Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 17th January – 6th February 1937

THE BATTLE FOR MALAGA

With the arrival in Spain of the Italian "volunteers" the Nationalists now felt able to mount an offensive on the southern provinces of Republican Spain. Three Nationalist columns converged on Malaga; the Army of the South, led by General Gonzalo Quiepo de Llano, advanced from the West; from Granada, to the north-east of the city, came forces under the command of Colonel Antonio Munoz; and moving down from the North were the Italians, led by General Mario Roatta.

Although large numbers of Republican troops were available to defend Malaga, they were badly organised and they steadily retreated. By 3rd February the attackers had reached the outskirts of the city and, three days later, when the last defenders fled northward towards Almeria, the Nationalists entered Malaga.

Monday, 16 January 2017

The Liberal War: The ships that took part in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent

I was rather intrigued by the fact that a British admiral commanded the Liberal fleet during the war, and did some research into the ships that took part in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent.


Liberal fleet
Commanded by Admiral Charles Napier
  • Frigates:
    • Rainha de Portugal (46 guns [5th Rate]; Flagship; Captain MacDonough)*
    • Dona Maria (42 guns [5th Rate]; Captain Peake)
    • Dom Pedro (50 guns [5th Rate]; Captain Thomas Goble)
  • Corvette:
    • Vila Flor (18 guns [6th Rate]; Captain Ruxton)
  • Brig:
    • Portuense (20 gun [6th Rate]; Captain Blackstone)
  • Schooner:
    • Faro (6 guns)

Miguelite fleet
Commanded by Admiral Manuel António Marreiros
  • Ships-of-the-Line:
    • Rainha (74 guns [2nd Rate]; Captain Barradas) – Captured by Rainha de Portugal
    • Dom João (74 guns [2nd Rate]; Flagship) – Captured by Rainha de Portugal
    • Duquesa da Bragança (56 guns [4th Rate]) – Captured by Dona Maria
  • Frigate:
    • Martinho de Freitas (50 guns [5th Rate]) – Captured by Rainha de Portugal after beating off an attack by Portuense, during which Captain Blackstone was killed
  • Corvettes:
    • Isabel Maria (22 guns [6th Rate]) – Captured
    • Princesa Real (24 guns [6th Rate])
    • Tejo (20 guns [6th Rate])
    • Sybille (20 guns [6th Rate])
  • Brig:
    • Audaz (18 guns [6th Rate])
  • Xebec:
    • Activa

* The Rainha de Portugal is shown on some lists as having been built as a 74 gun ship-of-the-line in the 1791. She is thought to have been rebuilt as a frigate and in 1833 she was renamed (somewhat unsurprisingly) Cabo de São Vicente. She is thought to have been discarded by 1848.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Liberal War

Doing the research into the design of the flag of the Portuguese Autonomous Region of the Azores brought my attention to the so-called Liberal War of 1828 to 1834. As I knew next to nothing about this war, I did some further research ... and thought that it might be of interest to some of my regular blog readers.

The Liberal War
The French invasion of Portugal in November 1807 had forced the Portuguese Royal Family to flee to Brazil. On 16th December 1815, Prince John (João) – who was acting as Regent for his mother, Queen Maria – created the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (Reino Unido de Portugal, Brasil e Algarves). This gave Brazil equal status to Portugal and allowed Brazilian representatives were elected to sit in the Portuguese Constitutional Courts (Cortes Constitucionais Portuguesas). In 1816 Queen Maria died, and after several delays Prince John was acclaimed king (King João VI) of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves in a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.

The Royal Family remained in Brazil until 1821 when, in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution in Oporto in August 1820, they returned to Portugal. King John VI’s eldest son – Prince Pedro – remained in Brazil. When the Portuguese parliament (the Cortes) demanded that Brazil revert to its former status as a Portuguese colony, the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Senate (the Senado da Câmara), persuaded Prince Pedro to declare Brazil independent, which he did on 9th January 1822. Furthermore on 12th October of that year he had himself crowned Emperor of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, taking the title Dom Pedro I.

Dom Pedro.
Dom Miguel.
When King John VI died on 10th March 1826 the question of who was to succeed him led to a dispute between Dom Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil and his younger brother – Dom Miguel. The latter believed that when the former had declared Brazil to be independent of Portugal, he had forfeited his claim to the throne. Dom Pedro I then began to use the title of Dom Pedro IV of Portugal in addition to that of Emperor of Brazil, but as neither the Portuguese or Brazilians wanted to return to a united kingdom with a single monarchy, Dom Pedro abdicated the throne of Portugal in favour of his daughter, Maria da Gloria. Dom Pedro then revised the 1822 Portuguese Constitution to ensure that the future succession to the throne of Portugal was assured.

