Military recreationists relive World War II's Crimean campaign, on the eastern front, at Old Tailem Town

At ease: Harry Lok, David Schnieder, Viktor Kovalevski, Richard Tamits and Graeme Watkins take sides before the battle. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
At ease: Harry Lok, David Schnieder, Viktor Kovalevski, Richard Tamits and Graeme Watkins take sides before the battle. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
Armed and ready: Grant Robinson, Keith Baker, Mike Krause and John Pearks prepare for action at Old Tailem Town. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Armed and ready: Grant Robinson, Keith Baker, Mike Krause and John Pearks prepare for action at Old Tailem Town. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Nazi and Soviet flags flew high as men in military uniforms ran through the scrub and darted between buildings near Tailem Bend on Saturday.

Yes, that was Saturday just gone, 2016, not 1941.

About 30 members of the Australasian Living History Federation were reenacting key moments from World War II's Crimean campaign, fought between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, at Old Tailem Town.

They fired blank ammunition at each other, falling down on their honour when they knew they'd been hit and "respawning" to rejoin the action.

They had received movement orders from their commanding officers on arrival, saluted and had their weapons inspected; some rode around in a truck and sidecar from the era, while others camped out overnight in historically appropriate gear.

But, as comrade David Schneider explained, the exercise was not about glorifying war or the flawed states which took part in it.

"For an average soldier or civilian, it was pretty crap: there was hardship, suffering, shortages," he said.

"If you want to look at the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, it has a lot of relevance today.

"We're locking people (asylum seekers) up in special camps without a trial; look at the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and you get to see what sort of a world you end up in when you do things like that."

Recreation was also about remembering the nuances of war, he said, not the simplified images of bronzed Aussies going abroad that were sometimes the only focus of Anzac Day services.

"A lot of people still around from that time are glad the history's not being forgotten," he said.

"We have to bear in mind when it came to defeating the Nazis - and they were in some need of being defeated - the Russians, Ukranians, associated countries, paid the bulk of the butcher's bill.

"We hope in some small way we're remembering Australia did its bit, England did its bit, America did its bit, but we're honouring the people from Soviet republics who we owe a debt.

"The Soviets were pretty unpleasant, but the average Russian stopped the Nazis; we can't edit that out."​

During World War II, the Crimean campaign centred on the city of Sevastopol, which was besieged for 250 days.

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