Posted in Background Writing, Inspiration

Virginia Hall: Real-life Super-Spy, and ANTIC’s ‘GLAMOR’ girl

Or: The inspiration to make an incredible woman a pivotal character of Saucer War One

Greetings, everyone, and happy International Women’s Day! In honour of this celebration, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce you to one of the personalities of ANTIC, the defenders of Earth.

Virginia Hall is a name wargamers might not know as readily as Lord Dowding or his right-hand man Keith Park, but I hope that by the end of this article you will appreciate this amazing woman as much as I do. Read on, and enjoy the Girl’s Own adventure that was the real life of Virginia Hall, ‘the limping lady’.

Virginia Hall; Spy par excellence

Virginia was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1906, and schooled at the liberal, all-women Radcliffe and Barnard colleges before university and further studies in Europe. She had a ear for languages, a quality which would suit her well working as a clerk for the Consular Service, and later, for both the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in much more deadly roles.

A shooting accident while on assignment to the Consulate in Istanbul led to the amputation of Virginia’s left leg. Undaunted, she named its wooden replacement ‘Cuthbert’, and carried on her duties. Alas, her attempts to rise to the position of a diplomat were thwarted, discriminated against because of her disability, and probably also because of her sex.

When war erupted again in Europe, Virginia refused to sit on the sidelines. Infuriated by America’s reluctance to enter the fight, she headed for France, joined up, and drove an ambulance for the French Army until that nation fell to the Nazis in June, 1940. Still showing the same determination to fight, she escaped into Spain where fate intervened; Here, Virginia met George Bellows — an Intelligence Officer for the British Secret Service. Impressed by Virginia, Bellows brought her to the attention of Nicolas Bodington, an unsung hero of the war, and the man who set up the SOE. He was equally impressed, put Virginia through the SOE’s gruelling spy training programme – wooden leg not withstanding – and sent her to Vichy France, where she would spend the next 16 months causing the Gestapo to have a collective nervous break-down.

Virginia Hall built a network of informers – including a patriotic brothel madame whose girls passed on all that their German clients blabbed in bed – which kept the British up-to-date with what the Germans were doing in France. She slipped from the clutches of the Germans repeatedly, helped dozens of downed Allied airmen to escape capture, and, when she learned that the Vichy police had captured 12 agents, set in motion a plan that smuggled in all the tools the agents needed to escape (including a radio!) All succeeded in breaking out, and were smuggled to England, and safety.

A poignant self-portrait of Virginia Hall speaks of the loneliness of an agent

The Germans were understandably upset by this. The Gestapo redoubled its efforts to capture ‘the limping lady’, and came close by infiltrating a collaborator into Virginia’s circle of contacts. Warned just in time, Virginia fled for the Spanish border once again. This time, the only way across was to walk – on her wooden leg 50 miles across the Pyrenees mountains. So, she did.

When she returned to England, the SOE refused to send Virginia back to France. They feared she had been compromised, and the risk to her was too great. But by now the United States was in the war, so Virginia packed her cloak and dagger and went to work for the OSS instead.

In the lead-up to D-Day, (June 6, 1944), Virginia, convincingly disguised as an old milkmaid (she sold cheeses to German soldiers), returned to France, where she organised and armed cells of the French Resistance. She had to overcome the obstinate reluctance of many Frenchmen, who refused to take orders from a woman, even one with Virginia’s record of fighting the occupiers.

Eventually she won the French to her side, and with 1500 Resistance fighters, Virginia blew up German trains, bridges, fuel dumps, and anything else she didn’t like.

Locomotive wrecked by the Resistance in 1944

After the war, Virginia was rehired by the then-new CIA, working to undermine Russian influence in Europe. She married fellow OSS officer Paul Goillot; six inches shorter and eight years younger than his former boss, Virginia.

The CIA, however, was quickly forgetting its origins in the War, and the critical roles played by the OSS’s female operatives; It rapidly degraded into a ‘boy’s club’, and men who hadn’t served in the front lines resented Virginia’s enviable record, and her justly deserved recognition. (Virginia Hall received the U.S. Distinguished Service Cross, the British Member of the British Empire, and France’s Croix de Guerre.) Left ‘piloting a desk’ for the rest of her career, Virginia soon disappeared into obscurity.

Virginia Hall receives her DFC from General Donovan, OSS

Or at least, that’s the official story.

In the reality revealed in Saucer War One, we discover that the postwar world had even greater need for Virginia Hall. With the Earth threatened by a danger perhaps even greater than that of fascism, Virginia was put forward by Majestic 12 as a candidate for recruitment by ANTIC – the new, ultra-secret agency tasked with tackling the Venusian threat. Lord Dowding, the organisational genius who led the RAF to victory in the Battle of Britain, had been selected to command ANTIC, and he knew of Virginia’s exploits against the Nazis. To the surprise of most, he did not merely choose Virginia Hall to assist with ANTIC’s intelligence operations (PRANK), but to control them.

