Call out the Home Guard

As I start to reflect on possible forces for Operation Sea Lion games I have been looking around to see what is available, there have been some useful articles in the mainstream wargaming press on this subject too.
In a previous blog post I discussed my new Royal Navy Section which I will be using for Operation Sealion games. I already have on the workbench some Bolt Action partisans, which though designed for the Eastern Front will work just as well for games of Operation Sea Lion. I also have the Dad’s Army boxed set, which means I have some Home Guard already and extra civilians.

I had expressed how I liked the British LDV Section from Warlord Games and was pleased to pick up a box on discount from Firestorm Games on a recent visit.
British LDV Section from Warlord Games

On 14 May 1940, Britain’s Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden made a broadcast calling for men between the ages of 17 and 65 to enrol in a new force, the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) to defend the country against the expected German invasion of Britain. By July, nearly 1.5 million men had enrolled – far outreaching the 150,000 the Government expected to volunteer.

Beginning life as a rag-tag militia, the LDV initially had to make do without uniforms, wearing a simple armband bearing the organisations initials. The LDV similarly struggled for modern weaponry – shotguns and improvised weapons such as golf clubs, crowbars and industrial tools were not uncommon. The LDV evolved into the Home Guard, becoming a well-equipped and well-drilled force.

Disparagingly referred to as ‘Look, Duck & Vanish’, the LDV were renamed to the more inspiring Home Guard. Although the German invasion of their country didn’t materialise this proud people’s army – the original ‘Dad’s Army’ continued to stand until it was disbanded in late 1945.

The box set contains a ten man section equipped with various improvised weaponry, with additional firearms and Molotov cocktails.
British LDV Section from Warlord Games
This is the rear view of the models.
British LDV Section from Warlord Games
There has been lots of discussion about how effective the LDV would be against elite German Fallschirmjäger or even regular Wehrmacht forces. Trained soldiers generally will easily overcome irregulars in a straight firefight, one question though would British LDVs become the resistance?
These models could also be used as British Auxiliaries which were trained in irregular combat and were expected to fight on after invasion and occupation.

Of course, these models will also be suitable (as will my other Sea Lion British forces) for games set in the realm of the Very British Civil War.
So what units are you mustering to defeat the Germans as launch Operation Sea Lion?

It’s the Navy!

As I start to reflect on possible forces for Operation Sea Lion games I have been looking around to see what is available, there have been some useful articles in the mainstream wargaming press on this subject too.

I already have on the workbench some Bolt Action partisans, which though designed for the Eastern Front will work just as well for games of Operation Sea Lion. I also have the Dad’s Army boxed set, which means I have Home Guard and civilians.

I quite like the look of the new LDV from Warlord Games, but one unit that was recently released caught my attention. The Royal Navy section looked really interesting.

Warlord Games Bolt Action Royal Navy section

Armed primarily with the reliable Lee Enfield rifle and often supported by a Lewis machine gun, sections of highly disciplined and well-equipped naval ratings with considerable experience of close combat fighting are a fearsome opponent.

Warlord Games Bolt Action Royal Navy section

Clad in their dark blue uniforms and 1908 pattern webbing these Jack Tars will provide a dash of colour to an otherwise khaki British force.

Warlord Games Bolt Action Royal Navy section

As the war progressed, it was Royal Navy Commandos or Royal Marines who would lead shore parties rather than Navy sailors. However in the realms of Operation Sea Lion you can easily imagine German Fallschirmjäger attacking a British Navy base to secure it to defuse any opposition. The only thing they weren’t expecting was some sailors to fight back.

Another idea would be, following a German invasion and the establishment of a successful beachhead with troops moving inland, the British command send in a Royal Navy shore party secretly to rescue a key scientist who has been left behind the lines in a seaside resort. The shore party need to find the scientist, whilst avoiding Wehrmacht patrols. They may have the support of local defence volunteers, potentially even members of an Auxiliary Unit.

Of course these Naval forces will also be suitable (as will my other Sea Lion British forces) for games set in the ream of the Very British Civil War.

You can see how in the turmoil of a British internal conflict, local militia attempting to secure weapons from a naval base, find that it wasn’t going to be as easy as they thought. They did bring a hastily improvised armoured civilian truck, however then the Molotov cocktails started to rain down on them.