The new Constitution established four branches of government:
  • The Legislature, which comprised the upper chamber or Chamber of Peers (which was composed of life and hereditary peers and clergy appointed by the king), and the lower chamber or Chamber of Deputies (which was composed of 111 Deputies elected for four-year terms by local assemblies, which in turn were elected by a small number of male tax-paying property owners).
  • The Judiciary;
  • The Executive (i.e. the ministers of the government);
  • The Monarch, who had a veto over all legislation.
The new Constitution ran counter to the wishes of the absolutist landowners and the Catholic Church, who felt that Dom Miguel was the legitimate successor to King John IV. The country then entered a period of civil unrest, with Dom Miguel’s supporters taking control in Lisbon and the supporters of the Constitution – led by General João Carlos de Saldanha – concentrating around Oporto.

The situation became so bad that in January 1827 the British government sent an expeditionary force to Portugal to restore order. The 5,000-strong force was led by Sir William Clinton and landed in Oporto in support of General Saldhanha’s constitutionalists. Dom Miguel bowed to international pressure, and left Portugal soon afterwards. Having apparently achieved their objective, the British troops eventually withdrew on 28th April 1828.

When Dom Miguel returned to Portugal in February 1828, he did so with the apparent intention of swearing to uphold the new Constitution. However, with the support of the absolutists and the Church, he dissolved the Chamber of Peers and the Chamber of Deputies in March, and in May he summoned a meeting of the traditional Portuguese Parliament (the Cortes) which proclaimed him King Miguel I of Portugal. He immediately repudiated the new Constitution and from 7th July onwards he began to rule as an absolute monarch.

Reaction to this was swift, and on 18th May 1828 the army garrison in Porto declared their support of the new Constitution and Maria da Gloria as well as their loyalty to Dom Pedro. This was followed by several revolts elsewhere in Portugal, and civil war broke out. The new king swiftly moved to suppress the revolt, and many thousands of Liberals were either arrested or fled abroad, mainly to Spain and Britain.

In the meantime the young queen – Maria da Gloria – had returned to Brazil, where her father was involved in a power struggle with the major landowners. Eventually in April 1831 he abdicated the throne of the Empire of Brazil in favour of his son – Pedro II – and set sail for Britain.

Maria da Gloria.
As soon as he arrived in Britain Dom Pedro obtained a large loan from British sources and began to assemble a military expedition with which he hoped to regain control of Portugal. (Besides a number of Portuguese Liberals, the force comprised volunteers from Brazil, England, and France.) Once this had been done, Dom Pedro set sail for Terceira in the Azores, which was in the hands of the Liberals, and once there he set up a government in exile.

Miguelist ships had tried to blockade the Azores prior to Dom Pedro’s arrival, but at the Battle of Praia Bay on 12th August 1828 they had been defeated. The fleet had then retreated to the Tagus, where in July 1831 – in retaliation for the ill treatment of numerous French nationals in Portugal – a French naval force had seized several of the fleet’s ships.

In July 1832 the 6,500-strong expeditionary force finally landed in Oporto, Portugal. It was commanded by Dom Pedro and opposed by a besieging force of 80,000 Miguelist troops. The fighting around Oporto included the indecisive Battle of Ponte Ferreira on 23rd July 1832, where 5,000 Liberals (led by António José Severim de Noronha, 1st Duke of Terceira) fought 15,000 Miguelists (led by Luís Vaz Pereira Pinto Guedes, 2nd Viscount of Montalegre and General Cardoso). The two sides suffered 440 and 1,400 casualties respectively.

The Battle of Ponte Ferreira.
The Duke of Terceira.
The ships of the expeditionary force were led by Admiral Charles Napier (using the alias 'Carlos de Ponza'), and on 5th July 1833 they defeated the Miguelist fleet off Cape St. Vincent. With the support of Napier’s ships, the Duke of Terceira sailed from Oporto to Faro in the Algarve, and marched north through the Alentejo to capture Lisbon on 24th July.

The Battle of Cape St. Vincent.
Admiral Charles Napier ('Carlos de Ponza').
A nine month-long stalemate then ensued, during which Maria da Gloria was proclaimed queen (Maria II of Portugal) with Dom Pedro as her regent. He immediately confiscated the property of anyone who had served under Dom Miguel and suppressed all religious houses. He also confiscated any property belonging to the latter, an act which alienated the Catholic Church for many years thereafter.

Although the Liberals controlled Portugal’s two main cities – Lisbon and Oporto – and had a great deal of support amongst the middle class, the Miguelists had the support of the majority of the aristocracy and the landowners. Attempts by the Liberals to achieve a military solution resulted in the Battles of Alcácer do Sal – where the Liberals were defeated – and Asseiceira (or Santarém) (16th May 1834) – where the Liberals won a resounding victory. The latter was sufficient to convince Dom Miguel that victory was impossible and on 24th May he formally renounced all claims to the throne of Portugal. I return he was guaranteed an annual pension, and agreed to go into permanent exile. Dom Pedro immediately restored the new Constitution, but he died so afterwards on 24th September 1834.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

A new flag for my collection

Over the years I have collected a number of flags from the various countries that I have visited, and during our last cruise I was able to add the flag of the Azores to my collection.


