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"On the Wire"

Discussion in 'vBench (Works in Progress)' started by Dan Morton, Sep 10, 2005.

  1. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    The idea for this piece came from two sources. I was listening to Sting's CD from several years ago "Dream of Blue Turtles". He has a song on it called the Children's Crusade. I'd never listened to the lyrics before, but did this time. And I realized he was talking about British Tommies.
    "Young men and soldiers, 1914;
    Marching to countries they've never seen;
    Virgins with rifles game of charades;
    All for our Children's Crusade;
    Pawns in the game are not victims of chance;
    Strewn on the fields of Belgium and France;
    Poppies for young men, Death's bitter trade;
    All for our Children's Crusade;
    All of those young lives betrayed;
    Chorus
    The Children of England would never be slaves;
    Trapped on the wire and dying in waves...."

    The second source was one of Lyn MacDonald's very good books of collected memoirs of WWI soldiers, mostly British. There's a young lieutenant of Kitchener's army talking with a corporal, one of the few remaining members of the British pre-war professional Army. They're just passing the time and the corporal mentions what good riflemen were in his regiment before the war. The lieutenant quips, probably without thinking, "Well we could use them now. Wonder where they are, eh?" (something like that - I'm sure this isn't verbatim) The corporal starts and turns on the young lieutenant, "I'll tell you where they are! They're hanging out there - out there on the bloody wire!"

    So - the scene is No Man's Land. Shell hole on top of shell hole overlapping and a forest of barbed wire. The wire has been blasted to bits and rebuilt dozens of times in this sector. By both the British on one side and the Germans on the other.

    There will be two figures in this diorama. The first is of a British Grenadier Guard private detailed to cut the wire at night prior to an early morning attack. A flare goes up, he's seen and a German machine gun crew kills him. As he dies, he falls forward and is held fast suspended by the wire. His corpse has been on the wire now for many months.
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    In sculpting this figure, I stuck pretty close to 1908 kit including the stiff field hat. The hat has fallen off and stuck on a barb. If you look closely at the hat, you'll see the Grenadier Guard bomb cap badge. The only other uniform insignia they wore then was a red fabric strip on the shoulder with the words GRENADIER GUARDS in gold embroidery. I haven't added his rifle to the photos above, but the typical SMLE will have fallen near him. You may be confused by the fact that some of the body looks relatively intact while other parts are essentially bones. Bodies do not decay evenly or at the same rate. In this case, the more exposed arms and head have decayed rapidly, the covered torso and legs much more slowly.

    The second figure will be a German. On the other side of the wire. In a much different pose, but equally dead.
    *************
    As always comments and constructive critique will be very welcome.

    My partner painter for this piece will be the very talented Kreston Peckham. He will take over after the German figure is completed. I look forward to Kreston tackling this large diorama!

    All the best,
    Dan
  2. John Long Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    I love it. Very original story-telling. It should be a knockout.
  3. garyjd Well-Known Member

    Country:
    United-States
    Dan, Neat idea, I like all the detail being put into the piece. kreston will be a natural for painting this piece as "The Great War" is a favorite of his. There are some horrific death studies that were documented with photographs. I have seen many online that were too grusome for print or have been tucked away possibly because of thieir graphic content.~Gary
  4. PHIL WALDEN Member

    Tough piece Dan, but its as it was,, every now in then each of use has to do some thing that stir,s the possum,good on u cobber.....

    Phil...
  5. Guy A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Good work Dan..........I like the story it tells
  6. ghamilt1 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    Canada
    Dan, this diorama does what I thought all good dioramas should do, and that is tell a great story. What a challenging piece, and so far, very well done. I'll look forward to see what Kreston does with it.
  7. Kamil Feliks Sztarbala New Member

    Country:
    Poland
  8. yeo_64 Active Member

    Country:
    Singapore
    GREAT STUFF,Dan (y) (y) (y) !!! I'll definitely be looking forward to the next step in the project. Cheers !
    Kenneth.
  9. Markus Well-Known Member

    Country:
    Germany
    Hello Dan,

    that is a horrible scene and a very hard story.

    I love such vignettes, because they show us a lot we should think about.

    Good Work!

    I´m looking forward to see this one finished.

