Thursday, 26 February 2015

The 24 Hour Trench

Back in January 2012, I spent a cold 24 hours in a trench and it was for the purposes of a book by Andy Robertshaw, called, unsurprisingly, 24hr Trench. Andy had asked me along to take part in what would be part re-enactment and part photoshoot. The pictures would end up in the book and we would get to see what it was like spending a cold night in a trench and going through the routines that the average soldier would have in the First World War. The night we were recreating was one in January 1917 when there was no fighting and a handful of casualties in the unit none of which were from enemy action, but included a man who had fallen down a well! We had to go through the various stages of trench occupation for a front line unit, including stand to, weapons inspection, foot inspection and we ate period food. Thankfully, we had a dry but cold night, although one of the fire bays filled with groundwater, so wasn't very pleasant to occupy! There was also a couple of  gas attacks, a lone German assault and we had to write letters home. The uniforms were all provided by Andy (who had sourced them from when he worked on Warhorse) and they were surprisingly warm and waterproof.

I have decided to post up some photos that a friend took of the event, they can be used as a painting guide!

We were also featured in the April 2012 issue of Military Modelling magazine, and the first four pictures are form that magazine:

The following photos were taken by Mark Khan, so I thank him for the use of these. First day and that's me in the foreground, I shaved my beard off specially... Besides me is my mate Justin, we passed the time by chatting about music, mostly!

Then the gas attack came. This also happened at night and even though it was only a smoke machine, it felt pretty frightening as I was actually out in 'No-Man's-Land' when the mist began rolling in...

One of the chaps got himself set up as a sniper, it's interesting to see how quickly he blends into the earth.

Post gas attack, we kept our masks on until the all clear. It's pretty hard to breathe and even see in those things!

Some of the lads, passing the time.

Letter writing. This was a small task which certainly would have helped break up the boredom of trench life and helped with morale.

Getting some shut eye. Most soldiers would have tried to sleep in the daytime as work progressed during the night, repairing trenches, putting out more barbed wire, etc would have all be done under the cover of darkness.

A good study of Justin, it gives a good indication of the colours of the various bits of uniform including the leather jerkin.

And the whole crew, including Andy and Dr David Kenyon, both of whom ran the event.

And a few shots of the unoccupied trench, our home for 24 hours!

All in all it was an excellent experience and one I would definitely do again. One thing that stayed with me was simply how fatiguing it was, just collecting firewood to cook with was a major task after very little sleep and a lot of kit on.I also learned a lot, like, it was quickly discovered that in order to get things out of your backpack, you needed a mate to fish around in there for you and you would then help him.

Andy runs trench experiences, so if you get a chance, try spending a night in a replica trench!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

More Lancer 20mm First World War British

In addition to the rifle grenadier section that I painted recently, I also bought a few more British figures from Lancer Miniatures. I was able to make another full section of riflemen plus a couple of Big Men. Here are the riflemen:

And from the back:

I used two more riflemen as a sergeant and a corporal. I had also included a couple of British officers in the order and these are now a Captain and a Major (with the addition of my base labels!). The chap with the monocle makes an excellent Major.

And here the Big Men are from the rear:

Lancer Miniatures don't have a massive range, but they also do a couple of nice special figures, one releasing a messenger pigeon and the other on a field telephone.

The guy with the pigeon is a really nice touch and demonstrates very well the problems of command and control in the First World War (no one mention Speckled Jim, please...).

The chap with the field telephone will make a nice Forward Observer Officer for those off board batteries.

The ranks of my 20mm British forces are swelling nicely and the Lancer Miniatures are excellent additions. I will certainly be investing in more in future, plus checking out some of their Germans.The poses are nice, the proportions on the figures really well done and they have some interesting bits and bobs. And best of all, they're cheap!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Plastic Soldier Company Marder III H, Now in Colour!

As I found out recently, in the mire of Marder marks, there were only Marder IIs at Stalingrad, so  the new Plastic Soldier Company Marder IIIs that I have are not needed immediately. They are still needed for my wider collection of Germans, but the need is not desperate so they have sunk to the bottom of the build pile. However, I painted the single one I had built as a review, just so I could get it off the painting table and somewhere safer for the time being. Using the Osprey New Vanguard book Sturmartillerie and Panzerjager 1939-45, I based it as on the unidentified unit in Summer 1943 that is shown in the colour plates, in the typical three tone camo. Also I added a bit of the PSC German stowage, some decals that I had kicking about and Bob's your auntie's live-in lover.

I also used two of the 'official' PSC crewmen that come with the kit. There wasn't room to fit another man in, otherwise you would have seen a commander figure as well. The figures are nice, if a little flat, but they paint well.

And it's that time again for me to be banging on about the rubble packs I am selling on EBay, please have a look HERE:

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Soviet Heavy Defenders

At Varpnartak I was able to pick up a few needed bits for Stalingrad, including some Plastic Soldier Company's T-34s and a T-70. These were all in the single sprue reinforcements, I didn't know they did the T-70 like this, but they do and it meant I didn't have to buy four extra tanks! Hooray!

