Tuesday 21 February 2023

Painting Challenge Report #9

We are entering the last lap of The Painting Challenge, and decided to takea break from my Saga projects to explore some of the Blue Pass Studios sites and earn some bonus points on the way. For this purpose. I dug the deepest layers of my lead mountain and found these jewels in the 1980's layers (still wrapped in the original blisters)


Galadriel and her mirror plus the four most famous hobbits of The Shire

These were designed and sold by Mithril miniatures in the early 1980s, heavily based in the descriptions provided by Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings. Nothing to do with thee most familiar images emerging from the Peter Jackson's films (and the Warlord miniatores ranges)





After this week's submission my current Challenge score has reached 549 points, representing 78% of my Challenge's 700 points  target for this year. Veery much on track to reach the target.



Monday 20 February 2023

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-44 by Rick Atkinson

As commented in a previous post, this year I planned to do some research and to read on the Italian Campaign during the Second World War. I firstly reviewed James Holland's Sicily 1943 book and in this post I'll do the same with a second book:  Roy Rick Atkinson's The Day of Battle.

The book is part two of The Liberation Trilogy covering the Western Front campaigns:  Torch and Tunisia in 1942/43, the Italian front 1943-44; and the Normandy campaign until the final surrender in May 45.

The Day of Battle focuses on Sicily and Italy until the fall of Rome. Therefore it covers Operation Husky, Salerno, Montecassino, Rome and the battles to break the different German defensive lines across the south half of the Italic Peninsula.  

The campaign  had a promising start with the Sicily invasion (Operation Husky) as described in a previous blog post commenting James Holland's book.

However, the following operations were mired with a lot of problems, including the differing strategic views of the main Allied partners about where to start the conquest of Continental Europe (the Americans were committed to a full effort in France, the British to the Mediterranean). This differeing views resulted in total a lack of clarity of the main objectives and golas for the Allied forces arriving to Italy's continental soil.

Add to this an ill-planned landing operation at Salerno (operation Avalanche in September 1943) in which the Allied army was in the verge of being defeated and to cnduct a potentially catastrophic reembarking operation; the great defending opportunities offered to the  Germans by the terrain (numerous river lines, mountainous landscape unsuitable for amour), lack of good metalled roads (or just lack of roads) and finally the terrible weather from October onwards.

Source: Wikipedia










The Allied forces in Italy were also continously shrinked, as many divisions were transfered to England for Overlord (initially planned for April/May 44) in addition to the natural manpower wastage caused by the campaign and the weather. 

At the end of the day, the Germans fought a series of successful delaying actions, retreating from one fortified line to another, using the rivers crossing east-west and finally consolidating an d area in the north of Italy, occupied until the German surrender in May 1945.

The Book

The Day of Battle is another thick 850 pages book of the trilogy. It covers the period between the end of the Tunis Campaign, Husky and then all the way to the liberation of Rome.

But to make the story short, I'll start by the end: I  did not like the book and hinestly I cannot recommend it.

For a start, the book could have been 30% (+/-)  shorter by just the author being more focused. He spent a lot of space rambling about superflous stories, many times unconnected with the main topic. In addition, he adds all types of small details in the descriptions and instead of making them more realistic and credible, the achieve the opposite: I got bored and many times impatient to know where the author is heading to.       

Atkinson also loves gossip, a lot actually: Churchill and Roosevelt meets? You'll learn the detailed menus, where many of the dishes were flown from,  the color of the pyjamas used by the British premier, a thorough description of how much Churchill liked to take baths or the amount (and type) of drinks consumed in some these wild parties. 

Montgomery crosses the Messina Strait and meets the press? You'll learn that he sipped three coffees with cookies while addressing the journalists. And also that Monty always travelled with his collection of parakeets and canaries in cages.

When describing the operations, Atkinson goes in many places the "James Holland" way: using the personal "voice" of the people involved and from there build up the chapter to describe the actions at a higher altitude. However I thinks he fails in the way he "zooms out" the action, but also in lacking to provide enough good operational detail.

And finally, the book (the electronic version) lacks any maps (!!) I have checked and the printed edition actually DO have maps, so this is negligence on the part of the editor, not the author. In any case this forcved me to navigate continously in Google maps, not the most efficient solution at times specially if reading offline.

In summary, I had a very frustrating experience with this book and the author. I honestly did not enjoyed the reading, skipping significant portions that did not provide any real added value. I did klearn  

What's Next?

I'll jump now to  James Holland's Italy's Sorrow: A Year of War 1944-45 to cover the final lap of the Italian operations and with this I will conclude my readings on the campaign, at least for the moment. 

To note that over the past recent weeks, James Holland has released a few episodes on Italy 1943-44 in his co-hosted podcast channel "We have ways to Make you Talk". It looks like this will be the topic of his his next book; and I guess it will be released by the summer (no later) ready for the annual We Have Ways festival in September, dedicated this year to "1943" a decisive year in the Second World War.   

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Painting Challenge Report #8

A milestone achieved in my Saga project, as last week I finished the last two units of guards for my Dark Ages warband


Guards units have 4 men, representing 1 point  in terms of the Saga point system. Together with the previously painted models, I have now a total of 6 points (1 levy. 2 warriors, 2 guards and the warband leader)  to deploy a warband on the table. 


Given the generic design of most of these models, they can be used for any army list between the period of the Late Roman Empire to the beginning of the first Millenium. So any list with the terms "Anglo", "Saxon", Danish", even Vikings can be used with the mdels al ready painted.

My plan now is to start painting some cavalry units which a re featured in many of the Age of Invasion lists like the different "Goths" (Otrogoths, Visigoths,etc), Franks and other horse mounted peoples beyond the Rhine and the Danube rivers.

As of today, my total points score on the Challenge has reached  482 points or 69% of my 700 points target.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Painting Challenge Report #7

 Unfortunately, nothing to report this week  :-(

I had a spike of workload at the office last week; and coupled with some family commitments over the weekend, made it impossible to have anything material ready to submitt to the Painting Challenge on Tuesday (my allocated day of the week).

Several half finished projects are currently on the table, all related to my Saga warbands. I hope to recoup part of the lost time next weekend and exceed the average weekly points achieved so far. Stay tuned.    

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Painting Challenge Report #6

 January is gone and I'm happy with my progress so far in the Painting Challenge. Usually, by this time in the competition my painting mojo suffers; but not this year. I think the Saga project is keeping me engaged and committed.

The past week I finished a second unit of 8 warriors (1 Saga Warband point equivalent). The minis are from the Gripping Beast plastic Dark Age Warriors box, straight from the sprues. Shileds as usual from the superb Little Big Men Studios range.


The unit is generic enough to play a rol in any Dark Age warband and even later periods, like for example acting as light infantry for an El Cid/Reconquista army. I'm now close to conclude a 4-point starter warband: I already painted one levies (1 point) and the two warriors (2 points) units. I only need now to paint the Guards, which hopefully should be ready next week.


I have also started looking for a suitable warband leader.For a cavalry-free army, I have already prepared this chief standing on a boulder. Happy with the final work but I may add in the future a stardard bearer. I'm planning in any case to paint some other warband leaders, and at least one riding a horse.


Following this week's submission my accumulated scoring has reached 442 points, representing 63% of my 700 points target for this year's Challenge.