Prussian Foot Guard Regiments 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 silver 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/Fuslier Command Pack in their 1813-1815 Prussian range, which 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 | Leave a comment

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

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Battle of Titley Junction

Hello.  This is Huw Puw reporting for The Fish Guardian.  Much to my surprise, I’ve survived the march and I now find myself in the land of the Saes!

As previously reported in the Fish Guardian here, here, here and here, I have had the ‘honour’ of being attached to the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment of the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes, who have today been in action for the first time.  I have therefore been witness to a remarkable military spectacle and demonstration of the military art; the likes of which have probably not been seen since Isandhlwana, Majuba Hill or Spion Kop.

For reasons only known to themselves, Cantref Cemaes agreed to supply a regiment as part of a Welsh offensive into Herefordshire and after a week’s march we found ourselves crossing the border near Presteigne.  Our objective was the vital railway junction at Titley (stop sniggering at the back).  To reach the junction, Welsh forces had to capture a pair of hills, (known as ‘Y Pen Crwn Fawr’ and ‘Y Pen Crwn Fach’), divided by a deep railway cutting and road-bridge.

Our Allies were apparently fellow Welsh Nationalists and allied Reds, though we couldn’t understand a word they said. We’re guessing that they were ‘Gogs’ from North Wales, as nobody understands them – least of all South Walian speakers of God’s Own Language.  In between bestial grunts, gargling phlegm and sentences ended in the baffling expression “No, Yeah?”, Lt Col Sharp eventually worked out that they wanted us to take the right flank, assaulting the southern slopes of Y Pen Crwn Fawr.  the Gogs would take the centre and the Reds would take the left flank, assaulting Y Pen Crwn Fach.

It also became clear that nobody had thought to bring any artillery… But no matter! We had Mansel Davies’ armoured wonder-weapons…

Our photographer (he’s not good but he is cheap) took some photos of the action:

Y Gatrawd ‘Twm Carnabwth’ forms up. The flags of Cantref Cemaes make a gay display.

Speaking of which… Y Merched Beca; The Daughters of Rebecca, Cemaes’ feared shock-troops, bring up the rear.

With strange, pith-helmeted loons formed on their left, Shemi Roberts’ 2nd (Mynachlog-Ddu) Section leads the assault with Mansel Davies’ Llanfyrnach Armoured Company in close support.

A heavy machine gun and armoured car deploy, ready to provide covering fire.

In front of them looms the forbidding silhouette of Y Pen Crwn Fawr.

The Gogs’ objectives are clearly in sight… But behind the sheep, the Herefordshire Territorials lie in wait along the hedgerows.

Behind the hill, the hamlet and railway station of Titley is prepared for defence.

Even the station staff arm themselves, ready to defend the ticket office.

Royalist artillery deploys next to Titley Farm. This unit was to be instrumental in the coming battle.

A band of foreign ruffians calling themselves the King’s Own Colonials deploy on Y Pen Crwn Fach.

Titley still looks peaceful as the battle opens beyond the hills.

Forward Observers near the bridge open the battle by directing artillery fire onto the advancing Gogs and Socialists.

The Territorials shout insults from the bridge parapet.

The Gogs return the compliment with dog-hauled heavy machine gun fire, though first blood goes to the Royalists, as artillery rounds land among the advancing Gogs.

As the Territorials wait for the range to close, a sniper opens up – somewhat ineffectually. On their left, the Titley LDV move up to the crest, opposite the men from Cemaes.

The Cemaes men reach the foot of Y Pen Crwn Fawr without incident and cross the hedge to begin climbing the slope.

The 2nd Section and an armoured car lead the way up the hill.

On their left, the Gogs and Socialists continue the advance under heavy artillery fire.

The clatter of hooves through Titley announces the arrival of the Herefordshire Hunt Hussars.

A hotch-potch of Royalist transport passes through Titley.

Unnoticed by the Royalists, a group of Welsh infiltrators has inserted itself into Titley, disguised as livestock. Good fortune is with the Welsh as the Hereford men completely fail to notice the clear differences between the Welsh Black and Hereford breeds…

The North Wales Constabulary Rifles take a direct hit from Royalist artillery.

The clatter of the Hussars’ hooves is matched by the clatter of militia boots, as the Titley LDV make their first retreat of the day.

As the Cemaes boys climb the slopes, shots ring out, as an anti-tank rifle engages the armour!  Mansel Davies’ engineering skills are proved worthy as the armour shrugs off the armour-piercing rounds.  Machine guns rattle in reply and the anti-tank rifle team is eliminated.

However, the Territorials now open up on the advancing infantry and 2nd Section suffers the first casualties of the day. Undaunted, the green 3rd (Llangolman) Section moves up on the right and engages the Titley LDV.

Shrieks of “I’ve lost a nail!” and “I’ve laddered my stockings on that gate!” announce the arrival of Y Merched Beca

In the centre, things are going badly for the Gogs, as an entire Section is wiped out, save for the Plaid Cymru political officer, who seems to have nine lives!  The sheep remain nonplussed.

The Cemaes 2nd & 3rd Sections meanwhile pour fire into the Territorials, giving as good as they get.

