French Napoleonic Reinforcements

Since getting back into my first wargaming love of Napoleonics in 2015, thanks to our Waterloo Bicentennial games, I’ve been steadily working my way through the lead-pile.  In 2015 this stood at around 2,000 unpainted 15mm AB Figures Napoleonics.

Thanks to painting 1,000 or so figures for Waterloo and around another 2,000 since, I’ve now managed to reduce my pile of unpainted AB Napoleonics to… around 2,000 figures…

I really need to stop buying more… 🙁

One of my major objectives after Waterloo was to build up sufficient French and Austrian forces for the 1809 Danube Campaign.  The main task was to paint LOTS of Austrians, as I only had a small Austrian army in my collection, but I also needed to expand my French army in pretty much all areas.  I’ve also been expanding my Young Guard for later campaigns, so I’ll cover those in a separate piece.

Note that all of my troops are organised for Napoleon’s Battles rules, whereby each unit represents a brigade or large regiment and each figure represents about 100 men.  Rather than trying to represent every uniform present in a brigade (which I’ve seen done, but looks messy), I paint a single battalion or regiment from that brigade to represent the brigade as a whole.  Unless otherwise stated, all models are by AB Figures, sculpted by Tony Barton and painted by me:

Above: The 9th Light Infantry Regiment.

Above:  The 10th Light Infantry Regiment.  At first glance these look exactly the same as the 9th, though there are subtle differences in cuff detail, headgear, epaulettes and gaiter-trim.

Above: The 7th Chasseur a Cheval Regiment.

Above:  The 4th Cuirassier Regiment.  I have actually cheated here slightly, by painting them in their 1810 uniform with ‘aurore’ (pinkish-orange) facings.  Up until 1810 the Cuirassiers only had scarlet or ‘jonquil’ yellow facings.  Scarlet was worn by the 1st to 6th Regiments, while jonquil was worn by the 7th to 12th Regiments.  In 1810 that changed to scarlet for the 1st to 3rd, aurore for the 4th to 6th, jonquil for the 7th to 9th and pink for the 10th to 12th.

The trouble with Cuirassiers in historical refights is that they were generally either completely absent, or they were ALL there en masse (along with the brigade of Carabiniers)!  So you need a ton of the things for those relatively rare moments where the Reserve Cavalry Corps is committed.  This is my sixth and final brigade of French Cuirassiers.  In 1809 all the Cuirassier and Carabinier brigades were very strong, so I’ve also been painting up extra bases of Cuirassiers for my pre-existing units.

Above:  The 5th Hussar Regiment.  All the French Hussar regiments have gorgeous uniforms, but the 5th has to be my favourite of the lot.  However, while the basic uniform details of sky-blue breeches, sky-blue dolman, white pelisse and yellow braid is easy to discover, exact details of headgear and trumpeters’ uniform are much harder to find!  Note that Tony Barton generally depicts figures in ‘field dress’, so the Hussars are wearing their pelisses as jackets, instead of slinging them over the left shoulder as a cape.  I think this is a shame, as I’d like to see the contrasting colour of the dolman.  ah well…

Above:  The 5th Hussars again.  I must admit that I’ve cheated here slightly, as I’ve depicted them in the uniform recorded for 1805-1808, which featured sky-blue shakos with black trim and trumpeters in scarlet uniforms with white shakos and yellow plumes.  By 1809, the shakos for the rank and file had changed to plain black and the trumpeters were wearing ‘reversed colours’, with sky-blue shakos and white plumes.  Note that as with all AB Figures cavalry in ‘charging’ poses, they often benefit from a bit of arm-bending, so that some are pointing their sabres at the enemy.  Some careful plume-bending can also look good, as here.

Above:  The 1st (Polish) Light Horse Lancers of the Guard.  In 1809 these were actually simply ‘Light Horse’ and didn’t become Lancers until a year or so later.  However, AB don’t do the correct figures for 1809, so these will do for now, as we need them for subsequent campaigns.

Above:  One of the Lancers had a mis-moulded lance, so I decided to convert him into an Eaglebearer with the help of a drill, some brass wire and the Eagle cut from a spare infantry Eaglebearer.  I think he looks rather nice and I now wish I’d done the same for the 2nd (Red) Lancers! 🙁

Above:  For some reason I had a load of spare Guard Lancer officers knocking around, so I painted some as Duchy of Warsaw generals and this one specifically as General Krasinski; some time commander of the 1st (Polish) Light Horse Lancers of the Guard and latterly a Guard cavalry brigade commander.  Even as a general, he typically wore a sumptuous version of the full dress ‘gala’ uniform of the Guard Polish Lancers, as shown here.

Above:  For the Italian theatre of the 1809 Campaign and for the Battle of Wagram, I needed a model for General Grouchy, in his role as commander of a corps of Dragoons.  Grouchy has in latter years attracted something of a bad reputation, thanks to Bonapartist propaganda slating his performance as a Marshal during the Waterloo Campaign.  However, in earlier campaigns and particularly in 1809, he proved himself as an extremely capable cavalry commander

 Above: Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy.  Although not a Marshal of the Empire and having almost no military experience, Eugene, as Napoleon’s adopted son, was given an independent command as commander of the Army of Italy.  After a shaky start, Eugene surprised everyone by not only defeating an Austrian invasion but also then pursuing the Austrian army back into Hungary before joining Napoleon at Vienna and playing a decisive part in the subsequent victory at Wagram.  He also proved to be a very popular civil governor of northern Italy – sometimes nepotism works!

Above:  Eugene is frequently depicted in a Marshal’s-style blue uniform, heavily laced with gold and with white Marshal’s ostrich-feathers edging his hat.  However, I’ve depicted him here in the green uniform prescribed for him as Viceroy of Italy.  I’m not sure if he was actually wearing this in 1809, but this seems to have been the uniform he wore at Borodino in 1812 and it does mark him out as a commander of Italian troops.  With him is an Italian staff officer (green uniform, faced sky blue), an Italian line infantry colonel in regimental uniform and a French staff officer in a sky blue concoction of his own (based on a uniform worn by Baron Lejeune).

Most of these models come from the AB Figures Napoleon & Staff set.  Had I realised it at the time, I could also have included a Mameluke manservant, as according to a painting on the wall at Fontainebleau Chateau, Eugene had a Mameluke manservant, just like his step-dad. I have a spare Roustan from the Napoleon set, so will add him at some point in the future!

Above:  Lastly, we have Marshal Bessieres, resplendent in his typical uniform; the ‘undress’ uniform of a Colonel of the Guard Chasseurs a Cheval.  He is escorted by a pair of Guard Chasseurs in full dress and a dismounted Chasseur officer, in undress like his boss.

The Bessieres figure is actually one of a set of Marshal Murat figures by a talented new sculptor from Estonia called Sho Boki.  Although Sho Boki’s sculpting isn’t quite up to Mr Barton’s standard, he is rapidly catching up with the great man and his models fit in with AB Figures extremely well.  The two Chasseur escorts are taken from the AB Napoleon & Staff set, while the dismounted officer figure is actually an officer of the Sailors of the Guard (I had one spare) and his horse is taken from an AB French ADC set.

Anyway, that’s it for now!  🙂

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 4 Comments

‘Going Dutch’: Building a Cold War Dutch Battlegroup (Part 2)

This week I’ve been painting more Cold War Cloggies!  As discussed in Part 1, I’m adding a Dutch force to my 15mm Cold War collection and am presently building up models to create an Armoured Infantry Battalion or Tank Battalion Battlegroup circa 1984, equipped with Leopard 1-V tanks and YPR-765 Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles.  I would also like at some point, to expand the army to include YP-408 wheeled APCs, Centurion Mk 5/2 tanks and Leopard 2A4 tanks as options, as these were all in service during my chosen year.

In so doing, Hans Boersma’s superb Netherlands Armed Forces Order of Battle 1985 website has been invaluable and I’ve relied on it heavily in creating my own wargame organisations for Battlefront: First Echelon (my slowly evolving Cold War adaptation of Fire & Fury Games’ Battlefront: WWII wargame rules).

Hans has very kindly taken the trouble to critique, correct and enhance my last missive, so here are the main points from that discussion:

1.  The Leopard 1-V did in fact have a laser-rangefinder like the German Leopard 1A5, so was more advanced than the Leopard 1A1A1.  However, the small ‘bulges’ housing the coincidence-rangefinder lenses remained in situ on the turret sides (they were removed and blanked off on the Leopard 1A5).  The laser rangefinder was very good when it worked, but frequently didn’t work, which was one of the main problems with the Leopard 1-V.  The Leopard 1-V lacked the advanced thermal-imaging system of the Leopard 1A5, though did have an image-intensification system.

2.  Dutch infantry berets of the 1980s were khaki-brown!  I’d painted the berets of my vehicle-commanders ‘petrol’, which is a dark blue-green shade.  As Hans points out, ‘petrol’ berets are a far more modern uniform-change.  I think I’m correct in saying that the combat-support arms (artillery, engineers, etc) who now wear ‘petrol’ berets, also had khaki during the 1980s.  Tank and recce units wore black berets, while the Commandos (not to be confused with the Marine Corps) wore grass-green berets and the Marine Corps wore very dark blue berets with red half-moon patches behind the cap-badge (just like British Royal Marines who are not Commando-trained, in fact).

Thanks Hans!  And so to the new stuff…

A pair of Dutch M113 C&V 25

Unique to the Royal Netherlands Army, the M113 C&V 25 was the army’s standard armoured recce vehicle, used by Armoured Recce Battalions and the Brigade Recce Platoons of Armoured Brigades and Armoured Infantry Brigades.  ‘C&V’ stands for Commando & Verkenningen or ‘Command & Reconnaissance’, while the ’25’ indicates the upgraded version, armed with a 25mm cannon.  This vehicle, like the very similar US Army M114 C&R Carrier and the Canadian M113 C&R Lynx, was based on the ubiquitous M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier and was mechanically identical.  In principle this served to ease problems of logistics and maintenance, but at the time the Dutch had very few M113-based vehicles, as their main APC type was the AMX-13 VTT.  However, M113s were part of the Armoured Recce Battalion organisation and when YPR-765 arrived in 1975, they were also mechanically-compatible.

A .50 Cal-armed M113 C&V

The M113 C&V was originally purchased by the Royal Netherlands army during the 1960s, but then was armed with a Browning M2 .50 Cal HMG.  The very first few vehicles were equipped with the same cupola as the M113 APC, but all were then upgraded to the M26 Cupola (as fitted to the YPR-765 PRCO-C1 and Canadian Lynx), which allowed the gunner-observer to aim and fire the HMG from under armour.  The vehicle commander was also usually armed with an FN MAG 7.62mm MG on a pintle-mount next to his hatch at the front-right corner of the vehicle.

On the surface, the basic M113 C&V appears identical to the Canadian M113 C&R Lynx.  While they are essentially identical in mechanical terms, there are some significant differences in terms of crew-layout:  Primarily the Canadian Army wanted the vehicle commander to be seated behind the driver and alongside the observer-gunner, so the commander’s station and hatch were moved from the front-right of the vehicle to the rear-left.  This hatch was then armed with a pintle-mounted Browning C4 7.62mm MG.  The gunner-observer’s cupola was also shifted forward and to the right, in order to give the commander more space at the vehicle’s rear.  The gull-wing crew-hatch on the right side of the vehicle was also deleted from the Canadian version.

A Canadian M113 C&R Lynx by QRF Models. Note the different hatch-arrangement

In 1974 the decision was taken to upgrade the M113 C&V’s armament to the same Oerlikon 25mm cannon as that fitted to the YPR-765, which was then being adopted into service as the army’s new standard infantry-carrier.  However, unlike the YPR-765’s conventional turret design, the cannon would be mounted in a radical ‘overhead’ mount, very much like the 20mm cannon turret fitted to the German Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle.  The upgraded vehicles were re-designated as the M113 C&V 25

I’ve used the Team Yankee M113 C&V 25 models here, but QRF, The Plastic Soldier Company and Butler’s Printed Models also produce them.  If you want to create the original 1960s/70s M113 C&V, swap the Oerlikon turret with an M26 Cupola (each Team Yankee YPR-765 box includes 1x M26 Cupola) and add an FN MAG (the Team Yankee plastic Leopard 1 box includes pintle FN MAGs).

In terms of organisation, during the 1980s Brigade Recce Platoons had three patrols, each of 2x M113 C&V 25.  The Platoon HQ then had a single M113A1, an FN-MAG-armed Land Rover and a pair of Carl Gustav 84mm MAWs.

Armoured Recce Battalions meanwhile, were organised according to the ‘Fight For Information’ doctrine also followed by the USA and West Germany, as opposed to the ‘Sneak & Peek’ doctrine followed by the UK, Belgium and Canada.  This meant that they had a mixture of light recce vehicles and main battle tanks in the same sub-units.

Each Recce Battalion had three Squadrons, each with an HQ containing 1x M113 C&V 25, 1x M577 Armoured Command Vehicle, 2x M113A1 fitted with ground-surveillance radar and three identical Recce Platoons.  Each Recce Platoon had an HQ of 1x M113 C&V 25, two patrols, each with 2x M113 C&V 25, an infantry section with 1x M113 APC and mortar section with 1x M106 107mm mortar carrier and a tank section with 2x tanks (initially AMX-13/105, replaced during the 1970s by Leopard 1 and Leopard 2A4 being adopted by the 103rd and 105th Battalions during the 1980s).

