Wednesday, 28 May 2014

"Operation Gericht": Partizan 1 June 2014

Just a quick update regarding the "Operation Gericht" game that TooFatLardies, Richard Clarke and myself are running at Partizan this coming weekend.  I’ve still to finish off the last of the French machine guns, which just need some webbing and the layers of Horizon Bleu. There is also a small French command group to paint, although I’m not sure if that will be finished in time – fingers crossed they get done as they should look quite fun on the tabletop.

There’s still a fair bit of work on the terrain to finish.

The game is set on the edge of the village of Fleury on the decisive day of 23 June 1916. Fleury is one of the “lost villages” of France – one of nine villages close to Verdun which were completely destroyed in the Great War.  There was no rebuilding of Fleury after the Great War, was never repopulated but is managed by a municipal council of three members appointed by the prefect of the Meuse department.   In every way, the village of Fleury died for France.

Although Ian Ousby, in his fine book “The Road to Verdun” mentions that in the early stages of the battle, despite shell damage, meals were still laid out on tables in the village homes, this would be a distant memory by June 1916. 

By then, according to Raymond Jubert, a veteran of the battle, the battlefield was a series of “melancholy little scenes and, in obscure corners, of little heaps in which one cannot be at all sure if the mud is flesh or the flesh is mud”. 

I’m aiming with the buildings from Fleury to try and reflect more of a shadow of what was there before, or a smudge on the terrain, than anything which looks like a village in a typical wargaming sense. It’s really a rather grim piece of terrain to want to model, but I’ll post the results in the next post (hopefully with, at last, the finished French machine guns).

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Paris and the Musée d’Armée

I always enjoy visiting battlefields which I'm trying to wargame. For various reasons, I’ve not yet been to Verdun. My wife felt that it was not really a very “child friendly” location, and on balance I think she might be right. So, in February this year, I took the family to Paris for a few days. Not Verdun, but splendidly French all the same.

By way of posting some lovely shots of a wintry Paris on this blog – which are always pretty easy on the eye – here’s some memories of a wonderful trip earlier this year.

Paris … city of lights, champagne and the destination of choice for the German Army for close on one hundred years…

I’ve always liked the statue of Louis XIV in front of the Louvre. It’s the perfect classical image of the baroque monarch – energetic, dynamic, exemplary, self-conscious, triumphant. All qualities which made it so easy for his enemies to portray the great French monarch as arrogant and tyrannical as they assembled their Grand Alliances against him.

Gazing on the wonders of nineteenth century French art is a fine way to pass any afternoon…

…although some of the images being mounted in front of construction sites in Paris are equally distracting.

The children enjoyed to Montmartre where they were slightly bemused by what on earth was going on….

….before heading to the Tomb of Napoleon and the Musée d’Armée.

Probably the most photographed FT-17 in the world….

....some wonderful paintings of the Franco-Prussian War...

Le Soixante-Quinze....reminding me that I have to finish my 28mm versions.....

Mobile warfare 1914 style...

Some excellent French tank crew helmets which I hadn't seen before...

A great example of what a French field telephone should look like...

...Little Toads....(or corguettes)...

...and here's one for Padre Mike Petersen - an excellent French priest's uniform, complete with a very fine Holy Communion valise. If only someone would make one of these in would make the perfect scenario complement to the Homme Soupes on many a wargames table!!

Some excellent uniforms for the Tirailleurs Senegalais...

...and some troubling examples of Horizon Bleu...which did, indeed, look very very blue!

Here were hundreds of other photos, but my guess if that the last thing you want to see if pictures of my children behaving badly on French open-topped tour buses. So I'll leave you with this quite pleasant one of an evening sky in Paris in February, 2014.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Partizan Preparation: French Machine Guns

Preparation for our Verdun participation game at the Partizan show on 1 June is currently well under way at Roundwood Towers.  In between painting the last few French figures for the game, I've being doing some reading, and re-reading.

I've had the French machine guns for the game sitting in a box file for some time.  I've been painting a Hotchkiss machine gun and a captured MG08, brought into service by the French against its former owners.  I've also been wanting to finish off a few additional French junior leaders for some time.  They're now all about 50% as you can see from the photos on this post.  I generally don't enjoy this stage of painting as the figures look very much half done - dark, grubby and blending all too realistically into their bases as they await highlighting and detailing.  I'm hoping to get them finished on Saturday morning.

On my morning commute I've been re-reading Ian Ousby's excellent "The Road to Verdun", which out of all of the books I've read about Verdun perhaps best captures the mental horror of the battle for the French soldiers and nation.  Michel Goya's "La Chair et L'Acier" is an excellent read, although my French is not really good enough to read it at any speed.  I'm translating rather than reading in any real sense of the word.

"La Chair et L'Acier" is, nevertheless, a very good read in any language, and after Partizan is over I'll post a full review here.

Next up, a tour through Paris, and some handouts for the Operation Gericht game at Partizan.  Hope you can join me for that!  On les Aura!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A Small Celebration: 500 Followers

You might have seen that the number of followers on this blog has slowly ticked around to 500. Sometimes a lot of people seem to sign up to follow in a short time. Sometimes, the number sticks at something like 386 forever. But over the years, people like you have continued to follow the blog, and I hope you've all enjoyed what's here.

500 followers sounds like it should be a milestone.  It almost feels like it should be part way to something bigger.  Well, possibly ... but not quite.  I thought I'd spend a moment about what blogging means to me.

This blog started as a way of giving back to the hobby that I have loved for decades now. It started with just a hope that I could share my experiences, mistakes, frustrations and confusion with making some trench terrain for a participation game at Salute in 2009. The blog then spread to after action reports, painting guides, book reviews and other things which I hope that someone, somewhere found at least slightly useful.   I've tried to concentrate on a few wargaming periods, with an emphasis on the visual aspects of wargaming.  But as you probably know, I've sometimes been diverted and distracted!

Over the years, my blog has drawn its inspiration from many, many people.   You probably recognise bits of ideas, terrain or painting from yourself, or from your friends, on here.  Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen - I'm guilty as charged!  I've shamelessly borrowed ideas and themes from giants in the hobby writing in magazines, from clubmates who were bemused about what on earth I'm doing, from friends who I’ve met across the table just a couple of times, from games I've seen at wargames shows ...  

 In so many way, this blog has been a sum of parts, the best of which came from all of you. 

And the blog's been inspired from other blogs and websites.  It's hard not to be inspired by such a creative and helpful community.  And, right back at the beginning, it was inspired by the words of one blog post from 2010 - "if you think you don't have anything to blog about, think again".  I haven't found a better inspiration to starting, and continuing, a blog than that. Thank you again, Mel !

I've really had no preconceived ideas about what to blog about, or how often to blog. Ideas and inspiration have come from time to time. Some seem to have worked, others …. perhaps less so.  

I hope you've really enjoyed the past four and a half years of the blog. With over 500 followers, and 370,000 page views, I feel a bit humbled and definitely unworthy. I don't think I'm anyone special in the hobby. I just love the hobby, and the people who share it with me, whoever and wherever you are. And to each of you, I'd like to say a huge thank you for reading, viewing, commenting and following. Without you, this blog would be nothing.

And so, to the future. Next up is our Verdun participation game at Partizan on 1st June 2014. Expect more posts on a Verdun theme over the three weeks as we lead up to the big day for Operation Gericht.

And to round off this post, here's some of my favourite memories of the past few years of blogging ...

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