Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Introducing Some Weird War Two Bad Guys: Sturmbannfuhrer Ingrid Schmertz and Oberscharfurer Karl Lupo

I have managed to complete a few more figures for my Weird War Two project and shall be introducing them over the next few days. The first two are from the Warlord Games set, their "Frau Growler/Werewolf" set. Both lovely moe dels and fun to paint. The werewolf is the first furry thing I've ever painted.

Once there was a little girl in the Black Forest named Ingrid whose father raised prize Alsatians. Little Ingrid wanted to become a veterenarian when she grew up and help puppies and dogs grow up to be big and strong. Ingrid's father, Herr Schmertz, was a Party man and curried favour by giving purebred dogs to top Nazi leaders. When she was twenty, Ingrid was recruited from veterinary school into a special SS research unit that was tasked with investigating the scientific basis behind the legend of the werewolf.

As a girl Ingrid had been fascinated by the stories told by old men in her village, which looked curiously like the set of an old Hammer film. The villagers all knew to avoid the dark woods when the moon was full, and the howls of wolves were heard through closed shutters. She volunteered as a research assistant to SS Doctor Otto Stahl, who was investigating the genetics of certain backwoods families in the Schwarzwald. Dr. Stahl's research identified the werewolf bloodlines and found that the change could be manipulated with electromagnetic fields at certain frequencies. His research also found that the subjects, when changed, tore apart their male handlers but were quite docile around young Aryan maidens, presumably because of their pheronmones (or something - for God's sake, this is pulp!).

Karl Lupo is a brave and handsome SS man, a dedicated Nazi who volunteered for Dr. Stahl's research. The treatments have been extremely painful, and the change into the werewolf form is agonizing and terrifyiing. When the change comes over him and his eyes turn red with bloodlust, the only thing that can bring him back is Sturmbannfuhrer Schmertz's sweet Aryan face.

Karl is hopelessly in love with Ingrid, but as a good SS man, he would never dream of telling her, his superior officer, about his feelings. He dreams that one day, when the Reich is victorious, things may be different, and, if that is not to be, that he will die bravely in battle and she will witness his brave deeds. In the meantime, he writes a lot of letters home to his dear mother in Munster, but can never bring himself to tell her what a thing of nightmare he has become in order to serve his Fuhrer.

So, gentle readers, there you have it. Will these two young Nazis find happiness? Does Ingrid perhaps harbour feelings for Karl? Does she even dream of injecting herself with Herr Doktor Stahl's treatments, and running alongside Karl through the Black Forest under a hunter's moon? Will the WaffenWulfen program succeed in turhing out monsters in numbers that will win the war? Find out here. In the meantime, stay vigilant, chaps.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Namesake!

James Manto, owner of the wonderful Rabbits In My Basement Blog, mad genius behind Hot Lead (Canada's Finest Gaming Convention), owner of J&M Miniatures and my oldest and best wargaming friend (right, mate, I think you owe me at least $20 for all those plugs) was kind enough to name one of his painted figures after me.

As James describes him, he is "Father Mikhail Petrovich, ready to bless the troops as they march off to defend Holy Mother Russia from the Corsican Antichrist. Or perhaps he's hailing a taxi?". I believe he is part of some mad Napoleonic project that James is up to. I am sure he will give Boney a good thumping and a long sermon. It's what I'd do. Thanks James@

Monday, September 17, 2012

ACW Campaign Update: From The Chicago Star, 25 June, 1862

As promised in my last post, here is the Union take on the first completed game day of the ACW play by email campaign I am running. Incidentally, if you are reading this and would like to participate, check out the links in this post, and then, if you are still interested, email me offline at

The first piece from the Union's point of view appears here. Mr. Wolfgang Blitzed, is an embedded reporter with the Union forces operating against Bluffsburg. He has been assigned by his newspaper, the Chicago Star, due to the high number if Illinois troops in Moore's Division, as well as the fact that General Moore himself is a Prairie State native.

Once again, here is the campaign map showing the close of play for the first day, 25 June. A minor correction, the force shown occupying Brice's Ferry, just across from Jefferson City at the top of the map, is from Hemmings' brigade of Moore's Division, not Clapp's as shown. A few more comments on the map. In the campaign mechanic, land movement is from point to point. Battles are resolved when opposing forces meet at one of these points. Naval movement is a little more abstract. Possession of towns is shown by colour, with blue indicating Union control and red indicating Confederate control. Bracketed numbers beside each town indicate victory points. There are no victory point values for Bluffsburg and Jefferson City. The game ends automatically if either of those key towns is captured.

