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

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