Miniature military scenes have big impact

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser
Chris Williams with one of his World War I military dioramas, which will be on display at this Sunday’s Albany RSL sub-branch open day.
Camera IconChris Williams with one of his World War I military dioramas, which will be on display at this Sunday’s Albany RSL sub-branch open day. Credit: Albany Advertiser

No detail is spared, uniform colours are historically precise to their depicted unit, buildings are architecturally accurate to their time and location, and all the tricks are pulled in putting together scaled dioramas.

The process is painstaking.

At least 20 to 30 hours of work go into each diorama.
Camera IconAt least 20 to 30 hours of work go into each diorama. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Model trees are made on the other side of the continent in Melbourne, drives to and from Perth are required for the finishing touches on soldiers’ uniforms and some 20-30 hours are invested in each project.

Some take weeks.

But for Chris Williams, it is a labour of love.

Chris Williams with one of his World War 1 military dioramas that will be on display at this Sunday's RSL open day.
Camera IconChris Williams with one of his World War 1 military dioramas that will be on display at this Sunday's RSL open day. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

“They’re quite fiddly to put together,” Mr Williams said.

“They come as a base figure and then you put them together with bits of packs and backpacks and gun belts and all sorts of things onto the model.

“I then have a close friend in Perth who is a retired cartographer who’s got a fantastic eye (and paints the soldiers’ uniforms).”

From a Morris Quad set given to an eight-year-old Sheffield lad as a birthday present in the 1950s, Mr Williams’ collection has come a long way.

Mr Williams started with a Morris Quad, which was given to him as an eight-year-old Sheffield boy.
Camera IconMr Williams started with a Morris Quad, which was given to him as an eight-year-old Sheffield boy. Credit: Albany Advertiser

“I came out to Australia when I was 11. I was able to bring out a few toys with me ... I brought, I think, about half-a-dozen army toys,” Mr Williams said.

“I played with them in the backyard, blew them up with penny bombs, had some good wars with them.”

Now, hidden below his Mt Melville home, “Chris’ man cave” boasts at least 3000 models, with plenty of meticulously detailed dioramas depicting the plight of servicemen in World War I to accompany them.

Despite a remarkable amount of detail in each diorama, Mr Williams does like to leave some things to the imagination.

Dead soldiers are usually avoided, and opposing servicemen are never pointing their guns at each other.

Dead soldiers are usually avoided and opposing servicemen are never pointing their guns at each other.
Camera IconDead soldiers are usually avoided and opposing servicemen are never pointing their guns at each other. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Some of Mr Williams’ dioramas will be on display at the Albany RSL sub-branch’s open day on Sunday ahead of Remembrance Day on Monday.

“I’m dying to have a look at them,” Albany RSL sub-branch president Geoff McNeill said.

Monday’s Remembrance Day service will be held at the Albany War Memorial from 10.30am.

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