Project WW2 – Infantry Section, 10th (Teesside) Regiment of Rifles

Corporal Joshua Smith kept low as he made his way through the blasted tree stumps and muddy ditches he’d been calling home for the past few weeks, his Sten gun held in his left hand as the other worked to steady him. The mud underfoot was trying it’s best to throw him on the face, bringing back memories of helping his father on the farm in the hills above Middlesbrough, pulling sheep out of the sucking mess.

He wasn’t sure what part of the European Winter he hated more; when the ground was too cold to dig into properly, when the snow was coming down hard enough you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, or days like this when the sun heated the ground up just enough to turn walking to and from the Platoon HQ into an adventure all of itself. What was worse, he could feel the icy chill of the mud sneaking in, finding a gap in the leather of his boots. He cursed the RQMS again, and made a mental note to go try talking to the lads in the next trench line over, see if some trades could be made.

Eventually, after a few more slips and slides, he made his into the dugout. Huddled in the corner, Private Williams was trying to snatch an attempt at sleep, huddled under his rain cape for that extra layer. Above him, Private Campbell stood facing out across the valley at the woods beyond, keeping an eye open for Germans attempting to probe the lines and a hand on the grip of the Bren gun. He seemed unblinking, ever watchful – quite different from the loud brawler personality that came out in the thick of it. Before Smith could even open his mouth to check on the dark-skinned soldier, a mug of warm tea was thrust into his own gloved hand, a shadow following after it.

“So, Corporal,” his 2IC asked, his tall, gaunt frame wrapped in greatcoat and looming out of the darkness like Boris Karloff in a picture show. The only light on him seemed to be the cigarette between his lips, the orange glow revealing a face creased with dirt and camo paint, the balaclava around his face shrouding it. “Anything interesting from the Mother’s Union meeting?”

Smith smiled, wrapping his hands around the metal cup. “Well, Lance Corporal Caines, we’re not part of any big push, at least as far as beloved Rupert knows.” He sat down upon an upturned wooden crate they had borrowed from the Logistics boys, looking around at the assembled men. “Looks like we’ll be in reserve for it instead. The Yorks and Scots will be having a first go at those new positions, the poor bastards.”

“Thank Jesus for that,” Campbell’s deep voice boomed in response, before leaning forward on the Bren gun to keep watch into the darkness beyond.

Ironically, the first section finished for Project WW2 is not from my main platoon. The bulk of my force is pulled from the Empress range by Paul Hicks, and features troops in the latest gear for combat at the end of the war in Europe – waterproof smocks and leather jerkins, helmets covered in scrim netting all while laden down with entrenching tools. They look like the guys geared up for the task of pushing across the Rhine and into Germany.

The Winter British from Warlord do not look they have properly equipped for the advance. They look like the guys who have been fighting since June, have been on the line for most of it, and are now stuck in a trenchline somewhere near Germany, sitting in frozen mud during the awful winter of 1945, wondering why the Germans haven’t just given up so everyone can just go home. They are wrapped up in scarves and greatcoats (replaced by the smock to improve their mobility in combat) with only their faces exposed to the cold. For this reason, I decided that they will probably end up being a support section, one pulled from the support list when more bodies are needed. This is why they are from the (fictional) 10th (Teesside) Regiment of Rifles, rather than the (fictional) 25th (Scots and Yorks) Regiment of Rifles.

There are 10 figures in the box, giving you two figures with Sten guns (a classic of Bolt Action squad setups), a Bren gunner and the rest with Lee Enfield rifles. There is some variation between the figures – some are in greatcoats, others in battle dress in leather jerkins while one has a rain cape over his gear, including covering up the backpack. Helmets also have some variety, with some using them uncovered while other have added helmet covers or scrim netting.

In terms of painting overall, I cover the basics in my first sitrep on them. Having now done the whole section, the scheme I’ve worked out is very easy to paint and I’m very happy with the final effect. Using the textured mud on both the base and the bottom edge of the clothing really helps to make them look suitably gritty. I’m not 100% finished when them yet though – I’m going to add a little bit of fake snow to them, just a tiny bit of white to offset the brown.

With these guys as a test bed, I’m very happy with the process and can now begin working on the bulk of the platoon. Of course, there will be some differences so the first Empress squad will also be a little bit of a testbed.

SITREP – Project WW2 Begins

Its only taken me two years but I have finally painted my first batch of WW2 British Infantry. Two years of planning, talking about it, getting distracted etc. But now, the first test models are done and I’m ready to begin working on the rest of the platoon, creating a force ready for the very final days of WW2.

Although the main platoon will be from Empress, these starting models are from Warlord’s metal Winter British Infantry. I’m not always a fan of the Warlord sculpting style (some of them are quite exaggerated) but I really like the look of these figures, wrapped up in cold weather gear, greatcoats and wearing the later gillet. They have that look of tiredness that really match up to the feel I wanted for my force.

Of course, the main thing with these guys was picking out a scheme that would work for them. As inspiration, I took the British Airborne paint set, picking out the Vallejo pots from it that I already owned and adding a few other ones. Here are my colours:

  • Dark Green (Vallejo 893): Helmet and neckscarf
  • English Uniform Brown (Vallejo 921): Trousers and canteen
  • Russian Uniform Green (Vallejo 924): Helmet camo strips, PIAT, mortars, guns, Respirator Bag
  • Khaki (Vallejo 988): Helmet camo strips, gaiters, webbing and backpack
  • Mahogany Brown (70.846): Jerkin
  • GW Leadbelcher: Metal pieces – Base colours for gun metal
  • GW Rhinox Hide: Rifle Wood (although I will vary this to have a mix of looks)

After the base colours, I also dry-brushed some Rhinox Hide around the bottom of the coat/trousers to show the splashes of mud. For the next set, I’m going to try and add some more on the knees and ankles, just to help make them muddy. Finally, the ever-useful Agrax Earthshade toned the colours down and helped them to mix.

For the base, I started with the Stirland Mud texture paint, ladling it on heavy. I also added a touch to the bottom of the clothing, to add a little texture to the mud splashes. For some colour, I added some Forest Ground Cover, touches of leaves and twigs perfect for the Reichswald. The downside to these base mixes if that they can be a little dusty, lightening the mud already in place. As a final touch to done this down, a light wash of Agrax Earthshade helped to darken it down.

Next step – four more Infantrymen, including the team Bren gun. And then after that, I’ll finish the Warlord guy off with the pair of Sten guns in the squad, as well as the two Ghille suited sniper I purchased from them at the same time.