Latta plantation brings WWII back to life
by Staff Writer
When German army veteran 85-year-old Karl-Heinz Kowa of East Prussia visited the World War II reenactment at Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville May 5, he said it was like stepping back in time to his service on the Eastern Front.
“The camps and soldiers here look just like it did back then, but when I picked up one of their rifles it seemed heavier than I recall them being,” Kowa said.
Kowa and other spectators not only got a chance to tour both Axis and Allied camps, but also witnessed a lively skirmish. Soldiers fought for control of the Latta Plantation main house that had been recast as German headquarters during the closing days of World War II.
About 70 re-enactors took part in the event and represented American, British and German troops of the 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 30th Infantry, Royal Ulster Rifles, Hermann Goering Division, Infantry Regiment 134, 1st SS Aufklarung and 2nd SS units.
Demonstrations included a field kitchen, troops camping in pup tents, weapons training and displays, woodland patrols and combat first aid. The German army camp site also included several young ladies dressed as Red Cross nurses tending to wounded soldiers.
“We want to put the spectators in the boots of the soldiers,” event organizer Matthew Waisner said. “It’s all about educating the public.”
A special treat arrived at the reenactment in the form of a German half-track armored truck complete with 20mm flak cannon. The huge gun was fired using propane gas to create a boom and flash. Owner Ben Lefever brought the nine-ton vehicle to Latta Plantation from Fayetteville on a flatbed truck.
“It’s loud and smoky,” Lefever said. “It was originally built in post-war Czechoslovakia, but I bought it and restored it back to World War II German specifications.”
Other World War II vehicles included a German army kublewagen light utility vehicle and a U.S. Army Jeep.
The land on and around Latta Plantation was reportedly used by the Army National Guard as a training ground during World War II.