Jefferson City, MS, 24 June From Wolfgang Blitzed, Correspondent to the Chicago Star

Today has been a day of bold movement and activity for the Union army and navy here in Bluffsburg County. It would appear that General Moore is desirous of the opportunity to shake off his underserved reputation for the "Shilo Slows", and is thus acting with energy and aggression in his task to capture the rebel stronghold of Bluffsburg. The summer weather in these parts is sultry, and the morning came, cloudless and with the promise of unrelenting heat. Before the cruel sun rose high, Moore's forces were on the march. The First Brigade of Col. Ulrich Von Daniken led the way south towards Batesville, followed by the Third Brigade of Col. Theodore Clapp.

Von Daniken is an Illinois man, and well known to residents of his native Springfield, where his parents immigrated and became successful merchants. A professional soldier and West Point graduate, with honourable experience in the Mexican War, he has done marvels in helping General Moore to mould the many raw troops of his division into a formidable fighting force. Before he left, Von Daniken showed me his orders from Gen. Moore: "Colonel, you will proceed with all haste along the rail line to Eudora. You must reach Eudora within 3 days at the latest. Capturing the bridge at Eudora intact is the key to the campaign." "I will not fail in this endeavour", he promised me, and the sight of him cheering his brigade in the early morning light was inspiring to behold.

Col. Von Daniken cheers his troops on.

By midday, Von Daniken's troops had reached the outskirts of Batesville, led by the 9th Indiana Cavalry, given to First Brigade by Gen. Moore from Col. Bruggeman's cavalry brigade. While the 9th is a very new outfit, the novice Hoosier horsemen were not fooled by a battery of log cannon which guarded the north side of the bridge. Johhny Reb himself was nowhere to be seen, and Batesville fell without a shot. By now the heat had climbed to 90 degrees under a cloudless and burning sky. All troops were covered in dust and sweat-sodden clothing. The westerners from Clapp's brigade were visibily suffering from the march, and so Col. Clapp received orders to rest his brigade there and garrison Batesville for the remainder of the day. Reports from the morning had advised Gen. Moore that the rail and telegraph lines between Jefferson City and Batesville were intact, and appeared to be in good repair. Realizing the advantage of having these assets, Gen. Moore ordered an engineering detachment to begin a survey of this route to advise him whether the rail and telegraph could indeed be used to advantage.

In Jefferson City all was not idle. The Second Brigade under Col. Andrew Hemmings was detailed by Gen. Moore as his divisional reserve. With the help of B Coy of the 9th US Engineers, they began to erect field fortifications on the western side of Jefferson City, and guns of Battery C, the 11th US Artillery, were emplaced there to check any Confederate advance coming along the Senatobia road. That threat did not appear likely, however, as Col. Bruggeman with his now depleted brigade, consisting of the 12th Illinois Cavalry (Sandhill Dragoons) and Battery C, 3rd US Horse Artillery, had departed for Senatobia at first light. Late in the day, we received word from Col. Bruggeman that he had found Senatobia empty of rebels, although again they had tried the tactic of emplacing wooden cannon. The Secesh axemen should have saved their labour, as our men were not fooled. The last word from Col. Bruggeman is that he was pressing on to seize Tullahoma.

From their quays along the river in Jefferson City, the flotilla of Captain Edward Holquist made its way downstream under clouds of purposeful smoke. Holquist raised his flag in the ironclad Carondelet, followed by her consort Ironton, and escorted by the tinclad gunboats Sardis and Chaffee. A considerable amount of transport, along with the gunboat Golconda, remain at their moorings.