It was a brilliant decision. Dowding recognised that his Head of Intelligence (code-named GLAMOR), must be ruthless, cautious, insightful and unstoppable. He got just what he needed in Virginia Hall. Taking to the job with gusto, Virginia recognised the danger the Noordicans presented as easily as she had sensed when the Gestapo crept too close back in France. Using her CIA desk job as the perfect cover, Virginia recruited her PRANK agents from all walks of life, and all nationalities. Being charged with saving the world, she knew ANTIC needed eyes and ears everywhere. (Rumours persist that among her recruits were residents of the White House, Buckingham Palace, and even the Kremlin.)

When the Saucer War One timeline ‘kicks off’ in mid-1952, Virginia Hall is still racing to build her massive network of agents, informants, and contacts. To keep track of the volumes of data these people feed into PRANK, Virginia is ably assisted by the unique, self-aware Cryotronic Mega-Computer she named ‘Cuthbert’, after her faithful wooden leg. “Cuthbert’s” opinion regarding its name is a secret it keeps to itself!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about both the real and (maybe?) fictitious Virginia Hall. When I discovered her story, it fired my imagination, and the whole idea of GLAMOR and PRANK flowed from there. From small seeds, and all that.

Next time, I hope to finally show off the first 3D prints of miniature saucers, so stay tuned for that!

See you then, and — Watch the Skies!

Posted in Background Writing

Saucer War One Faction Sketch #1: ANTIC

Defending the Earth from the Truth…?

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a fantastic weekend. Things have been a big disorganised here in the Miniature Martin bunker, which led to a delay in this week’s article. But, here it is now, and its the first in a look at the ‘factions’ vying for victory in the world of Saucer War One. Join me as we peek inside the locked filing cabinet containing the secrets of ANTIC!

The ANTIC logo is based on an African symbol of Anansi, a mythical spider notorious for deception

“Actually, Mr. President — You don’t ‘need to know.’ “

ANTIC is the ultra-secret, international organisation behind all the UFO conspiracies. Formed in 1952 as the world’s governments scrambled to stop the Noordican and Nazi threats from space, ANTIC maintains squadrons of human-made saucers in hidden bases all over the world. Concealed beneath a cloak of misinformation and deception, ANTIC is not afraid to take extreme measures in the name of defeating the alien menace. 

Forever caught in a delicate balancing act, ANTIC must take the fight to the skies but never reveal the reality of its covert war. Therefore, as this leaked Order of Battle reveals, ANTIC is split into three Commands: JAPE, CAPER and PRANK.

JAPE is the arm of ANTIC charged with forging the arms of war. All the saucers and super-technology essential for fighting the Noordicans comes from JAPE’s secret factories, buried beneath the Canadian Rockies or hidden in Siberian forests.

CAPER is the operational command of ANTIC. It controls the actual saucer squadrons and their bases, assigning personnel and machines to respond to any threat anywhere in the world.

PRANK is ANTIC’s espionage arm. Many of its operations read like the most outlandish spy novels, filled with the dark dealings of CLOWN agents out to steal the best R&D projects, or silence anyone who have seen too much. PRANK has fingers in many nations’ intelligence services and news agencies, and they use these connections to ‘control the narrative’ about flying saucers, ensuring the general public consider them the ravings of crackpots and hoaxers. Ridiculing and humiliating witnesses, destroying evidence, paying off scientists and politicians are all part of PRANK’s sinister but necessary duty.

It takes all kinds of people to fight a war that is as much about what we believe as it is about hammering Venusian saucers full of 30mm cannon rounds. Because of this, ANTIC have a recruitment policy of turning away no-one as long as they can contribute to the fight. (While keeping their mouths shut). Neither colour, creed, race nor sex are reasons to reject someone from the ranks of the most important force-at-arms in Human history.

ANTIC pilots are real cool cats.

ANTIC has several distinct saucers it can bring to the table, all inspired by real-world lenticular aircraft: We’ve already revealed the sleek NS-97 ‘Silvercat’, and it has several stablemates including the big, spearhead-shaped ‘Omega’, the two-crew ‘Silverhound’ and the Russian ‘Diska’: A brutal, buzz-saw ramming-saucer! 

(We’ll be seeing more of the other ANTIC saucers as work on Saucer War One progresses. Stay tuned…)

Why play as ANTIC?

ANTIC saucers are highly customisable compared to those of other factions.
Their experimental saucers and weapons permit strange and unpredictable combinations that ensure an ANTIC force always has a surprise up its sleeve. Also, playing an ANTIC force will appeal to fans of classic jet aircraft of the postwar era. All those silver discs people saw in the 50’s? Yep, that was ANTIC, lifting from hidden underground or underwater bases to tangle with the Noordican invaders.

For all their dubious morality, ANTIC can rightly claim to be the defenders of the Earth, and they look cool while defending it too!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first glimpse into the factions of Saucer War One. You can probably guess from their Table of Organisation that there is a lot more yet to be revealed about ANTIC, and the people who keep us safe from alien invasion (and the truth…)

Next time we will explore the incredible, ancient history of the Noordicans, and what has forced them to come to Earth, thousands of years after being abandoned upon the hell-world of Venus. Until then, fellow Miniaturists:

Watch the Skies!

