Singing Pokarekare Ana: New Zealanders for Operation Sea Lion!

Time to get some Kiwis done!

Anzac Day isn’t something on the radar of most of us Canadians, to be terribly honest. Just as Canadian contributions to both World Wars tend to be forgotten by others, Australia and New Zealand often suffer the same fate. All three of these Commonwealth Nations made a massive difference in both wars, and when it came time to do my Operation Sea Lion defenders army, I wanted to pay tribute to those far-off sons of Empire coming home to defend that damp island in the Atlantic.

I have gone into greater details in a previous posts about my plans for Operation Sea Lion, and work continues apace on building the terrain needed. The Canadians need surprisingly little work, outside of being primed the correct shade of colour for the uniforms. Canadian headgear isn’t overly different then our British cousins.

The New Zealanders theoretically fall into the same boat….but they are known for their Lemon Squeezer hats! While not as daft as the Australians who regularly wore them into combat, the Kiwis did have them on hand when the the 2nd Echelon disembarked in Gourock, Scotland. I made the decision to model my NZ contingent wearing them, as this would help keep the models distinct on the table! Certainly not historically accurate, but it looks really cool, and I’ll be honest, given that Operation Sea Lion is well known for, you know, not actually happening either, I figured it was okay here.

I got mostly Lemon Squeezers, but a few packs of Brodie helmets were also ordered to allow for some visual fun! Not all the Kiwis have forgone pragmatism here!

The heads are from Gripping Beast, specifically the Woodbine Designs WW1 range. The sheer amount of heads available to the British in that range are insane, and even include some quite good looking Slouch hats for anyone interested in doing Australians instead. The molding is simple, but crisp, and while I did miss a few moldlines, most were cleanly cast and didn’t need much work.

A Kiwi Vickers team, ready to fire on German invaders! A mix of headgear, with the loader being sensible and the other two rocking the fantastic lemon squeezer hats.

Unfortunately, I did encounter a problem, and one that if anyone has any feedback for, please chime in. I intended this force to be the 28th Maori Battalion, which landed with the 2nd Echelon. As far as I can tell, the very distinctly WW1 facial hair is a bit out of place, both from a military discipline angle and the fact I don’t think I’ve seen many Maori peoples with facial hair, soldier or otherwise. This does mean a good amount of these heads would have to be painted as “pakeha”, or White New Zealand soldiers, who probably had a greater chance of sporting facial hair.

I am considering making this a mixed formation, with losses among units leading to an amalgamation of New Zealanders of European descent and Maori troops into one fighting force. It would make for an interesting story…

Anyways, that is a debate for later! For now, lets see what else I kitbashed.

A Boys Anti-Tank rifle, being crewed by a New Zealander. This weapon would probably be fine against most of the light panzers it might encounter, if it shot at certain parts of the vehicle in question.
A Maori soldier loads a 2 inch mortar round for a Pakeha soldier. This weapon gave infantry platoons light mortar support, for smoke and otherwise!
This Maori officer advances bolding with a drawn Webley. I switched the original plastic Warlord head which was out of scale with a Gripping Beast one which oddly worked a lot better. Without a mustache, this model is easily a Maori commissioned officer, which they had by the time of potential German invasion. The unit started off with White officers, but this was supposed to be a temporary measure.
The Captain, a Kiwi officer in full British styled dress. He will trade places occasionally with my Canadian staff officer, depending on how the scenarios go and who is alive or out of action! All up to the dice!
Finally some foot soldiers, a mix of Maori and White soldiers. The already good BEF sculpts are helped along nicely by the addition of Woodbine heads.
Another few men, all advancing aggressively. The cricket bowling-style grenade tossing soldier is a favourite of mine.
Another few! The heads honestly just popped right on, with no work at all needed to get them to seat and fit. A match made in heaven.
A couple Bren gunners. Nothing really to say other then they really look the business!
And a Maori NCO, a really cool pose was achieved simply by turning the head.

Now, half the reason I haven’t been posting is the fact I’ve been waiting to showcase painted content. A constant stream of unpainted plastic, metal, and resin simply can’t be that interesting to others! But, Anzac Day brought a stretch of 20 degree weather to my slice of Canada. With the positively scorching temperature, I was finally able to prime some models. I didn’t have enough paint on hand to do all of them, but I wanted to at least get one model soldier done up as a mini-Anzac Day tribute, so I primed the three most likely candidates.

