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Frank Stone captures the 21st Panzer Division in Northallerton - Paul David Drabble, 2011

12 September 2011

Professional photography has led me to take up the strange and sometimes surreal hobby of World War Two reenacting. Earlier this year a friend of mine who is a reenactor with a German Unit, the 21st Panzer Division, helped organise the Nothallerton Wartime Weekend, with money raised going to four charities.

The charities were Help for Heroes, The Lance Corporal Ben Hyde Memorial Trust, The Bomber Command Memorial Charity and the Royal British Legion. I volunteered to do PR photography as my donation to the charities.

The event included talks and an opening ceremony by VIP guest, World War Two veteran Frank Stone. Frank joined the RAF age 18 in 1940, and volunteered for Aircrew. After six weeks Frank’s flight commander, a certain Guy Gibson of Dam Busters fame, invited him to volunteer for operations over Germany as it would look good in Frank’s logbook. On his second Op Frank’s plane was shot down over the Black Forrest and he was take prisoner.

After three years as a POW Frank Stone found himself around hut 104, North Compound, Stalag Luft III – the site of The Great Escape – where he helped dig the famous 348-foot tunnel named ‘Harry.’ Fortunately for him perhaps, Frank wasn’t selected for the escape party and spent the rest of the war as a POW of the Germans.

With the Wartime Weekend in full swing I was called over to get some photographs of Frank with the 21st Panzer. After a couple of straight group shots, I thought I’d ask Frank if he fancied getting a little of his own back on the Germans by taking them prisoner.

“Oh yes,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, and the resulting picture is one very happy smiling VIP and former POW, Frank Stone, holding a German replica MP40 and taking six Germans prisoner … well, I say ‘Germans.’ Actually they were all English, born years after the Second World War ended, who had dressed up that weekend as Germans from the 21st Panzer Division.

The photo was taken with a 24mm lens on a Nikon D700.

Paul David Drabble started as a full-time staff photographer for the Rotherham Advertiser, and then the Barnsley Chronicle, back in the days of black and white film. He went freelance 15 years ago and is now covering PR stories and commissions in the South Yorkshire area. Paul has also worked in Iraq, Belgium, Gibraltar and Cyprus with the British Army, producing photographs for the UK dailies. Recently, he started supplying images to Caters News Agency thanks to another reenacting story, a 1940s wedding.

Photographer since 1995. EPUK member since 1999.

See more work by Paul David Drabble

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