Musings of a Hobby Hipster: Tribute

This is not the greatest song in the world, no.
This is just a tribute!
Couldn’t remember the greatest song in the world, yeah – no!
This is a tribute!

Jack Black (Tenacious D)

Amid all the excitement for the upcoming (if not already released) British Bulge book and the temptation comes to look at all of the delightful 17pdr armed vehicles, the land mattresses and the myriad of armoured cars it is easy to slip into the mindset of picking units that answer questions that you think that your opponent might pose. This article is born out of Mark looking at one of my lists and going:

Hmm where is your AT!

Mark Goddard (Tenacious G)
A PIAT gunner of the 1st Norfolk Regiment during the advance on Wanssum,  Holland, 26 November 1944. B12153 - PICRYL Public Domain Search
Right here, buddy!

This ladies and gentlemen, this is the 52nd Lowland Division. This is the Battle of the Scheldt. And this isn’t the worst list in the world, no, this is a tribute.

The Changing Landscape of the Lowlands

The history of the 52nd Lowland Division really is a fascinating one. It served during the Great War before being disbanded and reformed as a First Line Territorial unit during the inter-war years. It was briefly deployed to France as part of the 2nd British Expeditionary Force, retiring back to Britain and preparing itself to join the fight to repel the expected invasion of the UK.

That invasion, thankfully, never arrived so the 52nd Division was sent to train in a mountain warfare capacity from May 1942 until June 1944 as it was earmarked for a proposed invasion of Norway. That invasion also never materialised and so from June 1944, the 52nd Division was reorganised and trained in air landing operations.

Again, fate played its part. Assigned to the second wave of air landing troops as part of Operation Market Garden. The British 1st Airborne Division was given a subsidiary mission of capturing Deelen airfield, on which the 52nd Division would land. The 52nd Lowland would not be deployed and it looked like they might see out the war without being committed to the front lines.

That would all change in October 1944 where, in a fit of irony having been trained for combat or deployment from heights,  it was assigned to the 1st Canadian army and assigned its first operation; to aid in opening the vital Belgian port of Antwerp, in the Battle of the Scheldt; a battle of dykes and levies, of mud and blood and flood and fen.

Operation Vitality and Operation Infatuate were aimed at capturing South Beveland and the island of Walcheren to open the mouth of the Scheldt Estuary. This in turn meant that the port of Antwerp would be open to Allied shipping and the long tail of logistics running across northern France suddenly could hop east to Belgium and cut days and days and miles and miles off their supply chain. 

This really was a vital endeavour and would earn the 52nd high praise and the mutual respect of their Canadian allies. So much so that the 52nd was given operational command of all forces on Walcheren including the 4th Commando Brigade, when it landed and would remain on Wallcheren until November 1944, when it was relieved by the 4th Canadian Armoured Division.

British assault troops advance through the rubble-strewn streets of Flushing.
British assault troops storm the rubble-strewn streets of Flushing.

Wading into Flames of War

Their opposition came largely from the German 70th Infantry Division. This “White Bread”, or “Stomach” Division,  was less than first class, in fact, it was probably less than second class but was supported by a menagerie of captured artillery pieces from 75mm pieces all the way up to 220mm monsters. All were emplaced, and all threatened not only the seaborne operations but also the attacking British and Canadian troops. 

So armed with this understanding how can I get together a force that honours this operation? This is an iteration of the list that has very little AT so prepare yourself. 

First up let’s take the bulk of the formation – in this case, the Kangeroo Rifle Company from the new British Bulge book. This will give us the foundation of our 52nd Lowland Division. 

  • Kangeroo Rifle Company HQ
  • Kangaroo Rifle Platoon
    7 x Bren Gun & SMLE rifle teams
    1 x PIAT
    1 x 2″ mortar team
  • Kangaroo Rifle Platoon
    7 x Bren Gun & SMLE rifle teams
    1 x PIAT
    1 x 2″ mortar team
  • Kangaroo Rifle Platoon
    7 x Bren Gun & SMLE rifle teams
    1 x PIAT
    1 x 2″ mortar team
  • 3″ Mortar Platoon
    4 x 3″ mortar teams
  • Vickers Machine-gun Platoon 
    4 x Vickers MMG
  • 6pdr Anti-tank Platoon
    4 x 6pdr gun
  • Wasp Carrier Patrol~
    3 x Wasp (Flamethrower)
  • Wasp Carrier Patrol~
    3 x Wasp (Flamethrower)
4th Canadian Armoured Division flamethrower demonstration
across canal Balgerhoeke, Belgium, October 1944.

