Battle of the Bulge at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA

by Scott Manning on February 6, 2007

On January 27 of this year, my dad and I attended the Battle of the Bulge Reenactment at For Indiantown Gap, PA put on by the The World War II Federation. The reenacting had been taking place all week and we visited on the second to last day.

The toughest part was finding the place, but after that, we only had the 20-degree weather to deal with.

Overall, our experience was good and bad. It’s tough to complain about a free event, so I’ll try to offer my experience as an observation of expectations exceed and not met.

The uniforms were superb. These guys spent a lot of time and effort putting together these outfits and getting these guns. The most impressive uniforms were displayed by some Germans. I saw a couple of them with the long black coats. There were also girls dressed in 1940′s style dresses with their hair up.

During our stay there, we heard explosions and gun fire happening in the distance. When we grabbed a Nazi to ask how we can see the action, he explained that we were hearing the “private reenactment”. This is where all the vehicles were being used along with 300-400 soldiers. To see it, you had to be a part of it. However, there would be a public reenactment later with about 30 soldiers.

Not as eventful as we had hoped, but what do you want for free?

There were loads of soldier barracks. Few of them had signs outside, so we played “choose your own adventure” as we walked into each building not knowing what to expect.

The first round of barracks was a giant swap meet of World War II stuff. There was everything you could imagine including uniforms from all sides, patches, insignias, videos, books, and a World War II American ambulance. If you wanted to get involved in these types of re-enactments, this place had everything you needed except the guns. There was even someone selling German and SS papers to make a mock passport.

After some walking around, we figured out that there were a few rows of barracks selling stuff and the rest housed the soldiers.

The soldier barracks were segregated by Americans and Germans. Inside, there would be posters, flags, equipment, and other time-era items decorating the bunks. Some barracks would have radios playing 1940′s music.

While the efforts ranged from barrack to barrack, there were some people had spent loads of time and money to give their temporary home a World War II feel. A couple had mock checkpoints built outside. The best part of the experience was walking through these barracks and talking with the actors about equipment. The know loads and are ready to give little-known facts about their gear.

One actor showed us two versions of a mounted German machine gun with a scope. He explained that when the gun was first used in battle, a lot of the operators were getting shot in the head. As a result, the Germans repositioned the scope three inches lower.

There was a married couple (doctor and nurse) in a German barrack that had a bunch of front-line medical gear. They were given explanations on how the German medics would treat people that were injured and then what would happen once the injured made it to an actual doctor. One person asked about how the injured Americans were treated. The doctor explained, “Believe it or not, the Americans were treated just like anyone else. On the front-line, people were operated on based off of who needed it the most.”

Our day was filled with interesting information like that until we got to watch the reenactment. The actors shot at each other for about 20 minutes until all the Germans were dead.

Battle of the Bulge Reenacement (2006) - German Flags

German Checkpoint

German gun

German gun

US Troops Marching

German troops

German gun

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

German reloading

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

Battle of the Bulge reenactment

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sandra January 28, 2013 at 2:16 PM

I’ve been going to the Battle of the Bulge since 2010, the first year was great, they had nice young people helping with parking and the mess hall, lots of reenactors from all over. The next year was about the same, last year there were some big changes and not for the good. I noticed that there were less young people helping out and I over heard some people saying how they didn’t have the support for the event like they used to. this year they posted only one battle, why would these reenactors travel so far just for one battle? they are all volunteers, they have to pay for it all their own. about a month before the event, they said there would be a battle on friday like normal. I think it hurt their registration. I know some people in the real military think reenactors are wanna be’s, some reenactors are veterans, others could be teachers, etc.. they are supporting the military by making history interesting. getting young people interest is great since they are the future of our military. We need to make it so our young people are proud to protect this country and all the freedom we have.

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2 henry roll February 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM

I recently learned of your recent “Battle of the Bulge” re-enactment at Indian Town Gap. I am very interested in attending it next year, 2015, and wonder what the dates will be.
My maternal grandfather, Maj. Ernest N. Harmon, commanded the 2nd Armored Div. during the battle and I served as an attack helicopter pilot in Vietnam, 1967, in an air cavalry troop, D/3/5, attached to the 9th Infantry Division.

I look forward to hearing back from you and attending your event next year.

With best regards,

Henry H. (Rick) Roll
Former US Army Aviator/Captain
Wyoming, DE

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3 Doug July 26, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Keep an eye on this website. They are the group who organizes the event, to my knowledge.

http://www.wwiifederation.org/c5/

It’s usually around the end of January, sometimes the first couple days of February. Event dates are at the mercy of Ft. Indiantown Gap’s real world training needs so it may not have been decided yet.

Sounds like your family has many stories to tell. I hope we get to meet there.

I’ve been an umpire during the “reenactor only” tactical there for several years now and I can tell you that it’s an incredible experience.

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