Profile: Chalk Living History

Many people have differing views of reenactors; some good, some not so good. But ‘living history’ groups are a different breed and can enhance learning about a subject and bring history to life. Matt Yates of Chalk Living History spoke to us about living history and his group and the impact they have had in promoting the heritage of the Glider Pilot Regiment.

Chalk Living History are now a well established historical group uniquely depicting the Glider Pilot Regiment. One of the only groups in the country to do this, we took our name from the operational identification numbers chalked onto the glider fuselage.

On Patrol: Members of the group take part in a private event to commemorate Operation Varsity

Living history; what is it? Living history is recreating the past and bringing it into the present in an entertaining and ‘hands on’ fashion. It allows the public to interact with us, ask direct questions, as well as handle the weapons, uniforms and equipment of a wartime glider pilot, rather than looking through glass in a regular museum. By using our own maps, photographs and graphics to support the displays, we’ve been able to enlighten many people who are otherwise unaware of the regiment or its importance to the outcome of the Second World War and British military history, allowing them to experience an important period at first hand - we endeavor to bring history to life.

A Chalk Living History display in front of the Assault Glider Trust Horsa at an RAF Shawbury Open Day: The public can get a "hands on" experience getting up close to the clothing, weapons and equipment

Although the group only formed four years ago and is small in stature, we’ve managed to make quite an impact in the world of living history. We have had the opportunity of working with some of the premier museums in the country including the Museum of Army Flying and Duxford Imperial War Museum Airborne Assault, along with displaying at RAF Shawbury Assault Glider Trust, the AAC Sgts Mess at Middle Wallop and providing guard for the Double Hills Memorial in Paulton, Somerset. We’ve worked with Battlefield History TV for their DVD series ‘Arnhem’ and the BBC for their recent series ‘D-day: The Last Heroes’.

The group puts a significant amount of effort into ensuring they authentically recreate the many roles of the Glider Pilots on the ground.

These opportunities are always taken seriously and we provide an accurate and respectful presence, consistently experiencing a positive reception from the public due to the enthusiastic and professional approach of our members and as a result have attained a reputation for authenticity.

The late Steve Elsey, former Chairman of the Glider Pilot Regimental Association, spoke highly of the group: “This group is actively promoting the Regiment and is raising interest and improving the general public’s awareness and thereby helps us achieve several of our objectives as an Association given by Colonel, later Brigadier, George Chatterton, at the inaugural AGM/Reunion on 21 November 1945 at the Savoy Hotel in London.”

GPRA Associate Member, Lindsay Aspin added: “On Founders Day, the Annual Reunion and subsequent events, members of Chalk Living History contributed wholeheartedly. With attention to GPR detail, knowledgeable and friendly members of Chalk Living History showed high respect for the Glider Pilot Regiment.”

Respect: Chalk regularly attends commemorative events including the Double Hills commemoration and is held in high regard by the Glider Pilot Regimental Association and its members. Pictured above with Double Hills Organisers and attendees, including the late glider pilot, Arthur Shackleton.

Chalk are a non-profit organization, we do what we do as a hobby and for the enjoyment of sharing our collections and knowledge, spreading the word of the Glider Pilot Regiment at every opportunity.

We are constantly looking to expand our knowledge base so if you have anything you can add to our repertoire such as photographs, artifacts anecdotes or stories then please get in touch, the more details we have will aid us in depicting the regiment accurately.

Editor's note: Chalk regularly posts articles and items of interest, as well as news about their displays, to their Facebook page which can be found here.

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