World War II will break out again — but this time in Frankton.

In a first for the Frankton Thunder automotive event on Sunday members of the Military Re-enactment Society of New Zealand will take the audience to Monte Cassino one of the pivotal battlefields of the Italian Campaign during WWII.

At Cassino, German forces took up position in the village and in the overlooking Benedictine monastery forming an elevated and almost impregnable defensive position.

The 1943 battle took the troops from almost every Allied nation, including New Zealanders, four months to push the enemy from the mountain top. Casualties were 55,000 on the Allied side and around 20,000 on the German side.


Action director Greg Thomas said the military re-enactors would make camp around the Kent St carpark and establish the elements of a village scene nearby to about the Italian town at the base of Monte Cassino which saw so much hard fighting from Kiwi troops.
Thomas has an interest in military history, especially World War I and II, and has been a member of the MRSNZ for about three years.

The owner of a business dealing in high-tech products for automated homes, Thomas sees the irony in his interest and describes it tongue-in-cheek as "a hobby in the past, with a job in the future because I can't stand the present".

"We provide all our own gear from our own collections. Everything from weapons and uniforms to radios and tents. Many of our members are passionate about history and often pick up items from Trade Me, fairs and arms auctions. Some people will donate stuff."

The society has members covering a wide range of military eras from the Romans through to almost present day in Afghanistan and counter-insurgency. It regularly takes the opportunity to provide re-enactments and a presence at events including the Cambridge Armistice Day commemorations and Anzac Day.

Frankton Thunder team organiser Ken McGeady said the military re-enactors would add an extra dimension to what should be an outstanding show.

"It is unusual to have military re-enactment in the city. This will be something special."
This Sunday, Frankton Thunder will bring together displays of custom, classic and muscle cars, drag machines, military vehicles, electric vehicles, the famous Britten motorcycle, jet bike and steam punk motorcycle along with a swathe of public entertainments including bands, the Miss Frankton pin-up competition, Photo Rama, Thunder Ink tattoo competition, street and steam-punk market.

Frankton Thunder 9.30am to 3.30pm this Sunday, March 10, Frankton, Hamilton, Monte Cassino re-enactment from 12.30pm.