We've just had the privilege of completing a four-week World War Two diorama workshop with Todd from Hands on History. Our group was assigned the battle in 1943 at Casa Berardi (hamlet on the east coast of Italy) where Canadian Capt Paul Triquet led his company of the Royal 22nd Regiment ("Vandoos") in a desperate attack on the German stronghold. Having lost all of his officers and 50% of his men in an earlier attack, Capt Triquet courageously formed his remaining men into a cohesive fighting unit that continued its advance against bitter resistance throughout the night of December 14 until reinforcements arrived the next morning. The Germans were determined to hold onto Casa Berardi in order to prevent the advance of the Allies in their push toward Rome. They sent their best troops against the Canadians but were thwarted by the determination of the Vandoos. In present day Italy, the Berardi family (owners of Casa Berardi during the Battle of Ortona) maintains a memorial to Capt Triquet outside their cottage in recognition of his bravery and leadership.
On our first day, we were provided with our battle papers and a slew of materials to use in our diorama. Our assignment was to depict the German side of this important battle.
Here Matt is cutting Styrofoam to create the Italian terrain on our plywood base. Bekah is then covering everything with a drywall paste solution.
The kids created the Italian topography using a variety of twigs, dirt and grasses. The buildings were painted, weathered and glued into place.
The final product! The soldiers and tank were painstakingly painted, assembled and then camouflaged with an air gun (thanks, Matt!). Extra details were added like: rubble around the buildings, bare trees (winter), piles of old logs for soldiers to hide behind, ...
Here Todd and the group are looking at the final product (our partners did the Canadian part of the battle on the left of the table):
This was our first attempt at making a diorama and, while we are definitely amateurs, we have some great ideas for next year.