Paul’s army takes over the house

Paul Andrassy wearing all his US Airborne kit. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Paul Andrassy wearing all his US Airborne kit. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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With more than 600 model aircraft, 20,000 toy soldiers and 700 model military vehicles, Paul Andrassy can justifiably lay claim to being the owner of one of the biggest collections of Second World War memorabilia in the nation.

However, after spending half a century amassing his impressive collection he now plans to house them in a museum– mainly because his wife wants their house back.

His fascination began as a ten-year-old boy when he began collecting free toys from washing powder in the 1960s.

Since then he has grown his ensemble to include 40 real and de-activated guns, grenades, webbing, ammunition, flags, badges and hours and hours of battlefield film footage.

His collection is worth an estimated £70,000 and also includes a flamethrower on his landing, three bazookas and full sized mannequins dressed in US and SS uniforms – all inside his modest semi-detached house in Sheffield.

Model aircraft hang immaculately from every ceiling in the house and walls are papered in wartime propaganda posters, pictures and newspaper cuttings.

But now Mr Andrassy’s wife of one year Zoe, whom he married in full 1940s gear watched on by a cheering crowd and a rifles guard of honour - would like the house back.

The 59-year-old butcher said: “I admit it’s is getting a bit full now. I don’t want to glorify war and all that went with it but its history and its 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.”

Much of his collection has come from his initial decision to put a note in the paper shop window near where he works asking for Second World War memorabilia for the museum. Now people bring in stuff all the time.

“I started collecting when I was 10 when my family would collect tokens from Oxydol ( a 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 clue to their respective 100th and 75th anniversaries has meant a surge in the price of memorabilia.

He said: “I reckon it would cost around £60,000 to £70,000 to replace this lot.

“But I would never sell it.”

The war buff, whose father was an RAF pilot, and his friends are involved in the re-enactment of famous second world war battles and Mr Andrassy 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.”

There is probably only one person who wants Mr Andrassy to be able to set up a museum more than he does - and that is his wife

She said: “I don’t really mind it that much. 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,” said the 48-year-old former nurse.