In the early evening, however, there was motion and activity as "A" Company of the 10th Iowa from Second Brigade marched to the quays, accompanied by Col. Hemmings. Col. Hemmings, a young and vigorous gentleman who joined the colours in Chicago with many employees from his family's stockyard business, is determined to learn the art of war in the theatre of battle. He confided to me that since General Moore had tasked him to secure the area of Brice's Ferry on the far bank of the Mississippi, he would do so in person. Accordingly, he embarked on the riverboat Celtic Star along with Captain Anderson, commanding A Co of the 10th, leaving orders that B Co of the 10th, under Capt. Bertwald, would follow in the morning. His orders to Anderson were that:

"At first light June 26 you will pass through Brice Ferry and on to Winona. If Winona is found to be secure, leave a small group as outpost and return here. If Winona is held by the enemy, send word immediately, then scout for strength, disposition etc."

Your devoted correspondent was invited to accompany this expedition. The Celtic Star was escorted by the USS Golconda, commanded by the enterprising and aggressive Lt. Obadiah Windspear, a descendent of Marblehead fishermen from New England, now pying the muddy Mississippi. Forewarned of the Rebel fondness for dummy batteries, Windspear was not fooled by what appeared to be field artillery on a high point above the river, and signalled the Celtic Star to go in and land. Just before 6pm, gallant Hawkeye troops jumped from the bow deck of the steamboat, pushed forward over 50 metres of muddy beach, and began to form up under fire. A sharp skirmish followed, as the Hawkeyes fought to clear a beachhead and push on so that more of their number could land. An early group under Sgt. Snaith of A Coy took grievous losses and ran for the cover of the steamboat when their sergeant fell, but Col. Hemmings took the lead and drove his men forward. Golconda contributed the weight of her cannon, silencing the rebel riflemen on the hill where the fake battery was observed.

Col. Hemmings leads his men forward at the battle of Brice's Ferry.

One of the sitreps of the battle forwarded to the Union player who is Hemmings. For this battle, which was about a company per side, I used the TFL rules Terrible Sharp Sword, an ACW expansion for Sharp Practice, and they worked quite well. I controlled the rebel side and gave the Hemmings player regular updates with chances to make decisions and give new orders. The battle ended with dusk at 20:00 and nightfall at 20:30 preventing further firing. The rebel pickets, Arkansans under Capt. Hannan, withdrew to high ground around Brice's Ferry and sent word to Col. Bates of the attack. The Celtic Star, having unloaded A Coy, withdrew and returned to Jefferson City to bring B Coy in the morning. Col. Hemmings elected to remain with his company of Iowans, now perhaps the soundest choice of a Brigade Commander, but a gutsy one. Golconda remained on station through the night, ready to support action in the morning. Her fire, which I treated as very heavy artillery in TS terms, was infrequent but quite effective in sowing shock among the rebel groups.

(Mr. Blitzed's narrative resumes.) Your devoted correspondent returned to Jefferson City aboard the Celtic Star, whose captain must have the eyes of a cat, as he navigated the dark river without the slightest qualm or error. Upon our arrival, troops of B Coy were itching to join the fight and support their comrades. They will do so at first light. When I departed Brice's Ferry, the sounds of firing were dying down as night fell, and it appeared that Col. Hemmings had won a foothold on the far bank. We shall see what morning shall bring.

As I prepare to telegraph this missive to Chicago, distressing news from Col. Von Daniken arrives. I quote his dispatch in full.

General Moore This evening my advance cavalry patrols encountered a Rebel brigade entrenched on the hills north of Guntown. I ordered a hasty attack from the line of march with the 23rd Ill and the two batteries forming a base. the 9th Ill, 15th Ill and the 29th Ohio endeavoured to enfilade the enemy on our left and roll up his line. The 29th being quite green advanced in considerable disorder and were left behind by the other two regiments. The 15th with the 9th in support encountered a Rebel battery and attacked it to discover that it was supported by an entrenched enemy regiment. Our boys poured in the musketry and then tried a bayonet attack to carry the works. Everything held in the balance but the 15th could not carry the position and skedaddled. The 9th coming up finding all lost followed suit. We have fallen back to regroup and bring in the stragglers. the 15th is badly cut up and it's strenght is not known yet. The enemy is of at least brigade strength with two batteries and they are entrenched upon the hills covering the road to Guntown. I remain, sir, you obedient servant etc. Signed Ulrich Von Daniken, Colonel, Commander 1st Brigade 3rd Division Army of Tenessee

It is too early to have any casualty returns from this action, as there were many Chicagoans and sons of Illinois who may have fallen at Guntown, but I shall endeavour to report this in my dispatch. Until then, may God preserve the just Union cause in this seat of the war.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