The symbols used on the flag reflect the history of this autonomous region of Portugal:
  • Blue and white were the traditional national colours used by the Portuguese, and are a reminder of the role played by the islands during The Liberal Wars.*
  • The Azores are known as the Açores in Portuguese, the name given to the islands because the goshawk (açor in Portuguese) was supposed to be the most common bird found there. This was in fact incorrect as the early explorers misidentified a type of buzzard which lived on the islands as being a goshawk.
  • The arms in the top corner of the flag are the lesser arms of Portugal.
  • The nine stars represent the nine islands of the Azores which are: São Miguel, São Jorge, Terceira, Santa Maria, Graciosa, Faial, Pico, Flores, and Corvo.

* The Liberal Wars (which were also known as the Portuguese Civil War, the War of the Two Brothers, or Miguelite War) took place between 1828 and 1834, and were fought between the progressive constitutionalists (led by Dom Pedro, the eldest son of the King of Portugal) and authoritarian absolutists (led by Dom Miguel, the king's younger son) over the royal succession. The Azores was one of the strongholds of the constitutionalists.

Friday, 13 January 2017

The Portable Wargame book ... is now available!

Thanks to a slight misunderstanding on my part (I failed to select the right access option on Lulu.com) my PORTABLE WARGAME book has been published before I was able to send out review copies.

The book comes in three different formats:

As a hardback (ISBN 978-1-326-90454-8) for £14.99  ...


... as a paperback (ISBN 978-1-326-90458-6) for £5.99, ...


... and as an ebook (ISBN 978-1-326-90460-9) for £2.99.


All three are currently on sale via Lulu.com, and will be on sale from Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc., in the near future.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 165

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered early yesterday, and I was able to read through it yesterday afternoon and this morning.


The articles included in this issue are:
  • Field Marshal Sir Geroge White, VC by David Nalson
  • The Other Baker Pasha: Major General Charles George Baker, VC by Frank Jastrzembski
  • VMS Seminar on the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, Saturday 29 April 2017 - 11.00am-5.00pm
  • Florence Nightingale before the Royal Commission: 'The very first requirement of a hospital should be that it should do the sick no harm' by David Snape
  • Diehards' Review of 2016 by Tim Rose
  • A Leicestershire Naval Officer: The Life and Early Death of Lieutenant Rudolph Edward Lisle March De Lisle RN, 1853-1885 by David Howell
  • The Crimean War Hero Who Never Saw the Crimea by Mike Boxall
  • Obituary: Lt. Col. M.L. Clewer (Trustee of the Victorian Military Society) 3 September 1931 - 26 October 2016 by Lt. Col. Donald 'Hobo' Hobson
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS
I particularly enjoyed the articles about General Charles Baker and Lieutenant De Lisle because of their connections to two of my Victorian heroes, Valentine Baker and Colonel Frederick Burnaby.

Yet another excellent issue of the magazine that anyone with an interest in Victorian and Edwardian military history should read.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: Calvo Sotelo-class Gunboat

Built at Cadiz between 1934 and 1936 for the Mexican Navy, she was taken over on the outbreak of the Civil War and served with the Nationalist Navy.

Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 1,600 tons standard; 2,000 tons full load
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 303’ (92.4m)
    • Beam: 40’ (12.2m)
    • Draught: 10’ (3.1m)
  • Maximum Speed: 20 knots
  • Armament: 4 x 4” (102 mm) (4 x 1); 2 x 2.9” (75 mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (2 x 1); 3 x 0.8” (20 mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (3 x 1)
  • Complement: 141
Calvo Sotelo survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the late 1950’s.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Useful items found in the aquarium section of a pet shop

During a recent visit to a local pet shop I happened to be browsing in the aquarium section when I saw some items that I thought might be useful as scenery for wargames ... so I bought them!



Note: I have included some based 15mm Essex Miniatures in the photographs to give some idea of the size of these items.

None of them cost me more than £3.00 each, and they seem to have all sorts of potential. The castle wall and arch might need repainting, but that will not be too difficult to do, and will improve their appearance no end.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Nugget 296

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N296) from the printer on Saturday and I will post it out to members of Wargame Developments later today.


I have already uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and they are available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.


IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fifth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2016-2017 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: Antonio Canovas del Castillo-class Gunboats

Built at Cartagena between 1920 and 1923. The original names were shortened c1930 by the omission of the first word of the name. All served in the Nationalist Navy.

Ships' characteristics:
  • Displacement: 1,314 tons standard; 1,335 tons normal
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 251’ 4” (76.6m)
    • Beam: 33’ 9” (10.3m)
    • Draught: 11’ 9” (3.6m)
  • Maximum Speed: 15 knots
  • Armament: 4 x 4” (102mm) (4 x 1); 2 x 3 pdr (47mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (2 x 1)
  • Complement: 220
Antonio Canovas del Castillo survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the late 1950’s.
Jose Canalejas survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the late 1950’s.
Eduardo Dato was sunk at Algerciras on 11th August 1936 by Jamie I. She was raised and repaired after the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the late 1950’s.