Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Tin Soldiers In Action

David Crook (who writes the A WARGAMING ODYSSEY blog) recently bought a copy of TIN SOLDIERS IN ACTION: FAIR AND SQUARE RULES FROM 1680 UNTIL ABOUT 1914 from Caliver Books, and knowing my great interest in wargames that use a gridded playing surface, he suggested that I should buy a copy. I did ... and it arrived a few days ago.

The book has been written by Rüdiger Hofrichter and Klaus Hofrichter. It is published by Partizan Press (ISBN 978 1 85818 721 1) and costs £27.50 plus postage. On the face of this the price seems to be rather steep, but the book is a hardback and has 272 pages. It is well illustrated, and has a section containing colour photographs in the middle.

In the Introduction the author writes that he began the process of designing the rules in 2010 because he wanted to create 'a more manageable system of war gaming for our tin soldier armies. The aim was to find a game, which would be quick and easy to play'. He sums his objectives as follows:
'The challenge was to design a game which is
  • action driven
  • quick and easy to play
  • historically accurate
  • realistic in its feel
  • easy to understand
  • smooth in its flow
  • simple to explain
  • while taking it easy on our hand-painted tin soldiers
I am currently still reading my way through the book. It is well laid out, and I am finding the rules easy to follow, although I do find the language a bit ponderous at times. I suspect that this is due to it being translated from German, the language the book was originally written in.

The book has its own Facebook page and section on BoardGameGeek, and I suspect that it will attract a small but enthusiastic following.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 24th August 1936

The new Russian Ambassador, Marcel Rosenberg, arrived in Republican Spain. He was accompanied by a large number of Russian "advisers".

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Connections UK 2016: Programme details

I have now downloaded a copy of the Connections UK 2016 Programme, and it looks like this:

Day 1: Tuesday 6th September
  • 9.00am – 09.30am: Arrivals and coffee.
  • 9.30am – 09.40am: Welcome and introduction.
  • 9.40am – 5.10pm: Megagame – ‘War in Binni’. (Breaks for drinks at 11.30am and 4.45pm, and for lunch from 1.00pm to 2.00pm.)
  • 5.10pm – 6.00pm: Megagame After Action Review. How the game could be improved.
Day 2: Wednesday 7th September
  • 9.00am – 09.20am: Arrivals and coffee.
  • 9.20am – 09.30am: Welcome and introduction.
  • 9.30am – 11.00am: Plenary 1: The psychology of successful wargames.
  • 11.00am – 11.30am: Drinks break.
  • 11.30am – Midday: Games Fair briefing.
  • Midday – 1.00pm: Lunch.
  • 1.00pm – 2.15pm: Plenary 2: Non-combat (non-map and counter) wargames.
  • 2.30pm – 5.00pm: Games Fair Session 1. (Break for drinks at 4.00pm).
  • 5.00pm – 6.00pm: Keynote address: Advancing and Expanding the Craft of Wargaming: Ten (Not Entirely Randomly-Generated) Reflections on Wargaming.
  • 6.00pm – 7.00pm: Supper.
  • 7.00pm onwards: Games Fair Session 2.
Day 3: Thursday 8th September
  • 8.45am – 09.00am: Arrivals and coffee.
  • 9.00am – 10.00am: Plenary 3: Computer simulations and technology.
  • 10.00am – 10.45am: Plenary 4: Strategic Gaming.
  • 10.45am – 11.15am: Drinks break.
  • 11.15am – 12.30pm: Plenary 4: Successful real-world wargames.
  • 12.30pm – 1.15pm: Lunch
  • 1.15pm – 2.35pm: Plenary 5: Wargaming Innovations.
  • 2.40pm – 2.50pm Breakout introduction: How might we institutionalise wargaming and build the wargaming capacity?
  • 2.50pm – 3.00pm: Drinks break.
  • 3.00pm – 3.45pm: Breakout Facilitated syndicates for:
    • Serving ‘front line’ personnel;
    • Defence Science & Technology;
    • Education and Training;
    • Connections (global);
    • Historical Analysis/Conflict Research;
    • Academia;
    • Industry;
    • Game designers/hobby gamers.
  • 3.45pm – 4.30pm: Breakout back briefs and discussion.
  • 4.30pm – 4.45pm: Closing remarks.
I have booked my place at this year's conference, and I am looking forward to attending it. As it tends to be quite 'hands on' and not like many of the 'Death by PowerPoint' conferences that I used to attend before I retired, I know that I will come away from it with lots to think about.

Monday, 22 August 2016

My three thousandth blog entry!

This is the three thousandth blog entry that I have written since I first started this blog back on 18th September 2008!

