Friday, December 28, 2012

In The Crypt Of The Vampiress

I started this project just before the start date for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, so sadly it is not eligible. I've been looking for figures that would flesh out my Weird War Two project, and found some goodies sculpted by Reaper that will work nicely. I already have a Nazi SS vampire, who is bald and old and not a lot of fun, but what would be more fun than a young, beautiful lady vampire? Reaper's Crypt of the Vampiress set, a lovely piece of work by sculptor Bob Ridolfi, comes with some useful scenery, including a lovely two part sarcophagous (goodness, did I spell that right?), a candle stand, and a pile of loot.

It's exactly the sort of thing that intrepid Allied heroes should encounter while exploring the basement of some grim castle or chateau.

The treasure proves irresistible to Captain "Dicky" Byrd, S Commando's resident bon vivant.

Consternation when the crypt is opened and found to be empty. But Pte. Sam "Snuffy" Snape wonders, who placed that fresh rose on that unsullied satin pillow?

Suddenly our heroes are in trouble.

Padre Tristram Mercer steps forward.

So not a very serious contribution to the hobby, perhaps, but great fun to paint and a diversion from some more serious projects. The Reaper set brings back memories of all those Hammer films that scared me years ago and which now seem so wonderfully campy. Seeing as I've done some fluff pieces on my other Weird War characters, perhaps in my next post I'll offer a short bio of this dangerous lady.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Zee Tiny Leetle Guns of Zee Emperor

Stage 2 in finishing my initial order of 6mm French Napoleonic figures from Baccus is done with this four gun battery. I continue to like these castings very much. It took me about a day to paint this lot, which is incredibly fast for me. I am enjoying the discovery that a little bright paint and the suggestion of detail, like a white crossbelt, goes a long way.

I continue to be nervous about my lack of detailed knowledge about the uniforms of this period. My source for these chaps was a plate in Michael Head's book, French Bapoleonic Artillery, which I found online. Obe thing I am not sure about is how common the red shako cords and piping were. Alexis Cabaret's wonderful Cent Jours website, dedicated to the uniforms of Waterloo, show l'Artillerie a Pied wearing shakos without cords, the only adornments being the front plate and a red pompom. So I don't know whether the cords were dispensed with by 1815, or what. My learning curve continues. Any takers?

Thnese four stands represent my first entry in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. Next up will be a group of 28mm Union infantry in Hardee Hats. I'd love to get them done before New Year's Eve.

Next posts: Commando heroes and a scantily clad lady vampire. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Card To All Mad Padre Wargames Readers

Depending on where you are in the world, dear reader, it may already be Christmas Eve, but for us here on the frozen Canadian prairie, there is a little time left in this day, the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Mrs. Padre and I observe a few traditions, including the lighting of Advent candles, Sunday by Sunday, and bringing home a real Christmas tree. Here you can see both glowing gently, and while it's frigid winter outside, here inside is warm and comfort. For that I'm grateful.

In another Christmas tradition, Mrs. Padre has commandeered the dining room table for her annual holiday jigsaw puzzle. Her mind is a subtle and precise thing, inclined to visual and word puzzles, whereas mine has all the patience of a Golden Retreiver with severe ADD. And yet she marvels that I have the patience to sit for hours with paints and miniatures. Somehow my mind can, as W.B. Yeats said, "like a long-legged fly upon the stream ... move upon silence". Today was a good painting day, finding the detail in big figures and getting the big picture in very small figures. Curt's Analogue Hobbies painting challenge has been a great incentive for me, and I am grateful for the creative aspects of our hobby.

I'm also grateful for the social aspects of this hobby. This year I travelled back to Ontario to game with dear and dearly missed friends in Ontario. I met a local circle of boardgamers in Medicine Hat and while I wish they were interested in miniatures gaming, they are good people. I've become close friends with a few people, via email and Facetime, that I've never met in person, and yet they are dear to me. I'm grateful for all of you from Madrid, Spain to Christ Church, NZ and everwhere in between, grateful for your interest in this blog, and grateful for what you offer in your blogs, for your creativity, inspiration, and good humour. Thanks for all your well wishes for my recent knee surgery, the offending limb is recovering nicely and I hope to be back to running before the New Year.