To their rear, the Cemaes armour and heavy weapons are now fully engaged. The 1st (Capel Rhydwilym) Section awaits orders to move forward from the hedgerow.  Dark rumours suddenly arrive of Socialist-back-stabbing, but without a Socialist in sight, the Cemaes men carry on with their mission.

On the far left, the Socialists advance up the river bank while being subjected to long-range artillery fire.

The KOC’s Sikh Detachment prepares to defend the river bridge on the extreme right flank of the Royalist position.

The Gogs continue their advance, horrified at the destruction of their lead section.

The Cemaes mood meanwhile, is buoyant. Victory is scented as the 2nd Section reaches the hedgerow and lobs its sole grenade into the heart of the Territorials.  On the right flank meanwhile, the 3rd Section is once again engaged with the Titley LDV, who have returned to the sunken road.

Y Merched Beca move in for the kill, keen to scratch the Royalists’ eyes out and give withering put-downs regarding their dress-sense (“Khaki webbing with black boots is SO 1918…”).

The Titley LDV and the Cemaes 3rd Section continue to duke it out on the flank, while the Hereford Hunt Hussars move up, ready to take advantage of an opportunity to charge to glory, tea and medals.

In the centre, the Gogs renew their advance on Y Pen Crwn Fawr.

But disaster strikes the Cemaes men!  Unseen by the Welshmen, the Royalist forward observer, having overseen the destruction of the leading Gog unit, has shifted position to the right.  Deadly-accurate artillery now begins landing among the Cemaes men!  The first round lands smack in the middle of Colonel Sharp’s HQ group, killing the Medical Officer and several men from the 1st & 2nd Sections, as well as the Merched Beca!  It also succeeds in destroying the tank!

But the pain isn’t over. The Territorials have also moved a Vickers MG team over to their left, which now proceeds to scythe down the Cemaes 2nd Section!  Further casualties are suffered by the 3rd Section and the whole attack quickly stalls.  [The road-signs are very nice morale markers by JP]

The Welshmen determinedly return fire, continuing to thin the Royalist ranks, though suddenly the pendulum of battle seems to be swinging back to the Royalists.

Nevertheless, the Royalists are worried by developments on their left. Men are pulled from the railway cutting to reinforce the left against the determined Welsh attack.

The Sikh Section, duty done, is pulled back through other KOC elements to reinforce the centre. The river bridge soon falls to the Socialists, though the KOC continue to lay down a heavy fire on to the Reds.

As the Cemaes 2nd Section sacrifices itself in the hedgerow, Y Merched Beca launch a desperate attack, lobbing their grenades across the road. Most of the machine-gunners are killed, along with one of the forward observer team and a number of riflemen, but the survivors continue to take a heavy toll on the cross-dressing Welsh lunatics!  However, on their left, the Gogs are breaking through!

On the right flank, the Cemaes 1st Section and the survivors of the 3rd Section finally push back the Titley LDV and secure the road.

At the crest of Y Pen Crwn Fawr, the last defenders are put to flight as a Gog armoured car bursts through the hedgerow into the lane.

The remainder of the Gog force, still very strong, swarms up the slope behind the armoured car.

As the surviving Cemaes infantry secure the lane, their heavy weapons and armour move forward, ready to defend against a Royalist counter-attack.

The Hereford Hunt Hussars demonstrate truly amazing qualities of horsemanship as they walk their horse backwards, along the lane to Titley. The Welsh infiltrators continue to observe…

The KOC dig in for the final defence of Y Pen Crwn Fach.

A self-appointed ‘morale officer’ is summarily shot by Royalist military police for Playing the Banjo in a Built Up Area With Intent to Cause a Breach of the Peace, while leaning on a lamp-post.

The Hereford Hunt Hussars are determined to defend a vital area… a very long way from the actual fighting…

The victorious Gog infantry secure the lane at the crest of Y Pen Crwn Fawr!

Cheers erupt around the Welsh and Socialist positions, as they see allied flags being waved from the heights! They’re not sure whose flag it is, but it’s not the King’s flag!  “Hurrah!”  “Cymru am Byth!” “Bydd gen I beint!” “Pwy yw cot yw siaced yma?!”  “Nid oes defaid yn ddiogel heno!”

However, the Gogs are soon engaged in a sharp but indecisive firefight across the railway cutting.

On the right, the exhausted but victorious Cemaes men dig in along the crest of Y Pen Crwn Fawr.

Mr Thomas Williams from Gelli hasn’t had a chance to fire his SMG all day and is itching for a glimpse of a Royalist… But no such luck.

Iorwerth Davies from Clunderwen meanwhile, lobs mortar bombs in the general direction of England.

There is traffic chaos in Titley as the Royalist rear echelons get mixed up with retreating units.

The Herefordshire Territorials’ Medical Officer examines a magnificent cock.

With the situation failing, the King’s forces stoop to dastardly means in an attempt to win the battle.  Here we see foreign ruffian mercenaries forcing a brave British soldier to attack alone up the hill.  This is the sort of imported evil with which we (and even the King’s own followers) have to contend!

At the end, the King’s forces were even employing CHILDREN to fight the battle, thus proving the righteousness and justice of our cause in fighting the King!

This is Huw Puw, reporting from the field of battle for the Fish Guardian and still alive!

