Reenactment in all its forms is a great way to get involved, to meet other people with the same interests as you, and most importantly, to reconnect with history. Those that forget the past are condemned to repeat it, they say, and reenactmemnt, such as WW2 reenactment, serves as a humble reminder of the past, as well as the sacrifices that so many made to get us where we are.
So if you’re thinking about getting involved in reenactment or taking it up as a hobby, don’t get intimidated by how much there is to learn. All hobbies and interests are like that to some degree, so get ready to dive right in.
Decide on a Time Period and Organization
First off - and we need to clarify- you need to settle on a time period. Obviously not all reenactment guilds focus on WW2 reenactment. Many that era is appealing to you, and maybe it isn’t - but you need to find that out.
There are reenactors that focus on all sorts of time periods, all the way back through the European medieval period and even earlier. Here in American, colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War reenactments are pretty popular, too.
So if yiu’re interested in WW2 reenactment, first figure that out for yourself and then find yourself a local group.
Find a Reenactment Group
People generally don’t reenact on their own. That’s the second thing to be aware of. Instead, there are guilds, groups and organizations all over the United States that are dedicated to WW2 reenactment, and many more scattered around the world.
Some of these organizations hold weekend long events, others expositions, and others actually engage in the reenactment of historical battles or campaigns.
Not sure where to start with all that? Start with a search online or join a forum!
Get Involved, Join a Forum
Despite the many ills it bears in on its back, the modern era really is amazing for some thing, and one of them is communication - specifically the internet.
Right now, you’re reading this on a computer screen. You can open a new tab and type in “WW2 Reenactment Groups” or “WW2 Reenactment Forum,” and both of them will yield you with plenty of good entries in the search results that serve as good jumping off points.
If you’re looking for specific suggestions, try out WWII Reenactors Forum, US Militaria Forum, Forums.g503, and WW2F. All of those are pretty good resources and they will give you the devices to connect with people that are involved, discover a group that might meet your interests, and more. Also, you can ask questions of members to learn some new things about the hobby.
Read a Book
There are so many great books out there on history that we really don’t even know where to start in order to make a legitimate suggestion. All we can say is that reading a book about history will educate you about the struggles of military enlistees and conscripts, what they carried, how they moved, and what they faced in terms of weather and opposition. You’ll also learn more about tactical advantages and how key campaigns shaped the faces of the theaters of operations throughout the course of World War II as Allied and Axis forces vied for control of the globe.
Meet People and Ask Questions
After you find an organization that deals in the time that interests you, the next step is to get out there and actually meet people and ask them questions.
There are two things you should remember: the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask, and also that for a lot of people, WW2 is still either living or recent memory.
Though there are precious few veterans left, there are still plenty of people from the greatest generation who remember the war’s effects on the home front. To these people, parents and grandparents actually served. Some, obviously, made the ultimate sacrifice.
So to some people that are engaged in reenactment, WW2 might be living history - and meeting them and getting involved from historical reenactment or living history events is the greatest way to learn.
Get the WW2 Reenactment Gear You Need
Finally, once you pick a time period and a persona you wish to associate with and a group or a guild, you need to get the WW2 reenactment gear you’ll need to make it all happen.
Just exactly what reenactment gear you’ll need is impossible to answer, because every group will have its own requirements, but here are some things you should know and be prepared with.
What WW2 Reenactment Gear Do I Need?
●Uniforms, insignia and medals
Most reenactment groups will require you to get an authentic uniform that closely replicates those of the group you are trying to emulate. Many groups have very stringent requirements for authenticity, construction, and even camouflage patterns, as well as materials, insignia and medals that can or cannot be used.
●Firearms, bayonets, knives and other tools
Different soldiers in different places carried different weapons and tools. Connect with the group organizing the event for more information on what you need to be prepared with.
●Supporting accessories: mess kits, trench tools, haversacks and bread bags
It’s possible that your group is more lenient with supporting accessories like gloves, field gear and the like - but you should still check to be sure.
Also, be aware that some groups have other requirements dedicated to preserving authenticity. You might be required to cover tattoos, cut your hair or shave, so be prepared for that.
Otherwise, events involved historical reenactment typically call for high-quality replicas, uniforms, equipment and vehicles. Check our collection of WW2 reenactment gear at the previous link to see what we offer.
Drill and Practice
One more thing we need to suggest before you actually get out there and take up WW2 reenactment. After you invest in high-quality WW2 reenactment gear, actually practice and drill with it.
If you’re handling weapons and tools in a public setting, you need to be responsible, and to be responsible you need to be familiar with their operation. Take classes or partner with an experienced friend to get your feet wet. You’ll be safer and you’ll enjoy the experience more!