YPR-765 PRRDR Radar Reconnaissance Vehicle, converted from a Team Yankee model

Close reconnaissance duties within Tank Battalions and Armoured Infantry Battalions were normally performed by their own organic Recce Platoons.  These were organised identically, having an HQ with 2x Land Rovers and 3x motorcycles, plus two patrols, each consisting of 2x Land Rovers armed with FN MAG and lastly, a trio of YPR-765 PRRDR radar reconnaissance vehicles.  In Armoured Infantry Battalions equipped with YP-408 APCs, the radar reconnaissance vehicles were YP-408 PWRDR.

YPR-765 PRRDR Radar Reconnaissance Vehicle

My ‘wargames standard’ conversion of the YPR-765 PRRDR was a simple job – simply a rectangle of plastic cut to the dimensions of the ZB-298 radar antenna, drilled out and attached to a length of brass wire, which was then inserted into a hole drilled in the left-hand side antenna mount of a Team Yankee YPR-765 model.  In reality, the mount was a little more complicated, as the antenna was also fitted with a folding tripod to allow dismounted operation of the radar.  This tripod would be folded flat alongside the vehicle post-mount.

The ‘official’ cupola for these vehicles was the standard M113-style cupola with pintle-mounted .50 Cal, so I’ve taken a spare cupola from a Team Yankee M113 plastic kit.  However, I’ve also seen photos of these fitted with M26 Cupolas, so you could add one of those instead.  Note that the red & black diamond on the radar antenna is a radiation hazard warning sticker; the same sticker would be found on the radar antennae of other vehicles such as the PRTL flak-tank.

And so to the infantry:

QRF and PSC also produce specific Dutch figures, but I’ve opted for the Armoured Infantry Platoon pack from Team Yankee.  A platoon for Team Yankee roughly equates to a company for First Echelon, so this works out rather well.  However, while the modelling is good, the production quality was fairly poor for this pack, with lots of flash, a few bent/broken rifles and one mis-moulded figure minus a leg!

The selection of poses is also fairly boring, with three identically-posed Carl Gustav 84mm MAW teams and an over-representation of pointing/shouting/waving/radio-operating ‘command’-style figures.  Overall, in my opinion this pack is nowhere near as good as the Team Yankee East German infantry pack, which were the last Team Yankee figures I painted.  That said, all the trimming, filing and fixing has paid off and I’m pleased with the finished result.

Up until the late 1980s/early 1990s, the standard Dutch combat uniform was plain olive-drab, the shade of which faded to a slightly greyish-green though not as grey-green as West German or Canadian uniforms.  I’ve used Humbrol 86 Olive Green, mixed with a little white for highlight.  After this they switched to a new uniform made from British Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) camouflage.  National flag badges were sometimes worn on the shoulders, so I’ve painted them here simply in order to break up the green monotony!  The national flag badges became standard with the change to DPM uniforms.

As for equipment, Dutch webbing equipment was made of olive drab canvas material that very closely matched the colour of the uniform.  However, I’ve opted to paint the webbing in Humbrol 155 US Olive Drab, just to pick it out a little from the general uniform colour.  Dutch Army boots were brown leather, while the Marine Corps wore black boots.  The Army switched to black boots during the 1990s.

The helmets are something of a sore point… Dutch troops during this period were equipped with a US M1 helmet, which was then to be covered in hessian sacking.  The hessian would then be camouflaged (with varying degrees of success) by the individual soldier, using brown boot-polish and green ‘webbing-polish’ (what the British Army would call ‘Blanco’).  This would then be topped off with an olive drab scrim net, all held in place with a rubber band made from a tyre inner-tube.

However, Team Yankee haven’t modelled them with the all-important scrim-net, just a cloth/hessian cover!  I tried doing some with the camouflage, but it looked too bold without the subduing effects of the hessian material, scrim-net and general weathering, so I wasn’t happy with them at all.  From a few photos in 1980s-vintage books, Dutch troops from a distance generally look as though they’re wearing sand-coloured helmet covers, so I decided in the end to go with Humbrol 155 US Olive Drab, highlighted with Humbrol 83 Ochre.  In retrospect, these do look a bit too light and a light brown might be a better colour than ochre… 🙁   Lastly, the helmets were finished off with their rubber band in Humbrol 67 Dark Grey.

As for weaponry, the standard small-arms for the Royal Dutch Army during this period were the FN FAL 7.62mm Rifle, the FN MAG 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun and a smattering of Uzi 9mm Sub-Machine Guns for vehicle crews, senior officers and supporting roles (the same combination as the Belgian and Luxembourg Armies, in fact).  Dutch FN FALs retained the original varnished wood stocks, whereas NATO users of the period had tended to go over to black plastic or black wood-stain on their weapons.

Other infantry weapons included the M72 66mm LAW, the Carl Gustav 84mm Recoilless Rifle and the M47 Dragon Anti-Tank Guided Weapon.  I generally use Humbrol 155 US Olive Drab for the LAWs and Dragons and a darker green (Humbrol 116 US Green) for the Carl Gustavs.  The Dragons also have black/dark grey foam ‘bumpers’ on the ends of the tube and around the tracker/sight unit.

In a moment of weakness, I also bought a pack of Team Yankee Dutch Stinger SAM teams.  This is slightly cheating for my chosen period of 1984, as the Dutch Army didn’t actually form Stinger units until 1985, when they added 3x Stingers to each Armoured Anti-Aircraft Platoon (essentially pairing each PRTL flak-tank with a Stinger).  However, the Stingers had already been delivered in 1984, so had a war happened, they would no doubt have been deployed.

However, had I thought about this for a moment, I would have realised that this pack contains NINE Stinger teams, which is a WHOLE BRIGADE’S WORTH of Stingers at 1:1 ratio and would require an equal number of PRTLs on the table!  The typical allocation for a battlegroup would be a single platoon of 3x PRTL and 3x Stinger, so what on earth were Team Yankee thinking…?  It’s even worse for me, as at 1:3 ratio I now have a whole division’s-worth of Stingers…  Ah well, some are already being painted as US Stinger teams and I’ll probably paint some more as Danes and some more (with head-swaps) as British SAS Stingers for the Falklands.  The other issue is that this pack contains yet more people pointing, waving, gesticulating, shouting and talking into radios… 🙁

Anyway, that’s enough for now!  We had another Cold War clash in Schleswig-Holstein last week, so I’ll report on that soon.  I’ve also finished a load of US Cold War kit and have finished the rest of the YPR-765s for the Cloggies.  I’m now back to painting 10mm Confederates for a game next week and have a lot more Napoleonic stuff to post, so watch this space…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Cold War, NATO Armies, Painted Units | 5 Comments

Refighting Operation ALAN: The Welsh Victory, 22-29 October 1944

From 22-28 October 1944, the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, with supporting elements from 7th Armoured Division, 79th Armoured Division and 33rd Armoured Brigade, won a remarkable (and now largely forgotten) victory at the Dutch city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

The city (whose name is often shortened to ‘Den Bosch’) was home to a German parachute training regiment and following the Allied breakout from France, had been designated as a ‘Fortress’ by the Fuehrer, to be held at all costs.  The garrison of the Fortress became a painful thorn in the side of the Allied Operation MARKET-GARDEN during September 1944 and following the failure of that operation, remained a major threat to the left flank of the resultant ‘Nijmegen Salient’.  With the loss of Nijmegen, the city now became the main supply hub for the German LXXXVIII Korps south of the River Maas.

In order to consolidate the gains made by I Airborne Corps and XXX Corps during MARKET-GARDEN, the Allied 21st Army Group now began a series of operations to expand the Nijmegen Salient and clear all German forces from the left bank of the Maas.  Starting on 30th September, the British VIII Corps launched Operation AINTREE, attacking east from the salient to take the cities of Overloon and Venraij.  Then, a few days later and far to the west, the British I Corps and Canadian II Corps attacked north from Antwerp, to clear the approaches to South Beveland and the north bank of the Scheldt Estuary.  This was closely followed by Operation SWITCHBACK; an assault by 3rd Canadian Infantry Division against the ‘Breskens Pocket’, to clear the south bank of the Scheldt Estuary.

With the Germans already reeling from these successive and ongoing operations in the west and east, the British XII Corps now launched a further series of assaults in the centre, striking west from the Nijmegen Salient, with the intention of taking ‘s-Hertogenbosch and isolating, then destroying the LXXXVIII Korps (see map above).

General Bobby Ross, GOC 53rd (Welsh) Division

As the 15th (Scottish) and 51st (Highland) Divisions launched frontal assaults against the towns of Tilburg, Boxtel and Vught, General Bobby Ross’ 53rd (Welsh) Division would take the prize of ‘s-Hertogenbosch by launching his assault from what would hopefully be an unexpected direction, thus driving in the left flank of the LXXXVIII Korps.

Attacking from the north-east, 53rd (Welsh) Division would push down the main ‘s-Hertogenbosh to Nijmegen road and railway, which ran along a strip of slightly higher, drier and heavily wooded land, with soggy polder land on each flank.  This gave the division a frontage of approximately 4km in which to deploy, narrowing to 1km near the city – not ideal, but far better than the sort of frontages that had been available to XXX Corps during MARKET-GARDEN.

160 Brigade would attack on the right, straddling the railway.  The 2nd Monmouthshire Regiment (2 Mons) would advance on the right (north) of the railway, along CUP Route through Kruisstraat and Rosmalen.  The 4th Welch Regiment (4 Welch) would advance on the left (south) of the railway, along SPUR Route, through Nuland and Molenbeek.  The 6th Royal Welch Fusiliers (6 RWF) would form the brigade reserve.  Each battalion would also be supported by the Cromwell tanks of 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (5 Skins – 7th Armoured Division – minus ‘B’ Squadron), divisional engineers and specialist armour (Crocodiles, AVREs and Crab Flails) from 79th Armoured Division to deal with the numerous fortifications and obstacles.

71 Brigade would attack on the left of 160 Brigade.  The 1st Highland Light Infantry (1 HLI) would be on the right of the brigade, astride PAN Route, which was the main road to Nijmegen.  On the left flank were 4 RWF and in brigade reserve were the 1st Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (1 Ox & Bucks).  Again, the brigade was supported by large quantities of specialist armour from 79th Armoured Division, as well as divisional assets and the Cromwells of ‘B’ Squadron, 5th Royal Tank Regiment (5 RTR – 7th Armoured Division).

158 Brigade, consisting of 7 RWF, the 1st East Lancashire Regiment (1 E Lancs) and 1/5 Welch, formed the divisional reserve.  1 E Lancs were given a special tasking, designated Operation SAUCEPAN.  The battalion would be mounted in the Ram Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers of 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Squadron (this would be the Ram Kangaroo’s combat debut) and would have the brigade’s massed Wasp flamethrower carriers, ‘B’ Squadron 5 Skins, ‘A’ Squadron 53 Recce Regiment and yet more specialist armour and divisional assets under direct command.  The plan was that once one of the leading infantry brigades had opened one of the three main routes into the city, Operation SAUCEPAN would spring into action, with the 1 E Lancs Battlegroup launching a rapier-like, narrow armoured thrust down that route and into the heart of the city.

Operation ALAN as it appeared on our tabletop at Bovington in 2010, showing the primary German defended positions and entrenchments (this area is shown as a rectangle on the map above).

On the extreme left of the operation, 7th Armoured Division, led by 161 (Queen’s) Infantry Brigade, would advance up the north bank of the Zuid-Willems Canal.  The Sherman tanks of the 1st East Riding Yeomanry (1 ERY), of 33 Armoured Brigade would also be fed into the battle as it developed.

All of this was to attack behind ample artillery preparation and a detailed fire-plan, allied to pre-planned Wing-sized RAF Typhoon strikes on likely enemy forming-up points and further Typhoons available on call to attack targets of opportunity.

Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Neumann, GOC 712th Infantry Division

On the German side, Generalleutnant Freidrich-Wilhem Neumann’s 712th Infantry Division was deployed in depth, with six battalion-sized groups deployed on the north-east approaches to the city, through which the 53rd (Welsh) Division would have to fight.  Fusilier Battalion 712 was deployed forward at Nuland, covering a wide antitank ditch and minefield.  The two battalions of Grenadier Regiment 732 were then dug in south of the railway at Malenkamp and Molenhoek, while the 1st Battalion of Grenadier Regiment 745 was dug in north of the railway at Kruisstraat, supported by Training & Replacement Battalion 347 at Rosmalen.  As a final back-stop, the 3rd Battalion of Parachute Training Regiment 3 held the suburb of Hintham and Fort Alexander.  The other two battalions of Parachute Training Regiment 3 were positioned to block the advance of 7th Armoured Division up the Zuid-Willems Canal.

The above elements were supported by a weak artillery regiment, numerous flak and towed anti-tank guns and a small number of obsolete self-propelled guns.  As the battle developed, these were reinforced by additional infantry, StuGs and Jagdpanthers from LXXXVIII Korps.  The remainder of 712th Division (primarily the 2nd Battalion of Grenadier Regiment 745 and large numbers of Flak and rear-echelon troops) was held back in reserve, behind the ancient moats of the city itself.

This then, was the general outline scenario that I wrote for our annual game at The Tank Museum, Bovington.  Richard de Ferrars then kindly visited the Public Records Office at Kew and dragged out a stack of new information, including War Diaries for all the units involved, Brigade Orders, artillery fire-plans, etc, etc, resulting in a complete re-write of the scenario… The ‘full-fat’ scenario can be found on the Battlefront: WWII Scenarios Page.

Historically, the battle was an overwhelming Allied victory, with the 712th Division being utterly destroyed during a week of hard fighting.  As in our refight, it took 53rd (Welsh) Division two days to reach the walls of the city.  Operation SAUCEPAN, always a risky plan, proved to be a failure, but the Cromwells of 5 Skins somehow managed to infiltrate themselves between German positions by driving along the embanked railway line!  The appearance of British tanks in their rear broke German resistance west of the city.

