by: Dave O'Meara [ ]
The Ukrainian manufacturer MiniArt recently released a new set of German Soldiers at Work. As anyone who was ever in the service during any war knows, not every minute is spent in combat. Most of the time is spent in either total boredom, sleeping, relaxing and the all important repair and maintenance of equipment.
In order to try to eliminate the boredom, the higher up invent mundane work details. Scraping barnacles from the bottoms of the shipsí small boats comes to my mind, along with wire brushing the engineering spaces' deck plates. I'm sure it was the same way in WW2 and the German Army.
What is in the box, I hear you ask! Well you get five figures doing various construction tasks. One fellow is carrying a long pole, possibly a fence post or the beginnings of a breastworks. Three others are busy digging a ditch, pit, or perhaps even a grave, one swinging down with his pick, one forcing down his spade, and another in the act of scooping up dirt. The last guy is walking along pushing the wooden wheel barrel.
The uniforms are in general disarray and portray men hard at work, and certainly not worrying about their neat military appearance. Two are working in shirtsleeve order, the other three are wearing their field jackets in a relaxed, open, (and with a little weathering), grubby state.
Now as most readers know, I'm certainly no expert on the German Army, so I won't even try to comment on the accuracy of the uniforms they are wearing. I will say they certainly do look the part of a group of Germans given a heavy work detail of digging in (perhaps a field piece) or cleaning up after a battle, or any other work that would require some swinging of pick axes. (Hey! Substitute a sledge hammer from the spares box and he's doing another work task!)
Having no idea what exactly the (RAD) in the title meant, I looked it up on "Wikipedia", so for whatever itís worth this is what the RAD troops were described as:
The RAD was classed as Wehrmachtgefolge (lit. Armed Forces Auxiliaries). Auxiliary forces with this status while not a part of the Armed Forces themselves, provided such vital support that they were given protection under the Geneva Convention. Some, including the RAD, were militarized.
During the early war Norwegian and Western campaigns, hundreds of RAD units were engaged in supplying front-line troops with food and ammunition, repairing damaged roads and constructing and repairing airstrips. Throughout the course of the war, the RAD were involved in many projects. The RAD units constructed coastal fortifications (many RAD men worked on the Atlantic Wall), laid minefields, manned fortifications, and even helped guard vital locations and prisoners.
The role of the RAD was not limited to purely combat support roles. Hundreds of RAD units received training as anti-aircraft units and were deployed as RAD Flak Batteries. Several RAD units also saw ground combat on the eastern front as infantry. As the German defenses crumbled, more and more RAD men were committed to combat. In the final months of the war RAD men formed 6 major front-line units, which saw heavy fighting.
This set is an interesting release, and will find a place in many dioramas. The one thing missing is the all important NCO or officer pointing and directing the work detail, we all know that the lower ranks can't work unsupervised! I'm sure most modelers will be able to find one of these laying about to add if desired. I'm pretty sure with a change in the shoulder patch (or removal) these figures could be used for just about any basic German doing some manual labor on a work detail.