ACW Campaign Update - From the Bluffsburg Mercury, 25 June

Longtime readers of this blog will be forgiven for forgetting that I am running an American Civil War play be email campaign. It is a fairly slow moving affair, which started last November. When I last told you anything about it, it was back in March of this year and just getting under way. Since I am trying to emphasize the fog of war aspect, I hit on the idea of using newspaper reports to give players and spectators a larger sense of the campaign than what was happening in front of their brigade or command. I decided on a two day time lag between when events appear in the newspapers and the actual game date. So in this post and the next one (which will give the Union point of view), the news is for events on the first day of the campaign, 25 June, when in fact we are just finishing the last turn for 27 June. For those of you who are hearing about this for the first time, an overview of the campaign idea, loosely modelled on the Vicksburg campaign, may be found here. Some info on the USA and CSA commanders is here, and the basic campaign rules are here. You in the back, wake up, there will be a test at the end of this post.

Here once again is the report from the Confederate belle of belles lettres, the lovely Miss Katty O'Kay, written on the eve of battle.

Miss Katty O'Kay, The Bluffsburg Mercury, 25 June, 1862

From Terrytown, where General Hatcher has established his headquarters, comes word of the first moves of the Yankee invaders seeking to subjugate our fair city. Having wisely decided that the line of the Little Black River was indefensible, being so close to the invaders' lair in Jefferson City, our gallant general chose to meet the onslaught further south. Late this afternoon, the first blow fell on Colonel Archie Gibson and his "Old Pine Tar" Brigade of Mississipians. The day before, Col. Gibson sent these stirring words to Gen. Hatcher:

"In all that we do over the next few days we will be keeping the population, of this glorious state, free from the calamities of war. My Mississipians are of good heart and spirit; they have been well fed. They are ready for the upcoming conflict and will acquit themselves admirably in denying passage to any Union forces we come into contact with. We will not let down our comrades from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Georgia. We will make our families proud of us. For the Confederacy"

Late in the afternoon, pickets of Gibson's brigade wdrove off Yankee cavalry, but were soon pushed back on their main body as several regiments of Yankee infantry pushed forward. Around 7pm, with less than an hour of daylight, the invaders attacked, supported by artillery. Fire from Johnson's battery tore into the blue ranks, and was continued despite at least one hit on one of our cannon. Pressing forward despite their casualties, the Yankees drove forward on the right wing of Gibson's positions. Their lead regiment charged into the ranks of 30th Mississippi, and after a fierce but brief struggle, our boys prevailed. The Yankees were thrown back in confusion, and their panic infected the two regiments coming up in support, causing them to rout like the craven cowards they are.

The 15th Illinois charge into the 30th Mississipi, with support from the 9th Ill. The charge could have gone either way but the Rebs caught the first big break of the campaign. Because the 9th was the same troop quality as the 15th, it also broke when the 15th routed through them. For those curious, I was using Too Fat Lardies' rules, They Couldn't Hit An Elephant. This photo is one of several that I sent to the players. with the battle set up on my wargames table. This battle actually happened last December, giving an idea of how long this is taking. It's a good thing I'm having fun.

Gibson's troops retained possession of the battlefield, and counted over one hundred dead, wounded and captured foemen. Prisoners taken by the 30th are members of the 15th Illinois regiment of Von Daniken's brigade. The name Von Daniken calls to mind the Hessian and German mercenaries of yore which our grandfathers bested in our first revolution. If the Yankee ranks are full of such German hirelings, then victory will soon be ours. Colonel Gibson reports only light casualties and remains determined to guard Guntown from the foe.

Other news reaching Bluffsburg is not as favourable. Reports of Yankee cavalry in Senatobia reached us this afternoon, and it is possible by now that the invaders have reached Tullahoma on the Little Black. We are fortunante that the cavalry of Col. Romney Wagner hold the key bridges at Eudora on the Sunflower River, and will surely check this clear attempt to outflank Col. Gibson. From the east side of the Mississippi, word has arrived that a Yankee force of unknown strength, supported by a gunboat, has seized the little town of Brice's Ferry, across the river from Jefferson City. Several hours before midnight, a courier arrived at Col. Bates' headquarters at Winona with this message.

