Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Abyssinia 1935-1936

I now have some Italian troops to face down the Emperor's hordes; In this case a unit of Eritrean Askaris.

The Italian colony of Eritrea was the main base in East Africa and from where Mussolini's main offensive came. Whilst the majority of the Italian forces came from Italy itself, a large portion and indeed the best, in my opinion, were the native colonial infantry known as Askaris. They wore a practical khaki uniform with a jacket and shortened trousers, boots or sandals and a red fez. Each battalion wore a distinctive waistsash/cummerbund: the first few units from the 1890s were plain red, blue, white, etc with later ones becoming more elaborate, including one that resembled a tartan........ Each unit carried a small guidon (actually about 40cm square) in the same pattern with a large Roman number thereon, thus this unit is the 10th Battaglione and so has a large "X".

Platoons were commanded by Italians, dressed as their men including the cummerband but sans the fez, assisted by NCOs marked by a number of stars on their fezzes and large red brassards on their arms.

Although not as well equipped as the Italian troops, the Askaris were professionals with good morale and battlefield skills. However, this did mean they were used in hazardous roles to spare the Italians and some became so disillusioned they defected to the Abyssinian side.

For wargaming I use my own variant of VBCW's "Went The Day Well" , called "Went The Askaris Well", that brings out the more varied nature of the troops, weapons and terrain compared to rural England! Anyway, instead of a three section platoon each with a Light Machine Gun, the Askaris have only two sections of riflemen and the one LMG is with the Command Group.

Anyway, here is the eye-candy of the X Btg:

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