I wanted to make this figure as a tribute to all Irishmen who fought and died in WW2.
The 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles (Royal Ulster Rifles) was created in April 1939 and brought rapidly to strength. After training and spending some times in coastal defence in England, the battalion was assigned in June 1942 to the 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade, alongside the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers (the "Faughs") and the 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (The "Skins", later replaced by the 2nd R Innis Fus). The Brigade landed in North Africa in late 1942 with the 6th Armoured Division, and in March 1943, during the campaign in Tunisia, was transferred to the 78th (Battleaxe) Infantry Division.
Under the prestigious command of the Eighth Army, the 2 LIR were to fight in Sicily, and after crossing to mainland Italy in late September 1943, the battle of Termoli, against the Barbara Line on the River Trigno, the crossing of the River Sangro (Gustav Line) and the battle of Monte Cassino in spring 1944. After a brief spell of rest in Egypt, the Division took again its place on the line of battle, fighting in the Po Valley and the Argenta Gap. The end of the war found the London Irish entering in Austria.
(Source : The London Irish at War : A History of the Battalions of the London Irish Rifles in World War II, by S. T. A. R, London 1949).
My figure depicts a Bren gunner of the 2 LIR in the Autumn-Winter 1944, when the battalion was fighting for small hills in the Po Valley, between Florence and Bologna in Northern Italy - under the "most depressing weather", as the historian of the London Irish noted - so much for "Sunny Italy".
He wears the standard dress of the British Tommy, with a wool-lined leather jerkin, woollen scarf and gloves for added warmth. His insignia are the "battleaxe" of the 78th Inf Div and, under the rifle-green arm-of-service stripe, the green shamrock of the 38th Irish Bde. The black triangle on the shamrock is the battalion indicator.
The figure is mostly made of DML parts, except for the Bren gun (BBI).
Here is a list of the modifications :
HS : repainted
Helmet : custom oilcloth liner and new retaining clips for the chinstrap (of course, it can't be seen here).
Webbing and helmet net : repainted.
Ammo boots : modified with real laces.
Anklets : shortened, new straps added, using cotton tape and Rich Elbourne buckles, repainted.
Leather jerkin (Kenneth Laird version) : collar removed and working buttonholes added.
The insignia, scarf, web belt, Bren wallet, anti-gaz cape, & Bren sling are scratchbuilt.