#FEMbruary 2020 Girl Scout Patrol Challenge completed on Leap Day

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Daisy Patrol completed at last …

Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN 29th #FEMbruary 2020 – more photos of my finished #FEMbruary Girl Scout Patrol figure conversion  challenge here at:

https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com/2020/02/29/fembruary-leap-day-2020-girl-scouts-patrol-finished/

Happy Leap Day 2020. How have you spent your extra Leap Day? 

Women Soldiers – Girl’s Own Paper Article 1893

As part of FEMbruary 2020, here’s an interesting article on Women Soldiers from a random edition of the Girl’s Own Paper that I once owned, dated November 4th 1893

G.O.P. was sister to the Boy’s Own Paper – I wonder what their boy’s take on an article about Woman Soldiers would be?

The opening page with herald – Taran Tara!

A Victorian take on women in the military:

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Article written by Laura Alex. Smith, Girl’s Own Paper November 4th 1893

The Dahomey Amazons featured in my FEMbruary blogpost of 2018: https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/more-dahomey-amazons/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/colonial-amazons-women-soldiers-of-dahomey-and-siam/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 27 FEMbruary 2020

This is the GOP edition that this Women Soldiers article came from.

And for good measure, a fine military looking gent  in GOP, December 3rd 1887:

Marlene Lilli visits the lonely NAK desert troops 1941

Marlene Lilli the famous singing star and “Forces Sweetheart” visits a lonely desert airstrip to cheer the lonely NAK NordAfrika Korps troops.

#FEMbruary 2020 – a chance to celebrate beleivable female gaming miniatures.

Marlene Lilli is a useful little platform figure from the Peco / Merit / Modelscene set 5201 Unpainted Army, Navy and Air Force personnel.
http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/ShowFeature.aspx?id=107
5116 Army Personnel
https://peco-uk.com/collections/4mm-oo/products/army-personnel

Her visit to the troops was inspired by one of the latest song covers by one of my favourite bands Postmodern Jukebox. Previously featured on Man of TIN / Pound Store Plastic Warriors:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/thinking-outside-the-postmodern-paintbox/

This is its first German language cover, the 1980s Nena song 99Luftballons or ’99 Red Balloons’. This is covered in a 1940s / 50s  jazz vibes style in German by singer Aly Ryan.

The 1980s original song was released in both German and English.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 11 FEMbruary 2020. Enjoy!

#FEMbruary 2020 Girl Scout Patrol Challenge

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Four short of a full Daisy  Patrol of eight Girl Scouts  (right)

I can’t believe it’s #FEMbruary again – the annual challenge by Alex @ Lead Balloony blog to paint more female miniatures for your gaming hobby.

https://leadballoony.com/2020/02/03/leadballoonys-3rd-fembruary-challenge/

Marvin reminded me that we are already in FEMbruary with his challenge figures

https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com/2020/02/05/court-appearances-fembruary-2020

My challenge this year is a limited one as I am preparing Scouting and Snowballing figures and rules for the Little Wars Revisited 54mm Games day at Woking with Alan Gruber (still spaces left to join in).

This year my challenge is  four more Girl Scout figures to convert from 42mm Boy Scout figures to make up a full Daisy Patrol of eight figures.

https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com

The figures are Little Britons / STS Shiny Toy Soldiers LBB30 Boy Scout sold through Spencer Smith Miniatures.

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Previously on Man of TIN blog in #FEMbruary

#FEMBruary 2019 Bad Squiddo 28mm Land Girls and Soviet Women – https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/17/huzzah-for-boycraft-flower-show-craft-success/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/the-unwomanly-face-of-war-book-review/

#FEMbruary 2018 – More Bad Squiddo land girls and other female figures

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/fembruary-2018-progress-so-far/

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN 6 FEMbruary 2020

The Unwomanly Face of War – book review

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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.

Extracts here https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2016/on-the-battle-lost-by-svetlana-alexievich.html

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.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/fembruary-2019-and-new-bad-squiddo-figures-arrive/

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.

https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/fembruary-2019-soviet-sniper-sisters-in-snow/

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

Militia Commander

Anti-Aircraft Gunner

Commander MG Platoon

Field Bath and Laundry Unit, Laundress

Searchlight Operator

Construction Unit, Engineer / Sapper / Miner (land mines?)

Art Singer

Armorer

Political Journalist

Rifleman

Radio Operator

Military Journalist

Cook

Logistics / Driver / Traffic Controller

Postal Worker / Communications

Telegrapher / Telephone Operator

Scout

Sniper

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

Crypotographer

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?

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Bad Squiddo Games website image of 28mm painted Russian Women’s Command figures, sculpted by Alan Marsh .
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My almost finished 28mm Bad Squiddo Games Russian Soviet Command – Officer, Field Telephonist and Armed Medic. Gloss paint and gloss varnish style.

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.

Fantasy Plastic 54mm Warriors for FEMbruary?

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Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog for FEMbruary

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/02/24/fantasy-plastic-warriors/

Meanwhile  the 2019  FEMbruary figures painting challenge carries on:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/fembruary-2019-and-new-bad-squiddo-figures-arrive/

Wargaming Warrior Women on The Raft blog

With FEMbruary in mind, you could do well to visit the interesting blogposts, references and figure lists at The Raft blog section on Wargaming Warrior Women.  I visited this site for the Dahomey Warrior Women section last year https://wargamingraft.wordpress.com/wargaming-warrior-women/

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Some of the interesting Warrior Women articles on this blog (screenshot).

Well worth spending some time reading and browsing here.

Here are some of my last year’s FEMbruary posts which link with The Raft’s history research:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/dahomey-amazons/

https://wordpress.com/post/poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/4016

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 5th FEMbruary 2019.