Bolt Action! A Sense of Real History

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One the really nice things about Bolt Action, is that it gives you a real sense of history and you learn a lot along the way, including about your own family….


Recently my father in law gave me a book his dad got when he was fighting in Northern Italy in 1945. It’s called Pup Tent Poets Mediterranean and it was published in 1945 by Stars and Stripes. It was the second version, there also was a Norhtern Africa edition. Here’s a look at the inside cover:

In this wonderful paperback normal soldiers express their feelings in great and thoughtful poems. Most of these men were no academics or super literate men, but the quality of the poetry is really great. There are a lot of poems in it, from 3 line ones to 3 pages long. The stuff is all heartfelt and true and there is a lot of love, fear and sadness and very little boasting. Plenty of poems about the handsome Italian girls as well!

I couldn’t find much about the history of these books, bar that the art was done by someone who later became a well known illustrator and a few poets in it actually were or became professional wordsmiths. You can find a few copies still on Ebay and in 2002 a reissue was done.

Here’s a look at the opening page:

and here’s the last page with a vicious drawing and a somber poem, which ends all romantic notions people might have had about warfare, something that, while we enjoy our historical games, we should never forget..

My wife’s grandfather was in the 10th Mountain division and fought the Anzio campaign all the way up to Lake Garda. In later years he would keep this well thumbed book dear to his heart but he never spoke about his experiences. I noticed some faded writing on the back with a small drawing of a bicycle and two people. The word clearly spells escape. My wife’s grandfater died 20 years ago, so no answers there. He does not have a poem in this book.

I want to end with some modeling: a small conversion I did with my Bolt Action models. Here’s a sniper and spotter:

it was fun to put some foilage around them! Anyway, the spotter is actually a standing model, which I cut in half and re-positioned. I used some gun arms to have him rest on his elbow and the hand holding the binoculars, I had to rotate 180 degrees.

With a sloped base, it looked pretty good to me!

SC Mike

  • Great article. Yer blessed to have a real piece of history! While interesting I never forget war is absolutely horrible.

  • 6Cobra

    Really enjoyed the article! As an American servicemember living in Italy, I’ve been traveling around trying to visit some of the sites and battlefields of WWII (and WWI, of course, it being the centennial and all.) This adds some more texture to the history, thanks for that!

  • Purple-Stater

    Very cool stuff. Just finished a 2v2 game of Bolt Action a few hours ago. Working on convincing my son to start an Italian army to go against my Canadians.

    • RexScarlet

      How about Hitlerjugend for your son against your Canadians, lol…

      I am kidding, but not, in FoW we had many youth build Hitlerjugend.

      • Purple-Stater

        Haha! I can appreciate the humor, but my son is 21 now, so he’s probably not so open to that route. He’s still adapting to historicals, and only started table-top gaming (WHFB & 40K) less than two years now. He’s tried FoW (my group plays it a fair amount) but it’s a bit too large-scale for him just yet. He’ll adapt…. especially with GW games starting to fall out of favor for most of the group.

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