Home in Time for Tea and Medals: D-Day British for Flames of War!

Taking it to the Hun in 15mm!

Juno and Sword Beaches Finest!

In my last hobby post, I featured some Flames of War Sherman V tanks, the start of the British starter force I was working my way through.

Well, just in time for the New Year, and mug of Earl Grey in hand, I have finished the lot!

This starter box is a great deal, and was a lot of fun to work through, even if it did seem like a slog near the end. My friends in the city have all the other major Late War factions covered, so my addition of some stiff upper-lipped Brits to the party will make for some fun battles! I may even have some competition locally, once Lockdown is over and it is safe to do so!

It was a decision between the Soviets and the British for me to play, but really, the choice wasn’t hard. I have always been an Anglophile and my love of the Sherman tank, especially the vaunted Firefly, meant I went for the older, Fortress Europe released box set. There is a newer box, for the D-Day landings specifically and featuring the Desert Rats, however I wanted a force with Shermans, not Cromwells.

Without any further delay, lets have a peek at what came in the box!

Churchills! They may be slow but they have a charm all their own.

First up was the Churchills. You get three in the box, with the Late War sprue variation. I could have built them as later Mark VIII or Crocodile Flame Tanks, but instead I went with 75mm armed earlier pattern Churchills, which from my research were fairly common in Normandy.

A very distinct, and I must say, lovely, profile.

I intend to use these tanks to support my Motor Platoon, and take objectives, not to hunt my opponents tanks. But if pressed, the 75mm is no slouch!

The kit comes with several door options. Make sure you pick the right ones!

The Churchills proved to be my favourite of the bunch; A lovely kit to build with a stupid amount of options. I’ve picked up the D-Day British unit cards so while the box comes with the Italy version, I can field them as the proper Normandy configuration.

Next up we have the M5 Stuarts! Not my favourite variant of the Stuart chassis but a great kit nonetheless!

Ready to recce!

This was another easy, fun kit to build. I had no trouble with it, and they went together in an evening. These tanks will serve as my spearhead and flanking choice, to get the rest of my armour to places it’ll hurt!

Drat, I see a couple mould lines I forgot to clean up! Always catch them late…

My favourite Stuart is the M3 ‘Honey’ fielded by the British in the desert, but those are long in the tooth by now and these newer, M5 Stuarts replaced them by this point in the war. It’s a better design, and the extra point of armour might save them from the odd anti-tank shot.

Next up we have the 17pdr SP ‘Achilles’, a kit I thought would be a bear to build but turned out surprisingly well.

Open topped? Better hope it doesn’t rain!

I actually enjoyed building these a lot more than I thought I would. With three options for the kit, the hardest part was making sure I picked the correct options. The crew took some creativity to fit using the tank commander sprues included in the box.

The crew look serviceable, and at this scale look fine enough!

The crew I’m strictly just okay with. They could be better, but they give enough of the appearance of a crewed tank destroyer that I’ll give them a pass. I can’t see anyway of making this better without losing the Battlefront Miniatures characteristic turret peg. A minor criticism to be sure, and I’m still more then happy to field them.

I’m not sure tactically how to use these yet, but seeing as I only have two Fireflies they might be a crucial unit against my friends Panther’s, Tigers, and the odd IS-2.

The crew look absolutely fine from this angle!

Rounding out the armoured contingent, if only technically, are some Universal Carriers!

Easy to build, but I’m not sure as to their utility….

These were an easy and fun kit to build (One can sense a pattern here!), but having not played Flames of War yet I can’t seem to find a use for them. They are an additional scout unit, but with just Brens they are strictly anti-infantry. Not a bad thing by any means, but both my opponents field mostly armoured formations!

Without a Piat, these little Universal Carriers lack the needed punch.

While the option exists to field them with PIATs, this option was not in the box. I have a lot of anti-tank as it is, so perhaps they can find a use solely harassing enemy infantry. I may go back and replace the Bren gun on the top with a Vickers, drastically increasing their firepower.

The box has not yet given up all of its goodies. I also got a Motor Platoon of infantry to accompany my tanks!

Surprisingly good looking infantry!

I was expecting soft sculpts, but in all honesty these are great! The detail is mostly sharp, and at this scale they are particularly good, and durable! The kit comes with only five stands, but the sheer amount of spares has me wondering if I should get a few more!

These will be either a joy or a pain to paint, depending on how much detail I choose to add!

I assembled them glued to the stands; my limited experience with Team Yankee infantry has shown me that it is fairly easy to paint them on the stands if you aren’t overly picky about detail. Still, they should have enough detail to take a wash well.

The officer has quite a bit of character for being this small!