On the night of 23/24 October, the Welsh Division successfully crossed the canals and moats and established a bridgehead within the ancient city walls.  The Germans’ problems were further exacerbated by 51st (Highland) Division’s advance on Vught, only a few miles south of the city, which was crushing the weak German 59th Infantry Division.  On the 25th and 26th, the Welsh Division continued to advance through the city, fighting bitterly from house-to-house and street-to-street, with a few canal-locks and bridges being the focal points of the most bitter fighting.  With tank ammunition running low, even truck-mounted Bofors anti-aircraft guns were brought up to provide direct fire-support to the infantry!

Despite the fall of Vught to the 51st (Highland) Division on the 26th, General Neumann still refused to surrender and on the 27th launched a last-ditch counter-attack… The German counter-attack was slaughtered and the back of German resistance in the city was broken.  German casualties are difficult to calculate, but they had lost at least 1,700 men dead and taken prisoner.  The 53rd (Welsh) Division by contrast, had suffered only 145 dead and 705 wounded, which was considerably less than predicted and far less than the typical butcher’s bill for similar Allied offensive operations on this scale.

However, the Dutch civilian populace had suffered terribly, with 253 killed and 2,100 wounded, 800 of them seriously.  Nevertheless, the Dutch people remain eternally grateful for their liberation and a memorial to 53rd (Welsh) Division, shaped like a traditional Celtic Cross, stands in the city.  I can also personally testify that as a Welshman, it is pretty hard to buy your own drink in the city! 🙂

So to the wargame… Richard de Ferrars provided most of the terrain and some of the troops, while Paddy Green and I provided lots of buildings and troops.  Martin Small excelled himself once again in converting some ‘funny’ armour for me, while Ken Natt provided some ‘specials’ for the Germans:

Above:  As the heavy and medium artillery of 3 AGRA pounds Nuland and the factory, 4 Welch Group breach the antitank ditch with the aid of AVREs, fascines, SBG bridges, bulldozers and a Churchill ARK.  The Cromwells of 5 RIDG are soon across and providing close support to the infantry.  Beyond the railway, 2 Monmouths Group advance along a very narrow corridor toward Kruisstraat.

Above:  On the British left, 1 HLI Group, supported by a squadron of 5 RTR, cross the antitank ditch and bypass Nuland; heading for Maleskamp and Coudewater.

Above:  Despite massive artillery preparation and smokescreens, the Sappers supporting 4 WELCH Group get heavily ‘stonked’ as they attempt to breach the minefields in front of Nuland.  Nevertheless, the Sappers carry out their tasks despite heavy losses and soon breach the obstacles, allowing 4 WELCH and 5 Skins to move through into Nuland and the fortified factory complex.

Above:  Hemmed in between the railway and the soggy polder land of the Maas valley, 2 MONS Group attempt to make headway along the Dyke Road to Kruisstraat, but are delayed by their own artillery barrage.

Above:  Artillery preparation on Kruisstraat causes some disruption, but the German defenders remain largely intact and wait for the British to follow up their barrage.

Above:  Grenadier-Regiment 745 is deployed in considerable depth, with a lot of heavy weaponry held in reserve – here we see the position at the Bruggen road junction.

Above:  Jagdpanthers and StuGs mass behind the ramparts of Fort Alexander, ready to mount a counter-attack. The guns of Artillerie-Regiment 1716 are deployed in the fields around Hintham and the fort.

Above:  Fort Alexander is a remnant of the outermost 18th & 19th Century defences of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but still provides a good defensive position for the waiting Fallschirmjäger.

Above:  A pre-planned strike by a squadron of Typhoons hits the Bruggen road junction. However, by sheer luck, the German commander has massed two entire flak companies in the immediate vicinity and the RAF suffers heavy losses for little gain.  The lead Typhoon pilot pulls up after delivering his bombload. His squadron-mates are not so lucky.

Above:  The Luftwaffe puts in an appearance over the battlefield.

Above:  1 HLI moves up through the woods and hedgerows towards Maleskamp. Suddenly there is contact with the enemy, as the lead Cromwell is destroyed by a waiting 88 (just off picture).

Above:  With the fighting still going on in Nuland and the factory, elements of 4 WELCH and 5 Skins bypass the defenders and push on toward ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Above:  At the tip of the advance, the leading 5 Skins Cromwell pushes warily forward into the unknown.

Above:  Füsilier-Bataillon 712 defending Nuland suffers terrible losses to artillery during the initial assault.  4 WELCH and the ‘Funnies’ make short work of the village itself and swing around to assault the southern trench-lines simultaneously from front and rear. However, the defenders of the factory are determined to go down fighting.

Above:  Now beset from all four sides, the defenders of the factory continue to hold their ground.

Above:  North of the railway, the first Cromwell to reach Kruisstraat falls victim to a German antitank gun. As the traffic jam continues to build up behind them, the British armour attempts to deploy off the Dyke Road, as infantry move up on the left. British Forward Observers and Forward Air Controllers meanwhile, attempt to find advantageous elevated positions atop the railway embankment and on industrial spoil heaps.

Above:  As the rearmost mortar positions of Füsilier-Bataillon 712 are engaged by infantry, the Cromwells push on towards the city. However, they soon run into the next German position – a strong ‘Pakfront’ of 88s, PaK 40s, self-propelled guns, Panzerschrecks and the German ‘secret weapon’… The division’s 4.2-inch mortars lay a smoke screen in front of the tanks as they attempt to deploy off the road.

Above:  The second pre-programmed British air-strike arrives, hitting the vicinity of Fort Alexander.  The German heavy armour is caught in the open as it moves forward. However, thick flak from quadruple 20mm guns puts the RAF off their aim and they cause little damage.

Above:  A Typhoon streaks low across the German armoured column.

Above:  As a Typhoon climbs out over Rosmalen, we get a good view down the long axis of the battlefield. The British are advancing from the far table edge, toward the camera.

Above:  The Luftwaffe chases the Typhoons.

Above:  Grenadier-Regiment 732 waits in Maleskamp for the British assault to reach them.

Above:  With close assistance from some AVREs, 4 WELCH finally clears the factory complex and Füsilier-Bataillon 712 is annihilated.

Above:  With the factory finally cleared, the traffic jam behind 4 WELCH finally begins to move.

Above:  At the spear-point of 4 WELCH Group’s advance, the destruction of an 88 by accurate fire from the Royal Artillery encourages the Irish cavalrymen to do something rather rash… One Cromwell soon goes down to a 75mm PaK 40, while another two (including the British squadron commander) go down to the puny 47mm gun of a Panzerjäger 35R(f).

Above:  With the leading tanks burning and their comrades under steady antitank fire, the British commander pushes up infantry and Crocodiles to take on the PaKfront.  British artillery meanwhile, pounds the German positions, but to little effect.

Above:  With several Cromwells burning in front, a Firefly now attracts enemy fire and a surviving Cromwell desperately seeks cover.  However, help is at hand as infantry from 4 WELCH and Crocodiles from 141 RAC move forward.

Above:  With Nuland cleared, General Ross decides to launch Operation SAUCEPAN! 53 RECCE is soon motoring up the southern PAN Route, with 1 E LANCS following close behind, safe in their new Kangaroos.

Above:  Part of the PaKfront in close-up – a PaK 40 is flanked by two Panzerjäger 35R(f)s, while a StuG III B covers the flank.

Above:  The ‘secret weapon’ (37mm PaK 36 on a UE 430(f)) opens up at the flank of a 5 RTR Cromwell! The Cromwell is disordered by the 37 and is then finished off by a Panzerschreck.

Above:  As Operation SAUCEPAN drives forward past Nuland, the PaKfront, having held on for as long as possible is assaulted from all sides and is annihilated.

Above:  Despite traffic jams caused by burning AFVs at the head of the column, Operation SAUCEPAN drives on through Maleskamp as the position is finally overrun by 1 HLI and 4 WELCH.  However, increasing resistance at the Coudehard Sanatorium and Windmill positions force SAUCEPAN to grind to a halt and 1 E LANCS dismounts to force the dug-in German infantry out of their trenches.

North of the railway meanwhile, 2 MONS Group was still making headway through Kruisstraat, but progress was extremely slow due to the narrow frontage and depth of the German positions.  With 1 E LANCS now becoming the main assault force south of the wailway, 4 WELCH was ordered to move north across the railway, in order to outflank the German positions.  However, the day was now coming to a close and Phase 2 of the assault would have to wait.

Some of the team (from left to right): Richard de Ferrars, Martin Small, Paul Davison, Steve Uden, Ken Natt and Mark Davies. Missing In Action are Paddy Green and Gary Loosen.  By a strange coincidence, Gary Loosen later found out that one of his relatives had died at ‘s-Hertogebosch and later attended the 70th Anniversary commemorations at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in October 2014.

 

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Bovington Show Games, Games, Netherlands & Germany Campaign 1944-45, Scenarios, World War 2 | 7 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire: The Battle of Robleston Hall

Regular readers of this blog will remember that we were following the major actions of the Very British Civil War in Little England Beyond Wales 1938.  To recap, the King’s control of west Wales collapsed in 1938, with massive Welsh Nationalist and ‘Red’ insurrection across the country, with the King’s forces managing to hold out in besieged garrisons at Cardigan, Carmarthen, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Brecon and Crickhowell, as well as in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan and in the isolated enclave of Pembrokeshire.

However, insurrection was also brewing in the still-loyal parts of Pembrokeshire and the situation exploded with the Pembroke Castle Hill Massacre and the attempt by the Bishop of St David’s to seize the county town of Haverfordwest from the King’s forces and the capture of a military train at the Battle of Crundale.  The Bishop then also attempted to intervene in the larger war at Three Cocks, but Lord Tenby’s Royalist forces took advantage of the Bishop’s absence to launch a two-pronged counter-offensive against the Bishopric of St David’s

The opening moves of Operation ‘Shadwell’ had met with mixed success at Pelcomb Cross; the experienced regulars of the 2nd KSLI had managed to capture Pelcomb House, but the militant wing of the Campaign for Real Ale had failed in their attempt to take the Pelcomb Inn.  Nevertheless, General Ivor Picton was forced to concede the field and pulled the Roch Fencibles back from their outpost line at Pelcomb, to the main defensive line on the high ground north of the Knock Brook, centred on the villages of Keeston and Simpson Cross.  This would be a very tough nut for the Loyalists to crack.

However, Lord Margam, commanding the Loyalist Army of Pembrokeshire, had yet to play his ace: with the cream of the Bishopric Army now concentrated in the Keeston Line, other areas were now more lightly defended.  One such location was the critical bridge over the Western Cleddau River at Camrose; this had been defended by a company of the regular Roch Castle Fencibles, but they were called away to reinforce the battle at Pelcomb Cross, leaving defence of the bridge to the Camrose and Treffgarne Local Defence Volunteers.

Lord Margam struck the lightly-defended bridge swift and hard, decisively routing the bewildered LDV.  As word arrived at Roch Castle of the defeat at Camrose, General Picton immediately realised the gravity of the situation; the Loyalist forces now pouring across Camrose bridge had outflanked his entire line!  They had already attacked the Cuttybridge strongpoint from the rear and were now advancing to attack Keeston itself from the rear.  Only the remnants of the Camrose LDV, desperately holding on to positions at Furzy Mount and Robleston Hall, stood between the Blackshirts and victory!  At once, General Picton ordered his last reserves to form a flying column and to mount an immediate counter-attack to relieve the LDV, to regain Camrose and to throw the Blackshirts back across the Cleddau!  The situation could not be more desperate.

The Commanding Officer of the Camrose & Treffarne LDV, the Reverend Gethin Thomas, has managed to gather together a weak platoon of survivors and plans to defend the old mediaeval manor house of Robleston Hall, to give time for the Bishopric to mount a counter-attack. However, the Blackshirts, buoyed up by their victory at Camrose, are already hard on his heels.

The brief respite of battle is shattered as a section of Blackshirts, commanded by BUF Storm-Leader 2nd Class Ronald Biggsworth-Hill, opens up on the manor with rifles and Lewis Guns. A light tank from the King’s Dragoon Guards soon joins in with its heavy machine gun.  An anti-tank rifle team prudently deploys to cover the Keeston road.

With the defenders suppressed by the massive storm of lead directed against Robleston Hall, the time is ripe for BUF Storm-Commander Fussell to order his assault sections in for the kill. On the right, a platoon of the Loyal West Carmarthenshire Greenjackets prepares to assault another group of LDV, holding a house at Furzy Mount.

The LDV holding Furzy Mount spot the Greenjackets moving in the undergrowth and open up with a fusillade of rifle fire.

Commanding the defenders is Lt Col Archibald Carruthers MC, late of the 9th Royal Deccan Horse. He thoroughly enjoyed the last battle and catching up with his old India chum Gussie, but these chaps seem to be decidedly common and not the sort to enjoy a good ruck in proper sporting fashion…

As Blackshirts move past to assault Robleston Hall, Lt Christopher Gough of the Greenjackets has his own problem to deal with and urges his men forward.

The Greenjackets open up on Furzy Mount with a withering hail of rifle and Lewis Gun fire. Nevertheless, the LDV seem undeterred and return fire.

“Sgt Stace! Where are you?!  For God’s sake man!  Shout out so I can come to you!  I’m bally well lost in the brambles!  Ow!  Bloody nettles…”

Meanwhile, Biggsworth-Hill’s Blackshirts continue to pour fire into Robleston Hall. Within the hall, militiamen lie dead and wounded.

