04/05/05 — Museum displays artifacts from World War II

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Museum displays artifacts from World War II

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 5, 2005 1:47 PM

Goldsboro area residents got a chance Saturday to view firsthand the tools of World War II.

The first floor of the Wayne County Museum was filled with artifacts and memorabilia from the war, and about 30 re-enactors portrayed soldiers from both sides of the conflict.

With German marching tunes playing in the background, the re-enactors explained the uses of weapons and other gear.

Museum display

News-Argus/Mitch Loeber

This is one of the World War II displays featured at the Wayne County Museum on Saturday. The museum was filled with artifacts and memorabilia from the war.

"This is a World War II event, and we want to give a general feel of what it was like for the soldiers," said Josh Clements, a history major at East Carolina University, who was dressed as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Rangers.

"Playing patriotic music encouraged everyone to fight," said Jake Mitchell, who portrayed an army chaplain. "The German panzer music was especially suited to marching."

Some re-enactors portrayed members of a German panzer unit.

The displays of machine guns, rifles, pistols, haversacks, water bottles, maps and other equipment was the result of years of collecting by the re-enactors. The German guns on display, which included an MG-34 machine gun and an MP-40 machine gun, were built by hand.

Dave Howes, wearing an U.S. Army Airborne uniform, said he took part in Civil War reenactments before becoming interested in World War II and the men and women who fought in it.

"My grandfather passed away and I learned more about what he did in World War II," Howes said. "He was in the Royal Air Force during the war and was knighted afterwards."

Howes said during some re-enactments, volunteers are asked to put on the combat gear that soldiers of the period would have worn.

Most are surprised when they discover how heavy the load becomes.

"We usually pick out the strongest looking young man in the audience," Howes said, "and then, as we add each piece, you can see him start to stagger a little under the weight."

"It lets them know what a hard life it was for them," Howes said.