Brice’s Ferry, 19:20 hrs To Col. Bates, Winona Sir: Having relieved B Coy here mid-aft, my coy became engaged when Yankees landed approx 17:00hrs. Enemy are approx 100 infty supprtd by Yank gunboat. Emy hold landing, my men hold town and surrounding hills. I sent for B Cy they should be here after dark. With more men + guns I can crush Yanks come morning. Capt S.O. Hannan, G Coy, 11th Ark

Readers will recall that Col. Bates commands a strong brigade of mixed troops from Arkansas, Texas, and the bayou state of Louisiana. He is an aggressive fighter and will not take this landing lightly. As we go to press, all in Bluffsburg imagine that Col. Bates is marching on Brices' Ferry with all possible force.

Here in Bluffsburg, we have been watching preparations being made by our gallant sailors. Early this morning, a transport steamed upriver carrying the company of army engineers under Capt. MacCorkle, with rumour that they will be strengthening the defences at Island No. 10. Mechanical problems prevented our mighty ironclad, Joshua, from steaming north, but shortly afteer noon she got under way, accompanied by her lesser consort, Maccabbee. We have no doubt that they will halt any attempts by the Yankees to make the fair Mississippi into a highway for invasion.

CSS Joshua and Maccabbee steam upriver from Bluffsburg. 1/600 ship models from Thoroughbred Miniatures.

So, gentle readers, as we go to our beds, we may thank the Almighty that our fair town is defended by such brave men as this, and we pray that with His help they will stand firm and throw back this tide of invasion from the Yankees and their German hirelings.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tiny Frenchmen Have Arrived!

Waiting for me at the Mad Padre's Painting Chapel when I got home from holidays was a small box full of tiny Frenchmen. As I've said here already, I have this inexplicable impulse to try my hand at Napoleonics, since Conrad Kinch makes the period look like something that any self-respecting gentleman should try.

The tiny Frenchmen (do I call them Tadpoles? They seem too small to be Frogs) are from the Baccus 6mm range, which I've heard good things about. After deciding I would do the classic mid period (1806 on) I opted for a bag of line infantry with some voltiguers thrown in for skirmishing, and a battery of guns. Since I've never bought horses, limbers or cassions in a larger scale (hard to justify the expense) I plumped for the full monty - 6mm cassions and limbers can't be too hard to paint up, and don't seem that expensive.

I also tried out a NE European farm/barn set in resin to get a feel for the terrain (at this scale, balsa models don't seem too daunting to make) and since I know little about Napoleonic rules, opted for Baccus' house rules, Polemos, getting their large scale army battles rules (Marechal d'Empire) and their smaller, divisional scale rules (General de Division) on one USB stick.

How to paint them? I've found some helpful stuff on the webI am sure I will come back here to pose questions and ask advice to any Napoleonics folks and/or small scale fans who follow this blog.

I have set myself a goal of getting these little chaps done before Thanksgiving, and then I may try a small order from another manufacturer (Adler? Heroics and Ros?) to see how they compare. But shall I get more Frenchmen or opponents, and if the latter, whom? Russians, British, Austrians, Prussians? Decisions, decisions.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Weird War 2 Fluff: The Birth Of "S Commando"

Hello folks:

Coming home from holiday today and while it has been great to have two weeks with Mrs. Padre exploring Canada, it will be pleasant to get back to our own bed, three disgruntled cats, my painting table and and what herself calls "Michael's little men".

In the meantime, some of you said that you enjoyed the narratives behind the Weird War Fearless Vampire Killers. I had fun writing them as well, and during some down time on this trip I had the opportunity to flesh it out a bit. I have to confess that it was only in the airport this afternoon that the humor behind the name "Hugh Jarce" actually struck me once I said it aloud and Mrs. Padre looked at me strangely. No wonder the Too Fat Lardies crowd love him! Really, I can be a bit of a thickie sometimes. However, I think I'm stuck with the name now. Enough about that, here's the fluff.

Fenton Manor, Norfolk. August 1940

"Major Cushworth is here, Brigadier."

"Thank you, Putnam. Hello Graham! Have a seat." The Brigadier pointed to a leather bound chair across from his cluttered desk.

