Thanks for the suggestions guys.
Andrew, I'm going to settle on my carrier being paused on the bridge - and to hell with military protocol!
Tim, I agree that a cross would be more appropriate - but Scalelink don't provide in their set and, besides, I have height issues with my showcase. However, if anyone can find me a nice photoetch cross I might consider it...
Meanwhile, a few days away have allowed me to get started on the figures.
The setting is north of Rome in the latter half of 1944 and the figures are to be a mixture of 'liberating' Allied soldiers, 'liberated' Italian civilians (some possibly resistance) and captured / hiding Germans. Given that this falls in the Summer months of 1944 I am trying to feature uniforms which seem appropriate. However, I have learnt a few things from my research (by which I mean mostly pouring over images on the internet):
First. the Allies in Italy seem to have worn quite a mixture of uniforms. So it's not uncommon to see shorts and short sleeves mixed with full (or partial) battle dress. Also the Mark II helmet (as opposed to the Mark III 'crab') is almost always seen in period photos even up to the end of the war. This may well have been because a) they were frequently overlooked for supplies in favour of the landings in Normandy and southern France and b) many of these troops had been in action from the North African campaigns or earlier. Or perhaps uniform discipline was simply a bit more lax!
Secondly, although the weather in Italy can be extremely hot - it can also be very wet and cold (especially in the mountains). For example, during the July advances which followed the liberation of Rome there were several days of heavy rainfall. So, although you often see troops during the early months of the campaign wearing tropical kit, by the time the reached Rome and beyond they were often wearing the sort of uniforms and kit which you tend to see in photos from France. But not always...
Basically, this is good news for the modeller because it means that pretty much anything goes!
After asking for advice with the markings for my Universal Carrier I have provisionally settled on my Allied troops belonging to the 78th 'Battleaxe' Division and, more specifically, the 2nd Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers, who were in action around Cassino and Rome. Although the 78th was withdrawn for R&R at some time in July they were back by September for the assault on the Gothic Line. So this means that I can hedge my bets about whether my dio is set in June / July or September onwards.
The picture above shows 'A' Company, 2nd Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers, advancing through Aquino (just northwest of Cassino) in May 1944. Note the soldiers are in full kit whilst the officer is wearing some natty shorts!
Anyway, I will be grateful for any advice, especially when it comes to Allied uniform insignia - about which I am as ignorant as vehicle markings... For example, I can't see any shoulder flashes on any of these uniforms. So can I get away with only rank insignia?
The figures which I am using come from a variety of sources.
Taking in the prisoner
First off is this pair, from a set called British Soldiers / German Sniper CR 35-108 by Corsar Rex. I'm pretty sure that they're a Swedish company. Now this is a lovely set, beautifully sculpted - but it has a couple of major flaws.
The first problem is that the the faces are rather lifeless and the German, in particular, seems to have no neck...
The other issue is that, while the sculpting of some of the hands is wonderful (especially those of the German), the hands gripping weapons are rather ill defined.
So, as so often, I had to to reach for Hornet heads and hands. The head for the Brit had some hair added using Magicsculp. The netting covered helmet is from Sovereign 2000. Although I used only the rear escort figure, I used the left arm from the leading man and simply replaced the hand with one from Hornet and the Lee Enfield from one which came with my Riich Universal Carrier.
Anyway, I'm quite pleased with this pair so far. They are going to be positioned on the rear left corner of the diorama walking out of frame...
When I went looking for a British / Allied officer in battle dress I was surprised at how little choice there seemed to be. However, as always when looking for something on the internet, it helps to think outside the box. Looking for 'British' or 'Allied' wouldn't have helped me find this lovely figure:
Called Commonwealth Soldier, Burma 1943 he's by Dog Tag (WZ3501). I found him on the Historex website.
Obviously, the bush hat and machete wouldn't work for my setting, but all I had to do was carve away the headgear and replace it with a Mk.2 helmet and substitute the machete for a cane and - hey presto - I had an Infantry officer in Italy!
I like the look of this guy. With his flop of hair and low-slung holster he looks every inch the dashing young officer...
Obviously I will have to add at least one pip to his epaulettes for a Second Lieutenant. But can I get away without the shoulder flashes?