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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

British Infantry and Waffen SS in Action

Northern France, Summer of '44. The British have been engaged in tough fighting through Normandy's countryside for three weeks. They are still trying to reach the city of Caen, which was supposed to be the day's objective on D-Day. By now the Germans, having realized that this is the main invasion, have begun a series of fierce counterattacks, using some of their battle-tried Waffen-SS divisions. In this post we see a company of SS Panzergrenadiers in action against a company of British Tommies which has a bit of a surprise in store for them.

The German column is advancing through a section of wooded and hilly terrain leading up to their objective. The intelligence they gathered before moving out indicated that the village and its surrounding area are not occupied. 

However, the night before, the British moved into position on a hill just outside the village and lie in waiting for the unsuspecting German column to come by.

  They are well dug in and concealed in the high ground. On the opposite side of the road, small ridges make it hard for vehicles to move off road. Gradually, the rumbling of engines, the clanking of tank's tracks and the shaking of the earth puts the Tommies on alert that the Germans are coming. The time to spring the trap is almost there.

Watching the column go by, the British commander waits for just the right moment, when the length of the column covers his entire front, and then gives the order to open up.


First, a bazooka man knocks out the tracks on the leading vehicle.

Then a second anti-tank round is unleashed against the trailing tank destroyer...

The Jagdtiger is also left unable to advance or retreat, and with a limited turning radius. These fearful tank destroyers have been neutralized for all practical purposes, as the absence of a turret, makes it hard for them to bring their main guns to bear against the enemy, and even if they could turn and point their guns in the right direction, the high ground is beyond the reach of the gun's maximum elevation.

But the Panzergrenadiers' reaction is instantaneous. These guys have been battle-hardened in the eastern front and know just what to do. All along the length of the column training and experience take over. They rapidly dismount, locate the source of the fire and immediately begin to pour defensive fire on it.

Even the mounted officer at the head of the column quickly doubles back and joins the fray, firing as he goes.

With bullets snapping in the air all around them and ricocheting from their vehicles, these seasoned veterans remain calm and methodically return fire.

But the Tommies are hitting them with all they've got.

Some of these guys still remember Dunkirk and have even fresher memories of the preceeding three weeks.

A hail of bullets, automatic fire, grenades descend on the German column.

Past are the initial days of the campaign when some men were hesitant to pull the trigger. Now, they are emptying clip after clip with their automatic weapons.

The British know they have the upper hand and have no intention of relinquishing the initiative.

Even the officers join in, with their side arms.

But the Germans are also firing back with everything they've got.

Using their heavily armored vehicles for cover, they manouver around them to get into the best firing position.

From behind their half-tracks,

or on top of their disabled Panzers, 

All along the column, these men are making every shot count.

Their officer in charge, a highly decorated career officer, is not the kind that ducks when bullets are flying around him, and least of all today, as he is well aware that he has led his men into this trap.

But the Tommies are picking them off gradually, with well aimed shots from unsuspecting places.

However, the Germans also have some pretty lethal marksmen amongst them,

and in a moment of exposure, some of the Tommies pay the ultimate price.

The British are now laying down some heavy machine gun fire along the length of the column,

and from the high ground.

But the Germans have managed to setup a machine gun team on the opposite side of the road, which is helping to even things out.

Then the British begin to plaster the Germans with mortar fire, which given its indirect nature is very hard to defend against and will tear the Germans to pieces if they remain in their current positions. The situation is now decidedly in favor of the British.

The German officer knows they can't stay there. Unable to move along the road, or attack uphill, he decides to abandon the rest of the vehicles and fall back into the woods behind them. 

But the British officer anicipates their movements...

....and he instructs the reserve platoon to move around the right flank to prevent that.

A squad is dispatched to cut off the German retreat.

Then all of a sudden, after managing to stay calm and composed through the hellish ordeal, a Panzergrenadier's scream can be heard, filled with terror.  

He has spotted a flamethrower, one of the most dreaded weapons, about to open up on them. Even if the men manage to avoid the flames, the burning vehicles, loaded with ammunition would explode shortly afterwards, killing anyone remotely close to them.

Then the unexpected happens. A panzergrenadier with a panzerfaust scores a direct hit on the British man with the flamethrower. The resulting explosion not only kills several British men close by, but it creates enough of a commotion, that it allows the German retreat to proceed.

Covered by a few self-sacrificing panzergrenadiere that remain behind on the flank to hold off the pursuing British, the rest of the German survivors slip into the woods where they will regroup, and make their way back to their lines. They have barely escaped the well laid trap, but at least a few of them have lived to fight another day. Even so, the tide of the war has turned and they know it.