Posted in Background Writing, Inspiration

Humanity United against a Common Foe? I Have a Dream.

ANTIC and the real fight for Humankind

I feel the need at this time to write a little something about the philosophy of Saucer War One

I’ve no desire to pontificate, but events in the United States this June serve to remind me that as a creator, I have a responsibility to portray my fellow humans without prejudice or presumption. It is a responsibility I aim to take very seriously. 

The ‘good guys’ in Saucer War One are ANTIC: An air force that operates under a shroud of deep secrecy to defend all the Earth. This is a little insight into not how but why I created ANTIC. 

When I first conceived of Saucer War One a few years ago, I was very aware that its story and historical setting came with an ‘elephant in the room’: The racism and sexism of the era in which it is set: The 1950’s. 

It was a time when unmarried Australian women needed their father’s written permission to attend universities. When black Americans lived in fear of church burnings and lynch mobs. When Jews were still subjected to pogroms in Europe and Asia. When most of Africa was ruled by white minority or colonial governments. 

I chose to not ignore these things, but instead created ANTIC as the super-secret organisation dedicated to defending ALL Humanity, willingly recruiting anyone with the courage and skill to fight. An ANTIC recruit’s colour, gender, sexuality, or belief is irrelevant. No-one cares who they last voted for. Or if they’re socialist or capitalist. Or who they sleep with. Or whom they pray to. 

All that counts is their love of their fellow Human Beings, and their Earth.

Even though Saucer War One is just a sci-fi wargame about flying saucers zooming and zapping, it is my sincere hope that one day all Humanity might be like ANTIC: United beyond the barricades of prejudice, in the fight to make our real world a better place.

Posted in Background Writing

SW1: The Story So Far…

SW1: The Story So Far…

Millennia before Human civilisation began, an alien race came to Earth with a sinister purpose. They were the Annunaki; A species of giants with intellects to match their stature, but utterly lacking in empathy for the millions of Earthlings they enslaved to serve their galactic empire. For thousands of years, the Annunaki robbed the Earth of its treasures, despoiled its lands and fouled its seas. Maliciously, they twisted and warped the DNA of Humankind to suit their ends, then sent millions of altered slaves to work mines on Venus and Mars, never to see their native Earth again. They built a mighty floating continent for themselves, from which their demands for tribute grew ever louder, for the Annunaki ruled as gods, and laughed at the ignorant savages that grovelled in worship before them. 

Then, as suddenly as they arrived, the Annunaki vanished. In a day and a night, their floating continent sank beneath the waves, and the survivors fled for distant, dark corners of the galaxy. On Earth, the Annunaki became mere legend, entangled in the mythologies of the ancient world. Ignorant of its past, Humanity resumed its own course down the road of civilisation. 

In the middle of the 20th century, the forgotten past returned. The ancient sky-chariots of the Annunaki began to reappear all over the world. They were rarely welcomed; Dim race-memories of dreadful things stirred in the minds of those who saw them. But where had they come from?

It was the Noordicans — descendants of the slave-miners of Venus — who had learned to master the flying machines of the Annunaki, and they were returning to Earth. Desperate to escape their dying homeworld, they brought with them a message of peace and love, but it was ignored by those who lusted after the ancient, war-winning technologies the machines possessed. In Nazi Germany, the secrets of the sky-chariots were unlocked, and fleets of menacing, field-grey discs escaped into space while the Thousand Year Reich burned and died. 

The Noordicans retreated and tried again, but they returned to an Earth gripped by the first frost of the Cold War, where paranoia and suspicion ruled the day. Their sky-chariots were branded ‘foo fighters’, ‘flying saucers’ or ‘ufos’, and were greeted with fear and alarm wherever they went. 

Only a few souls, innocent or foolish, were willing to hear the Noordican’s pacifist teachings. Those naive disciples sought to prevent an atomic war that seemed increasingly inevitable, as East and West rattled their sabers. Through these ‘Contactees’, the Noordican’s disarming creed began to spread. 

While the Contactees preached the Noordican’s gospel of universal peace, other Earthlings suspected the Noordicans had ulterior motives. Why were these visitors from another world so adamant on nuclear disarmament? What was their true reason for abandoning their mysterious home of Venus? Why were the ships of these ‘pacifists’ armed with incredible weapons that could destroy anything sent up against them? In record time, a secret army — code-named ANTIC — was created to defend the Earth. With hidden bases spread all across the globe and equipped with the latest, most secret weapons Humanity could muster, ANTIC was prepared for the worst. 

In the early 1950’s, it became all too clear what the worst might be: The Noordicans were emboldened by the hordes of Contactees clamouring for their salvation from nuclear destruction. Pressure was building on the governments’ of Earth. The Noordican incursions became more and more brazen, their saucers challenging the world’s air forces for supremacy. Earth would soon be engulfed in a new war to decide its destiny: Would it remain under the mastery of Earthlings? Or the prodigal sons returned from Venus? 

It was the summer of 1952, and the invasion had begun.