The major was of medium height and in his early thirties. He carried a bundle of folders in his left hand, a fact made noticeable by the absence of a corresponding right hand. His right arm ended just below the shoulder, the stump covered by a neatly tailored and folded uniform tunic. Several medal ribbons decorated his tunic, the most recent standing out by virtue of its vivid crimson hue. The thin lines from recent trauma and illness suggested the face of a slightly older man.

"How was your first day on the job? Feeling alright?"

Cushworth settled into the chair and adjusted the folders in his lap. "Quite well, sir. I'm enjoying the chance to do something useful again. A month on a hospital ship, then two more here getting over that infection. Well, it was a long time, sir. It's good to be back."

"Excellent. You're streets ahead of where the MO said you'd be when ainsaw him last month. Shall I ask Putnam to bring us some tea, or would you care for something stronger?"

"I'll stick with tea, thank you, sir. Once you decide on the candidates, I still have to cut the posting orders for tomorrow's dispatch."

The Brigadier sat back and refilled his pipe. Putnam returned shortly with steaming mugs of tea for them both "Thank you, Katherine, that will be all. I'll want the car tomorrow at eight when we go see the Deputy Minister. Get some sleep."

"Oh eight hundred it is, sir. Goodnight, Major." Cushworth found that he was favored with a surprisingly warm smile. She turned to the Brigadier. "Goodnight, Alice". There was a hint of a mischievous smile in Putnam's hazel eyes as she left. Cushworth raised an eyebrow.

The Brigadier met his eyes, and kept his expression deadpan. "I don't see what's so odd. Alice does happen to be my code name. It amuses her to use it. She likes you, I noticed."

Cushworth ignored the last comment. "Alice is an unusual code name, sir."

"True, but it fits. This is a bit of a trip to wonderland, albeit a quite sinister one. What about you, Graham? You've had the briefings, you've come down the rabbit hole and joined us, on the job a whole day. What do you think of it all?" The Brigadier held his gaze while he lit his pipe, his manner reminiscent of a school master testing a bright student.

Cushworth sipped his tea and considered the question for a moment. "To be honest, sir, it still seems very odd. Before I came here I always thought that Bram Stoker and Dennis Wheatley were just authors of harmless thrillers, the sort of thing you read for a bit of a jolt. Now I'm told that they are more truth than fiction, that the ancient dead walk the earth and some of them wear Nazi uniforms, well, sir, it's a bit much to take in, all at once."

"Precisely. Your response is typical, and quite natural. It's both our best asset and our hardest challenge. On the one hand, no one on the outside of our organization would accept the premise of our work, and that suits me fine. As far as the wider world knows anything about this project, we remain a bit player in the shadow war, training operatives, organizing sabotage, and so on. It's excellent cover for what we really do. On the other hand, the difficulty is that when we try to get funding and support, we can only go to a few people in the military and in the government. Thank goodness Winston is on board. Without him, well, I'd rather not think about that possibility."

"Sir, if I may, if the danger is as great as you've said it is, why don't more people know? Why aren't we better supported?"

"Graham, this is the real shadow war. We're fighting a foe that has existed for centuries, perhaps for as long as darkness itself has existed. By necessity, they have kept themselves hidden. They owe their survival to their invisibility, and only a handful of us are on to them. That will soon change. Now,mwith a regime dedicated to evil on a scale hitherto unimaginable, they have the perfect opportunity to find allies and gain in strength. The Nazi party and its war machine are ripe for manipulation. This is the enemy's time, and he means to use it. It's vital that we're ready for them."

"How far has it spread? Are you saying that Hitler is, well, is one of them?"

The Brigadier chuckled. "As far as we know, the Bavarian corporal is just that. But those around him, certain key figures in the Party and in the SS, that we don't know. That's why Project Alice was created, to determine the magnitude of the threat. That's why we are standing up "S Commando", to fight it once we expose it."

"How much time to we have, sir?"

"Hard to say. The one thing working in our favor, I think, is that our enemy can't risk moving too quickly. He faces threats from within as well as from without. The Nazi party is just a gang of thugs. If they were to learn that honest to goodness monsters were setting themselves up as puppet masters, some would gladly be the puppets, but others would chafe at the strings. They won't allow themselves to be used as tools. There's also the German people to consider. They may be swept along by brass bands and victories at the moment, but if they were to learn that their real masters saw the dear Deutsch volk as little more than cattle, they wouldn't accept that. So our enemy has to move slowly and carefully. We still have a little time.". At this, the Brigadier glanced at his wristwatch. "Speaking of time, it's late and we need to crack on. Who have you found as our first candidates for S Commando?"

