Sunday, 24 May 2015

Funny Little Wars battle

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take part in a FUNNY LITTLE WARS battle in central London. It was originally planned to fight the battle outdoors, but thanks to some inclement weather it took place in a large carpeted room instead.

Paul acted as umpire and the two sides (Army Red and Army Dark Green) each had two commanders. Mike and Andrew commanded Army Red, and Tim and myself commanded Army Dark Green. (It should be noted that half of Army Dark Green were actually Scottish troops who were more than willing to serve under the Cross of St Andrew, as were the Royal Marines who served as the crew of one of Army Dark Green's field guns. It is not for nothing that the Royal Navy has the nickname of 'The Andrew'!)

Army Dark Green defended a town and its outlying hamlets. The main body of their troops (two battalions of the Black Watch, a battalion of Tratvian infantry, two Tratvian machine gun detachments, two Tratvian medium artillery guns, and two field guns (one crewed by Tratvians and one Royal Marines) were in positions within the town and three small pickets of three men each (two drawn from the ranks of the Gordon Highlanders and one from a Tratvian Cossack unit) were deployed where they could give warning of any enemy attacks. A Tratvian assassin was also concealed somewhere on the battlefield ... but nobody (except the Tratvian commander) knew where.

The town.
Another view of the town.
A view of part of the country over which the battle was fought.
The old factory.
The battle began when Army Red decided to attack the town from two opposite directions.

One half of Army Red advanced from the left ....
... whilst the other half moved forward on the right flank..
Although one might have thought that this pincer movement would have been intended to overwhelm the defenders by making them split their firepower, it didn't. In fact it proved to be a double-edged weapon, especially when the artillery of one half of Army Red started overshooting the town and began hitting troops in the other half.

The pickets proved their worth, and managed to hold up the Army Red advance on one flank and cause Army Red to concentrate their fire on an empty building on the other flank.

Army Red's Riflemen engaged the Army Dark Green picket in the Old Factory ...
The pickets were eventually destroyed ...

... and eventually wiped them out.
... but in moving to attack them Army Red became exposed.

One of Army Dark Green's Black Watch battalions deployed to meet the advancing Army Red troops.
Army Red's mighty cavalry force moved forward ...
... supported by infantry and artillery.
Army Red was poised to mount a major attack on the town.
Army Red's artillery fire was very effective, and tore holes in the ranks of the Tratvian infantry.
On one flank the Tratvian infantry and machine guns and Royal Marine artillery managed to cause so many casualties on an Army Red cavalry unit that it had to retreat ...

Army Red's cavalry commander learned the hard way that attacking steadfast infantry and machine guns ...
... was an easy way to empty the saddles of your own cavalry ...
... and cause them to retreat!
... and disrupted the units through which it had to pass. Their machine gun detachment also proved to be very deadly, and depleted the ranks of one of Army Red's infantry battalions. On the other flank an entire regiment of Army Red lancers were shot from their saddles when they rode across the front of one battalion of the Black Watch in order to charge the other.

The Army Dark Green defenders prepare to see off another Army Red assault.
By this point in the battle the entire Army Dark Green was visible to the commanders of Army Red.
The Army Red lancers prepare to charge the battalion of the Black Watch who are not behind a wall. Now you see them ...
... and now you don't! Yet another lesson in the vulnerability of cavalry to close range rifle fire.
In the end numbers began to tell, and although Army Red's artillery fire managed to destroy their main objective (Army Dark Green's HQ ... which they were supposed to capture!), the day ended with a depleted Army Dark Green still holding the town.

The town at the end of the battle.
This was a fantastically enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The company was excellent, everyone enjoyed themselves, and the rules (which included a couple of tweaks regarding artillery ammunition) worked extremely well. My thanks go to Paul and his wife for providing the venue and the afternoon tea, and to my fellow 'generals' for being all-round good chaps.

Here's to the next time we meet!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Nugget 281

The editor of THE NUGGET sent me the draft of the latest issue some days ago, but I have only just had the time to check the draft, print it, and take it to the printer. I intend to collect it from them on next Thursday, and to post it out to members of Wargame Developments on Friday.

This issue contains the final, pre-programme details of the numerous sessions that will be taking place at COW2015 (this year's annual Conference of Wargamers) in July as well as the most up-to-date list of attendees. It also contains a request for any final payments to be made as soon as possible.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the eighth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2014-2015 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.

The password to open the online PDF version of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT will be sent by post and email to members when they re-subscribe.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 386

June's issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in the post yesterday afternoon, but I have been rather too busy to read it until now.

