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The Price of Neutrality

20mm WW2 Demonstration

Historical Background

After the Nazi invasion of Poland in the Autumn of 1939, which heralded the start of the Second World War, Hitler's attention was turned north towards Scandinavia by a series of developments in the conflict. The most significant was the Russian attack on Finland, in which the Red Army suffered a number of humiliating reverses. In Britain and France there was talk of sending troops to help the Finns, which worried Hitler because of the threat to the vital iron ore link with Sweden, upon which the the German war effort depended.

A further twist was added by the audacious British operation to rescue prisoners on the Altmark, carried out in neutral Norwegian waters. In addition, Admiral Raeder, C-in-C of the German navy, was pressing for some northern bases to extend the attack on Allied shipping, for which Norway was ideally suited.

On April 5th 1940 Operation Weserubung Nord was launched with simultaneous attacks on six Norwegian ports. The Allies were caught unprepared, despite numerous warning signs, and only stiff Norwegian resistance allowed time for an expeditionary force to be assembled and prepared. The whole operation was a shambles, with British troops only arriving on the 15th. The French performance was no better, and six weeks later Norway fell. King Haakon fled to England, leaving the country under a puppet government led by the traitor Vidkun Quisling.

Scenario

This game is not a historical refight, rather a 'what-if scenario that looks at what may have happened if the Allies had managed to commit themselves before the German invasion and had been in position to resist the landings. The game is set in a fictional coastal town called Trondslo which has been recently occupied by a British force codenamed Rupert (no, we didn't make this up, there really was a Rupert force in the Norway campaign !). They have only just beaten the Germans to the town, and have had a very short time to prepare any defences.

Unlike the real campaign, where the Germans were often able to sail up to the Norwegian ports, dock and simply unload their equipment, the Germans in our game will be forced to capture the port facilities before they are able to disembark any heavy weapons or vehicles. This will be accomplished by advance parties landing from rubber boats and an MTB. Once ashore, the main objective is to secure the airfield, preferably intact, to reinforce and supply the invading forces.

Defending Forces

The town is defended by a British rifle company of the 24th Infantry Brigade, a regular army unit, 'assisted' by a small number of Norwegian Home Guard troops. Most of the infantry's vehicles were lost, damaged or sent to the wrong place during the frantic deployment to Norway, and ammunition for some heavy weapons, especially mortars, is in short supply. Like most of the British units in the Norway campaign, maps were in short supply, and most of those that were available generally showed the wrong area !

Few heavy weapons are available, but those that are include 18pdr howitzers, 40mm Bofors AA and 25mm Hotchkiss anti-tank guns.

Attacking Forces

The German forces assaulting Trondslo are based around a rather seasick infantry battalion of the 196th Infantry Division, embarked on a requisitioned merchant vessel. Due to space restrictions much of the battalion's motor pool has had to remain behind. However, room has been found for some armoured vehicles from Pz.Abt.z.B.v.40, a Panzer battalion formed especially for the Weserubung Nord operation and containing the only three combat-ready examples of the Neubaufahrzeug heavy tank. All of the battalion's organic heavy weapons have also been embarked. Because of the distances involved, air support can only come from long range aircraft such as the He-111 and Ju-88 medium bombers and Bf-110 Zerstoerer fighter. The airfield is to be taken by a Fallschirmjaeger unit which will attack in two waves from Ju-52 transports.

Making 'The Price of Neutrality'

Scenery is made from plywood baseboards fixed to a hardwood frame. Grassy areas were made from a mixture of polyfilla and sand, whilst the tarmaced areas were sealed with a thin coat of Polyfilla which was sanded smooth and painted. The sea is made from chipboard treated in the same way.

Buildings are a mix of model railway kits, mostly in 1/87th, from companies such as Faller, Kibri and Vollmer. Most of the odds and ends scattered around the scene are similarly from model railway sources. The airfield control tower is Airfix, the fishing boat Kibri.

Allied figures and vehicles : British infantry are almost exclusively MLR figures. Norwegians are Platoon 20 and Wargames Foundry Germans with a 'paint conversion'. The guns are Raventhorpe, Gramodels and Airfix. Vehicles are Milicast, MMS Classics and Airfix. The Norwegian Hawk 75A is a Monogram kit, while the Gladiators are Airfix.

German figures and vehicles : German figures come from all sorts of sources. Vehicles and artillery pieces come from Fujimi, Matchbox, Cromwell Models, Model Transport, Raventhorpe, Hasegawa and Milicast. The troopship is a converted Matchbox Flower-class corvette, the Schnellboot an Airfix kit. The He-111 H and Me-110Cs are Matchbox, the Ju-88A an old Frog kit and the Ju-52s are Italeri.


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