Battle of Bir Bar ‘el

Since explaining combat in the  Battle of WASHBOARD RIDGE, infantry stands have been reduced in strength by 3, reverting to the original version of NQM. See how this works with a combined infantry and tank brigade assault against  a defending battalion with anti-tank support.


Order of Battle – Allies

 Beds & Herts orbat at the Battle of Bir Bar 'el

 Black Watch Orbat at the Battle of Bir Bar 'el


Order of Battle – Axis


  • 8th Bersaglieri Regiment (Motorised) – 1 Comd car + 1 Mortar + 1 47mm Atk (CS3)
  • Attached from DAK1 50mm Atk (S2) +1 Limber (L2)
  • V Motorised Battalion 2 Trucks (L3)*, [ Bn Comd + MG + 45mm Mortar (CS3)], [ 3Rifles (F3)]
  • XII Motorised Bn detached to support Ariete

*(The Motorised Bn could equally be protrayed as two single truck stands  of strength CS3 and F3. If I do that , I usually put some infantry in the back to show they are not just Logistic trucks)

Italian Orbat for the Battle of Bir Bar el




Leave a comment

Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, Orbats, Rules Examples, The "Rules", Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

Sonder Anhänger 116

Sonder Anhanger 116 from a Poundland Chassis

Phil’s poundland trucks – the gift that just keeps on giving! The Anhänger 116 finally came together in about 2 hours, when my erratic spares filing system unearthed three sets of 88mm Flak wheels (Sd Ah 202 – one pair seen left of the picture above). This was a quick and dirty built with a number of glaring errors*, but it looks close enough for wargaming and is recognisable for what it is. As usual, the model is ‘battle ready’ but not finished.

Sonder Anhanger 116

This model will live at DAK HQ. My recovered ROCO Sd Kfz 7 with dodgy tracks and wheels looks the right size to become a Famo Sd Kfz 9, so I put the two together to see how they look (below).

Sonder Anhanger 116 w Famo Sd Kfz 9

This video shows how the steering works. Looking at the single tyred axles on the 116 caused me to re-evaluate this picture, that I previously tentatively posited as a 116. The tyres on the picture are clearly doubled, so it isn’t a 116. I’m back to the opinion that it is at least 2 trailers in tandem, possibly with a field modification jury rigged between them.

Hanomag 100

This website is German Softskin heaven …Fahrzeuge der Wehrmacht, and this list will have fellow trailer spotters reaching for a calming glass of milk …  Panzer Armee Special Trailer List   as will this one … However did we manage in the 20th Century?

I am still none the wiser.


*       1. The cab at the back is too narrow, as the trailer it is based on and the 88 wheels are also too narrow. The real thing was about 14.4m x 3m. Mine is 11mm x 2.6mm

2. The wheels are double 88 wheels, not single as they should be.

3. The mudguards should not be individual at the back axle.

4. The front is too high, there is no towbar, und so wieder … u.s.w.**

** And so on … and so on.


Filed under DAK, Logistics, Modelling, Trucks, Wehrmacht, Western Desert, WWII

Getting Chilly on the Northwest Front

2nd Inf Div troops astride the VLADIMIR-MOSCOW road in deteriorating weather

2nd Inf Div troops astride the VLADIMIR-MOSCOW road in deteriorating weather

As the last mud froze into iron hard ruts around KALINEN and VYSHNIV VOLDCHECK, the Axis X, II, and VIII Infantry Korps awaited winter with some confidence. The line they held stretched from south of LEMINGRAD along the railway to KALINEN and MOSCOW. Unlike the winter of 1941, the Landser were better equipped with winter clothing, lubrication oils that did not freeze solid and winter stoves for their dugouts. The Soviets had proved unable to retake MOSCOW this summer and would surely not do so this winter. Should the line come under pressure, then 4 Panzer Korps sat in reserve at VELIKIE LUKIE.

