Monday, June 19, 2017

Research for a new acquaintance

Not much to report yet on the painting front as I’ve gone back to painting Celts and I want to get to the point where they are all done before I post pics here.  However, I had an interesting encounter this weekend at a (most excellent) folk gig.  One of the performers (Gavin Davenport) told a story of, and sang a song inspired by, his grandfather’s service during the Second World War. 

As Gavin tells it, his grandfather was a member of a patrol in a Bren Gun Carrier near the Scheldt towards the end of the war.  On the occasion in question, the carrier rounded a bend and the crew found themselves nose to nose with a Tiger tank!  They feared that were all goners but the officer in charge of the team (a Canadian Forward Observer) got out of the carrier, ran along a roadside ditch and destroyed the Tiger with a point blank PIAT shot into its side armour. The officer was killed by the resulting explosion.  Sadly Gavin’s subsequent research hadn’t identified the man in question.

I spoke to Gavin after the show and he filled in a few blanks.  His grandfather was a Forward Artillery Spotter in 191st (Hertfordshire and Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

He always said that the finest soldiers he fought alongside were the Canadian “Timberwolves”.  But Gavin hadn’t been able to tie this name to a Canadian unit.

I decided to do a bit of digging and a combination of Google and the HMSO official history (L F Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. II) allowed me to tie things down somewhat more precisely.

Timberwolf, it emerges, is the designation of the 104th Infantry Division; an American rather than Canadian formation. 

So why would Gavin’s grandfather have thought they were Canadians?  Well it turns out that for a period of about three weeks in late October and early November 1944 the Timberwolves were attached to 1st Canadian Army. In fact the particular unit within 1st Canadian Army they were attached to was I (British) Corps, of which 191st Field Regiment was a component unit!   

During the time it was attached to the Canadian formation, 104th Division was capturing the Dutch town of Zundert and then advancing to the line of the Mark River.  

We have, then, a date range (15th October to 5th November, when the 104th was handed back to US command with First Army) and a location where the fateful encounter with the Tiger likely took place.  The additional complication, of course, is that Gavin's Canadian officer might turn out to have been an American!

I’ve told Gavin that I’ll go on digging. It’ll be interesting to see if I can make any more progress.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sharp Practice Deployment Points

I've had a go at creating a couple of Deployment Points to use in my 20mm scale Sharp Practice games.

At a pinch they would both work for the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland (something I plan to game eventually) and I think the one on the left would work for the Peninsula too (as a soldier's wife accompanying the army).

The British infantry (who may pass as county militia in old uniforms for the '98) are from the Airfix Washington's Army set. I bought a small bag of spare figures from Will McNally at Crisis Point with just this kind of project in mind.  Their coats are painted in Vallejo Scarlet - a new colour for me.  I quite like it and will probably use it for all my British infantry from now on.

The woman and her camp fire are from the very useful IMEX American Pioneers set.  Her dress is probably not quite in period but I figure a soldier's wife would be unlikely to follow the latest in late-18th or early 19th century fashion so I can live her appearance.

The IMEX plastic is quite rigid and her right hand broke off as I removed her from the sprue.  You can see the join in the rear view but on the whole I'm happy with the repair job (Uhu clear glue and a coat of PVA did the trick).

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Numidian General

When I got to the end of painting my Numidians, I found I had one body left over. I say "body" because it was lacking both a head (transplanted onto a late Roman archer) and a right arm.  However, I had plenty of spare arms and heads from the Victrix plastics set of Numidian infantry. A little surgery gave me a rider with a raised sword and a helmet.

I then needed a horse. None were immediately forthcoming but then I happened upon a 25mm scale unicorn in my box-of-things-that-might-be-useful-for-Glorantha-one-day. Yet more surgery, this time of a veterinary flavour, produced a suitable mount.

Married together with a little Green Stuff and superglue we end up with this chap:

I've called him Arabio after the last of the Numidian kings. I figure he can serve as a commander of light horse in future games of To The Strongest!

Who are these guys?

Can anyone help?  I have a few of these 20mm scale plastic figures. They wear bicornes and have curious jackets with long tails and twin rows of buttons up the front.

I started trying to paint them up as late 18th century British County Militia but I'm beginning to think they may not be worth the effort.  If, as I suspect, they are meant to represent Spanish troops they might be more useful painted up as such.

Sorry about the washed out effect of the white undercoat; hopefully someone can recognise them from the poses.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What I did instead of Celts

A couple of pieces for Chain of Command...

... first up a Jump Off Point for the late war British...

This is a Raventhorpe figure I've had, unpainted, for many years. It represents Sidney Maxted, the Canadian war correspondent who went into Arnhem with the Paras.  He's wearing the red beret and a Denison smock and he's speaking into his disc recorder as he watches our boys going forward to give Jerry a damn good kicking.

And then we have...

A radio operator.  He came from an artillery crew set I picked up on the bring-and-buy at Gauntlet.  I painted him up when it looked like I might need a forward observer for a forthcoming Chain of Command game.  He may or may not take on that role in the future.  Don't know the manufacturer.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Too Many Celts!

I've spent far too much of the last ten days resurrecting old and knackered 25mm Celts.

I have getting on for forty old Lamming and Hinchliffe figures bought from eBay. I want to put about 16 on each of two 120x80mm bases and I've created a couple of four-man skirmisher units too.

However, with most of the figures requiring both conversion work and painting and said painting heavily featuring plaids and checks, I've reached a temporary personal limit.  The Celts are going away and for a couple of evenings I'm going back to 20mm WW2 Brits.

No pics tonight but I'm most of the way through finishing a forward observer and a jump off point for a forthcoming game of Chain of Command.  I'll go back to the Celts in a week or two, I think.

Friday, June 2, 2017

More Numidians

My recent trip to the Wargames Store at Brimstage (Wirral) allowed me to pick up a pack of plastic Numidian infantry by Victrix.  They are lovely figures and I was sufficiently enthused to get them finished within just a few weeks.

I've made two units of light armoured troops likely to be found in the line of battle (Javelinmen in To The Strongest! terms, probably CLs for Basic Impetus).

I've given most of these guys the optional helmeted heads and in each case I've added a metal casualty figure to the base.  The chap in the front rank above has picked up a captured Roman shield but he's using it upside down!

The remaining eight figures, using round shields and bare heads form two units of skirmishers (Light Infantry, Javelins, in To The Strongest! terms).

The Victrix figures each come in four parts; body and left arm, head, right arm, and shield. There are numerous right arm options; several positions with a javelin, one with a sword, one with a trumpet and one with a standard.  There are also a few separate left hands clutching spare javelins. You can slice off the cast-on left hand and glue one of these in its place (see the figure second from right above).  There are four different bare and four different helmeted heads.

Using some of the spare parts I've managed to resurrect a broken remains of an unused horseman of whom more anon.

Finally, a couple of pics of the whole force.  Probably enough to play Basic Impetus and a start towards, perhaps, a Punic Wars collection for To The Strongest!