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Spanish Civil War

Posted by Peter on 23 Sep 2021, 13:10

Always a joy to see your armies! Great work Joan! :thumbup:
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by despertaferro on 04 Oct 2021, 19:24

5th Regiment. Paris Commune Battalion.

This was the most famous and well-known of all the Republican Militia units. Created by Enrique Castro Delgado, Vittorio Vidali and Valentín González, it was considered an elite regiment that, despite its communist origins, attracted volunteers from different ideologies for its good training and performance. NCO's and junior officers were elected by their soldiers, but, unlike other Militia units, once appointed, they could not refuse to obey their orders. :-D

After January 1937, with the reforms that created the Republican People's Army (that put an end to the multitude of militias that mostly only obeyed the leadership of their own trade union or political party), the 5th regiment become the hard core of Enrique Lister's 11th Division. As such, they saw a lot of action, with their most famous battle being their last stand on the Maestrazgo mountains.
With the Republican government in the desperate hope that the start of the war between fascism and democracy in Europe would turn the adverse tide of SCW in their favor, they ordered the 11th Division to maintain the vital Maestrazgo line for as long as possible. The 11th were finally overcome after bitter resistance that caused a high and unexpected rate of casualties to the attacking nationalist forces.

At the Maestrazgo trenches was where my grandfather (mother's side) died. Being a dredger's boat captain and a married grown up man with children, he was in situation to avoid conscription. But seing the Republic loosing the war, he volunteered instead. They grave never found.

Again, another SCW's vehicle rarity. This 6-ton Vickers type B was a veteran and survivor of the Chaco War. Bought in 1932 by Bolivia, captured by Paraguayans at the Battle of Campo Via, sold in 1937 to the Swiss arms dealer Thorvald G. Elrich who sold it to the Republican government for 1.040 sterling pounds.
This vehicle certainly reach Spain (the selling also included 7 Krupp 1907 mountain guns, 300 machine guns of several kinds, thousands of Mauser rifles and lots of ammunition...) but impossible to track what happened after. My guess is that it was probably refitted with a T-26 brand new turret and, due to the similarities to the Russian tank, only his crew knew it was a different vehicle. But for obvious raisons I have keeped the original configuration.

Minairons, BUM, Caesar, Hat and Waterloo figures. First to Fight Vickers and S-Model T-26.

Warm regards.

Joan



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despertaferro  
 
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Posted by Bill Slavin on 05 Oct 2021, 23:46

Always a pleasure and an education to read your posts, Joan. This new unit has all that moody, atmospheric quality that you always seem to be able to produce. Your photography of them, too is fantastic.
A sad but interesting foot note about your grandfather. Thank you for sharing that.
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Bill Slavin  Canada
 
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Posted by despertaferro on 06 Oct 2021, 14:40

Thank you so much Bill for your always kind and encouraging words.

At the risk of becoming too boring and predictable with my endless SCW stuff, I’ll tell you about my grandfather’s death and the incredible events that followed. A lesson on what kind of nasty business war is and how far from the shit of good / evil we see in movies.

Here it comes...

As I said, the moment was one of defeat. The Republic was on the defensive, losing all hope of winning the war and the only chance of victory was based on the fact that the start of the war in Europe would lead democracies to definitely help the Republic fight fascism and prevent it ended up spreading all over Europe.

A naive way of thinking in light of how the Munich Agreement ended (many thanks to Messrs. Daladier and Chamberlain for their extraordinary ability to predict the future ...) and the incredible and shameful Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.

But all this was happening too far from my grandfather’s trench and his daily problems to keep the fascist waves at bay long enough for European democracies to fight by his side.
The days go by, casualties increase, and despair begins to take its toll on the soldiers. And discussions begin about how futile resistance is and what stupidity it would be to die for a lost cause.

One day, my grandfather finds a small group of comrades making plans to cross the no-man's-land to the fascist line and surrender. He tries to convince them not to, they argue and one of them shot my grandfather dead.

End of story...? Not quite...