[This game was actually played four years ago at one of many such Great Hereford VBCW Campaign Games in October 2014.  My thanks once again to all!  Especially to my victorious allies Genial Jim (Socialists) and Captain Bigglesmay (Gogs) and to our fine opponents JP (Hereford Territorials) and Roo (King’s Own Colonials).  Thanks also to Roo for his superb terrain-building skills and to Giles and JP for their excellent organising skills in bringing the three games together.  Since 2014 they have had an unerring knack of planning games that coincide with my holidays and this October is no exception, as I’m about to jet off to Malta… I think it must be me…]

 

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Games, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 3 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: Huw Puw Gets His Marching Orders

Hello.  This is Huw Puw, reporting once again from the Republic of Cantref Cemaes for The Fish Guardian.

Despite ample woolly distractions, the military build-up continues unabated in the Republic of Cantref Cemaes.  In particular, Major Mansel Davies’ workshops have been working day and night to produce armoured fighting vehicles the likes of which (and I am absolutely confident in this) the world has never seen before!

I can now exclusively reveal that the Army of the Repbulic of Cantref Cemaes has agreed to take part in a joint Welsh Nationalist expedition to the English-Welsh border and the Catrawd ‘Twm Carnabwth’ has been selected to fly the flag for Cemaes.  The Daughters of Rebecca are of course overjoyed at the prospect of action; they’ve done nothing but shop for new outfits and get their hair done ever since the warning order was received.

The mood of the men is jubilant and all across the camp can be heard the stirring Battle-Hymn of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes, sung lustily by tough men, raised in the Welsh Baptist choral tradition (sung to the tune of ‘Oh When The Saints Go Marching In’):

Defaid Blewog!
Defaid Blewog!
O mae defaid blewog yn wych!
Eu bod yn wyn, Cymraeg a blewog,
O mae defaid blewog yn wych!

Yes, it can truly be said that the King’s Army REALLY has no idea what’s about to hit them!  I look forward to seeing the Catrawd ‘Twm Carnabwth’ in action… If only to see what they’ll do next…

Our photographer has taken some more pictures of the regiment training and showing off their newly-acquired vehicles and heavy weapons.  Here we see the Buddig Mk I armoured lorry, suitably festooned in patriotic slogans:

The Buddig (named for the ancient British warrior-queen Boudica) has a crew of two and can carry a full section of infantry in extreme discomfort.

Here we see the Corgi Mk I armoured car, which has apparently been named for the tenacious Pembrokeshire breed of cattle-dog.  I presume there must be some other sort of Corgi, as ‘tenacious’ doesn’t accurately describe my aunties’ overweight, malodorous, self-propelled furry draught-excluders:

The Corgi has a crew of two and cargo-space for four men or eight sheep and is armed with a Vickers machine gun.

Here we see Mansel Davies’ Llanfyrnach Armoured Company on exercise:

Mansel Davies’ workshops have also been producing heavy weapons for the Army of Cantref Cemaes, including this 2-inch calibre light mortar.  This remarkable weapon acts as the platoon commander’s own ‘pocket artillery’, though has a poor reputation for safety.  I have it on good authority that one round in every box of six detonates in the barrel…  The crews have therefore been ordered not to fire every sixth round, which I’m sure you will agree, is a sensible precaution.  The mortar crewman here, assigned to the Daughters of Rebecca, is apparently wearing one of his Mam’s aprons.

As the regiment will be operating in concert (well not so much a concert, more of a drunken sing-song down at the pub (but not on a Sunday, obviously)) with other Welsh Nationalist units who might not recognise the flag of Cantref Cemaes, they have been issued with a flag displaying Y Draig Goch (The Red Dragon), to emphasise the common cause of all Welsh Nationalist factions on this mission.  They seem to like it, but to be honest, the dragon looks a bit like he’s woken up in the dark and is looking for the tŷ bach

Some machine-gunners zero the sights on their newly-issued Lewis Gun:

Mansel Davies’ workshops have been set to work copying captured weapons and manufacturing them locally.  These men have been equipped with a locally-produced ‘Boyos’ Anti-Tank Rifle:

So that’s it.  We march tomorrow.  My letters to the editor requesting a recall to Fishguard have gone unanswered and so this is it.  This is Huw Puw, for the Fish Guardian, signing off for probably the last time.

[Models by Empress Miniatures and Musketeer Miniatures, painted by me]

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 1 Comment

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: ‘Panzers y Cwm’…

Hello.  This is Huw Puw reporting from Somewhere in Darkest Carmarthenshire for The Fish Guardian.

Today I can exclusively reveal the latest wonder-weapon to roll out of Welsh workshops.  At long last, the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 19th Century!

This terrifying beast, allegedly the first of many, was wrought in the engineering workshops of Mansel Davies & Sons Transport Ltd at Llanfyrnach.  The design is said to be Spanish and some observers suspected that the agents of Cantref Cemaes had somehow smuggled the plans in from Spain…

Sadly, it seems that Mansel simply saw it in a book and made something that looked similar…

When this mighty beast of war rolled off the production line (well, not so much a ‘line’ as a ‘point’) it was observed that it looked just like a rubber duck in profile – rather like the cartoon duck Matilda, in fact! So ‘Matilda’ it was! Hurrah!