Here is a more detailed description of the British Infantry figures as they were being painted.
Here is a post with the entire British Infantry unit, paint job already finished.
Here is a description of the Waffen SS figures.
Here is post with the Waffen SS figures in action wearing the spring cammo pattern, defending the Siegfried Line.

Vehicles featured in this post:
Forces of Valor German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer IV Jagdtiger
Forces of Valor German Sd. Kfz. 251/9 Kanonenwagen 'Stummel'
Forces of Valor German Sd. Kfz. 251/1 'Hanomag'
21st Century Toys Sd. Kfz. 251/1 'Hanomag'

Figures featured in this post:
Airfix British Infantry, Atlantic British Infantry, BMC British Infantry, Britains Herald British Infantry, Marx British Infantry, Matchbox British Infantry, Steve Weston (SWTS) British Infantry, Conte Collectibles Waffen SS, Conte Collectibles German Infantry, CTS German Infantry, Italeri German Elite Troops, Toy Soldiers of San Diego (TSSD) German Elite Troops, MPC German Infantry.

11 comments:

  1. Nice diorama, with awesome pick and detail.Unfurtunaly for historian critics like me, not accurate. The jag tiger was not produced till after September/October 1944, way after this battle (Caen), British matchbox bazooka pose is a wrong cast figure as British used the PIAT antitank grenade launcher most and specially on these 1944 battles till later in early 1945 that British and Canadian armies were issue the later model of American bazooka. Even using the American bazooka at close range was a bad idea to knock off the side armor(over 3”) of this German monster with the new thicker and better-designed cast armor plate and armor skirts. British using post ww2 rifles figures like the herald poses figures are seen too. Above and overall the tale and facts did happen often just with different tools and equipments.

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  2. Nice diorama, with awesome pick and detail.Unfortunately for historian critics like me, not accurate. The Jagdtiger was not produced/used till after September/October 1944, way after this battle (Caen), British matchbox bazooka pose is a wrong cast figure as British used the PIAT antitank grenade launcher most and specially on these 1944 battles till later in early 1945 that British and Canadian armies were issue the later model of American bazooka. Even using the American bazooka at close range was a bad idea to knock off the side armor (over 3”) of this German monster with the new thicker and better-designed cast armor plate and armor skirts. British using post ww2 rifles figures like the herald poses figures are seen too. Above and overall the tale and facts did happen often just with different tools and equipments.

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    1. Hey there, thanks or the feedback. I do know that I have mixed troops and vehicles from different periods of the war, but that's what I had at hand for the scene. For these type of posts my main goal is the narrative and photography, and I allow myself some liberties. There are other posts in the blog -the ones describing a certain service branch of a given nation or a given manufacturer- in which I do try to be more accurate. Anyhow, thanks for providing the extra detail. I am sure the readers will find it valuable. I certainly do.

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  3. Toy soldiers. Nice job. Good imagination!

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    1. Thanks a lot! Putting together these stories is quite enoyable. From setting up the scene, taking pics, coming up with the story. editing, etc. It does take quite a bit of time though and lately I have not been able to do more of these. I am glad you have enjoyed it.

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  4. Nice, what kind of green you used on the officer german with pistol? Don't you think by painting the inside of the coat will make him more nice?

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    1. It is Tamiya's XF-13. Used to be called German Green. Now they call it J. A. Green. About the coat, I think you are right. It would look nicer with the inside in a different color.

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  5. great layout ignore critics i like being real on my layout .Nice idea using postwar herald figures nice imagination, they are wasted figures to use against anything else, so why not just for the fun of it.We all got our own ides in what to use .Keep on modeling and enjoy what you do for yourself in believe or not believe .critics sometimes to fussy .
    fellow modeler

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    1. Thanks for the encouraging feedback. Enjoying the hobby is definitely a top priority for me, even if it involves a bit of flexibility. Once it stops being fun, it is no longer a hobby :-)

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  6. (same as above fellow modeler)
    flexibility is what this great hobby is all about .i use it at times ,you look at certain things you cannot use and say wonder what this and those look like on my layout just for the fun of it only to a to certain level ,good example the herald khaki infantry are just wasted .like your other imaginative ides on the other pictures i looked at with the Landrover again out of time but looks good just too see what it amongst world war two again very interesting ,like you said (purist) i think that myself at times it gives a certain edge to history makes it a bit of fun into modern warfare like example ww2 .enjoyed looking at your site fantastic like i said ignore the critics and enjoy .thanks for your feedback its good to know i am not the only purist in this hobby ,best of luck
    Fellow Modeler

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