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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Interlude: Ramcke Parachute Brigade in North Africa 1942

The brigade was formed in 1942 and sent to join the Afrika Korps in North Africa. Ramcke's unit fought during the Afrika Korps's assault towards the Suez Canal, fighting alongside the Italian 25 Infantry Division Bologna before British opposition solidified near the town of El Alamein. The British action resulted in the separation of the Brigade from German forces, and, lacking motorized transport, they were unable to move as fast as the battle lines.

Taking heavy losses (about 450) fighting surrounded on all sides, they captured a British supply convoy carrying food and fuel, about which Ramcke later remarked the most welcome surprise was the tobacco and luxury goods. Using those trucks, about 600 survivors returned to German lines.

The brigade was then engaged in the Second Battle of El Alamein, later retreating into Tunisia. Ramcke was transferred back to Germany where he was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross, and command passed to Major Hans Kroh. The remaining brigade was part of the capitulation of German Panzer Army Afrika in May 1943.

I was able to pick up the Warlord Games Fallschirmjager Squad (Tropical Uniform) box which comes with 10 Fallschirmjager dressed in the Mediterranean theater uniform (North Africa, Tunisia, Italy). These are some of the finest metal miniatures I have seen Warlord Games produce and I highly recommend them if you want to do something different for World War II. Beautifully sculpted which makes them a pleasure to paint - even down to two of the figures having NCO insignia on their shirts. Looking at the other range of Warlord Games metal range of Fallshirmjager, there are other figures that can be converted to the tropical uniform.

Here is the Table of Organization for the unit in October of 1942:
  • Headquarters under Generalmajor Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke:
    • 1st Battalion, 2nd Parachute Regiment
    • 1st Battalion, 3rd Parachute Regiment
    • 2nd Battalion, 5th Parachute Regiment
    • 4th Parachute Training Battalion
    • 2nd Battalion, 7th Parachute Artillery Regiment
    • A Company, 7th Tank Destroyer Battalion
    • 2nd Company, Parachute Pioneer Battalion
    • A Parachute Signal Platoon
    • A Medical Company

So if you are looking for something different for your Mid-War Campaigns (many Fallshchirmjagers were transferred to the European theater with tropical uniforms) I highly recommend this unit and the figures from Warlord Games.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Egyptian Adventure: The Police in Hijarat ai Shara

Group shot of the Police Team from Hijarat ai Shara after winning the Regional Championship in Cricket (plus fezzes are cool and the other team did not have them!).

Turkish and French systems influence the organization of Egypt's police force until the late nineteenth century when the British modified the system. The national-level police force, set up in 1883 was trained and staffed by British officials and became the basis for the system that is now present in 1895. Currently there are not British police advisors in Hijarat ai Shara.

Officer Salah raises the Egyptian flag over Police Headquarters.

My Egyptian Police force for the area in and around Hijarat ai Shara came from two manufacturers: Pulp Figures and Askari Miniatures. The Pulp Figures are superior when in comes to comparing the two ranges but the Askari Miniatures line gives you more variety.

The Pulp Figures line. They are listed as the "Istanbul Constabulary" but they are suitable as police for many countries in the region.

 This is the Egyptian Police pack from Askari Miniatures. Yep, fezzes are cool.

Here are some game stats for In Her Majesty's Name which can be easily modified for other popular games.

 Chief Inspector Khalid Mostafa is in charge of the District Police in Hijarat ai Shara. Don't let him leave the area of the headquarters. Please.

Chief Inspector Khalid Mostafa is a loyal and dedicated police bureaucrat who has risen through the ranks but not rocking the boat or causing trouble. On the gripping hand, he is one of the most efficient paper pushers in the National police which keeps the higher headquarters out of everyone's business. Hates excitement or any change in routine. Chief Inspector is in for a big surprise.

Name: Chief Inspector Khalid Mostafa
Move: 3"
Pluck: 5+
Leadership: 0
Speed: 0
Fighting Value: +0
Shooting Value: +1
Talents: Beserker, Bureaucrat, Filing, Numb, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Writing Reports 
Mystical Powers: Death by Power Point
Basic Equipment: Brigadine, Pistol
Armor: 9
Points: 25

 Deputy Inspector Abasi Gamal and his loyal assistant Officer Salah.