That is quite a block of stuff in formation and gives a solid foundation to our force. The Wasps were used extensively but the Canadians in their assault on the Leopold Canal and given the terrain, fortifications and close operational relationship I can’t see why they wouldn’t equip themselves suitably similarly. Given that there is a title card for the 52nd Lowland Division we should throw that in there too… even if it is going to be useless at below sea level…

On the positive side though we will equip our troops with some amphibious transports in the form of the lovely LVT-4 Buffalo from the 79th Armoured Division.

To support these landings on the muddy banks of the Scheldt estuary, and provide some much-needed direct fire support we are going to include some Sherman DD tanks with the Sherman DD command card:

  • Sherman DD Armoured Troop
    3 x Sherman (75mm)
    Command Card Sherman DD

And to bring some real anti-tank potential to the fore I’ve included a couple of 17pdr anti-tank guns. These would’ve been a monster to manoeuvre across the open water but having found the footage below, I just couldn’t not include a couple in support. I mean just how cool is this?! Forget that they have no HE!

The final entries cover off the support and superiority that the Allies enjoyed in the air and on the waves: 

  • Typhoon Fighter-Bomber Flight
    2 x Typhoon
  • Naval Gunfire
Just in case you have never seen this card before… I mean I’ve not… like ever! 

The Scheldt campaign was supported but the battleship HMS Warspite and two monitors, HMS Erebus and HMS Roberts as well as Landing Craft (Gun) – Medium and – Large, with 25pdr howitzers, or 17pdr guns and 4.7″ naval guns respectively. I wished that taking this card allowed you access to include an OP but alas not. 

The crew of a Landing Craft, Gun (Medium) abandons ship after it was hit by German shore batteries during the landing of Royal Marines.
The crew of a Landing Craft, Gun (Medium) abandons ship
after being hit by German shore batteries.

Other Thoughts

I say that tongue in cheek, it’s not the worst list ever (that might be a forthcoming challenge but not yet) but it will definitely struggle against an a-historical opponent. Even in red vs. blue games, you will be pushing water uphill but by Gawd, it looks cool.

Other things that you could include to switch the list up a little could include things:


After Westkapelle was taken, German prisoners are escorted to the rear by British commandos. The port of Antwerp finally began unloading supply ships at the end of November.
German prisoners are escorted to the rear by British commandos

No. 4 Commando, was present in the Scheldt campaign and they also used LVT-4 Buffalos to conduct amphibious operations. As was the 4th Special Service Brigade, consisting of 41, 47 and 48 Royal Marines and 10 Inter-Allied Commando, consisting mainly of Belgian and Norwegian nationals.

These hard-hitting troops would definitely add some spice to your Assualt phase and would make an interesting addition to your force

3.7″ Mountain Howitzers

If your opponent is gracious, and it is a non-tournament environment then you could include some of the 3.7″ howitzers that were issued to the division to give them some direct, lightweight artillery support. The best analogue for this in the list is probably the Airbourne 75mm pack howitzer.

This is obviously illegal in the standard rules, but as long as your opponent is friendly I really don’t see these as game-breaking. There are a couple of manufacturers of these weapons in 15mm but they are not ones that I would generally use. Give it a Google and you will be able to find some – they are a nice addition to the infantry overall.

Photo] Men of 451st Battery, 1st Mountain Artillery Regiment, Royal  Artillery exercising with 3.7-inch howitzers in Trawsfynydd, Wales, United  Kingdom, 8 May 1942; note weather gear | World War II Database


As we discussed earlier the 79th Armoured Division provided the LVT-4 amphibious vehicles for the Scheldt campaign but I’ve also found pictures of Crab Mine Flails and Churchill AVRE vehicles in use. Again, both handy and not game-breaking and against a historically based opposing force quite, quite deadly.

This AVRE failed its Cross Check.

Canadians and more

As they continue to battle German troops for control of the Scheldt Estuary (Northern Belgium - Zeeland Netherlands border), Canadian soldiers traverse a flooded area in amphibious vehicles: Fall 1944.
Canadian soldiers traverse a flooded area in LVT-4 transports

The 52nd Lowland were part of the First Canadian Army, and during the Battle of the Scheldt and it was the Canadians who bore the brunt of the tough fighting and in term casualties. That is not to say that it was just Canadians in that force; a true international flavour ran through the army with units like the Polish 1st Armoured Division, 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division as well as Scots, English and Canadians all making up its ranks.

All of these units, whilst not all directly involved in the Scheldt fighting, took part in the liberation of Antwerp and the opening of the port 90% intact. If you want to expand this force to include more elements from those armoured units then that is completely possible and welcomed.

I’ll be back soon with a cup of single-origin, cold brew flat white artisan coffee and a delicious Stroopwaffle with more thoughts from the hipster’s beard. 

– Dunc

One thought on “Musings of a Hobby Hipster: Tribute

  1. Good spotlight on the Scheldt campaign.
    How would you represent the German Defenders? D-day German Beach Defence Company?

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