A Pictorial Close-view Narration: WWII is in the details through miniature-making 另一種敘述法從小節看:立體模型場景特寫看二次大戰

A Pictorial Close-view Narration: WWII is in the details through miniature-making 另一種敘述法從小節看:立體模型場景特寫看二次大戰

LAI Wai-leung 黎偉亮

LAI Wai-leung 黎偉亮

發表於: 21 Feb 2024

“Toy As Medium 3” has completed. In a retrospective narrative exercise, Wai-leung Lai selected five scenarios from WWII – as they were made “available” in battlefield miniature model products, and mediated through his photographic reframing – to suggest a possible cursory view of the world war. What does a beginning-middle-and-end standard narrative afford and delimit? How do we play with this standard story-telling mode? And what does a miniature add to story-telling that highlights continuity and forward movement based on the logic of causal relation? Readers are invited to fill in the many gaps between the photographic miniature series.

Narrated battles are understood as causes and consequences. What would miniatures do? Highlighting history as vignettes and isolated scenarioas, they invite us to contemplate the gaps in between.  (Editor's notes)



Feature image: (L) milkman delivering milk in a London street after German bombing []; (R) recovery from WWII

All 5 images below are the author Wai-leung Lai's photographs of his hand-made miniature.


Invasion of Soviet Union - siege of Moscow (01/11/1941)


1939年8月23日,納粹德國和蘇聯簽訂「德蘇互不侵犯條約」,內含秘密協議,圖瓜分波蘭、波羅的海三國、芬蘭及東歐等國。從1939年9月1日入侵波蘭至1941年6月初,德國及其盟友已佔領了中、西歐大陸、北歐及巴爾幹半島,控制了法國、波蘭西部、荷蘭等16個國家的人、物資源,歐洲世界上衹餘英國獨自對抗德、義。1941年6月22日「巴巴羅薩」計劃起動,希特拉撕毀互不侵犯條約揮軍入侵蘇聯,300餘萬軍隊分北、中、南三路進攻列寧格勒、莫斯科及基輔。同日,1940年7月開始的大不列顛戰役結束,德軍停止空襲以全力展開東部戰線,經歷11個月的戰鬥,英國皇家空軍成功抵擋德軍入侵,惟多個南部城市及倫敦已滿目瘡痍。德國空軍於1940年10月起改為夜間空襲,倫敦居民入夜後聞警報即躲進地底鐵路系統逃避轟炸,早上敵機退去,則不論男女皆穿戴整齊,走上一片頹垣的地面照常上班或參與善後,以示其不屈的抵抗意志。(Wai-leung Lai)

On 23 August 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the “German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact,” which contained a secret agreement to carve up Poland, the three Baltic countries, Finland, and Eastern Europe. From the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 to early June 1941, Germany and its allies had occupied central and western European continent, Northern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula, and controlled the human and material resources of 16 countries including France, western Poland, and the Netherlands. Britain was almost the only country left in Europe to fight against Germany and Righteousness. On 22 June 22 1941, the "Barbarossa" plan was launched. Hitler tore up the non-aggression pact and invaded the Soviet Union. More than three million troops attacked Leningrad, Moscow and Kiev in three directions: north, central and south. On the same day, the Battle of Great Britain, which began in July 1940, ended. The German army stopped air strikes and launched its eastern front in full might. After 11 months of fighting, the Royal Air Force successfully resisted German invasion, but many southern cities, including London, were devastated. In October 1940, the German Air Force switched to night air raids. After dark, London residents heard the siren and hid in the underground railway system to escape the bombing. As a new day broke, when the enemy planes retreated, men and women would be fully dressed and set foot onto the ruined ground to go to work as usual, or they would participate in the aftermath recuperation work to show their unyielding will to resist.

