The necessity of resistants using military arms is well known; however, the volume of other military items is somewhat suspect. As pointed out earlier, the resistant’s most effective weapon was his anonymity - the ability to blend into the local populace. In general, military gear was used very sparingly and with direct attention to specific mission parameters. More often than not, a resistant simply carried a rifle, SMG, or pistol, along with some rounds loose or a limited amount of ammunition in strippers or magazines. Carrying a K98 Mauser with 10 to 20 rounds of loose ammunition is very historically accurate.
Military load-bearing harnesses and their subsequent mulitplicity of pouches and web slings were often dismantled into more suitable uses, such as carrying straps, ammunition containers, and even tourniquets. While these pieces of equipment serve to help a soldier evenly distribute the load of his equipment, they are not easily removed in a hurry. Resistants wanted to be able to dump their military gear and pull out their papers quickly, all done with a smile and appearing as if they were innocent bystanders the entire time. Thus, sparse pieces of equipment are acceptable, but a ton of it, enough to make you look like a soldier who traded his uniform for civilian togs, is not.
One test is to be able to strike all military equipment from your person in under ten seconds. If you can do this, you probably have the appropriate amount of gear to start. This changes somewhat in the rural and densely wooded regions where small guerrilla encampments operated and struck German targets in force. Still, most resistants performed their missions with little in the way of military gear.
Another WWII reenacting anachronism is the constant wear of an armband or brassard. Little photo evidence exists to support the wear of an armband on operations in Belgium. During and after Liberation, affiliation brassards came into wider use, but were rarely worn before, if at all. That said, Groupe G requires each unit member to have in his possession an armband, as we are often asked by event organizers to don them as identifying insignia. Armbands can often be found in militaria auctions, and we encourage members to obtain originals for display. We just as strongly encourage members to not wear the originals; instead, copy them.
At right is an image of an original Groupe G brassard. It's easy to make; just use a strip of off-white fabric, put on some tricolor ribbon, and draw or stamp on the G in black ink.
You can also make a basic Belgian brassard like this blue one - also an image of an original - which has a shield-shaped window cut out and a Belgian-tricolor strip sewn behind.
Groupe leadership actually prefers you to have several armbands, one Groupe G in the above fashion, the others either Belgian like the blue one, above, or other Occuiped Nations, like Holland and France. Two outstanding websites are here and here.
Resistants certainly did not carry tons of weapons and ammunition. Until America entered the war, delivery of weapons and materiel to resistance groups was spotty and sparse at best; the record is full of complaints from field agents. SOE simply lacked the infrastructure to acquire and deliver all of the requested stores and materiel. It had very little airlift capability and a very tight budget; moreover, SOE lacked wide-ranging networks of agents and resistants in the targeted areas.
The American Carpetbagger Squadrons of C-47 cargo aircraft delivered 662 "Joes" (S.O.E., O.S.S., and Jedburghs); 18,535 containers of supplies; 8050 "Nickles" (bundles of 4,000 propaganda leaflets); 10,725 packages of supplies; 26 carrier pigeons; and carried 437 passengers. This may seem like an enormous amount of materiel. However, it is a pittance in comparison to what most resistants asked for. Accounts detail that resistants were in short supply of almost everything; medicine and ammunition topped the list. Most resistants never knew when their next airdrop would be and when it came there was no guarantee of its success. Many airdrop canisters fell into the hands of the Germans and other were simply destroyed upon impact. This simple fact should drive your equipment list and tactical behavior on the field.
To reinforce this paradigm, Groupe G has two hard-and-fast Rules.
First is what we call The Two Visible Items Rule: You may have two visible items of military gear, including your primary weapon. Thus, you may wear a helmet. Or a German ammunition pouch. Or an armband. There are of course exceptions to The Rule. First is at events which require helmets. Second is if you are portraying a saboteur or wireless operator or some other specialty which requires large, obviously military satchels. Some events, Groupe leadership will order the wear of armbands. Other exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.
Second is the Ten-Second Rule. You must be able to remove all visibly belligerent items from your person in less than ten seconds.
We're not merely trying to be as historically accurate as possible (though that's important!). We're also trying to get the rest of the WWII reenacting community beyond the mental image of farby, scruffy, bearded "Frenchies" in black leather jackets and berets, armed to the teeth and wearing full US webbing.
For most tacticals, you will want a period civilian bag or some sort. You'll use it to carry your water bottle and snacks, and maybe a small first aid kit for those inevitable small scrapes.
You have a fairly wide variety of weapons from which to choose. We portray the later period of the war - mid-1943 to the end of the War - so the following weapons are permitted. Images of most of these are posted in the Galleries. Note that ammunition (blank or otherwise) for some of these weapons may be difficult or impossible to obtain.
Notes: The American M1 Garand was never dropped to partisans. It can sometimes be difficult to find blanks for the MAS 36, M1 Carbine, and odd-caliber pre-war civilian weapons. You may have to custom-order or hand-load blanks. Some event sites do not allow shotguns.
Most of the events - public living-history or tactical - Groupe G attends are weekend-long affairs. You'll eventually need appropriate camping gear. Some members prefer to "Ramada Ranger" (sleep at a motel), but most of us prefer to stay on-site.
There is very little evidence that partisans in Belgium used tents to any great extent. Awnings and tents made of the parachutes attached to drop canisters are most correct, though finding those parachutes is difficult. Moreover, when you do find them, they're expen$ive.
Most often, we use modified cloth tarpaulin for awnings and tent-like shelters. Once you see us at an event, you'll see how it's done. The odd British bivi tent is acceptable, but check with Groupe leadership before making any tentage purchases.
Modern camping items are not now and will never be permitted, whether we're at a private tactical or public living-history display event. If you must have a cot, it must be defensibly authentic. Use multiple wool blankets instead of that North Face sleeping bag. Electric torches (flashlights) must be authentic. Coolers must be either kept in your personal vehicle or well hidden. Groupe is planning to make several coolers which look like ammunition or ration crates for the next event season. At the very least, obviously modern stuff must be stowed out of sight while any public are on site.
Here's where you get to browse the antiques stores looking for bargains. You'll need things like cups, gloves, wrist and pocket-watches, furniture, boxes, utensils etc. Each item must be a period type, and be as authentic as possible. It's the little things like this that make a smashingly cool impression. Like we say elsewhere, the devil is in the details.
Groupe members are working on replica personal paperwork so important to surviving life in Occupied Europe. The plan is for all members to have personal paperwork in their possession by the end of the next reenacting season.