Saturday, August 23, 2014

The First VCs of The Great War: Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Private Frank Godley, 23rd August 1914


One hundred years ago today, on August 23rd 1914, the 4th battalion, Royal Fusiliers were ordered to defend the Nimy bridges, which were only a few kilometers from the main British force at Mons.

By 10:00 that morning the British positions around the bridges came under heavy German artillery fire which was then followed by direct assault by the 84th Infantry Regiment. 

In answer, the Royal Fusiliers caused heavy casualties amongst the Germans, who initially advanced in tightly-packed formations. Being shocked by the rapid fire of the Fusiliers, the Germans soon abandoned this costly tactic and began to advance in open order. As more German troops were thrown into the attack, the situation for the Royal Fusiliers became perilous in the extreme. Yet to withdraw while still in contact with the enemy would expose them to close-range enemy fire. Therefore it was vital that the battalion's machineguns, now under the command of Lieutenant Maurice Dease, hold back the Germans long enough for the rest of the men to withdraw.

Lieutenant Maurice Dease, the first posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross of the Great War.
By this time, however, virtually all the men of Dease's two sections had either been killed or wounded. So the young Lieutenant, along with Private Sidney Godley, took over a gun and kept the Germans at bay. Having been wounded several times, Lieutenant Dease was taken back to the dressing station where he later died of his wounds.

Dease and Godley depicted at the railway bridge near Nimy. Painting by David Rowlands
Meanwhile, Private Godley, himself wounded by numerous shell fragments and a bullet wound to the head, maintained fire from his machinegun. 

Sidney Godley, first Private soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War One.
Godley continued to hold his position for two hours, allowing the rest of the British force to fall back safely. Once out of ammunition, Godley, dismantled his gun, threw it into the canal and attempted to crawl away. Weak from his wounds he was eventually captured by the advancing Germans.

A contemporary rendition of the defence of the bridge at Nimy.
For their actions that day, both Dease and Goldley were awarded the Victoria Cross, the first of the war. Godley was informed of his award by his German captors while being held at a prisoner of war camp near Berlin. He was formally awarded the decoration by King George V on February 15th, 1919.


Drawing inspiration from this event I painted up a 28mm early war British Vickers crew sculpted by the talented Bill Thornhill of  Musketeer Miniatures. I've gone with my usual greyscale treatment with this trio. A great set, with very clean castings and exhibiting excellent animation in all the sculpts. 


The Vickers Crew along with some infantry support.
Next up is a new indulgence from across the pond and something else for the Spanish Civil War...

Monday, August 18, 2014

28mm 'Raketrucksacktruppen' Squad for Pulp Adventures


So, my thinking is that if paratroopers are cool, and rocket packs are cool, then a whole squad of badass German fallshirmjaegers sporting jet packs must be the absolute tits. 



I call them 'Raketrucksacktruppen'. (With deepest apologies to my German friends for my appalling 'Sgt. Rock Deutsch'.) I thought the name fitting with the comic book nature of these guys.


These figures are from Bob Murch's excellent Pulp Miniature range. I swapped out their original oxygen tanks in favour of rockets packs as, well, it just seemed the sensible thing to do.


It looks like I'm going through a bit of a 'Blue Period' lately, but I thought these fellas would look good in cool tones, similar to the early-war uniform of the Fallshirmjaegers.


Anyway, I'm hoping these Raketrucksacktruppen will create suitable mayhem in our 'Strange Aeons' pulp adventures. 

Next: Back to the first weeks of the Great War...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Duel: Dancing or Villainy - Which is your Favourite?


Last night Sarah showed me the recent Johnny Walker Blue Label commercial 'The Gentleman's Wager' which I found quite fun, smart and very stylish. Thinking I was quite 'up on things', I showed it to a young, hip female colleague at work who watched it quietly and then dismissively said that Tom Hiddleston's 'Villain' ad for Jaguar was much better. At first I was a bit gutted, but then I recalled that this particular staff-member believes Mr. Hiddleston is hands down 'The Perfect Man' striding upon this green earth and so I surmised that he could be selling radium-infused baby seal eyes, gift-packaged in hollowed-out elephant tusks and she'd still be enraptured with whatever he had to say.

