Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Much ado about nothing?

The issues surrounding the status and role of the Police/Gendarmerie in Syldavia following the “sceptre incident” has been perplexing me lately.  In my particular alternative timeline for Syldavia, something has most certainly happened to them. Consider this, first the king is shown to be an energetic and somewhat autocratic leader.  Second, the “sceptre incident” demonstrates that vast segments of Police are not loyal to the crown, but rather to Musslter.  Logically the king must take some steps to bring the police under control, and I feel that this would be the case.  However, it is curious to note that in the adventure “Destination Moon” the security forces (or ZEPO as they are known) guarding the rocketry facility appear in largely the same uniforms as seen in “King Ottokar’s Scepter”.  In general one does not entrust the security of a secret faculty to an organisation that cannot be trusted.  Finally another interesting point is the complete absence of the traditional police uniforms in the “Calculus Affair”.  Perhaps then, following the “sceptre incident” the Police were reorganised in order to root out any Bordurian sympathisers, and by the 1950’s finally seen as an entirely trustworthy organisation, albeit with a new role as a secret police/internal security force.

So, let us then explore this alternative timeline shall we?  The 1938 “sceptre incident” has demonstrated a grave problem within the Syldavian state, and in the months following the incident attempts are made to rid the police of subversive elements.

Initially this resulted in mass arrests across the country. Policemen had to fill in a questionnaire regarding their professional and political activities. About three hundred investigations were conducted, and the suspects divided into five categories - from "major offender" to "discharged".  Cleared of any subversive activity or links to Borduria, the majority of the police returned to their jobs. Most were not removed from their office, but the whole of the force was disarmed (just as it remains today), and over the next few years the police uniform was redesigned to differentiate it with the pre-war organisation.

However, this was not the end for the police or their pre-war uniform.  Ironically in 1949 the decision was reached that the state required an internal security force tasked with high security installations and countering Bordurian intelligence gathering activities.  The ZEPO is rumoured to have been formed in autumn 1949, although details are sketchy at best.  Although there are a few differences the official uniform is remarkably similar to the pre-war police uniform.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Duke of Travunia's own)

Like the Italians, the Austrians, and the Germans, after the war the Syldavian army experimented with specialist assault units for the purpose of raiding and or spearheading attacks. Ultimately the government in the 1920’s was unwilling to pursue this any further, and the experimental company was disbanded in 1921.  However the Duke of Travunia was a firm proponent of modern ideas of mobile warfare and with the blessing of the monarch he raised and financed the 3rd infantry regiment, organized for specialist operations.  The regiment contained not only infantrymen but also many other specialists: assault gunners with light cannon, machine gunners, mortar crews, and engineers. The men were issued the Bergman MP18 and large numbers of grenades, rather than then the standard infantry rifle in order to provide them with the firepower needed to consolidate captured enemy positions while awaiting reinforcement. The formation of a regiment of this type marked a radical change in tactics within the military.
The regulation uniform for the on-duty enlisted man consists of a dark grey wool service coat (w/ a falling collar), fez, shirt, dark grey wool trousers, helmet and ankle boots in brown leather, laced up with eyelets and hooks worn with puttees. The trousers and coat were reinforced at the elbows and knees. The regiment sported an unusual magazine pouch in drab light grey cloth, designed to be worn on the chest, its ten horizontal pockets holding the thirty-round clips of ammunition for the Bergman MP18.  For combat/field service the soldier would add a knife based on the traditional Travunian fighting knife and grenades.

The 3rd IR gained a notorious reputation within the Syldavian military and the public’s perception.  Soldiers in the 3rd IR have traditionally been allowed a greater degree of independence than those of other units.  The relatively young unit has been encouraged to develop a strong sense of espirit de corps and bravado.  For example during training recruits are often ordered to undertake raids on other units.  As a result more than a few proud old Syldavian regiments have briefly lost their prized regimental flag to a thief in the night.