My grandmother receives official notification of my grandfather’s death, but not of the circumstances in which it happened. Death in combat, the note says.

Time passes and the Nationalists occupy Valencia (the city and the important port that the Maestrazgo line sought to protect and the place where my grandparents lived).

My grandmother had a small shop, she sold newspapers, tobacco, groceries and all that. One day, a man enters the store and asks her if she is Joan Beltran's widow. She doubts what to answer. Her husband was known to be an incorruptible supporter of the Republic. The timing is one of terrible persecution, with daily arrests and executions. Fascist gangs do what they want and any complaint or suspicion ends up against the cemetery wall in front of a firing squad and with your corpse inside a mass grave (after Cambodja, Spain is the second country in the world with more missing people buried in unknown places).
In addition, she is pregnant and has two four-year-old twin daughters to protect.

Seeing her fear, the man quickly reassures her: he was a friend of her husband and has been able to find her thanks to all the personal information they had shared while fighting on the front line.
The man explains to my grandmother what such close friends they had become throughout the battle time, the suffering they shared, all the details of how her husband’s death happened and ends up explaining that it was he who shot her husband and caused death. That he did it to survive, because my grandfather threatened them with the court-martial and the firing squad if they tried to surrender. He explain to my grandmother that he had come to see her to confess and ask for forgiveness.

My grandmother is in shock, angry and the last thing she wants is to forgive anyone. She hates fascists but, in this very moment, while the conversation is happening, her house and the basement of the store are full of defeated Republican soldiers. She hides them, provides them with food, clothes, money and, thanks to her contacts between the sailors (her husband was a seaman), she find fishing boats that agreed to transport them out of the city and to France or Northern African French colonies.

So she assures the man that she understands the circumstances, that she knew how much her husband could be a fanatic in political matters and that she has nothing against him and that no matter what happens in the future, she never will sue him for the death of her husband. In return, she only asks for one thing: that when things calm down, he will show her the place where her husband died. The man accepted and kept his promise.

My grandmother was able to visit the site of her husband's death and lay a bouquet of flowers. I don’t know if to mourn him, because I didn’t see my grandmother ever shed a tear for nothing.

Over time, it became too difficult for her to see the man who killed her husband on the streets and act as if nothing had happened. She moved with her three daughters to the small fishing village where she was born, on the south coast of Catalonia and, despite being a young woman, she never remarried.

When she told me the story, she confessed to me that over time she had come to forgive the man who shot her husband. But that she would never forgive her husband for choosing the Republic instead of his family.

My mother, one of the twin sisters, at her 86's and after so many years, still blaming her father for letting them grow up as orphans. Not because the war, but because he had a choice and he did not choose them.

End of story

All the best

Joan
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despertaferro  
 
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Posted by Santi Pérez on 06 Oct 2021, 19:19

Another great addition to your SCW armies, Joan. I envy your great work capacity, which allows you to add one unit after another. :mrgreen:

Santi.
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Santi Pérez  Spain
 
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Posted by sansovino on 07 Oct 2021, 15:13

It´s a very sad and impressive story which you Despertaferro has shared with us. It tells us which horror and pain people and especially women have to suffer in the last century. We are lucky to live today in far better times. I esteem now your wonderful work to the SCW still more because it became an own dimension of a deep personal relation which moves me.
My grandmother was blaming her husband that he didn´t stopped during the N**i regime to distribute social democratic underground prints which brought him not in a KZ but in a criminal company with a very high death rate and to Stalingrad and then to Sibiria for 6 years. He survived, but he was broken.
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Posted by Bill Slavin on 09 Oct 2021, 01:45

I was blown away by your latest post, Joan. Again, thank you for your candid telling of this story. The experiences of your grandmother, or Sansovino’s above, are so far beyond those of our own generation, (and as a Canadian even more so as we were isolated by the waves of fascism that swept through Europe). But when I read accounts like these I can’t help but ask myself, what would I have done in similar times? I don’t know, and hopefully I will never be tested to answer that.
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Posted by MABO on 12 Oct 2021, 07:51

A real touching story Joan. On the other hand it is good to know a lot of your own history.
I was also touched that you portrayed Gerda Taro. I have just read a book about her. By the way, she had Polish roots, but was born in Stuttgart, Germany. I was very captivated by her life story. Especially because I always came across Capa's pictures in Normandy and then found out that they were a couple - as you have written. She came up with the pen name for him.

