A Step In Time- France 1916 & 1940

During the German invasion of France and Belgium in Fall Gelband Fall Rot the battlefields of the First World War would again be fought over by some of the same opposing forces.

In most of the major forces veterans of the Great War were also present- from Generals to NCO’s they were fighting only two decades later in much the same place.

One particular area around the town of Abbeville saw its fair share of bloodshed in the Great War, then again more fighting during the Battle for France in 1940 before being liberated from the Germans in 1944.

Abbeville was behind the lines of the Somme battlefields and a major hospital was located there throughout the war.

The situation around Abbeville in 1940.

This area is roughly where I’m setting my scene - just a cobblestone road backed by a small wall - a place that, as I intend to model, could have seen troops from both eras passing along it.

I’ve seen a fair few dioramas and vignettes with parts in two different eras and I’ve always admired them and wanted to take a crack at it. Plus seeing all the excellent projects underway on the new site has made me want to do a build log as it’s been a good while since my last one.

Anyway here’s a rough outline of the plan. (I do mean ‘rough’! I also mean ‘plan’ in the loosest possible way :grin:!)

I also painted up a spare fig and head in a quick test of black and white painting.

(Anyone else think the head looks like a certain ARP Warden :face_with_monocle:?)

I won’t actually be using this figure or head- it was really just to see what the colors were like on it. I used this picture of men from ‘Arkforce’ as a reference for the color.

The plastic figs I’ll be using are from these kits.

I think the Masterbox set is based on this photo.

Plus I have a resin fig to do as well but more on it later.

First up is one of the WW1 figs- I will be using the two British soldiers walking on either side of the box art. We’ll call him Basil.

Basil is quite well moulded and appears to have better detail than the last time I worked on an MB figure. Seam lines are obvious on torso and legs but are easily dealt with.

The various webbing and equipment straps on the torso are a little flat and so are the buckles- being heavy with primer and paint would nearly obscure some of these I reckon so care would be needed if you plan to get these straight into paint. I’ll be working to bring the detail out before painting and I will get some pics up shortly.

I’ll also be taking a close look at the gear in the Tamiya and Masterbox WW1 kits to see how they compare.

Comments, questions etc are very welcome.
Thanks for reading.


How excellent! I’ve spent years wargaming and have painted a lot of figures (28mm sizewise). I absolutely love seeing folks build dioramas around figures in 1/35. And I love the then and now concept.

(I’ve painted a few 1/35 and it seems like I’m completely relearning how to paint figs. Seeing others’ work is quite inspiring. Seeing how you tackle a subject in black and white will be very interesting.)

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This is a very interesting subject, Karl! I’ll follow your progress.

In summer 2012 I’ve visited many places along the red line in your first map. From Nieuport all the way to Peronne and areas around. Too bad, I’ve lost all my photos of that holiday in a computer crash in 2014. So I must go there again when this pandemic is over.


Great idea Karl, I used to wonder whether in 1940 there was any fighting within the cemeteries of WW1 …how utterly demoralising would that have been for all concerned? As some historians have said the period 1918 - 1939 was really just an undeclared truce :tumbler_glass:

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Great project, I love this kind of thing, I absolutely follow you

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Great idea and great start !!

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Hi Phil- thanks for stopping by. I’ve recently been painting some wargaming figs, the Warhammer 40K variety. I was doing it as a bit of prep work before tackling a Sci Fi bust. I usually paint figs in fairly drab war-time colors- khakis, greens, field greys etc- so it was great to go for some livelier colors. Plus the tiny details on wargaming figs are a real challenge and I think it really helps when coming back to do something in 1/35 scale. Every figure painted is a new lesson learned in my book!

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Thanks so much for following along. I have been visiting the area via google earth and streetview! Its a very picturesque place with some wonderful buildings and scenery. I recently found some pictures of Abbeville after a bombardment in 1918 which I will post up at some point.

@Dioramartin- Thanks for taking a look Martin and for the compliment. There is a cemetery in Abbeville itself- it contains, according to a history website, 774 graves from WW1 and 30 from WW2. I assume the graveyard was there while fighting was going on around the area. Not sure about fighting within the cemeteries but quite a few were very close to the fighting.

@Merki4- Thank you for the kind words and I hope you enjoy following along.

@Cheyenne - Glenn- much appreciated my friend, thanks!

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This is a cool project. Do you have any plans to put any buildings in or a street name on the wall? Then yo could add a WW1 war memorial to the 1940 scene? Don’t forget with the 1940 soldiers that they were still wearing the same respirator on the chest as in WW1. Some units in 1940 even still had the WW1 type Service Dress (Guards regiments), they hadn’t received BD yet. Worth taking time out to watch the old John Mills film “Dunkirk”.