This is a special Waterloo issue, and the articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Shocking tufts!: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • The march on Madrid: Gaming the Spanish Civil War: Part 3 by Andrew Rolph
  • Napoleon's final gamble: The Waterloo campaign of 1815 by Steve Jones
  • Hougomont and La Haie Sainte: Two epic struggles on the field of Waterloo by John Franklin
  • Siborne's greatest victory: Restoring Captain Siborne's masterpiece by Siona Mackelworth and Cymbeline Storey
  • Tchaikovsky meets Morschauser: A battle game for balletomanes by Arthur Harman
  • Citadel Heights refought: The reprise of an old friend after 56 years by Charlie M Grant
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Recce
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
As I am currently working on my own Waterloo project, there are plenty of articles for me to read and re-read in this issue. In addition, Arthur Haman's Tchaikovsky meets Morschauser is a little gem of a game that appeals to me because of its use of some of Joseph Morschauser's game mechanisms, and Conrad Kinch's adaptation of the famous Blasthof Bridge scenario from CHARGE! for use with COMMANDS & COLORS: NAPOLEONICS just cries out to be tried out. I also enjoyed reading the third and final part of Andrew Rolph's series entitled The march on Madrid.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Vive L'Empereur: The Old Guard

After a short break I am back in the swing with regard to my project to varnish and base my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures by the date of the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. As I only have the French left to do, I decided to start with the elite ... Napoleon's Old Guard.

There are six bases of Old Guard Infantry, each base having three figures.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Into the chair

By 7.00pm this evening I should have been Installed as Worshipful Master of my Mother Lodge, The Grove Park Lodge No.2732, for the second time.

The out-going Worshipful Master is a wargamer – as is the Director of Ceremonies – and one of my guests is also a wargamer and a Freemason.

I know that there are quite a few of my regular blog readers who are also wargaming Freemasons, and it set me wondering if we might all meet at some point in the future. There are other Masonic groups in existence where the members share a common interest outside The Craft. Most Provinces have their own Golf Society, some have groups of anglers and clay pigeon shooters, and there are – of course – the 'Sons of the Widow' Masonic motorcyclists. These groups all raise money for charity ... and it struck me that perhaps we could do something similar.

This is something that I can give some thought to during my time in the Chair. In the meantime, if any of my regular blog readers are interested in doing something like this, perhaps they could let me know.

Monday, 18 May 2015

I have been to … the New Fortress, Corfu Town

The New Fortress was built during the 16th century by the Venetians in response to a siege by the Turks in 1571. Whilst the prominent people of Corfu had survived the siege by taking refuge in the Old Fortress, the townspeople had nowhere to go and were slaughtered when the town was attacked and burnt to the ground.

Michele Sanmicheli proposed that an additional fortress be constructed, and plans were drawn up by Ferant e Vitelli, a noted military architect. Building began in 1576 and the New Fortress was completed in 1588.

The fortress was further extended during the early 17th century when an additional wall was added to the exterior on the western side. It proved its value in 1716 when the was another Turkish attack on the town, but thanks to the defensive plans of Venetian Captain-General of Corfu – Count Johan Matthias von der Schulenberg – the Turks were defeated.

During the British occupation of Corfu, the New Fortress was remodelled and the so-called British Barracks was built. This was completed in 1842 … sixteen years before they were returned to Greece.

When we visited the fortress we walked up the long, flint and brick path from the modern entrance.

This took us past the end of a tunnel which opened to the outside several feet above our heads.

We continued to walk to walk further and further uphill …

… passing through narrow doorways …

… and tunnels …

… before we came out onto a flat area which had obviously been an artillery position.

We then walk up more tunnels …

… and steep pathways …

… before we finally reached the doorway …

… that led us to the outside of the British Barracks.

On the front of the building was a stone plaque that commemorated the rebuilding that was done by the British …

… and atop the building was a watchtower surmounted by a cupola.

Whilst Sue rested in the shade, I went into the British Barracks …

… and climbed the stairs …

… to the first floor.

The floor was divided up into a series of casemates, each linked by an arched doorway.

Having explored the first floor of the building, I returned downstairs by a second set of stairs.

From there I turned right and passed through yet another narrow doorway …

… which gave me access to the back of the British Barracks.

The wall that ran parallel to wall of the barracks was pierced by a gateway …

… which – had it been unlocked – would have given access to the section of the New Fortress that is still used by the Greek Navy. (The gateway is surmounted by a plaque that bears the inscription 'VR AD 1842' … just like the front of the British Barracks.)

We had a drink in the small bar that is situated inside part of the barrack building before tracing our way back downhill via the tunnels …

… and pathways we had used to climb up the the top of the fortress.

Although the New Fortress is not as impressive as the Old Fortress, we both enjoyed our visit … and the climb certainly gave us an appetite!