The first battle of al-'Alamayn (01/07/1942 - 27/07/1942)



1942年6月加查拉戰役失利,由大英協國士兵組成的英國第八軍團從利比亞撤退至埃及北部阿拉曼佈防,成功抵擋了隆美爾指揮的北非集團軍的連番進攻,第一階段戰事於7月27日結束。1942年8月,蒙哥馬利取代奧金萊克成為第八軍團司令。第二次阿拉曼戰役從1942年10月23日持續至11月3日,英軍獲勝,扭轉了北非戰場的形勢,令德、義聯軍佔領埃及控制蘇彝士運河和中東油田的希望幻滅。阿拉曼戰役與同時期的史達林格勒戰役以及太平洋的瓜達康納爾戰役同為盟軍戰略反攻階段的起點。1942年11月10日,英國首相邱吉爾發表了他對這場戰役的評價:「這場戰役不是戰爭的結束,甚至不是戰爭結束的開始,而可能是戰爭開始的結束。」這支北非雄師經安頓及整裝後將重新投入歐洲戰場,於1945年與其他盟軍同袍直搗第三帝國巢穴。(Wai-leung Lai)

In June 1942, the Battle of Ghachala failed. The British Eighth Army, composed of British Allied soldiers, retreated from Libya to El Alamein in northern Egypt to set up defenses. It successfully withstood the successive attacks of the North African Army commanded by Rommel. The first phase of the war ended on 27 July. In August 1942, Montgomery replaced Auchinleck as commander of the Eighth Army. The Second Battle of Alamein lasted from 23 October 23 to 3 November 1942. The British army won, which reversed the situation on the North African battlefield and disillusioned the hopes of the German and Italian forces to occupy Egypt and control the Suez Canal and the oil fields in the Middle East. The Battle of El Alamein and the Battle of Stalingrad, alongside the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific, all marked the starting points of the Allies' strategic counteroffensive phase. On 10 November 10 1942, British Prime Minister Churchill articulated his evaluation of this battle, "This battle is not the end of the war, not even the beginning of the end of the war, but perhaps the end of the beginning of the war." The British Eighth Army in North African was then reorganized. After settling in and refitting, it rejoined the European battlefield and, in 1945, attacked the lair of the Third Reich together with other Allied troops.


Normandy Landings (06/06/1944)



1944年中「大君主行動」展開,此為盟軍入侵西北歐建立據點,開僻歐洲第二戰線的行動代號,「海皇星行動」為「大君主行動」的突擊階段,6月6日這天被稱為D-Day,一天內15萬盟軍士兵橫渡英倫海峽登陸法國諾曼第地區,是歷史上最大規模的搶灘戰,開啟了解放法國及西歐的進程,行動持續至8月19日越過塞納河為止。登陸前數個月,盟軍部署了「堅忍行動」擾亂德軍耳目以掩藏真正登陸地點,行動分為南北兩部分,北部作出佯攻令希特拉將13個師兵力留守挪威;英國東南部則部處了第3軍,是一支由大量假坦克、大砲組成的「氣球」部隊,多佛港內亦停泊了一支由木頭和橡膠戰艦組成的艦隊,以欺騙德軍偵測機,令希特拉誤判真正的攻擊地點為法國加萊,分散諾曼第海岸的防衛兵力。「堅忍行動」縱使成功,作為納粹「大西洋長城」一部分的法國北部海岸還是部署了龐大的機槍火網、重砲以及防衛工事。登陸前夕晚上,盟軍以滑翔機在敵後投入空降部隊,6月6日早上6時30分,登陸行動正式展開,盟軍分別搶佔5個海灘,代號:寶劍、朱諾、黃金、奧馬哈和猶他,其中以美軍第1及29步兵師負責長6.4公里的奧馬哈灘頭戰況最激烈,死亡人數超逾2,500。(Wai-leung Lai)

