Friday, November 22, 2013

The Greece Campaign: my first 'ANZAC Fury' Creforce units

The 'ANZAC Fury' is a reference to the most excellent book on the Aussies and New Zealanders in Greece and on Crete (named by the British as 'Creforce') by Australian author Peter Thompson.  It is perhaps the most Aussie-centric book on the subject I've read as many (most?) of the books on the campaign downplay or even ignore the role the Australians played in comparison to the New Zealanders or Brits although I'm sure the Greeks would make the same complaint - after all, it was in their country!

The other very thorough and readable book I read on it was Antony Beevor's 'Crete: The Battle and the Resistance' unfortunately spoiled, I thought, by the thinly veiled contempt Beevor seems to have had for many of the Australians. I tried to compare this to the amazing and heroic feats of the Australians in that campaign and particularly on Crete such as those by Ralph Honor and the 2/7th Bttn.and it just didn't gel with many of the British histories. In fact I didn't get a real sense of what the Aussies in the 2nd ANZAC's achieved in this campaign until I read Thompson's book.  Suffice to say it made me determined to create a representation of those magnificent soldiers to oppose the Fallschirmjaeger force I made to play our campaign (see my post last year: ).

2/7th boys in action - two sections with Bren teams in front, directed by Corporal with a Thompson SMG
The Perry's WWII range made it even more imperative I make up a Creforce force with their great 'Desert Rats' box of plastics and the accompanying metal heavy weapons and AFVs. Basically you get a full platoon in a box and I couldn't resist the Bren carrier squad as well as two Vickers HMGs and a 3" mortar. The Bren carriers are excellent resin models that don't require much work to do up for painting.

I painted the 6th Div kangaroo and boomerang insignia on the left guard as I don't know if the battalion were issued their own carriers.  I gave them the desert sand paint scheme as they came mainly from Syria and were not repainted for Greece.  Records indicate they came in a range of schemes from desert to standard tank green and Caulder camo pattern. One carrier squad could carry one platoon section as well as a two man crew (gunner & driver).  I've armed them with Brens on spindle with one of them equipped with a Boys AT rifle in the weapons compartment - that was very tricky to get in!

Bren squad leader with Boys AT
The metal heavy weapons are well made (as you'd expect) and the crews fit well - although the mortar was a bitch to put together (not unlike their Warlord German FJ versions).  The end result is what counts and I'm reasonably happy with that.

Hvy weaps support - Vickers HMGs and 3" mortar with platoon HQ section in the background (Stokes mortar & Boys AT rifle teams, officer, sergeant and radio with runner/observer/whatever kneeling next to them. 

In addition to the Perry's figures & 'Blitzkrieg' AFVs I had previously acquired a Mark 1 Crusader tank in European colours (Caulder scheme) of indeterminate make.  Probably painted for France 1940 I don't know if they were among the hundreds of AFVs the British sent and lost in Greece, but the Western desert force that had just whipped the Italians at Bardia etc, were equipped with them so I've made the assumption that my Aussies could would have had them in Greece - if they were lucky enough to have tanks at all!  Besides which, it only cost me $10 and someone did a very nice paint job on it.

The insignia on the tank are hand-painted - a very nice job
The rest of the force I still have to do consists of another box (platoon) and two Matilda tanks (which they had on Crete) - I look forward to making them up. I wish they'd produce a decent Vickers tankette which they also had in Greece/Crete.  Totally useless against anything better armoured than a Kubelwagon, they were fought against the German paras with great tenacity and courage by their British crews on Crete. I want one (or preferably two) so please Mr Blitzkrieg - get cracking!

The Bren carriers are so nice I took a few more pictures of them.  Great poses for the crews too - they must have been bloody uncomfortable things to travel in though!

The Boys AT was only effective against other recce AFVs and tankettes but not much chop against the German tanks the Aussies faced for the first time in Greece.  Much bad language ensued getting the @#$%ing thing seated in that gun port! 

I've equipped some of my Aussies with the (metal) slouch hats Perry's malke separately.  They come with the disclaimer that they were rarely worn in combat and while this was true to a certain extent, there are plenty of examples where they were - particularly on Crete where paras came down everywhere including in amongst battalion lines first thing in the morning.  I reckon plenty didn't get the chance to get their tin 'ats on!

I seem to have lost all my pics of the Perry's French wagon which is a pity but the WWII Aussies are my latest. I have to apologise for the picture quality when I set up to photograph them outdoors - heavy clouds rolled over and the light went.  I'll post more as I finish them, and hopefully a game this weekend - so I'll endeavour to keep you all posted!