    Best regards,
    Markus
  10. Roy New Member

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    Hi Dan, it's always difficult to try to depict the horrors of warfare in miniature. It is a very thought provoking piece.
    Sometimes we read, see or hear something that sparks a desire inside...well done for taking it to the bench and letting us all share your feelings.
    Below is a picture of the father of a friend (and fellow club member) of mine from this very era...thought you might like to see it.
    All the best.

    Roy.

    Attached Files:

  11. Manfred Active Member

    Very interesting and moving project.

    I always wanted to do a dead german in a relatively well known picture hanging dead in the wires but never started it.

    Please update us often :)
  12. megroot A Fixture

    Country:
    Netherlands
    Very interesting Dan.

    I have to look around, because i have a picture something similar than your sculpting.
    Great work.

    marc
  13. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Thanks everyone for your comments. Glad you like it! Your positive comments inspire me to get right to work on the German figure/corpse. And, I'm with you, I can't wait to see this painted by Kreston.

    Roy - Thanks very much for your comments! What uniform is that? RFC? I've only seen that 'maternity tunic' on RFC, but his shoulder insignia confuses me. Not sure I've ever seen shoulder strip insignia on that tunic before. Also, the cap doesn't look RFC. ?? Please enlighten me.

    Phil - Thanks for the "good on u cobber". I know enough 'stralian to almost understand that. When I was stationed in Britain way back in the 80s, I always enjoyed my very few associations with Australians. Even as military officers, some truly crazy individualists! And they could all drink me right under the carpet, not just the table.

    Marc - I would be very interested in seeing your picture. If you don't want to post it, e-mail it to me. I collected 7 pics of "on the wire" type cadavers from various online sources. If anyone needs them/wants them, would be glad to e-mail them to you. Can't post them here - the lawyers would probably draw and quarter me.

    Manfred - Hey, don't let me stop you! I think this subject deserves maybe several figures/dioramas. You do superb work and I'd love to see it. Would be interested to see your picture also. We could swap 'em e-mail if you want.

    Markus - Thanks for your thoughtful comments and I agree! Personally I never want to see another young man (or woman) soldier give their life innocently, bravely and unnecessarily. Sadly, as far as I can tell, mankind doesn't appear to have learned one damn thing about war in all of recorded history.

    PS - Please check out what Glenn Hamilton has done so far on Lt. Gen. Skoboleff elsewhere on the vBench. Excellent!

    All the best,
    Dan
  14. Roy New Member

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    Hi Dan...yes he's a mechanic RFC hence the very workmanlike tunic and practical cap. The club member, Stan, is 82 years young and the photo is of his father who was an aircraft mechanic at the time.

    All the best mate.

    Roy.
  15. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Hello Roy - I'm still "on" for another few minutes and wanted to ask another question. The shoulder strip insignia - what's on it? Thanks!

    All the best,
    Dan
  16. Roy New Member

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    there you go Dan...from the original scan.
    Royal Flying Corps

    All the best.

    Roy.

    Attached Files:

  17. Von Bock Well-Known Member

    Country:
    United-States
    Dan, Very nice work. I have found when a dio or vignette makes you stop and think about the reality of war and history that makes it a very good piece of work. Yours did that for me. I too like the others can't wait to see this finished. Regards Brock
  18. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Thanks, Brock! You're too kind!

    All the best,
    Dan
  19. Mike McGregor Member

    I was thinking a pair of wire-cutters hung up in the wire might help tell the story of the first figure. maybe dangling loosely in one of the hands or hung up in the wire near one of the hands as if thats where it came to rest after the figure was shot.

    mike
  20. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Thanks, Mike and that's exactly what I had in mind. I have a location picked out for the wirecutters, but can't glue them down until after Kreston paints them and, of course, the rest of the diorama. Actually, Kreston will have several things to install like that. Hopefully, one of them will be a raven or crow. I plan to put the bird either right on his shoulder or head or on the wire nearby. We'll see which looks best. I'm waiting for someone else to sculpt the raven.

    The "story" of the German casualty will, hopefully, be told in a similar fashion. In the case of the British figure, altho inspired by several photos, he's not from any one particular photo. In the German's case, I'm working from a period photo. Care to try to guess it? :)

    All the best,
    Dan

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