The mention of the name of Deputy Inspector Abasi Gamal causes fear throughout the Egyptian underworld and causes bad guys to wet their pants. DI Gamal is of Turko-Kurdish ancestry and used to be the Chief Inspector of Luxor. Uncompromising he sees life in black and white and criminals must be hunted down and justice must be served. Then the incident. A young Egyptian woman was found murdered in the Valley of the Kings and CI Gamal apprehended the guilty party; a young British man who happened to be the cousin of the Commissioner of the Irrigation Engineers. The heinous murderer was hanged and CI Gamal was transferred to Hijarat ai Shara. Since there was no Chief Inspector position in the town, he was demoted to Deputy Inspector. The district will never be the same.

Officer Ali Mohamed Salah DI Gamal's loyal assistant and body guard. He would have been promoted to Sergeant years ago except for the fact that he is illeterate; a situation that DI Gamal is working on remedying.

Name: Deputy Inspector Abasi Gamal
Move: 6"
Pluck: 3+
Leadership: +2
Speed: +1
Fighting Value: +2
Shooting Value: +3
Talents: Duelist (pistol), Fanatic, Fearless, Intuitive, Iron Will, Lightning Draw (pistol), Terrifying (not to "monsters" or other alien inter-dimensional beings, etc.)
Basic Equipment: Brigadine, Pistol, Fighting Knife
Armor: 9
Points: 72

Name: Officer Ali Mohamed Salah
Move: 6"
Pluck: 4+
Leadership: 0
Speed: 0
Fighting Value: +2
Shooting Value: +2
Talents: Beserker, Fearless
Basic Equipment: Lined Coat, Pistol, English All-Electric Truncheon
Armor: 8
Points: 25

 Deputy Inspector Abasi Gamal is uncompromising and has made many enemies in his career.

 There is one in every group: Officer Maat "The Rat" Hamdy.

Officer Maat "The Rat" Hamdy is a corrupt officer and is willing to take bribes from all of the local criminals and politicians. His new client, name unknown, has hired Officer Hamdy to keep an eye on DI Gamal.

Special Rule: If DI Gamal is in the Adventuring Company, you must also take Officer Hamdy.
Hamdy Treacherous Rule: If any Leader in the Egyptian Police Adventuring Company is knocked down or taken out of the game, Officer Hamdy immediately switches sides.

Name: Officer Maat "The Rat" Hamdy
Move: 6"
Pluck: 5+
Leadership: 0
Speed: 0
Fighting Value: +1
Shooting Value: +1
Talents: Intervention
Basic Equipment: Lined Coat, Pistol, English All-Electric Truncheon
Armor: 8
Points: 25

 Making a sweep for smugglers and illegal antiquities.

The rest of the Egyptian Police Adventuring Company using the game statistics for Scotland Yard from In Her Majesty's Name.

 The police? BWAH HAH HAH! The fools.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Afrika Korps Unit Complete

Platoon Headquarters Section. Miniatures by Warlord Games.

As you can tell from the title I finished the Afrika Korps platoon I was working on. The HQ Section is by Warlord Games and the Infantry Squads are by Artizan Designs.

1st Squad:

2nd Squad:

3rd Squad:

Heavy Machine Gun Support (from Warlord Games):

8 cm Mortar Section:

 Artizan Designs.

 Warlord Games.

Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Leader. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Meanwhile in Egypt in 1941 . . .

A medic from the Deutsche Afrika Korps (DAK) tends to a wounded soldier.

For awhile now I've been transitioning from 15 mm to 28 mm due to the fact it's harder to paint them with my eyesight . . . I mean due to the great quality of 28 mm figures that are out there. That's my story and I am sticking with it! Anyway, World War II has always been one of the big boys in the hobby and I enjoy playing historically based encounters during this period.

  The 8 cm Granatwerfer 34 (8 cm GrW 34) was the standard German infantry mortar throughout World War II. It was noted for its accuracy and rapid rate of fire.

