The small town of Orange, Massachusetts was the scene of a large Armed Forces Expo over the weekend complete with battle reenactments from the Civil War, World War I and World War II. They even had a flyby with a C-47 Skytrain, complete with markings from the D-Day invasion. A few lucky visitors got to take a ride in the vintage warbird as it skirted above the battlefield.
As the air raid siren sounded, soldiers scrambled on the battlefield and gunshots echoed. Smoke from artillery blasts clouded the air and a warplane droned overhead.
This World War II battle marked the first of three battles reenacted on the last day of Orange’s Military History Expo this year, which took place over Armed Forces weekend.
Reenactment soldiers depicted what a typical battle scene would look, feel and smell like during WWII, complete with accurate vehicles, artillery, and uniforms. At the end of the battle, spectators clapped and cheered.
As she left, a bystander commented to another about the realness of the scene, especially the smell of smoke lingering in the air.
Two more reenactments would be performed in the coming hours: Civil War and World War I. In the meantime, guests could meander through almost 20 acres of military history including WWI trenches, military vehicles from each era — including some horses — camps, first aid tents and more.
The event ran Friday through Sunday, each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Advertisement
One of the main attractions was a true WWII veteran: a rare C-47 warplane known as Whiskey 7, which some lucky event-goers got to take for a ride. This same plane deployed paratroopers over Normandy during the D-Day invasion.
The warbird flew over the battlefield during the WWII reenactment as spectators craned their necks to catch it in action.
The expo featured tangible military history from the Civil War, WWI, WWII and Vietnam. To add authenticity to the event, signs mimicked the WWII-era Burma Shave signs along the road leading to the battlefields. An announcer in an Armed Forces Radio Service tower occasionally interrupted his announcements with Burma Shave advertisements. In between, WWII-era music played over loudspeakers.
Re-enactors in a variety of uniforms strolled the grounds alongside visitors, many of whom were veterans themselves. Some drove historical military Jeeps around the grounds.
Military vehicles, including tanks and ambulances, were parked throughout the venue so people could tour them. Some younger event-goers got to climb inside.
The interactive, expo is striving to grow each year and the event is designed to show what life in the military was like in each of the eras right up through Vietnam
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Photo courtesy Christine Wisniewski, Greenfield Recorder of a WWII reenactment group battle scene