Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
3 minute read
3 May 2022
5:55 am

Pro Patria Military Fair draws crowds of military enthusiasts

Marizka Coetzer

‘To continue into the future, you must know the past,’ says teen history buff.

Military history enthusiasts of all ages and gender during the Pro Patria Military Fair held at the Voortrekker Monument yesterday, 2 May 2022. The festival brings a large spectrum of people together in a fair that incorporates military veterans associations, general military surplus sellers, reenactors and various other military history enthusiasts . Picture: Neil McCartney

Old and young military enthusiasts, veterans and members of veterans’ organisations flocked to the Voortrekker Monument for the Pro Patria Military Fair yesterday.

The festival included talks about the special forces, Operation Protea, Operation Hooper and past wars. More than 80 exhibitors showcased military memorabilia, which included medals and badges, bookstands, flags, uniforms and weapons.

Some of the weapons in military history exhibitions, military equipment and vehicle exhibitions included an 1877 Webley revolver, AK47 bayonet and collections of 1800s swords.

A military reenactor in British uniform records speaks to a memorabilia seller during the Pro Patria Military Fair held at the Voortrekker Monument yesterday, 2 May 2022. The festival brings a large spectrum of people together in a fair that incorporates military veterans associations, general military surplus sellers, reenactors and various other military history enthusiasts . Picture: Neil McCartney
A military reenactor in British uniform records speaks to a memorabilia seller during the Pro Patria Military Fair held at the Voortrekker Monument yesterday, 2 May 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney

There was also living history camps, with an exhibition of military setups, with volunteers acting as soldiers for the day.

Christine Panaino from the Military Collectors and Re-enactment Society Living History Group (MCRS) said her 16-year-old son was obsessed with the military.

“What an awesome way to learn about history because if you don’t learn about history, it fizzles out,” Panaino said.

Her son, Hayden, said the festival was just short of the best day of his life. “It was so awesome,” he said.

Hayden is the youngest MCRS member and already has a collection of 20 military uniforms. The most recent addition to his collection was a Vietnamese military uniform.

The teenager also has three German military uniforms.

“A motto I stand by is to continue into the future, you must know the past. That’s why I love this,” he said.

He was interested in getting a job in the military, testing vehicles. Hayden said what he liked most about the hobby of collecting military memorabilia was it had a level of discipline to it.

Because he had an interest in history, he was also considering pursuing becoming a museum curator.

“I wanted to join the military, but I realised I could die,” he said.

Details from the Nutria reenactors stand during the Pro Patria Military Fair held at the Voortrekker Monument yesterday, 2 May 2022. The festival brings a large spectrum of people together in a fair that incorporates military veterans associations, general military surplus sellers, reenactors and various other military history enthusiasts . Picture: Neil McCartney
Details from the Nutria reenactors stand during the Pro Patria Military Fair held at the Voortrekker Monument yesterday, 2 May 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney

MCRS member Barbara Muszynski said one of the funniest things was to correct people when they told them they wore the uniforms incorrectly.

“Then I tell them we wear the uniforms historically correct,” she said, adding that wearing current military uniforms was illegal.

A veteran, Major-General Lawrence Smith, who is chair of the Pro Patria Museum, said he was happy with the turnout at the festival.

“We were offered an area here at the Voortrekker Monument to open a museum. When we started looking at what we wanted to achieve, we decided to create a living experience for those who fought in the bush war and present it as objectively as possible, from all sides of the war,” he said.

Smith said the museum would be an educational experience for the younger generation.

A military reenactor in British uniform records an Alouette doing an aerial display during the Pro Patria Military Fair held at the Voortrekker Monument yesterday, 2 May 2022. The festival brings a large spectrum of people together in a fair that incorporates military veterans associations, general military surplus sellers, reenactors and various other military history enthusiasts . Picture: Neil McCartney
A military reenactor in British uniform records an Alouette doing an aerial display during the Pro Patria Military Fair held at the Voortrekker Monument yesterday, 2 May 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney

– marizkac@citizen.co.za