Great War Association Event – November 2011

November 30, 2011 - No Comments

by Jim Barnes

GWA events are always a hoot and this November was definitely worth the price of admission. When I arrived at Newville on Friday afternoon, the parking lot was full of more cars than I could remember seeing there. With a forecast of good weather for the weekend, a good turnout was probably a sure thing. As usual, there was an extensive vendor area in the parking lot, but I wasn’t in shopping mode, and after greeting a few folks that I knew, I signed in and made my way to the Russian Legion section of the trenches.

As number two man on the Maxim, it is my job to assist the gunner in setting up, firing, and maintaining the gun. Vanya got there just after I did and we began making our little bunker homey. This was time well spent, because almost as soon as the event began, we were subjected by determined attacks by the Huns. I believe that we must have shot up nearly 2000 rounds!

Indeed, I heard the comment made on the Allied side that the Germans were more aggressive than usual this year. One thing is certain, they had a lot more gas! The gas alarm sounded frequently, requiring us to resort to our gas masks. Since I am nearly blind while wearing mine, it is a bit of a nuisance. It does give one a very, very small taste of that aspect of life in the trenches. At one point, Saturday afternoon, the entire German line was blotted out by an enormous orange cloud which seemed to sweep in and stay for an unusual amount of time. A very surreal moment, to say the least.

The Russian Legion section of the line lies between the French sector (we operate under French Command) and the U.S. Marines. Being flanked by two strong units and operating two Maxims and a couple of more portable mgs gave us a very secure position. The Germans rarely got into our lines, despite their aggressiveness. Our mortar crew outdid themselves as usual, in tormenting the Boche with the accuracy of their fire.

Also, we once again had the Allied and German air corps operating over the battlefield. We had a Madsen gun set up for such a possibility and we opened up with the gusto on the German plane. After a few passes, he began trailing smoke and disappeared, so we must have gotten him!

This was my third GWA event, and definitely the best, in my opinion.  I am definitely looking forward to the next one.

Thanks to Matt Gillespie for additional pictures.




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