Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nancy Wake and Three Femme Fatales of the Free French - 28mm WWII Female Partisans


Nancy Wake is perhaps one of the most famous partisans who served in occupied France during the Second World War. Not French herself, Wake was in fact a New Zealander, raised in Australia, who became an agent of Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) after running her own operations in Marseilles earlier in the war. 

Nancy Wake - the 'White Mouse' of Auvergne
By 1943 the Gestapo considered Wake (whom they called the 'White Mouse') to be their most wanted person and had a 5-million franc bounty on her head. She ran a Maquis unit in the Auvergne, which she helped raise to an amazing 7,500 under arms. From April 1944 to the final liberation of France her force tied down approximately 22,000 SS personnel, inflicting over 1,400 casualties while only taking around 100 themselves. For her service Wake was awarded: the Croix de Guerre, Officer de la Legion d'Honneur, the Medal of Freedom (USA), the George Medal (UK), the RSA Badge in Gold (NZ) and the Companion of the Order of Australia. She died in the UK in 2011, aged 98. At her request, her ashes were spread in the same area of France where she had fought with the resistance.


Ms. Wake later in life.
Inspired by Wake's story I decided to paint a series of female partizans for my 28mm collection. Two of the castings, the gal with the shotgun and the other sporting the Browning automatic, are from Copplestone's 'Gangsters' range. While technically designed for Prohibition era America I found their clothing close enough to 1940s fashion to fit the bill. The other two women, armed with the Sten SMGs, are from Artizan miniatures' fine WWII range. 

Of the group, I quite like the pose of the girl with the Browning automatic - a lot of pent-up rage there. 



A counterpoint to her is the lass with the pump shotgun - she's a bit more restrained and matter-of-fact, I think. 


For the blonde waitress I wanted her base to look as if she were in a French cafe so I made a rug with a bit of milliput and painted-in a black-and-white chequer tile floor.



The final figure seems to capture the proud, war-weary Nancy Wake. She is slightly stooped and weatherbeaten, but holds her Sten with a certain grim confidence. 


I had a lot of fun working on this group. Not sure what I'll do with them yet. Perhaps use them in some kind of 'Top Secret RPG' scenario set in Vichy France.

Next for this project will be some corresponding beret-wearing lads, with smouldering gauloises, striped t-shirts and vicious looking accordions. 

Kidding!

44 comments:

  1. Wow, every time I get the Partizans out of my head, they slip back in!!!! ARG! Great work there!

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    1. Hey, thanks styx, I'm very happy you like them.

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  2. I do not know if you read the 3rd novel in the Labyrinth series by Kate Mosse, all about female Maquis in Languedoc. Very nice figures.

    John

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    1. Very cool! Thanks for the tip, John. Sarah tells me that she's read the first one and quite liked it. I'll have to pick it up or see if it's available in audiobook form.

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  3. Excellent work Curt, and another bit of history that I was unaware of. Fascinating!

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    1. Thanks Monty! Yes, it's incredible how many fascinating stories there are buried throughout that period of history (well, any period I suppose).

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  4. Listen carefully, I will say this only once. These are brilliant! ;-)

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    1. You're very kind, young man. Now, let's pray you get wet weather so you can stay home and get some fresh air in your lungs instead of jumping into smoke and fire.

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  5. Stunning work - a great tribute to history. Best, Dean

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  6. Brilliant bit of history. Your Partisans look great!

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  7. Excellent paint work as usual and a very interesting topic that I ignored... You woke up my curiosity and I'll do some research

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    1. Cheers Benito! It's always great coming across these little little-known snippets of history.

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  8. These are stunning Curt and I love what you've done with the bases. Mind you when I got to the cafe waitress all I could hear was, "Oh René!" :)

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    1. Ha! Indeed!! To be honest I couldn't help but think of 'Allo Allo' when I was working on her.

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  9. They're amazing! Especially that you based 'em in their 'natural' environment helps to tell the story.

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    1. Thanks Moiterei. Yeah, I often enjoy basing as much as the figures themselves and these ones were fun to work with.

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  10. Great figures and bases Curt and a nice piece of history!

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  11. Very nicely done Curt.

    As for Top Secret,

    "Nick, I've tried everything: the embassy, the German government, the consulate. I even talked to the U.N. ambassador. It's no use, I just can't bring my wife to orgasm."

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    1. Ha!! A great movie and one of Kilmers few good ones. Thanks for the comment!

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  12. Hola
    Que buenas si señor u gran trabajo
    un saludo

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  13. Great painting Curt. What a great women!

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    1. Thanks Ray. Yes, they definitely broke the mold when she passed on. An amazing life.

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  14. Wonderful painting and the bases really finish them off. Superb.
    Cheers,
    Pat.

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    1. Thanks very much Pat, much appreciated.

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  15. Beautiful girls, and fantastic bases.

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  16. Great stuff, the half carpet/tiled floor is a clever touch!

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    1. Thanks Scott! The rug/floor was from a memory of a cafe we visited during a recent trip to France. I remember at the time commenting to my wife that it seemed to be just like a set out of a Melville noir film.

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  17. Fantastic Curt! Great painting and basing especially the case style one!

    Christopher

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    1. Thank you Cincinnatus, I'm happy you like them!

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  19. Fantastic paintjob, and the bases are amazing...a great post!

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  20. Hey, thanks Phil - much appreciated.

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  21. Excellent figures, painting and bases. And a most excellent reason and background for doing it.

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  22. Unbelievable brush work once again dude - pretty amazing stuff.

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    1. Thanks Bro! I'm glad you like them.

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