Saturday, 7 December 2019


When the Waters were dried an' the Earth did appear, 
("It's all one," says the Sapper),
The Lord He created the Engineer, 
Her Majesty's Royal Engineer, 
With the rank and pay of a Sapper! 

Rudyard Kipling, Sappers. 

As I have now built minefields and wire obstacles, my next logical step was to recruit some pioneers or sappers to neutralise them.

Chain of Command allows a player to select one or more engineering teams, or alternatively a section of engineers or pioneers. These teams are specialised for wirecutting, mine clearing or demolitions. (Flamethrower teams are also an option, but I'm not ready for that yet).

Unfortunately, 28mm miniatures depicting specialist engineer teams are few and far between, especially for British and Commonwealth armies. However, I am intrigued by the versatility of plastic minatures, and so I obtained some more Perry Miniatures Desert Rats and got to work!

Here is the section, commanded by a junior officer (who will count as a Junior Leader in CoC).

First up we have the wire clearing team.

Two of these sappers have wire cutters, which are simply Bren gun bipods. The third member of the team is more of a generally helpful sapper, burdened with the tools of his trade.

Next we have a mine clearing team.

Two members of the team are using their bayonets to carefully probe for buried mines.


The third member has been issued a 'Polish' mine sweeper.


The more I read about the contributions made by the Poles to the allied war effort, the more amazed I become. In addition to the Polish soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought alongside British and Commonwealth forces, there were many Polish contributions made to intelligence and science activities, including the 'Polish' mine detector. This would be more accurately called the Kosacki mine detector, but the name of its inventor was not advertised in order to reduce the risk of the Nazis taking action against his family in occupied Poland.


This figure is partially based on that one figure from the old 'army guys' toy soldier sets, that poor, useless bugger with the minesweeper, when as a blood-thirsty child, I thought any figure not carrying some sort of weapon was pointless! The conversion is more 'inspired by' the Kosacki mine sweeper than an accurate reproduction. I used what I had at hand!

The handle is a chopped-down Boy's Rifle, the detection plate is a shovel blade, and the backpack is the radio set. I used the radio operator as the base for the conversion, as he already had the headset.

Sometimes, it will take far too long to clear a barbed wire obstacle using wirecutters. In those cases, a Bangalore Torpedo is called for! First invented in 1912 in Bangalore by the Madras Sappers and Miners, the Bangalore Torpedo is a pipe stuffed with explosives, that is pushed into an obstacle by a series of additional (but empty) pipes, and then detonated. There's a pretty good scene showing its use in Saving Private Ryan:

Here are my sappers getting ready to deploy their own Bangalores.

They are joined by a chap with a box. I figure that he's got a 'use your own imagination box', with the idea that the box could be a detonator, or maybe some other sort of engineering whiz-bangery as needed.

So there's the section, to be deployed together, or in smaller teams as needed!


Sunday, 1 December 2019


German forces in Italy during the Second World War made extensive use of mines and booby traps. The reading I've done indicates that Allied armies were very often forced to slow their advance to clear mines, or more unfortunately to clear roads after a mine destroyed a passing vehicle.  Some mines were designed with a ratchet system, which allowed several vehicles to pass over before detonating, so a vehicle in the middle of a convoy might be destroyed, and further undermining confidence whether an area was actually safe.

They were also notorious for setting booby-traps, as was depicted in this scene from 'The English Patient':

In Chain of Command, a defender may be allowed to deploy a minefield.  Each minefield is to be 6" square, which I understand to mean a square 6" on each side (36 sq. in.), not a measly 6 sq. in.!

Best practice for minefields is to mark them clearly, so that they can be avoided by friendly forces or civilians.  (in the modern world, leaving an unmarked minefield can even be considered a war crime, but I'm pretty certain that this convention was not in force until long after the end of WWII).  Accordingly, my first minefield is the 'polite' minefield, that clearly states what it is, where its boundaries are located, and warns against entry.

The second minefield is not so generous.  I've identified this minefield with a large crater, and the debris of an explosion, to show that someone found this minefield by surprise.  The truck is a bit dated, as it is a WWI-era Ford Model T.  No doubt either side would have been quite happy to use even a Model T to haul supplies, if they found one still running!

And to finish, here is Captain Blackadder's advice to Lt George, on what to do if one treads on a mine: