Monday, May 13, 2013

Making of a Padre Part 1

I grabbed my figure that I was going to morph into my Italian Padre figure for my CSIR army. He originally was to be a senior officer figure.

He has a couple of problems. The first is the binoculars. That was the first thing that had to go. Next was he needed that light purple scarf thing around his neck and some kind of cross around his neck. Out came the scalpel and the modeling clay.

The modeling clay that I was using was hard to make a consistent width strip of "cloth" out of for a 15mm figure. This is the 5th attempt that I decided to go with. The silver patch is where the binoculars were removed off of the figure. Now I need to paint the cloth and the missing patch of uniform. Then add the black cross patch to the left shirt pocket. After that, I will paint on a cross that is dangling around his neck. Why paint? Because 8 attempts at making one out of clay to use all ended in disaster. Apparently, I have no skill as a sculptor.

Now, why does one need a padre figure for an Italian WWII army? Well, in my pursuit of mapping out the actions of the 80th Roma regiment as it traveled over 1400 kilometers across the Ukraine from August to December 1941, there was one presence that continually made it self evident through all of their actions. That of Tenente Don Traversa Natale. From the very first actions at Jasnaja Poljana through the urban fighting around Gorlovko(Golowka ) to being surrounded at Nitikovka, the good padre was present with the troops. He was holding mass outside of Gorlovko when mortar shells began raining down on his position. One landed close enough that it destroyed a painting of the Madonna that he had brought with him from Italy. He remained upright and completed mass even while the troops scrambled for cover. He was at the front giving last rites to dying men and helping to treat the wounded. When there was no shooting, he helped the locals repair their abandoned chapels and offered mass to them. He was such a presence around the men of the 80th Roma that it seems he needed to be represented somehow. Especially in a larger game like IABSM.


  1. Think about making a "padre" card for the Italian deck in IABSM. On his activation he may rally a unit if broken or reduce its shock level by 1 or 2 points

    1. Here is what I had come up with.
      Padre Card
      The Padre Card functions similarly to a Big Man card. A Padre that is attached to a group can remove a point of shock from a unit each time the Padre Card is drawn. Also if the Padre reaches a Big Man that has been wounded or killed, the Padre can use its activation to reduce the level of wound on the Big Man by one. This can only be done once per Big Man. So a Padre can take a Big Man that was killed and change his status to seriously wounded but cannot through successive activations return that Big Man to normal. Most Western Nations during the war had priests and ministers accompany the front line troops into combat. Their heroism in the face of enemy fire and the services that they rendered the troops is the inspiration for this card.

  2. Looks great! And the chap your basing the figure on sounds very interesting. I'm no WWII expert, and I never knew the Italians were in the Ukraine??

    1. Yep. Once the Germans began Barbarossa, Il Duce wanted in on the "easy kill" and dispatched the units he had available. Divisions Torino (motor transportable), Pasubio (motor transportable) and 3rd Duca d'Osta Celere (Cavalry) were sent as the CSIR - Corpo Spedizone In Russia or Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia.

      On paper, it sounded like Torino and Pasubio were fully motorized. In reality, the motor pools of the division only had the trucks to move half of the Division at a time. In August, General Messe gave all of Tornio's motor transport to Pasubio and by December, Torino had walked over 1400 kilometers across the Ukraine trying to catch up with the Cavalry and Pasubio. The only tanks they sent was 1 battalion of worn out L3/33s that did not make it past October 1941.

      In 1942, Il Duce upgraded the unit to an army status and added some mountain troops and CSIR became AMIR. By Stalingrad, AMIR was in full flight and running back to Italy. They actually did rather well in the retreat and managed to fight hard enough that they were never surrounded and cut off. Still they lost a huge portion of the men and nearly all their equipment by the time they made it home in 1943. They fared better than the Germans in the retreat ask the Ukrainians loved them and they were welcomed in homes unlike the Germans. Most Italian Russian front vets had had it with the war and joined the partisans or just stayed home after their experiences. Don Traversa Natale was one of many Italians that was captured and one of the few that made it back home after the war. Many of the POWs just disappeared and were never accounted for.