Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back to the Trenches

A very Happy New Year to all my visitors here at Digger's Rest. Plans and resolutions for the new year include finishing this Great War terrain project and painting up some figures to go with it. As well, I'd like to share more of my gaming interests. Its an eclectic mix that includes the Seven Years' War in 15mm, opposing forces of Christian and Turkish galleys in 1:1,200 scale, a couple of Warhammer Historical armies (Macedonians for Ancient Battles and Medieval Portuguese for El Cid, both in 25mm), a Flames of War Fallschirmjager force in 15mm, and a ton of 15mm medieval Germans based for DBX. This is not to mention the mountains of unpainted lead squirreled away in various old shoe boxes and other containers.

I had hoped to have things nearer to completion by now, but a succession of visitors over the holidays, together with catching the inevitable winter cold, put a damper on my terrain making. You'll see in the picture below, how some of the simpler boards have shaped up.

The two squares, each about 10" x 10" are designed to be interchanged with other inserts that I will manufacture at a later date, e.g. gun emplacements, shattered woods, or pill boxes. I decided on a simplified approach at this stage to keep the project moving. Incidentally, on the wall is one of my favorite photographs: 11th Battalion, Royal Western Australia Regiment , 3rd Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force, posing at the Great Pyramid, Giza, on 10th January, 1915. Within a few weeks, the battalion would land at Gallipoli and lose more than a third of its men as casualties. The photograph is of such high quality that the individual faces of each Digger can be clearly seen.

I'm thinking of modeling one of my units on the 11th Battalion, which fought not only at Gallipoli but also in France. Its my way of remembering a seminal moment in Australian history. You can find a short history of the unit here.

But back to the Trenches. Looking online, I've found a variety of sources for inspiration:

Perhaps the biggest lesson from these images is that there is really no one correct way to model a trench system. The "proper" way, depicted in field engineers' manuals was, I'm sure, frequently adapted to the circumstances of life at the front.

I'm moving ahead with shoring up the sides of the styrofoam trenches with various materials simulating wooden boards, corrugated iron and sandbags. The boards and corrugated iron are quick and easy to reproduce. Corrugated carboard cut to size and glued is a very fast fix. As I've mentioned in a previous blog, the protective cardboard packaging for light bulbs and florescent tubes is just the right scale. The boards take a little more time and involve first tacking them together with superglue and a squirt of instant cure, and then arranging them along the sides of the trenches and gluing them in place with wood glue. However the sandbags are proving more troublesome. As you can see from the picture below, at first I seem to have achieved something more akin to a stone wall.

My next attempts resulted in a more "orderly" appearance.

Unfortunately you'll notice that the drying process has resulted in shrinkage and separation between some of the bags. I'll need to go back and fill in the gaps.

The image below shows the communications trench, waiting for the application of corrugated iron reinforcing.

Finally, how do I get them to work on my lead mountain?


  1. Happy New Year yourself. Great idea with the tiles hardly noticeable from the overhead view, the trench tiles seem to be coming along too.

  2. these terrain board look stunning, you may have just shamed me into getting my self in gear and doing my terrain boards (I have had the boards for 18months)
    Cheers for following my blog BTW

    Peace James


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