The Liberation of St. Jacques
Thursday, 03 July 2008
It is going to be 1944 all over again as Allied forces prepare to liberate a French town from its German occupants.
A WWII conflict that gave recognition to one of McCreary County’s own as a war hero, is being revisited at Barthell Coal Camp on Saturday, July 5. Hundreds of re-enactors are expected for the event, using the historic town, as a backdrop to re-creation of the skirmish between U.S. troops and German soldiers.
“Once you cross the bridge at Barthell, you will be stepping back into time to 1944,” said Richard Koger, a Barthell founder and co-sponsor of the re-enactment.
Koger has worked extensively over the last year with Dave Nutter, a re-enactor who developed the idea of bringing St. Jacques to Barthell. Nutter is working to organize the event and bringing re-enactors from several states to participate.
“These re-enactors are real professionals, with lots of experience that can guarantee a great show for everyone who comes down,” Nutter said.
Barthell will be converted into a German occupied town with various signs and regalia placed throughout the camp. German soldiers will set up camp within the town with American forces camped just outside camp boundaries. Guests during the event will get to see military life as carried out by the G.I.’s as well as see historic military weapons, vehicles and equipment.
All that military equipment will be put to use at three separate times this Saturday as American forces barnstorm the town, setting off a battle that guests almost find themselves in the middle of.
“The terrain here at Barthell really dictates a unique stage to carry out the re-enactment,” Nutter says. “And, the way we are planning this, the crowd will be involved with what takes place.”
The re-enactors enjoy the performance aspect of such events, Nutter said. However, the real goal is to create an environment where people see what life under a regime like that of 1940’s Germany was and “to understand the sacrifices made by thousands of men from around the world to change that way of life.”
A ceremony honoring the local hero of St. Jacques, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Wilburn K. Ross, is scheduled to take place during the event.
The event will also feature a rolling WWII museum and F. Curtis Abbot, the author of “30 Days in 1943,” to help bring even more history to the event. Nutter says the museum has rare period artifacts that will awe anyone interested in military history.
The event is being held on Saturday, July 5 at Barthell Coal Camp, just a few miles from downtown Stearns. Show times will be 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The event is being sponsored by the military re-enactment units of 130th Pazerlehr and 10th Kompanie Gross Deutschland.