The rules for the Royal Navy section can be found in the Bolt Action Campaign Sea Lion expansion. When I first read this campaign book, I didn’t expect that Warlord Games would release “obscure” units such as this for the game, however I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety and number of releases for the expansion. I am probably thinking in the past of rule publications that “talk the talk” but due to a range of issues didn’t “walk the walk”. Part of this was probably down to the fact that there were companies who made miniatures and then there were companies who published rules. There were a few who did both, but not many. Warlord Games are one of those companies who do both, and do both well; you can tell their Games Workshop heritage in their business practices.

The boxed set contains ten models. A petty officer leading the squad armed with SMG. There is a two man Lewis Gun LMG team, which will provide much needed fire support against an Fallschirmjäger attack.

There are seven unique sailors all with rifles and three have Molotov cocktails. Well that Lee Enfield isn’t going to be much use against those Jerry Panzers!

So what units are you mustering to defeat the Germans as launch Operation Sea Lion?

I just need to make a call…

So you are trying to set the scene for Operational Sea Lion games for Bolt Action.

One of the challenges has been finding British scenery. If you were playing in 20mm then there was a whole model railway scene for an English landscape. However if you went down the 15mm (or the 28mm) road then alas there was very little available.

With the release of the Sea Lion campaign books from Warlord Games for Bolt Action, it’s nice to see that they are also releasing some nice scenery pieces to go with the campaign.

Fill your battlefields with iconic British objects – the Police, Telephone and Pillar boxes. An absolute must have for any British battlefield, providing key communication hubs for your local defence volunteers.

Of course I am probably not alone thinking, hmmm blue Police Box, I wonder who uses that!

So as well as Operation Sea Lion, you could also the scenery for Doctor Who games (pity the nice new Warlord Games Doctor Who miniatures are 32mm and not 28mm).

Also I can see these scenic items proving useful for a Very British Civil War games, as well as many of the Operation Sealion releases from Warlord Games. I do like their LDV volunteers for example.

I wonder if there are any other releases on the horizon?

Somerset Pillbox

Went for a walk along Sand Bay (near to Weston super Mare). I find it interesting that there is a pillbox on the beach, as you wouldn’t have thought that this coastline was under threat of German invasion back in 1940.

Somerset Pillbox

However doing some research about the pillbox, I came to realise that the British in 1940 did believe that invasion may come from the South West.

The Taunton Stop Line was a defensive line in south west England. It was designed “to stop an enemy’s advance from the west and in particular a rapid advance supported by armoured fighting vehicles (up to the size of a German medium tank) which may have broken through the forward defences.

The Taunton Stop Line ran north-south for nearly 50 miles through Somerset, Dorset and Devon, roughly from Axminster to Chard along the River Axe, then along the Great Western Railway to Ilminster, the railway and Chard Canal to Taunton, the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal to Bridgwater, and the River Parrett to the coast near Highbridge.

A beach battery at Portished, was built to protect the entrance to Avonmouth Docks. It was the first such installation to be become operational in the area, the battery containing two 6″ guns. Similarily the Severn Fixed Defences were designed to protect the Bristol Channel with batteries established at Brian Down and on Steep Holm and Flat Holm.

In October 1940 it was announced that the Severn Fixed Defences, a string of gun batteries, designed to protect the mouth of the Severn, would be established at Brean Down, on both Steep and Flat Holm, and on the Glamorgan coast at Lavernock Point.

Just like Brean Down further south along the coast, weapons were tested at Sand Point (next to Sand Bay) during the Second World War. Some were so strange that they were never seen after their initial trials.

Somerset Pillbox

With the release of the Bolt Action Sealion Campaign book it got me thinking about all the possibilities of a German invasion of Somerset… okay probably would have been impossible, but even so….

SS-GB

SS-GB

Adapted from Len Deighton’s 1978 alternate history novel, and starring Sam Riley and Kate Bosworth, SS-GB premieres on BBC One on the 19th February 2017.

Produced by Sid Gentle Films Ltd and written by Bafta Award-winners Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, SS-GB is a complex thriller focusing on British Detective Douglas Archer.

Forced to work under the brutal SS in occupied London, Archer is determined to continue to do his job in the service of his country, but against impossible odds.

We first meet Archer in 1941, with the vast majority of England and Wales are under Nazi occupation after losing the Battle of Britain. Pockets of resistance continue to show their defiance against the occupying German forces, but after a German pilot is murdered by a British Resistance fighter, tensions in London could not be higher.

