The Great 28mm Game in aid of Waterloo Uncovered, the veteran focussed archaeology project.
Some further additions to the 1984 press coverage of D-Day posted a few days ago: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/d-day-forty-years-on-1984/
Here is how the BBC Radio Times covered the events in D-Day week 1984. Some interesting colour magazine pictures in an otherwise black and white newspaper world.
This glossy 1984 newspaper souvenir from Portsmouth is proving a bit difficult to photograph so I will try to scan sections of this on a good scanner at some point in the next week or two. Some interesting veterans’ stories inside worth sharing more widely. Lots of the photos in the newspaper are freely available on the IWM website. https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/searchquery=&pageSize=15&style=list&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BPhotographs%5D=on&filters%5BthemeString%5D%5BNormandy%20Landings%201944%5D=on
Hope these two posts have been of interest. I found this interesting sketch by Rommel when rereading the very varied viewpoints from Allied and German forces and French civilians in Cornelius Ryan’s book The Longest Day (1959), abridged in True Stories of World War Two (Reader’s Digest 1981). It shows how formidable the beach defences could be where Rommel had his way, suitable time, materials and labour.
I have bought or will buy the equivalent newspapers for today and tomorrow for comparison 35 years on. Somewhere (!) I have other 50th 60th and 70th D-Day Anniversary newspaper cuttings gs, so will scan these in future as I find them again.
Posted by Mark Man of TIN on D-Day75 6th June 2019.
The D-Day 75th Anniversary is almost upon us.
At some point, maybe in 1984 or earlier, we must have gone on a family trip to to Portsmouth to see the Operation Overlord tapestry . I was fascinated with the intricate needlework, using real threads of battledress khaki, gold braid etc. I left with a souvenir guidebook that I still have today, showing and explaining each panel. My Dad explained that this was a modern Bayeux Tapestry, not 1066 but 1944.
I already knew a bit about D Day. I’d seen The Longest Day many times on television. I had received as a birthday present the 1980/ 81 Reader’s Digest Book of True Stories of World War Two (abridged) including a section of Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day book. Above all there was Airfix …
To a boy of the Airfix generation, I could as a child recognise the shapes and colours of the uniforms, tanks, ships and planes involved as they formed a large part of my imagination and childhood, just as a birdwatcher recognises different birds by shade, size and colour.
One of the other souvenirs of the 40th anniversary was this special edition newspaper by the News Portsmouth.
As part of the 40th anniversary my Dad collected or bought several different newspapers as he knew I would be interested and it would help my school history studies.
A former National Serviceman, my Dad worked with many WW2 veterans and sometimes at lunchtime or retirement parties they would talk to my Dad about their service days. Dad told me some of the odd story that they had told him about Operation Torch, Overlord etc. This made the accounts in history books seem much more real.
Looking back at these front pages, apart from everyone looking younger, you realise the Cold War was still in place and Nuclear war a possibility. The presence of President Reagan and NATO Allied leaders but not Russian or German representatives tells its own story.
I was more fascinated at the time by the veteran’s tales than the maps and grand strategy.
I shall post a few more D Day 40 years on 1984 items in the next few days. I hope you find them interesting as we head into the 75th anniversary.
D-Day 6th June 1944 remembered.
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, D-Day 75th Anniversary, June 2019.
Wellington’s 250th birthday celebrated today 1st May by the quirky radio programme on “Wellington’s Playlist”, his music choices – catch it on repeat and BBC I-player / BBC Sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03m3j6w
That Easter dilemma …
Easter egg or tiny tin men?
I chose wisely, the long lasting, low calorie, diabetic friendly option. Instead of chocolate or chocolate egg, I received from my family twenty tiny Boy Scouts from the Spencer Smith Miniatures (LBB30) from the 42mm Shiny Toy Soldiers Little Britons range.
The trigger for this non-chocolate choice was picking up a 1942 wartime copy of Wide Games from a seaside vintage shop. £4 well spent!
Flicking through this well used 1942 paperback, I noticed lots of Wide Game scenarios with maps. They are almost like Neil Thomas’ One Hour Wargames, but 1:1 scale in the outdoors.