In that first entry I wrote the following:
I intend to share my thoughts on wargaming (and other related matters that crop up) with a wider audience ... probably much to the relief of my wife and wargaming colleagues. So watch this space ... and come prepared to be bored!
Well eight years on I still have thoughts to share, and judging by the number of 'hits' my blog gets each day, I've not been too boring ... yet!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The scum of the earth

In November 1813 the then Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington, is reported to have said in a private conversation that:
A French army is composed very differently from ours. The conscription calls out a share of every class — no matter whether your son or my son — all must march; but our friends — I may say it in this room — are the very scum of the earth. People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling — all stuff — no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children — some for minor offences — many more for drink; but you can hardly conceive such a set brought together, and it really is wonderful that we should have made them the fine fellows they are.
I currently have some of Wellington's 'scum' (or at least wargame figures of them) on my work table in the process of being renovated, varnished, and based ... and to put me in the mood for the task ahead I am listening to a recording of SHARPE'S FURY, read by Paul McGann.

Paul McGann was originally cast as Richard Sharpe in the TV series based on Bernard Cornwall's books, but two weeks into the filming of the first episode McGann injured his knee whilst playing football, and he was replaced by Sean Bean. Instead he went on to portray another fictional fighting man of the Napoelonic era, Lieutenant William Bush ...

... the best friend of Horatio Hornblower, in the TV series based on C.S. Forester's books.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Looking Down On War

Whilst we were at the National Archives earlier this week, Sue paid a visit to the onsite bookshop ... and bought me a copy of LOOKING DOWN ON WAR: AXIS WARSHIPS AS SEEN ON PHOTOS FROM ALLIED INTELLIGENCE FILES.

The book was written by Colonel Roy M Stanley II, USAF (ret.) and published in 2011 by Pen & Sword Maritime (ISBN 978 184884 471 1). The book makes extensive use of aerial and other intelligence photographs, most of which were taken under combat conditions. It is split into the following sections:
  • Introduction
  • Chapter I - Background
  • Chapter II - Naval Bases, Ports and Harbors
  • Chapter III - Reichsmarine
  • Chapter IV - Regia Marina
  • Chapter V - Marine Nationale
  • Chapter VI - The Imperial Japanese Navy
  • Chapter VII - Final Observations
  • Bibliography
  • Index
I particularly enjoyed the first chapter because over the past ten years I have visited quite a few of the places featured in the photographs, and I spent quite some time trying to identify exactly where we had been. Some of the action photographs are amazing, and two in particular stand out. One is of Bristol Beaufighters attacking German mine-layers in the Gironde Estuary. Seven of the rockets that have been fired can actually be seen in flight on their way towards their target. The other photograph is used on the cover of the book, and shows a Japanese sub-chaser being attacked by an American B-25.

If one looks carefully, the crew of the ship's forward gun can actually be seen running for shelter!

An interesting book, and well worth reading if you have an interest in aerial and other intelligence photographs.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 401

My copy the September issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine was delivered yesterday morning, and I have just finished reading through it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Henry Hyde
  • Corking outcrops: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • To the next river!: Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle as a time: Part Five by Andrew Rolph
  • Centreville refought: A Memorial to Terrence Wise by Mike Batten
  • A Piper at the Gates: A Hammer's Slammers scenario by John Treadaway
  • Wargaming my way by Steve Jones
  • Grenouisse at bay part 3: The Wars of the Faltenian Succession continue by Henry Hyde
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
  • Send three and fourpence: Exclusive Interview with Richard Borg by Conrad Kinch
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer-Barnes
  • Making More Hay by Tony Harwood
  • The Joy of Six 2016 by Neil Shuck
  • Recce
The highlights of this issue were – as far as I am concerned – the ongoing series of Great Patriotic War scenarios by Andrew Rolph, Henry Hyde's description of the latest campaign in the The Wars of the Faltenian Succession, and last – but by no means least – Conrad Kinch's interview with Richard Borg. I own copies of several of Richard's games, and I really enjoy their combination of the best of both miniature and board wargame design.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The hunt for William Richardson continues

Yesterday Sue and I paid one of our irregular trips to the National Archives in Kew in order to continue our hunt for one of her forebears, William Richardson. (Earlier blog entries about our search can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

My searches proved to be more successful that Sue's, and I have now traced him through his entire eleven years of service in the West Indies, his return to the UK, and his first year back in Woolwich, the then home of the Royal Artillery. Bearing in mind that being sent to the West Indies was often tantamount to a death sentence (very few soldiers survived a posting there, and many often died within a few months of arriving in the Caribbean), he must had been a very hardly soldier. He was also a lucky one, as he sailed home on HMS Anson, a frigate that had taken part in several successful actions in the Caribbean before returning to Great Britain. Only months after her return, HMS Anson was wrecked off Loe Bar, Cornwall on 29th December, 1807.

HMS Anson
HMS Anson was a member of the fifteen-strong Intrepid-class of 64-gun third rate ships of the line. She was built in Plymouth Dockyard between January 1774 and October 1781. She was converted into a frigate in 1794 when her original forecastle and quarterdeck were removed and her former upper deck was remodelled to give her a new lower forecastle and quarterdeck. This process was known as being razeed, a term that is derived from the French vaisseau rasé(i.e. a shaved down ship).

