All of you who have watched the iconic 1970s movie Kelly’s Heroes will instantly recall the plotline in which American troopers, led by a character played by Clint Eastwood, learn of a spot where millions of dollars’ worth of gold bullion is highly guarded behind a crack unit of German panzer troops and three Tiger tanks. Although this film clearly depicts the horrors of war, it also brings a humourous, almost carefree element to the proceedings with some very unusual characters. This serious-yet-fun approach also characterizes Malcolm Dunlop, who -- for those of you who do not know him -- has imbedded his own personal WWII roots in military vehicle preservation and re-enacting for nearly 15 years.
Malcolm’s office is a living scrapbook of his adventures throughout this community. He and his wife Gabi have given much time and energy into moving the hobby forward through the IMPS (Invicta Military Vehicle Preservation Society), of which they have been active members for 12 years.
Fascination for all things WWII was inevitable for Malcolm as he was raised in a military family, his father having served in the deserts of Africa and other family members having also served post-WWII. Malcolm’s interest intensified after his first Jeep purchase, as he took it to the Sellinge Steam Engine Rally in May 1997 and won Best in Show. From then on, he was hooked and formed a close association with the IMPS. When he recollects watching the early WWII documentaries and war films with his father, Malcolm’s eyes gleam. It was this ongoing passion which inspired him to found the group “Kelly’s Heroes,” depicting the 2nd Armored, 502 Military Police company, and to transform his prizewinning Jeep into the impressive American combat vehicle you see today.
Although Malcolm recently retired from his role as Vice Chairman of the Committee, his passion has not waned in the slightest. He and his family take an active role in the War and Peace Show, where (amongst many other responsibilities) he manages – and stages highly explosive, crowd-pleasing battle re-enactments at -- the camp known as The Swamp.
“We aim to base the experiences the public will see on famous war movies, or battles,” he says. “These are intense twenty minute scenarios, where we work closely with re-enactment groups such as the second Battle Group, Kompanie 1 and the Stahlkriegers. The mix we think of is Hollywood and realism -- we provide the tanks, guns and uniforms, as this really gives the crowd an excellent spectacle.” I ask Malcolm if he has ever had any close shaves with safety on his battle arenas. “The only real close shave we have had was when I forgot to fill my son Michael’s blood squib, which when it went off, took a fair chunk of his uniform with it!”
The WWII battle here at Combined OPS will also be filled with the same enthusiasm and passion, with many armoured vehicles, tanks, explosions and theatrical performances from many old faces on the circuit. “We do have our three apprentices this year,” comments Malcolm. “We have three youngsters in the group around 15 and 16 years of age, Chris, Jack and James, who really bring a youthful element to our group, and are very enthusiastic. We hope to have them in the group for a long time to come.” And what of the family element? Well, Malcolm clearly explains that many of the wives and girlfriends not only come to the events but also actively participate in them. “We open our battles to all ages, male and female-- it’s a family hobby.”
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