Colonna della Libertà 2018: reenactment “Italian style”

With some 156 vehicles ranging from motorcycles to jeeps, trucks, half-tracks and tanks, and more than 400 participants, the 2018 edition of the "Colonna della Libertà" (the “Column of Freedom”) took place in Italy from last April 27-29. 

Vehicles that took part to the Colonna della Libertà
Just to give an idea, this is just a fraction of the vehicles that took part to the Colonna della Libertà.

The largest Italian ww2 reenactment event was this year was in its tenth edition, with crews and reenactors coming from Brazil, Malta, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland – besides, of course, all over Italy. 

Organized by “Gotica Toscana” association with the logistical support of the Italian Amy, Navy and Air Force, the Colonna della Libertà celebrates the Italian Liberation Day,  April 25th, which is a national  holiday commemorating the end of Nazi occupation in 1945. 

Jeep at the Colonna della Libertà, Italian WW2 reenacting event.
An unusual variation on the jeep theme: a fire department vehicle. Note that the crew is equipped in accordance.

Each year with a different itinerary, the Colonna in fact follows the steps of the US and Commonwealth armies in their difficult advance along the peninsula during the tough 1943-1945 Italian Campaign, the bloodiest of all WW2 campaigns in the European Theater of Operations (some 650,000 Allies and Axis casualties, plus 150,000 civilians dead). 

The Colonna della Libertà Italian WW2 reenacting event.
The Colonna della Libertà is the largest Italian WW2 reenacting event.

The Colonna della Libertà on the move

As you may have guessed, the Colonna della Libertà is anything but a “static” display of military vehicles and uniforms. 

This year it moved from Pisa and La Spezia, stretching through the beautiful landscapes of Tuscany and Liguria. In two days of summer-like weather all the 70-plus years old vehicles traveled the entire road with their respective crews and with relatively little trouble, thanks to the passion and mechanical expertise of their owners. 

Canadian Dodge at Colonna della Libertà WW2 reenactment event
Not only US vehicles: a Canadian Dodge, with its characteristic “Mickey Mouse” camo pattern.

All the efforts were paid off in any case by the joyful and amazed crowd that welcomed the column in the cities and towns it drove across. This gave a taste of how it must have been in 1945, when US and Commonwealth soldiers came to liberate a prostrate Italian people from Nazi domination: a real example of “living history”.

Rare vehicles from WW2

Among the many beautifully restored US, German and Commonwealth vehicles we saw during the event, a US M4 Sherman tank on its trailer hauled by a huge Diamond T heavy truck, a couple of rare German Schwimmwagens accompanied by some BMW and Zündapp motorcycles, a M16 half-track with its four M2 Browning machine guns in a M45 Quadmount, a fully rolling – and floating – DUKW amphibious truck, plus any kind and forms of jeeps, GMCs, Dodges. But pictures are worth a thousand words: enjoy.

M4 Sherman tank 
An M4 Sherman tank on its original M9 trailer.
German Schwimmwagen, WW2 vehicle
Among the numerous WW2 vehicles that took part to the Column of Freedom, this rare – and perfectly running – German Schwimmwagen.