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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.