Inspired by Tradgardmastre’s snow pictures!
It has stopped snowing where I live and stormy winds and rain have replaced the snow clouds. The snow is beginning to melt but not before I found one of my Britain’s style ski Troops in my toy soldier collection. Not sure if he is an original or a repair or recast, certainly he has been repainted.
Many of my Airfix 1:32 German Mountain Troops from childhood have long since disintegrated, one of those sets where the plastic turned brittle and crumbled fast. The newer Airfix replacements (available recently) that I have bought are not yet painted. So this solitary metal Ski trooper, picked up in a job lot of metal figures, stands in for them.
There is an interesting section on Ski Troops on Wikipedia, including some references to Norwegian Ski troopers in Napoleonic times. Napoleon’s Troops famously were famously routed by winter weather in 1812, the Germans again in 1942.
Apart from the disastrous British involvement in the Norway Campaign of 1940, I was not aware of much mountain warfare in WW2. I knew that the Finns fought successfully against the Russians for a time in 1939/40. I always thought that this Britains Ski trooper in white snow suit represented in sets 2037 / 2017 was based on these brave Finnish troops.
Reading the Wikipedia entry https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ski_warfare
I was surprised to learn of Australian ski Troops fighting Vichy French in the mountains of Lebanon in WW2. Equally I was surprised to discover Greek WW2 ski Troops http://greek-war-equipment.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/ski-troops.html
I thought that my tiny 15mm Peter Laing WW1 Italian Alpini with their great feathered cap might disappear into the snow, so rescued them and sought out my Britains 54mm Ski trooper.
Peter Laing did do a WW1 French Chassueur D’Alpin along with Soviet and Finnish ski troopers in their WW1 Russian Civil War range but sadly I never bought any of these.
Somewhere I have some fine Atlantic Alpini OO/HO WW2 Italian Mountain Troops, a great set with a truculent mule as well. Recently Waterloo 1815 have issued Alpini and US Mountain troops.
Winter War in Napoleonic Times
In my IBooks I have stored an interesting short PDF by George Falco de Mats or De Mas called Winter War in Napoleonic Times – unfortunately I cannot find a link or URL – with interesting pictures of ski scouts.
The author George Falco De Mats / Mas’ photographs in the PDF from the Kongsvinger Museum also show an ingenious sledge cannon and a Norwegian 1808 Jäger uniform
There are some excellent reenactor pictures of Norwegian Napoleonic era ski troops here in superb costumes:
This whole area of the Napoleonic Wars is unknown to me. Thankfully Wikipedia has a summary:
“The Dano–Swedish War of 1808–1809 was a war between Denmark–Norway and Sweden due to Denmark–Norway’s alliance with France and Sweden’s alliance with the United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. Neither Sweden nor Denmark-Norway had wanted war to begin with but once pushed into it through their respective alliances, Sweden made a bid to acquire Norway by way of invasion while Denmark-Norway made ill-fated attempts to reconquer territories lost to Sweden in the 17th century. Peace was concluded on grounds of status quo ante bellum on 10 December 1809.” (Wikipedia source)
There was also a Norwegian war of independence in 1814 between https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish–Norwegian_War_(1814)
“The English Wars (Danish: Englandskrigene, Swedish: Englandskrigen) were a series of conflicts between England and Sweden with Denmark-Norway as part of the Napoleonic Wars.
It is named after the most prominent region of its other main participant, the United Kingdom, which declared war on Denmark-Norway due to disagreements over the neutrality of Danish trade and to prevent the Danish fleet falling into the hands of the First French Empire.
It began with the first battle of Copenhagen in 1801 and its latter stage from 1807 onwards was followed by the Gunboat War, the Dano-Swedish War of 1808-1809 and the Swedish invasion of Holstein in 1814.” (Wikipedia source)
Lots of interesting Napoleonic conflicts that I have not heard of before, beyond Copenhagen, the sources being mostly not in English and ones which I have not seen on a gaming table. There are some interesting gaming blogs on this subject.
I was unaware of English involvement in the Swedish- Danish / Scandinavian Wars.
George Falco De Mas /Mats refers to a book available in reprint Narrative of The Conquest of Finland by The Russians which is a dispirited free download PDF on Google Books; it looks an interesting book.
Published in 1854 around the time of the Crimea this refers to the events of 1808-9.
Imagine Napoleonic British troops and Royal Navy in action in support of the Swedish King Gustavus against the Russians. Apparently the ‘mad’ Swedish King Gustavus would not let the British troops land and even arrested Sir John Moore, according to a brief entry in Jenny Uglow’s In These Times.
I will see if I can find the original URL or link of the PDF by George Falco De Mas or DeMats; until then I have cut and pasted some of the photographs onto the blog, suitably credited.
Blogposted by Mark, Snow-Man of TIN, 2 March 2018
7 thoughts on “Snow and Ski Troops”
Thankyou Mark for a most interesting and informative post. Very topical!
Snow is still quite heavy here in Central London.
A very interesting and very topical post, Mark! I painted some Swedish (and Finnish) troops by HaT some time ago during which time I did a little cursory research but was not aware of the ski troops. And I’ve more recently had my eye on those Waterloo 1815 Italian Alpini for my WWI troops.
Very weirdly, I’ve barely had more than a bit of light drifting snowflakes here in the midlands, scarcely any of which has settled! This phenomenon seems to be quite localised for about a five mile radius around my house. No doubt this situation may well change by tomorrow…
That is the weirdly local nature of snow.
The Alpini will be an interesting choice to paint. I ought to get my Airfix German Mountain Troops painted at some point.
Bah! Looks like I spoke too soon – it’s snowing hard now and settling. I have those Airfix troops unpainted from many years ago – I’d quite forgotten about them until now.
I hadn’t heard of those battles and I’m interested, especially in the Syrian instance. Usually we don’t think of snow in that region and I have never heard mention of Aussies fighting in the snow in Syria.
Photographs by Frank Hurley the polar photographer http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-02/aif-ski-troops-training-in-lebanon-during-world-war-ii/8490432
Curious story James
9th Division Ski Battalion Australian Army
And more pics from Australian war memorial / govt collections on Pinterest.
Film footage of training and more links to people and bigs in the YouTube comments https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iNjClWszXso