May 6 - Codorus State Park; German / U.S. WWII Re-enactment

When I was at the ranger station when I arrived here at Codorus state park a few days ago I saw a flyer on the counter announcing a re-enactment between axis and allied forces. Being so close to Gettysburg I wondered if someone didn't make a mistake and really meant to say Confederate and Union. I decided to drive over to the area where all of this was to occur. Sure enough, the parking lot and surrounding area looked like Europe in the early 40's.

There was an allied camp set up with a bunch of guys in World War II infantry uniforms with guns. They were standing around their olive drab tents with sandbags around them, mortars and howitzers were strewn about. Not far away was a camp full of guys who play the Germans. You could tell these guys were really into what they were doing. They had authentic German uniforms, tents, guns, one guy even had a German heavy machine gun, a "43". He wore a backpack with a tank of CO2 in it, the gas system that made the noise like the real gun. It was a little scary seeing these guys, they marched around a little bit, all commands were given to the unit in German, they really looked just right. The wool uniforms must have been really hot in May.

These two forces were going to put on a mock battle, re-enacting what a clash between a German and American unit may have looked like during World War II. The Americans were already set up on one side of a point jutting out into the lake at the state park, the Germans were to approach from the other side in an effort to dislodge the Americans. It was basically grown men playing war with very authentic uniforms and weapons.

The Germans advanced slowly and everyone opened fire. The blanks were loud, the kids watching in the crowd held there ears. It was kind of hokey, but at the same time it forced me to think about what it must have been like. There were a few old men sitting in lawn chairs in the crowd, watching in silence. Two of them had hearing aids in both ears, I can only imagine that they probably saw and heard the real thing years ago. A German right in front of us writhed and keeled over with the impact of an imaginary American bullet and fell to the ground. The little kid next to me asked his mother,
"Mom, is that guy really dead?"
"No honey, he's just pretending."
Older kids would yell things like, "Oh, You're sooo dead, that guy shot you! That was so fake!"
Those punk kids can be happy that it was fake.

After the re-enactment (the Americans won) I walked around and looked a some of the equipment these guys brought with them and some other displays. There was an old guy and his wife sitting under a canopy in the shade. They had a table set up with all sorts of memorabilia on it. he had served during the liberation of Austria in 1945 as a motorcycle rider. He had a 1942 Military Harley Davidson, complete with Tommy gun up front. He also had the most authentic jeep in the parking lot, a lot of people had old jeeps there, but none as nice as this guy's. I tried to talk to him a little bit, but he wasn't too talkative. He had not gone over to watch the re-enactment earlier. He just sat under that canopy, perhaps thinking about the things he saw in Austria, I don't know. All of that seems to be beyond my comprehension. There was a black and white picture of him from 1945, on his Harley with his buddies in Austria.

On my way back to the campsite I stopped off to wash the Westy. It had been a while, it really needed it. When I got back to camp I fixed dinner. I have included a picture of what it looks like when I cook in the van. That night I had linguine with homemade pasta sauce the Amish folks gave me as I as leaving. They gave me all sorts of stuff to eat as I was leaving. It was great. The last picture here is of a tee pee fire I built just before lighting it. I didn't use it to cook, I just built it so I could watch it burn in the darkness. I mentioned the sounds that are made in these particular woods at night before, I sat out watching this fire burn until about mid night....it was wild. The entire forest floor was alive and moving. When I heard heavy rustling in the leaves I would turn on my flashlight real fast and try to find what was making the noise.....I never saw anything.


German squad marches through their camp.


Falling in for inspection.

The American position.

1942 Harley Davidson

Cooking a spaghetti dinner in the Westy.
 
Tee-Pee fire ready to be lit.

 
The vehicle
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