|Members of the 39th on parade, the officer in front has an uncanny resemblance to the officer in the below picture.|
|Members of the 39th Battalion after weeks of fighting in dense jungle during the Kokoda Campaign.|
In 1939, the Australian Prime Minister announced that the Militia, called the Citizen Military Force (CMF) would be called up for month long training camps as well as forming an Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The CMF would only be allowed to serve in Australia and it's territories, this included Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, whilst the AIF could serve both at home and abroad. Most of the AIF were sent to the Middle East whilst a single division was sent north to Singapore.
One of the CMF Battalions, the 39th, was formed in Victoria in October 1941 and sent to Port Morseby in New Guinea in January 1942 in response to the Japanese threat. In June 1942, the Battalion was ordered to move up to a village called Kokoda and defend a track that ran North/South across New Guinea and was the only egress overland for any land based force, the following campaign has become known as the Battle for the Kokoda Track. The track itself wound over some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world and could only be used by those on foot, no vehicles could ever attempt to pass this route.
|Map showing New Guinea|
On 23rd July the 39th made contact with Japanese forces and bitter fighting ensued where every inch of ground was fought over however the valiant yet over matched Australians were forced to conduct a series of fighting withdrawals. Over a week of heavy fighting the Militia members of the 39th took a heavy toll on the veteran Japanese units and stalled them long enough to allow for Australian reinforcements to come up the track and assist the beleaguered 39th.
Needless to say there is much to be written about this campaign however for the purpose of this article it is suffice to know that the 39th Battalion were citizen soldiers hastily formed and deployed and they came up against veteran Japanese units hardened by years of fighting. The 39th did their job and did it well, sometimes with equipment dating back to WW1, they held on long enough and did not run before a superior fighting force. This range by Wartime Miniatures has been heavily inspired by the men of the 39th.
|Boys Anti Tank Rifle Team|
The project from Wartime Miniatures was to create a range based on these Diggers. Initially it was crowd funded in a similar style to a Kickstarter being self-managed through the website. I liked the concept and pledged $100 and like all crowd funding projects sat back and waited. Mathew from Wartime Miniatures would send out regular updates with photos and in September 2014 the first run was complete and ready to go to the backers. This is what I chose:
1 x AMF01 Australian Military Command (2 Officers, 1 x Field Telephone);
4 x AMF02 Australian Militia with Rifles (Total of 16 figures in mixed dress);
2 x AMF03 Australian Infantry with rifle (Total of 9 figures in Khaki Drill);
2 x AMF04 Australian Militia Lewis Gun Teams (2 figures each, Lewis gunner and No2);
3 x AMF05 Australian NCO's/Leaders (Total of 9 figures in Khaki Drill with Thompson SMG);
2 x AMF06 Australian Bren Gun Teams ( Total of 8 figures, 4 x Brens and 4 x No2); and
2 x AMF07 Australian Anti Tank Teams (Total of 8 figures, 2 x ATR, 2 x No2 and 4 sticky bombs).
|The front two Diggers have the SMG while others of the patrol carry a normal rifle.|
|HQ element with Bren Light Machine gun team in support|
This ended up being 57 miniatures at just under $2 each, it certainly pays at times to go with a crowd funding project! The retail price works out to be around $2.50 each miniature with various packs on offer in the format stated above. Mathew has also put up a platoon deal for 33 miniatures at $73.95 which works out at around $2.24 each.
As well as what I listed above Wartime Miniatures will have the following ready soon to complement the existing selection:
2 inch mortar and crew;
3 inch mortar and crew;
Vickers MMG and crew; and
Medic pack with local helper.
"Keep your eyes peeled men!"
Also on the cards for possible future release is a 25 pounder artillery piece with crew, NCO with the stick magazines on the Thompson SMG's as well as giving the option to replace some of the rifleman wearing helmets with slouch hats.
A really strong point with the range is that it is clear that the equipment and uniforms have been meticulously researched, no generic stuff here, and that makes them appeal to both a historical gamer looking for accuracy and the casual gamer looking to throw some lead on the table and roll dice. The range of sculpts is also a bonus in that the same rifleman does not appear 10 times in the same army, you can easily field an entire Bolt Action force without worrying overly much about repeats.
|"Cover your arcs"|
There are minor issues with some of limbs on some of the miniatures lacking any muscle definition and occasionally a face will present you with a challenge. Overall I did not find these issues to be any worse then what you may find on some of the other more well known manufacturers and they did not take away from the final product.
|As an army they scratch up pretty nicely.|
As you can see from my tabletop quality painting, which I knocked out in around two weeks, they come up a treat as an army and really look the part. I still have around 24 or so to go to complete the ones I have and have supplemented the range with some Chindit Mortars from Warlord which blend in pretty seamlessly. There is no issue in these miniatures matching up with other companies though I would stick with the manufacturers that also do heroic 28mm.
Overall I am pretty happy with the range considering this is the first venture for Wartime Miniatures into 28mm and being able to support a local company here in Australia is also a massive bonus. If you are after some Australians in the Pacific for a new army then I would recommend having a look at this range.