Monday, November 4, 2013

More wargaming fun @ Lanyon (scalp-um plenty Paleface!)

One of my wargaming buddies at the Lanyon club reminded me last weekend that I obviously hadn't been doing any blogging lately.  I checked the blog and noticed that its been over a month since I posted anything! So sorry for my recalcitrance and general slackarsed tardiness as I have got heaps to post - but have simply not got around to doing it!

I have been busy with wargaming stuff and must have made a subconscious decision to paint rather than post as I have done plenty since finishing the Poles.  I've painted and based up some rather good temporary earthworks and gun emplacements which will go well with anything from TYW to WWII games. And I've finished the French Napoleonic wagon from Perry's complete with petite cantinierre  just for a bit of whimsy.

The last lot were a box of Perry's Desert Rats done up as a platoon of the famous 2/7th AIF for the Greece/Crete campaign - the start of my AIF force to go with my Fallschirmjaeger force - still waiting for someone to do some decent Gebirgsjaeger (mountain troops) to go with them.  If desperate I may have to do up a box of Perry's wonderful DAK plastics as mountain-men (trouble is you need mostly Feldmutze peaked caps - and there aren't enough of them).  I've included a few teaser pics as I will blog on both at length in a future post.

BUT - I digress!!!  First cab off the blogging rank has to be the games just played at the Lanyon club last weekend. It was a good turnout with four cracking games played: an ancients (and I mean really ancient!) Sumarian game complete with donkey-powered chariots. These looked like the ones produced by Castaway Arts who make the best asses in the business (pun intended). Fortunately my mate Greg took some photos of it which he has kindly allowed me to post on this blog.

I think you'll agree - that's some nice ass!
There was also Leigh's Eastern Front game with hordes of AFV's and a beautifully painted Stormovik which I should have photo'd (Leigh if you're reading this - send us a piccie of it!)

Another game was a Saga(?) Dark Ages skirmish game devised by Greg: 'Save the Relic' (and no, it did not refer to any of those playing it!!!)  It looked great with some really nice decorative pieces on the table including a farm replete with pigs and a yard full of Kiwi's delight (also known as sheep) and as well as the awesome-looking Holy Relic, even a fearsome-looking Druid with a mini-Stonehenge and virgin begging to be sacrificed (not!) This game looked like it had everything: 50 Shades of Dark (Ages) Grey!
The actual Relic - Greg's photo of the Grey Band which is much better than mine!
The Druid on the hill with apprentice Virgin on hand
Mind the bacon! That big woman guarding them was too formidable for even the most ravenous warrior!
Warriors thinking about a quick sausage sizzle before battle!
The real fun at Lanyon for me was Doug's Tomahawks and Muskets skirmish game. In this scenario the British were raiding a French/Indian village on the frontier to put a stop to the Frenchie's incessant raids.  The object was to torch the French barracks (three houses on the table) and hold onto our French hostage, a militia officer who was 'helping us with our inquiries' (sans the odd fingernail or excess body part).  If we lost him and failed to fire the buildings the French win the scenario.

The Highland regulars advancing against the eastern edge of the village soon come under fire from French tireurs 
The American militia with hostage, Roger's Rangers and Indian friends stealthily try the same thing from the western end.
Greg's photo of Les Runaways French militia. Tres pretty. They very unsportingly hid in the trees and shot down Highland Grenadiers but our Indian allies opposite soon had their measure.
Those Indian chappies making damned fine use of their tradestore muskets.
The Highland Grenadiers continue their advance - all of Doug's magnificent collection are Galloping Major figures save for the Scots Light Infantry who are Perry's AWI.
The British stirred up a hornet's nest out of which erupted the French.
Marins irregulars ready for a fight.
At the other end my co-commander Paul was having a very hard time of it getting across the stream.  Bushwacked by Jack's Indians in the trees opposite (unlike his father, young Jack has developed an uncanny ability to roll really good dice!) Caught mid-stream, Paul had already lost half his Indian and Ranger scouts.
Young Jack's Indian warband ambushed, got shot, ran away then came back again throughout the entire game, but successfully prevented the American militia from crossing the stream and enveloping the French flank.
The French regulars and militia unleashed some deadly volleys in reply.  The Indians didn't dare come out of the woods opposite into the open - that was best left to the British regulars!
My kilted arsonists the Scots Light Infantry had already burned the first French building and joined the Grenadiers who had just destroyed the remaining French militia opposing them.  Although good with the bayonet they were terrible shots as their massive combined volleys did little damage to the French regulars.
It was the Indians firing from the woods who did the most damage.
The French regulars volleyed and charged the Highlanders, inflicting four casualties to one in the ensuing melee. After a second melee and more shooting the surviving Grenadiers (less than half the unit) held but the French finally broke. The unscathed Highland LI, having fired their second building (the militia barracks) caught the retreating French enfilade, killing all save the valiant officer.
Paul's American militia gave up on trying to cross the stream, content to hold on and keep the Indians and French militia engaged AND their hostage in custody!
A rueful Monsieur contemplates a lonely walk back to Montreal with nothing left of his command but his pointy stick while jeering Anglais with hairy legs in dresses give him a resounding farewell raspberry. C'est la Guerre, mon Ami. Warfare on the frontier can be very cruel.  
Situation at the end of the game: the Indians and American militia keep the French Indians and militia engaged while the Highland regulars destroy the French regulars and set fire to a second building.  At this point Doug conceded as he had no means of preventing the Highlanders from completing the mission by sweeping across his rear and firing the remaining building in the village.

