Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sea Lion as Cover Art

I have always been intrigued with cover art. I have been known to purchase a second copy of an Agatha Christie mystery just based on the cover art. Those of the 1960s and 70s had a very distinct look and feel to them compared to the earlier works for the 30s and 40s. . While at the Navy Exchange I was known to buy a sci-fi or alt-history novel based on the cover art, with mixed results. Now that I am adding to my early World War II library, I am intrigued by the cover art and dust jackets of the books I am buying come from the 1940s to the present. Much of my Sea Lion collection is fiction with appropriate art.

My most recent purchase for this project is Sea Lion by Richard Cox. This novelizes The Staff College wargame that was fought by real 1940 Sea Lion participants in 1974. It is an enjoyable read and has well though combat examples. Well worth a read by anyone interested in World War II in general or Operation Sea Lion in particular.

What I find most distressing is the fictional artwork on the cover. It is not the shallow eyes of the soldier, or the Ju-87 bombing the building (a church?) but it is the little tank in the lower left corner. To me it looks like a Soviet T-34. My assumption is that the artist was told to draw a tank and the T-34 was what was in his sketchbook. Does this make the book less valuable, no, but it makes the arguments about the History Channel getting video wrong just the most recent errors that I have caught. Oh bother.

For now back to the landing beaches. Cannot wait to find out what is going happen,

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Home Guard

Part of my thesis dealing with the historiography of Operation Sea Lion is how the British dealt with the prospects of invasion at different time. And while the German Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) was not prepared to invade Britain right after Dunkirk and the capture of the channel; the British forces were not ready to repel any Axis forces that landed on their shores.

The LDV while started to organize after Secretary of State for War, Anthony Eden radio speech on 14th of May, by early July most units were limited in the number of official weapons distributed to the units with most still relying on personal and museum pieces.

So while a 4th of July invasion sounds good in a novel (more on that latter) both the Germans and British will have to wait until September or October before their forces are ready.

And yet Admiral Raeder conceived a possible landing as early as the late fall of 1939...

Right now I am reading Mackenzie's The Home Guard and enjoying it immensely. It is an ex-library copy and the amusing thing is that it came from the Cornwall County Council Library system, the same location as my proposed miniature campaign. The other is Hitler's Armada by Hewitt. This is covering in some detail how the two navies stack up in a possible Operation Sea Lion. Well worth looking at if interested in naval affairs or Sea Lion.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Home Guard Getting Ready

For Father’s Day while the ladies were out so I finished the rest of the British LDV/Home Guard platoon. These will be based in Cornwall looking to take the fight to the German invaders. The force has three sections, a piece of captured Ottoman artillery, and a few Lewis and anti-tank teams.

The village is also a work in progress. I repainted the roads a lighter color and I need to wash and dry brush them. Will be adding a few more buildings and a cemetery for the church in time. Will also be adding an estate house for some of the VBCW battles as well. I do love the 1936-40 period.

A captured Ottoman artillery piece with crew and transport.

We even have a horse unit.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dad's Army in Quiet Cornwall

Our local squire was very pleased with himself as a new batch of recruits have been outfitted and accepted into the LDV. This allows our small village to report a full platoon ready for action, more or less.

Up until this week our village and the surrounding farms only could muster two complete sections. As this was not enough to count as a platoon the squire changed the records a little that were sent up the chain of command and reported to the district office a platoon with three under strength sections. This technicality allows him to maintain the platoon and his Lieutenant’s pips. If he has his way, the other two nearby villages will bring in another platoon and he can be made a Captain. Although we in the LDV think he is aiming higher. Much higher.

Not sure how London feels about it, but he tells everyone he has brought in support for the unit. I am not sure a captured Ottoman howitzer that stood in the village square and a couple of farming trucks count as support but he is happy.

So begins the LDV here in Cornwall…

While not quite Dad’s Army, the LDV and latter the Home Guard here in sunny Cornwall has little to fear, other than the squire and his business associates. As I am building up this force for Chain of Command I ended up doing this a little backwards.

Normally a gamer will choose a unit or period and start building it and as he or she is doing this they will also conduct research. I started on this ass-backwards (remember war is heck). I was researching Operation Sea Lion academically and found I had a hankering to build a platoon to fight my 1940 Germans.

The academic question seemed simple. How was history, popular or academic, written differently before and after the release that the Allies were reading the German codes.

This requires reading a lot of books and viewing movies and seeing how the war was displayed. And I am OK with that.

The year 1974 is when much of the official disclosures about the code breaking were done in the United Kingdom. A few spotty references can be found in popular works, but for now I will stick with 1974 as the pivot date.

Is this important, for Sea Lion it is very important. We have gone from looking at the plucky British standing up to Hitler with little more than a band of under-equipped volunteers, a few soldiers from Dunkirk and some Spitfires to the understanding (misunderstanding) that the Germans could never launch a successful invasion of Britain. Am I over simplifying, yep but so do the individuals that only see history from the perspective of 2015 and not 1955. Oh bother.