1940 Living History

1940s Living History events are becoming more popular. This section describes the various types of event.

Display at tha War & Peace Show 09

Reenactors often create impressive displays

1940s Steam Railway Events are a fun way to relive the times

Civilian reenactors at the War & Peace Show 09

Black-market 'Spivs' are a popular and fun theme, and help to recreate the feeling of the era.

1940s dances are a fun way to relive the times

1940s dances are a fun way to relive the times



1940s Living History is gaining in popularity; be it life on the homefront or the battlefield. Reenactors and living history enthusiasts help to recreate the look, feel and sounds of the era, preserving our nations heritage for future generations.

At these events re-enactors and period entertainers add much to the atmosphere, and currently there is a revival in the Swing Dancing of the era. With WW2 on the school curriculum in the UK, living history enthusiasts often help bring history to life in the classroom.


Types of 40s Living History Event

Period civilian re-enactment is becoming increasingly more popular, seeing a steady growth at events; and with WW2 being on the school curriculum, 1940s Living History events are a great way to educate kids.

Often steam railways or places of historic interest host nostalgic events featuring WW2 Living History Enthusiasts.

Goodwood Raceway in Hampshire also plays host to a vintage extravaganza each year, with thousands of people enjoying a touch of nostalgia.

On a smaller scale, there are now many local 1940s dances and 1940s parties, where the young, 1940s enthusisasts and ' those who were there in the day' all enjoy a trip back to the 40s.


Creating a 1940s event

Creating a 1940s feel at an event is relatively easy, with experience. In a nutshell, there are three main components:

  • the venue;
  • the music;
  • the clothing.

The Venue

During WW2 countries were fiercely patriotic. Flags were everywhere at events. By dressing the venue in flags, period posters and bunting you can turn even the most contemporary hall into a 1940s time capsule. Use masking tape to place diagonal crosses on the windows also helps to give the effect.

It does help to have a venue that was there 'in the day' however; as instantly half of your job is done for you. Try to find a suitable hall that would have been used for a similar event in the 1940s.

The Music

Nothing makes an event feel like the 1940s more than the sounds of Vera Lynne, Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington. Without a doubt, the sounds of the 40s were as distinct as any era before and since.

There`s many CDs easily available now, so finding suitable music is a simlple task. There are also many entertainers and DJs who know specialise in this type of event.

The Clothing

All eras have a certain dress style. What makes the 1940s so special regarding dress is the curious mixture of styles.

Most men were in the Forces, so uniforms abounded.

WW2 Reenactors attend most events around the country, but if you`re doing a small local event you might benefit from inviting your local reenactment group along. Not only will they look supurb, but they`ll also know about the period, and be able to bring that knowledge with them.

Be warned however; not all groups are the same quality - so spend some time getting to know the group before inviting them.

There are specialist stores that provide period clothing, or it can be rented at Fancy Dress Hire shops. Charity shops are often a good source of 'lookalike' 1940s civilian clothing.

Bringing these three elements together will ensure a good 1940s Living History event.

Hiring the 1940s

Often it`s a good idea simply to hire the knowledge, and many WW2 Reenactment Groups and individuals offer a hire service at reasonable rates.

WARCO is one such service, who can provide a 1940s photographer to cover your event.

There are many other such services and idividuals, who can provide anything from period civilian look, to Policeman.


WW2 Airsoft

Similar to the sport of Paintball, Airsoft is a sport where suitably protected players 'shoot' each other with BB guns firing harmless plastic balls.

WW2 airsoft combines this with WW2 Reenactment, as battles are re-fought with combatants wearing the same uniforms as in WW2, and with BB guns that look like their WW2 equivilents.