Oh, I missed this.
I don’t swear much. This was justified entirely.

I decided to attempt a Maori officer. Bold, since I have never really tried anything but Caucasian skintones. Ironic, considering I’m Pakistani by birth! But It was about time I made the attempt.

The main colours blocked in. At this stage, the brown I was using for the skin was far, far too dark.
I tried to add the markings I’ve seen on Kiwi uniforms of the period. But they are really hard to see! Honestly, at this scale, the colours all sorta blended together.
I also tried to add some damage to the helmet!
The wash revealed that my skin colour was far too dark. The lighting doesn’t help. But like all my figures in English Uniform, the shade works wonders!
The completed miniature! I think the overall effect is quite good, not perfect but I have many more to do, and I’ll get better.
The helmet weathering is subtle now, but it looks neat!

I did clear off a new workstation in my actual bedroom, and I decided to see if the lighting there was better. Really, I need a lightbox. That should be a priority! But for now, lets see this Maori gentleman in better light.

A valiant attempt I’d say! I even tried to do the pugaree band colour in the Infantry colours, a khaki band with a red stripe. Hard to see!
A nasty moldline runs down his hat, unfortunately I only caught it after priming.
I’m quite pleased with the helmet weathering, and it does in a pinch. The skin tone is still off, but within the margin of error here. I will try and find a good colour for this!
And a view of his pack from behind! A tidy looking setup.

All in all, really quite pleased with this model! And many more of his comrades in arms will be painted…eventually. I’m slow at painting. But today of all days, it was important for me to paint a Kiwi. I usually celebrate Australian achievements and commemorate Australian sacrifices on this day. But, I wanted to pay tribute to New Zealand specifically this year. In this instance, I will forgo my usual sign-off.

For Operation Sea Lion, these brave Kiwis will be holding Old Blighty against the Hun…

But its very important to remember that New Zealand sent over 140,000 men and women overseas to serve in our very real, not alternate history, WW2.

These soldiers, especially those fighting in North Africa, Crete, Greece and Italy, would see some of the toughest fighting of the war. It may have been the Poles who took Monte Cassino in the end, but the New Zealand assault on those heights was nothing short of heroic, alongside their allies from the Indian Army. They nearly held Crete, and their defense basically stopped the use of German paratroopers for the rest of WW2. Charles Upham won a VC for his actions at Maleme.

For these valiant acts, New Zealand paid a heavy price. New Zealand losses numbered 11,928, and their casualty ratio to men serving was calculated after the war to be the highest in the Commonwealth! For a country it’s size, New Zealand sacrificed much, and gave its all.

So here is to the Diggers of New Zealand. Along with their Australian brothers, they both deserve recognition and remembrance this day.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

7 thoughts on “Singing Pokarekare Ana: New Zealanders for Operation Sea Lion!

  1. Great post and great project. Loved the sign off. As for the facial hair, because the art of moko (or facial tattooing) declined in Maori society from the middle of the 19thcentury, more Maori men grew moustaches or beards. Christian missionaries had argued that moko were heathen, so some Maori men let their facial hair grow to cover their tattoos. Not sure of facial hair during the war but today it is my personal observation that it is as common practice as it is with “pakeha”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent, that is good information and corroborates what research I had turned up.

      If the facial hair from a military discipline point of view is equally bad for both Māoris and European descended New Zealanders, then I’m free to paint them up all as Māori should I wish.

      I almost like the combat losses story though, men thrown together from different units in a time of desperate need is always a good narrative. I want my Sea Lion games to be pretty grim odds for the British defenders, so that would work well. Alternative history is fun that way.

      Glad you liked the sign off; I missed ANZAC Day last year, couldn’t miss it this year. Of course, I missed it by your time, as it’s Tuesday there isn’t it? Still, an important date to mark. It probably means a lot more for you over in Australia, but I have family there and a certain fondness for both Australians and New Zealanders born out of great experiences with tourists from both nations visiting my hometown as a kid. Sure, it’s not my country, but a certain Commonwealth kinship doesn’t hurt here.

      Liked by 1 person

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