Tuesday, 7 February 2017

If walls could talk...

It was a sad day for Frank Sperber, Obergefreiter of the Wehrmacht, when he returned home for the first time in over a year. The last time he saw the house he had called his home was when he departed for his first assignment after basic training, sitting on the floor of a horse cart, holding a lock of blonde hair in his left hand. He was to join a newly raised Panzergrenadierdivision in France and he could still vividly remember his parents, standing at the garden gate, waving him goodbye with tears in their eyes as if they'd knew what was to come. And there was Anne... 

He hadn't allowed himself to think about Anne the whole day now. She'd been a girl from the neighbourhood and his first love and they had been friends for as long as he could remember. While his parents had fled well in advance of the soviet steamroller, she had decided to stay and wait for him to return. Still believing the lies of those treacherous bastards in Berlin. The "Endsieg" would finally be theirs. The Allies in the west would break and sue for peace, while the red hordes, teetering on the brink of collapse anyway, would be driven back to the Ural and beyond. Crushing the menace of bolshevism once and for all. All with the help of the new "Wunderwaffen" Or so she believed...

And than came the bombs. At first only a few bombers, for the most part concentrating on the nearby railway hub. Finally the real bombing began. Wave after wave of big twin engined bombers flew overhead and unleashed hell on the town. Her parents' home was struck and burnt out almost completely, while she had found refuge in one of the small air raid shelters scattered around the vicinity. When the raid was over she went to his home, still not prepared to flee westwards.

Weeks of relative calm followed and she had sent him letter after letter to let him know she was safe and still waiting for him. All his appeals to follow his parents were in vain. Providence, or bad luck, saw his unit moved to the eastern front. Only a few miles from his home town, but the relentless pressure the soviets put on the Wehrmacht meant there was no time for him to visit his home and first of all Anne. It was only weeks later when their retreat led them through the remnants of his town when he could convince his superior to allow him and his squad mates a small detour to look after his love.

He had found her in what little was left of the kitchen. She was sitting at the table as if just finished with breakfast. Her head lay resting on her right arm while in her left hand she was still clutching his photograph. A fragment of the artillery grenade that had laid his home in ruins had taken her life. His comrades had to forcefully take him away from her lifeless body and had to use the contents of a bottle of cheap vodka to stun him in a merciful stupor, while they buried her in the garden.
Shortly after they'd woken him of his comatous sleep as russian artillery started their gruesome work again and interrupted the relative quiet with shells of all calibres falling all around them. Like a puppet he had followed his comrades through the ruins of the neighbourhood, crossing the town square in sheer flight, passing through deserted streets and finally linking up with what seemed to be the rearguard of their Division already leaving the outskirts of the town. Now, hours later, his head was aking and he still felt numb. He was sitting on the floor of a horse cart, his comrades around him. In his left hand he held a lock of blonde hair...

This theme proved to be a really tough one for me. Only after much head scratching and rummaging around the treasure trove did I remember this superb kit from Elladan, formerly Stronghold Terrain. I had bought it at Tactica last year and was rather intimidated bythe level of detail so I did what we all tend to do at times. I put it into the pile and all but forgot about it.

And bloody right I was too! Has I only known how much time it would cost me to finish the piece I'd probably better skipped this round. Being the pedantic little turt I am I couldn't just assemble the basic kit, splash some paint on it, hit it with pigments and be done with it. No, I had to do all the little detailing that is possible with the Diorama-Set available for this building and more.

I even decided to add a small personal touch by adding the portrait of my great uncle who fell in 1940 in France, serving as a bomber pilot. Funny enough, people who know the picture often mistake it for me wearing a reenactors uniform.

To properly present the building I even did a staged photo shot, creating a complete scene with garden fencing, a small orchard, dung heap and so on. Unfortunately the lighting proved to be so bad I could only use some few close ups of the building. And for that I had risked my marriage by sprinkling sand around the flat...
Anyhow, despite my rumblings I'm rather pleased with how the kit has turned out. It will probably make for a nice center piece in future games. Downside is, it's rather fragile and thus I'll probably not take it out of house very often, if at all.

No figures were painted for this entry, so it should be bonus points only this time


  1. What a background story! Great looking model too!

  2. Excellent story Nick and that building just turned out superb! Love all the extra work in the wallpaper and multi colored floor tiles and the weathering is wonderful! Looking forward to seeing this if you'll risk it out of the house.


  3. Such an incredible piece of work Nick, the detailing is just superb!

  4. Brilliant work,and I enjoyed the story too.

  5. This is breath taking. Truly brilliant. Definitely my favorite.

  6. AWESOME story! and great brush work!

  7. Tremendously good work, all the clutter really sells it as a "real" building.

    The story... good, and quite depressing too.

  8. Your story and kit made me quite sad, which is to say "superbly done." I don't know if I'd ever take such a piece of art out of the house!

  9. Incredible what you did with that house! Reminds me that I have to finish one aswell!
    Your WW2 stuff is my favourite all over the interwebs!

  10. A wonderful story and a fantastic job on this building, I really enjoy realistic details inside...congrats!

  11. Impressive work! And a great story and a nice personal addition with the relatives picture

  12. I thought this was one of the strongest entries of the AHPC home round, congratulations. Your dedication to making the most of an excellent kit really came through, and I hope it gives you some gaming joy.
    Your backstory was well-written and very poignant.

  13. Really nice work, you have put a lot of detail into the building, a pleasure to view.
    cheers JOhn

  14. Outstanding work !
    Just yesterday my mother showed up some old family pictures an told me about the last days of war in Berlin...this one goes to the point and the story told is so sad. But true.

  15. Whoa ... stunning work sir! Stunning!