Armed with original images we scout around to find the original sites where those photos were taken.
Sometimes the site have changed completely in the past 60 years. The fields with their beautiful country views have made room now for suburbs. Old factory buildings, build in the late 1800’s, that were destroyed during the final battles are being replaced by modern plants.
However, some spots haven’t changed a dang thing in all those years! Sometimes preserved by conscious people, but more often just because there was no need for modernization.
Just to find that little brick wall still there.., or a building with all the doors and windowpanes painted in the same classic color scheme as it was 65 years ago.
Other places have changed completely. Homes, farms, municipal buildings, factories, churches and so on... All gone. Replaced by the needs of modern society.
Some portrays are still worth re-enacting. So, we try and find a spot that gives the same kind of background and focus on the person or situation we portray.
Hereby paying homage to those brave boys:
Two troopers of the 101st Airborne Division are taking a stroll through Eindhoven. As they walk casually along the Bleekweg they are admired by the people of the newly liberated city. The fence is still there, although the lamppost has been moved and the surroundings now consist of a modern roads and bicyclepaths. Still we thought it would make a nice picture.
Another great picture taken at the Bleekweg along that same fence. Two other troopers have been sightseeing, and one even acquired a pair of the typical Dutch wooden shoes!
This photo was taken within the city limits at the Bondstraat. (The modern sign can be seen in the re-enactment photo.) When these warriors came to liberate Eindhoven they were admired by the young and old. Note how the little boy is wearing a orange band across the shoulders. Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family and was therefore forbidden by the Germans. After years of Nazi occupation, the Dutch people proudly displayed the national flag and wore all kinds of orange brassards and ribbons.
The building in the background now is a Chinese travel agency.
People come in all sizes. Even paratroopers. This heavy loaded trooper aint no tall Texan, that’s for sure! Small or tall, he had his picture taken anyway. The place is the Frankrijkstraat, Eindhoven. An elderly civilian is standing in the garden, probably the owner of the house the trooper was just passing when his picture was taken.
Over the years the little front gardens have changed and some details (like the windows and front doors) as well. But the original buildings are still there like they were 65 years ago.
The place is unknown, but it sure shows that the American cigarettes were appreciated. An interesting detail in this picture is that the trooper is wearing a M41 field jacket under his combat jacket instead of the regular wool shirt.
A well know and much published photo of glider pilots coming out of a field. Not sure of the location, we did this re-enactment photo somewhere along the original landingsite. The hardest thing to find was a spot that wasn’t surrounded by corn. It was only after the war that the farmers started growing corn on a large scale to feed their livestock.
Pictured here are two glider pilots coming of the LZ. They are wearing the newly issued M43 combat suit. The trousers are the plain type, without the side pockets that are typical to the airborne troops. They are also issued the new combat boots and are armed with an old Thompson sub-machine gun and a full-stock carbine. The pilot on the left is wearing his leather A-2 jacket around his shoulders while his buddy is wearing a paper gas brassard on his left arm. In case of a gas attack this chemically treated paper would turn pink. A rubberized gasmask bag can be seen behind the Thompson gun.
Here is a picture we took in front of a different building. The original site haven’t been located jet, if it’s still there at all. The original was taken in Groesbeek, Holland during the Market-Garden operation. Pictured here is a trooper from the 505th PIR posing for the camera, carrying something under his arm.
Because it’s such a nice study of a relaxed trooper, we thought to give it a try and do it as good as possible, and hope to get away with it!
Here’s scene we did in front of the original house. We were told that there was a anti-tank gun (57 mm) dug in the frontyard.
The men in the original picture might well be the crew for this gun. Apparently they did a good job concealing the gun, because we were told that they uprooted everything in the garden while digging in.
Of special interest is the helmet marking, making these men members of the 508th PIR.
Typical for the American army is the use of radios for communication. Here are pictured both the SCR 300 (walkie-talkie) and the SCR 536 (handie-talkie). Modern stuff for them days!
