When I was in 4th grade, my grandfather, Lt. Col. A. Justin Williams, gave me a wonderful 25-volume history of the Second World War, The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War Two. A physician, my grandfather had served as a supervising radiologist during the campaign from Normandy to the Rhine. Though he never talked about it that I can remember, he must have seen a lot of casualties along the way. Knowing that I had a keen interest in military history, he gave me the encyclopedia for Christmas one year in the mid-70s.
As a kid, I really treasured that book set (and still do). One of its stand-out features is its preponderance of color images. I can remember bragging about it to the little gang of buddies I used to play war with! The real (but certainly posed) photographs of ski troops you see here are from Volume 16, “Hitler’s Last Gamble,” and portray “ski paratroops on patrol in the French Alps.” That setting was the inspiration for this little diorama.
The figures are Waterloo 1815’s “U.S. Mountain Troops.” The base is actually white caulking, flattened out on a board and impressed with tire and tank tracks. The tank is the Italeri Sherman that came in our “Bastogne” battle set. (Watch for that post soon!)