Two days later the Cease & Desist Order arrived from Vickers and they had to find another cartoon duck…

With the copyright wrangles resolved, we can now present the Jemima Mk I Light Tank (seen here on exercise with the Daughters of Rebecca):


The designers confidently assure us that the Jemima’s armour can resist even the stiffest air-rifle fire and even mis-thrown pub darts.  The Jemima’s armament of two Lewis machine guns meanwhile can penetrate the hide of even the toughest cavalry horse.  However, not everyone is happy with the new technology and there are complaints that these new machines scare off the sheep and make them harder to sneak up on…

Here we see Mansel Davies, now commissioned to the rank of Major and appointed to command the Llanfyrnach Independent Armoured Company.

I’m assured by my assigned military liaison officer that ‘nothing and nobody can now stand before the might of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes…’  Well indeed.  I’d run a mile as well…  I asked him what he thought of the rumour that Lord Rhys’ Kingdom of Dyfed was experimenting with magnetic mines strapped to sheep, who are then trained to find food beneath tanks…?  He replied that any sheep would immediately flee from the soldiery of Cantref Cemaes…

On that at least, we can agree.

That’s it for now from the Cemaes Front.  Huw Puw signing off.

Help me.

[The tank is a Trubia Light Tank by Empress Miniatures]

 

 

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 1 Comment

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Warfare That Dares Not Speak Its Name

Hello.  This is Huw Puw reporting from Christ Knows Where for The Fish Guardian.

As reported in my last dispatch, I find myself posted to the ramshackle hullabaloo that is the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes, as they prepare for a fresh offensive.

However, things have taken an alarming turn for the surreal with the arrival of the regiment’s ‘Special Company’ – ‘Merched Beca’ or ‘Rebecca’s Daughters’.  The Colonel tells me that ‘Special’ in this instance means Special Duties such as reconnaissance, raiding, patrolling, assaulting, etc.  However, having seen them, I have to say that the expression “My Mam says I’m ‘Special'” springs immediately to mind.

As reported previously, the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment and the Republic of Cantref Cemaes generally, places great store in the history of the local people and these chapel-proud, salt-of-the-earth folk do like to carry forward the traditions and arbitrary grudges of their ancestors.  However, much as I like history, some things can be taken a little too far and in the case of Rebecca’s Daughters, I think they might be using ‘tradition’ as an excuse to express some personal issues…

To recap; it is now almost 100 years to the day when in 1839, the men of Cemaes took up Bibles, axes, cudgels and the contents of their Mam’s knicker-drawer and led by the semi-mythical ‘Rebecca’, marched to smash the toll-gates (and in some cases, the skulls) of the rich.

Insurrection is all very well, but why the transvestism?!  Once again, the excuse for all this cross-dressing lies in tradition.

The original ‘Rebecca’, Twm Carnabwth, was known to be a keen advocate of the tradition of ‘Y Ceffyl Pren’ or ‘The Wooden Horse’.  This was an ancient ritual of vigilante punishment and humiliation, exacted upon adulterers, wife-beaters, nagging wives, petty criminals, Cardis* who failed to buy their round and those who ‘looked at my sheep in a funny way’.  This tradition also has parallels across Britain, such as the ‘Rough Music’ of Western England.

Those carrying out Y Ceffyl Pren would always dress in women’s clothing and would blacken their faces as a means of concealing their identity. However, there are always those who carry things too far and Twm Carnabwth probably had a whole wardrobe of outfits for all occasions. It is rumoured that Twm Carnabwth was almost late for the first riot at Efailwen due to being unable to choose which handbag and shoes to wear.

Nevertheless, the ‘Rebecca Riots’ spread like wildfire across Wales and were only eventually stopped by the combined forces of the Yeomanry, regular Army and the newly-raised Fashion Police.

So here were are 99 years later, with the modern-day equivalent of Rebecca and her Daughters. Some of them have gone for the traditional look – Welsh ladies’ stovepipe-hats and bonnets with shawls, while others have simply raided their Mam’s wardrobe.  I don’t know what they do to the enemy, but by God they frighten me…  In fact, I CAN imagine what they do to the enemy and that frightens me even more!

Here are a few photos of them taken during training. I was told to photograph their good sides, or they’d scratch my eyes out…

Here are Rebecca and her Daughters in full battle-array.  The flag of the company is based on the famous London Illustrated News woodcut of the first Rebecca Riot:
(Right) The modern-day ‘Rebecca’ is well-known raconteur and descendant of Twm Carnabwth from Mynachlog-Ddu, otherwise known as Eurfryn Plasymeibion.  ‘Rebecca’ wears a very smart mink coat, as befitting of an officer:

 

 

 

 

(Left) The ‘Daughters’ all prefer to be known by noms de guerre. The unit standard-bearer goes by the name of ‘Blodwen’:

 

 

(Right) ‘Dilys’ Mam was kind enough to give ‘her’ a very fashionable (for the 1920s) lilac ‘flapper’ dress, cloche hat and string of pearls:

 

 

 

 

(Left) ‘Cicely’ has kept things traditional, with a grey flannel skirt and stovepipe hat:

 

 

 

(Right) ‘Eilir’, the company machine-gunner, has gone even more traditional with the full Welsh ladies’ outfit of stovepipe hat, bonnet, skirt and red flannel shawl:

 

 

 

(Left) ‘Elsie’ presents a terrifying spectacle in ‘her’ baby-blue Victorian bonnet:

 

 

 

 

(Right) ‘Megan’ again favours the stovepipe hat, topped off with ‘her’ Mam’s pink housecoat (just in case the camp needs dusting):

 

 

(Left) ‘Bronwen’ has opted for a simple ensemble of skirt and headscarf:

 

 

 

 

(Right) ‘Lilian’ has gone for a bonnet and headscarf:

 

 

(Left) Finally, ‘Gwenda’ has opted for the shawl-with-apron look:

Be Afraid.  Be Very Afraid.

