Tobruk Besieged

In the crazy back and forth fighting across the Libyan coastal plain, one battle was more static, but no less brutal. The port of Tobruk, taken from the Italians in January 1941 was subsequently besieged by Axis forces from April until December. At over 240 days it is the longest ever siege endured by British forces.

The models are all 15mm from Battlefront; mostly metal although some of the vehicles are resin.

All three armed services were critical to the successful defense of Tobruk. The Navy, RN and RAN, kept the garrison reinforced and supplied and allowed the evacuation of wounded soldiers. The RAF and RAAF, some based inside the perimeter, kept the Luftwaffe at bay and supported the troops. The bulk of the defenders were made up of the 9 Div AIF, who relieved the by then veteran 6 Div just before the German advance out of Tripoli triggered the Torbruk Handicap that led to the Great Siege.

This is a selection of my Western Desert force. While it could be used to represent many of the battles in 1940-41, it is motivated mostly by the 9 Div and supporting elements from the British 3rd RTR, 3rd Hussars, 51 Field Regiment RA and 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (a specialist machine gun unit).

A 25pdr of 51 Regiment RA in a stone sanger
Battalion HQ staff officers c0-ordinate the defense
2pdr a/t were outclassed later in the war, but at this stage were more than a match for Italian tanks and could even stop the Panzers of the 5 Leichte Division, although often at great cost to the gunners
Cruiser tanks from the 3rd Hussars; 7 RTR were also present (with Matilda tanks)
An aerial view

Not sure when these will reach the table, but it is bonza to be close to finishing this army after so many years incomplete. Now I’m thinking I need an Axis force to oppose them, but there is always another project.

Motor pool

Holy Cow Batman! It has been six years since I have done any work on these little fellows, a 6 Division Australian force for the Western Desert. It is way past due to get some wheels for them. Weapon carriers for reconnaissance, trucks for troops, and Morris Quads for the artillery.

They look pretty rough up close, but they are only small, so look OK at “gaming distance”
Brm, brm

Transport is essential, so these trucks will be very handy for the troops (alas! still mostly sitting with undercoat) and the equally essential field artillery (also still sitting with undercoat- see a pattern?).

Still, progress on a long neglected project. I’m calling that a win.

D.

Inspiration

It can come from anywhere. Movies, blogs, magazines. I get a lot of inspiration from books, both novels and non-fiction.12439552_1671682923079506_7297011083206998433_n
This is a shot of my recent reading pile. Well, mostly. I have excised the novels that I read from my daughters’ VCE reading lists (in solidarity) and some library books since returned. What is left has a bunch of ideas.

The Antony Beevor books on Berlin and the extract from his Stalingrad work (I have read the full one) make me dream of mid-war Russians and Germans, likely in 15mm to get in plenty of tanks. The Berlin book inspires a late war German list for Bolt Action: hitlerjugend with panzerfaust, volkssturm with bewildered looks and cynical vets with plenty of machine guns.

Isaac’s Army is the story of Jewish resistance (in the camps and out) in Poland. A grim tale that coincided with (yet another) Black Tree Design sale and has led to a platoon of undercoated partisans waiting for some paint. Not standard battles, although I know they have a list, but I think has a lot of possibility for smaller, dedicated scenarios.

I have been working on a Commonwealth Tobruk army in 15mm for a long time. The Kings African Rifle memoir has left me with a vision that if I ever do a desert army in 28mm it will be pith helmets, fezzes, white officers, black troops and the Ethiopian campaign in the early war. The book itself is an entertaining read, replete with the racism one might expect from the time.

The last book I want to mention here is Keep Off the Skyline. I expect there are better books on the Korean conflict, but this one made me wonder why this war doesn’t turn up more often on the table. Late WWII Russian tanks against up-gunned Shermans and Pershings, campaigning up and down the peninsula (including trench warfare) and early uses of helicopters. Even some Sherman on Sherman action via lend lease passed on. All¬†without the asymmetric challenges of Vietnam as the Chinese, DPKR and UN/ROK forces were largely conventional, albeit with a large range in training, morale and equipment. Something else to look into.

Too many ideas. And I’ve barely started on my Carthaginians.

What has inspired you recently?