"Operation Monarch" was launched in mid-1944. This was the code name for the Allied forces' establishment of Europe's second front in northwest Europe. "Operation Neptune" was the assault phase of “Operation Monarch.” In one single day on 6 June, now known as the D-Day, 150,000 Allied soldiers crossed the English Channel and landed in Normandy, France. It was the largest beachfront battle in history and started the process of liberation of France and Western Europe. The operation lasted until 19 August as the Allied solldiers cross River Seine. A few months before the landing, the Allied forces already deployed "Operation Endurance" to disrupt the German army's detection of the Allies' actual landing site. The operation was divided into two parts: the north and the south. A feint attack in the north ordered Hitler to stay in Norway with 13 divisions; in southeastern Britain, The 3rd Army was a "balloon" force composed of a large number of fake tanks and artillery. A fleet of wooden and rubber warships was also anchored in Dover Port to deceive German detection planes, so that Hitler mistakenly determined that the real location of the attack was Calais, France, and dispersed the defence forces on the Normandy coast. Even if "Operation Endurance" was successful – Germany deployed a huge network of machine gun fire, heavy artillery and fortifications on the northern coast of France as part of the Nazis' “Great Atlantic Wall.” On the night before the landing, the Allied forces used gliders to deploy airborne troops behind enemy lines. At 6:30am on 6 June, the landing operation officially began. The Allied forces seized 5 beaches, codenamed: Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah. Among them, operation on the 6.4-kilometer-long Omaha beachhead by the US 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions was the most intense, resulting in more than 2,500 deaths.

Crossing the Rhine (07/03/1945)


1945年1月25日,突出部之戰結束,盟軍向萊茵河挺進,3月7日美軍第1集團軍第9步兵師開始進攻魯登道夫大橋,此為跨越萊茵河東西岸唯一未被德軍摧毀的橋樑。德國守軍欲固守以利部隊盡可能撤往東岸,沒有及時將其炸毀,其後戰況不利,德軍少校Hans Schneller遂下令炸橋,惟引線被美國工兵破壞引爆失敗,美軍最終成功奪取這條快速通道踏足德國本土,Hans Schneller被逮捕並槍斃。3月17日德軍發射11枚V2飛彈欲炸毀大橋皆未命中,但當日下午魯登道夫大橋卻因不勝負荷而坍塌了。 (Wai-leung Lai)

On 25 January 1945, the Battle of the Bulge ended and the Allied forces advanced towards the Rhine. On 7 March, the 9th Infantry Division of the US 1st Army began to attack the Ludendorff Bridge. This was the only bridge across the east and west banks of the Rhine that had not been destroyed by the Germans. The German defenders believed that would facilitate withdrawal to the east bank if necessary, but they failed to blow it up in time. Afterwards, the battle situation was increasingly unfavourable to Germany. German Major Hans Schneller ordered to blow up the bridge. However, the fuse was damaged by American engineers and the explosion failed. The US military finally succeeded in seizing the bridge. Fast Track set foot on German soil, and Hans Schneller was arrested and shot. On 17 March, the Germans fired 11 V2 missiles in an attempt to blow up the bridge but failed to hit it. However, in the afternoon of that day, the Ludendorff Bridge collapsed due to the overload.

The Japanese battleship 'Yamato' (sank on 07/04/1945)


