Friday, 3 April 2020

Even more vehicles for my World War Two renovated 20mm-scale German army

Whilst waiting for the printed proof copies of my latest book to arrive, I have renovated four more vehicles for my 20mm-scale World War Two German army.

The models also come from a variety of sources, and include ones manufactured by Airfix, ROCO Minitanks, and Viking.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Unknown Soldier

Some time ago I bought a DVD of the Finnish film UNKNOWN SOLDIER (Finnish: TUNTEMATON SOTILAS) and I finally managed to watch it a couple of afternoons ago. Luckily, it comes with English subtitles, as my Finnish is non-existent!

The film was made in 2017, and was based on a Finnish classic best-selling book of the same name by Väinö Linna. This was published in 1954, and had previously been made into films in 1955 and 1985. An extended version of the film was transmitted as a five-episode miniseries.

The film tells the story of machine gun company during the Continuation War between Finland and Russia. It begins in June 1941 with the company being mobilised and sent into action, and follows them during the advance into Karelia – which had been captured and handed over to the Russians after the Winter War – and the capture of the Russian city of Petrozavodsk, the Russian capital of the Karelia. The next section of the film covers the trench warfare period of the war, which ran from 1942 to 1943, and is followed by the withdrawal from the captured area due to the Russian Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive during the Summer of 1944. The film ends with the Armistice which ended the fighting in September 1944.

Other than the period when the film covers one soldier going on leave (Antero "Antti" Rokka) and the interaction between the soldiers and some of the population of Petrozavodsk, there are lots of very bloody battle scenes. Many of the characters die, especially during the retreat when the company is ordered to stem the Russian advance, and their deaths are shown as sudden and sometimes very brutal. The weaponry used seems to be authentic-looking, and the use of photo-manipulation is well done, with the minimal use of CGI.

UNKNOWN SOLDIER was directed by Aku Louhimies, written by Aku Louhimies and Jari Olavi Rantala, and produced by Elokuvaosakeyhtiö Suomi 2017, Kvikmyndafélag Íslands, and Scope Pictures. It was released on 27th October 2017, and is available on DVD. An extended version based on the TV miniseries is available on Blu Ray.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Three months on ...

On 1st January, my blog looked like this:

It is now three months on ... and it is amazing how much our world has changed in such a short time.

By that day, Chinese authorities had identified 266 people in Wuhan who had been infected by an unknown virus, and that the Huanan Seafood Market had been closed for cleaning and disinfection. Seven days later, it was announced that influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus, and coronaviruses SARS and MERS had been eliminated as the respiratory pathogen that was causing the infection, and that is was due to a new COVID virus.

From then on, the spread of infection grew with increasing rapidity, and today we find a huge segment of the world's population is in lockdown in the hope that the various national health services can cope with the pandemic.

Three months ago I wished my regular blog readers and fellow bloggers a safe and healthy 2020. Today I'd like to extend those best wishes to everyone out there.


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: The Schleswig-Holstein War

Martin Smith has done it again, this time trying a tweaked version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules to fight a battle set during the Schleswig-Holstein War.

He used ACW Confederate troops to represent the Danes, and ACW Union troops for the Prussians, and the battle was fought on a 10 x 10 squared grid. The grid was - in fact - a neutral-coloured table napkin or place mat which had suitably spaced embroidered lines on it to define the squares. I thought that this was a very clever idea, and one that other players might wish to copy.

The report is featured on the game's Facebook page, but as not everyone either has access to or wishes to belong to Facebook, I have shared some of the photographs of the battles below.

I thought that Martin's terrain was very effective, and he has produced yet another truly portable version of the game!

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Martin Smith.

Monday, 30 March 2020

A Spanish Foreign Legion gorrillo

Besides collecting the flags of the places I have visited, I also collect hats. To date I have several Russian fur hats or ushankas, a number of budenovka (which were named after Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny, a Soviet Army commander during the Russian Civil War, Polish-Soviet War and World War II), a variety of Russian pilotka side caps, and a Russian naval cap which has a top that looks large enough to land a small helicopter on!