Could these scenarios and maps be turned into “non violent” war game or figure gaming scenarios?
Could I in future adapt or create some rules that would work?
Could this work as a solo game?
Would it work on a grid system like my large hex game board?
Would it work better as a garden game than a tabletop game?
One of the interesting chapters is The Cloak of Romance, about turning Wide Games into imaginative role playing games through the addition of narratives, an aim or quest and characters or groups from history or popular literature.
Pirates? Cowboys and Indians? Frontiersmen? Smugglers? Cops and Robbers?
Wide Games on a small scale?
My late Dad was a wartime evacuee as a small boy from London to coast and country, told nostalgic tales of playing Cowboys and Indians after the war in some of the wild spaces and parks still left around London, and was obviously influenced enough by this freedom and National Service to go on to become a Cub Scout leader as an adult.
So I grew up with all this, and as a result didn’t stay in cub scouts beyond the early months of gaining a Bronze Arrow. Instead I went for long walks and dens and bushcraft alone with my Dad.
For some while, I have had pencilled in my notebooks some ideas about a ‘war game’ based on these Wide Games.
The last attempt was in OOHO railway scale attracted by the railway figures of trekcarts and tiny Boy Scout figures to give a big groundscale. Various companies do this including Langley Miniatures OOHO and N Gauge, Preiser OOHO (European / American – looking a little like Hitler Youth) and OOHO scale cubs and guides from Richard Harris at Looks Like Repros.
Sadly sculptor Tony Burley’s attractive cub scout and guide figures in 54mm are no longer available.
First I have to paint my Boy Scouts.
There was lots of interest in Boy Scout history and uniforms during the Boy Scout centenary anniversary of 2007. The original Scouting for Boys book (1908) was republished and I have a copy of this with its additional Scout Games and Wide Games ideas.
William Britain’s quickly issued c. 1911 an attractive glossy range of 54mm scale Boy Scouts, which are good for paint scheme ideas. Different patrol colour scarves etc?
Interestingly A. J. Holladay, a sergeant in the Volunteers in 1910 published rules for War Games for Boy Scouts played with Model Soldiers.
Judging by photographs of WW1 era and 1920s in my village history book, in reality a cub cap for boys or brownie headscarf for Girls was about as much as many ordinary children could afford.
The Little Britons figures I have in lieu of Easter Eggs remind me strongly of the Peanuts / Snoopy / Boys Scouts of America cartoon strips, each of them with their lemon squeezer or doughboy hats.
That comic genius Schulz has created a dog with a vivid Baden Powell / Wide Games “Cloak of Romance” about his every day adventures with Woodstock and his tiny feathered gang – whether it is escapee WW1 pilot, shot down by the Red Baron, Foreign legionnaires in the sand pit or an adventurous Boy Scouts of America troop. These are by far my favourite element of the Peanuts cartoons …
Thankfully some of the associated Shiny Toy Soldier 42mm range bought with such hats and arms with no rifles should work as Scout leaders and adults if required.
Colour scheme inspiration!
I suddenly remembered that amongst my few Victorian and Edwardian scraps of street life and military themes I have some Edwardian Boy Scouts. They have different patrol flags, something I could put onto some of their staffs.
The brother of James Opie the toy soldier collector is the packaging historian Robert Opie (their parents were Iona and Peter Opie, the folklore collectors of children’s nursery rhymes and playground singing games). A family of collectors!
If you have not come across Robert Opie’s Museum of Brands and Packaging in London, you might know him through his published scrapbooks including the WW2 Wartime Scrapbook and The 1910s Scrapbook which covers WW1 – and Boy Scouts, including the many board games cashing in on the Boy Scout craze.
Various cigarette manufacturers issued sets of Cub Scout cigarette cards with many attractive themes. These can be expensive to collect in sets but some can also be found reprinted in book form such as Boy Scouts Series 1 to 5 in Paperback 2013 by Trading Card Enterprises LLC (
There is much rich Cub Scout history out there
including about the military and Imperial origins of scouting and the complex character Robert Baden Powell, popular hero of the disastrous Boer War.