When investigating what appears to be a simple black market murder, Archer is dragged into a much darker and more treacherous world where the stakes are as high as the ultimate outcome of the war. The elusive American journalist Barbara Barga may hold the key – but can he trust her? And when his lover Sylvia endangers her life by bravely making a stand against the oppressive regime, Archer is forced to confront a deeper dilemma. Can he carry out his duty to defend law and order when he is working for the wrong side? What is he willing to risk in the fight against fascism?

The trailer and the images released so far, show a disturbing image of London under Nazi occupation. What may have happened if the proposed Operation Sealion was successful and Britain had lost the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Though most experts agree that there was little or no chance of Operation Sealion ever succeeding, many people have wondered and extrapolated what could have happened if it had indeed taken place and the Germans were victorious.

The background of SS-GB offers a range of gaming scenarios across different kinds of actions and scales. I may explore these in a later post once I have viewed the first few episodes.

15mm Home Guard MkIV Male Tank

15mm Home Guard MkIV Male Tank

15mm Home Guard MkIV Male Tank

I have had this tank for sometime. Having found the 6pdrs I glued them in. Don’t remember the manufacturer, though it may be Minifigs! When I was planning some Operation Sealion games back in the 1990s I intended that the Home Guard would make use of a museum Mark IV Male tank. I mentioned this also in an article I wrote on a French themed Operation Sealion, Otaire de Vigneur.

To add a bit of diversity to my games, I also have one of Minifigs’ World War One British tanks, for use by a Home Guard unit (stolen from a local museum no doubt).

Now  when I wrote that article and bought the miniature it was only an assumption and what I thought would be a nice idea, and probably had no basis in truth….

How wrong I was….

Operation Sealion – Airfix Magazine

The Vintage Wargaming blog has a nice series of posts with scans of the 1975 Airfix magazine that explored Operation Sealion, the possibility, the weapons and wargaming the invasion. Some really nice pictures of old 20mm wargames complete with Airfix railway scenery (the kits now available from Dapol) as well as Airfix military vehicles. Well worth a look.

15mm Home Guard MkIV Male Tank

I have had this tank for sometime. Don’t remember the manufacturer, though it may be Minifigs! When I was planning some Operation Sealion games back in the 1990s I intended that the Home Guard would make use of a museum Mark IV Male tank. I mentioned this also in an article I wrote on a French themed Operation Sealion, Otaire de Vigneur.

To add a bit of diversity to my games, I also have one of Minifigs’ World War One British tanks, for use by a Home Guard unit (stolen from a local museum no doubt).

Now  when I wrote that article and bought the miniature it was only an assumption and what I thought would be a nice idea, and probably had no basis in truth….

Well just shows a little historical research never hurt anyone, as the Bovington Tank Museum has on display a Mark IV Male tank that was used just in this way. It was used in World War One and then presented to the Navy. When war broke out in September 1939, the  Tank Mark IV (Male) number 2324 was refurbished for Home Guard duties; according to the Bovington Tank Museum website.

Our exhibit, a male tank, was presented to the Royal Navy’s Gunnery School, HMS Excellent after the war to commemorate their help training Tank Corps gunners and it was temporarily refurbished for Home Guard duties in 1940. (Believed to have been achieved by removed parts from another tank possibly on Southsea Common.)

This photograph is from HMS Excellent in 1940.

Another view of the Mark IV at speed.

So though I thought my idea was probably if Operation Sealion had happened, I didn’t think and didn’t realise that it had in fatc happened despite the fact that the Germans hadn’t invaded.

So if you are playing Flames of War Operation Sealion games using the Blitzkreig sourcebook than you can use a Mark IV Male tank as part of your Home Guard forces.Not sure how long though it would last against German Panzers though…

Now who has the stats for a Mark IV tank for Flames of War?

Operation Sealion Invasion Plans

1000px-OperationSealion.svgNewly released files from MI5 explain how the Germans would have taken Dover and invaded England during World War Two if they had won the air from the RAF during the Battle of Britain.

Dover was to be the focal point of the invasion, but troops would have landed elsewhere along the south coast, as well as in Scotland and the south of Ireland.

After the shock troops had captured the docks at Dover, the plan was for the main contingent of German troops to be brought over in barges and disembark at the docks.

Subterfuge would have been a key part of the German plans for Operation Sealion.

German shock troops would have landed at Dover, dressed in British uniforms, if the Luftwaffe had won the Battle of Britain, newly-released files suggest.

Read more.