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Tirailleurs Sénégalais for my WW2 colonial French army

The Foreign Legion is well known as a force for foreigners fighting for France. But in addition to the legionnaires, the French also made use of ‘tirailleurs’—units made up of troops recruited from their colonies in Africa and Asia. Tirailleur translates as ‘skirmisher’, ‘rifleman’, or ‘sharpshooter’, and was a designation given to indigenous infantry recruited in the various colonies and overseas possessions of the French Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries. The first unit of Tirailleurs Sénégalais was raised in 1857. Despite their name, the Senegalese Tirailleurs drew in troops not just from Senegal, but from across West Africa. The Senegalese Tirailleurs served France in many wars, including World War 2, when 179,000 men were recruited for service both in Africa and Europe.  I decided that my WW2 colonial French army needed some of these stalwart soldiers. So when it came to equipping my army with support weapons, I chose tirailleur machine gun and m

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A model Dutch windmill and my great-granddad

If you’re going to recreate a Dutch village in miniature, what do you just have to have to make it feel really Dutch? A windmill, of course! This weekend I added a windmill to the village I showed in my last posting. This time, instead of the cardboard buildings that I’ve use so far, I built a MDF kit by 4Ground. What a joy this kit was to put together. The design is very cleverly designed to form the rather complex shape of the windmill. But, as with other 4Ground kits I’ve built, it all fitted perfectly.  I personalised the model slightly, adding brick paper to the ground floor, and painting some parts of the sails and the turning beams. I also painted a small heraldic device where the vanes meet in the centre, as I’ve seen on real windmills in the Netherlands. I was worried the model might end up too big for my buildings, but I was happy with the end effect. After all, windmills are big in real life! Interestingly, having a windmill in my model village is a poignant reminder of m

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A New Blog

I’ve been very lazy with blogging lately, but I had quite a number of games. You can find AARs for two of them on a new blog: Tabletop Stories was created by my mates Virago and Sigur. Sigur is posting some old articles of his which hitherto had been hosted on the now defunct Skirmish Wargaming site. He also posted two AARs of games with me, namely A Sharp Practice cavalry action. This was another scenario from the Gettysburg campaign. The Battle of Wittenweiler. This was a battle from the Thirty Years War, fought with Sigur’s spectacular collection of 10mm figures. The blog also contains other AARs and reviews of rules. Sigur spares no efforts, as all of his articles are available in English and in German – just click the tiny flags in the upper left corner. Be sure to check Tabletop Stories out and to add it to your blog reader!

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We are back,The Grinning Skull is back online!!

Well folks, after a lot of messing around, creating a archive/new site, much hair pulling out and other guff. We are back. I could sit here and type to you, what the hell has gone on, but suffice to say I’m not going to bore you with an entire catalogue of problems, I’m just happy […]

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Tour of a model Dutch village in 1940

At first glance, this could be a wartime newspaper photo of Dutch soldiers defending a village during the German invasion in May 1940 … until you spot the figure bases, that is,  and realise this is a wargames table with 28mm figures. I’ve recently been adding accessories to my Dutch village, such as latex brick roads from Early War Miniatures, and plastic lamp-posts, power poles and brick walls from Rubicon. They really bring to life the Gungnir cardboard buildings I’ve previously reported on, as you can see from this picture of Dutch soldiers and a Landsverk armoured car on patrol outside a grocer’s shop. Let’s take a tour of the village (don’t forget to click on the images to examine them in more detail). Soldiers follow the armoured car past a corner cafe, with period advertisements for Phoenix Dortmunder beer on the walls, and ‘3 Hoef Eisen’ beer on each window.  The miniatures and the armoured car, by the way, are all by May ’40 Miniatures. Adver

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A Dark & Stormy Night – Sharp Practice AAR

On July 4, 1863, the Union cavalry was in hot pursuit of the Confederate army retreating from Gettysburg. Judson Kilpatrick’s division had information about a rebel wagon train making its way through the South Mountains and set out to capture the wagons. Due to a rainstorm, the Union troopers arrived at the approaches to Monterey Pass in the evening. When they slowly made their way up the pass road, a lone Confederate cannon opened fire. Thus started the Battle of Monterey Pass, one of the most dramatic small cavalry actions of the Gettysburg campaign. The unusual circumstances – a fight at night, in very difficult terrain, while a torrential rainstorm was raging – made this “a night never to be forgotten”, as one participant in the action later wrote. For Sharp Practice, I have decided to divide the action into three parts. This was a playtest for the first part, the approach to the pass road and the Confederate ambush. The results of the game will have an effect on the next sce

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