So there you are – lots of gaming scenario ideas, 20 Boy Scouts, and no calories.
I wonder how this renewed attempt at a Wide Games project will turn out?
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN (Bronze Arrow, retired) 27 April 2019.
It’s World Book Day on March 7th and International Women’s Day on March 8th (so unofficially the end of this year’s painting and modelling challenge #FEMbruary 2019).
To mark these dates I thought that I would review this fascinating military oral history book about Russian women in WW2. It is possibly one of the freshest and most interesting military or social history books that I have read about WW2 for several years since The Taste of War: WW2 and the Battle for Food by Lizzie Collingham (2011).
One of the downsides of reading many WW2 books is having to (skim) read the same material over and over again in different books, which makes finding new material or insights all the more interesting.
The author Svetlana Alexievich interviewed many Russian servicewomen in the 1970s and 1980s about their war experiences in WW2. She used the same ‘polyphonic’ oral history approach in her other work such as Boys in Zinc (1991) about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which I have not yet read.
The Unwomanly Face of War was published first in Russian in 1985, then translated into English in Moscow in 1988. The book was rejected by several Russian publishers as ‘unsuitable’ history. When this book was first written and the oral histories recorded, Russia was still the old USSR then. Glasnost and Perestroika were still several years away.
Svetlana Alexievich returned to the subject of the book in the early 2002-2004 and added or restored more material, presumably as some forms of Soviet 1980s censorship had changed by then. This is what is featured in this recent translation published by Penguin in 2017 / 2018.
There are some updated or presumably new sections in the preface – “what the censors threw out”, “from a conversation with a censor” and “what I threw out” – that are interesting to read in light of this self censorship and official censorship of what is suitable national history.
Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015 for her well curated “polyphonic” oral histories on Chernobyl, the Russian war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the break up of the USSR, children in WW2 and this unusual book on Russian women at war in WW2.
Why am I reading this book?
I began reading this book as part of my 2019 FEMbruary figure challenge to paint or celebrate your believable female gaming or model miniatures.
The recent 28mm Women of WW2 Bad Squiddo Miniatures range by Annie Norman had not only female soldiers, tank crews and snipers but also a command group of medics and radio operators, which I chose to paint. They are almost complete as of the end of #FEMbruary.
This FEMbruary blogpost also links to some interesting Guardian interviews with Svetlana Alexievich.
Fellow FEMbruary challenge acceptor Marvin at Suburban Militarism chose the Female sniper and spotter pair.
What makes the book unusual and fascinating is that it is skilfully curated directly from the words of the women themselves, presumably transcribed from tape recordings or letters. Their job roles go beyond the somewhat known – female snipers, the first female fighter pilots – and into the less well known but more stereotypically ‘feminine’ jobs. Surgeon. Nurse. Medical Assistants to infantry or Army Regiments – armed Combat Medics.
There were plenty of women who worked with or fought with the Partisans. Other women served on the front line as sappers, engineers, mechanics, radio and telegraph engineers.
Even more surprising were the oral histories from women proud of their patriotic service as Laundrywomen. Mobile bath units. Cooks. Bakers. You forget that someone had to clean and repair uniforms. Cook the bread. Boil the water for soldiers to have a hot bath.
These women are the equivalent to the unromantic duties of the ATS women in Britain who cooked, cleaned, baked and repaired for the war effort – but often in the war in Russia these jobs took women well into the combat zone and front line.
A quick scan through of the ranks listed after each woman’s name shows everything from Private and Partisan fighter through junior officers (“Lieutenant, Political Commissar of a Field Laundry Unit” was one of the most unusual) up to high ranking posts such as airforce officers and a rare, almost accidental female Naval Commander post!
The range of jobs listed by the interviewees is fascinating:
Factory Labour Front Worker
Partisan Underground Fighter / Liaison / Medic
Commander MG Platoon
Field Bath and Laundry Unit, Laundress
Construction Unit, Engineer / Sapper / Miner (land mines?)
