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  1. In two days' time, on 23rd October 2017, will be the 75th anniversary of what is widely regarded as the 'Battle of El Alamein' - more accurately, the Second Battle of Alamein. That this will in all probability receive at least some coverage in the national news will not come as a great surprise; indeed, such commemorations are vital in remembering the sacrifices made in the name of freedom. Almost as a natural consequence, however, the importance of other battles leading up to 'Alamein' is all but unknown to the lay person. The Battle of Alam Halfa is, I believe, one such event. Commencing on 31st August 1942, it raged for about a week, finally petering out by 6th September with the withdrawal of the Axis forces. It was the last offensive mounted by the Germans in North Africa, and they were soundly beaten in all but name. My personal belief is that what prevented the battle being more widely publicised is Montgomery's refusal to be drawn into pursuit of the retreating Axis forces. Because of this he received a fair amount of criticism from many, Churchill included, for being 'over-cautious'. Perhaps more telling, though, is the comment made by his Axis opposite number, Rommel: "The swine didn't come out!" History now relates, of course, that the weeks of preparation time that Alam Halfa bought Montgomery were put to good use, and the resulting success of the attack on 23rd October was in large measure due to that. It would be fair to say that I have, over the past few years, developed a personal interest in the Battle of Alam Halfa, since learning of my late father's possible involvement in it. I say 'possible' because his untimely death at the age of 43, just 3 weeks before my 3rd birthday, robbed me of any chance I would ever have of actually hearing his experiences in his words. His service record - the retrieval of which was itself something of a detective mystery - revealed little in the way of campaign or battle details, aside from a brief reference to his being wounded in action on 1st September 1942: Thus my desire to find out more was sparked. Trooper William John Tucker, 7890460 His attestation papers showed William John Tucker enlisted into the 44th Royal Tank Regiment in Bristol in January 1939, aged 19. Thereafter, a series of transfers, temporary promotions (Acting Lance Corporal), not to say demotion back to Trooper (for refusal to obey an order), and even a harrowing sea voyage from Greenock in Scotland to Port Said in Egypt aboard no less a vessel than RMS Queen Mary, culminated in his joining the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment on 20th July 1942. At this point, hard facts around his movements start to become increasingly difficult to come by, to be replaced by conjecture, and, some might be forgiven for saying, 'wishful thinking'. Such facts as there are about 3RTR's activities during this period are recorded in the Regimental Diary. Typically, other ranks were not mentioned by name save to record their death, so there is no specific mention of my father by name. There are, however, tantalising glimpses of events in which he would in all probability have been involved. There is mention, for example, of the arrival of 137 reinforcement personnel on 20th July, which coincided with the known date of his arrival in Egypt. The mention, on 23rd July, of a fortnight's training being organised in readiness for the arrival of American-built M3 Grant tanks, led me to suppose that he, as a trained tank driver, would also have been amongst those receiving training. From there, to the mention of the regiment's casualty count at the end of 1st September (one officer, five other ranks wounded) led me to suppose that he was one of those five. Indeed it's possible that those six, including my father, were the crew of one Grant. However, the fact that the regiment suffered loss and damage to Grants and Crusaders that day means that I can't be 100% certain of this, nor even his being in a Grant when he was injured. Nor, of course, did it mention the nature of his injuries. His service record showed his being out of action until 15th September, so it's likely that he would have been evacuated to the rear before the end of the day. Therefore, I've used a bit of licence to include a full crew in the diorama. Not only that, I've portrayed the tank and its crew 'at leaguer' at the end of the fighting on 1st September. However, the regimental diary shows that the withdrawal to night leaguer took place after 7:30pm, by which time it would have been getting dark! I had hoped to have this diorama completed in time for the 75th anniversary of my father being wounded, however it was not to be. In retrospect, I would have to admit to spending too long on interior detailing on the vehicle that simply will not be seen; that said, no experience can be truly called bad experience if one can learn something from it, and I learned plenty. Regardless of its lateness, I am proud to dedicate this dio to my father, and his RTR colleagues many of whom failed to return home at the end of the war. If you would like to follow the WIP for the tank, you can find it here. There are separate WIP threads for the figures here, and the diorama base here. The tank also has its own RFI thread, here, in case you interested in just the tank. So finally, here is - my first diorama, 'Alam Halfa Ridge: 3RTR at Leaguer, 1st September 1942'. I hope you enjoy these few photos; I have enjoyed the whole project immensely, and although there are things that I might have done differently or better, at least I now have some experience to build on. Comments, criticisms all welcome!
  2. Hi all, my first WIP venture having strayed out of the Aircraft bit of this forum (albeit temporarily, I am sure). Having been inspired by @DaveJL's most excellent WIP thread (here) and of course the RFI (here) I thought I would take this opportunity to dip a toe outside my modelling comfort zone (ie doing planes, badly) and undertake a small (hopefully doable in the time I have) vignette involving a British M3 Grant tank of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment around September 1942, during the Battle of Alam Halfa in North Africa. Here's the sum total of my progress so far: I managed to extricate the box from its place on the stash shelf without breaking my neck! Why Academy? Well, no specific reason other than I had read reviews of other kit makers (Tamiya etc) and on balance the positive comments on the Academy kit outweighed the negatives by possibly a greater margin than its rivals. The other 'plus' for me was that this particular boxing included figures for the 5-man crew. Why this tank in this regiment in this battle at this time? Well, this will be very much a personal journey for me, on which I will elaborate further in due course. I hope to get as much extra detail on the model as I can, and to that end I see that there are some PE add-ons which might or might not be worth the investment. I invite anyone on here who has had experience with such things to feel free to chip in with any comments that might help me decide. I have already determined that the rubber tracks supplied with the kit leave rather a lot to be desired, not the least of reasons being that they are not 'double-I' footprint typical of this tank at this time. I have found an online shop in Germany that sells link sets, but the cost of those including postage is likely to be in the region of 50 Euro. Nevertheless it's something I have to seriously consider getting. Of course, if anyone should happen to know of a cheaper source, I am all ears (or eyes, even). So, there in a nutshell is why this thread is starting, hopefully the modelling activity will start soon!
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