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May 2010 by Mike Humphreys

The event this year was celebrating the 65th anniversary of the end of the war and Chris Smyth, Mike Peacock, Melvyn Bean, and Joseph Gabbot and myself decided to make the trip to Camp Crailo, Bussum. For the last 3 years the date of this event has clashed with our own show at Elvington, but given the special anniversary we decided to go. We would have preferred to take a gun set or Melvyn’s Matador/5.5” but the ferry costs were prohibitive. In the end we settled on Chris’s jeep, packed with camping gear, on a trailer.

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bussum2.jpg (90174 bytes) I had booked a 5 berth cabin online for each leg of the Hull-Rotterdam journey. What the website doesn’t tell you is this option includes a double bed. All very cosy! Well, whilst we are all friends, we’re not that friendly as I explained to the staff at the Information Desk. Happily we were given another 2 berth cabin and were able to spread out. 

The worldwide recession has temporarily saved Camp Crailo from development and the event took the usual format of Veterans Day Friday, Parade on Saturday, and Public Day on Sunday. Melvyn and I stayed in basic, but sizeable B&B accommodation, and it was nice to be comfortable, warm and dry. The others were roughing it in a bell tent! The weather was cold, as at Elvington, but luckily largely dry.

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The huge parade of vehicles took to the roads at 9.30 on Saturday morning, via the adjacent motorway, for a full day’s tour of surrounding towns and villages. This is quite some experience, fantastic really. The support from the Dutch people and full Police escort to stop all other traffic makes it very special. The convoy just has right of way. As you drive through empty tree lined roads in open countryside you get some small sense of what it must have been like for our fathers doing just the same during the war. 

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The mid-day stop was in the town of Soest with a packed lunch and hot drinks kindly provided by its’ townspeople. The Mayor fired 2 rounds on one of the two 25 pounders in the parade. This particular gun was being towed with limber by a US Halftrack in which Melvyn and I had organised a ride for the day.

The owner Paul had several people on board, speaks perfect English and is quite a character. I must say travelling by Halftrack is the way to go, but I am somewhat biased, as they are my favourite wartime vehicle. Many thanks, Paul, for your hospitality. The engine was so quiet that Chris driving his jeep in front of us thought we kept stalling. Pulling the gun was effortless for it. 

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The parade ended by packing the town square of Bussum with vehicles. Here more complimentary drinks were on offer and we had a wander looking at all the convoy parked up and to our surprise we were asked to fire the 25 pounder. In the tightly packed square, surrounded by buildings on all sides, this proved to be somewhat spectacular. From the noise the crowd made I don’t think they were expecting such a loud bang, a flash and lots of smoke. We enjoyed it and felt flattered to be asked.

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Sunday saw plenty of people looking round the camp and Joseph was busy instructing anyone who was interested on how to fire the Bren we had taken along. 

There were militaria stalls and most of us came away with something useful, well something we just had to have whether we really needed it or not! No change there then.

We returned home on the Sunday evening ferry having had another excellent time in Holland.

"Elementary Watson"

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