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Russian Penal Battalion.

Discussion in 'Sculpting' started by david pickford, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. david pickford Active Member

    The Penal Battalions were used to carry out tasks such as assessing German positions and clearing minefields. Issued with extra vodka rations for courage, they were sent unarmed against the enemy.

    Here, the unfortunates have been issued with sticks and advance in the face of murderous fire from MG32s. Behind them the Kommisars, ready to gun down any retreaters...

    IMG_0905.JPG IMG_0919.JPG IMG_1006.JPG IMG_1010.JPG IMG_1013.jpg IMG_1012.jpg IMG_1014.jpg
    Trep, Steve, Tarracus and 10 others like this.
  2. 1969 A Fixture

    Hey Dave really good to see your work on here, I like what you have created with this scene, nice work on sculpting the figures.

    All the best
  3. tiberius57 A Fixture

    Very, very good work! A lot of drama! Love it!
  4. Alexander Zelenkov Well-Known Member

    Who are these men?
    This is absolutely not historically authentic scene if you try showed WWII era Soviet penal battalion.
  5. mil-mart A Fixture

    David a great diorama , looking forward to taking a closer look at the next club meet.
    Cheers Ken
  6. tonydawe A Fixture

    Wow, so much drama and action in such a small scene.
  7. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Marvelous scene! Packed with pathos, fear, butchery - wall to wall.

    All the best,
  8. Russ5281 Member

    Awesome idea! Great job!

  9. david pickford Active Member

    Steve Readie- thanks for the encouragment friend!

    Zeno- many thanks!

    Alex- thanks for looking! I'm a huge fan of your work. My idea here was to put together a dramatic scene from accounts I had read about in history books here and on the internet ( as well as the Enemy at the Gate film). I'm not a historian myself, and don't mind if this is viewed as a work of fiction. Hope that's OK.

    Ken, I've brought it to Bolton time before last, but I'll bring it again. Its only small! 1/35th.

    Tony, I tried to compress it as much as possible from the conception stage.

    Dan- good man! exactly what I would want people to think...

    Russ - a gent!
  10. Alexander Zelenkov Well-Known Member

    David, I am understand what you have a very small information about Soviet penal battalions of WWII. Most of available on English language information like a "Enemy at the Gate" and Antony Beevor's books use old-fashioned and tendentious information from Cold-war era stories and propaganda. Now question of penal units of Red Army is more investigate through archive view, available many memories of people who have been in penal units and people who have been of commanders in penal units.
    Only officers condemn to penal battalions. Privates and NCO condemn to penal companies. All soldiers of penal units has individual weapons (in early period of war it was rifles, but in late period they has rifles, submachine guns, machine guns, beute panzerfaust an other infantry weapon). Penal units often has a exercise before use in action, because many peoples from various army branches (artillerymen, chemical units, rear service, aviation and other) haven't infantry skills. For penal units selected best infantry officers and this commanders participate in attacks with whole unit. Most time penal units situated in rear and typical using was a leading of infantry attack in big offensive after artillery fire.
    Yes, loss of penal units was a pretty hight (in 3-6 time more than loss of common units), but showed soldiers with cudgels on the slaughter is the wrong.
    It is very ruefully what Western people haven't objective information about WWII on Russian front. But I can notice what many Russians also situated in captivity of myths (and about penal units also).
  11. david pickford Active Member

    Thanks for that alex. Its true i,m not one of those modellers who agonises about historical research. I guess this one is what it is now and sorry if it offends at all. Thanks for looking in!
  12. Rompy Well-Known Member

    While i am not sure about the historical bit, the execution (no pun intended) of this blew me away !

    So much emotion packed into a tiny scene. Great Job !

    Did you sculpt the figures yourself or they came from various kits ?
  13. david pickford Active Member

    Thanks a lot Rompy- I sculpted all of it except the heads, which were hornet, boots- Mini Art, and the sticks which came from Tamiya's old 'russian infantry weapons set'

    No no! that last bit was a joke! I just can't help myself... I sculpted them too. Its all magicsculp...
  14. Rompy Well-Known Member

    Great job :) I enjoyed it !

    It reminded me of this warhammer fantasy piece by Victoria Lamb.

  15. david pickford Active Member

    Hmm - yeah see what you mean. And also a fantasy subject!
  16. Redcap A Fixture

    What an original and fabulous creation of a tragic unit (of whom about 99% were probably innocent of any REAL crimes) who are always overlooked by history when reporting upon combat on the Eastern Front in WW2 - brilliant!
  17. Alexander Zelenkov Well-Known Member

    Incorrect opinion also.
    Most of soldier condemn to penal units made real crime or malfeasance. Big part of malfeasance (retreat without command, lost of military vehicles, self-mutilation and other) now we can classified only like a misconduct, but we should remember condition of Soviet society and in whole mood of wartime. Condemn to penal units seemed justly for viewpoint of people of wartime era.
    captnenglish likes this.
  18. Redcap A Fixture

    Hi Alexander. You make some good points and we must not be revisionists where history is concerned and use the standards of the present to judge the actions and attitudes of others 70+ years ago. That said, some of the offences you mention such as 'retreat without command' (what else can you reasonably do if you have run out of ammunition or were given none to start with?) or "loss of military vehicle" ( destroyed by unavoidable enemy action?) are pretty harsh and possibly unreasonable by the standards of any era. Such harsh treatment was not the practice of the US, British Empire and other Allied armies of the day who were of course of the same generation; though I am aware the Germans also operated penal battalions pretty much along Soviet lines in terms of severity and casualty rates. Ultimately of course it is now all irrelevant but wherever their crime (actual or imagined) they were brave men who faced a superbly equipped and trained foe totally unarmed, yet still went forward knowing what the ultimate outcome was likely to be. Kindest regards. Gary
    captnenglish likes this.
  19. david pickford Active Member

    Gents, I am not a historian. My intention is certainly not to rewrite history either! All I can say is that when I started this project, I knew little of the harrowing experiences the strafbats went through. I found the accounts I read very moving and in some way I felt I wanted to honour the memory of those forgotten souls who's memory had been denied to this day by the very regime that they had laid down their lives to protect.

    Whether I have been duped by Western revisionist historians and cold war propaganda as Alex suggests- I couldn't say- but I have to acknowledge the possibility while admitting I find it very unlikely.

    The Russian people paid a terrible price in blood so that WW2 could be won and I feel a debt of gratitude. The Strafbat will never, by me, be forgotten... God rest their souls, one and all.

    It is likely that western armies may have had the luxury of avoiding harsh penal units because they were not fighting for survival. Yes I know the UK was in danger of invasion but it's not the same as Russia 1941 - 1943 or Germany 1944 - 1945. One sees the same draconian steps taken to motivate German soldiers late in the war....e.g. the hangings carried out by flying police units.

    The model may not be 100% accurate but it is a nice piece of art. It reminds me of a modern version of Goya's "horrors if war."

    michael bang likes this.

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