1922年2月6日,第一世次大戰五個主要戰勝國美、英、法、意、日在華盛頓簽訂「華盛頓海軍條約」,限制各國建造主力艦及航空母艦的總噸位,條約於1923年8月7日生效。其後「倫敦海軍條約」及「第二次倫敦海軍條約」進一步修改了「華盛頓海軍條約」中的部分條款,20世紀30年代中,日、意宣佈退出條約,之後不久,條約到期失效。這五個一次大戰時的盟友,在德國的威脅消失下,軍備競賽同展開。大日本帝國與歐美列強的對立持續加深,亦預計英、美等國將會建造更新式的大型戰艦,便興起對抗的決心,大和號的籌建就是在這歷史背景下產生。大和號是史上最大排水量的戰艦,集結當時最先進技術建成,1940年8月8日秘密下水,航速達27節並配備9門46公分口徑大砲,是日本海軍及舉國的驕傲,武藏號為其同型姊妹艦。大和號實際參與的戰役為1944年6月馬里安納海戰及1944年10月雷伊泰灣海戰。1945年4月1日,美軍登陸日本本島最後防線沖繩,1944年4月6日3時20分大和號參與「菊水作戰」,率領共11艘戰艦的艦隊從瀨戶內海出發協防沖繩,目的是吸引美軍戰鬥機攻擊大和號以減緩美軍對沖繩島攻勢,如能成功抵達沖繩則從東海西北方殘波岬突入並主動擱淺成為砲台,艦上乘員待砲彈耗盡則登陸支援友軍,可惜在缺乏空中掩護下要抵達沖繩已是不可能的任務。4月7日早上8時15分及8時23分,分別被兩隊美軍偵察機發現,12時40分、13時0分、13時30分,美軍共派出380餘架次從航空母艦起飛的戰鬥機、轟炸機及魚雷機攻擊大和號,大和號最終被12枚魚雷及多枚炸彈擊中,陷入火海,14時23分於九州和琉球群島之間的坊之岬隨大爆炸沉沒。二戰時期,航空母艦是前衛部隊,戰艦的火砲方為攻擊主力,大和號的沉沒象徵這種作戰思維的完結,隨著活塞引擎被噴射引擎所取代,戰鬥機的速度及續航力大大提高,航空母艦及艦載機主宰了海洋戰場直至今天。(Wai-leung Lai)

On 6 February 1922, the five major victorious countries of World War I, the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan, signed the "Washington Naval Treaty" in Washington, which limited the total tonnage of each country's construction of capital ships and aircraft carriers. The treaty was signed and effective on 7 August 1923. Subsequently, the "London Naval Treaty" and the "Second London Naval Treaty" further modified some provisions of the "Washington Naval Treaty". In the mid-1930s, Japan and Italy announced their withdrawal from the treaty. Shortly thereafter, the treaty expired. These five allies during World War I began an arms race with the disappearance of the German threat. The confrontation between the Empire of Japan and the European and American powers continued to deepen. It was also expected that Britain, the United States and other countries would build newer large-scale warships, and they became determined to confront each other. It was against this historical background that the preparations for the construction of the Yamato came about. The Yamato is the largest displacement battleship in history. It was built using the most advanced technology at the time. Secretly launched on 8 August 1940, it had a speed of 27 knots and was equipped with nine 46-centimeter-caliber cannons. It was the pride of the Japanese navy and the whole country; and Musashi, its Sister ship, was of the same type. The battles that Yamato actually participated in were the Battle of Mariana in June 1944 and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. On 1 April 1945, the U.S. military landed at Okinawa, the last line of defense on the Japanese mainland. At 3:20 on April 6, 1944, the Yamato participated in the "Operation Kikusui" and led a fleet of 11 warships to set off from the Seto Inland Sea to assist in the defense of Okinawa. The purpose is to attract U.S. fighter jets to attack Yamato to slow down the U.S. offensive on Okinawa. If it could successfully reach Okinawa, it would be able to break in from Cape Zanpa in the northwest of the East China Sea and actively run aground to become a fort. The crew on the ship would land to support friendly forces when the shells are exhausted. Unfortunately, in the absence of air cover, reaching Okinawa was an impossible task. At 8:15 and 8:23 a.m. on 7 April, the Yamato was discovered by two teams of US reconnaissance aircraft respectively. At 12:40, 13:00, and 13:30, the US military sent a total of more than 380 fighter jets taking off from the aircraft carrier; bombers and torpedo planes attacked the Yamato. The Yamato was eventually hit by 12 torpedoes and multiple bombs and fell into a sea of ​​flames. At 14:23, it sank with a big explosion at Cape Hono, between Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands. During World War II, aircraft carriers were the avant-garde force, and the battleship's artillery was the main force of attack. The sinking of Yamato symbolized the end of this kind of combat thinking. As piston engines were replaced by jet engines, the speed and endurance of fighter jets were greatly improved. However, aircraft carriers and carrier-based aircraft remained dominant in the maritime battlefield to this day. 

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