Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Verdun Project: The "Heroes" of Fort Douaumont

Continuing the Verdun theme, here’s some photos of my entry in the “Heroes” themed category for Curt’s Analogue Hobbies 4th Annual Painting Challenge.


Things have been pretty hectic throughout January at Roundwood Towers. I had a big project to finish at work which took a lot of time, and which now (thank the Lord) is finished. A good result for the client, but more importantly I could reunite myself with my family and have some sleep!

I’d originally intended to something aerial for the “heroes” theme. I got very excited, bought the aircraft kits, but time and real-life conspired against me. Is that the sound of violins playing in the background? No, no, mes braves – you’ll not have regrets and complaints at this blog. Nothing lost – merely another fun project postponed.

And with that aerial postponement, I got the chance to try and think of another “heroic” subject. I've always loved moments of military history which turn out, with the benefit of historical hindsight, to be slightly different to what everyone thought when first they become known. So, with that in mind, here's a classic group of German assault troops, led by Oberleutnant Cordt Von Brandis, commander of the 8th company of the 24th Brandenburg Regiment at Verdun in 1916. 




The figures are my attempt at replicating the famous storming of Fort Douaumont, a remarkable feat of military daring which was almost a body blow to the French nation in February 1916. Von Brandis became extremely famous, met the Crown Prince of Germany, had a village named after him, formed “Freikorps Von Brandis” in January 1919, and wrote his memoir of the adventure in 1917.


A true hero, in the classic mould. A young, 27 year old Teutonic hero, with a firm soldierly jaw. How heroic. Surely a wonderful subject for a themed diorama…


Apart from the fact that by the time Von Brandis had actually arrived at Fort Douaumont it was already under German control thanks to the pragmatic and fast thinking action of a much more down to earth Thuringian Feldwebel, Sergeant Kunze. The good Sergeant clambered through a carelessly unsecured window, and captured the French garrison, almost without a shot being fired. Sergeant Kunze survived the Great War and became a police sergeant, waiting patiently for 20 years for the real story of the fall of Douaumont to be told.

And so the legend of the storming of Fort Douaumont was born, proving once again that heroes come in all shapes and sizes!





41 comments:

  1. Wonderful figures and a really fascinating story. On visiting the fort you begin to understand so remarkable Kunze & Radtke's achievement really was (almost unbelievably so).

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    1. Thanks Matt! I'd love to visit the Fort one day - its high on my list of destinations I'd like to get to. And yes, Leutnant Radke should have appeared in my post - a bad omission by me, especially considering he was also into the Fort before Oberleutnant von Brandis!

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  2. The story about fall of FD is worth a film telling the two versions in paralell!
    Very-vey nice figures (...as usual, by the way)

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    1. Thanks Benito! Your idea of a dedicated film about Douaumont is a pretty excellent one. There is a German film about the capture of the Fort from the inter-war period which I have long wanted to track down. Now might be a suitable time!

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  3. Nice you inspired me to do my own WW1 force, and all the surrounding stuff.
    And in remembrance to my grand-grand father who fought on the Southfront (Isonzo) and has fallen there.

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    1. I'm glad I helped you to a new period, Muswetyl! It looks from your blog that you already have a pretty wide interest - so I'm very happy to add a new one!! And thank you for your mention of your Great Grandfather - very much looking forward to your miniatures from that terrible campaign on the Isonzo.

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  4. They look really great! Love the rusty metal.

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    1. Thanks Simon! I'm not quite sure exactly how rusty reinforced concrete would get in a short period of time. Quite possibly, not very much. I admit I went for cinematic....not hyper-realism - in reaching for the rust paint!

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  5. Amazing brushwork - looks so gritty and realistic, yet the colors are also warm and clear at the same time. Interesting basing - looks the figures are removable? Nice background history too. Best, Dean

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    1. Thanks Dean! That's very kind. I'm not sure that the "poses"/ "action" figures on the terrain are shown to best effect in the photos. I think I probably need to tweak my white balance (or whatever on the camera). The basing is......oh dear, I confess.....not entirely finished. I'm doing a little bit more on the bases to obscure the metal bases under the figures' boots.... I just ran out of time at the weekend to do this!

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    1. Thanks Scrivs!!! High compliment coming from you, Sir. So thanks very much!

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    1. Thanks Darrell. Great to see you up and about on the blogs again - as I mentioned on your site, you've been missed. And thank you for the kind comments!

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  8. Fabulous work as always! You realy created a very dynamic and realistic little vignette. Whenever I'm in need of inspiration for my own Great War stuff I come here and take a look around.

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    1. You're very welcome indeed. I'm just very pleased you keep coming back!

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  9. Great job Sidney. Having been there and explored it is a real fascinating , and horrid aspect of the fighting at Verdun. Top job.

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    1. Thanks Dave! I didn't know that you've been to Verdun. You'll have to tell me more when I see you at BlogCon.

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  10. Very nice. I recall reading the story of the sergeant and the officer who took the credit. :)

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    1. Thanks John. It's just one of those incredible stories. It took professional historians well into the 1930s to realise that Oberleutnant von Brandis' story was at least a little exaggerated. Just another example of people creating history to match what they wanted to hear....

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  11. A beautiful base of Teutonic jaws!

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  12. Right up to your usual standard mate, which is nothing short of amazing.

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    1. Thanks Millsy! Now all I need to do is try and replicate your proficiency and quality and I'm almost a quarter decent painter!!!

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  13. Another impressive diorama - very well laid out and of course painted to your usual amazing standard. Glad the project is safely under the belt!

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    1. Thansk Ed! You have no idea how glad, relieved and happy I am that that particular work project is over!

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  14. A cracking little vignette and back story to boot.

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    1. Phil, thanks for the comment and dropping by. Glad you like it!

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  15. Great post and great looking vignette!

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    1. A pleasure Phil. Just glad you liked it!

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  16. More fabulous work Sid - and a fun backstory - how many times has the boss taken credit for a team's hard work!

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    1. Thanks Al ! Much appreciated, and a familiar story!

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  17. Great looking vignette SIdney, looking forward to seeing in the flesh at Evesham.
    Cheers
    Stu

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    1. Thanks Stu! They shall, along with a couple of other German command stands, be making the trip to Evesham...

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  18. Lovely painting, and a fascinating story I've never heard of, and won't forget. A fort falls because someone climbs through a window? Amazing!

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    1. Thanks Monty! It is very much an amazing story!

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  19. Not sure how I missed this, but terrific work and a great post as always Sidney!

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    1. Thanks Alex! You missed it because you've been building wonderful, awe-inspiring aircraft, Sir!!

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    2. Ha ha, more like tearing my hair out with the rigging!

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