Blitz a wonderful life

There are collectors, avid collectors and then there are men like Paul Andrassy. But not many.

Paul’s obsession with World War II began when he built his first Airfix model as a 10-year-old in his bedroom – nothing unusual there, you might think.

Paul Andrassy, who has turned his Sheffield home into a World War II museum full of memorabilia, is pictured in his American uniform.

Paul Andrassy, who has turned his Sheffield home into a World War II museum full of memorabilia, is pictured in his American uniform.

But 50 years and 600 aircraft, 20,000 toy soldiers and 700 military vehicles later, he’s still at it.

And that’s only a fraction of his World War II-based collection.

In his small Sheffield suburban semi-detached, model aircraft hang in immaculately enamelled swarms from every ceiling in the house and walls are papered in wartime propaganda posters, pictures and newspaper cuttings.

There are 40 real and de-activated guns, grenades, webbing, ammunition, flags, badges, hours and hours of battlefield film footage, life-size and fully-uniformed mannequins of paratroopers in the passage and fall of the Fuhrer photos in the front room.

There’s even a full-size flame-thrower on the landing and every inch of the house is a shrine to World War II.

But Mrs Andrassy wants a ceasefire.

Paul’s wife of one year Zoe – they got married in full 1940s gear at Ranmoor church with cheering crowd and rifles guard of honour – would like the house, or some of it, back.

And Paul is ready to sign a peace treaty.

“I admit it’s is getting a bit full now,” said 59-year-old Sheffield butcher Paul, originally from Wakefield.

“I don’t want to glorify war and all that went with it but it’s history and it’s my hobby. What I would like to do now is to get together with some like-minded people and create a museum in Sheffield.

“If a group of us with similar interests could find each other we could perhaps apply for lottery funding and put all the stuff under one roof where people could go and see it. I think a lot of people would find it fascinating.”

Paul put a note in the paper shop window near where he works in Lodge Moor asking for Second World War memorabilia for the museum.

It turned out to be a cunning plan...

“People are bringing stuff into the shop all the time now, I just need somewhere to put everything so we can get some space back in the house.”

You sort of see his point.

“The police know all about me and all the guns, everything is de-activated and legal,” said Paul. “They come in and check sometimes and they all want to have their pictures taken next to the soldier mannequins, they love it.

“I started collecting when I was ten when my family would collect tokens from Oxydol (washing powder of the day) boxes and send off for free toy soldiers.

“Then I started making models and I have always been fascinated by the second world war. Once you get through the Frog and Airfix models you have to start looking abroad for new stuff, I got a lot from Russia.”

The recent upsurge in interest in both world wars due to their respective 100th and 75th anniversaries has meant a surge in the price of memorabilia.

“I reckon it would cost around £60,000 to £70,000 to replace this lot,” says Paul of his collection. “But I would never sell it.”

So what do the kids think?

“They think I’m a bit mad but they’ve grown up with it,” said Paul whose surname Andrassy came over to England from Germany when his ancestors migrated in the 1800s.

“They are used to it now and I have always made the models.

“When I come home with something they laugh and say: ’What have you bought now, Dad?”

It will surprise no-one to know that Paul and his friends are involved in the re-enactment of famous second world war battles and Paul is enrolled in the 82nd US Airborn division.

“We go all over the place and have a great time recreating the battles. We love it and the crowds love it – and everyone knows who’s going to win.”

Though there has been the occasional bad day.

“We have SS uniforms and we dress in those at appropriate meetings but not everywhere allows them,” said Paul.

“In Germany they are not allowed to do any re-enactment of the war and German people who are into it come over here to do it.

“One time we went to a re-enactment day in Scarborough in SS uniforms and someone came quietly up to us and told us we would not be allowed in wearing them. We didn’t know that but we knew that some places don’t allow them.

“It wasn’t a problem.”

So what’s his favourite uniform?

“I really like the German paratroopers uniform of the Fallschirmjager. They are so smart and so well made, that’s my favourite one.”

What would make the collection complete?

“A blank-firing German machine gun is something that everyone wants, they are so beautifully made and you should hear the sound of one...

“I would love a Willys Jeep but they cost a fortune. One bloke who is in to re-enactment group has bought one and he’s restoring it but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have one of those.

“There’s probably only one person who wants Paul to be able to set up a museum more than he does – and that’s Zoe.

“I don’t really mind it that much,” she said, “My dad was the same, he was a squadron leader in the RAF and he had lots of wartime memorabilia too, but he had to keep his in the loft.”

“But the house is getting too full now.

“I would like to have enough room be able to draw the curtains in the sitting room.”

Anyone interested in getting together with Paul to find premises for a WWII museum in Sheffield can contact him on 0114 2302075.