By John Adams-Graf
The popular World War II Days returned to Midway Village in Rockford, Illinois, this past September. Promising to be bigger and better than ever, the event actually surpassed estimates with more than 1,200 reenactors, representing the soldiers of the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Italy and Japan, Heavy equipment ranged from about a half a dozen armored vehicles to dozens of Jeeps, trucks motorcycles and weapons carriers—nearly 70 vehicles in all!
Large-scale battles occurred depicting actions on both the eastern and western fronts each day in addition to skirmishes in the historic village. Reenactors presented a special program on the Battle of the Bulge that depicted the strategy and decisions involved from the points of view of both the Allies and German forces.
World War II Days visitors also had the chance to hear actual speeches of General Patton, as portrayed by Denny Hair, of Hockley, Texas. One of the country’s foremost experts on Patton, this was Hair’s first appearance at the event and was very popular with both the audience and reenactors.
The “Behind The Lines” tour took place on Friday evening with guides leading guests through the Village and various encampments. The woods surrounding the village were filled with impressive defensive positions created by the various units. Slit trenches, machine gun emplacement and mess areas all accurately depicted life on the front during the War.
Saturday night featured a USO-style Dance at Veterans Memorial Hall. This year, the dance featured Rockford’s own renowned big band, “Moonlight Jazz Orchestra.” Demonstrations, displays and a small vendor’s area occupied several buildings and a section of the village.