I intend to use my infantry to hold my own objectives on the defense, or to aid my Churchills on the attack. With a PIAT team of their own, they can defend themselves against armour in a pinch.

Finally, we have four 25pdr Field Guns! I was expecting these to be rather fiddly, and they were a little. But they still went together rather quickly!

Ready to receive coordinates!

While small and rather fiddly to put together, the limited parts count meant they went together really fast. The majority of the time was spent laying out the crew on the bases. They are almost miniature dioramas!

I wasn’t sure about the limber until I saw it on the base. They add just that little bit extra.

For a unit I wasn’t too jazzed about, they were a lot of fun to build, and a good way to end off building the box. While these are already replaced with reinforcements in the way of Sextons, they are still really pretty little field guns, and might see some play on occassion!

This ended off the British Armoured Battlegroup Starter set. With the addition of a Sherman Armoured Troop, I’m now well placed to start playing Flames of War in earnest. Of course, that is when Covid-19 cooperates with us! I have already supplemented this existing force with some additional reinforcements, in the way of Sextons, Typhoons, and a Daimler recce patrol. I have also managed to snag a copy of the Command Cards, although that was from a foreign source and will be a while before they arrive!

I have yet to give some thoughts on what I will be painting these gents up as. I have an urge to either do a Canadian force, but that might be a bit on the nose given I am Canadian! Alternatively I am tempted by the Guards Armoured Division, and the decals I have will make that particular force doable right from the outset. Either way, I want to at least make a token effort on some historical authenticity.

This will be my last post of this year, and with that I wish you a happy New Year, no matter where you are, and may 2021 bring you happy wargaming! And until next year, God Save the King!

Lest we Forget: A small tribute to a man I never knew.

I’ll keep this brief, as this is not supposed to be a post solely to get views. Remembrance Day is very important to me, but I also just started a new job today, and had to mark my moment of silence while working. I don’t have a lot of pictures; My grandfather burned them after the war to spite the British.

In 1939, Austin Turner went to war. A youth, from middle upper-class gentry, and schooled in the British fashion, the reason he went to volunteer is unknown to us. As an Anglo-Indian, considered to be a “Non-Warrior” race, he wasn’t actively sought out. A sort of reverse racism. But nonetheless, as the Empire went to war against Nazi Germany, he found himself in military service.

Eventually, he found himself in the Western Desert, fighting against Rommel and his Afrika Korps as part of the 8th Army, the famous ‘Desert Rats’. In fact, he was an Engineer, helping clear the minefields of El Alamein.

Now this is where the story gets weird. He ended up as a navigator on an LRDG truck, (and in actual fact, this is where I got the name for this blog; Their unit motto was “Non Vi Sed Arte“, Latin for “Not by Strength, By Guile), and this is where the trail goes cold, and difficult to follow. He was in one of the English/South African patrols, according to family folklore.

He recalled serving in Yugoslavia, and was wounded in action in 1943. Returning to Egypt, he helped open a Singer sewing machine factory(which, if I recall correctly, is still there today!) and was quite a character in the Egyptian yacht community. Finally coming back to India in 1945, and in 1947 was bitterly disappointed with how Britain handled Partition, burned his passport and British citizenship, and became an avid Pakistani patriot. Running a salvage operation, breaking down ships, he finally died sometime in the 70’s from complications due to smoking. (My dad, who knows the exact date, is always broken up when asked, and for the sake of an internet article, I won’t ask).

A replica set of medals, given to each of the grandchilden. The full set is in Australia with my family there.

This man, who I never met, was apparently a gruff, stern, built like a truck individual. The polar opposite of myself. Yet his influence on my upbringing was staggering. I spent much of my formative years tracking his progress across the Western Desert campaign, and told tales of his exploits to my schoolyard friends. His bayonet, ground down into a fighting knife during his posting to the LRDG, is a unique heirloom exclusive to my family.

My interest in history, the Second World War, and the Western Desert campaign all comes from a man who in 1939, went to war, and was never the same again. He was not alone in my family; A great uncle went to Burma, and was captured and worked in prison camps not far different then the Bridge on the River Kwai, and if I’m not mistaken, WAS actually where he ended up. My Grandfather on my mothers side didn’t serve, but worked in the news, editing articles and getting them up for the evening news.

My family now finds itself in two Commonwealth nations, remembering our veterans quietly, as to not take away from the fact we are honouring Canadian and Australian veterans in our respective nations. But we remember our contribution to the Commonwealth and Britain in general. While my Grandfather may have been bitter about Partition, he was still an outstanding soldier, and that is how I choose to remember him. As I do all my family’s veterans.

Lest we Forget.