Nevertheless, I went home and watched the Jaguar commercial to see for myself. 

Well, it's very good. It has great presence, it's sleek in a bond-like way and is unashamedly cheeky. I freely admit that Tom adds a lot of sex appeal to the ad (and that F-Type Coupe sounds bloody amazing), nonetheless I think it lacks the subtlety, depth and elegant restraint that Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini bring with their performances in the Johnny Walker commercial. [Spoiler] If you watch 'the Gentleman's Wager' again you'll see from the start that these two men have probably been trading this boat back and forth for years. There is a charming playfulness between the two that is very fun to watch.

Anyway, for a bit of silliness, I think we should have a little poll to see what you visitors think. Here are the two ads - give them both a look:

Tom Hiddleston's 'The Art of Villainy' 


Law & Gianni's 'The Gentleman's Wager'


Sorry JF, I really think Hiddleston gets pwned in this matchup. But, hey, that's just my opinion. What do you folks think? Give a click for your favourite on the panel to the right. 

I'm going to have a nice, neat glass of whisky on Sunday while I wait for the final votes...

Addendum: The final vote tally was: 14 votes for Law & Giannini's 'The Gentleman's Wager' whereas 7 votes were cast for Hiddleston's 'The Art of Villainy'. I think the dancing girls buffered the votes a bit (and why not), but there you have it.   

Sunday, August 10, 2014

28mm Spanish Civil War Republican Guardia de Asaltos (Assault Guards) and a Spanish Romanesque Church from Barrage Miniatures


In an attempt to be somewhat simpatico with our recent hot weather I thought I'd feature some more Spanish Civil War figures, this time a few squads of tough-as-nails Republican Assault Guards.


The Guardia de Asaltos were a large body of para military police created by the Republican government in reaction to increasing instability throughout Spanish society. The Assault Guards were primarily tasked in maintaining public order in urban areas whereas the Guardia Civil's jurisdiction focused on rural areas.



When civil war broke out in Spain in the summer of 1936, the majority of the Assault Guards remained loyal to the Republican government. They quickly proved to be a highly dependable force for which the government relied on time and again in its struggle to control the cities of Spain. They were particularly effective during the siege of Madrid and it has been mentioned several times that of the Assault Guards that were in uniform in 1936, very few remained alive by 1938, being ground-up in the vicious street fighting in the intervening years.




These guys arrived from Empress Miniatures less than a week before my game with the guys from The Fawcett Ave Conscripts and so being a complete idiot I decided to try to get them done in time for kick-off. After several extremely late nights I managed to get the sixteen of them done and ready for deployment. 



Of course, as these things always work out, they never even made it onto the table as they kept missing their reinforcement rolls. Sigh. Anyway, they are now sitting in the wings, gnashing to get at the Nationalists. I know Peter has been chomping at the bit to get stuck-in commanding the Republicans so I think this is the unit for him. 


Also seen here is a 1:56 Spanish Romanesque church, a very generous gift given by the vastly talented Alf from Barrage Miniatures. This was part of the loot that I managed to smuggle home after visiting his workshop in Madrid earlier this past spring. 


This resin-cast building is inspired by the very picturesque 12th century Sant Quirc de Durro church found in the Vall de Boi, Catalonia. 


The church is a wonderful model, with loads of deep relief for easy of painting/drybrushing. Like a dolt, I first primed it dark brown, but then realized by looking at photos of similar mediterranean buildings, that the mortar used is typically cream coloured - so I traipsed back outside to respray it a light khaki. 


