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Spirit of the Blitz alive and well as thousands turn out for themed Gorge weekend

By Mat Growcott | Ironbridge | News | Published:

About 15,000 people turned out for this year's Second World War weekend in the Ironbridge Gorge, organisers have revealed.

Jack Sams, Ewan Richards and Chris Davies from the 6th Guards Airborne Divison

The spirit of the Blitz returned to the area, with people dressing in period costumes and listening to vintage music, and those behind the event said it had been a huge success.

David Adams, who organises the Second World War weekend, said: "It went extremely well.

"There was brilliant weather and a great attendance."

The event, which took place on the weekend of May 25, included 1940s lands girl, Germans in uniform and Home Guards at Dale End Park for the Spring Bank Holiday as re-enactment groups told the stories of what it was like during wartime.

This is the sixth year of the Ironbridge Gorge Second World War weekend, which has so far raised about £30,000 for the Pilgrim Bandits, a charity set up to help and inspire injured personnel to live life to the full.

Both history enthusiasts and people there for a day out enjoyed traditional 1940s live entertainment including a big band, while there were also several military vehicles including Jeeps, trucks and an ambulance from the time. The crowd watched in awe overhead both days as vintage planes flew past.

The planned Spitfire flyover had to be cancelled due to high winds, but plane enthusiasts were still able to see a Dakota, the aircraft used to drop paratroopers at Normandy on the D-Day landings.

Battle re-enactments were held on both days, including one in which American soldiers got lost when following a map, only to be ambushed by Germans, with some being killed and the rest being captured as prisoners of war.

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David said the re-enactments went really well, and that more groups had gotten involved than ever before.

"It is the largest event of its type in the West Midlands," he said.

Several weapons were shown in a firepower demonstration, including British Lee Enfield rifles, German K98 rifles and MP40 machine pistols, also used by the Nazis.

The Home Guard area gave people the chance to sample food that would have been rationed out, with several groups giving demonstrations. The Women's Institute made cakes, jam and bread that would have been consumed in that era.

A Shrewsbury couple even tied the knot – in full 1940s regalia. Dave Williams and Julie Bourrett had their first date at Ironbridge, and made their vows on the bridge before going off to enjoy the Grand Dance, where the Ashby Big Band played until the wee hours.

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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