This is Huw Puw signing off.

*  Readers from benighted lands might not be aware, but Cardis are gentlemen from Cardiganshire, who are renowned the length and breadth of Wales for being ‘careful’ with their money.  The expressions “Careful as a duck’s arse” and “Like Scotsmen with the generous streak removed” are commonly used in the same sentence as Cardi.

[Models are all Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures, designed by Paul Hicks, converted by the lunatic Martin Small and painted by me]

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 2 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: A Dispatch From Somewhere Near The Back Of The Front

Hello. This is Huw Puw reporting from the front-line (wherever the hell it is – buggered if I know) for The Fish Guardian.

My editor last week asked me to ’embed’ myself with the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment of the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes.  Needless to say, I was shocked at such a suggestion.  God knows I’ve prostituted myself for a story before, but never with an entire regiment!  In any case, my bara-brith isn’t buttered on that side (and for that matter, neither is that of the Cemaes soldiery, as many a jealous Preseli hill-farmer can attest)…

I suggested Lady Gladys-Emmanuel Picton, as she’s probably got through the Bishop of St David’s army by now and is probably looking for a fresh challenge…

“No, you pillock! ‘Embed’, not ‘Bed’!  You’re to attach yourself to the Army of Cemaes and report on their forthcoming campaign!  Rumour has it that they’re marching on Hereford in support of the Welsh Republican Army and the Anglican League.  I’ve taken the liberty of packing your case.  No need to thank me, Huw.  Think of this as an opportunity, not as certain horrible death in a far-flung Herefordshire field armed with nothing more than a camera and typewriter…  Bye!”

So without further ado, I was bundled into a waiting car and whisked away out of Fishguard, with the sound of my colleagues cheering me on my way.  At least I think they were cheering me on my way…

So now I find myself at a secret training camp in darkest Carmarthenshire.  The countryside, as yet untouched by war, is quiet.  Only the sound of banjos, the occasional, surprised “BaaaAAAAA!” and the shouting of angry farmers breaks the silence.

I’m not permitted to reveal identities, but I was permitted to take a few photographs of the Twm Carnabwth Regiment in training:

As can be seen, the regiment is a fairly ragged spectacle, though they like their flags.  The main flag seems to be the old arms of Cemaes (two red stripes on white), with a green stripe for a Free Wales.  The 1st Regiment (‘Catrawd 1af’) is named for ‘Twm Carnabwth’, properly known as Thomas Rees, who was ‘Rebecca’ at the very first ‘Rebecca Riot’ in the Cemaes village of Efailwen, almost 100 years ago in 1839. The ‘Spirit of 1839’ runs deep in the memory of these people and many see the present war as simply a renewal of old grudges. Indeed, the elite ‘Cwmni Merched Beca’ (‘Daughters of Rebecca Company’) is said to dress in women’s clothing, as Rebecca and her sisters did in 1839.

The motto of the Twm Carnabwth Regiment, ‘Ac Maent Yn Bendithio Beca’ means ‘And They Blessed Rebecca’; a biblical reference which again harks back to their cross-dressing glory days.

Aside from occasional cross-dressing lunatics, the officers, NCOs and better-equipped soldiery wear Army-surplus uniforms dyed the typical bottle-green of the Welsh Nationalists.  However, the majority wear civilian clothes or uniforms from a variety of sources – often with a green item such as a jacket, hat or scarf.  Armbands in the Cemaes colours are fairly universal and those lucky enough to have helmets often paint them with a green band to aid recognition in the field.

Here we see a medic (right).  Specialised medical services are almost non-existent in this partisan army, though the Cemaes is supplied with a surplus of Mams, who will mother the wounded back to good health with lashings of tea and cawl.

As with uniforms, modern weapons are also in short supply. However, farmers’ shotguns are plentiful and ammunition is easy to manufacture.

One of the great strengths of the Cemaes is its core of young countrymen. With skills honed by a lifetime of sneaking up on unsuspecting livestock, these men make superb guerrillas and snipers.

That’s all for now. Rumour has it that those terrifying transvestites, the Daughters of Rebecca, will be joining us in the camp later this week.  Hereford won’t have seen anything like it since Lord Byron’s visit of 1808!

Until then, this is Huw Puw, for ‘Look Out Wales’, signing off.

[All models by Musketeer Miniatures, except for the sniper, which is by Great War Models. All painted by me.]

