So as mentioned in the previous post, 'Preparations', I have ingratiated myself into someone else's project to commemorate the seventy fifth anniversary of 'Operation Deadstick', the action that saw the bridges in and around Bénouville to be taken and held ahead of the D-Day landings. Such was the level of enthusiasm for the project that it was hard not to be swept away with it all. James’ bridge continued to grow with ever increasing levels of complexity as he started to work out how the cantilever would have worked or even how best to represent the ornamental railing that ran alongside the footbridge.
Having already assembled and painted some Paratroopers to represent the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the first troops on the bridge at Bénouville, my thoughts turned to the defenders. Now at this point all aficionados and military historians should look away. As we only wanted to illustrate the action to accompany the twenty miniature lecture, admittedly ten minutes longer than it took to take the bridge, I was happy to play fast and loose with historical accuracy and so went in search of miniatures that could represent the hard pressed troops that were completely taken by surprise that fateful evening. As it happens 'Wargames Foundry' produce a wonderful set of dour German sentries and because time was of the essence, I selected the ones in greatcoats for ease of painting.* With a suitably harassed officer, found on the 'Artizan Designs' site, along with some French civilians, but more of them another day, the small garrison was complete.
*Although I did fiddle around with some waterslide transfers for the helmets!
The problem with a project like this is knowing when to stop. James was creating something rather special here, but I was conscious that I was muscling in on someone else’s baby and made my worries known. In a spirit of generosity, that is the mark of the man, James simply told me to ‘interfere’ as much as I wanted to and so I felt the urge to continue adding where I could. This saw all manner of little paint jobs undertaken, from the troops mentioned to painting up the staff car from ‘Anyscale Models’.
James and I had discussed the action with Sgt. Thornton and the still hotly debated armoured vehicle that erupted into flame and a spectacular firework display of ordnance having received a direct hit with the PIAT. Several options were explored, but at this stage I was channelling a quite unhealthy ‘Allo! ‘Allo! vibe and so plumped for the 'Warlord Games' German Sd.Kfz.222, which is now known around the studios as ‘Gruber’s Little Tank’.
We talked about the near fatal first encounter with the British troops and the café owner, Georges Gondrée. How his bedroom was raked with bullets when he appeared at the window to see what all the commotion was about, what a change to the story that would have made if one of the rounds found its mark. Still we loved the idea of a photograph taken through the window, looking down on to the bridge and so the back to the café was deliberately left unglued so it could be removed and I set about wallpapering the walls! Additions to the room, included some furniture from ‘Charlie Foxtrot Models’ and it was on their website where, I also spied some rather splendid sentry boxes, which added a little colour to the proceedings.
In fact on many of bits and pieces were found as the bits box was liberated including signposts, telegraph poles and a nifty little rowing boat.
Finally then, I need to make special mention of the blast markers. I had seen these on Dave Docherty’s 'One Man and his Brushes' site. His tutorial was so clear that I felt inspired to put some together. We could not have been happier with the results and as you will see in the next post they worked so well ann helped to bring the piece to life. I shall refrain from repeating the tutorial, but the link to the post in question is here. Incidentally, you should also take a moment to marvel at the game Dave and his friends have just put on – wow!