Mid Norfolk Railway travels back to the Second World War

War comes to the Mid Norfolk Railway in Dereham - Neil Hannant as a paratropper. Picture: Matthew Us

War comes to the Mid Norfolk Railway in Dereham - Neil Hannant as a paratropper. Picture: Matthew Usher.

More than 100 re-enactors took to the platforms as a restored railway staged a 1940s weekend.

They were playing the role of soldiers from Second World War British and American infantry, complete with authentic weapons and vehicles, as the two-day event got under way on the Mid Norfolk Railway today.

The Wehrmacht put in a brief appearence, invading Hardingham before being sent packing from Dereham station by allied forces.

Chris Darlow, from Fakenham, was guarding the station approaches with a formiddable Vickers machine gun, ready to pick off any advancing Germans snarled up in the holiday traffic.

'My Granddad was at Arnhem during the war, he was one of the lucky ones who came back,' said Mr Darlow, 49, who works as a yard manager. 'The stories he told me when I was younger got me into it.'

Mike Goodrick and Neil Hannant were keeping guard on Platform One, where collectors had assembled displays of 40s memorabilia.

Both are members of the Norfolk-based Real Allied History Group, which travels around the region re-enacting.

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'It's a bit of fun, it's bringing history back to life and keeping it alive,' said Mr Goodrick, 27, who lives in Dereham and works as a builder.

Pheasant farmer turned Para Mr Hannant, 39, began collecting militaria as a boy. He added: 'I've been re-enacting three years, I met the rest of the group here at Dereham Station and that was it.'

Retired civil servant Brian Gratton, a trustee, director and station manager on the MNR's preserved Dereham - Wymondham line, said the railway played a role in both world wars.

Troops set off from its platforms for the trenches during the 1914 - 18 confilct, whilst during the Second World War a siding was used to store tanker wagons filled with aviation spirit to supply nearby RAF and American air bases.

Mr Gratton said the event, expected to draw more than 1,000 people, was one of the line's most important fund raisers of the year.

Visitors paid £16 for a ticket allowing them to roam from station to station, where there were different cameos including the RAF and French Resistance on a post-Brexit recce of Mid Norfolk.

Military vehicles from vintage motorcycles to jeeps and army lorries filled the car park.

The strains of Glenn Miller rang from the tannoy as a tank engine set off from the station.

The event continues on Sunday. Click here for more.

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