The Blackshirt assault goes in! The doors are kicked open and grenades are swiftly lobbed inside.

Only two wounded Anglican survivors stagger out of the Hall. Knowing the BUF’s reputation for brutality, they expect to be murdered at any moment, but on this occasion they’ve caught the Blackshirts in a good mood.  A Loyalist medic patches them up and they’re sent back for interrogation.  The Blackshirts push on through the Hall, but are met by a renewed volley of fire from the outbuildings, as the Reverend Thomas makes his last stand.

“Sgt Stace!  Send a man back to beat down these nettles for me! ”

At Furzy Mount, Sgt Stace of the Greenjackets continues to direct fire against the Anglican defenders, who are starting to suffer casualties.

Greenjackets fix bayonets and ready grenades…

As the Greenjacket assault goes in on the front door, Lt Col Carruthers and his surviving men make good their escape out of the back door… How easy is it to ride a Welsh Black, one wonders…?

With their objective taken, Greenjacket patrols push forward to make contact with the enemy. As they advance, their platoon commander’s cries of nettle-induced anguish recede in the distance…

But here come the cavalry! Spearheaded by cavalry and armour, General Picton’s flying column arrives at Dudwells and pushes on to the aid of the militia.

“Come back, you silly sods! Don’t you know it’s the 20th Century?!”  A tank commander’s cries are lost, as the Pembroke Post Office Lancers, their pith helmets festooned with spare elastic-bands in the finest traditions of the Post Office (you never know when they might come in handy for parcelling up loot or prisoners), scent blood and charge off to glory, medals and a well-earned cuppa.

The Pembroke Post Office Lancers are part of the Albertine contingent sent by sea from Pembroke Dock to reinforce the Bishopric. The Albertines are unquestionably well-trained and well-equipped, but they are insufferably smug.  With skills honed to perfection on the tent-pegging field, the ‘Parcel Force’ charge through the defile at Dudwells to the green fields beyond…

… Pausing only briefly to do the day’s scheduled 2nd Collection at Dudwells Post Box…

Without any visible enemy, the Mounted Posties put on a fine display of impromptu tent-pegging.

They might be silly buggers, but they’re silly buggers with style, panache and bulging sacks.

However, nobody likes a show-off… Least of all Blackshirts with a Vickers Machine Gun… A long burst of fire scythes into the leading section of lancers, cutting two of them down.  A third is thrown from his horse and into the Camrose Brook.

Once they stop laughing, the St David’s Armoured Corps advances to take on the Blackshirt machine gun. At the rear of the column, the sound of “Ten Green Bottles” and “Stop The Bus, I Want a Wee-Wee” being sung lustily, announces the arrival of the motorised infantry.

The Anglican armour moves forward, but is soon engaged in a duel to the death with the BUF anti-tank rifle team.  As the armour provides supporting fire, the Post Office Lancers gallop for cover among the undergrowth skirting the Camrose Brook.

Meanwhile, back at Robleston Hall, the Reverend Thomas decides that he can hold out no longer and that discretion might be the better part of valour. God does help those who help themselves, after all…  He and his men break cover and run as fast as they can for the safety of Dudwells and the relief column.

Seeing the LDV fleeing from Robleston Hall, BUF Storm-Leader 2nd Class Biggsworth-Hill has a rush of blood to the head and breaks cover in an attempt to cut off the enemy retreat. However, a new enemy has the deuced bad manners to machine-gun his men in the open!  The bounders!

Other Blackshirts attempt to give covering fire, but they too are now coming under fresh enemy fire from Dudwells.

The fresh arrivals are the Bishop of St David’s Foot Guards. Formed chiefly from former members of the disbanded Welsh Guards, they are very experienced and highly-disciplined soldiers.  With covering fire being provided by the armoured lorry’s Lewis Gun, the Guards quickly dismount and begin engaging the Blackshirts.

Seeing Blackshirts in the open, the Bishop’s Foot Guards unleash months’ worth of pent-up frustration at being made to wear such ridiculous uniforms and being called ‘Chocolate Soldiers’ by children and their Albertine allies!

With the Blackshirts hard on their heels and with bullets whizzing past their ears, the Reverend Thomas’ last surviving men leg it!

The King’s Dragoon Guards’ sole tank moves to support the anti-tank rifle team and begins to engage the Anglican light tank. One of the anti-tank rifle gunners is wounded, but they continue firing.

Meanwhile, back at Furzy Mount, a particularly officious policeman causes delay to the reserve BUF unit, but they are finally moving forward again.

The KDGs’ tank is hit by 13mm heavy machine gun fire from the Anglican tank! With a track blown off, the KDGs are now immobilised.  Nevertheless, with commendable courage, they remain in their tank and continue firing at the enemy armour!

The KDGs’ belligerence pays off as they score hits on the enemy tank, damaging the running gear. The Anglican tank crew panic and bail out, taking cover behind their stricken tank.  The KDGs keep firing and succeed in causing further damage to the Anglican tank.

Suddenly there is a screech of brakes and tyres, followed by a crash and a lot of Australian-accented swearing! The Albertine Australian Light Horse have arrived… By bus…

As one section of Australians takes up position in the house, another moves forward to the hedgerow and takes the BUF under heavy fire. The second bus arrives and disgorges another section of infantry and a Vickers Machine Gun team.  The Vickers Gun also takes up position in the house.

Resplendent in their ‘Kangaroo Feathers’ dyed Albertine purple, the Australians cut quite a dash despite their lack of horses. The regiment was formed from RAAF airmen, who were waiting to receive a delivery of new Saro flying boats at RAF Pembroke Dock, but were stranded when the war broke out.  Being Australians, they formed a surfers’ colony at Freshwater West beach for a few months, but eventually grew bored and decided to join up for fights and giggles.

Despite achieving a marked fire superiority over the BUF, the Foot Guards suffer casualties as the two men manning the lorry’s Lewis Gun are cut down by enemy fire. Undaunted, the Foot Guards’ CO and standard-bearer heroically man the Lewis Gun, providing an inspiration to all who witness it.

While the Anglican tank crew cower behind their tank, their colleagues in the armoured car move forward in an attempt to finish off the Royalist tank and the pesky anti-tank rifle team.

The Blackshirts are now starting to suffer heavy casualties from the enormous weight of fire being put down by the Guards and Australians. Their only hope now is for the Greenjackets to get weaving and flank the Australians.

“View Halloo!” Meanwhile, a section of the Post Office Lancers is distracted by a fox and some belligerent sheep…

The Lancers have a grand old time, chasing sheep along the Camrose Valley…

Exasperated, the Squadron Commander orders the bugler to sound the Recall in a desperate attempt to get his men to do something useful!

Finally back in some sort of order, the Post Office Lancers sneak along the Camrose Valley in an attempt to flank the BUF anti-tank rifle team.

Bored with sheep, the wayward cavalry section spots more interesting quarry – two wounded anti-tank gunners. They charge…

…Straight into the sights of the BUF Vickers MG team… To the horror of all those watching, the 20th Century finally catches up with the Lancers, as they are mercilessly cut down in a hail of fire.  The Squadron Commander tries to encourage the rest of his men to charge the MG, but to no avail.  Finally, the Australian MG manages to find the range and exacts revenge on the BUF machine-gunners on the Lancers’ behalf.

Meanwhile, the Anglican tank crew have finally plucked up the courage to remount their tank, despite the hail of incoming fire. However, the KDGs have now found the range…

Having re-mounted their stricken tank, the Anglican tankies’ enthusiasm is short lived as their tank brews up, forcing them to bail out once again.

“Sod this for a game of soldiers!” With the Foot Guards’ jeers ringing in their ears, the Anglican tank crew make good their escape.

“I wonder if that bus is a runner…?”

The St David’s Tank Corps’ day gets even worse as the armoured car loses its duel with the anti-tank rifle team. This time nobody escapes the conflagration.

The Foot Guards, far from being alarmed by the failure of their armoured support, just shrug and keep pouring fire into the Blackshirts, who are now starting to pull back and break under the strain.

A St John’s Ambulance Cadet tends to the wounded Guardsmen in the back of the armoured lorry.

The newly-arrived Australians, seeing Reverend Thomas and his men fleeing across the field toward them, pour fire into the stable-buildings of Robleston Hall, which are now occupied by the Blackshirts. The accurate Australian fire causes considerable damage and the Blackshirts pull back, leaving half their number dead in the stables.  One Australian is wounded in the hedgerows by return fire, though the Australians in the house are now receiving the attentions of the enemy tank and are pinned down, with casualties.

With the rest of the Blackshirts dead, wounded or retreating, the reserve Section moves up to cover their withdrawal. BUF Storm-Leader 2nd Class Biggsworth-Hill, the hero of Camrose Bridge, is reported as Missing.  The KDGs, duty done, set fire to their disabled tank and make good their escape on foot.

The Reverend Thomas finally reaches safety, though only two of his men are left alive at the end of their ordeal. Lt Col Carruthers is missing along with his men, while two men are known to be prisoners of the Blackshirts, poor devils… Nevertheless, the enemy has been halted and is falling back to Camrose.  The Keeston Line is safe (for now).

Game Notes

The figures are mostly by Footsore Miniatures (formerly known as Musketeer Miniatures) and Empress Miniatures.

The Pembroke Post Office Lancers are Empress Miniatures.  The Australian Light Horse are by Battle Honours, with Lewis Gunners by Woodbine Miniatures.  Both units are painted by Al Broughton.

The livestock are by Redoubt Enterprises.

The AFVs are mostly by Warlord Games with crews by Empress Miniatures, though the Lancia Armoured Lorry is by Footsore Miniatures.  The buses are die-cast souvenir ‘Malta Buses’, bought while on holiday in Malta.

The houses are pre-coloured laser-cut models by 4Ground Models.  The farm buildings used for Robleston Hall are from EM4 Miniatures’ beautiful resin farm set.  Other terrain items were scratch-built by Al ‘Skippy’ Broughton.

Rules used are ‘Force on Force’ by Ambush Alley Games & Osprey, incorporating ‘fog of war’ cards from ‘Went The Day Well?’ by Solway Crafts & Hobbies and others picked up on the ‘Very British Civil Forum’.

The game was played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire.  We meet every Tuesday 7-11pm at 1st Pembroke Scout HQ, Pennar, Pembroke Dock.

 

 

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Games, Scenarios | 1 Comment

Some Napoleonic French Foreign Legions (AB Figures 15mm)

In my last post I looked at a few armies that were allied to Napoleonic France.  However, the French Army itself also contained quite a number of foreign Regiments and Legions within its ranks, raised from Germans, Italians, Swiss, Dutch, Spaniards, Portuguese, Irish, Corsicans, Croats, Poles, Lithuanians and others.

A few such units were excellent troops, raised from men keen to support the ideals of Revolutionary France or simply to liberate their own homeland from another imperial power.  However, many were also extremely dubious units raised from PoWs and jail-scrapings.  Sadly, many of the former group rapidly became the latter as the original source of good recruits dried up.

The definition of a ‘Legion’ was a combined-arms force of infantry and cavalry, sometimes also with artillery.  However, in reality and probably due to the expense of raising cavalry and artillery, many ‘Legions’ frequently fought simply as infantry units or were completely divorced from the other elements of the Legion.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is that in 2001 we decided to refight the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro as the third and final AB Figures Wargames Weekend and there were three distinctive Legions that needed painting in order to complete the French Army for that battle.  As we were playing General de Brigade rules, these were all created at a 1:20 ratio, rather than my usual 1:100ish ratio for Napoleon’s Battles.  So here are the three Legions I painted for that game, as well as a bit of their history and uniform details:

Please try to control your excitement…

The Irish Legion

There had for many years been Irish volunteers in the French Republican armies (as there had been in the Royal French Army of old) but in 1803, these volunteers were consolidated into the French Army as a new Irish Legion.  The ‘Legion’ consisted initially of a single light infantry battalion and no other combat-arms, so was from the outset referred to frequently as a ‘Regiment’ rather than a ‘Legion’.  Although the Legion reached a strength of 2,000 men in four battalions, it never did raise any cavalry or artillery, so was formally re-titled in 1811 as the ‘3rd Foreign Regiment (Irish)’.

In actual fact, while the initial battalion was indeed made up of patriotic Irishmen and more Irishmen did continue to trickle in from various sources, the Legion was soon padded out with distinctly non-Irish recruits.  In 1806 the Legion did indeed receive a draft of 200 Irishmen who had been serving with the Prussian Army, but they also took in 1,500 Poles at the same time!  To add further problems, the Legion often found itself split to various parts of the French Empire and only the 2nd Battalion was present at Fuentes de Onoro (as part of Thomieres’ Brigade, Solignac’s Division of Junot’s VIII Corps), while the 1st Battalion found itself fighting against a British landing on the diseased Dutch island of Walcheren.

The Irish Regiment fought again during the Campaign of Germany in the spring of 1813, but suffered heavy casualties.  Nevertheless, it fought on until the end in 1814 and was then taken into Royal French service.  The regiment suffered from split-loyalties during Napoleon’s brief return to power during The Hundred Days and was finally disbanded in September 1815.

The Legion was dressed in uniforms cut in French light infantry style, but coloured ’emerald green’.  Collars were ‘primrose yellow’, while lapels, cuffs, shoulder-straps and turnbacks were all green, piped yellow.  Sources are split on the cuff-detail – some say they were pointed, while others say that they were Brandenburg-style, with a yellow cuff-flap.  Buttons were yellow metal.  Waistcoats were white and breeches are recorded as both green and white in different sources.  Belts were white.