If you are secular, I wish you and yours a very happy holidays and all good things in the new year. If you are a person of faith, may God's blessing and peace be with you and those you love and pray for, now and ever more.

And now another tradition calls, the eggnog (light, low cal), which is really an excuse for a sharp shot of Lamb's Navy Rum (calories be damned). Cheers, Mike

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Brush Dreams of Ronin 28

So what will I paint for the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge? Curt has asked each of his brush ronin to give themselves a par, a goal based on his points system.

I promised getting this to Curt yesterday but I underestimated my recovery time after a quick visit to Day Surgery yesterday to get my knee repaired, a little wear and tear from military training and running. Mrs. Padre took this yesterday when I came back from the operating theatre. That smile is no doubt me dreaming of all the great figures I'll get painted for the Challenge.

With apologies to fans of the movie Gettysburg: "General, I'm so damn stoned I can't see a thing. Are these good drugs, General?" "Yes, sir/ Mmmmmmmmmmmm ..... very good drugs."

So now a few days at home to recover and then I'm out the gate with my colleagues. Here is what I will be submitting to Curt, the sum total of what I would like to paint between now and when the contest closes at the end of March.

1) 6mm Napoleonics

Last week I posted some pics of the first results of my first batch of an order from Bacchus, my toe into the water of small scale Napoleonic wargaming. You readers were most most kind and encouraging. So here is the rest of that order, and my top priority goal for this challenge.

24x line infantry @ 1 pt ea = 24 points 4 x artillery @ 2 pts ea = 8 points 12 x artillery crew @ 1 pt ea = 12 points 24 x light infantry @ 1 pt ea = 24 points 4 x limbers @ 3 pts ea = 12 points Total = 80 points

2) 20mm World War Two

Two goals here. The first, and second highest priority project, is to finish this ten man section of late war German infantry from TQD castings, to furnish SS opponents for my French Canadian alter ego, Lt. Denis Audet. My goal is to paint most of them in SS peadot cammo, which is always a good test of painting skills.

10 x 20mm foot figures @ 4pts ea = 40 points

The second goal in this scale is to finish painting these two Armourfast Soviet SU152 SP Guns as a way to revisit my languishing Soviet collection. They will also be an opportunity to try the airbrush I bought recently, as well as experiment with these pigments I picked up while visiting the wonderful BC Shaver and Hobby Shop in Victoria, BC, last month.

2 x 20mm vehicles @12 pts ea = 24 pts

4)American Civil War 28mm

Not a big project here, but an old one. I bought these Wargames Foundry ACW lads in the ever-stylish Hardee Hat to finish an expansion to the the Iron Brigade, something I've been slowly adding to over the years. Besides these three figs there are two more casualty figures, which I am thinking of posing together around a shellburst. One of Curt's recent posts at Analogue Hobbies has some clever ideas as to accomplishing this.

5 x 28mm foot figures @ 5 pts each = 25 pts

3)World War Two 28mm

These are the "plastic Johnnies" that Lord Lovat was referring to in my last post, a box of 24 British commandoes for my Weird War Two project to give "Project S" the force it needs to strike at its sinister foes. A bit of a devil to put them all together, and I've been averaging 3-4 in an evening while watching a movie.

24 x 28mm foot figures @ 5 pts ea = 120 pts

4)Seven Years War in 28mm

Ages ago my gaming group in Ontario went through an SYW phase, using the Age of Reason rules, and I started working on a Russian army. I bought these Front Rank Prussian Hussars since no one at the time seemed to sculpt Russian hussars, and chaps tearing about in gaudy uniforms on fast horses all look the same, really, don't they? So my bonus goal for the challenge is to get them finished, and maybe revisit the whole SWY thing, perhaps using the Black Power or Maurice rules, I'm open to guidance on this subject.

