Friday, 24 July 2015

The History of elite unit Großdeutschland - part 2

Opel Blitz Rote Kreuz Ambulance.
15mm model from Skytrex.

As my 15mm Operation Barbarossa collection expands, I found it necessary to add some more peripheral non-combat units – like this Opel Blitz Ambulance. As the German “Landsers” pushed eastward in 41 and 42, a virtual exodus of wagons and supply transports followed them. 

The lifesaving heroes right behind the frontline.
These hardened women would witness much suffering and death during their service.

The most iconic of these were perhaps the Opel Blitz. So this was a natural choice when I wanted to add an ambulance unit. The ambulance model will probably serve as an objective marker or supply wagon with replenishment effect for infantry units on the table, all depending on rules and scenario.

The aerial view of the Opel Blitz, 
with clear markings to prevent any accidental bombings.



The History of the Großdeutschland part 2 – Blitzkrieg and the Fall of France

We last left the newly formed Großdeutschland in the training camp, preparing for what was nearing on the horizon, a World War. In September 1939 the Führer’s ambition for “Lebensraum” finally pushed Germany over the edge, and lead the great nation into a deep black hole. 37 German divisions swamped Polish defenses, and despite brave resistance, Poland was all but overrun. Großdetschland was stationed near the border, and preparing to launch an operation in Eastern Poland, when the Soviet Union moved in and claimed that part of the now doomed nation. A baptism of fire would have to wait for Großdeutschland.

Guderian directing the advance.
He is seen here using the Enigma encoding machine.

After the completion of the Polish invasion, many units including Großdetschland was moved to the west, in anticipation of an attack by Polish allies, France and Great Britain. Großdetschland was now strengthened with an Assault Engineer battalion and expanded from two battalions to include four. Meanwhile the regiment was attached to a part of the western defensive line in conjuncture with Guderian’s XIX Motorized Army Corps, which would be the start of a long lasting relation.

Invasion begins - Crossing the border.

In the spring of 1940, Denmark and Norway fell, but there was still no move made by the British or French. Großdetschland was reinforced with new StuG III assult guns, and move into a position in the middle of the Mosel region, across from the old battlefields from 1914 and 1870. Fall Gelb, the main assault on Holland, Belgium and France began on the 10th May 1940, and would see Großdetschland move in through Luxembourg, consolidating positions taken by the fast moving panzers in front. 

German troops advancing through Belgium and Luxembourg.

The German push went forward like a steamroller, down towards Sedan and the Meuse river. Großdetschland fought actively during these days, mostly involved in smaller encounters with fragments of Belgian troops, who had come into disorganization with their front overrun by fast motorized German units. The Meuse was crossed on the 13th, with the honor of establishing the bridgehead given to Rommel’s 7th Panzer Div. Meanwhile on the 14th, Holland surrendered. The situation was becoming increasingly desperate for the Allies.

Opel Blitz Ambulance adding backbone
 to the crucial frontline medical logistics.

The bridgehead at Sedan put all Allied forces still fighting in Belgium into serious risk. Therefor a series of determined counterattacks were made at Sedan, which Großdetschland would participate in successfully fighting off, securing this important strategic gain. Sedan proved important, not only puncturing the Allied defenses, but also their morale. 

German wounded trooper getting the first treatment.

With Allied will to fight all but zapped by the defeat at Sedan, a race towards the Channel started. Kleist’s Armored forces conquered St. Quentin on the 18th May, and on the 20th Abbeville fell, cutting off the BEF’s direct line of communication, leading to their evacuation. The Allied faced defeat, and they knew it. Frantic dispatches went out from London and Paris to all remaining European powers. France was about to fall, and the UK didn’t know for how long they would be able to keep on fighting. 

The brave defenders of Sedan.
France fell after 6 desperate weeks of fighting.