The Northwest Front Early Winter 1942 with Known German and Soviet Positions

The only fly in this ointment was the Soviet 30 Division that had penetrated the line between 12 and 32 Infantry Divisions. The railway was still cut at this point, and restoring the line was a priority for X and II Korps, on whose boundary the breach sat.


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Eastern Front, Infantry, Land Battles, Wargames, WWII

Great Rejoicing as Reinforcements Dock in Tripoli

A package was waiting on my doorstep upon my return from holiday. Of course, it was docked in TRIPOLI (the local post depot) and had to make its perilous way to the front, be sprayed in desert colours and find its way to the correct units. The reinforcements were mostly artillery and limbers for DAK, with a couple of India pattern carriers and a couple of Dovunque 35s. The Soviets even got an 85mm AA piece.

You just want to see the pictures don’t you? Apologies, they were taken in a hurry by a low-flying recce Spitfire.

90th Light Division, Schwere Shutzen-Regiment 155/200

I was surprised that the Sig 33 was such a large model compared to the Saurer .

Dak Artillery. Panzerjaeger Abteilung 605, 1942 onwards

The pair of Sd Kfz 7s and the Diana that I bought look small. They have been shortened to fit a standard FoW base !!! This is my seldom-seen grumpy face :-( *

Diana on Sd Kfz 6 Chassis

These pictures and a few others have been put into the updated DAK orbat post for GAZALA. I should probably make it into a page so that it is easier to find.

* Since making this comment, I have realised that the Sd Kfz 6 was shorter than the 7, and was replaced by the 11, so I shall just place the two tiddlers into the orbat slots for Sd Kfz 11s and buy a couple of proper 7s for the 88s. Harmony is restored :-)


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, DAK, Modelling, Orbats, Western Desert, WWII

Button Counting and Concrete Sniffing in the Netherlands

Extreme Mountain Biking in GelderlandCycling

Suzanne has long wanted to cycle on the Continent. Holland is civilized, cycle friendly, stuffed full of good restaurants and flat; so the choice of where to go was easy. Gelderland over on the East of Holland is not much visited by the British, which is puzzling, as the cycling is excellent. We hired two local Dutch cycles for the week, basing ourselves in LOCHEM.

We soon discovered that although we were reasonably cycle fit by UK standards,  grannies with panniers full of shopping kept overtaking us, and small children too (two to a bike with the pillion sitting on the cycle rack)! By the end of the week as we got the hang of the more relaxed Dutch gearing, the grannies were at least puffing a bit as they continued to tear past us on their way to their fit, active ’90s. The area has a well-marked network of cycle tracks with excellent signage. Junctions are numbered and all route signs point towards  the relevant junction number.

A Typical Forest Cycle Route in GelderlandCycle Helmets are not CompulsaryThe Cycle Path is on the Left

On larger roads, cyclists have their own lanes that they share with mopeds and mobility scooters, but not motorbikes. Some suburban streets are marked up as cycle streets with “cars as guests”. Drivers seem more patient than in Britain. All in all, your chances of being taken out by a 40 tonner are far lower than in the UK.

Cycle Friendly Street in Holland

“Yes, yes,” you say, “but what about the button counting?”

Button Counting

In the area that we stayed, it was the custom for various princely estates to display their colours on the wooden shutters. The inner button counter in me was not sufficiently diverted from Grolsch* beer to collect the full set, but here are some to give a flavour:

Heraldic Window Shutters in LochemEstate house displaying Livried window shuttersThe Dutch have a cheerful attitude to souping up carsLuchtmuseum

I can confirm from original source material that Trebian’s Gnome Army uniforms are 100% accurate. Expect an Osprey to follow. This little fellow is just outside Holland’s largest Maze (which is very small and neat).