An excellent idea Karl. Seems that it will be a great little dio (considering it being 1:35 scale, I myself work only in 1:72 scale). Will certainly keep an deye on this project.
By the way, I think that @Hohenstaufen’s idea is magnificent. Add a street namme or some sign in both sides but on the 1940 side add also a small memorial or plaque

I love the concept. It reminds me of the scene in The Big Red One where in 1944 France the Sarge comes across the same place where he had fought in 1918.

@Hohenstaufen-You are thinking along some of the same lines I am! I have a wall and cobble street section on the way from the excellent DioDump range- I will have to get hands on it to see how it all looks with the figures etc but the Memorial idea is quite intriguing. I was definitely going to have some signage on the 1916 side- something pointing the direction the front lines or Battalion HQ etc and perhaps something similar on the 1940 side. I will be checking for reference pictures as well to see if I can spot anything interesting in that regard.
I believe I read somewhere recently about troops getting issued with the new BD’s while they were in France- found that strange- I had assumed the majority had been issued them before getting to France. I will check the model boxes for gear like the gas masks. Haven’t had time to check out any equipment in the boxes yet. Will definitely have a look for the film you mentioned too :+1:.

@Armournovice - Yes I agree the memorial idea is a good one. Ideas like this are why it’s great to do a build log!

@Stikpusher- I remember that scene very well- I also like the way the film begins during WW1- it provides an interesting link regarding the two conflicts and of course the many WW1 veterans who would also serve in WW2.

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So since the last post I’ve been working more on Basil. The legs only needed a little work- just making the outside leg seam more visible and sharpening the top and bottom of the puttees.

The torso needed more work. The pockets, collar and straps were all sharpened up. For this I mostly use a Mission Models Micro Chisel which is about 2mm across and incredibly sharp still after several years. I’m reminded of this every time I slip and stab myself with it :laughing:!

Unfortunately I got a bit drill happy while drilling out a hole in the neck for the Hornet head- the front third or so of the collar got blitzed so it was out with the profanities and magic sculpt :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:! A bit of ‘Liquid Gravity’ from Deluxe Materials made the top button.

Noticed something weird about the figures too- both MB and Tamiya figures have the tunic collars done up and sitting very neatly. That’s six figures (the Officer in the Tamiya set obviously has a slightly different tunic) with the same collar- yet a quick image search shows a number of ways the collar was worn- in the image below you can see the collar worn several different ways. So why do they have to all be the same in plastic? A bit more variety would be most welcome in my humble opinion.

I’ve also done a comparison of some heads. First up is the Masterbox head for Basil. It’s not bad at all, I think. There’s a seam toward the back way under the chin and the helmet strap has a defined outermost edge but then the it just disappears into the neck so it has a few drawbacks buts it’s not bad at all for a plastic head.

Next up is the head I’ve chosen for Basil which is a Hornet one with the strap tucked up under the helmet. The quality of Hornet speaks for itself.

And finally I got a Tamiya head out of the box to compare. It’s not that great looking to be blunt. The helmet is not a great fit either which is surprising and there is no chin strap. The shiny plastic is an odd choice to cast it in- the whole box is cast like this (will take a look at more from it later) and it makes the detail look decidedly soft and undefined. Reminds me of little green army men toys! However, to be fair the head may look better under primer- I’ve seen what looks to be a poor cast suddenly redeem itself with a little paint.

Both the MB figs are wearing plenty of gear so I will get into that next plus I’m currently sharpening up the second fig.

Also Just wanted to say thanks for all the supportive comments too, very much appreciated.


Nice work man , love Hornet heads !!

Thanks for the kind words Glenn. What would we do without Hornet heads :smiley:!

There’s a photo from 1914 of British troops on the march up to Mons passing a large monument to the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709. The last Commonwealth soldier (a Canadian) killed in WW1 lies in the same small cemetery as the first British soldier KIA in that conflict. My father was with the BEF in 1940 and mentioned a lot of the trenches, etc., from the first war were very evident in the landscape and that one could find bullets and other bits of equipment in them.
A friend has no recall of his father as he was an infant when his Dad was killed in Germany about a month before the end of WW2, his father grew up in similar circumstances as his Dad had found a grave in France in the previous conflict. After finding his maternal Grandfather dead before he reached his teens my friend grew up in a household of three widows…




Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts and memories- it is very much appreciated. I will look out for the photo you spoke of. I remember reading either in an article or book about the areas of France that saw conflict in both world wars had actually seen conflict through the centuries and that old battlefields there had been fought over a great many times before even the First World War.

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I imagine there are many places especially in the french Departements Alsass and Lorraine where both sides already met in 1870/71, then again in 1914 and in 1940 again …

The name of the street where I live is “Nuits”. That’s french and is named after the village Nuits Saint Georges, where in December 1870 french and troops from the german province Baden (I live in Karlsruhe, the capital of Baden, which is now Baden-Württemberg) fought a bloody and internecine battle. Sorry, it’s only in german language. But all that happened 4 decades before WW1.


Yes that’s exactly the type of history I am talking about. Thank you for the info :+1:!

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