I can't say that I'm completely happy with my efforts, but I finally decided to throw in the towel and call it done. Nevertheless, it will be a welcome addition to the growing SCW and Napoleonic Peninsular terrain collection.  Thanks so much Alf!! 


Finally, I want to give a big shout out in celebration of the debut of Wargame Bloggers Quarterly which was launched this past Saturday. WBQ is the brainchild of the ever-industrious Millsy, one of the famed contributors of Canister & Grape. I had the pleasure to witness the whole production unfold (being characteristically lazy, I can't say I helped that much) and can attest to the high standard and tremendous level of work that has gone into this publication. So, please download the premier issue and enjoy! I understand that the editorial duties of WBQ will change from issue-to-issue so there should be a wonderful variety of articles and viewpoints as the Quarterly moves forward. Congratulations Millsy - this is a real triumph!



Monday, August 4, 2014

One of the 'Guns of August': 28mm Great War in Greyscale French 75, Caisson and Crew (& Major LaBossiere)


August commemorates the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. So to mark the occasion I thought I'd finish a set of models for my greyscale project that have been sitting in the wings for quite some time, something fitting for those first terrible weeks of the Great War - a French 75mm gun with its crew and caisson. 

The Matériel de 75mm Mle 1897, or simply 'the 75', became legend amongst the French as it along with its crews carried a tremendous burden in slowing the German advance on Paris in 1914. 



The 75 was a relatively light gun, easy to maneuver and capable of keeping up with infantry in relatively difficult terrain. It was a weapon which embodied  the French cult of the attack which was prevalent at that time - the Attaque a Outrance ('attack to excess') demanded massive, high-tempo assaults and many officers at St-Cyr believed this was the perfect gun to accommodate this aggressive doctrine.  



The '75' also had a very quick rate of fire (approximately 15 rounds per minute, with a capable crew) which allowed it to lay down a deadly carpet of high explosive and shrapnel on exposed troops. 


Nonetheless, once hostilities began, many of the perceived strengths of the 75 proved to be double-edged. While the 75 could indeed put out a terrifying volume of fire in close support, the crews were prone to run out of ammunition quickly - especially in those early weeks of the war. This often left the gun vulnerable and many crews were found dead next to their guns, with their ammunition expended.  Also, while the 75 proved to be an excellent anti-personnel weapon, it did not have a heavy enough shell to be effective for trench bombardments so as the war progressed it became more and more evident that heavier guns were required  - so the 75 lost it pre-eminence in the French arsenal. Nonetheless the reputation (and mystique) of the gun lived on and it was used by several nations at the beginning of the Second World War.  


This model is from Scarab Miniatures. Not a bad kit but it was a bit fiddly to assemble. While I like the crew well enough, they are a bit doughy and muppet-like in some of their features (and their uniform is the later design). I really need to get the new(ish) early-war set offered from North Star as it better fits the rest of my collection.

On a lighter note, it must be mentioned that the French gun's fame was such that it even had a drink named after it, the "French 75" - or perhaps more correctly "Le Soixante-Quinze"!


Beware, like the 75mm Mle 1897, this cocktail may seem lightweight, but it actually packs a ferocious kick...


Finally, I include a French infantry officer of 1914, resplendent in his red jodhpurs, laced kepi and St. Etienne revolver. I've named him Major LaBossiere (one for you J). 


When I look at him I think of a grizzled veteran of 'The Debacle', perhaps wounded at Sedan as an officer Aspirant, leading his young troops from the front, furious that General Joffre would presume that his men lack in fighting spirit. 'Vous n'aurez pas l'Alsace et la Lorraine!'

This figure (a 28mm casting from Great War Miniatures) is for my friend Nick over at Moiterei's Bunt Welt, who kindly painted me a beautiful Viking warlord for my collection and wished a greyscale French Poilu in return. I decided to do a quasi 'Sin City' colour effect on him to add a bit of punch. Here you go Nick, I hope you enjoy him and thanks so much again!