The Legion’s battalions were organised with six companies apiece – four Chasseur companies, a Carabinier company and a Voltigeur company.  The four Chasseur companies all had shakos with white cords and pompoms in a distinguishing company colour (1st – yellow, 2nd – green, 3rd – sky-blue & 4th – violet).  The Carabiniers wore red fringed epaulettes and had black bearskin caps with red cords and plumes and no front-plate.  The Voltigeurs had shakos with green cords and green plumes with yellow tips.  They also wore fringed epaulettes with yellow crescents.

The Legion was presented with an Eagle in December 1805 and this was carried by the Legion’s 1st Battalion.  Accompanying the Eagle was a flag of unique design (shown above), having a green field with gold-yellow fringe and gold-yellow Irish harps in the corners.  In the centre was a tricolour panel, bearing the regimental title and bordered by a gold-yellow wreath.

The other battalions carried a simpler ‘fannion‘ flag, which was plain green flag without a fringe, simply showing a large yellow Irish harp in the centre.  The stave had a simple gold spear-point finial.  Note that although it was the Legion’s 2nd Battalion that fought at Fuentes de Onoro, I cheated slightly by depicting the 1st Battalion’s Eagle.

The Hanoverian Legion

The Hanoverian Legion was raised in 1803 following the French occupation of Hanover, theoretically consisting of a Light Infantry regiment of two battalions and a Chasseur a Cheval regiment of four squadrons.  However, it never managed to achieve its full strength due to disease and desertion.

The infantry element was sent to Spain in 1807, where it initially served with the 3rd Division of Junot’s Army of Portugal, being brigaded with the Legion du Midi.  This then became the 3rd Division of the VIII Corps, Army of Spain.  The brigade was then transferred to Soult’s II Corps and by 1810 was serving with Ney’s VI Corps.

During all its time in Spain, the Legion had never managed to muster more than one battalion, but in 1810 it briefly achieved a strength of two battalions when the remnants of the Westphalian Battalion were amalgamated with it.  However, the Legion was back down to one battalion again by the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro in May 1811 when, still serving alongside the Legion du Midi, it formed part of Ferey’s Division of Loison’s VI Corps.  The casualties suffered during that campaign were such that the Legion was finally disbanded in August 1811.

The Legion’s Chasseur a Cheval regiment meanwhile, never served with the infantry regiment and spent all its time on garrison duty around Austria and Italy.

The Hanoverian Legion, while serving as a single battalion in Spain, had a slightly unusual organisation, comprising one Carabinier (elite) company and four Chasseur companies.  There was no Voltigeur company.

The Legion’s infantry uniforms were initially drawn from old Hanoverian stocks, being red with white facings and essentially the same as British infantry of the late 18th Century.  However, these were soon replaced with new red uniforms cut in French line infantry-style, with blue square-ended lapels and blue collar, cuffs, cuff-flaps and turnbacks.  Buttons were white metal.  Waistcoats, breeches and belts were white.

The Chasseur companies wore green fringed epaulettes on their shoulders and for headgear had shakos with white cords, green plumes and white metalwork.  There were no distinctively coloured pompoms to identify companies.  The Carabiniers wore white fringed epaulettes and black bearskin caps with white cords and plumes and no front-plate.  The use of white as opposed to red for the elite company colour harkens back to Hanoverian and British traditions of military dress.

Drummers wore plain dark blue uniforms with white lace around lapels, collar, cuffs, cuff-flaps, swallows’-nests and turnbacks, with epaulettes and headgear the same as the rest of the company.

The Hanoverian Legion for some reason was never presented with an Eagle.  However, each infantry battalion carried a standard French 1804 Pattern infantry regimental flag, as shown above.  The corner-medallions, which would normally show a regiment’s number, were instead decorated with silver cloth discs.

Little is known about the uniforms of the Hanoverian Legion’s cavalry element, save that they wore Chasseur a Cheval-style green uniforms with yellow facings.

The Legion du Midi

The Legion du Midi (also sometimes known as the Piedmontese Legion) was raised in 1803 from Piedmontese volunteers.  It was originally intended that the Legion would comprise three line infantry battalions, two light infantry battalions and a battery of artillery.  However, the Legion’s first posting was to the Caribbean and disease soon whittled this organisation down to two light infantry battalions.

In 1807 the Legion was posted to Junot’s Army of Portugal and spent the rest of its existence brigaded with the Hanoverian Legion, as discussed above.  Initially deployed as two light infantry battalions, by Fuentes de Onoro in 1811 it appears to have been reduced to a single battalion.

Battalion organisation changed somewhat throughout the Legion’s existence.  When first formed, each battalion consisted of five companies – four centre companies (Fusliers in the line battalions or Chasseurs in the light battalions) and one elite company (Grenadiers in the line battalions or Carabiniers in the light battalions).  In 1804 one of the centre companies in each battalion was re-designated as Voltigeurs.  In 1805 the battalion organisation changed to the standard French nine-company format and by 1808 the two remaining light infantry battalions had changed again to the new standard French six-company format (one Carabiner company, four Chasseur companies and one Voltigeur company).

The Legion’s coats were initially produced from dark red-brown cloth, looted from a Capucin monastery.  The colour is therefore known as Capucin and remained the Legion’s uniform colour throughout its existence.  Waistcoats and breeches were white, but Capucin overall trousers were also very common.  Collars, lapels, cuffs, cuff-flaps and turnbacks were sky-blue and buttons were yellow-metal.  Belts were white.  Like the Hanoverian Legion, lapels appear to have been cut in the line infantry style, with square ends.

The Chasseur companies all wore green fringed epaulettes and shakos with green cords and green plumes.  There were no coloured pompoms to distinguish companies.  the Carabinier company wore red fringed epaulettes and bearskin caps with red cords, red plumes and a brass front-plate.  The Voltigeur company wore green epaulettes with yellow crescents, a shako with yellow cords and yellow lace edging, a yellow pompom and a green plume with a yellow tip.

Like the Irish Legion, the Legion du Midi was presented with an Eagle, which was carried by the 1st Battalion.  This was dressed with a standard 1804 Pattern infantry regimental flag with silver corner-medallions, as for the Hanoverian Legion.

Anyway, that’s it for now!  I’m even making myself bored…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 6 Comments

Some Napoleonic French Allies (15mm AB Figures)

Everybody needs friends.  Doubly so if you’re French…  So here are some allies for Napoleon.

These are all AB Figures 15mm (the kewl kidz call them ’18mm’ nowadays, but they were 15mm when I bought them.  That’s inflation for you…).  Most of these have been painted in the last couple of years, since the Waterloo Bicentennial brought me back to Napoleonic wargaming.

All my stuff is based and organised for Napoleon’s Battles (now in its 4th Edition), which is a ‘grand-tactical’ ruleset, where each unit represents a brigade or large regiment.  I paint one representative unit to represent each brigade.

The Duchy of Warsaw

Above:  To start us off is the 15th Infantry Regiment of the Duchy of Warsaw.  Identifying who was wearing what and when in the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw is something of a nightmare, so I recommending getting Mr Rawkins’ magnificent e-book on the subject here.

Note that it was simply the ‘Duchy of Warsaw’, NOT the ‘GRAND Duchy of Warsaw’!

Above:  I used a spare French Guard Lancer officer here to  produce a generic Duchy of Warsaw cavalry general.

Above:  Duchy of Warsaw Foot Artillery.  There is something very appealing about this relatively simple uniform of dark green with black facings piped red and white cross-belts over the top.  The artillery of the Kingdom of Italy wore a very similar uniform in the same colours, but these have a coat cut in Polish style, with short lapels.  The Italians wore coats cut in French style.

Polish guns were just like the French, in that they were polished brass with carriages painted ‘olive-drab’ and metal fittings painted black.

Above:  The Duchy of Warsaw Horse Artillery wore the same colours as the Foot Artillery, but the coat was a single-breasted jacket in the same style as that worn by the Polish Chasseur a Cheval regiments.  This was topped off with a single cross-belt, a waist-belt suspending a cavalry sabre in a steel scabbard and a black cavalry busby with red pompom and dark green bag.

Hessen-Darmstadt

Above: It took some considerable digging, but after several years I finally found a description for the uniform of a Hessen-Darmstadt general!  The single-breasted coatee was dark blue, with red collar and cuffs and blue turnbacks, all heavily edged and decorated with silver ‘foliate’ lace, akin to that worn by French generals.  Epaulettes were silver and the waist-sash was mixed silver & red.  The bicorne hat was unlaced and had a white ostrich-feather edge.  I couldn’t find any information on the shabraque, but went with blue, edged silver.  I used a spare French general figure.

Westphalia

Above:  The Westphalian Horse Artillery of the Guard wore a uniform very similar to that of the French Horse Artillery of the Line, so I’ve used French figures for these chaps.  Like the French Horse Artillery, they wore a dark blue uniform with red collar, cuffs, turnbacks and trouser-stripes, epaulettes, plumes and shako-cords with yellow-metal buttons.

However, unlike the French they wore red waistcoats with yellow hussar-lace and a pair of yellow lace bars on each side of the collar and on each cuff-flap.  Cross-belts were pale buff, though the waist-belts appear to have been white.  The Westphalian national cockade of white & blue was worn on the front upper edge of the shako.

Most sources describe the guns as being the same as the French, but some sources suggest ‘yellow stripes’ or ‘yellow spokes’ on the wheels.

Saxony

Above:  Like the Polish artillery, there’s something about the uniform of post-1810 Saxon Foot Artillery that I find very appealing.  The 1810 Pattern coat was cut in the Germanic ‘Spencer’ style that had already become military fashion in Bavaria and other Confederation of the Rhine armies.  The coat was green (the exact shade of which varies depending on what you read or see – I’ve gone for a slightly bright ‘French Dragoon’ green), with lapels, collar, cuffs and turnbacks in red, with yellow metal buttons and without lace.  Shako cords and carrot-shaped pompoms were red, while trousers were grey.  In full-dress the trousers could also have red piping at the seams.

Saxon guns were polished brass and the carriages were stained black, producing a very dark grey shade.  Metal fittings were painted with yellow-ochre (the idea being that the yellow banding on black would reflect the coat-of-arms of Saxony).

Above:  I make no apologies for posting a few photos of this next unit, which is probably my favourite Napoleonic unit; the Saxon Garde du Korps.

Above:  While the Army of Saxony was fairly indifferent in terms of quality and was occasionally downright awful, the Saxon heavy cavalry (i.e. the Garde du Korps, Leib Cuirassiers and Zastrow Cuirassiers) were absolutely superb and among the finest cavalry in the world at the time.  The Garde du Korps and Zastrow Cuirassiers in particular, won immortal fame alongside the 14th Polish Cuirassiers, in storming the Great Redoubt at Borodino on horseback!  A feat possibly unique in military history?

Above:  Not only are they epic units to wield in a wargame, they are also some of the most beautiful models to come from the talented hand of Mr Barton.  The Garde du Korps are modelled here as they fought at Borodino, with cloaks rolled en bandolier over the shoulder as limited protection from sabre-cuts and with the fancier items of uniform such as white helmet-plumes and shoulder-scales removed.

Note that I do a fair bit of arm-bending when painting charging cavalry regiments.  Tony Barton himself has said that the limitations of the moulding process means that he can’t do the full range of charging poses that he’s like, so he often models figures that are designed to be (carefully!) bent, to produce a more realistic charging pose.  Anyone who has painted AB Austrian Hussars will know the officer figure with his sabre held out straight at the side – I often see this painted just like that, slashing away at his neighbouring hussars (!), but he is specifically meant to be re-posed! 🙂

Above:  The yellow-cream shade of the Garde du Korps’ coat was something I wanted to get ‘looking right’.  It’s very difficult to know exactly what colour historic uniforms were, as time and age alters the colour of surviving uniform dyes and the paints of those artists who recorded them, but these coats seem to have been a deep yellow-cream shade: perhaps not as pale as the ‘pale straw’ of 18th Century Prussian Cuirassiers, yet not quite yellow-buff or even canary-yellow I often see them depicted on the wargames table and in modern artwork.

My primary guide to the coat-colour is this plate from a series of plates on the Saxon Army that was published in 1810, at exactly the time that the army was receiving its new uniforms.  These plates were very carefully preserved and seem to have retained their original rich colouring (as best as can be ascertained), so would appear to be the best possible guide to the original colouring.  I spent a fair bit of time mixing buff, yellow and white until I was happy with the colour.  Thankfully there was only one such regiment, as I probably wouldn’t be able to match the shade!  Note also that the regimental facing colour was quite a bright, royal blue.

Above:  The Garde du Korps trumpeters wore red coats with blue facings and blue/yellow lace.  At the shoulders they had red ‘swallows’ nests’ with a lace lower-edge.  They also carried silver trumpets on white cords and helmet crests were red.  However, I made one error, in that their horses should be black, just like the rank-and-file.  Somewhat unusually, it was the officers who rode greys in this regiment, not the trumpeters.

Above:  This Garde du Korps officer figure is a single-piece casting and has to be one of my favourite all-time models.  As mentioned above, the officer here should be riding a grey horse, not the trumpeters!  Ah well…

I highlight black horses with a very, very dark brown (a touch of red-brown added to black), while the tails and manes are highlighted with a very dark grey.

Note that for some reason, Tony Barton didn’t do standard bearers for the Saxon cavalry, which is a shame.  He tends not to model them when there is historical evidence that they didn’t carry them in battle (e.g. French light cavalry and British cavalry).  I’ve got no information either way with regard to Saxon cavalry, but I had one broken sabre in the unit, so decided to turn him into a standard-bearer. 🙂  The standard is by Fighting 15s.

