Under the ever-able command of Matron Lisa, new items of period equipment were in use for the first time at a La Columna presentation. Nursing auxiliaries Bryony and Jessica, and leather-clad and be-booted ambulance driver, Mairi Ann, were able to use the new medical kit to extend their accounts of field hospital life during the Spanish Civil War.

Similarly, La Columna’s dental nurse, Ruth, was able to settle punter patients into her new dental chair (painted in a fetching sky blue) for the all-purpose Spanish Civil War treatment – extraction. ‘La dentista’ was busy throughout the event, alternately thrilling and scaring small children with her collections of pointy instruments and extracted teeth.

The highlight of the field hospital display was casualty admittance and treatment. We were very fortunate to be able to draw on the medical knowledge of British Army medic, Graham Bandy. Working under his direction, the rest of the medical staff dealt with casualties rushed from the front. With judicious use of beef burgers, fake blood, Pig’s finest vest, and Alan’s moans, the public were able to see La Columna’s representation of medical work in forward hospital conditions.

Although the poor weather seemed to keep visitor numbers down below the usually very high numbers associated with the Military Odyssey, we still received a steady stream of interested punters. We were able to provide them with basic information about the war and British volunteers for the Spanish Republic. The medical unit continues to generate the most interest, and La Columna’s members there often face detailed questioning. But the Commissar had the best offer of the weekend when he was asked by a thirty-something woman visitor, ‘Would you pose with my sister while I take photographs?’. How could he say no?!

In between lying down on the hospital beds, the male members of La Columna undertook sentry duty, helped Digger in his field workshop, and undertook drill and section tactics under the command of James.

On the bank holiday Monday, the group received much appreciated reinforcements in the shape of Tony ‘the engineer’, and his miliciana column, Mo and Louise. We look forward to Tony’s permanent return to the ranks. Dan and Steve nobly chopped logs into kindling for Digger and Jan who provided the finest food for the unit, cooked to perfection, maintaining the highest standards of the ‘British food for British comrades’ school of cooking.