 

 

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 2 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes

With the Second British Civil War now 80 years in the past, its incredibly complicated history is rapidly being lost from our collective memory and many of the smaller factions of the war are largely forgotten.  One such faction was the heroic, but ultimately doomed tiny ‘Republic of Cantref Cemaes’, which grew out of the hills, valleys and chapels of the Pembrokeshire-Carmarthenshire borderlands.  Sir Richard Fenton, in his seminal work ‘With Thomson and Mills-Bomb to Little England Beyond Wales: The Civil War in Pembrokeshire’ had this to say:

The Republic of Cantref Cemaes – Y Gweriniaeth o Cantref Cemaes

Straddling the border of north-west Pembrokeshire and north-east Carmarthenshire, the Republic of Cantref Cemaes has grown out of a number of independent-leaning local defence associations north of the ‘Landsker’ (the border between the English-speaking south and the Welsh-speaking north of Pembrokeshire) that have banded together to form a joint front against the King.

Centred on the windswept Preseli market-town of Crymych, the Cantref Cemaes was originally a province of the pre-Norman Welsh Kingdom of Deheubarth (‘Cantref’ meaning ‘100 towns). Following the Norman Conquest, Cemaes became a Norman Barony and in the 17th Century became the birthplace of the non-conformist Welsh Baptist Movement.

Growing religious dissent, resentment of the land-owning classes, poverty and hunger during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries festered and came to a head in 1839, in the form of the ‘Rebecca Riots’. Led by the legendary ‘Rebecca’ (actually a man named Twm Carnabwth), bands of cross-dressing Welshmen rose up to smash the hated toll-gates. These riots started in the Cemaes village of Efailwen and quickly spread across Wales, requiring military intervention and the formation of a national civil police force.

With dissent in the blood, the people of Cemaes also hold little truck with the other Welsh Nationalist movements (particularly the more militaristic elements, such as the FWA and the Kingdom of Dyfed) and generally just want to be left alone. However, they do send non-voting representatives to the Senedd at Macynlleth.

The Republic is firmly based in the deeply-rooted Welsh non-conformist chapel tradition. Each chapel is therefore responsible for electing its own assembly representative and for forming its own militia, as well as raising funds for the Republic. Chapel militias from the same district are then banded together to form regiments (‘Catrawdau‘) which generally serve within, or close to, their home district. The Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes is therefore just a very large LDV force. This has its advantages in defence, as every soldier knows his own territory intimately and can function extremely well in the guerrilla role. However, this organisational structure does stymie offensive capability and to mitigate this, each chapel recruits a quota of ‘volunteers’ to serve in the standing ‘Hedfan Colofn’ (‘Flying Column’), which is a regimental-sized rapid-reaction force, being well-equipped by the standards of the Republic, with motor transport and a very small amount of captured and home-built armour, as well as artillery.

However, the Republic is presently land-locked and therefore has little access to modern weaponry, ammunition and supplies other than what it manages to capture or trade at extortionate prices with neighbouring Welsh Nationalist factions. The Republic is therefore involved in a three-way race (with the FWA north of the Preselis and the Welsh Republic north of the River Teifi) to take the Royalist enclave of Cardigan and thus have access to seaborne trade and foreign support. Thus far, the three sides have maintained a united (though disorganised) front against the Royalists at Cardigan, though the situation has the potential to lead to conflict between these three Welsh Nationalist factions.

Another potential flashpoint is along the River Cynin, which runs north from the town of St Clear’s and marks the Republic’s eastern border, which extends up as far as the market town of Newcastle Emlyn, on the River Teifi. There, Lord Rhys’ Army of the Kingdom of Dyfed has become increasingly belligerent in attempting to impose his authority on the Republic’s eastern communities.

Among all this are continual raids and skirmishes with Loyalist forces along the Landsker, combined with the continual problems caused by refugees trickling north to Crymych from that ravaged country.

The two advantages enjoyed by the Republic of Cemaes are the determined and belligerent people and the hilly terrain, broken by moors, woodland, rivers, deep valleys, narrow sunken roads and densely-hedged fields. As in Ireland, this creates a perfect environment in which to fight a guerrilla war and the Republic’s armed forces have performed superbly in that role. One outstanding guerrilla unit are the ‘Daughters of Rebecca’ (‘Merched Beca’), a terrifying regiment of fighters from the Landsker who blacken their faces and dress like old Welsh ladies, aping the legendary Rebecca rioters of a century earlier. This proud heritage of dissent is commemorated in other unit titles, such as the Gatrawd (Regiment) ‘Twm Carnabwth’, named for the local man who became the original ‘Rebecca’, and the Gatrawd ‘Twm Siôn Cati’, named after the legendary Welsh equivalent of ‘Robin Hood’. Other units have titles drawing from a rich local seam of Welsh legend.

Aside from some British Army surplus, uniforms and proper military equipment remain rare and those uniforms that do exist are frequently home-made. As in other Welsh Nationalist forces, green remains a popular colour for uniforms and civilian dress alike, though the Army of Cantref Cemaes presents a very ragged spectacle. Nevertheless, armbands are universally worn as a field-sign, being in the traditional colours of Cantref-Cemaes; two horizontal red stripes on white. Some armbands have also been seen with a green stripe inserted between the two red stripes, representing their Welsh Nationalist affiliation. Flags are in the same colours.