Baden

Above:  Here we have a Baden general, which is produced from a spare French general figure.  Baden generals wore a dark blue double-breasted coat with silver buttons and epaulettes.  Cuffs, collar and turnbacks were red.  The collar and cuffs had silver lace edging and silver foliate lace decoration.  There was also a strip of silver lace down the edge of the buttoned-over lapel.  The waist-sash was mixed silver, gold and red.  The cocked had had a silver scalloped lace edge and white ostrich-feather trim.  The cockade for generals was black instead of the usual yellow/red Baden national cockade worn by Baden troops.

Above:  The Baden Foot Artillery wore a uniform almost exactly the same as that worn by Bavarian artillery, being a dark blue ‘Spencer’ coat with black collar, cuffs and lapels, red turnbacks on the tails and yellow-metal buttons and shoulder-scales.  Some sources describe red piping on the black facings, just like the Bavarians, though other sources do not show this.  I’ve opted for the plain black without red piping.  Belts were white.

Breeches were grey, worn with black gaiters.  The black leather helmets were of Bavarian style (being slightly different to the high-crested helmets worn by Baden infantry), though had an Austrian-style (roughly triangular) brass helmet plate on the front as opposed to the small oval badge worn by the Bavarians.  There was brass reinforcing up the sides and around the brim.  The yellow/red national cockade was worn on the left side and in full dress was surmounted by a white plume.

Baden guns were polished brass and the carriages were blue-grey with metal fittings painted black.

Note that these are actually Battle Honours Bavarian artillery figures, modelled by Tony Barton before he formed AB Figures.

Above:  The Baden Light Dragoon Regiment was a very well-regarded cavalry regiment that saw quite a bit of action in the main theatres of war.  In 1809 they were brigaded with the Hessen-Darmstadt Chevauxleger Regiment as the cavalry reserve for Massena’s IV Corps, seeing action at Eggmuehl (where they also provided escort for Napoleon), Aspern-Essling and Wagram.  In 1813 they were one of the largest cavalry regiments in Napoleon’s reformed Grand Armee and were brigaded with the French 10th Hussars as part of Ney’s III Corps, fighting at Luetzen, Bautzen, Gross-Beeren, Dennewitz and Leipzig.  Consequently, they’re a very handy regiment to have as part of a French army, even if you don’t have a Baden contingent.

I actually painted these nearly 20 years ago (where does the time go…?) for the first of three AB Figures Wargames Weekends, when we did an epic refight of the Battle of Eggmuehl (known as Eckmuhl to the French).  As that game was fought at 1:20 ratio, using General de Brigade rules, this is a VERY big unit compared to my usual offerings!  I’ve since kept 20 figures and rebased them for Napoleon’s Battles while giving the remaining 14 figures to a friend.

The uniform of the Baden Light Dragoon Regiment was almost identical in style to those worn by Bavarian cavalry regiments and I therefore used AB Figures Bavarian cavalry figures.  The only bit of ‘fettling’ required is to clip the shoulder-scales off the shoulders and file them down into pointed shoulder-straps (the officers and trumpeters require no fettling).

Coats, overall trousers and shabraques were all sky-blue, with red facings, trouser-stripes and shabraque-edging.  Shoulder-straps were sky blue, piped red.  Trumpeters had red shabraques with white edging, plus red swallows-nests on the shoulders and white lace edging to the facings and chevrons running up the sleeves.  Trumpeters also had ‘false sleeves’ handing down their back (like the Bavarians) which were edged with white lace.

Officers wore silver shoulder-scales and a silver aiguillette on the right shoulder.  Belts were black leather with silver edging and decorations.  Officers also had silver edging to their shabraques.  Senior officers wore black plumes.

The black leather helmets were of Bavarian style, with white plumes and silver reinforcing up the sides and around the brim of the visor.  There was also a silver band across the front, with a silver oval badge and a silver chain above.  A yellow and red national cockade was worn on the left, just below the plume.  Belts were white.  Trumpeters plumes were of a hanging, horsehair panache style, with red at the top and white at the bottom.

Anyway, that’s it for now!

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Minor States, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 4 Comments

‘Going Dutch’: Building a Cold War Dutch Battlegroup (Part 1)

With the Danes finished, it’s time for another Cold War army; the Dutch.  While the Cloggies might seem like a fairly esoteric choice compared to the ‘big players’ in 1980s NATO, such as the USA, West Germany and the UK, they then had a sizeable army and fielded an entire corps (1 (NL) Corps) in West Germany, responsible for the left flank of NORTHAG and the British I (Br) Corps.  They also had a very interesting mix of equipment, from ranging from venerable Centurion Mk 5/2 tanks to upgraded Leopard 1-Vs and ultra-modern Leopard 2A4s, alongside reasonably advanced YPR-765 Infantry Fighting Vehicles and slightly odd YP-408 wheeled APCs, all supported by modern M109 155mm artillery systems.

However… Their approach to discipline raised eyebrows among other NATO armies, though it seemed to work for them and Dutch units were generally well-trained and performed well in exercises.  The Dutch Marines in particular were considered by British Royal Marine Commandos (with whom they operated under joint command) to be their equal.

The particular difficulty facing 1 (NL) Corps in any war with the Warsaw Pact was their deployment: Aside from one mechanised brigade and some corps-level support elements, the vast majority of 1 (NL) Corps was based in the Netherlands and would need to deploy to Germany during the build-up to war, with many units having to drive over 200 miles to reach their fighting positions.

To make that problem even more acute, over two-thirds of the corps was made up of reservists who would need to be mobilised before deployment (equating to one whole division, a lot of support units and around one-third of the personnel in all regular units) .  The Dutch demonstrated their ability to deploy the entire corps to fighting positions within 72 hours, but this fell well short of NATO’s target of 48 hours.  While that might have been marginally acceptable during the 1960s, the Warsaw Pact had by the 1980s demonstrated an increasing ability to deploy rapidly from their bases into attack formation, which made 1 (NL) Corps’ position increasingly vulnerable – a vulnerability that the Warsaw Pact would undoubtedly attempt to exploit.  Consequently, the German 3rd Panzer Division and an advance brigade from the US III Corps (the primary REFORGER reinforcement formation) were permanently based within 1 (NL) Corps’ area of responsibility, in an attempt to plug the gap and win time for 1 (NL) Corps to deploy.

A Dutch TOW anti-tank missile launcher mounted on an M38A1 ‘Nekaf’ Jeep (probably from 101st Infantry Brigade)

All of this makes for a very interesting wargames army and if you’re not too fussy about the very fine detail, a lot of the models can be shared with other armies such as Belgium, Canada and West Germany.  If you want to know more about the organisation and order of battle, have a look at Hans Boersma’s superb website here or my wargame orders of battle and TO&Es here.

In terms of models; a Dutch (or Belgian or Canadian) army hasn’t really been possible in 15mm until very recently, due to a lack of suitable infantry figures wearing US M1 helmets and armed with FN FAL rifles, FN MAG machine guns and Carl Gustav 84mm MAWs, as well as a lack of signature vehicles such as Leopard 1-V, M113 C&V, YP-408 and PRTL.  However, our cup suddenly runneth over, with QRF, the Plastic Soldier Company and Team Yankee all now producing suitable infantry and vehicles!

I’ve presently got a lot of Dutch troops and vehicles under the brush, but here’s the first batch of models:

Leopard 1-V Main Battle Tank

As mentioned in my recent article on modelling Leopard 1 tanks, the Leopard 1-V was a Dutch upgrade of the Leopard 1NL (the V standing for Vebetterd or ‘Improved’).  However, the ‘improvement’ proved unreliable and very power-hungry and delivery of 1-Vs was extremely slow.  All Leopard 1NL were theoretically upgraded to 1-V standard during the period 1981-1985, though some upgrades weren’t complete until 1987 and some units even received Leopard 2A4 while waiting for Leopard 1-Vs (a situation that I highly doubt they were too upset about)!  Many sources describe the Leopard 1-V as being equivalent to the German Leopard 1A5 upgrade programme, but that’s not correct, as the 1-V lacked the advanced fire control, laser-rangefinder and thermal-imaging system of the 1A5.  It was actually equivalent to the German Leopard 1A1A1 and shared the same armour upgrade package as that type (which was also used on the 1A5).

Note that the Tank Battalions of the 42nd Armoured Infantry Brigade, 52nd Armoured Infantry Brigade and 53rd Armoured Brigade were equipped with Centurion Mk 5/2 at the start of the 1980s.  The remaining brigades (11th Armoured Infantry, 12th Armoured Infantry, 13th Armoured, 41st Armoured, 43rd Armoured Infantry and 51st Armoured Infantry) were equipped with Leopard 1NL, as were the 102nd, 103rd and 104th Reconnaissance Battalions.

In 1985 the Leopard 1s of the 41st Armoured Brigade, 43rd Armoured Infantry Brigade and 103rd Reconnaissance Battalion, as well as the Centurions of 53rd Armoured Brigade were replaced with Leopard 2A4.  The Centurions of 42nd Armoured Infantry Brigade were similarly replaced with Leopard 2A4 in 1986 and the last Centurions of 52nd Armoured Infantry Brigade were replaced with Leopard 1-V in 1987.

Dutch Armoured Battalions initially had three squadrons apiece, each with 17 tanks, organised as an HQ of two tanks and three platoons, each with five tanks.  The Battalion HQ had two more tanks, for a total of 53 tanks.

This organisation was changed during the mid-1980s (essentially as units upgraded to Leopard 1-V or Leopard 2A4), with slightly different organisations depending on whether the battalion belonged to an Armoured Brigade or an Armoured Infantry Brigade.  In Armoured Brigades, each battalion still had three squadrons, but the Battalion HQ and Squadron HQs now had only one tank apiece and each squadron was organised as four platoons, each of four tanks, for a total of 17 tanks per squadron and 52 tanks in the battalion.  Armoured Battalions of Armoured Infantry Brigades were organised very similarly, though now had a fourth squadron.  However, the 3rd and 4th Squadrons were of reduced strength (13 tanks), with only three platoons apiece, which gave the battalion a total of 61 tanks.

The models pictured are plastic kits by Team Yankee.  These are lovely kits, but if I have one criticism, it’s that the arrangement of stowage bins isn’t quite right for the Leopard 1-V.  QRF also produce specific all-metal Leopard 1NL and Leopard 1-V kits, which are correct in all respects.  The Plastic Soldier Company also produce an excellent and anatomically-correct resin/metal Leopard 1-V.

YPR-765 Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle

During the 1970s the Royal Netherlands Army was looking for a new APC to replace its clapped-out AMX-13 VTT APCs and took the somewhat bold decision of ordering a series of vehicles based on the XM-765 Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle prototype that the US Army had rejected in favour of what was to become the M2 Bradley.  The new vehicle was designated as the YPR-765 and deliveries commenced in 1975.  These quickly replaced the AMX-13 VTT and by the 1980s over 2,000 were in service, with over 800 of these being built in the Netherlands.

The main difference to the XM-765 prototype was that the turret had been shifted off-centre to the right, in order to allow the vehicle commander to sit immediately behind the driver and to the left of the one-man turret.  The YPR-765 proved to be an excellent vehicle and some are still in service with the Royal Netherlands Army today (many up-armoured models seeing considerable action in Afghanistan), as well as being widely exported.  In 1985 the vehicle also entered service with the Belgian Army, where it was known as the AIFV-B.

YPR-765s were initially issued to the Armoured Infantry Battalions of the Armoured Brigades (13th, 41st and 53rd Brigades) and the 43rd Armoured Infantry Brigade.  The remaining Armoured Infantry Brigades (11th, 12th, 42nd, 51st and 52nd Brigades) were equipped with wheeled YP-408 APCs until 1987, when they too were re-equipped with YPR-765.  The 101st Infantry Brigade was partly re-equipped with YPR-765 in 1988 (replacing trucks).

Above: The basic model was the YPR-765 PRI (Pantser-Rups-Infanterie or ‘Armoured Tracked Infantry’), equipped with a single-man turret mounting an Oerlikon KBA-B02 25mm cannon and co-axial 7.62mm FN MAG.  In addition to the three-man crew it could carry seven infantry, though this was something of a squeeze!  Unlike the German Marder or US Army M113, there was no mount for the infantry squad’s ATGM.

Each Armoured Infantry Battalion (YPR-765) had three Armoured Infantry Companies and each such company had three platoons with four YPR-765 PRI apiece (one carrying the platoon HQ and three carrying rifle sections).

In the Belgian Army the YPR-765 PRI was known as the AIFV-B-25.

Above: The YPR-765 PRCO-B (Pantser-Rups-COmmando or ‘Armoured Tracked Command’) was a command variant for Armoured Infantry Company Commanders, which looked pretty identical to the YPR-765 PRI, but in the back had a folding map-table and space for only two passengers.  Each Armoured Infantry Company HQ had two of these vehicles.

Above:  The YPR-765 PRI .50 was a simpler, cheaper APC variant, being armed only with a Browning M2 .50 Cal (12.7mm) HMG, which was initially mounted on the same style of cupola as that normally fitted to the M113 APC.  These were normally only found in support roles, but in 1988 the reserve 101st Brigade replaced the trucks in two infantry battalions with these vehicles.  At around this time they started being fitted with US-designed armoured turrets and gun-shield kits of the style that had been fitted to M113 Armoured Cavalry Vehicles (ACAVs) in Vietnam.  Here I’ve used a spare ACAV turret salvaged from a Team Yankee M113 APC kit.  These fit perfectly over the socket for the resin PRI 25mm turret, so you can potentially swap turrets to field the different versions.