12 x 28mm cavalry figures @ 10 pts ea = 240pts

Since I have to order a Samurai figure as the cost of entry into this Challenge, and have 12 Dixon Tartar light cavalry which I also ordered for the SYW, as light horse for my Turkish army (they seemed like fun opponents for my Russians). Oddly Dixon only shipped six appropriate horses for those figures, so this is my chance to buy another 6 and get that unit out of the lead mountain. However, at the risk of being called a sandbagger, I won't include that in my total for this project, since, frankly, I doubt I'll get to them.

80 points of 6mm Nappies 64 pts of 20mm WW2 25 pts of 28mm ACW 120 pts of 28mm WW2 240 pts of 28mm SYW

So if my arithmetic is correct, my personal par for the Challenge is 529. God speed all out brushes! Blessings, Mike, aka Ronin 28

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Am Ronin 28

On 20 December I will get busy with my brushes, along with 46 other folks, in this year's painting competition run by fellow Canuck and blogger Curt of Analogue Hobbies.

I've had mixed luck with other painting challenges in the last few years. Some have led to finished projects, others to frustration. But this one feels different. I had enormous fun watching the progress of last year's challenge, and I have tremendous ambition to Curt for putting so much effort into this task. The selling point for me is that I get to set the bar where I want. It's up to each participant to decide how many figures they want to paint and what kind, and then to do their best to reach that goal, while learning along the way from some talented brush ronin. So I'm in.

Next step, to determine what I am going to paint. The first rule is that nothing is eligible if it has already received anything more than primer. So these three chaps are out - they are from the Warlord Commandoes Character blister, and are intended to be part of my Weird War Two project.

"I say, sir, what a pity that the Padre has gone and started doing our faces. Now we're bloody well not eligible!" "Never mind, RSM, we'll be the first ones onto the objective ahead of all those plastic Johnnies. Piper! Play the Brushes of Bonnie Dundee!"

Also sadly ineligible is this young lass, a Reaper Miniatures Vampire, also intended for the Weird War project (my Padre figure needs some temptation), and a Renegade Confederate Officer for Terrible Sharp Sword.

Oh, Curt, dahlink, I am so sad to be left out of your competition. Isn't there anything I could do to make you reconsider?" "Why, nevah you mind that Yankee Curt, mah deah. The South has risen, if'n y'all get mah meaning."

Also ineligible, sadly, is scenery, so between now and the 20th I will try to finish off a project or two there, and use the figures featured here to practice my speed painting skills. So what is eligible? That will be revealed, gentle reader, in my next post. And to my fellow 46 ronin, may God speed our brushes!

Monday, December 10, 2012

One Very Small Step For Napoleonics

"Zee cassions, zey go rolling along, n'est-ce pas?"

A while back, I made noises here about starting a Napoleonic project in 6mm. In due course a small package of small chaps came from Bacchus. "Allons-y, mon brave!", I said to myself, "let's get these fellows done before Thanksgiving! Vites depeches-toi!"

Well, Canadian Thanksgiving came and went in October, followed by American Thanksgiving (we celebrate both at Casa Padre) and no tiny Frenchmen were finished. A big part of the problem was fear. A small part of that fear was painting in a very small scale, something I have limited experience with. A much bigger fear factor was that I very quickly realized that I was way out in deep waters, with no real knowledge of Napoleonic uniforms.

Fortunately the base library has a good stock of Ospreys with several titles on Napoleon's infantry, so I'm ok there, but nothing on the artillery. My limited book collection told me that the French Army created a specialized artillery train, vice the civilians used early on in the Revolutionary period, and I ransacked the internet for images, using the chaps found here as my model. If you know something about the uniforms of the artillery train and have any suggestions, pray leave a comment.

Here are the results.

I primed these fellows using a black spraypaint, which I think will be preferred technique in this scale from now on, even though I am using white for larger figures. The black undercoat allows a few shortcuts, such as having the shakos and boots already done and giving the impression of lining out on crossbelts, etc.

For horses and tack, the black undercoat has obvious advantages as well, especially for black horses. I suppose I could go back and give these nags some white socks and blazes, perhaps in future when I do some cavalry.

