Saturday, 15 June 2013

Hollywood vs History....or which is it?

Episode 2 of the HBO mini-series 'Band of Brothers' contains the now famous attack on the gun battery at Brecourt Manor. One detail which stands out in this scene is the fact that the German artillery positions are covered by camo nets.

Now on my miniature version I have neglected to make provision for a frame to support camouflage netting. The reason being I'm not fully sold on the idea that the Germans made that much use of netting. They did use netting, but every time I watched this episode and scene, there was always a niggling sensation that something may not be entirely right. I was well aware of period photographs of German positions covered by  camo netting, but mainly of photos of the Atlantic Wall, and the large fixed positions.

The Allies certainly used camo netting to hide gun positions

I've searched my collection of books on WW2 for reference material either written or pictorial, which would support the use of camo nets by the Wehrmacht. Unfortunately there was nothing concrete which indicated the use of such netting for an improvised position/field fortification. Turning to the Internet came up the same result, and several forums had post on this subject, all of which had the same or similar conclusion to mine. The German's used camo netting but sparingly. The Germans were well known for using mother nature to hide positions, vehicles. etc.

There must be hundreds if not thousands of images of Wehrmacht vehicles/guns/positions, covered in brush/branches; some on the move, some not. What I did see on a few photos was the use of chicken wire, no doubt to hold in the foliage. The use of chicken wire is classically seen on helmets.

The description of the battery position at Brecourt describes the guns being dug into the hedgerow, covered by the trees.

This image appears in 'Beyond Band of Brothers', Major Dick Winters, and is captioned as one of the guns at Brecourt. A similar, if not the same image reversed, appears in 'D-Day with the Screaming Eagles', George Koskimaki, and is captioned as one of the guns at Holdy. Holdy was within Drop Zone C, and was a battery position not identified (it was also captured on D-day). Of note is the lack of real defences around the gun and the position of the gun in relation to the tree line, and no camo netting. A lone source does not make good conclusive evidence, and yes there are many unanswered questions, when was the photo taken i.e. how long after the action, the image may not/does not show the full gun position, damage caused to the site which may disturbed its original layout, etc.. The battery at Holdy was most likely part of 191st Artillery Regiment. Note also the gun shield, more in keeping with the 10.5cm leFH  howitzer, than the mountain gun which I had mentioned in a previous post.

So which do I follow, what History seems to be indicating or Hollywood? Well I'm going with History. I'm not going to put camo netting over the gun pits no matter how 'cool' it may appear. Taking into account descriptions of the site and other reference material, I'm inclined to follow the thought pattern that the position would have used natural coverage to hide the guns. Of course practically, the frames will get in the way of game play, unless removable. Aesthetically the appearance of the netting covering the gun pits may be appealing, but I do not believe it to be necessary.

Okay so this is a minor issue and realistically it can be argued it comes down to personal opinion/taste. As I have raised in earlier posts, there are several controversies regarding this action. More so perhaps due to it's increased notoriety over the last few years, since the TV mini-series. Which obviously increased it's popularity and generated debate.  

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