I have long had an interest in WWII. This was probably brought about by growing up as a child in the 70's, watching war movies on TV and playing with air-fix toy soldiers. My father also has an interest in the period and he most likely influenced me in this too. He was born in '41, so has few recollections of the war, but recalls looking up in the sky as a child and seeing aircraft flying over head.
During his working career he served as a fireman in the north east of England, and told me tales of a colleague the fireman nicknamed "the vicar", as he was an older chap than they, had a round bald head, and always wore the old grandad style shirts with the straight round collar, much like a vicars dog-collar, hence the nickname.
"The Vicar" served in the war as a tank crewman in Normandy, and he told the firemen tales of going up against the Jerry panzers. These tales my father passed on to me.
One such mentioned how the tank he was in, suffered a hit from the side, to the front of the tank. They were able to continue though, and when they later inspected the tank, they found that the shot had torn off both the front towing shackles.
Another such tale recounted how they were forced at one time to take shelter from a bombardment, under their tank. But despite being sheltered under the tank, they found that they still had to maintain a "press-up position", to avoid being hit by shrapnel fragments flying under the tank!
All stirring stuff to a young mind!
But other than playing toy soldiers as most kids too, this never really evolved into a war-game with rules as such, and having become a war-gamer in later years, the period still did not attract me as by then I had been swayed by other influences, including Tolkien.
However a couple of years ago, having come across the Flames of War (FOW) war-games rules by Battlefront, here in New Zealand, I felt I should give it a go as it seemed to be a game lots of folks were playing, and since it was made locally, I should support it, which contrasts with most other miniatures which seem to be made in the UK or USA.
Having made my decision, to play the game, I decided to go with a British commando force, which would be small and tough (which would keep the cost down of assembling a new army to see how it went) and they'd be elite troops so hopefully quite effective.
I assembled a small force of these, and managed a couple of games with local folks, but again this fizzled out, and other periods swayed my attention.
Now much later, my own young son, Christopher now six and half years, has "found" WWII. In part from the computer game Axis and Allies, but also from shows such as Band of Brothers, movies like Kelly's Heroes, and of course all the WWII documentaries on SKY's History channel.
So I decided to look at gaming WWII again, but this time in house with my son. So out came the commandos, which got a dusting off, but then the realization that I'm going to have to get some troops to fight against them!
Having also decided that as a part of WWII, I was most interested in the North West European theatre from Normandy onwards, so Late War, in terms of FOW. The main reason being that by this time most of the armies would be using their best equipment, including the big Jerry tanks...
An inquiry to the FOW forum, elicited the answer that a FestungsKompanie boxed set would be a good way to go, to face off against the commandos and that's where I start here!
So we have a grenadier company, that would have manned the defenses of Normandy, Rommel's Atlantic Wall of Fortress Europe.
I am going theme this force, around the various German forces defending Normandy, which, with a few tweaks could include the 352 infantry division (confident veteran) at Omaha. The 352 also contained elements of the 726 infantry division also at Omaha. 716 infantry division will do for defending Gold, Juno and Sword Beaches against the British. Both 726 & 716 rated confident trained.
There are also the options to represent Kampfgruppe Meyer, the immediate mobile reserve in Normandy, featuring StuG G assault guns and Marder IIIM's.
Flames of War: 716 Briefing
In the meantime I have also made contact with folk over at the Upper Hutt club, who have several FOW players, and I have lined up some "training" games with them, which I am looking forward to, to help me better learn the game.
So far I have managed the Company Commander, 2iC, and panzershrek team, and two full platoons.
Company Commander, 2iC and Panzershrek team. Command teams have been upgraded to SMG panzerknacker.
First Platoon, all teams classed as MG team, (as the coastal units had been issued a greater number of machineguns than regular grenadiers), so that means ROF 3, per team. Again the command team has been upgraded to SMG Panzerknacker.
The platoon itself comprises a total of 30 men; 3 in the command team, then 3 sections of nine men, split into 4 and 5 man teams respectively as per the force list in FOW's Bloody Omaha supplement.
Second platoon, equipped as first.
I have also constructed a small house as a terrain piece made from regular cardboard, and thin card, and some sand textured paint.
The roof lifts off allowing placement of an infantry team inside...
Added a few extras :-
3 Goliath Radio-controlled demolition charges, 3 sniper teams, 3 light mortar teams and the puppchen cannon.
These are the optional 8cm G42 Stummelwerfer mortars that can be part of company HQ.
Here's the two tank turret bunkers, and four open tobruk MG42 bunkers.
And here's the whole company, comprising HQ, snipers, HQ mortar and Anti-tank options, tank turret and open MG42 bunkers, and three grenadier platoons each with their Goliath. Backing the company up are my StuG G assault guns, which I have just finished painting (they still need their decals adding and varnishing done. I'll show these better in a late blog post).
I have a Mortar platoon, HMG platoon and PaK40 platoon to add to this force. I'd also like to add some anti-aircraft protection, artillery - maybe 10.5cm howitzers, and eventually some heavy tanks. This will then give me more options to field this force.