During our visit to Malaga last month, I managed to buy a modern-day Spanish Foreign Legion gorrillo side cap, with its distinctive red hanging tassel, piping, and chinstrap.

It now forms part of my collection of hats as well as my collection of Spanish Civil War military memorabilia. The latter already includes a Spanish Civil War M1926 steel helmet (without its straps and liner) and a Spanish Civil War Victory Medal.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Postcards from Portugal

During our visit to Lisbon’s Museu Militar last month (was it really only six weeks ago that we were in Spain and Portugal?), I bought two packs of postcards. The first was a set that showed Portuguese uniforms that were worn during the Guerra Peninsular (Peninsular War) 1807 to 1814.

From the top left going clockwise: Cavalry trooper of Cavalry Regiment 11 (1806); Infantryman of Infantry Regiment 9 (1806); Gunner of Artillery Regiment 2 (1806); Officer of the Loyal Lusitanian Legion (1807-1808).
From the top left going clockwise: Infantryman of the Loyal Lusitanian Legion (1808); Infantryman of the 4th Battalion of the Beira Cazadores (1808); Cavalry trooper of the Royal Guard of Police Lisbon (1808); Infantryman of the Royal Guard of Police Lisbon (1808).
From the top left going clockwise: Cavalry trooper of the Portuguese Legion (1808-1813); Infantryman of the Portuguese Legion (1808-1813); Corporal of Infantry Regiment 24 (1813); Soldier of Cazadores Regiment 6 (1811).
The original pictures were a set of watercolours painted by General Bartolomeu Sezinando Ribeiro Arthur (1851-1910).

The second set showed Portuguese soldiers in the uniforms worn during the Campanhas Ultramarina (The Overseas Campaigns) 1961 to 1974.

From the top left going clockwise: Everyday bush uniforms; Brigadier in field uniform No.2, m/960; Flechas (Angola), Captain in field uniform m/964; African soldier wearing uniform m/934.
From the top left going clockwise: Walking out uniform No.2, m/964 shorts, long socks, and m/964 shoes; Sapper First Corporal wearing working uniform No.3 m/964 with m/964 boots; General wearing white m/966 uniform; Campaign uniform m/964.
The originals of these pictures were painted by Carlos Alberto Santos.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Probably the best book about colonial warfare in the world?

When I sat down to write the list of sources of inspiration that I wanted to include in my PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME book, I gave some considerable thought to which one I would select as being the best ... and I decided that it was BATTLE IN AFRICA 1879-1914.

This was written by Howard Whitehouse and illustrated by Peter Dennis, and published by Fieldbooks in 1987. The late Dr Paddy Griffith was the driving force behind Fieldbooks as well as being the series the editor, and this was one of two books that they published. (The other was BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR, which was written by Paddy Griffith and illustrated by Peter Dennis.)

My copy cost me £4.95, and became so well-thumbed that I eventually bought a second copy. The book has twenty-three sections:
  • Africa before Partition
  • The Scramble for Africa
  • Strategic Concepts
  • Collecting an Army
  • Command
  • Collecting Supplies
  • Strategic Mobility
  • Reconnaissance and Signals
  • March Security
  • The African Response
  • Closing with the Enemy
  • Tamai
  • European Battle Plans
  • African Battle Plans
  • African Leadership
  • The New Technology
  • The Power of Fire
  • Cold Steel
  • Horrible Disasters
  • Glorious Victories
  • Guerrilla Warfare
  • Siege Warfare
  • After the Battle
This book is a treasure trove of information, and Peter Dennis's illustrations compliment the text in a very effective way.

I understand that copies of the book can still be found on the second-hand market, and although it will cost a lot more than £4.95 to buy one, in my opinion it is (with apologies to Carlsberg) 'probably the best book about colonial warfare in the world'.

BATTLE IN AFRICA 1879-1914 was written by Howard Whitehouse and illustrated by Peter Dennins. It was published in 1987 by Fieldbooks (ISBN 1 869871 01 4).