[Figures are by Musketeer Miniatures (now Footsore Miniatures), sculpted by Paul Hicks and painted by me, with superb conversions by Martin Small.]

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 5 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Welsh Are Revolting!

Huw Puw interviewing a soldier on the Pembrokeshire front line

Hello.  This is Huw Puw reporting from front-line Fishguard, for The Fish Guardian.

Rumours have been spreading recently of an offensive by Welsh Nationalists belonging to the Republic of Cantref Cemaes.  Details are sketchy, but this photo was allegedly taken by a Preseli sheep-farmer shortly before his farm was overrun by a ravening chapel militia:

In other news, we have reports of ‘Something Happening’ in Lower Town Fishguard today. This is thought to be the first occurrence of ‘Something Happening’ in Lower Town since the French invasion of 1797.  Residents are advised to stay indoors and not to be alarmed, as it will surely not last long.  More news when we get it.

This is Huw Puw signing off.

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 2 Comments

Cold War Polish Infantry

As mentioned in my recent article on SKOT armoured personnel carriers, earlier this year I picked up a load of 15mm Polish Cold War infantry by a Polish company called Oddzial Osmy.  At the time, these were only available in the UK from Fighting 15s, though he was selling off his stock, so they are now available from Magister Millitum.

This small range includes six packs:

Pack 1 has six riflemen armed with AKM rifles.

Pack 2 has six men with mixed weapons: an RPG-7 gunner & associated ammo-carrier (armed with AKM), a PKM machine-gunner & ammo-carrier (AKM), a rifle-grenadier armed with an AKM with a Wz. 1974 Pallad under-barrel 40mm grenade-launcher and an NCO armed with AKM.

Pack 3 has two pistol-armed officers and a sniper armed with a Dragunov sniper rifle.

Pack 4 has six SA-7 ‘Grail’ MANPADS gunners in two poses.

Pack 5 has two AT-3 ‘Sagger’ ATGM teams, consisting of two missile units, two prone missile operators and two prone riflemen.

Pack 6 has three PKMS general purpose MG teams, each of two prone figures and a tripod-mounted PKMS.

So while this might only be a very small range of figures, everything you need to create a Cold War Polish infantry platoon or company is there and if you want to create a battalion, the only things missing are mortars (which in any case can be off-table in a game).    It might be nice to have some more packs to increase pose variation or expand options such as AT-4 ‘Spigot’, AT-7 ‘Saxhorn’, mortars and artillery forward observers, but beggars can’t be choosers and this is a hugely welcome range of models!

I should also add that the sculpting on these figures is truly superb!  The level of detail and accuracy simply cannot be faulted and in terms of size, they fit in perfectly with offerings by Team Yankee, QRF and the other main 15mm Cold War ranges.

One slightly surprising feature is that these models are cast in a strange, hard and very lightweight metal alloy and not the customary lead/tin alloy!  Aluminium or zinc, perhaps?  This does make them VERY difficult to clean up, as the metal is simply too hard for a scalpel to scrape off flash and mould-lines, so it was time for me to break out the snips and files!  Thankfully, the casting is very clean and mould-lines are blessedly rare.  The only other models I’ve encountered cast in such a hard metal were a long-forgotten range of fantasy figures called Thunderbolt Mountain Miniatures (anyone here remember those?  They did exquisite tournament knight sets… Anyway, I digress…).  This means that the weapons are tough and resistant to bending, but probably rather more brittle than with lead-based metals (I haven’t tested this theory yet).

Painting Your Poles

The Polish People’s Army wore a distinctly different uniform to that of their Soviet or East German neighbours and allies (which is what makes this range so useful!).  The field uniform was distinctly baggy, with large cargo pockets on the thighs – more Western in style than Soviet.  The uniform colour was a distinctly bluish grey-green, being considerably less khaki than Soviet uniforms, as can be clearly seen below in this photo of a tug-of-war match between Polish and Soviet soldiers:For the main Polish uniform colour, I use the same colour that I use for my Cold War West Germans and Canadians, namely Humbrol 116 (US Dark Green), highlighted with roughly a 2:1 mix of Humbrol 116 and white.  Humbrol 116 is the colour used for the dark green component of 1980s US MERDC vehicle camouflage.  A winter combat jacket in the same colour, with brown faux-fur collar (and a matching brown ushanka faux-fur hat with brass Polish eagle badge) was also issued.

Polish camouflage jacket issued to some units

During the 1980s a camouflage jacket was also issued to some units, starting with the 6th Airborne Division.  This was again a grey-green, with a very subtle dappled pattern (reminiscent of reptilian skin) in very dark green.  To be honest, the effect is so subtle that at this scale, it would just look the same!

Helmets were a very dark green, being painted on the front with the communist version of the traditional Polish eagle standing on a crescent-shaped shield (minus the royal trappings of pre-communist Poland).  While these were originally stencilled on with white paint, they quickly faded and got rubbed down to near-invisibility, so can be left off or painted in more muted tones.  However, I opted to paint the helmet-eagles in pure white in order to artificially ccentuate their ‘Polishness’.  It’s not accurate, but it does look rather good (see the officer here on the right)…  In any case, Polish helmets were normally covered in the field with scrim-netting and the modeller has done a superb job of modelling the scrim, which really pops out with a light khaki dry-brush.

