Camp Swift Battle of the Bulge Reenactment

Date: 9-11 December  05
Location: Camp Swift, Texas


This reenactment was a tactical battle for the enjoyment of the participants and was not designed as a show for an audience.  Members in attendance included Jeff M., John K., Barry F., and Tim W.  The event took place at Camp Swift.  Camp Swift is an old military post that has been around since at least World War II and is now used primarily for training by reservists and ROTC units.  It is a heavily wooded area situated east of Austin about halfway between Elgin and Bastrop. 


Jeff and Tim showed up mid-afternoon on Friday, December 9th.  They brought Tim’s 1941 Willys MB and enough gear to last the weekend.  Arriving earlier than most, they were able to hook up with Jeff H., the commanding officer of G Company, the living history detachment of the National Museum of the Pacific War.  Jeff H. brought his Willys as well.  Along with Jeff H. was Greg A., a long time member of G Company, who was to serve as squad leader for one of the two squads that G Company put in the field for this event.  With the two jeeps, the four reconned the key roads and general layout of the battleground before the sun went down.  A cold night was made easier with good tents, excellent sleeping bags, and hot food.  By the following Saturday morning well over 100 participants were standing by for battle that was to be scored based on control of a key crossroads and the all-important fuel depot.  Club member John K., also a member of G Company, arrived heavily armed and with his Willys.  With these three jeeps and a vintage truck belonging to Ryan S., G Company was able to effectively deploy two squads of about twenty men and a small command element.  They dug in and held the Germans for twice as long as the scenario required and then managed a fighting retreat through the woods as they fell back throughout the day before attempting to hold the fuel depot.  The weather was cold and overcast at first, but cleared off and warmed up over the course of the day.   The woods still maintained their fall colors and it was a great day to be outside.  The Germans fielded a Hetzer, two motorcycles with sidecars, a troop truck, and two Kubalwagens.  They also put quite a few infantry and Panzergrenadiers into the field, including a significant number of SS with fall camouflage that was almost perfect for the setting.  They faced off against the Allies consisting of G Company acting as a unit, as well as a significant force cobbled together out of airborne and infantry who had shown up alone or in two and threes.  There was also a few French Legionnaires, French Resistance, and British airborne.  Club member Barry F. was there as a Belgian civilian, but it was suspected that he was working for the Resistance, which, unknown to many, played a part in the scoring based on the success of covert operations. The event was truly an immersion experience and authenticity standards were high.  Xbox and Sony Playstation couldn’t compare.  There were some great ambushes, a few sly tricks, some sound tactical maneuvers, and a particularly successful flanking movement by G Company that was led by Jeff H.  The flanking patrol bagged the Hetzer which had broken down.  They also took out the repair crew, and captured a couple of Kubalwagens left at the intersection.  Although they had them in their sights, they held their fire on the passing motorcycles in order to take the bigger prizes.  Throughout the day, the jeeps and drivers were an essential part of the battle and proved the value of mechanized infantry.  They carried a lot of gear, moved active combatants to and from firefights, transported dead and wounded, supplemented radio transmissions by acting as messengers, and helped at least one potential heat casualty who had underestimated the impact of carrying a combat load while bundled up.  The day ended with a chance for some haggling with equipment vendors, an exchange of “true stories” from the day, and a debrief by the G Company commander.  Most of the club members then packed up and left rather than spend another night to take part in the smaller and shorter tactical battle to be held Sunday morning.  All in all, it was a tremendous amount of fun.  Using the jeeps in a simulated tactical situation on the narrow dirt roads and in a wooded area was a great way to gain a better appreciation for the vehicles and the men who drove them in the European Theater of Operations.  



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Jeff C. John K. & Tim W. digging in before the German Assault Jeff M. making his hole. Sandy soil made for easy digging 1.5 ton truck belonging to Ryan S.


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