlie who brought his Diamond T which really did scrape the hedges on both sides of some of the narrower lanes. David certainly enjoyed his ride in the Diamond T and I am sure is even now contemplating how he might get one in to his shed. We had several members from outside the Area join us including Neil Wedgbury who took these photographs.
For the Battle of Britain day commemorations we had seven vehicles and 12 members travel to Brize Norton to support the RAF on this historic day. The RAF were as usual very accommodating and pleased to see us. Those who went got to enjoy several low passes of a Spitfire and a visit up on to the flight deck of a Hercules.
The last event in September was the Underground weekend at the Auxiliary training centre at the national Trust property of Coleshill. The Coleshill estate was used as a secret training centre for the British resistance in the event of a German invasion. More information on the history of the site and how it is being preserved can be found on their website: http://www.coleshillhouse.com/
We had about 15 military vehicles on site over the weekend and several of these were parked at different locations of the estate making fantastic photographic opportunities. The general public came in large numbers with approximately 5,500 through the gates which was great news. The main draw for coming was the opening of a replica “Operational Base” for which the crowds formed long queues to see. There is an original operational base (albeit built for training purposes) on the site which is rather fragile, but this replica will allow visitors and school parties to have hands on experience of what it would have been like for the auxiliaries in the event of invasion.
The Coleshill weekend really was a highlight of the year and they are making plans for a repeat event in 2014.