Friday, 27 March 2020

Other people's Portable Wargames ... using 54mm figures

Whilst I've been concentrating on finishing my latest boo and getting the most recent issue of THE NUGGET distributed, other wargamers have been fighting tabletop battles using my rules. In the case of Tradgardmastare and Ross Macfarlane, these battles have been fought using 54mm-sized figures ... and mighty fine they looked!

Meanwhile in Maple Leaf Country... (Tradgardmastare)

I like the use of captions on the photographs. I's something that I've never tried myself with any success, but having seen these, I might have to think again.

Jazz Age Wargaming in Albion (Tradgardmastare)

I've always loved the interwar period, and the sight of the silver-finished fighter aircraft 'flying' over a battlefield filled with brown-clad soldiers reminded me just how long it is since I did any interwar wargaming.

Deeds Not Words! (Ross Macfarlane)

I actually had to look twice at the photographs of Ross Macfarlane's battle before I realised that he had used 54mm and not 20mm-sized figures. It shows that the rules can be used with larger scale figures on a normal tabletop ... something that I need to think about doing myself when the opportunity arises.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Tradgardmastare and Ross Macfarlane.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Nugget 325

NUGGET 325 has been uploaded to the Wargame Developments website and sent by email as an attachment in PDF format to every member for whom I have an email address. I am now in a position to post out the printed copy of NUGGET 325, thanks in no small part to the efforts of our printer and the fact that the Post Office is still functioning during the lockdown.

I usually take THE NUGGET to the printer so that we can make sure that there are no production problems, but on this occasion I sent the PDF file to them, and they were able to print it directly from that. That was on Monday morning, and I had arranged to collect it on Tuesday ... and then the government announced that the UK was going to go into lockdown, with the majority of the population expected to stay at home, and with only essential shops and services remaining open.

I sent an email to the printer asking them to keep NUGGET 325 until the crisis was over, and to ask if I could pay for the printing over the telephone. On Tuesday morning the printer telephoned me to explain that although the print shop was closed, they had several jobs that had to be completed before they stopped work altogether. These were going to be done that day, and that once the print shop closed down, they would deliver NUGGET 325 to my house. I thanked them profusely, paid for the work they had done by debit card, and at 5.30pm on Tuesday evening I took delivery of NUGGET 325.

It has now been put into envelopes, and once I have bought sufficient stamps, it will be posted out to members. I will have to wait until I go shopping somewhere close to a Post Office to post out those copies going to overseas members, but with luck that should be within the week.

Just a quick word about our printer. I have used a small, local printer to print THE NUGGET for over thirty years, and I have come to know the members of staff that I deal with very well indeed. When I first began using Macaulay Scott Printers, I dealt with the owner, Peter. At the time, the company was based in a much older building on the opposite corner of the road, but they moved to newer premises over twenty year ago.

Although Peter still works there, the day-to-day running of the company is now in the hands of his son, James, assisted by - amongst others - Dave. It is James and Dave that I deal with most regularly, and it was James who made sure that NUGGET 325 was printed and delivered to me. If you ever need a print job done, please consider using Macaulay Scott Printers. Their contact details are:
Macaulay Scott Printing Co. 142 Park View Road, Welling, Kent, DA16 1SR
Tel: 020 8304 3903/080 0092 4121 Fax: 020 8298 9123

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame book ... is currently being printed!

My tried and very trusty proof reader did an astonishingly fast job, and sent the list of errors and corrections to me over the weekend. I made the necessary changes, and this afternoon I have uploaded the files to and requested printed proof copies. These should be arriving sometime in the next fortnight, and once I have checked them over, the book will be published.

It is going to appear in four different editions:
  • As a PDF (only available from costing £2.49
  • As a A5-sized black and white paperback (available from, Amazon, and other online book retailers) costing £9.49
  • As a US Trade-sized black and white dust jacket hardback (available from, Amazon, and other online book retailers) costing £19.49
  • As a US Trade-sized full colour casewrap hardback (only available from costing £24.99
I hope that this will cover all the main options potential purchasers will want, although I have not yet been able to produce an eBook edition due to ongoing software difficulties.

The cover will look like this:

As soon as the book is published, I'll make sure that my regular blog readers know!