In Belgian service, the YPR-765 PRI .50 was known as the AIFV-B-.50.  The Belgians made far more use of the .50 version, often mixing them into platoons alongside the 25s.  They also fitted them with ACAV turrets.  Belgian AIFV-B-.50s were also fitted with firing-posts for MILAN ATGMs, though this seems to have been a post-1989 addition.  During the 1980s there was a dedicated Belgian MILAN variant, the AIFV-B-MIL, which had the simple M113-style cupola and a MILAN mounted on the .50 Cal mount in lieu of the .50 Cal.  Internally it was fitted with MILAN ammo racks.

Above:  The YPR-765 PRCO-C1 was the battalion HQ variant and was fitted with a US M26 Cupola.  This was octagonal, with an armoured vision widow on each face and a .50 Cal mount that allowed the weapon to be aimed and fired remotely from within the vehicle.  The same cupola was fitted to the Canadian M113 C&R Lynx and other vehicles.  The lack of a 25mm turret meant that there was additional internal space, allowing nine people to be carried (including the vehicle crew), plus a folding map-table.

Note that the Team Yankee YPR-765 box set includes one metal M26 Cupola for the ‘Artillery Forward Observer Version’.  This cupola was also used on the YPR-765 PRCO-C2 artillery battery and battalion command vehicle and the YPR-765 PRCO-C3 mortar fire control vehicle.

However, the lads at Team Yankee seem to have got their wires crossed here, as the YPR-765 PRCO-C5 artillery forward observation variant was actually fitted with an M113-stye cupola and not the M26 Cupola!  However, never say never… I’ve seen photos of M26 cupolas fitted to some YPR-765 PRRDR (Pantser-Rups-Radar) radar reconnaissance vehicles, when these vehicles should normally be fitted with the M113-style cupola.

Above: The YPR-765 PRMR (Pantser-Rups-MoRtiertrekker) 120mm mortar tractor was also fitted with the M26 cupola and was therefore near-identical to the YPR-765 PRCO-C1.  It was fitted with a tow-hook with which to tow the French-designed Brandt MO-120-RT mortar and had internal racks for the ammunition.  Note that in latter years, YPR-765 PRMRs were fitted with M113-style cupolas and ACAV turret kits, though this seems to have been a post-1989 development.

The Support Company of an Armoured Infantry Battalion (765) had three Mortar Platoons, each with three 120mm mortars, three YPR-765 PRMR and two YPR-765 PRCO-C3.  Note that the Reconnaissance Battalions and the upgraded Infantry Battalions of 101st Infantry Brigade instead used US M30 107mm mortars and M106 mortar carriers.

Above: As discussed above, the YPR-765 PRCO-C5 artillery forward observation variant actually had an M113-style cupola fitted and not the M26 Cupola.  Here I’ve again used a spare cupola salvaged from a Team Yankee M113 APC kit.

Above: The YPR-765 PRCO-C4 anti-aircraft command vehicle, which provided command and control functions for PRTL flak-tanks and Stinger SAM teams, also used the same type of M113 cupola as the YPR-765 PRCO-C5 and was visually identical.

In Belgian service, the YPR-765 PRCO series was designated as the AIFV-B-PC and seems to have used the M113-style cupola throughout.  They don’t seem to have differentiated roles and they may simply have used the same vehicle design for all these roles.

Above:  The YPR-765 PRAT (Pantser-Rups-Anti-Tank) was fitted with the Emmerson Improved TOW ‘Hammerhead’ launcher, as fitted to the US Army’s M901 Improved TOW Vehicle and US Marine Corps’ LAV-AT.  The cupola was also fitted with a pintle-mounted FN MAG.

The Support Company of each Armoured Infantry Battalion (765) had twelve of these vehicles, organised into three platoons, each of four YPR-765 PRAT.  Each Armoured Infantry Brigade also had a Brigade Anti-Tank Company, equipped with another 24 of these vehicles (six platoons).

Note that when on the move, the cupola would be reversed, the Hammerhead would be lowered and the FN MAG would then be facing the front.

1/2-Ton Land Rover

The ubiquitous Land Rover was used in a variety of roles by the Royal Netherlands Army and in the front line was used for light reconnaissance by the Reconnaissance Platoons of Armoured Infantry Battalions and Armoured Battalions (armed with an FN MAG).  These Reconnaissance Platoons had an HQ with two Land Rovers, four FN MAG-armed recce Land Rovers and three radar recce vehicles (YP-408 PWDR for Armoured Infantry Battalions (408) and YPR-765 PRRDR for Armoured Battalions and Armoured Infantry Battalions (765)).  They were also used to transport Stinger SAM teams and for a 1,001 other ancillary tasks.

Note that most units used long-wheelbase Series 2 Land Rover 109s in the Battalion Reconnaissance Platoon role, while Reservist units generally used the M38A1 ‘Nekaf’ Jeep in lieu of Land Rovers.

Modelling & Painting

As discussed in my last article, the Leopard 1-V is a plastic kit by Team Yankee.  QRF and the Plastic Soldier Company also produce models of the Leopard 1-V, which are actually more accurate than the Team Yankee model, which is utilises a ‘generic’ Leopard 1 hull that lacks the stowage bins seen on the Leopard 1-V.  Having no shame, I’m happy with that and plan to use the same hulls with swappable Dutch, German and Canadian turrets.

The YPR-765s are resin/metal models by Team Yankee.  The box includes five YPR-765 PRI and also includes a single metal M26 Cupola and plastic sprues with ITOW ‘Hammerheads’.  As mentioned above, you can also add parts from Team Yankee plastic M113 sets to expand the range of variants.  I’ve also converted one into a YPR-765 PRRDR – a very simple conversion that will be up here soon.  The Plastic Soldier Company also produce the basic YPR-765 PRI, while QRF and Butlers Printed Models also do a full range of YPR-765 variants.

The Land Rovers are lovely little metal models by QRF.  They also produce open-topped versions, which will be most suitable as recce Rovers.

The overall colour for Dutch vehicles at this time was NATO-standard RAL 6014 ‘Yellow-Olive’, which was also used by Belgium, West Germany and France as their standard vehicle colour.  It was also used on Canadian Leopards.  For this I start with a black undercoat, then a basecoat of Humbrol 75 Bronze Green, followed by a top-coat of Humbrol 155 US Olive Drab and then a subtle highlight with a little white mixed in.  Lastly comes my standard dusty dry-brush of Humbrol 72 Khaki Drill.  The Dutch didn’t adopt NATO three-colour camouflage until well into the 1990s.

That’s it for now!  More Cloggies coming soon, including infantry,M113 C&V recce vehicles and the YPR-765 PRRDR radar recce vehicle.  I’ve also finally finished a load of Americans, so those will also be up on here soon.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Cold War, NATO Armies, Painted Units | 16 Comments

‘Beware of the Leopard!’ (15mm Plastic Leopard 1 Tanks)

Some reinforcements have arrived for my 15mm NATO armies this week, in the form of some plastic NATO Leopard 1 tanks by Team Yankee/Flames of War/Battlefront Miniatures.  I’ve already got some metal Leopard 1A3/1A4 models by QRF but Team Yankee recently brought out some plastic kits and I’ve been very impressed with the quality of their recent vehicle models, so decided to give them a go.

I have to say that once again, I’m very impressed!  The quality of detail and moulding is superb and the kits fit together extremely well.  According to the blurb on the box, the NATO Leopard 1 set allows you to build five Leopard 1 tanks, with options for the Leopard C1 for Canada, the Leopard 1-V for the Netherlands and the Leopard AS1 for Australia (?!).  Decals are included for these three versions, along with unit data cards for the Team Yankee game if you play that game (I don’t).

In fact, the set allows you to build a lot more than that, as the parts will also allow you to build a West German Leopard 1A1A1, 1A3 and 1A4, a Danish Leopard 1A3 DK a Greek Leopard GR1 or a Turkish Leopard 1A3 straight out of the box.  With minor fettling you can also build all the other Leopard 1 variants used by NATO (and beyond), such as the West German Leopard 1A1, 1A2, 1A2A1, Italian Leopard 1A1, Netherlands Leopard 1A1, Norwegian Leopard 1A1 NO, Belgian Leopard 1BE and the widely-used Leopard 1A5.

I should add that the West German plastic Leopard 1 box contains EXACTLY the same sprues, just with German decals and Team Yankee unit cards.  The box instructions only show the Leopard 1A3/1A4, but all the parts are included to also make the Leopard 1A1A1 (which was the most common version and was identical to the Netherlands Leopard 1-V).

Note that Team Yankee also produced a pack of three resin/metal West German Leopard 1A3/1A4 that can also be used for Canadian, Danish, Australian, Greek or Turkish Leopards with little or no modification (the Canadians used FN MAG pintle MGs, while the rest used MG3s).  These resin/metal kits are no longer produced, but are still widely available while stocks last.

As an added bonus, the box includes enough parts to make TWO complete turrets.  I was only expecting enough parts to make one or the other.  What this means is that where nations used the same paint scheme (e.g. the ‘Yellow-Olive’ (RAL 6014) paint used jointly by West Germany, Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands), you can have different turrets sharing the same hull, which at a stroke halves your expenditure on model tanks! 🙂

L to R: Canadian Leopard C1 turret, Dutch Leopard 1-V turret and German Leopard 1A5 turret on common hull.

The only real snag is that the kit only includes five MG3 machine guns and five FN MAG machine guns, so if you’re building ten turrets it pays to think carefully about which countries used the FN MAG (e.g. the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium) as opposed to the MG3 (i.e. most other Leopard users).  The MG3 is essentially identical to the MG42, so I’m able to deploy my vast stock of spare model MG42s that has been built up over years of modelling WW2 Germans.

L to R: West German Leopard 1A5 with common hull, Dutch Leopard 1-V and Canadian Leopard C1.

Of course, this does mean that national-specific hull-markings need to be left off, though photos of the actual tanks in the field rarely show visible markings in any case – either covered in crud, too small/subtle to see or not applied in the first place.

Netherlands Leopard 1-V

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Leopard 1A1s of the Royal Netherlands Army underwent an upgrade programme, which included a modernised fire control system and an applique armour pack that had been developed by Blöhm & Voss for the German Leopard 1A1A1 upgrade programme.  The upgraded Leopard was designated Leopard 1-V.  The ‘V’ stood for Verbetterd or ‘Improved’, though some uncharitable Dutch crews insisted that it stood for Verworsend as the new fire control system was very power-hungry and quickly depleted the battery.

Some books and websites refer to the Leopard 1-V as being equivalent to the Leopard 1A5, but that’s not correct.  It was actually the equivalent of the Leopard 1A1A1 and was visually identical to that version.  The Leopard 1-V and 1A1A1 lacked the further advancement in fire control and night vision capability of the Leopard 1A5 upgrade.  Note that Dutch Leopards are armed with a FN MAG pintle MG.

Note that the 1980s was a complicated decade for the Royal Dutch Army’s armoured units, what with Leopard 1s being upgraded to 1-V standard, some units persisting with Centurion Mk 5/2 and others being upgraded wholesale to Leopard 2A4.  Have a look at my Dutch TO&Es and Orders of Battle here for information on who had what and when.

Netherlands Leopard 1-V.

All Dutch AFVs were painted in the standard NATO camouflage colour RAL 6014 Yellow-Olive, exactly the same as West Germany, Belgium and France (as well as Canadian Leopards).  Neither the Dutch or the Belgians switched to the NATO three-colour scheme during the 1980s.  Yellow-Olive is a tricky colour to get right, being a very ‘brownish’ shade of green that closely resembles the colour of cow-pats…  It also seems to change from green to brown at will, depending on the light conditions and method of photography and is consequently the cause of much ‘animated discussion’ on modelling discussion groups!

Canadian Leopard C1

For Yellow-Olive I use a base coat of Humbrol 75 Bronze Green and then a coat of Humbrol 155 US Olive Drab and a final highlight with just a touch of white mixed into the US Olive Drab.  The final weathering for all my vehicles is Humbrol 72 Khaki Drill.  I find that the Bronze Green basecoat (over a black undercoat) deepens the green hue.  Without it, the Olive Drab straight onto a black undercoat looks rather too grey-brown

Canadian Leopard C1

The Canadian Leopard C1 was basically a Leopard 1A3 upgraded with a laser rangefinder.  It was largely identical to the Leopard 1A3 and 1A4 (recognisable by their rectangular, welded turrets), except for the fact that it was fitted with a FN MAG pintle MG.  All Leopard C1s were factory-painted by the Germans with the standard RAL 6014 Yellow-Olive anti-infrared paint and units were absolutely banned from modifying or touching up this paint-job.  All other Canadian vehicles were painted in their unique three-colour (green, khaki and black) camouflage scheme.  Leopard C1s also had a white outline to their black Maple Leaf badge, whereas all other Canadian AFVs had a black Maple Leaf without outline.  During the late 1980s/early 1990s, Leopard C1s switched to the standard NATO three-colour camouflage scheme in common with West Germany.

A brace of Danish Leopard 1A3 DK.

In the case of the Danish Leopard 1A3 DK, their bespoke banded camouflage scheme makes it impossible to share hulls with other nationalities!  This scheme was very similar to that of the British Army, though with a brighter shade of green.  The Danes always painted the four corners of the vehicle in black, usually with another central band of black going up and over the middle of the vehicle.  The ratio of black to green was roughly 1:1, compared to the British, who stipulated 1:2 black to green.  The Danes use the MG3 as their pintle MG.

Danish Leopard 1A3 DK

I use Humbrol 150 Forest Green for the Danish bright green shade (this is the same shade as the top-coat of my Russian tanks), with a strong highlight (mixed with white).

Danish Leopard 1A3 DK

However, upon reflection this shade of green probably isn’t bright enough.  Humbrol 80 Grass Green would possibly be more accurate.  For the black areas I use Humbrol 67 Tank Grey as a highlight/fading.

