Officers Mess

Reflections on model soldiers and wargames.

Posted by Mário on 26 Oct 2016, 22:00

I do not know if any of our fellow forum members was in a real war situation.
Although I’m old, I’m too young to have been in the Portuguese African wars. These colonial wars ended in 1975 when I was 21 year of age, the age to be drafted in the army. So none of my school colleges were in the African war, only some older guys that I knew were there. As I was studying at the university I could wait till the end of the course that I finished in 77. After that I eventually joined the Air Force and had a peace-time military career up to 2001.
Some people I knew were in combat, some were injured, a few were dead.
I remember a comrade that was two years my senior in high school that I could not recognize when he came back from the war. His face was not his face anymore. The face I knew was in Mozambique on the instrument panel of an attack T6 that was shot down by machine gun fire.
During my military years I was at war zones, in Africa, during exchange missions. I flew in military aircraft that were though enemy areas, using maneuvers to avoid missiles, but never was I under fire in my military years. I went through mine fields and though guerrilla zones but I was always lucky.
Only when I was 20, during the troubles that followed the Portuguese 1974 revolution, was I under fire.
That happened by chance when I witnessed the attack, by T6 aircraft armed with rockets and machine guns, and cannon armed Alouette III of the RALIS Barracks, in 11 March 1975. I was there when the attack took place, just by chance as the Barracks were near my home, and I stood there seeing the airplane firing passes and the anti-aircraft return fire by the army’s 50 caliber guns.
Two people were killed, I think a few were wounded, but what I can recall was the unreality of all that. I really could not feel fear and danger although intellectually I knew that I should not be there and that I could have been hit by hazard.
Enough of as old man’s memories, the purpose of my post, as I stand at the forum’s officer’s mess, a drink in my hand, as I often did when I was a young officer, is to acknowledge the respect I have to all that have given everything, even their lives, in the call of duty.
It is with the greatest respect that I paint the little toy soldiers. For me they are a memory of the sacrifices done by generations of brave (or not brave) men that were asked to give it all and that did it.
When I play a wargame, one thing that I really like to do, as for me it is not only an intellectual challenge but also an esthetic experience, some part of me is saying an (agnostic) prayer for all the real men that were suffering and dying all the times a battle was raging. Perhaps because of that I always do fantasy scenarios and almost never a reproduction of a real battle.
I do not know if my fellow forum members share the same respect that I have for the real actors of the battles we paint and play, and if anyone has the same, I would say almost religious reverence to the flesh and bone individuals that we portray in our hobby.
A good day for all
Mário  Portugal
 
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02 Mar 2012, 14:14


Posted by Mr. Cryns on 02 Nov 2016, 12:39

Dear Mario,

Thanks for sharing your very personal and honest reflexions on live, war, reality and our common hobby with us.

These words fascinate me most:
Mário wrote:some part of me is saying an (agnostic) prayer for all the real men that were suffering and dying all the times a battle was raging.

Because there is some contradiction in remembering the dead by playing a wargame.

And these words I understand very well:
Mário wrote:Perhaps because of that I always do fantasy scenarios and almost never a reproduction of a real battle.

For probably this same reason, I have no taste for WW2 modeling and gaming. Both my parents witnessed that war, they survived German and British bombardments and their properties were occupied by the Germans. My Jewish colleagues (many of them from Portuguese origin) here in Amsterdam lost most of their family under German law and occupation. To me it feels a bit uncomfortable if I would bring Hitlers nazi armies and war machines back to live again in small scales.
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Mr. Cryns  Netherlands

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Posted by Alex on 02 Nov 2016, 14:36

Yes, thank you for this post , MARIO
I think the same.
And perhaps I will soon cease to do military figure for this reason.
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Alex  Russia
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Posted by Mr. Cryns on 02 Nov 2016, 14:50

Alex wrote:perhaps I will soon cease to do military figure for this reason.


Is this a serious consideration, Alex? :drool:
You mean modern military or all historical army related models?

I remember the owner of a historic and archeological university bookshop in Leiden, Holland. This man was complaining to me about the thousands of Osprey Books he sold. I came to his shop to buy these Osprey Uniform Books but he hated them. He did not want to sell any books related to war. But commercially these Osprey Books selled so well, it was his financial backbone. These war books made it possible for him to keep selling peacefull history, art and archeological books too. What to think of that?
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Mr. Cryns  Netherlands

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Posted by Alex on 02 Nov 2016, 14:59

Yes, I know .. this is a problem.
But for me there are still many interesting alternative to those other than the military itself. Of course, the commercial attractiveness of these topics will be lower .. But I've already started something - what to do in this regard, I hope that I can soon show.
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Alex  Russia
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Posted by Mr. Cryns on 02 Nov 2016, 15:11

You make me so curious but I will waite in patience to see what surprise you come up with in the future. Good luck and I whish you lots of joy by working on your personal idea's.
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Mr. Cryns  Netherlands

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Posted by Frankzett on 02 Nov 2016, 16:05

Interesting thread. But one thing we should not forget, figure modellers do NOT show the scaled down reality, they show an impression!
As an modeller I am interested in some WWII themes and aspects too, for example the history of technical designs of the weapons. But for me it is more stimulating to investigate and to reconstruct / sculpt ancient and medieval subjects.

Greetings
Frank
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