The artillery wagons were painting in Vallejo Yellow Olive tempered with some black, giving me a colour which seemed accurate based on my research. I did find that Foundry makes paint for French artillery limbers and gun carriages in three shades, but I think I'll pass on that for now.

The bases are handcut MDF, and show my unsteady efforts with a craft knife, but they are ok from a distance, methinks, and sized as per the Poleomos rules from Bacchus that I ordered with these figures. I am not sure if I really NEED a four stand artillery train, but after working for years in 28mm, where I had to question the purchases of limbers, cassions and limber teams as an expensive luxury, creating artillery supply assets in this scale is too easy.

There is a four gun battery with limbers, plus a whole brigade of French line infantry, plus some accompanying light infantry, ready to go next, but I won't start them until 20 December, for reasons to be outlined in my next post, reasons which I am sure some of you can guess at.

Before I go, I am quite thrilled that my blog, a fitful and irregular thing, has reached 95 followers. Among the more recent, I welcome James, a Napoleonic gamer and blogger and devoted family man from the great state of Tennessee, and Andrew called Loki. Welcome and thank you, gents.

Blessings to your brushes and die rolls! Mike+

Monday, December 3, 2012

Charlock The Hunter

If there is a theme to this blog, (and if there is a pattern to my meanderings I am not sure I have yet discerned it), then this figure may be a bit of a departure.

Who is that sinister figure with the unfeasibly large sword? No, that's not Michonne,the Samurai Girl from The Walking Dead. She's the figure from the Bloodflower Nymphs pack, sold by Wargames Foundry and part of their Fantasy Range. I ordered some of Foundry's excellent ACW figures recently and decided to add this pack to my order. Why was the good Padre tempted by a bunch of wild woodland nymphs, I hear you ask. Ummmm, errr, well ... lovely figures, ain't they?

I suppose the real answer is that I wanted a change from painting 100 ACW figures, which can get monotonous after a while. Also, some of the first miniatures I ever painted in high school were fantasy figures for Dungeons and Dragons, so it felt like returning to my roots. It's not often I focus on painting a single figure, and this one was a lot of fun to paint, a great break when I couldn't face another twenty musket and carbine barrels.

The paint scheme was unadventurous, a rather slavish copy of Simon Bradley's palette choice on the Foundry website. However, the leopard skin was great fun to paint, and took some experiments in mixing orange paint before I was happy with the result. It doesn't quite show to advantage in these iphone photos, but you get the idea.

A tisket, a tasket, what's that in the basket? Eeeeekk! How gruesome! Charlock has indeed been hunting.

For now Charlock graces my display cabinet,frowning at the Nazi werewolf nearby. I'm really not sure what to do with her. The Minor Projects part of my brain is thinking that she and some of her sisters might make a terrible surprise for some Uruk Hai warriors from my LOTR collection if they blunder into a particularly enchanted part of the forest. Nymphs and dryads aren't specifically mentioned in Tolkein, but they might be logical neighbours for elves and tree ents. I'm not going to make the leap to dark ages skirmish gaming, like most everyone else in the hobby, otherwise Charlock might migrate to an Alt Dark Ages game. And that head in the basket does look vaguely Celtic ...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Civil War Comes To Their Doorstep

A long time ago I bought a TYCO HO model railroad kit called "Aunt Millie's House", which can still be found on ebay. It seemed to me to have enough of a 19th century feel to pass for a piece of ACW scenery, although it looks more midwestern than southern. Certainly not an antebellum mansion, but it might pass for a modest farmhouse.

I originally planned to finish it and a scenic base as an entry in The Guild's building build, (my, that phrase is awkward) but the deadline for that came and went. However, when I wasn't shooting aliens on my PS3 this fall, I did manage to get it finished, along with a scenic base that is about 18" square, complete with duckpond and truck garden.

Sorry about the naff photo taken with my iphone. I doctored the lighting in the next one to show the green colour I chose for the house.

Such an idyllic scene, isn't it? But if you've seen films like Cold Mountain you will know that the war has to come to even the most idyllic places. I had a package of ACW civilian figures, cheekily called "Blown By the Breeze", and I thought they needed a home, so I painted up three of the five in the pack to start with.

