Thursday, 29 June 2017

Chasseurs of the Old Guard

I have been slack with the blog posts over the last couple of weeks and I shall tell you now, it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better again! 

Why? Well, in just over two weeks I get married, so with all hands to the pump for the big day, I have not been able to get much work done on the Waterloo project. That said, I did complete a brigade of the Chasseurs of the Old Guard, so things are moving forward, even if slowly.

This is a full brigade of four regiments, all in column (I like how it looks now and wish I had done my other French infantry like this... Ah well, III Corps may have a few columns in amongst the brigades...).

As with the other Guard brigades, this is another big hitter. 8 Elan, along with the steady, skirmish and shock traits all combine to make them as hard as nails!

So with this brigade, I now have three of the Guards brigades complete, but the rest will have to wait until after the wedding and the honeymoon, so maybe late August?

I did forget in the last couple of posts to keep the running count of 6mm figures painted, so here is the new total: 3,045!

Speaking of the wedding, our first wedding present arrived last week from an American friend who can't be there, unfortunately.

It's a cat tank and our very own little Obersturmmbanfuhrer Michael Kittmann loves it!

And just to wrap up in other gaming news it was my other half's birthday last week as well, so I bought her a few books and this game, Mansions of Madness. We've yet to play it, but it seems interesting with the use of a mobile phone app to aid in playing!

Hopefully we'll get a game soon and I shall report on how it went!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Grenadiers of the Middle Guard

Following on from the Old Guard Grenadiers the next Blücher unit I finished is the Middle Guard Grenadiers. It is formed of the 3rd and 4th Middle Guard Grenadier regiments. The 3rd Regiment was formed in Holland as the Royal Guard when Napoleon's brother Louis was crowned King of Holland. When Holland became part of France in 1810 it became the 3rd Regiment of Grenadiers of the Guard. It was then disbanded in 1813 and reformed in 1815 just in time for the 100 Days Campaign. 

The 4th Regiment was raised in May of 1815 to bolster the numbers of the unit. However, this unit is understrength in Blücher terms, so only one Battalion of the 4th are represented here.

This aside the unit is another big hitter, with 8 Elan, shock and skirmishers!

However, in real life, this didn't stop them from collapsing under the pressure of Anglo-Allied firepower in the dying moments of the Battle of Waterloo.

This should be another good unit to field and will certainly give their opponents something to think about, unless they get ganged up on!!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Grenadiers of the Guard

As it is the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo today, normal Blücher service has resumed as the next batch of Baccus figures marched through the letterbox recently. I thought it was about time that I added the Imperial Guard to the French forces and in line with the anniversary of the battle here are the Grenadiers of the Old Guard. This Brigade consists of the 1st and 2nd Régiment de Grenadiers.

To make the Guard different from the rest of the army, I have put these figures in column, rather than firing lines. Although the Guard spent most of their time running away during the Battle of Waterloo,the classic image of them is of attacking, hence the columns.

This a heavy hitting unit, with the shock, skirmishers, and steady characteristics, along with an Elan of 8!

Mind you, in the real world, that didn't stop them from collapsing under Allied pressure at the end of the Battle of Waterloo. That's what happens when you stand around all battle waiting for the rest of the army to do the work for you, before delivering the coup-de-grace...

I am looking forward to finishing the entire Guard Corps, as it will be a spectacular sight, I am sure!

And finally as a follow on from the Bullecourt post, here are the official site photos as taken by the amazing Harvey Mills. Click this link for the full roll of film: 

Amazing pictures, I am sure you'll agree. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Ex Joan of Arc, Bullecourt 2017

There were no blog post last week as I was in France working at Bullecourt for an excavation run jointly by Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage. Both of these groups use archaeology to give wounded, injured and sick (WIS) soldiers new skills and help their rehabilitation, especially those suffering from PTSD. I was there as archaeology supervisor and the project was centred around locating some of the tanks which went into action with the Australian forces that attacked the Hindeburg Line in April 1917. I will not give a full description of the battle, but click this LINK to read more about the operation. 

One of the research aims of 'Ex Joan of Arc' (as the project was known) was to see if we could locate tank remains of Lt Skinner's vehicle, a rare Mark II, numbered D23 796, and destroyed by German fire on the 11th of April 1917. From aerial photos we knew the location after the battle of the tank, so this was the obvious place to look! 

Skinner's Tank after the Battle of Bullecourt

However, on arrival in France, our first act was to visit the sexiest lady on the Western Front, Deborah D51. This tank had been recovered near Flesquières in 1998 and currently housed in a barn, for more information click HERE.