Here is the link to the author's homepage.
https://www.helenajaneczek.com

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MABO  Europe
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Posted by despertaferro on 12 Oct 2021, 21:52

Hello Mabo!

Thank you so much for your contribution to Gerda Taro’s birthplace.

I plan to include some more of these amazing characters who populated SCW mythology. Like Oliver Law, one of the commanders of the Lincoln Battalion and the first African American to command white troops. Including Ernest Hemingway in the command base of the 15th International Brigade would be fantastic if I can find the right figure.

By the way, the first foreigners to join the cause of the Republic were Germans. More specifically, German athletes who were in Barcelona for the 1936 People's Olympics and witnessed the fascist coup.

I hope you are fine. I won’t be shooting anything until February; at the moment I am preparing two series for next year, which leaves me a lot of free time for thinking and painting ... :xd:

All the best!

Joan
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Posted by despertaferro on 17 Oct 2021, 16:15

Nothing special this time as far as the figures are concerned. Just a generic nationalist battalion, ready for the battle of Asturias.

But, once again, an unique SCW vehicle. You can see it side by side to some Renaults because this French tank was the inspiration for the Trubia 75HP. By 1936 there were only 4 finished units and all of them were in Oviedo when the fascist coup took place. 3 remained in the hands of the insurgents and only 1 on the loyal side. They were mostly used as a mobile bunkers. Two of them were destroyed during the battle and the rest scrapped afterwards.

Many thanks for your time.

Joan



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Posted by Peter on 17 Oct 2021, 17:37

Every post of you is special Joan! A whole fantastic painted army in one post! ;-) :thumbup:
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by sansovino on 17 Oct 2021, 18:04

... again a very vivid scenery and impressive attack.... forgive me my question: do you plan to integrate also some troops in defensive lines to your project? i think on the famous defense of Madrid and other places.
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Posted by despertaferro on 17 Oct 2021, 21:34

Thank you so much Peter and Sansovino for your time and feedback...

Sansovino ...
The purpose of basing my armies wargame style is not because I play, but because from time to time I like to change their arrangement on the shelves. Maybe is not too evident on my pictures, but there are different base sizes that represent from platoons to company, battalion or regiment command. The units are not intended for any particular action and if you check them you'll see that I try to make all the figures on the same base acting in similar way but, in the whole unit, you'll see attacking bases but also defending one's. Although each unit tries to represent a real one (quite difficult because there are very few SCW figures and I have to convert most of them), they are not intended for any particular action. With them I build a SCW scene but nothing too specific.
Once on their shelves, they look messy and tactically silly, but quite a sight. :-D

My plan is to form 15/16 battalions per side. So far I have done 8 on each side, with 708 figures, 43 vehicles and 25 guns, mortars and machine guns. 8)

I hope this answers your question ...

Joan
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despertaferro  
 
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Posted by Kostis Ornerakis on 17 Oct 2021, 23:56

I admire your artistic work. :yeah: :-D
But more than that, I'm excited because your family history is a part of your country 's history.
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Kostis Ornerakis  Greece
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Posted by despertaferro on 27 Oct 2021, 18:02

Italian CTV, Littorio Division.
Battalion from their 1st Regiment.
These are the first batch of foreigners for the Nationalist side. More to come.
Comments will come on a further post.
Thanks for your time.

Joan



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Posted by MABO on 27 Oct 2021, 19:27

Amazing armies again.
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MABO  Europe
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Posted by Bill Slavin on 28 Oct 2021, 00:37

Just wonderful. I never get tired of looking at your figures and your last two posts are no exception. Your vehicles as well are excellent! I love the bizarre range of ATV’s at this point, with the mini tanks and the so very clunky funky armoured cars. Great work!
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