Oh no, what's happening here? A troop of dastardly Yankee cavalry has ridden up the drive and the officer is demanding the house as his lodgings and the pigs and chickens as his men's rations. Standing foursquare against him is Dilsey, the house slave, who has just been butchering a chicken for her mistresses and in no way is going to let any more of those chickens get plundered. Miss Lucy Leadbelly rushes towards Dilsey, wanting to defuse the situation, while her sister in law, Constance Blenkenship, watches in horror, since she's not good for much more than gasping and swooning and exclaiming "I do declare!".

Here's a close up of Dilsey - the first black character I've ever painted.


Miss Lucy:,/p>

These figures were great fun to paint, and give me some ideas for a tongue-in-cheek Terrible Sharp Sword game, coming soon, I hope.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

And There Was Much Rejoicing

Why are Mr. and Mrs. Padre celebrating in their traditional ethnic costumes? Because the Mad Padre Wargames blog has been awarded a Liebster award. Let the yodelling ring out and the alpenhorns sound! RIIIIICOLA!

If you have been following miniatures wargames blogs recently, you likely know what a Liebster is, but here's the lowdown if you aren't in the know, see?.

A Leibster seems to be a blogger's way of encouraging fellow bloggers with a little encouragement and praise. I am very grateful to Benito, aka Annibal, a Madrid-based wargamer who shares my interest in the rules published by Two Fat Lardies. Benito's blog is Gaming With Too Fat Lardies. Benito was kind enough to say this about my blog: " Excellent stories and high sense of humour. Award shared with his other (and more serious) Mad Padre blog about all things spiritual and not so spiritual (NOTE: a remarcable recommendation coming from a well known in my circles agnostic-to-atheist guy like me...)".

Thanks so much, Benito. I've enjoyed your blog for it's interesting mix of WW2 and Vietnam era gaming, and for gaming reps from what looks like an amazing and talented group of Madrid gamers.

I should also thank another person I've come to think of as a friend, the fellow who runs Col. Scipio's Palladian Guard blog, who also nominated me for this award. Colonel, I really enjoy the rich background of your W40K blog and also like the alt WW2 theme you have there. I wish I had time to visit your blog more. Many thanks.

Here are the Lebster rules as I got from Benito's site:

Copy and paste the award on your blog linking it to the blogger who has given it to you.

Pass the award to your top 5 favourite blogs with less than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of their posts to notify them that they have won the award and listing them on your own blog.

Sit back and bask in that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing that you have just made someone's day!

Sp I went through the list of blogs I followed and had trouble finding any that don't already have a Liebster. But there were a few, all blogs that I enjoy. Here they are.

Rabbits In My Basement is the blog of Canadian gamer James Manto. With a dedicated team of friends, James has made the Hot Lead convention a fixture on the Canadian gaming landscape. His blog shows some wonderful figures from Colonials to Ancients to World War Two, reports on activities as an Army Cadet leader, and other esoteric stuff. James' blog is as interesting and lively as he is in person.

Light Bobs and Paint Blobs is the blog of Jason, a talented painter whose current interest appears to be the English Civil War. Not a period I game myself, but I admire his talent, enthusiasm, and his ability to pump out large and impressive looking units on a seemingly regular basis.

Are We Not Men? is a World War Two in 20mm blog run by Berlin based blogger calling himself darkbirk. I like his brushwork, which is able to bring out the potential of plastic figures that some of us, including myself, never manage. Like me, darkbirk also likes the storytelling aspect of our hobby.

Archduke Piccolo is the splendidly named blog of an engaging chap whose name I don't know - I just call him Milord Archduke. He is a New Zealander, judging from some of his real life comments. He's an engaging and enthusiastic chap with a passion for Imaginations-type old school Lace Wars gaming, but also does some interesting work in WW2.