Then we had a quick look at the memorials in and around Bullecourt:

Including the Diggers memorial for the Australian infantry who were involved in the April 1917 operation.

Using the geophysical survey readouts we located the archaeological trench, directly over what we thought would be the Hindenburg Line. Then work began and almost immediately unearthed a piece of tank! It may not look like much but it's the chain link from the gear systems within the behemoths. It also appears that it has some battle damage inflicted on it.

First World War battlefields are littered with dangerous materiel, this one was no different, and we unearthed a German stick grenade. This was still live and it was the task of our EOD cover to remove it to a safe place. It was not the last one we found either...

With the clay under the topsoil being baked solid from hot days and a dry winter, we had to get a machine in to remove the earth down to archaeological layers. Having done so, this mysterious object emerged and many theories about what it could be were being thrown about!

It wasn't long before we knew exactly what we were dealing with, the mysterious object was several links of tank track!

Meanwhile, work in the rest of the trench continued, cleaning back the natural clay earth a single shell crater was obvious in the centre. Also on the left you can see the dark grey clay where the tank track lay. But, no Hindenburg Line! The geophysical survey must have picked up the remains of the tank, this shellhole and the Elephant Iron, as we were supposed to be directly on top of what looked like a stretch of German trench in the results!

The veterans worked hard on cleaning up the tank tracks to reveal them for the first time in a century.

Beyond all expectations, the track also had a 'spud' attached for manoeuvring over rough ground. It's the large blob about half way along the right hand side of the track. 

Meanwhile at the south end of the trench, work was progressing on some large Elephant Iron sheets. These appeared to be laid in a large shell crater and had possibly been dumped there after the war.

In the baking sun the track was cleaned to a very high standard by the volunteers.

As were the Elephant Iron sheets. They may be covering something, like a bunker, bodies or explosives, but we were not to find out as time was against us and they were just outside the area we had been allowed to excavate by the local DRAC (French equivalent of a County Archaeologist).

As the end of the week was looming, it was all hands to the pump to get the track cleaned ready for recording (and to show it off to the local mayor and other dignitaries!).

Finally the track was clean enough to record. The scale is 2m long.

This included some daring dos, by our official photographer Harvey:

Then came the time to lift the track, this was helped by the farmer Didier's tractor and some large chains.

Underneath the track we also uncovered the remains of two German soldiers (I have no photos of them as we were trying to control their images getting out on the net until official release). We dealt with the soldiers to the highest of professional standards, it took two days to excavate their remains and most of the soldiers stayed on site to guard their brothers in arms overnight.

With the soldiers recovered we headed home, stopping off at the impressive Indian Memorial at Neuve Chapelle:

And from the Haynes Manual on the Mark IV tank here is where the chain link that we first found would be located (number 21).

And a picture of the individual track links that we found. There was even some paint remains on the underside of one of the tracks. This was amazing as the surviving First World War tanks have been repainted numerous times, so no one is entirely sure of what colour they originally were. The release of this information will have to wait until Harvey has Pantoned the paint fragments, but it's very exciting!

All in all, one of the best and most successful excavations I have been involved with in France. Not only did we find exactly what we had set out to find (a tank!) and recovered two lost soldiers who will be reburied in a military cemetery, but the involvement of the veterans made it all the more special. This project demonstrates exactly the good work that archaeology can do to men recovering from some of the worst stresses that combat can throw at them. 

Photo thanks to Harvey Mills

And why was the project called Exercise Joan of Arc? Well, the commander of the Australian 48th Battalion (which took part in the 1917 battle) was Lt Col Ray Leane, who also had other members of his family scattered through the unit. The battalion was known as the Joan of Arc Battalion as it seemed to be 'made of all Leans' (Maid of Orleans)... Who says war is miserable?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Judges Dredd and Anderson

Continuing the theme of Judge Dredd I turned my attention to the figures that I bought in the Warlord Games sale a few months ago.  The first two out of the bag were the Judges Dredd and Anderson.

Here's Judge Dredd in a typically dramatic pose.

You  may notice the base. I was inspired by Ninjasaurus Rex's colonial Marines and Genestealers that he had put on individual bases using embossed plasticard. I experimented with this figure did the same. I am happy with the result and wish I had done the same with all the other Judge Dredd figures I have completed so far...

Next up is Psi Judge Anderson, another famous Judge from the comics.

I also put Anderson on a plasticard base, this time to look like rockcrete paving slabs. Again, I am pleased with the result, so all my remaining JD figures will be done like this.

I have a fair few more Judges and Perps to work my way through, so this project has not ended yet! But the Mega-City is getting populated pretty quickly.

I am off to France for a week this Saturday, so don't expect any new posts until I get back!

Thanks for reading!