 Many thanks to Doug who provided his superb figures and a great scenario written by Andrew. Young Jack rolled great dice and kept his skittish Indians in the field and the American militia out of the village. My American commander Paul raised the entire tone of the meet by bringing his other half Deb along who showed great patience watching us lot rattle dice, shuffle lead and gas on about all things wargaming. A great lunch at the club topped off another meeting of the Gentlemen Wargamers at Lanyon with a fun time had by one and all.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Napoleonic Poles & some Legere

Finally finished my Murowski Miniatures figures - the beautiful Paul Hicks sculpted Napoleonic Polish infantry. I got the figures from Roger about a year ago(?) and had over half of them sitting around until a few weeks ago. The last of them to do was the artillery battery which I finished yesterday.  I now have a full brigade - 100 foot divided into two regiments of two 24 figures battalions apiece, with two extra stands skirmishers for the Vistula regiment I've painted in winter uniform.

The artillery are two 8pdrs and a howitzer and for completeness I've combined them all with a regiment of Perry's lancers. I  had done the lancers up as Guard Eclaireurs (scouts) but the uniform is almost identical with that worn by Polish lancers of the late Napoleonic Wars (from 1810 onwards) so they fit in rather well.

The Vistula Legion infantry are now two regiments in summer and winter uniform. I did this purely for esthetic reasons - the uniform combination of dark blue jacket with yellow facings (and czapka) has always appealed. The idea is I will have four French and allied brigades (or thereabouts) for BlackPowder games: Polish, Italian, Bavarian and French.  Opposing them I now have about 5 Allied brigades (3 Austrian and two Russian).  I've still got to finish my Austrian and Russian brigades from the Perrys' figures I've bought - which is still hundreds of figures to paint. Tempted to get more Murowski Poles but there are more than enough of the unpainted Perry's to do.

I particularly liked some of the skirmishing figures - wish I'd ordered more.  The Vistula regiment in winter uniform have 26 figure battalions rather than the usual 24 to add the skirmish stands in.

I must admit I love the Poles and waited for years for someone to produce quality figures before diving in and buying up a motza of metal. Its taken me a while but its great to have finally finished painting them. One regiment of them has already debuted on the wargaming table - now they're finished I can't wait to get the whole brigade into action!

I also did a bit more tinkering with my Legere, changing the command stand around yet again by adding two figures and making a command stand for the carabinier company.  The other revelation I've discovered is Testor's Dullcote. I know I'm a few years behind the times but after experimenting with a number of flat finish varnish systems including airbrushing artist's varnish on figures (good result and cheaper but too messy and fiddly to set and clean up) a decided to try one of the small and expensive cans of Testors. It gives the best flat varnish finish on painted figures I've ever seen. The colours seem to be enhanced by it as well.  All my new Poles as well as the Legere have now been finished in this spray lacquer.

Legere colonel with a bit of battlefield litter on the base 
A word of caution though, as good as the Testors is it has one major drawback.  I smelt some pretty heavy chemicals in it ('petroleum distillates' etc on the label) like Toluene or worse - God knows what the propellant is.  As it's an aerosol I'd only use it outdoors - and avoid getting a snoot full as it can't be good for you.  I think I got an allergic reaction to it after  I used it carefully, so beware people.  It gives great results BUT incorrect use could have a very major health risk attached to it.

Now I've scared the pants off you all, hope you enjoyed the post on the Poles!