Note that while the armoured regiments of LANDJUT Command were equipped with Leopards during the 1980s, the mechanised battalions of LANDJUT Command and all armoured units in LANDZEALAND Command were still equipped with various marks of Centurion.  See my Danish TO&Es and Orders of Battle here for a bit of clarity.

West German Leopard 1A5

The Leopard 1A5 entered service in 1987 and was the last version of Leopard 1 to see service with the Bundeswehr.  In West German service, all Leopard 1A5s were upgraded Leopard 1A1A1s, with the main upgrades being a thermal-imaging night-vision system, a laser-rangefinder, improved ammunition storage and an advanced fire control system.

From the 1990s onward, these were widely exported around the world and the Canadians even took surplus German Leopard 1A5 turrets and fitted them to their existing C1 hulls to produce the Leopard C2.  Some nations such as Belgium and Denmark also upgraded their existing Leopards to ‘1A5 standard’, though the changes were largely internal, leaving the tanks largely unchanged externally (the giveaway being the large thermal-imaging sight-box in front of the commander’s cupola).

West German Leopard 1A5

The Leopard 1A5 only requires a very slight conversion from the basic Leopard 1-V/1A1A1 as supplied in the box: A large thermal sight box needs to be added to the turret-top in front of the commander’s cupola and the protrusions on each side of the turret that housed the lenses for the coincidence rangefinder need to be cut off and filed flat.  Don’t add the night-vision/laser-rangefinder box above the gun mantlet.

Note that only the first batch of Leopard 1A5s was ever painted in the Yellow-Olive scheme as shown here, as the Bundeswehr was by this time transitioning to the new three-colour camouflage scheme.  Note that the Iron Cross badge was larger during the ‘Yellow-Olive Period’ than it became during the later ‘Three-Colour Period’.  Team Yankee kindly supplies both sizes of Iron Cross on their West German decal sheets.

If you want to know exactly which West German units were using which type of tank in any given year, have a look at Max Wünderlich’s superb reference chart here.

More Cold War kit to follow soon: namely Dutch YPR-765 Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Cold War, NATO Armies, Painted Units | 2 Comments

Happiness is a Large Busch: Prussian Foot Guard Regiments in 1813 (15mm AB Figures)

The Prussian 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss receives its colours, circa 1808

Over the last couple of years and since getting back into 15mm Napoleonics with our Waterloo Bicentennial Game I’ve been steadily been building up armies that were largely absent from my collection (such as Austria, Portugal and Spain), as well as filling gaps in my existing armies.  One such gap was the Foot Guard Regiments and Grenadier Battalions of the Prussian Army for the 1813 Campaign.

1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

As it happens, the 1st Foot Guards (1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss) were the very first 15mm Napoleonics I ever painted, being Hertiage Miniatures ‘Napoleonettes’ (remember those…?).  I then did them again some years later using Battle Honours figures, but they have long since died and it was time to do the Gardes zu Fuss for a third time!

The Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was first raised from the remnants of Infanterie-Regiment 6 ‘Garde-Grenadier-Bataillon’ and Infanterie-Regiment 15 ‘Garde’, following the destruction of the Prussian Army in the catastrophic year of 1806.  The regiment was initially numbered as the 8. Infanterie-Regiment (Garde), but in June 1813 it was brought out of the line infantry regiment numbering sequence and was designated as the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss.  This then meant that the infantry regiments numbered 9-12 now became regiments 8-11!

In 1808 the infantry of the Royal Prussian Army was completely reformed and reorganised and was dressed along Russian lines, though in blue instead of green and very little in the way of facings, lace and ornamentation.  However, given their ceremonial role, the uniform of the Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was slightly more ornate than this rather plain standard pattern.  The dark blue, double-breasted coat was of basically the same cut as the line infantry, but had ‘Swedish’ cuffs instead of the ‘Brandenburg’ cuffs worn by the line infantry (Brandenburg cuffs had a vertical slit covered by a dark blue flap and secured by a row of three buttons – Swedish cuffs had no slit or flap and instead had two buttons sewn along the top edge of the cuff).

I. Bataillon, 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

The facing colour was poppy-red and buttons were pewter/silver instead of the brass/gold worn by the line infantry.  Two bars of white litzen lace (silver for officers and NCOs) were worn horizontally on each side of the colour and vertically from the two buttons on each cuff.  This lace signified Guard status.  NCOs also had lace edging to the cuffs, as well as to the front and lower edges of the collar.  Drummers has red ‘swallows’ nests’ on the shoulders, with white lace.  Legwear normally consisted of dark grey breeches, though white breeches were also retained for parade dress.  Officers also had the option of wearing grey overall trousers, with a red stripe and silver buttons down the outer seam.

Belts were of whitened leather for the 1st & 2nd Battalions of each regiment, while the Fusilier Battalion (which formed each regiment’s light infantry battalion) wore black belts.  The black leather cartouche was decorated with a silver Guard Star badge and was suspended from the left shoulder by a white cross-belt.  There was initially a waist-belt for the short-sword, though by 1813 this had changed to a second cross-belt.  Musket-slings were red leather for all battalions.  Footwear was somewhat ostentatious, tall black leather boots, though these would normally be replaced with shoes and black gaiters when on campaign.

Headgear was a shako, which was decorated with a band of white lace around the top edge (silver for officers and NCOs), a black-within-white pompom/cockade centrally at the upper edge and a silver Guard Star badge on the front.  This was topped off with a bottlebrush-style horsehair plume, which was white for the rank-and-file, tipped black for NCOs and completely red for drummers.  Officers had a falling feather plume, with black feathers at the base.  The Fusilier Battalion wore black plumes, though drummers of the Fusilier Battalion wore red plumes, as for the other battalions.  These plumes were initially narrow (see the top picture), but soon grew to become the enormous busch style previously worn by the Russians (ironically just as the Russians were switching over to tall, thin plumes!

I. Bataillon, 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

As for flags; as the vast majority of the Royal Prussian Army’s flags were captured in 1806, the army had to make do with what they had left, mainly by reducing the number of flags carried by a regiment, by re-distributing the few that survived and by using what paltry funds they had available to manufacture some new flags.

From 1808 the 1st and 2nd Battalion of each infantry regiment were each issued two flags – an Avancierfahne and a Retirierfahne.  The Avancierfahne of a regiment’s 1st Battalion was also known as the Leibfahne and was usually of a slightly different pattern to the other three flags, which were normally identical to each other.  From 1813 only the Avancierfahne was to be carried by each battalion when in the field and the spare Retirierfahnen were in some cases distributed to other regiments.  The Fusilier Battalion for each regiment did not carry flags.

The Leibfahne was plain white silk, with a silver cloth centre and silver corner-medallions.  Wreaths, crown and cyphers were all painted in silver.  The central black eagle had a silver sword, with gold sword-hilt, crown, beak and claws.  Above the eagle was a blue scroll with ‘PRO GLORIA ET PATRIA’ in silver.  The other three flags were identical, except that the central panel was orange.  Staves were yellow and finials were silver.

Experts on the Prussian Army will no doubt be howling in derision by now, as on campaign the Gardes zu Fuss looked almost identical to any other Prussian line infantry regiment, with black oilskin shako-covers, only one flag per unit and NO PLUMES.  They will also have noticed some errors of equipment details (e.g. a waist-belt in addition to a cross-belt over the right shoulder and when seen from the rear, the knapsack is of the wrong type).  However, I had some spare AB Russian grenadier figures in busch plumes and I really wanted to make my Prussian Guards stand out from the crowd… I know for a fact that I’m far from the first wargamer to have the same idea! 🙂

This spirited print by Carl Röchling, showing the Fusilier Battalion of the 8. Infanterie-Regiment (Garde) at Gross-Görschen, during the Battle of Lützen, gives a very good impression of how the Gardes zu Fuss actually looked on campaign:

The Fusilier Battalion of the 8. Infanterie-Regiment (Garde) at Gross-Görschen, 2nd May 1813

2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

The 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was a late addition to the Prussian order of battle, being created during the Summer Armistice of 1813.

The new regiment was built up from a cadre formed by the Normal-Infanterie-Bataillon (which had been originally created as a ‘model’ infantry unit to demonstrate the new organisation, tactics and uniforms of the infantry arm of the reformed Royal Prussian Army) and the 1st Battalion of the 9. Infanterie-Regiment (Colberg), which had performed admirably during the Spring Campaign of that year.

The 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was uniformed almost identically to the Normal-Infanterie-Bataillon, being a standard blue double-breasted coat with brass/gold buttons.  The collar was identical to that of the 1st Regiment, being poppy-red with two white bars of litzen lace.  The litzen was gold for officers, while NCOs had white litzen plus a gold lace edge to the front and bottom edges of the collar.  Shoulder-straps were poppy-red, indicating the 2nd Regiment.  Cuffs were poppy-red and cut in the ‘Brandenburg’ style, with a vertical opening, covered by a blue flap and buttoned with three brass/gold buttons.  There was no cuff litzen.  NCOs cuffs had a gold lace edge.  Turnbacks were poppy-red.

The 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

Headgear was very similar to that of the  1st Regiment, being a shako with a white lace band around the top edge and a black & white national cockade/pomp0m.  Officers and NCOs had gold shako-lace.  The front of the shakos were decorated with brass/gold Guards Star badges and officers’ shakos were additionally decorated with gold chains.  Plumes were plain black for the rank and file of all three battalions.  NCOs’ plumes had a white base, while drummers’ plumes were plain red, as for the 1st Regiment.  Officers wore plain black feather plumes in panache style.

All other details of uniform and equipment were the same as for the 1st Regiment, except that the 2nd Regiment had brass/gold Guards Star cartouche-badges.

The 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

As for flags; the 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was only issued with two flags – one each for the 1st and 2nd Battalions.  The 1st Battalion carried the regiment’s Leibfahne, which was actually a hand-me-down Retirierfahne from the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss, exactly as described above (namely a white flag with orange centre, silver detailing, silver finial and yellow stave).

The Avancierfahne of the 2nd Battalion was actually the former Leibfahne of the Colberg Regiment, which had a black field superimposed with a white ‘Iron Cross’.  The centre was orange and was superimposed with a black eagle of the new style, being depicted looking back over its shoulder, with the sword held at a slant.  Above the eagle was a blue scroll with ‘PRO GLORIA ET PATRIA’ in gold.  Below the central panel was a blue oval, edged in gold and bearing the battle honour ‘COLBERG 1809’ in gold.  All wreaths, cyphers, etc were painted in gold.  The stave was white with a gold finial.  I’m at a loss as to what the 1st Battalion of the Colberg Regiment carried after this date.  Presumably one of their two spare Retirierfahnen?

The observant will notice that I’ve depicted this unit with both flags in the same unit, which is clearly wrong, as the battalions of the 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss only ever had one flag apiece… I freely admit to taking some liberties with historical accuracy here… That said, in Napoleon’s Battles, each unit represents a whole brigade/regiment rather than an individual battalion, so it’s up to the individual as to how that brigade/unit is depicted.  I’ll normally pick one battalion from the brigade and paint that, though I do occasionally take liberties, as here… 😉

Guard Freiwillige-Jäger Detachments and the Garde-Jäger-Bataillon

An officer of the Garde-Jäger-Bataillon in full (and slightly non-standard) dress

Although I haven’t painted any Jäger yet, it’s probably worth mentioning them for the sake of completeness.  As with the infantry regiments of the line, each of the two regiments of the Gardes zu Fuss had a contingent of Freiwillige (i.e. Volunteer) Jäger, who provided a rifle-armed boost to the regiment’s skirmish screen. 

Volunteers were largely expected to equip themselves, with the payoff being that they automatically became NCO and officer candidates.  Fashionable regiments therefore attracted a greater number of Volunteers and the two Garde zu Fuss regiments at their height in 1813 each had around 300-400 Freiwillige-Jäger (i.e. two companies per regiment).

Uniforms for the Freiwillige-Jäger largely mirrored those of the parent regiment, except that the coat was now dark green instead of blue.  Facing colours, buttons and litzen lace were exactly the same as the parent regiment.  Belts were black leather and the plumes were plain black and much narrower (being in any case removed on campaign and the shako covered with a black oilskin cover).

An NCO of the Garde-Jäger-Bataillon in full dress

The Garde-Jäger-Bataillon was an independent Jäger battalion of four companies, numbering some 800 men.  In 1813 this battalion was frequently divided into two separate half-battalions; at Leipzig, one half-battalion served with Alvensleben’s Foot Guard Brigade while the other served with Yorck’s I Army Corps.

The uniform was essentially the same as that of the Freiwillige-Jäger, being a dark-green double-breasted coat and grey breeches.  Collar, cuffs, shoulder-straps and turnbacks were all poppy red and buttons were brass/gold.  The collar had two bars of metallic gold litzen lace and another two bars of litzen on each cuff, which were of ‘Swedish’ style, as for the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss.

Jäger battalions did not carry flags.

 

Models

As mentioned above, the majority of the models used are AB Figures 15mm Russian Grenadiers, taken from their ‘1805-1811’ Russian range.  However, the officers are taken from the Jäger/Fusilier Command Pack in their 1813-1815 Prussian range, one of whom is handily wearing a full dress shako with feather plume.  Flags are by Fighting 15s, who are the UK distributor for AB Figures.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Prussian Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 7 Comments

We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday!

Right that’s it!  I’m off to Malta for a week! 🙂

More silliness when I get back!

In the meantime I must apologies to those who will be unable to sleep until this guaranteed cure for insomnia returns…

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Royalist | Leave a comment