Finally, I'll give the nod to fellow Canadian Grenzer John, like me a wargaming pastor (there are actually quite a few of us out there) for his blog The Minstrel Boy. John always has something there to interest me, whether accounts of 1812 reenacting events that he and his son go to, to accounts of some eclectic and interesting free for all games from the Age of Reason to WW2.

So that's my contribution to this trend in the wargaming blogosphere. There are many many other blogs I enjoy and admire, too many to name. When I consider that I have met so many people online whom I would consider friends, from all over the world, it is truly a blessing to be part of this virtual community. As the header of this blog says, "Guiness, toy soldiers, good friends. God is good." Indeed he is.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Audet's Orchard: A WW2 Skirmish Battle Report

Pffffffffffffffffff Pffffffffffffffffffffffff (Blows dust off microphone) "Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there?")

Whew, life got in the way there for a while, in a mostly good sense. Work's been busy but largely happy. If you ask nicely, I may post the photos of me and Mrs. Padre at our Oktoberfest mess dinner. I took a break from wargaming when I bought the new XCOM: Enemy Unknown game for PS3 and have been battling aliens and saving the earth pretty steadily for the last month. I played both the XCOM games back in the 1990s when they were 18bit PC games and loved them, so this has been a nostalgia trip for me. But I've been missing Real Wargaming

It's been a while since I took out my 20mm WW2 figures, so in early November I set up a game using both the excellent Platoon Forward campaign scenario generator and Too Fat Lardies' small unit skirmish rules, Troops, Weapons & Tactics, and have been noodling away at it a turn or so a day. I revisited my callow French Canadian character, Lt. Denis Audet of Quebec's Regiment de la Chaudiere. The last game I described here was back in March, when Audet and his men of Les Chauds' No 18 Platoon had been ambushed in Normandy while escorting a road move to pick up some German prisoners. That left the platoon much depleted, left Audet stuck with a difficult relationship with his platoon sergeant, and left a blot on the good record that he had been developing since DDay.

Once again the dice were not kind to Audet, putting him on the defensive in Platoon Forward Scenario Card O, Defence Against A Raid. As I fleshed out the situation, No 18 Platoon had been assigned a sector of the line to hold while they recovered after the ambush debacle two days before. German opposition is building, and Brigade has identified several enemy formations, including leg infantry, and grenadiers belonging to 21st and 12SS Panzer Divisions. Sgt. Beaulieu has returned to duty after a bad experience in the ambush. 18 Platoon is holding a series of foxholes and fighting positions on the edge of an orchard, facing German positions in some light hills on the far side of farmers' fields. So here, dear readers, is the story of Audet's Orchard.

Normandy, 10 June, 06:30hrs.

Denis Audet sipped his tepid and evil tasting instant coffee from a tin mug and watched the mist clearing to his front. Most of the Chauds didn't care for the tea that their Anglo comrades seemed to prefer, and made do with the instant coffee that sometimes came in their compo rations. He considered going back to Company HQ and making another plea to Major Charpentier for replacements. It was simply unfair to expect him to hold this piece of line with the few men he had left to him.

A birds' eye view of the battlefield. Note my spiffy new grain fields, as described in an earlier post.

Canadian initial dispositions. On the bottom left, on top of the blind, Lt. Audet (Lvl 3 Big Man) with his radioman and 4 surviving riflemen from Section 2. In the centre are the two surviving members of Section 2 Bren team with Section 2 commander, Cpl. Côté (Lvl 2 BM). In the centre, at the Canadian table edge, are the four surviving members of Section 1 with their commander, Cpl. Legros(Lvl 2 BM) organized as a Bren team and also equipped with a PIAT. In the At the top right,in the orchard partially surrounded by the broken stone mall, are the seven men of No 3 section (3 man Bren team, 4 man rifle team). The Bren team is led by the 3 Section commander, Cpl. Matthieu (Lvl 2 BM), while the rifle team are led by the No 18 Platoon Sergeant, Sgt Beaulieu (Lvl 3 BM). The Canadians are blessed with decent Big Men but are very short on troops (only 17!). The Canadians are classed as Average troops. Audet's ace in the hole is a Sherman tank from the Fort Garry Horse parked near Legros and his men as a reserve.

