There is, to put it bluntly, a lot going on in Canada at the moment. In the confusion going at present, I needed some sort of project to really dive into. A distraction, so to speak.
As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I am a huge fan of Very British Civil War, a setting by Solway Crafts and Games about the Abdication Crisis of 1936 breaking out into civil war in 1938. A very interesting, but very niche setting, especially in rural Canada!
However, I did pick up both the Sea Lion and Gigant supplements for Bolt Action, in the hopes to make that collection a little bit more multi-purpose.
A little background is needed here, especially if your more of a Late War fan of WW2 then its earlier stages. After the fall of France, the United Kingdom found itself under the threat of invasion. People far more knowledgeable than I have written entire books based on this potential invasion, called Operation Sea Lion, or in German, Unternehmen Seelöwe.
Hitler honestly thought that the UK would surrender after France fell, and when they didn’t, it really messed up his plans. He would call on his general staff to draw up plans to invade, and these plans involved landing Fallschirmjager landings along the southern English coast, just in-land enough to hold-off any British forces responding to the second wave, a beach landing by several divisions across a wide front.
However, Germany was hurting, badly, after their successful invasion of France. They had lost lots of materiel and men in the effort. Any invasion would have to be quick, and decisive, as simply they had no deep reserves to call on quickly. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force would make such a channel crossing exceedingly dangerous, and only the defeat of the RAF would ensure a safe crossing. The Royal Navy could be held off by the Luftwaffe if there was good weather, but poor weather would allow the British to really hamper the crossing.
If the crossing was successful, however, the British were poorly equipped, initially, to deal with it. The British had lost a lot of equipment at Dunkirk, not to mention casualties taken in the defense of France. They rapidly brought out a lot of equipment from storage, but even then…
The Local Defense Volunteers were formed on the 14th of May, 1940, and Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden called for men 17-65 who could not serve in the military but wanted to serve in the defense of England. They expected 500,000…they would eventually get 1.5 Million!
On the 22nd of July, these LDV units would be renamed the Home Guard, and would receive over time uniforms, and more up-to-date weapons.
These civilian defenders, combined with a badly mauled British Army, would defend the UK from invasion, and really, would play for time. The Germans had a slim window to succeed, as supply needs mounted and attrition took its toll. If the UK didn’t surrender, would Germany have the means to prosecute an extremely bloody war to take the British Isles?
In effect, this is what many Sea Lion books tend to ask, and what many wargamers over the years have attempted to try. Warlord takes an alternate history approach, by taking some historical events and altering them to make the invasion far more plausible. Some others work with what they are given, which is probably going to be my approach.
One thing often forgotten by Sea Lion “fans”, is the fact that Britain didn’t truly stand alone.
The Empire, as it was, arrived to help defend it.
Canadian troops had arrived in the UK, with the 1st Canadian Division landing in February 1940. Fresh, and mostly unbloodied(a few had gone to France as part of the Second BEF, but had returned after not doing too much and the French surrender leading to their withdrawal). They were a strong contingent in terms of manpower, and were held in England on coastal defense. They were, by some accounts, the only full-strength division available to the UK, and were to be held as a reserve to counter-attack once the Germans had landed.
The New Zealanders had also diverted their 2nd Echelon of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force(the 1st Echelon and 3rd Echelon went to Egypt) to the UK to help in its defense. Among these troops were the 28th Maori Battalion, an almost completely Maori force. One can only imagine what effect they might have had on German invaders!
Australians, Polish and the Free French also had troops in the UK around the time of the potential invasion. While the Polish and French unlike the Commonwealth had no imperial ties to the UK, they had many reasons to hate the Germans and they would have also been a force to be reckoned with in the defense of the UK.
From a wargaming perspective, there is a lot of cool stuff to take away from all this. Most of the time, those playing Operation Sea Lion on the tabletop focus on the British units, but because I’m that weirdo, I’ve decided instead to focus on VII Corp, a formation that included the 1st Canadian Division, 1st Armoured Division(UK), and depending on the date, either the 1st Armoured Brigade and 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force. A lot of really cool units to pull from, and definitely really interesting!
From my VBCW collection comes my collection of British militia. These models were not going to have painted armbands, and will easily fit in as Local Defense Volunteers or un-uniformed Home Guard. I have several more on the way! They have loads of character, and I’m very keen to have them painted up and fighting Jerry!
As you can see, I have a lot of work to do! The LDV need a lot of painting, and will be vital for anti-parachutist duties or last ditch defenses of their homes. The Canadians and New Zealanders require both heads and paint, and the Canadians can start up a lot sooner as I can use the BEF heads that the kits came with on them. I need to, finally, address the fact that Canadian Battledress is a different colour. I have Vallejo on the mind for that, and I’ve heard that Russian Uniform and US Olive Drab both work well in that regard.
Of course, the elephant in the room here is I need appropriate scenery to play on! I have finally found a Canadian supplier of MDF buildings that will do very nicely, and I’m keen to finally start on that English village I need for both VBCW and now Sea Lion. Such terrain is therefore quite versatile!
I realize I start a lot of projects, and don’t finish them. However, since this project has so many uses outside of its limited scope that I can see myself actually completing this. I’m giving myself a year to do this. I also need to get the German invaders, and while the plastic Warlord German Blitzkrieg infantry will do nicely, the Fallschirmjager kit they do doesn’t work as its too late war. Perry Miniatures does a nice line of those. A friend of mine has offered to commission paint the Germans, which will seriously cut down on the time needed to get this project done!
In other news, I was granted permission to open a Discord channel for Very British Civil War! While I won’t put the link here, in order to prevent spam, I encourage anyone interested to go either to the https://www.facebook.com/groups/1938VBCW/ Facebook page, or to the https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/vbcf/1938-a-very-british-civil-war-f53/ VBCW forum. You’ll find the link there! I can easily chat there, if you ever wish to pick my brain or someone else’s, about Very British Civil War.
But that is all I have for today! Happy Wargaming wherever you are, and remember to fight them on the beaches!