In June Guderian and Großdetschland continued their push south from Sedan, reaching the Swiss border on the 17th, effectively cutting off some 500.000 French troops in the Maginot Line. France sued for peace. The nation had fallen in less than two months, and negotiations for a complete surrender commenced. The Allies had suffered about 360.000 casualties, while Germany noted some 160.000 dead and wounded. 

German officers during the victory parade on Champs-Élysées, Paris.

While the last sporadic fighting took place, Großdetschland kept advancing, and on the 19th they occupied the big southern city of Lyon. In this capital of French cuisine, the Großdetschland enjoyed some much-needed days of rest. Meanwhile new plans were being made at HQ under the name “Seelöwe” or Sealion. 

To be continued - Next up Part 3: Barbarossa


Thank you very much for reading!

22 comments:

  1. Great paint job on the ambulance and nice history once again.

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    1. Cheers Steve - Thanks for stopping by for a read and leaving such a nice comment!

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  2. Excellent tribute to history, Soren. I knw a US captain who rented a place run by a close relative of Guderian when he was stationed in Germany in the 70's. He said she was very proud of him.

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    1. Incredible story Dean, I can imagine they were proud. The father of Blitzkrieg and founder of modern day armored tactics. I'm planning on reading up on the man, and thus I'm currently scouting for the best biography. Let me know if you have any you could recommend!

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  3. That is a very impressive piece of work, bravo Sir.

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    1. Cheers Michael, thanks for stopping by for a comment! BTW, any hints on how to paint realistic glass/windows are very welcome :0)

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  4. Exellent blog post Sören ! Love the extra bits for a game that arn´t all fighting unit and I suppouse all armys need an ambulance !

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    1. Thank Micke, well can I say I've learned this from watching all the extras you've build for your medieval collection. It really helps set a nice table, and can double as scenario markers. Plus, I'm sure Jesper and Ulf's Russian plan on inflicting heavy casualties, so yeah, an ambulance will definitely be needed ;0)

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  5. That ambulance is amazing, great paint job, and nice historical info too!

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    1. Thanks Chris, and thank you for taking out the time for this little read!

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  6. Crisp and very nice paint job! /Mattias

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    1. Cheers Mattias, not sure I'm 100% satisfied with the window, still learning how to paint realistic glass, which has proven a challenge to be honest. But, the truth seems to lie more in the grey shades rather than the blue...

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  7. Soren your work on the Opel ambulance is terrific! I really enjoy each of your short historical bios. Great stuff!

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    1. Thanks Jon, Skytrex have the Opel Blitz in 4 or 5 different options with oil barrels, ammo carts, ambulance, troop transport etc. Really nice little piece. Only complaint is that the kit comprised a chauffeur model, which didn't fit in at all, so I decided to just model it without. But it reasonably prices and contains a l´nice level of details for 15s.

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  8. As we all came to epect it was a highly interesting read again. I was a little taken by the picture of the nurse with the silver wound badge as it really demonstrates how much everyone suffered be it on the front line, in the rear echelons or at home. I didn't know it was even awarded to civilians wounded during a bombing raid.

    Seeing your really wonderful Opel Blitz ambulance makes me want to start on my early war Germans again. I think I might need some non combatant units as well. The white came out especially nice.

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    1. Thanks M, yeah that nurse reminded me of the TV show "unsere mütter unsere väter". Those girls really saw the ugly back side of the war. Didn't know they awarded the silver wound badge to wounded civilians either, but its hard to imagine the terror of those air raids. Thanks for staying tuned to this little mini-series of WW2 posts!

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  9. As always a joy to read and a nice little truck as well =)

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    1. Thanks for dropping by for a comment Ulf!

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  10. Great looking ambulance and once again excellent historical background write up!

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks Chris, now the unit will move east as we get started on Barbarossa. Things are bound to get bloody...

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  11. Lovely painting on the ambulance Sören! The subtle weathering is superb.

    Very interesting bits of historical background you're providing as well. It was a great idea to concentrate on a specific unit and telling its history.

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    1. Thanks Jonas, glad you liked the format, thought it was time to try something new :0)

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