Polish webbing equipment was normally olive drab, fading to light khaki.  I’ve used Humbrol 86 (Olive Green) with a Humbrol 83 (Ochre) highlight.

Lastly, while black boots were worn for barrack/parade dress, brown leather boots were worn in the field.

Polish Small Unit Organisation

At the higher levels, the Polish People’s Army was organised very much along standard Soviet lines, with Fronts, Armies, Divisions and Regiments.  However, at low-level the Poles ploughed their own tactical furrow and there were some distinct differences in organisation and equipment.

Polish mechanised infantry sections were initially 10-12 men strong (sources disagree) and were mounted either in a SKOT 8-wheeled APC or a TOPAS tracked APC.  When the distinctly more cramped BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle (known to the Poles as the BWP-1) began replacing TOPAS during the 1970s, the section strength was reduced to seven men, though SKOT sections appear to have been unchanged.

There were three sections to a platoon and like the Soviets, the platoon commander and platoon sergeant would have no specific platoon HQ vehicle; they would ride with one of the sections.

The standard Polish infantry rifle was the 7.62mm AKM, which was an improved version of the legendary AK-47 and was manufactured locally in Poland.  However, unlike the Soviets and most Warsaw Pact armies, the Poles took the decision during the 1960s to stick with a belt-fed light machine gun (namely the Soviet 7.62mm PKM) as the core of section firepower.  The Soviets and most Warsaw Pact armies switched to the magazine-fed RPK light support weapon (a heavy-barrelled version of the AKM) at this time, though the Soviets did mass some PKMs together as a Machine Gun Platoon in each Motor Rifle Company.

In order to further increase platoon firepower, the third section in each Polish infantry platoon was issued with a Stepanov tripod mount for its PKM machine gun.  The combination of the PKM and tripod was designated as the PKMS.  The platoon’s single Dragunov sniper rifle would also issued to a rifleman of the platoon’s third section in lieu of his AKM and as such, the third section would become the platoon’s base of fire.

In order to increase the platoon’s firepower even further, every section had a single RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher.  They would also be well-stocked with a variety of Polish-designed rifle grenades for both high explosive and anti-tank work.  Some of these required a special carbine (based on the AKM) to launch them, though improved versions could simply be fired from a standard AKM.  The Pallad 40mm under-barrel grenade launcher was also coming into widespread service during the 1980s and at least one man in each section was normally equipped with one of these.  There was also a stand-alone 40mm grenade launcher called the Pallad-D which was light enough to be carried as a secondary weapon (one source describes Polish platoon commanders as having these and West German platoon commanders were frequently armed with a very similar weapon).

The rifle grenades partially made up for the lack of a suitable light anti-tank weapon (LAW) such as the Soviet RPG-18, which was widely used by the Soviets and by other Warsaw Pact allies such as East Germany.  Poland and Bulgaria collaborated on their own LAW design, with the intention of producing a weapon that minimised back-blast and could therefore be used from within buildings.  However, Bulgaria pulled out of the project and the resultant weapon, the RPG-76 Komar  proved to be distinctly underwhelming, seeing only very limited service with the Polish People’s Army.

A Polish Mechanised Company organised for ‘Battlefront: First Echelon’.

A Polish mechanised infantry company had three such platoons and a small company HQ, mounted in a single vehicle.  The company HQ also included three SA-7 ‘Grail’ (9K32 Strela-2) MANPADS.  The SA-7 was a somewhat decrepit and inadequate weapon, but the Polish Army didn’t manage to replace it before the end of the Cold War.  Some units also managed to acquire an AT-7 ‘Saxhorn’ (9K115 Metis) ATGM, though these remained very rare in Polish service.  Where units had them, there would typically be one per company HQ and they would not be issued to units equipped with BWP infantry fighting vehicles, as the BWP had its own integral ATGMs.

A Polish Mechanised Infantry Battalion organised for ‘Battlefront: First Echelon’ (minus mortar platoon) – 3x Companies, plus HQ and Anti-Tank Platoon.

A Polish Mechanised Infantry Battalion normally had three Mechanised Infantry Companies and a Mortar Platoon equipped with 6-8 82mm or 120mm mortars (or a mixture of both – sources vary).  SKOT and TOPAS-equipped battalions also had an anti-Tank Platoon equipped with 6x AT-3 ‘Sagger’ (9M14 Malyutka) or AT-4 ‘Spigot’ (9K111 Fagot) ATGMs.  Some units also had an Automatic Grenade Launcher Platoon, equipped with AGS-17 Plamya, though these remained rare in Polish service.

Each Mechanised Infantry Regiment had three such battalions, plus a Tank Company and other combat support elements.  However, some sources suggest that there was a move toward removing the Battalion layer of command and instead having large battalions designated as Regiments.  This certainly occurred in the 6th Airborne and 7th Marine Divisions, where Regiments were downsized during the late 1970s, with each being reorganised as 5x Infantry Companies reporting directly to Regimental HQ (plus an Amphibious Tank Company in the case of the Marine Regiments). It isn’t clear if the Polish Mechanised Infantry Regiments and Tank Regiments were also reorganised in this manner, so more research is required!

Now to get them into a game…

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