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Homefront History. Education - Information - Entertainment - Remembrance - Respect




Homefront History. Education - Information - Entertainment - Remembrance - Respect



Here, Digger talks to John at Homefront History, dedicated to keeping alive the spirit of remembrance for the wartime generation. This relatively new business has already made a big impact and a lot of friends on the forties scene.

Digger and John talk about the business and compare the WWII years with today. They also discuss the World War II magazine that John publishes.




Digger: Can you please tell us a little bit about your background and the background to Home Front History?

John: I began re-enacting about 22 years ago. I bought a Jeep for no other purpose than to have fun, I began attending shows and events to display the Jeep and within one year I bought kit so I could dress the part. I was 'hooked'

Digger: And something about the ethos of the venture? 

John: Quite simply, to carry forward the spirit of remembrance to new generations and to ensure that those who made the ultimate sacrifice are never forgotten

Digger: The forties community, support for and interest in it is huge. Why are The Forties and Vintage so enduringly popular?

John: Life today seems to be hectic, too complicated and demanding. Through films and TV programmes the public is engaged by the pace of life in the 40's, the camaraderie amongst neighbours and communities, the stylish fashions (a hang over from the late 1930's), most of all the music and song which has seen a remarkable revival in popularity over the past decade

Digger: What sort of feedback and comments are you getting from 'clients'? 

John: We are but a 'new kid on the block' with only 6 months on line so far, but we are getting some extremely favourable comments not only about the period design and layout of the site, but also about the fact that we have promoted an ethos that people can understand and identify with




Digger: What do you most enjoy about running the Home Front History business? 

John: Linking up with so many like minded people, being invited to support a range of events, especially charity events, having unrivalled opportunities to pursue our fascination with the era.

Digger: What are your own Retro and Vintage passions?

John: Many and varied including film, dance and song, magazines and books, collecting, architecture, the list is endless

Digger: What does The Internet mean to the Home Front History business?

John: Almost everything, we could not spread the word without it!!



Digger: Do you think being British these days is similar to how it was in the forties when you strip away social and technological changes? 

John: With a little imagination, yes. Its surprising how by being a re-enactor you discover core values.

Digger: Where do you see the future for Home Front History and what would you like to accomplish with it? 

John: The site is still evolving, we are about to sell NAAFI tea and a range of merchandise which will all raise money for donation to Services and other charities including the Dame Vera Lynn Trust and we have a number of ideas which we are exploring, all of which will give H F H a higher profile and make it a must visit website as well as a valuable resource for re-enactors.

Digger: The World War II  Magazine's looking great John.

John: I'm pleased that you like it. We've been going for two years now. 1940s re-enacting is so vast and it grows so rapidly year-on-year that it's almost  impossible to keep up with it. What we try to do is to give a spread of stories and features about individuals and groups and then other  aspects as well. We'll include a veteran’s story or we'll include an event or something else that's relevant. I think overall we tick most of the  boxes most of the time. It's inevitable that we're not going to please  everybody all of the time, but what we do is to look at presenting the story for the whole community of re-enacting. We take it with a fresh  view and certainly within the last six to eight months we've noticed that  when we run a story, some other titles pick up on that and do a  twist on that and publish it themselves.

Digger: Ah! Imitation the sincerest form of flattery and all that?
John: We are flattered, what we try to do is not stereotype or pigeon-hole the re-enactor and we try to look at re-enacting from completely different angles. I think we  do that quite well. Like any industry, it's constantly moving, evolving and changing and we have to do the same.

Digger: Ironic for a 'movement' that focuses on a specific period in history, isn't it?

John: Yes, it is. It would be very easy to get into a rut and just to produce similar stories and variations on a theme. What we don’t want is for our readers to pick up the magazine and see stories rehashed and recycled. We're very lucky in that we've got a big catalogue of non time-sensitive material so we've always got stories to tell. But I appreciate a comment like that from yourself - somebody who has got an interest, but who is independent. We obviously get feedback from re-enactors, but it's industry outsiders like you and like our advertisers Airfix and the charities we support  that give us the most accurate feedback. They can take a more considered view.