"Right, sir. Four names to start, and one of them is already approved by yourself. Padre Mercer. His file is sealed, so all I know about him is the name."

"You'll meet him next week. He's been in this business almost as long as I've been." The Brigadier removed a folder, marked Highly Secret, from a drawer and placed it on Cushworth's side of the desk. "You can study that before you go up to Scotland to meet him."

Cushworth glanced at the folder briefly, his expression slightly skeptical. "Are you sure he's cut out for this sort of field work, sir?"

The Brigadier chuckled. "Don't worry, Graham. You're probably imagining some pious type who hands out cigarettes and platitudes. He's not that sort. Who's next?"

Cushworth passed a folder over the desk. "Captain Hugh Jarce. Commanded a company of the 3rd Flintshire Fusiliers in France. His troops were among the very last to hold the perimeter at Dunkirk, and he got most of them off the beaches. Personally destroyed a German tank with a petrol bomb, and then shot down a Stuka with a Bren gun. His CO put him in for the MIlitary Cross when they got back. An avid sportsman, played rugby for the Army, a keen yachtsman."

The Brigadier studied the lantern jawed face staring back from the photo on the inside of the personnel folder. "Promising. What about the psychological profile? Is he the high strung type?"

"Hardly, sir. According to his evaluations, a good tactician but not especially imaginative. Dogged. Dependable. A first rate junior officer, but not likely to go far beyond that in rank. At least, that was the word on him before the war stopped being Phony."

"Yes, and before officers started dying in droves. Always good for promotion." The Brigadier scratched a note on a foolscap pad. "Courage will be essential in this business, and it seems like Captain Jarce has that in spades. And it sounds like he has the right sort of head for it. From what Mercer and I have seen, the brainy types don't always do well in the field. Let's give him a try. Who's next?"

Another file passed over the desk. "Captain Richard Byrd. Intelligence officer. First in Archaeology and Early Modern History at Cambridge. Fluent in French, German, and three other European languages. He was a don before the war."

The Brigadier frowned as he paged through the file. "Rather a colorful past. I didn't know professors could be given the sack. A lover of wine and women, it seems. A series of public schools after Oxford, each less distinguished than the last, and never more than two terms at each. And then the war and the army. Hmmm." Now it was the Brigadier's turn to raise an eyebrow, and his expression went flinty.

"Yes, sir, that part is interesting reading. Byrd was on the Intelligence staff with 1 Division in France. During the retreat he and an Army lorry went missing for three days. Turned up at Dunkirk and tried to get the contents of said lorry, twenty cases of rare French wine, onto a boat."

"That's when he was arrested for theft and desertion, I see."

"It gets better, sir. He's released from detention to join a rearguard action leading a scratch group of provosts, cooks, clerks and drivers and does damned well. Is reported missing and then, three days later, he brings a motorboat into Dover with two French nuns and a dozen orphans."

"Is that why you're recommending him?"

"Well, sir, you told me to look for good hearts. Whatever story is behind the business with the orphans, it augurs well, don't you think? And frankly sir, no one else is going to give up a qualified IntO with that kind of linguistic background. Except for Byrd. His boss told me that after Dunkirk he can't in good conscience court martial Byrd, but he'd happily unload him on the Ordnance Corps to spend the rest of the war counting shells."

"So he's available. I agree with you that there's more to Captain Byrd than meets the eye. Let's take a chance on him. After a month with the Commandos, he'll probably wish he was counting shells." The folder was passed back. "I take it you have a minder for Byrd to keep him in his cage?"

Cushworth passed over a third file, this one much thinner. "Private Sam "Snuffy" Snape. Medical orderly. When his Regimental Aid Post was overrun by the Germans in Norway, he killed three using a spade and drove off the rest. Got the Military Medal for that show. Cheerful. No known vices. His CO told me he has never questioned Snape's courage, only his sentience. He says Snape has the heart, the strength, and the brains of an ox."

The Brigadier laughed. "Sounds like the chap to keep our little trio in line. Very good, Graham. I'll buy the lot. When can you get them started?"