HMS Anson was now a 44-gun frigate and embarked on a very successful career:
  • 10th September 1794: Along with four other ships, she was involved in the capture of the Tordenshiold.
  • 16th July 1797: Helped to drive the French corvette Calliope on shore, where she was wrecked.
  • 29th December 1797: Recaptured Daphne, which had been captured by the French in December 1794.
  • 7th September 1798: Helped to captured the French frigate Flore after a 24-hour long chase.
  • 18th October 1798: Helped to capture the French frigate Loire.
  • 2nd February 1799: Helped to captured the French privateer cutter Boulonaise off Dunkirk.
  • 10th April 1800: Detained the merchant ship Catherine & Anna bound for Hamburg with a cargo of coffee.
  • 27th April 1800: Captured the French brig Vainquer.
  • 29th April 1800: In action with four French privateers, Brave (36 guns), Guepe (18 guns), Hardi (18 guns), and Duide. HMS Anson inflicted damage on Brave and managed to capture Hardi. The latter was taken into Royal Navy service and after being known as HMS Hardi, she was renamed HMS Rosario.
  • 1802 to 1805: HMS Anson served in the Mediterranean. She was then sent to the West Indies.
  • 23rd August 1806: HMS Anson, in company with HMS Arethusa, attacked and captured the Spanish frigate Pomone near Moro Castle in Cuba.
  • 15th September 1806: Unsuccessfully engaged the French ship of the line Foudroyant (84 guns) 15 miles off Havana. HMS Anson's sails and rigging we badly damaged during the action , and two members of the crew were killed and thirteen wounded.
  • 1st January 1807: HMS Anson, along with HMS Latona, HMS Arethusa, HMS Fisgard, and HMS Morne Fortunee, captured Curaçao. The British force also captured the Dutch frigate Kenau Hasselar, the sloop Suriname (a former Royal Naval sloop which had been captured from the French on 20th August 1799 and then taken by the Dutch on 23rd June 1803), and two armed schooners.
HMS Anson was wrecked on 29th December 1807, having been driven onto a lee shore by a gale on the previous day whilst attempting to sail into Falmouth.

The loss of the HMS Anson as depicted in 1808 by William Elmes.
As was the custom at the time, the bodies of the drowned sailors from the wreck were buried without a shroud or coffin in unconsecrated ground. A local solicitor – Thomas Grylls – was so incensed by this that he drafted a law to provide drowned seamen with a proper, Christian burial, and this was eventually enacted as the Burial of Drowned Persons Act 1808. Furthermore, Henry Trengrouse, who had witnessed the wrecking of HMS Anson, was so distressed by the fact that it had proved impossible to get lines over to the ship to help rescue survivors, that he developed a rocket apparatus to shoot lines to shipwrecks so that survivors could be taken off in an early version of a breeches buoy.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

My Prussian troops are finished!

I have now completed the renovation, varnishing, and basing of the last of my Napoleonic Prussian troops. The additional units comprise:
  • Four Infantry units
  • One Artillery unit
  • One mounted officer
  • Two officers on foot
I am now in a position to organise the Prussian troops into Divisions.

The First Division – which is entirely composed of Regular troops – comprises four Infantry units (1st to 4th Infantry Regiments), an Artillery unit (1st Artillery Regiment), and a mounted officer.

The remaining three Divisions (which also comprise of four Infantry units, an Artillery unit, and an officer), are the Second (Landwehr) Division (5th to 8th Landwehr Infantry Regiments and 2nd Artillery Regiment), ...

... the Third (Landwehr) Division (9th to 12th Landwehr Infantry Regiments and 3rd Artillery Regiment), ...

... and the Fourth (Landwehr) Division (13th to 16th Landwehr Infantry Regiments and 4th Artillery Regiment).

The rest of the Prussian army is made up of the following units:
  • 1st and 2nd Dragoon Regiments
  • 3rd Hussar Regiment
  • 17th, 18th, and 19th Landwehr Infantry Regiments
  • 20th and 21st Landwehr Garrison Infantry Regiments
  • 5th, 6th, and 7th Artillery Regiments
  • The Commander-in-Chief and numerous supernumerary officers

This is a fairly formidable force, and totals 163 figures.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 16th August – 3rd September 1936


On 9th August a Republican expeditionary force of Catalan and Valencian troops, commanded by Air Force Captain Alberto Bayo and Guardia Civil Captain Manuel Uribarri, landed on Ibiza. With the help of local people the expeditionary force quickly overcame the Nationalist garrison, and the island returned to Republican control. Seven days later, at dawn on 16th August, the Catalan troops, led by Captain Bayo, landed on Majorca, and by the evening they had advanced eight miles inland from their landing place at Porto Cristo.

The Nationalist garrison on Majorca was commanded by Colonel Garcia Ruiz and proved to be much stronger than that on Ibiza. With the help of Italian fighter aircraft and bombers the Nationalists were able to contain any further Republican advance, and on 3rd September they mounted a counter-attack on the Republican bridgehead. The Catalan troops rapidly withdrew to the beaches and re-embarked aboard the ships that had brought them whilst under cover of the guns of the battleship Jaime I.

Republican troops coming ashore in Majorca.