We Have Ways Fest is a three-day weekend festival in Buckinghamshire* of World War II history talks, demonstrations and presentations… with beer! The event is hosted by the We Have Ways podcast duo – Al Murray and James Holland.
This year’s festival definitely built on the first We have Ways Fest back in September 2021.
With COVID restrictions receding in the rear view mirror, this year’s festival was bigger and better…
- More talks in bigger tents/locations.
- More catering and more bars.
- More space and a better location for camping.
- More ground space for vehicle & gun demonstrations.
- More 3rd party stands (museums, battlefield tour operators, bookshops, etc).
The programme of around 27 expert talks over the weekend was varied and astonishingly well-organised so there were few clashes. I rarely found myself having to make a painful choice between talks. They ranged from mainstream topics such as Sir Max Hastings talking about ‘Churchill’, to really interesting niche topics such as ‘Logistics in WW2’, ‘The War in China’ and ‘Spaniards in the British Army 1939-46’.
For me, there were four highlights:
Stephen Prince & Mark Milner on ‘The Atlantic War’. Mark’s contention that the most effective weapon against the U-Boats was the system of Naval Control of Shipping set up before the war, was fascinating.
Stephen Fisher talking about his new book on ‘Sword Beach’. We think we know all about it – we don’t!
Iain Macgregor talking about his book ‘The Lighthouse of Stalingrad’ and the unprecedented access he had to Russian archives.
James Holland’s passionate, 1-hour monologue on Dunkirk. If there is one good reason needed to join the Independent Company (We Have Ways podcast Patreon channel) it’s to listen to that talk!
Meanwhile, outside there were loads of hardware displays and expert re-enactors to visit and talk to. I cleared up a lot of details I didn’t know about the equipment used by the COPP** teams surveying beaches for landings, about the RN Beachmasters work during landings, and about the mobile field kitchen.
I’ve been interested in field kitchens since I first saw a German “Gulaschkanone“ in the tank museum at Saumur. The guys operating this 1933 model, Belgian field kitchen were making Pasta Bolognese for hungry visitors.
And if there was any spare time between attending talks, eating, drinking, socialising, shopping for merch/books, and chatting to the re-enactors, then there was an almost continuous series of vehicle & gun demonstrations to enjoy, including the nightly 150cm searchlight & AA gun firing…
Roll on 2023!
* near Silverstone
** Combined Operations Assault Pilotage Parties