Digger: I was just wondering if you've got much German readership? You've got an article in one issue about the Kompanie re-enactors and also one about the German Red Cross and the nurses.

John: Over the past couple of years we have featured Germans frequently. We have to be very sensitive to the fact that a German re-enactor may cause upset to certain individuals. However, what we try to do is find stories that are quite relevant and pertinent and are based around a group or an individual. With the nurse, for example, people are generally quite well-informed and accept that the German rank and file field military no more wanted to fight than did the British Tommy. It's quite interesting when you look at some of the field gear that some of these guys had. You listen to veterans - their stories are so similar to the British veterans.

Digger: I saw a very moving piece on TV the other day about the Normandy landings. A German defender and a British and American participant in the landings went back to where they were on 6th June recalled their ex
periences and then met each other. It was fascinating and deeply moving that this German gunner would have been trying to mow them down all those years ago and now they were shaking hands and comparing experiences, all having survived when so many of their friends and comrades didn't. It went from them being polite to friendly because they'd all gone through a shared experience. A real insight into the human condition.

John: Time is a great healer, but you've only got to go back to all the war graves and it makes it so real and horrendous.

Digger: All the stupid mistakes that were made on D-Day that resulted in more unnecessary loss of life. All the floating tanks sinking because they were released too far out from the shore, troops not finding any cover on the beach because the navy had bombarded short and hit the sea rather than the sand. That was fascinating that when there were the German plans to come over here and invade and the Home Guard had lots of little independent cells organised who were basically going to be terrorists.

John: The Home Guard Auxiliary.

Digger: Yes, they reckoned that it would only be a couple of weeks before they were killed but they'd do as much damage as they could to slow the Germans down and they reckoned that they could beat them back. The Second World War was a direct consequence of the First, wasn't it? And a lot of people would say because there was so much unfinished business from the First.

John: It wasn't tidied up was it? There were just frayed ends but I think the point is that everybody had had so much and it had killed so many millions of people that they were just running out of energy, money, food, men, equipment and if they hadn't have signed a peace treaty then people would just have annihilated one another.

Digger: Hitler revelled in the fact that he could get The French to capitulate in the same railway carriage that The Germans were made to do in the First World War.

John: This is all the posturing and you can see a thread there. It was just a publicity stunt more than anything else and to make sure his people thought what a great leader he was.

Digger: Their rocket scientists got us to the moon and beyond, but that's not to say that the war was worth the inventions and developments it brought about.

John: No, I think also America developed the Atom Bomb with Britain so although Germany had developed the rocket and obviously Stalin was aware of that and had the capability of creating his own rockets. But then subsequently, as history has told us, he was aware of The Atom Bomb and had the capability of getting involved in that as well.

Digger: Thanks John. I think we’ve put the world to rights!

John: Thanks David.


Homefront History is a not for profit UK Social Enterprise dedicated to keeping alive the spirit of remembrance for the wartime generation.

We are the UK’s popular resource for all things Home Front (Britain 1939 – 1945)

We achieve this through Education, Talks, Archive and Research Services and interactive Living History Displays. We can bring together a wide mix of experienced re-enactors including Allied Service personnel, Emergency Services personnel and civilians including evacuees/schoolchildren.

We provide re-enactors for staff, public and private events, Mess and Formal dinners, educational projects, TV, Film and Photography, Museums and Visitor Destinations. All enquiries welcome.
Preferred providers to Bramshill Police College and Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey). We have PLI cover and References are available upon request.

You can email us using

Telephone Free call ( UK only):
Dial 0844 991 0084
Mobile, please dial 077 483 10996

SKYPE Call ‘Radiomusichall’

TWITTER @homefront1940 Front History









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