These four tanks represent the 84th Tank Brigade under Colonel Vainrub. The single T-70 is the light company and the HQ of the unit is represented by the one T-34 that isn't dug in. The Russians only have these vehicles as their armour support in the lists I am working from.

Two of the T-34s are dug in, I created this by only building the top half of each tank and gluing them to a piece of plasticard. This was then built up with polyfilla, sand and my rubble mix.

The rubble mix gives them an 'urban' feel, but these could easily be used in a rural setting as well.

I think the dug-in status gives these tanks a bit better defence than the others, but obviously they are restricted to where they can be placed.

OK, that's it for now, there are a few more German vehicles that are needed for this scenario, but at least I have nearly finished off the entire Russian defending force. One day I will be able to say that for the entire scenario...

And finally, another shameless plug for the rubble that I used on the bases for these tanks. I am selling bags of it HERE on EBay, it can be used for any scale miniatures and comes in three colours, Black/Dark Grey, Dark brown and Brick Red

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Lancer Miniatures 20mm First World War British

In my break from Stalingrad, I wanted to add a few more figures to the Through the Mud and the Blood collection, especially as the early attempts had ended up with dual based figures. This didn't really work in games, plus I wasn't massively keen on the plastic figures themselves anyway; they are cheap, but the poses are limited. I was hunting around for other 20mm metal figures and came across Lancer Miniatures, who have a First World War range. It's not massive by any means, but they do have rifle grenadiers! This means I don't have to convert any more figures! So I scraped together some cash and bought about twenty five minis to see what they were like in the flesh. They arrived in quick time and I painted the first eight as a rifle grenadier section consisting of four grenadiers and four riflemen.

They were painted using Sidney Roundwood's template, if it ain't broke, don't fix it... The bases finished off with scatter grass and some scatter from Treemendous. The figures are excellent, nice poses and well detailed. I will certainly be buying more of them!

All simple stuff! There are more of these little fellas to paint over the next few week, so keep an eye out for them.

Don't forget that I am also selling pre-painted bags of rubble on EBay, have a look HERE if you're interested!

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Through the Mud and the Blood Base Markers

Recently, in order to cut down the confusion that we experienced in the last game of Through the Mud and the Blood I made a whole load of markers for the bases of my figures on Word.

It was difficult to remember which card was which figure in the game! They are based on the names that Sidney Roundwood had used for his card set, which can be found HERE. My markers are designed to fit on a penny (a diameter of about 19mm), which is what I base my figures on. I've provided them here in PDF form for you to download. Print them out at 100% and use as you need:

I have also provided a few blank status markers so you don't have to have named individuals. The font is called 1942report and looks like a typical typed report from the First World War. After printing it's simply a task of cutting them out and using PVA glue to stick them to the bases:

In other news, I got a belated 40th Birthday present in the post last week in the shape of these Plastic Soldier Bookends! 

This means that I can now bring more books into the house without my better complaining...

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Vapnartak 2015

Another year rolls around and brings with it Vapnartak 2015, hosted by the York Wargames Society at the salubrious surroundings of the York Racecourse. I went along with Ninjasaurus Rex, Dean and Dane, and here are some photos from the games that were on display. 

This massive 18th Century vignette seems to be here every year, with slightly different set ups each time. However, it's always a joy to have a look at some of the infinite detail that is on the board.

Like this astronomer, surrounded by his books and charts.

It must be a lifetime's work that has gone into this.

Close by was a large Sean of the Dead zombie game, played out in what looked like a typical British town.

Another game jam-packed with details (and zombies...)

Including two fellas who looked suspiciously like two chaps from Hot Fuzz.

The Rotherham wargamers had brought along a game of the defence of Rorke's Drift:

The hospital wasn't burning when I first passed by. An excellent table,but slightly marred by the fact that Rorke's Drift is actually surrounded by scrubland, rather than desert...

Next up was a massive game of Arthurian Romano British versus Early Saxon using Dux Britanarrium rules on what looked like Hadrian's Wall.

Another board packed with details and a pleasure to look at!

As it is the centenary of the First World War there was a couple of themed games, like this one, which was an attack on the Suez Canal in 1915:

An RFC FE2B was also in attendance over the battle.

There wasn't many re-enactors, but the Roman ones had brought a mighty set of helmets with them!

And Peter Pig demonstrated a 'gamette' of PBI, which has a new edition, apparently.

Another impressive board was based on the 3rd Afghan War of 1919, which what appeared to be the siege of a fortress. 

Very interesting terrain!

The show is spread over three floors, the top ones being taken up largely by competition gamers, but there was a couple of other large scale games going on, like this ancient siege:

And this one from the Wars of the Spanish Succession:

It's always good to see massive games being played.

I didn't buy too much this year, as I am on a budget, but I managed to get some more bits for Stalingrad, including some stuff from Peter Pig and the Plastic Soldier Company. Plus some dice, paints and a bit of scatter scenery for my First World War figures.You'll see this lot in the next few weeks, as I work my way through them...

Speaking of scenery, I am selling pre-painted rubble in three different colours on Ebay, please take a look HERE.

Thanks for reading!