When I did my first serious 15mm army in WW II it was the Deutsche Afrika Korps (DAK) or in English the German Africa Corps. Now that I am seriously contemplating doing a force in 28mm, what better way than to start with the DAK?  I found a good deal from Wargames Foundry on eBay for an Afrika Korps Support Group, scarfed it up and started painting. Yep, I'm one of those gamers that has at least 3 to 5 projects going on at the same time.

The boxed set of figures, which are beautifully sculpted I might add, comes with 2 officers, 1 radio operator, a lovely vignette with a medic, one mortar and one machine gun team all with bases. The figures were really easy to paint primarily due to the fact that they are great figures. I have found out over the years, the better the figure the easier to paint.

As I have had trouble assembling weapon teams together in the past after they were painted, I decided to put the machine gun and mortar teams together and then paint them. Wow. What a difference that made.

DAK officer and radio operator.

For historical figures I believe the painting should be historical; but if you used ancient iron on the officer's buttons instead of medium shiny gold I could care less. After a military career, and as a historian, I can attest just because it is in the regulations, that might not be what they are wearing. Add to that the tendency of all, even modern fabric, to fade and wear out, I figure that if it is close enough, the heck with the official painting guide. The other great thing about the North Africa campaign, supply was a major issues and soldiers used what they could get.

MG 42 medium tripod mounted machine gun team.

The colors I used were all Vallejo Paints (because the closet store is Hobby Lobby and they are good paints): 

1. Khaki: Uniform and canvas/gaiters on boots.
2. Green Ochre: Helmet and other metal.
3. Neutral Grey: Webbing.
4. Buff: Canvas (Potato) bag and soft cap.
5. Green Grey: Ammunition pouches.
6. Flat Earth: Boots.
7. Dark Brown: Canteen except for the metal which was Gun Metal.
8. Gun Metal: Weapons dry brushed with silver.
9. Flat White: Uniform piping, etc.
10. Sky Blue: Goggles and binoculars.

Easy and to the point.

 Both German officers and the medic vignette.

I am also going to do 3 squads of ten men each. I made the mistake of looking at the Warlord Plastic figures and my head almost exploded (a model maker I am not - my speed is the Perry Marching Napoleonic French and the Warlord Games ECW infantry!). The rest of the infantry will be Artizan figures. And just when I thought I had my plans all set - I saw the Warlord Games Mediterranean theater Fallschirmjagers! Yikes. What to do?

Lance Corporal of Fallschirmjagers in Ramcke's Parachute Brigade.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Egyptian Adventure: The Town of Hijarat ai Shara (Stones of the Desert)

The market place in Hijarat ai Shara

Hijarat ai Shara was a bustling town on the trade route between Aswan and Luxor as merchants, travelers and traders moved from the upper Nile to the lower Nile. It was convenient also as a trade route for travelers from Arabia crossing the Red Sea.

 Overview of Hijarat ai Shara

The town declined from the 13th through the 17th Century and became a shell of a once luxurious way station for travelers. The town has seen a massive revival and new capital is flowing into the region due to the continuing involvement of the British in the Sudan (in fact the railroad spur to Hijarat ai Shara is almost complete) and the Archeological excavations that take place nearby. Many local inhabitants and adventurers from all over the world now converge on this growing town of interest.

 New construction near ancient artifacts attest to how long the area has been occupied. In the background is the District Police Headquarters. 

 A view of the Central Market.

 An Egyptian police officer helps to direct the crowds and onlookers in the market.

 Merchants call out their wares to their favorite customers.

 Another artifact, near the mosque, is guarded by another policeman as an English scientist makes a sketch.

The entrance to the District Police Headquarters is just off the market.

 Irish reporter Kevin O'Connell, who works for the"Daily Yell" jots down notes that he will undoubtedly exaggerate with mummies and ancient curses.
New wealth and unwary travelers are often prey for the bandits that infest the "Stones of the Desert" surrounding the town.
Deputy Inspector Abasi Gamal is determined to stamp out the banditry and the illegal antiquities market in Hijarat ai Shara. 
Hijarat ai Shara is also close to the new excavation at Dara making it the ideal location for supplies, adventurers, criminals and unexplained encounters . . .