"I can meet them at the Commando school on Sunday, sir. They'll be on the jump course starting the Monday. I'll have a week to evaluate the three while they train, and the chance to get to know this mysterious padre of yours. If they all work out, you can decide on when and how to brief them into this business."

"Excellent. That's a good first day's work, Graham. I'll let you get on with it and I'll check in with you when I'm back from London." The Brigadier sat back and watched Cushworth gather up the file folders, a slightly slow process for a man with one hand. He didn't offer to help, and sensed that no help was wanted. Before the Major reached the door, he spoke. "What about you, Graham? Have you figured out why I asked for you?"

Cushworth paused and looked thoughtful for a moment. "Because, like the others, I was available, sir?"

"That was part of it. You were destined for a public relations job in the propaganda ministry, a one armed hero to show off at rallies and war drives. That would have been a waste of your talents. You've got a good mind, which is rare in cavalry officers. That ribbon on your chest shows you're brave enough, and that will be useful to me. A VC opens doors, and I need open doors. But most important to me is that you didn't give up after your show in the Desert. I saw that in the last war, brave men giving in to self pity and hopelessness after their wounds, or when they thought they'd had enough. You still have hope. Hold on to it, Graham. Down the rabbit hole is a dark place. You'll need hope most of all." The Brigadier picked up his pen and returned to work.

"Good night, sir."

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Fearless Vampire Hunters 4: Private Sam ("Snuffy") Snape

Still on holiday in Newfoundland, and while I didn't bring anything to paint with me (that would have been courting severe disapproval or worse from Mrs. Padre), I can still blog when not worn out from all the hiking, beautiful scenery, and excellent seafood.
Here is the last figure in the core group of my Weird War 2 vampire hunting task force, S (Supernatural) Commando.

Like the last figure, Capt. Richard (Dicky) Byrd, this figure is also from the Warlord Games Christmas Surprise pack, a tribute to the Too Fat Lardies personalities. The sculpt shows a British soldier looking stupidly at a grenade. Either he doesn't know how to use it, or he's wondering how it got in his Christmas hamper. Either way, it was also a treat to paint. I gave him a green commando beret and a set of the shoulder flash decals that came in the Warlord Commando pack I bought for this project.

When Brigadier McAllister was putting together his team, he realized that someone as undisciplined as Capt. Byrd would need a minder. He also knew that any team needs a strong, useful chap to make the tea and kill the odd Jerry. An simple, unimaginative type might also be better suited To resist the horrors that S Commando might be sent into.

Private Sam ("Snuffy") Snape is a native of Sheffield. As a lad he had a reputation as being strong, good-hearted, and a bit dim. When he was 13 he couldn't take watching Da beat Ma and the little ones any more, and so fractured his father's skull and sent him packing. As the new man of the family, he took a job at the mill as a machinist's helper. For seven years he faithfully turned his pay packet over to his beloved mum, and because of his Da's example he has never touched a drop.

In 1939 Snape was called up to and was assigned to the 1st York and Lancaster regiment. He got the nickname "Snuffy" for his homesick reactions to the letters sent to him by his Ma, as well as for his sympathy for stray and hurt animals. The lads soon learned that Snape was a simple but good hearted bloke, who would only use his fists to sort out someone who cheated or abused a mate. Soon the lads were entrusting their valuables to Snuffy before going out on the town.

Snape was assigned to the battalion's Regimental Aid Post as an orderly, a job considered to be fitting for what was officially considered to be his limited Intelligence and abilities. When the R.A.P. was overrun during the Norway campaign, Snape returned from a fatigue detail to find four Germans pointing their weapons at the MO and wounded, and making threatening gestures. Enraged and armed only with a shovel, Snape killed three and sent the fourth running. Afterwards he said to the Colonel that "it made me right cross to see the doc and the poor lads treated badly. Well, sir. It weren't right, like".
Returning from Norway, Snape was surprised to learn that he had been put in for a Military Medal and was being posted to the Commandos. He doesn't like the thought of leaving his mates in the Yorks and Lancs and is wondering if he did something wrong.

Next figures up in this series - Jerries, sinister and otherwise!
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Location:Parsons Ln,Rocky Harbour,Newfoundland, Canada

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