by Phil Johnson | May 2nd, 2011

I recently did the photo-shoot for the cover of the prequel to Seelowe Nord with some friends of mine from The Frontline Association, who re-enact the German unit Fallschirmjager Regiment 9 from the 3rd Airborne Division. This unit was formed mid-war and would therefore have dressed in the late-war ‘splinter-pattern’ camouflage, but the guys very kindly wound back the clock and dressed in 1940 style uniform and equipment for me in order for the pictures to look as authentic as possible.  Not only did we get some great pictures for the cover of the prequel (provisionally entitled Thunder in May), I also took some close up, posed photos, mainly for the benefit of those with an interest in uniform and equipment details, such as wargamers and artists. The sequence of photos below gives you some excellent views that may provide a useful painting guide.

The picture on the left shows the front view of the MG34 Gunner. A good view of this excellent general purpose machine gun and its non-disintegrating link ammunition belt, the base colours of the trousers and jump smock, and the personalised cravat. You will also note the warm leather jump gloves. Next in line is the front view of the man carrying the spare ammunition for the gun. You will note the pistol holster on his waist belt. In the time between landing and finding their heavy equipment panniers, German paras would often be fighting with nothing more than their automatic pistols and a couple of stick grenades. The rear view shows the spare barrel container for the MG34 slung across the soldier’s back.

Below you get two more good views. The first is that of an officer from the front. You will note that as members of the Luftwaffe, the German paras wore the darker blue uniform jackets rather than the field grey of the army. Also of note are the yellow rank patches. The officer carries the famous MP38/40 machine-pistol and you can see his various badges clearly. The second photo shows you the rear view of several men, revealing the different forms of belt kit. The most noticeable thing is that compared to standard German infantry soldiers, the paras travel a little lighter in terms of belt kit.

For the readers of Seelowe Nord with only basic knowledge of World War II, I hope these photos help to illuminate the story somewhat. As readers will know, both Sergeant Davey Jackson and Lieutenant Dickie Smithson have their own run-ins with the Fallschirmjager in the book. The German paras also pull off the coup-de-main of capturing Bridlington harbour, destroying the fire control station of the Reighton Heavy Gun Battery, and capturing RAF Driffield. In the prequel, the specially trained storm battalion of Walter Koch, which also featured in Seelowe Nord, gets another series of battle sequences to their name. I am currently at the proof-checking stage with the prequel whilst I await the completion of a map. Once that’s all done, the publishing phase can begin. Not long now…

Please note that all these photographs are copyright A Johnson/The Frontline Association.

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Seelöwe Nord is the online home of Andy Johnson, a war fiction novelist. Seelöwe Nord is a war novel that tells the alternative history of Operation Sealion, the proposed German invasion of Britain in 1940. Followed by Thunder in May, and the recently released Crucible of Fate, the trilogy of War Fiction remains a popular read within the genre.

Andy has also started to publish small Leadership and Management Booklets drawing from his extensive experience across many sectors and industries, both military and civilian, the first of which is entitled Captains of the Gate and is now available for download on eReaders directly from Amazon.