Logistics / Driver / Traffic Controller
Postal Worker / Communications
Telegrapher / Telephone Operator
Nurse / Nurse Aide / Matron through to Surgeon
Paramedic and Private, Motorised infantry
(Front line) Medical Assistant to an Army Company or Cavalry Squadron
Airplane Mechanic / Car Mechanic
Pilot / Airforce Captain
Naval Fleet Commander
Some jobs I had never heard of such as an Aerostat Operator – I had to look this up. Surprsingly such odd or old fashioned sounding jobs are still advertised today! An aerostat (from Greek aer (air) + statos (standing) via French) is a “lighter than air aircraft that gains its lift through the use of a buoyant gas. Aerostats include unpowered balloons and powered airships. Especially with airships, the gasbags are often protected by an outer envelope.” (Wikipedia)
Maybe these aerostat operators are the equivalent of the WAAF girls who handled Barrage Balloons in Britain. These Aerostat balloons were known as ‘Pigs’ not just because of their shape but also stubbornly annoying “temperament”. Such balloon girls were immortalised in paint by British war artist Laura Knight. https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/15503
The Unwomanly Face of War sadly has no such illustrations, aside from the striking cover image of Natalya Kravtsova, commander of the 46th Guards Air Regiment, well decorated ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’. It would have been interesting to have seen wartime photos of these women at work or when they were interviewed in the 1970s and 1980s. However I’m sure a trawl through Soviet wartime art would reveal many Laura Knight style, realist/ Soviet heroic style portrait paintings of Russian servicewomen. Pinterest has many ‘recoloured’ portrait photos of Russian servicewomen, decorated, famous or otherwise.
It is not a pleasant read in parts, dealing plainly with frontline combat, injury and also the atrocities inflicted on Russian civilians.
There is also however friendship, romance, patriotic pride, occasional humour, stoic self sacrifice, postwar denial and a relief at finally being able to tell or record these stories and experiences many years later.
The end of my FEMbruary challenge 2019?
I am not sure what use this book would be to wargamers or tabletop gamers who focus on the Eastern Front in WW2 or what they would make of this book.
As I have no intention of gaming the Eastern Front in 28mm, I bought these Bad Squiddo figures more for diorama or vignette purposes. They could potentially be converted to female troops of other nationalities.
Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo Miniatures has a widening range of varied Soviet / Russian Military Women https://badsquiddogames.com/shop#!/WW2
There is an interview about this range with Annie Norman on the Meeples and Miniatures podcast about this Women of the Red Army range with Annie’s further book recommendations: https://meeples.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/meeples-miniatures-episode-168-bad-squiddo-games-women-of-the-red-army/
Just as many of the roles undertaken in wartime in Russia were mirrored in some ways in Britain in WW2, there’s a Bad Squiddo British Women of WW2 range. I have also painted some more of Annie Norman’s Land Girls from her Bad Squiddo Women of WW2 range as my challenge for FEMbruary 2019. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/back-to-the-land-for-fembruary-2019
Blogposted for International Women’s Day (8th) and World Book Day (7th) March 2019 by Mark, Man of TIN blog.
With an interest in Skirmish gaming, small games and uneven troop numbers, I found this book by Adrian Searle an interesting read about one of WW2’s unsolved mysteries, invasion scares and hush ups.
Did the Germans ever mount a raid on the radar stations of the Isle of Wight?
Officially according to U.K. Government Archives, no.
However Adrian Searle explores in detail the similar rumours along the East and South Coast such as Shingle Street as comparison material.
The secret history and development of British radar is covered in another chapter.
The German raid on Granville harbour in Northern France in March 1945
Operation Biting – The British Commando Raid on Radar stations in Bruneval Northern France February 1942 is given another chapter.
Tracing and evaluating eyewitness accounts (mostly German) and archive material (absences) takes up the rest of the book.
What makes this book interesting from a Games scenario point of view is the detailed inclusion of maps and terrain photographs of a raid that may or may not have happened.
A range of characters from German naval and military personnel, radar technicians, British civilians, Home Guard, British infantry and ARP Staff are featured.
The kind of detailed maps that game scenario writers love.
Here is Adrian Searle’s preface to whet your appetite.
Any good wartime history book needs blurb and an intriguing cover montage.
More commando raid type posts to come …
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN January 2019