14 April 2022
We Have Ways Fest, the popular event dedicated to World War II launched last year by comedian Al Murray and author James Holland, is set to return this summer.
Taking place from 22 to 24 July at the Blackpit Brewery in Buckinghamshire, very close to Silverstone racetrack, the three-day weekend event will offer an exciting combination of displays of military hardware, and historical talks and debates delivered by some of the very best speakers around. We Have Ways Fest is a real-life event that was born out of the successful history podcast We Have Ways of Making You Talk which is co-hosted by Al and James. Produced by Goalhanger Films, it has become one of the biggest podcasts in the UK, and has a large and dedicated following including more than 2.5k subscribers, known as Independent Company members.
Last year, just as the relaxing of restrictions allowed people to meet up socially for the first time in months, more than a thousand fans of the podcast met in a field adjacent to the Blackpit Brewery, and were able to interact in person with fellow enthusiasts they had only previously met online. Many travelled long distances within the UK, and some had even made the trip over from mainland Europe and the US. What brought them together was a fascination for, and a desire to learn more about, World War II.
This July, there will be more than 50 talks and discussions, demonstrations and displays at the festival, including talks by eminent historians such as Max Hastings, Marc Milner and Saul David, veterans such as legendary Mosquito navigator Des Curtis, Belsen survivor Maurice Blik, and naval expert Stephen Prince. Katrin Himmler, the great-niece of Heinrich Himmler, will be sharing tales of growing up in the shadow of her infamous relation, and BBC Radio 3’s Rana Mitter will be in conversation with Alexandra Ritchie about World War II in China.
There will be an international flavour too as Dutch historian Bastiaan Willem, German historian Jens Wehner, and Austrian historian Bernhard Kast will also be attending and speaking.
James Holland said, “We’ve assembled the most impressive group of Second World War experts since the planning for D-Day, plus enough kit and hardware to have a decent crack at Dieppe. If you love your history, do not miss what promises to be the weekend of the year.”
Throughout the weekend there will be a packed programme of arena demonstrations showcasing a huge range of World War II tanks, military vehicles and hardware. In addition, there will be firing displays, including a late-night session from the 88mm anti-aircraft guns which are sure to wake up the whole county. There will also be an opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal with some historic wartime machines and artefacts.
Highlights at the festival will include a troop of Sherman tanks carrying out an ‘advance to contact’ manoeuvre, a demonstration of artillery, armour and infantry working together that is seldom seen. Also on show will be an example of the Austin Tourer, known as the ‘Breakfast Car’ - so named as it was borrowed by young officers of the British Expeditionary Force before May 1940 to visit their girlfriends. When asking if they could use the car, consent was only given to the driver as long as it was returned before breakfast. There will also be an unusual collection of Jeeps, each one preserved in its original state, which has been brought together from across the US and Europe.
Al Murray said, “Last year's festival had everything its lockdown demob happy crowd had hoped for. Talks, tanks, drinks, an opportunity to listen to and meet experts, veterans, living historians and fellow enthusiasts. Every night we signed off by firing a 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun: this year will be bigger and better, with more talks, more noise and lots more dark green vehicles.”
Modelling enthusiasts will also be able to share top tips and stories about their collections, and the very best re-enactors of the period will be there to chat about the uniforms worn at the time, the equipment used and the conditions facing the fighting infantry.
We Have Ways Fest is a weekend for the whole family, and for all ages. There will be music each evening and, as it takes place next to a brewery, there will be enough craft beer to quench the thirst of even the thirstiest festival goer. For those who prefer to camp, there will be facilities on site, and Coles Books of Bicester will be organising book signings after each of the talks. Tickets are now on sale
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