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Mike Batten


Lives in: Loughborough

Re-enacting WWII since: 2005

Re-enacts as: Field Marshal Montgomery & Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel

Professions: Retired cabinet maker

Mike says:

"I was an infant during the Second World War. We lived in Shepshed near Loughborough.  My father, a cabinet maker owning his own timber store, was disabled and so was unable to join the forces. However, during the day he was employed as a handicraft instructor by Leicestershire Education Authority, so he taught people how to make things that were useful either in the home or for the war effort; and during the evenings he did his bit as an ARP warden (this later became part of the Civil Defence).

"I can remember, towards the end of the war, there was a prisoner of war camp about three miles away from our village, and our soldiers used to march the prisoners past our house to take them to the cinema.  All the villagers' curtains twitched as the men were marched past their houses.

"I originally trained as a Dental Technician, but later left that profession and became a cabinet maker like my father.  For over fifteen years I ran my own business, but also found time to spend three years in the Territorial Army.  I didn't get to go anywhere exciting but it was a useful experience.

"I suppose I got into re-enacting quite late in life.  Great Central Railway is near to where I live, and I started going to their 1940s events.  Lyn Hill, one of the organisers, wanted a line-up of wartime dignitaries. They already had a "Churchill" and "Mountbatten", but no "Monty", so I thought I might be able to impersonate him.  I hired a uniform to do it, and had such a good time taking part in the event that I subsequently bought my own uniform so I could portray "Monty" more often.  I also began helping to organise the Great Central Railway 1940s event each year, and now also help out with similar events at Shepshed Watermill and the Battlefield Line Railway.

"In 2012, I started to portray Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel.  Unlike other German leaders, Rommel was well respected by both sides; even Winston Churchill paid a tribute to him in the House of Commons when he said of him:- 'We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general".

"I joined Northern Forties because I find them to be a very co-operative group who keep their members well informed about events that are coming up. 

"It may have taken me some years, but I have now persuaded my wife of 50 years, Dorothy, to get involved with the group too."