Audet was mentally composing his speech to the Major when one of his troops blanched and pointed towards the hills across the fields from their foxholes. "C'est un char!" The handful of riflemen were discarding their tin cups and breakfasts, and hastily buckling the straps of their steel helmets. Audet turned to Private Delisle, one of the 2 Section rifle men. "Go alert the tank and tell Cpl Legros to come forward." Delisle nodded nervously, scrambled out of his foxhole, and began trotting back down the orchard path. Audet noticed that he had forgotten his Lee Enfield.

Above, a storm of German blinds emerges from the woods and begins pouring towards the Canadian positions. As per the Platoon Forward scenario, the axis of attack is randomized, and some of those blinds could be nothing but the imgainations and fears of the nervous soldiers. The German STUG assault gun was rolled as an AT gun, but I changed it to a STUG, which seemed to make more sense on the assault. Besides, the model is relatively new (I honestly can't recall what make it is, possibly DRAGON, as I recall that it was quite fiddly to make). The German mission is a prisoner snatch. A German platoon from 21 Panzer has been ordered to identify the Canadian unit in its regimental AOR and hopefully capture some for interrogation. The German troops are also classed as Average for this scenario.

Pte Delisle did his job, dashing back to the Fort Garrys who were standing about their tank drinking coffee. Fortunately the Sherman crew are from the French speaking St. Boniface neighbourhood of Winnipeg and have no trouble understanding the Chauds. The Sherman rumbles forward and catches a German section maneuvering forward in the lane between the two fields. The tank coax opens up on them, along with Cpl. Côté's Bren gun team. Two Germans drop, and the rest scamper through the hedge and away from the bullets.

Above, more German blinds move aggressively to the hedge across the road from the Canadian positions, but they have not spotted any of the Chauds. The STUG takes up a position in the middle of the road, ready to rake the orchard with MG fire. The STUG and the Shermans don't have lines of sight to one another.

Audet heard the engine of the Sherman and seconds later heard it's machine gun open up, along with the thudthudthud of Côté's Bren. That was encouraging but now a full section of German infantry were rushing forward, evidently emboldened by their supporting assault gun. It was clear to Audet that the Germans had not yet spotted him and his handful of infantry, and he was grateful that he'd insisted on his men refreshing their concealment at stand to an hour ago. "Ready grenades! Now!" No sooner had he tossed his own grenade, an awkward overhand throw, then Audet snatched up his Sten gun and started spraying. The Germans panicked, dismayed as the NCO leading them was tossed backwards by a bursting grenade, falling in a flayed heap. With two of their number down, the rest of the German section fell backwards. Audet and his few men had one a reprieve, but the STUG had seen them and was pivoting on one track. A second later, a massive sound, and Audet was half buried from the dirt of an HE explosion yards from his foxhole. This was not good.

German section roughly handled. Because they had not spotted Audet's men, and Audet had reserved his dice, they got the shot in before the melee. The fluke killing of the German Big Man alone explains Audet's survival.

Two of his sections had been checked, but the German officer (a lvl 3 BM) kept his calm and as the German blinds came up they got lucky as their identities were rolled. An MG42 team set up and returned fire on Coté's Bren team, and the Canadian corporal slumped to the ground, badly wounded. To make matters worse, the next German blind was a small group of tank hunters, who used the cover of the hedge opposite the road to line up on the Sherman and fire a lucky shot, hitting the turret and beginning a huge fire. The surviving crew bailed out and fearing an explosion, fell back, joined by the two Chauds dragging their wounded Corporal. On Audet's right flank, a German LMG team had infiltrated the orchard and was keeping him and his men pinned down. Miraculously Pte Delisle sprinted back through the bullets and fell into Audet's foxhole. "Ton fusil", Audet said, pointing to man's forgotten Enfield.

The Sherman burns, a bitter sight for the handful of the Chauds trying to hang on.

