Saddleworth transported back to wartime for popular Pennine 1940s weekend

By Mark Barrow

A SCENIC Saddleworth hamlet was transported back to wartime as a host of military vehicles and entertainers descended for the annual Pennine 1940’s Weekend.

The free two-day event brought authentic clothing, live music, jeeps and even a World War Two tank to the historic St Chad’s Church and Church Inn and Cross Keys pubs above Uppermill.

People travelled from as far as the North East to hear ‘Miss Marina Mae’ sing memorable tunes from the decade while Swing DJ ‘Katz Korner’ was on hand to please the dancers.

MILITARY: A host of vehicles and tanks were on display (Picture thanks to Carl Royle)

The Church Inn offered real ale and food including a special 1940’s brew for the occasion and post-war activities were enjoyed at the Cross Keys.

And the sounds of a Spitfire aircraft and a wartime siren reverberated off Saddleworth’s hills to recreate a true wartime atmosphere.

Leanne Thornton, from Greenfield, one was of numerous re-enactors out to enjoy the sociable event, which was organised in association with the Manchester Military Vehicle Group.

She said: “We’re a group of friends who go all over the country. We enjoy socialising and meeting people – that’s what it’s about really.

“This is one of the smaller ones, but it’s a good location. We are now looking forward to the Yanks weekend next.”

Swing DJ ‘Katz Korner’, named after a New York ballroom, played music from the 1920s to 1950s and offers dance lessons, such as the renowned Jitterbug.

Terry Katz, who runs the Swing dances and events with his wife, Pam, said: “The location is fabulous, and it’s always a really nice crowd.

“We sometimes go abroad, to Italy, France and the US, but we enjoy coming back here. I love the music and clothes from the era – everything about it really.”

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Meanwhile silver-haired John Whyman mesmerised a gaggle of curious visitors beside a mighty Cromwell tank with his tales of life as a corporal in the Second World War in Normandy.

veteran john Whyman at Pennine event
VETERAN: John Whyman with the Cromwell

Wearing a smart blazer embossed with the badge of The Tank Regiment, the 92-year-old painted graphic pictures of life in the raw after landing at Juno beach.

The former headmaster at Littlemoor Primary School recalled: “There was a sign which read ‘dust means death’ as a warning things had to move at a slow pace so the enemy couldn’t see our trails.

“We all lived just one day at a time. There was no glamour in tank battles.”

The Cromwell, one of the last two surviving models in Europe, is owned by former military tank engineer Rick Wedlock, 46, from Hyde.

He said: “The tank is my pride and joy and I’ve spent years restoring it. However, in truth, I’m selling it to fund restoration work on another couple of tanks I’ve bought.

“But John’s memory, detail of the historical aspects of Normandy and his knowledge really brought the tank to life and set its place in history.”

Look forward to more wartime fun when the Yanks are back in Saddleworth returns on August 8/9 with a host of fun and activities based at Saddleworth School.


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