As the picture says: Nijmegen, Holland. There is where we found the location. A crossing in the city, in front of a flowershop. Pictured here is a small group of 504th troopers, who are treated by the local people on some drinks: milk, thee, something stronger maybe...
The 504th were issued the reinforced jumpsuits after their return from the Anzio beachhead. Still taking in replacements and having men recuperating from wounds, the 504th did not jumped into Normandy. After being up to full strength and trained, these “Devils in Baggy Pants” jumped in Holland still wearing the M42 jumpsuit. The 504th PIR was the only regiment to do so, all the other units wore the new M1943 suit.
This picture is taken in the Burgemeester Ottohoffstreet in Groesbeek. Right after a heavy firefight trooper George McCarthy (E Co.) catches his breath, being a little “shellshocked” from his sudden and violent introduction into combat.
This photo was taken on the doorstep of a young amateur photographer Jaap Beijnes, 18 years old, Sunday afternoon, September 17. McCarthy is a member of the 505th and is issued a pair of British Made combat suspenders. Also part of the paraphernalia these troopers had to carry around is the gasmask in it’s distinctive carrier with the three snap buttons. All members of the 82nd were issued the new lightweight gasmask and jumped with it.
Notice the brick with dimple next to the helmet in both pictures.
Although this is not the original building, it's a nice background for a picture we just had to try and recreate.
It gives a good view of the bracket on the ambulance jeep. This was a typical feature used by the 82nd Airborne Division for their ambulance jeeps. Notice the trooper who’s getting a haircut from his fellow brother in arms.
Being non-smokers, these are the hardest photos to reenact. Both pictures were taken on the dropzone, designated NAN. Seen here are two medics from the 505th Medical Detachment: T/Sgt Orley E. Mills and Sgt James V. Vetri.
Leaning against a low brick wall is Lt. Rex Combs, 508th, A Co., after being patched up at the aid station located in the house of Jacobus Visser. After having his leg wound treated, he got his pants neatly repaired in the kitchen by Mrs. Dora Visser.
This happened on Monday, September 18, 1944.
Pfc. Richard Stafford is enjoying an apple on that same Monday, September 18. He was photographed by a resident of the Dommer van Polderveldtweg where he was on his way with the 1st Battalion, 508th PIR.
Pfc. Stafford was a member of a light machinegun section. This photo gives a good view of the special developed M1A1 carbine for airborne use. The houses are still there, as is the fence. Typical for Holland is the pavement of the sidewalk. Being made of concrete tiles, since Holland has no natural source of stone.
Here’s a Sergeant standing guard at the front gate of a villa. Interestingly he is armed with the full stock version of the carbine instead of the special folding stock version. Could this indicate that he is a member of a glider unit?
After the war the gate was destroyed, but in the 1980’s the concrete parts were found in the ground and the gate has been rebuild.
Here’s a trooper being rushed to the aid station. Suffering a wound in the lower back, he is positioned in the passengers seat of a jeep. The location is the Dominicanenstreet in Nijmegen.
Notice the “Decontaminating Apparatus, M2” mounted on the fender and the box of “Mounds”. Mounds is the brand name of a chocolate candy bar that was available to the service men thru the Post Exchange.
Although cigarettes were issued in abundance, a lot of GI’s still preferred pipe. Posing here are two troopers smoking their pipes. With the fighting over, there was time for some snapshots with their buddies. Posing for the camera to record their friendship forged by combat. Sometimes they are stern looking men, other times they portray their youth by taking relaxed, with broad smiles, snapshots.
The building in the background is the Nebo monastery in Nijmegen. The pictures above and below are taken on the same spot.
During a re-enactment event we did in the Vosges Mountains, following the footsteps of The Fighting 36th, we recreated some photos on the spot with the stuff we had on hand. The two photos were taken after the 1st battalion of the 141st infantry was rescued by the 442nd RCT. The battalion was cut off for seven days before finally the Nisei troops were able to reach them. The above photo we recreated was used for the cover of the french Militaria magazine.