About the Popski's Private Army Preservation Society

The PPA Preservation Society (PPA-PS) is a small club formed in Belgium in 1993 by Kurt van Looke. Its origins were in the mid-1980's after Kurt had completed his military service and bought a Willys jeep as a restoration project. He joined a nearby club of like-minded people called the "Historic Collectors Vehicles Group, North Belgium Yeomanry" (HCVGNBY) and after a couple of years discovered another club called the "Historical Collectors Squad - Special Air Service" (HCS-SAS) which specialised in WWII Special Forces vehicles, and started to spend time with them too.

However, unable to join this group because of agreed rules about not poaching each other's members, Kurt decided to form his own club but wanted something smaller and more focussed than the big clubs, so looked around for some inspiration which he promptly found in an article about the small Eighth Army Special Forces unit called "Popski's Private Army" (PPA). The discovery that PPA's commander had been Belgian and that he had lived only four miles away from Kurt's village helped to make up his mind, and in August 1993 he formed the "Historic Vehicles Squad, North Belgium, Popski's Private Army" (HVSNBPPA), with himself and an old schoolfriend as the entire membership. The jeep was repainted to PPA North Africa Campaign desert colours.

Heavily armed PPA jeep in the Pineta di Classe, South of Ravenna.

Authentic PPA-PS jeep in the Pineta di Classe, South of Ravenna. (See Image Credits)

In 1994, the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Europe, the new group took part in over 40 WWII vehicle meetings and trips, usually alongside their HCS-SAS pals, and undertook more and more research into PPA. Having located several PPA veterans and discovered a lot more information about their vehicles, in 1998 Kurt decided to change the name of the club to "PPA Preservation Society" and rebuild and repaint his jeep in PPA's Italian Campaign configuration.

Slowly but surely PPA-PS built up its membership and historical knowledge, adding more vehicles – now known as "PPA H Patrol" (as in 'History') – and has become the acknowledged world-wide authority on PPA vehicles, weapons and equipment, after extensive consultation with many PPA veterans.

Since 2003 PPA-PS and foPPA have worked very closely together, sharing contacts, documents and photographs and attending PPA reunions. PPA-PS very generously loaned one of their jeeps to foPPA (even though they couldn't attend in person) for Operation Diamond in 2005, and brought two of them over to the National Memorial Arboretum for the unveiling of the PPA Memorial.

Copyright © 2010 foPPA
1 Nov 2010

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