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Captain Eyestrain
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Frank Jefferson V.C. :

This figure was partly prompted by my discovery that I could make a set of Denims from the Battledress that came with DML's " Harry Collins " figure : these were far too thin and shiny to pass muster as BD , but repainted , and with a few pockets altered and buttons added , they would do pretty well for a suit of " Overalls , Denim ".: these were widely worn by British and Commonwealth troops for fatigues , and sometimes in hot weather as an alternative to the wool Battledress .

Having done the denims , it was a matter of choosing a subject to wear them .
One of Mike Chappell's plates in his book on Battledress fell into my lap , as it were , and there was Frank Jefferson V.C. of the 2nd. Battalion , The Lancashire Fusiliers .
I dimly recall seeing a pic of him years ago , standing in front of a knocked out StuG.III ( probably the basis of Chappell's plate ), but I'm unable to locate that pic : I'd love to see it again if anyone has it .

This pic is the one that is the easiest to find :



On 16th May 1944, during the attack on the Gustav Line, an anti-tank obstacle held up some of our tanks, leaving the leading company of Fusilier Jefferson's battalion to dig in on the hill without tanks or anti-tank guns. The enemy counter-attacked with infantry and two Mark IV tanks which opened fire at short range causing a number of casualties and eliminating one PIAT group entirely.
As the tank advanced towards the partially-dug trenches, Fusilier Jefferson, entirely on his own initiative, seized a PIAT, and running forward alone under fire, took up a position behind a hedge; as he could not see properly, he came into the open, and standing up under the hail of bullets, fired at the leading tank, which was now only twenty yards away. It burst into flames and all the crew were killed. Fusilier Jefferson then reloaded the PIAT and proceeded towards the second tank, which withdrew before he could get within range. By this time our own tanks had arrived and the enemy counter-attack was smashed with heavy casualties. Fusilier Jefferson's gallant act not merely saved the lives of his company and caused many casualties to the Germans, but also broke up the enemy counter-attack and had a decisive effect on the subsequent operation. His supreme gallantry and disregard of personal risk contributed very largely to the success of the action."
London Gazette 13th July 1944.


He was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action .



Frank has a face that comes straight from central casting as " Heroic Tommy " , and he's been a pleasure to make .
The publicity pics are very useful , and there are also others of him at his investiture which have been a great help in the sculpting .
I've shown him just as he appears in the first picture , carrying his PIAT , but with no other equipment : that's made it a nice easy figure to finish .





The Denims were painted with a mix of Forest Green (Vallejo 920 or similar ) and white and khaki : the colour varied somewhat , you could use anything similar . Once they are dry , rub and crumple them in the hands for some time to soften them.
They would look better if they were a little larger , since they were normally issued in a size too large , to fit over the Battledress if needed .



The PIAT has been lightly improved , and more accurate rifle slings added . I used the BBI version , which is a bit more accurate than the DML one , but transferred the sling swivels, butt cover and canvas sleeve from the latter . I've also added the spigot in the firing tray from a piece of plastic rod, since the weapon is uncocked in the picture. Oddly enough there is what looks like a damaged practice round firing tray installed in the pic , but I've omitted that .
The DML body has been shortened and slimmed , and I saw off the arms about a third of the way down the biceps and fill the void with epoxy putty. This is drilled to take the new Fimo arms , mounted on brass pins . This allows me to change the arms for different poses : obviously there's no flexibility in them beyond a little grip in the hands.



The helmet has been covered with the usual hessian ( burlap ) and a net , and I've added the chinstrap Mk.III , the elastic webbing one , which he's obviously wearing : these lack the springs at the top of each strap.



The badges are the Lancs. Fusiliers Regimental flash , and the Battleaxe of the 78th Division .



Frank Jefferson died in 1982 , sadly not long after his V.C. was stolen .

They said he deserved the V.C. not so much for destroying the tank , but for firing the PIAT standing up …..

{ For those unfamiliar with it , the PIAT was a spigot mortar : a powerful spring inside held back a long steel spigot . It took a strong man ( sometimes two ) to cock it .The hollow-charge bomb was loaded in the tray , and on pulling the trigger , the spigot shot forward and threw the bomb forward , at the same time igniting a propellent in its tail , which didn't go off until it was some distance away . The recoil was prodigious , and threw the normally prone firer back a couple of feet . Frank was blown over firing it , but got up again to attack the other tank. }

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