Visitors step back in time at Blaenavon 1940s event
4:47pm Sunday 13th July 2014 in Gwent news
1940's Wartime Railway event at Blaenavon Heritage Railway. Pictured are John Shears and Joe Dobbs from Pegasus Airbourne Re-enactment Association. (8158985)
VISITORS to the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway got into the wartime spirit at the attraction's annual 1940s weekend.
The railway's main station at Furnace Sidings was transformed into a Second World War camp featuring American GIs, a make-shift home for a bombed-out grandmother and a wartime garden.
Re-enactors had the chance to teach visitors about life in the war including what it was like to land on the Normandy beaches on D-Day and work in a field hospital on the frontline.
Stationmaster John Turton said: "The event's gone really well. We've had lots of people running around in Army uniforms, there's a woman living in a hovel with her allotment, there's lots of tanks and two singers are performing.
"During the Second World War, the railway would have been transporting passengers and coal. It was part of Big Pit and would have been taking a lot of coal to Cardiff or Newport."
Mr Turton said the railway had seen 1,100 people visit the railway over the course of the weekend.
Visitors also had the chance to ride on the war department 71515 locomotive and the Rosyth No1.
There were also military displays including a bomb disposal expert and the chance to see a 'crashed' German plane just outside the station.
Music from Ricky Hunter and Jayne Darling kept visitors in the mood with wartime classics. The pair also performed at a 1940s dance held on Saturday evening at the Constitutional Club in Blaenavon.
A group of re-enactors, who were set up to portray the US Army's 116th infantry regiment, hoped to keep the memory of Virginia's Bedford Boys alive.
Re-enactor Buck Day said 19 out of 40 of the boys from Bedford died in the first 15 minutes after landing on the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944.
He said: "Their relatives have given us permission to take up their name to keep it alive.
"It's good for the kids to come here and see what it was like and how they lived.
"A lot of people have the idea that the American GIs were big-headed and arrogant, we're trying to change that. Many of them were 16 or 17 years old and had a heart of gold."