Allied forces invade Latta Plantation for Armed Forces Day
by Staff Writer
Re-enactors from all sides took to Historic Latta Plantation Saturday and Sunday, to recreate one of the most intense and difficult battles for Allied Troops during World War II.
The Armed Forces Day weekend event recreated the intense firefights of September 1944 when British and American troops parachuted into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden in an attempt to drive out the occupying German troops and bring the war to an early end. Unfortunately, that plan was a failure.
Latta Plantation Historic Interpretation and Event Specialist Matthew Waisner organized the re-enactment program.
“We did our first WWII event last year, and it was a big success,” Waisner said. “The re-enactors out here this weekend know their history, have the correct kit and are public friendly.”
Military units represented included German Infantry Regiment 134, British 1st Para Division and Kings Own Scots Borderers, U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and Dutch partisans.
Sean Dunham of Granite Quarry portrayed an 82nd Airborne medic and had set up a field hospital in one of the Latta Plantation outbuildings.
“I’m a firefighter by trade so doing a medical impression worked for me,” Dunham said. “The main job of the medic was to stabilize wounded men and get them out of the fight.”
The re-enactors included a couple of participants who would have been too young for actual World War II military service but still wanted to show off their historical interpretation chops. Fourteen-year-old Ben Holmes dressed as a paratrooper, and 16-year-old Hunter Crawley donned green U.S. Army fatigues and acted as a nurse, or as the troops commonly referred to them, “angels of mercy.”
On the Axis side, Dan Bearden from Atlanta was leading his re-enacting group portraying German Infantry Regiment 134. Bearden acknowledged people often wonder why someone would put on a German uniform.
“Everyone has their own reasons,” Bearden said. “But we don’t allow (Nazi) party salutes or flags. Anyway, the regular Wehrmacht soldiers couldn’t be Nazis, that was just for the SS.”
Bearden had set up a headquarters station in one of the Latta Plantation sheds and outfitted it with a genuine World War II German typewriter, field radio and document cabinet.
Like Bearden, the other re-enactors on hand for Operation Market Garden had put many hours of work and considerable cash into making sure their uniforms and weaponry were historically accurate, down to the correct unit badges.
In addition to the troops, other participants at the Latta Plantation event set up displays of World War II equipment, uniforms, and weapons. George Feindel from Spartanburg, S.C. brought authentic machine guns, hand grenades, bazookas, rifles, pistols, and mortars.
The Operation Market Garden event also featured re-enactor demonstrations of military patrols in the forest surrounding Latta Plantation, airborne paratrooper training, a field kitchen and methods used to attack fortified positions.