The ‘Military Camp’ in Perigueux France

3rd and 4th September 2016

 

By David Garden

 

Imagine walking into the central square of your local city and setting eyes on a perfectly restored M4A2 Sherman tank! Well that’s what happened to me when I visited the “Vintage Days” show held in the city of Perigueux France. This city is picturesque with many fine shops, bars and restaurants. It also contains beautiful historic buildings such as the fine cathedral.

  On the week end of September 3/4, 2016 the squares of the centre and the streets of the old town were taken up by many vintage vehicles taking part in the ‘Vintage Days’ show. The cars, trucks and motorbikes are parked in the open where visitors can come right up and admire them. In addition there are many young people who dress up in clothes from the 40’s and 50’s to give a period atmosphere.

  One of the central squares held a rally of military vehicles. These were restored to a high standard and all in running order. Re-enactors and enthusiasts were present in WW2 uniform to answer questions from the public and explain all about their vehicles. These guys proved very approachable, knowledgeable and friendly.

  The display included tents in which display cabinets showed the personal gear of allied WW2 soldiers. There were also de-activated weapons on stands to give clear all round views. More society members were present in the tents explaining how the exhibits were used and the history behind them. I learned one of the societies is changing from a Jeep owners club to one dedicated to passing on the memory of the soldiers who fought and died to liberate France. They visit schools taking the displays with them to provide an educational resource for children. I fully approve and support this!

  The fully restored and running Sherman M4A2 was built in 1942. It was used by the Free French forces and landed in Provence in August 1944 as part of Operation Dragoon, the allied invasion of the south of France. It was knocked out in combat and covered with sand only being found again after a storm. Finally recovered March 2, 1990 it was fully restored by the MVCG France. This undertaking took a total of 5,000 man hours. The tank was named ‘Bayard’ and its first run after restoration was on VE day, May 8, 1991.

  On several occasions during both days parades of vintage vehicles took part through the streets of the city centre. From the military camp Jeeps, Weapons Carriers and motorbikes joined in. Those equipped with sirens gave their owners a gleeful chance to sound these off while driving round. This would be probably the only time they could do so legally!

  The main societies represented were the MVCG Nortron and Midipyrenees branches, Liberty Vehicles Group and Passeur de Memoire. As I mentioned earlier the vehicle restorers and re-enactors in France enjoy their hobby but also see it as a way of preserving the memory of the men who fought and died for their countries’ liberation. I give hearty thanks for two great days out and congratulations on a great display.

The main societies involved where MVCG Nontron and Midipyrenees branchs, Liberty Vehicles Group and Passeur de Memoire.

  I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.