Primary Research for Peter Pig's Gnome Army

Concrete Sniffing

LOCHEM is the site of a lesser-known 43rd Wessex Division Memorial. Their main one is on Hill 112 at CAEN. I had not realised, or gone looking for, the connection to the Sherwood Foresters in St Mary’s church Bottesford, where I grew up

43rd Wessex Division Monument in LOCHEM43rd Wessex Division Monument in LOCHEM - Subunits

The Open Air Museum just to the north of ARNHEM is well worth a visit**. We drove along the RHENE, contemplating just how miserable a swim would have been on an autumn night. After an overnight stop in OTTERLO, site of the last large battle in Holland, we visited the Kröller-Müller sculpture park and its collection of bizarre and often baffling sculptures. General de Wet’s statue lives here on a sandy heath in the Hoge Veluwe National Park***.

On our way home, we stopped overnight in GORINGCHEM, another throat-clearing town that still has a medieval town plan and a Vauban style trace****.The picture below illustrates how low the earthen glacis is. It runs from the right of the gate across the base of the windmill. Missing are the willows or poplars that would have been planted on the glacis to stabilise it, then have been cut down to make gabions in an emergency. Sight lines have been eroded since the 18th century.

The City Walls of GORINGCHEM

GORINGCHEM is slap in the middle of the ‘new’ Hollandse Waterlinie, an 85km long defensive area some 3-5km deep combining defensive works and planned inundations. In deference to Chris Ager and Airfix, I posed in front of a cannon. Concrete sniffing accomplished, we came home.

Cannon on the City Wall at Goringchem

Language Notes

Hallo is the universal greeting. After that it gets difficult very quickly!

Asking politely “Spreekt U Engelsk?” usually elicited the response “a liddle bit,” followed by excellent English. The best response was in a seafront restaurant at the Hook of Holland: “Of course, I went to school.”

Advice is to speak English. German and French are less popular  even though German is well understood on the eastern border. Several times people would come up to us to enquire if we were lost as we consulted our map, and we were always at pains to thank them.

Bizarrely, one local told us (in relatively halting English) that he was a retired German teacher. Bizarrely, because he had taken me for German initially, and I had asked him in German where the cycle route out of town was. He quickly worked out that I was not a native German speaker and flipped over to English out of politeness, even though his German was much easier to understand.

My attempts at speaking Dutch were met by bafflement and the encouraging cheerfulness that adults display when children are trying hard. I like the Dutch and plan to continue my assault on their beer and language in equal measure.

Concrete Sniffing Accomplished!

* to pronounce the ‘G‘ imagine a Scottish lo’CH‘ starting with a silent G and finishing with all the phlegm in your throat nicely cleared. The ‘sch‘ comes out as a long ‘sss‘. Pointing also works!

** ARNHEM was a bridge too far for us to fit in as well. The open air museum only qualifies as a concrete sniff by virtue of the memorial for refugees evacuated from the museum during the war. It is home to the National Airline Sick Bag Collection  however. This is housed in the ceiling of a replica airline cabin. I really am not making this up – look, here’s a picture. Unmissable!

The Dutch National Airline Sick Bag Collection

*** de Wet, one of the ones that trounced us in the Boer War. Moving swiftly on …

**** Pronounced gCHorCH’m by the locals. Have a cough drop after getting it right!


Filed under Off Topic

Flatpack Moscow 4 – Gorky Park

Six hundred and forty one windows later, MOSCOW is looking fairly complete.I really enjoyed painting this project for a few minutes each evening, just chilling out.


Moscow looking north west

One late addition to the city is the treeline at GORKY PARK (Парк горького). I kept thinking that the northeast corner of the city was a little bare, so trees were the answer.


Moscow looking south west

Spring/high summer won out over the more colourful autumn or the equally tempting bare branches of winter. I couldn’t resist adding a few tables with parasols.

IMGP0143 The summer delights of Gorky Park

It is tempting to keep faffing and adding more detail, but the template is ready to game with. Saint Basil’s can wait for now. I shall hunt for some more suitable statues than the Space marines some day.

IMGP0140 Moscow looking south east

The Kremlin and Red Square are looking suitably red, but they will have to wait until the city is retaken for a proper May Day parade. The Fascists may yet be strutting up and down for a while longer.

IMGP0144Red Square looking south east

IMGP0141Moscow looking north east


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Eastern Front, Modelling, WWII