On the right, it was all hell for Sgt Beaulieu and 3 Section. They had managed to repel a rush of German infantry, leaving four sprawled in the road before their position, but the return fire, along with the HMG that had silenced Coté. was ripping them apart. Cpl. Matthieu was shot in the head and was clearly dying, while two of his Bren team and a rifleman were down. Beauleiu was working the bolt of his rifle like a mad man, and was exhausting his profanities as fast as his ammo. The survivors of 3 section were shaken, but for now the Germans semmed to have no appetite for another rush.

Beaulieu and his few men grimly hang on behind the stone wall as casualties mount.

For Audet and his five men, the foxholes were all that was keeping them from death, singing over them in the form of countless Spandau rounds. Audet's signaller had abandoned his radio, which was covered with dirt, and was cowering with his hands over his head like the others. Audet thanked the Blessed Virgin that the German assault gun had not moved forward to crush their foxholes under its treads, but its cautious commander might soon get that idea. Sensing a brief lull, he gave the command to fall back. As the Canadians emerged from their holes, more bullets began to fly but miraculously, only one man fell. The remainder fled, shedding rifles, helmets, and packs.

"Men, come back!" Audet's men flee the table. Look at all those shock dice! That's an epic amount of shock, 24+ points. There was a question in my mind as to whether Audet would share the shock, or whether as a Big Man he'd be immune to it. I decided in his favour, but now I'm not so sure that was the right call.

By this point the game was pretty much a done deal. The only thing that spared the Canadians was a good run of cards, preventing the STUG from moving forward and denying the two surviving German Big Men much chance to rally their men and lead them forward. By the same token, the cards pretty much froze Audet's reserve section in place. Cpl. Legros and the four men of 1 Section had managed a shot on the STUG without being spotted, since the PIAT round missed. Otherwise the cards left them out of the battle, no doubt skulking in cover. Audet fell back on them, and ordered Legros to set up the Bren on the table edge to cover the withdrawal of the survivors. Using his one time Heroic Commander card, Audet raced forward to the stone wall on the left of the position, to find Sgt. Beaulieu and tell him to get the hell out of it. Beaulieu and his two remaning men were happy to comply, but unfortunately were pushed too hard by the now advancing Germans to save their wounded.

German panzergrenadiers, their numbers much depleted, push forward to the wall held, until recently, by Sgt. Beaulieu and his men.

By the time the German infantry had rallied and linked up wkith their STUG, the Canadians had fallen back through the orchard and broken contact. However the Germans achieved their aims, capturing one of Beaulieu's wounded riflemen who could be carried back on a litter for interrogration. The Canadians left four others dead or dying, not counting the dead tank commander and gunner. German casualties were around a dozen.

Now that the STUG commander has his infantry support, he's finally willing to push into the orchard, but the birds have flown.

Poor Audet is not looking forward to reporting to Major Charpentier. He has lost his position, his armour support, his platoon radio, a Bren gun and has several men without arms and accoutrements. The muster is as follows: Lt. Audet Pte. Lanois (signaller minus radio) Platoon Sergeant Beaulieu Section 1 Cpl. Legro Bren/PIAT team: 4 men Section 2 Cpl. Côté seriously wounded Bren team: 2 men Rifle team: 3 men Section 3 Cpl. Matthieu either dead or seriously wounded and captured Bren team: 1 man Rifle team: 2 men

I continue to enjoy the Platoon Forward experience. I've become attached to Audet after several battles, and it hurts to see his platoon whittled away, but such was the lot of many an infantry battalion in Normandy. Honestly, I didn't expect him to survive this fight. He got lucky killing the NCO of that German section, because otherwise they would have rolled right over the Canadians in the melee, and he got lucky again when the cards never came up for the STUG, which was quite prepared to crush them in their foxholes. He got lucky a third time when he survived a hail of lead as they fell back from their position. Will his luck continue?

Will his career continue? Audet has an abrasive personality and is seen as a glory hound by many in the battalion, but he has been a brave and aggressive commander thus far in the Normandy campaign. It may be that the high attrition suffered since DDay will see him sent to command another, leaderless platoon, and either 18 Platoon will be broken up or rebuilt. Hopefully it won't be another five months before you get another report. Many thanks for reading! Mike

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