Not a Moment to Lose... Battle of the Bulge, Ardennes, December 1944

Thanks for all the comments and sorry for a pause whilst I was away on holiday…

Snow or no snow?

One of the questions that has been bugging me since I started this build was whether to include any traces of snow. When people picture the Ardennes Offensive they tend to think of snow-covered troops and vehicles, although many of these images came from a later stage of the battle.

If you look at the famous German newsreel clips during the early stages of the advance it’s clear that it wasn’t snowing at the time and it’s hard to see much evidence of recent snowfall.

However, we all know that in some areas the climate can be pretty local. Also, if snow has already fallen some days before, patches can linger on hill sides and in crevices where the sunlight cannot reach. I’m often up in the Peak District, Derbyshire - which, as the name suggests, is a hilly area near Buxton in the UK high above sea level - and I’ve seen that happen many times during Winter.

The images from Poteau don’t show any snow and the footage below (which actually made it back to Germany and was shown in a newsreel at the time) also shows no signs of the white stuff. They include the well-known sequence of Kamfgruppe Peiper advancing into Stoumont - an attack which began during the morning of the 19th.

But, then again, look at this rather grim image taken in Honsfeld (on the way to Malmedy and the sight of the infamous massacre), which shows elements of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 9 stripping boots from the bodies of killed GIs. Honsfield was captured on the morning of the 17th December, with Malmedy being overrun later the same day.

As an aside, for obvious reasons these images did not make it into the German cinemas at the time: not only do they suggest that these Americans had been summarily executed - they also show the rather parlous state of the attacker’s equipment at an early stage of the campaign.

This shot must have been taken soon after the battle and, as we can see, there are clumps of snow at the side of the road, on the outbuilding in the background (but not the main roofs of the houses) and, it seems, over the fields in the distance.

Honsfield is about 15 kms northeast of Kaiserbarracke, but it may be further above sea level for all I know. Either way, it seems that there had been recent snow fall in some parts of the area of advance even if the snow would not return in any meaningful way for some days ahead.

So I think I may allow myself some snow after all…


Thanks Cheyenne,

Of course, I am in no position to give history lessons… but, like you, I look hard at the evidence and try to give a sensible interpretation!

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Always glad to have some local knowledge - and I will be looking for more help as I go on. More about snow above…

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I’ve read a bit about the campaign, and what I’ve read is that Malmedy proper has not been captured by the Germans. Baugnez is some 4 km’s from the centre…
Honsfeld is at some 600m above sealevel, while the Kaiserbarracke is at 479 m. That is some serious level differnce indeed.


To give You some first hand observation. 16th of December 2018 was actualy one of those years when it DID snow. It started around midnight and in the morning the Bastogne area had about 10 - 20 cm of snow. Enough that the road service had to clear the roads. But areas around were not covered. Foy was only partialy covered. St. Vith had some show, but the Eifel to the east, which is actualy higher did not. La Roche was without snow aswell. So its VERY random.

Thanks so much guys, that is invaluable info.

So I guess that depending on which route my reccon group were taking - and how far they had got - I can have no snow, lots of snow… or a bit of snow!

Looking for the right building

So this next bit was fun - even if a bit slow. I went onto Google Maps Streetview and followed a few routes away from the Kaiserbarracke crossroads in the direction of German advance.

All the time I was looking for buildings that a) looked like traditional farm houses and b) looked old.

Here is a selection of what I found:

I was not trying to find a specific building to replicate, but a type: i.e. a typical farmhouse that would look authentic for the place and the time. Of course, all of these buildings will have changed over the intervening 70 or so years (although Google images are often several years old) - but you can still see that they are OLD.

Among some of the common features I noticed was the combination of a large barn door with what appeared to be living accommodation.

This immediately brought on a rush of nostalgia and made me think of the classic Verlinden ruined barn that I had built as a teenager back in the 80s…

Verlinden Ruined Barn 106 MDA 35011

I guess this makes sense, since Francois Verlinden was Belgian and would have based his diorama construction sets (DCS) on buildings that he was familiar with.

On many of the buildings there is also a distinctive sloping element to the roof at the gable ends. This helps to break up the outline and gives them a much more ‘rural’ look, although I’m not sure what practical purpose it served.

So this gave me a few ideas about how my building should look.

Another image helped me to understand the method of construction. You will notice here that the stone courses might appear random, but every now and then they are roughly levelled with a line of smaller stones. The stones at the corners are also better ‘dressed’ to help keep the structure square.

So this will be my inspiration for the work that is about to begin…


The research is excellent, TFM, Ruck On!


Thanks mate.

If I’m honest I find buildings as fascinating as vehicles - plus you don’t have to be quite so obsessed with accuracy…


So back to the actual build…

So once I had the basic shape worked out in rough card I began to build the farm house again using thinner card. This meant that I could draw the precise dimensions on to the surface in pencil and cut out the apertures using a sharp scalpel.

This does not have to be a precise architectural process but it needs to follow a certain amount of science amd common sense. [Have I mentioned the fact that I am married to an architect?!]

Because the building has two stories - but the higher level only at the rear - it is important to ensure that the floors and windows line up at front and back.

As for the size and shape of the doors and windows, I feel that it’s a mistake to use commercially available parts (e.g. Miniart) as a guide. Rural structures come in many shapes and sizes and, as a tall person I am painfully aware of this fact. Using photos and any decent 1/35 scale figure will give you a good enough guide to the appropriate height of doorways, windows, etc.

As I would soon discover, the advantage of using card stiff card to cut out the shapes was that I could use it as a template for cutting out the foam sheet which I would use to make the walls. Also I could adapt the form as I went along.

So you can see here that I reduced the size of the barn door after my initial cut because I felt that it was too large. This was simply done by putting the putting the original piece of card that I had cut out back into place and fixing it with masking tape to the rear. I then drew the new outline and cut again.

The distinctive dropped gable to the roof and end wall was also made at this time.

I also marked in the


Yep narcolepsy comes with the territory for dioramacists, I should know. A great-looking scene evolving Tim, glad you came round to my way of thinking re snow/slush :wink:.

Max points for research too, as you’ve said there’s a reasonable amount of latitude possible and


LOL… I guess I shouldn’t post so late at night.

I think that was just a rogue sentence that got pushed to the bottom of the page - and then I forgot it was there!