Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Vive l'Empereur! Even more Light Infantry added to my Napoleonic French army

I have managed to finish the last batch of Napoleonic French Light Infantry that I will be adding to my collection for the time being.



I am now going to take a bit of a break until Christmas. I then hope to return to this project fully energised and raring to go!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: España-class Battleships

The class was built at El Ferrol between 1910 and 1921. They were the smallest dreadnought-type battleships ever constructed. The completion of Jaime I was considerably delayed by the non-delivery of material, including the main armament, from Britain due to the outbreak of the First World War. España was originally named Alfonso XIII.

Battleship España.
Battleship Jaime I.
Ships' characteristics:
  • Displacement: 15,452 tons normal; 15,700 tons maximum
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 459’ 2” (140m)
    • Beam: 78’ 9” (24m)
    • Draught: 25’ 6” (7.8m)
  • Speed: 19.5 knots
  • Armour: Belt: 8” to 4” (203mm to 102mm); Barbettes: 10” (254mm); Gunhouses: 8” (203mm): Deck: 1.5” (38 mm)
  • Armament: 8 x 12” (305mm) (4 x 2); 20 x 4” (102mm) (20 x 1); 4 x 3 pdr (47mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (4 x 1)
  • Complement: 854
España served in the Nationalist Navy and sank after hitting a mine on 30th April 1937.
Jamie I served in the Republican Navy. She was damaged by Nationalist bombing whilst at Cartagena, and was subsequently scuttled there on 17th June 1937 following a fire that was caused by an accidental magazine explosion.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Latest Osprey Men-at-Arms

Sue and I have visited Croatia (or Hrvatska) many time on cruises to the Adriatic, and when I saw the latest addition to the Osprey Men-at-Arms series (No.508), I had to buy it.

WORLD WAR II CROATIAN LEGIONARIES: CROATIAN TROOPS UNDER AXIS COMMAND 1941-45 has been written by Vladimir Brnardic and illustrated by Viseslav Aralica (ISBN 978 1 4728 1767 9).


It deals with the histories of and the uniforms worn by:
  • The Croat Legion (the 369th Reinforced Infantry Regiment) that served with the German 6th Army, and which was destroyed at Stalingrad.
  • The Italian-Croatian Legion (which was a Light Motorised Battalion) that served as part the Italian Eight Army in Russia, where it was wiped out.
  • The 2nd Croatian Legion, that was attached to the Italian Army for training in the period up to the Italian capitulation and then came under German control.
  • The Croatian Air Force Legion that served alongside the Luftwaffe in Russia.
  • The Croatian Naval Legion that served with the Kriegsmarine in the Black Sea.
  • Various Croatian Anti-aircraft Legions.
  • The Volunteer Anti-Communist Militia.
  • The 369th (Croatian), 373rd (Croatian), and 392nd (Croatian) Infantry Divisions that fought alongside the German Army against the partisans in former Yugoslavia.
  • 13th SS Mountain Division Handschar (Croatian No.1) and 23rd SS Mountain Division Kama (Croatian No.2).
  • Various German-Croatian Police Units
This book compliments the other books produced by Osprey about the war in the Balkans, including PARTISAN WARFARE 1941-45, AXIS FORCES IN YUGOSLAVIA 1941-45,and TITO'S PARTISANS 1941-45, all of which I already own.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

My Portable Wargame book: Yet another update

Work on my PORTABLE WARGAME book continues to proceed slowly but surely.

I have now added two sets of rules – one for the late nineteenth century (including Colonial) and one for the early to mid twentieth century – and I now need to write two illustrated battle reports that explain how the rules work. These are going to take some time and quite a lot of effort to get right, and I am thinking of leaving them until I have a block of uninterrupted time available.

At present the book is A5 size, and is just over 70 pages long. Once the battle reports are added I suspect that it will be close to 100 pages in length. I have no idea how much they will sell for, but as I am writing this book to 'spread the word' rather than to make huge amounts of cash, I will try to keep the price under £10.00.

As a flavour of what the book looks like, here some images of some of the existing pages:




Saturday, 26 November 2016

HMS Haslemere

HMS Haslemere was the ship that attempted to rescue Amy Johnson.

HMS Haslemere.
HMS Haslemere was a small, former ferry that was commissioned and used by the a Royal Navy as a barrage balloon ship. She was built in 1925 for the Southern Railway in the Meadowside Yard of Messrs D & W Henderson, Glasgow. She operated out of Southampton to the Channel Islands and Northern France until she was requisitioned in 1940.

Haslemere before she was requisitioned.
Haslemere was decommissioned in early 1945, refitted in Glasgow, and returned to service as a ferry with Southern Railways in June 1945. She was sold for scrapping in 1959.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Miniature Wargames Issue 404

The December issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered yesterday afternoon, and I have read it with avid interest. I am still getting used to the new layout, and I am still unsure if I like it or not. That said, it is the contents which is the important thing, and this issue has quite a lot stuff in it that was of particular interest to me.


The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer by John Treadaway
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Dreadnought Battlefleet (Part 2): The Battle of Jutland by Martin Pike
  • It's the Chicago Way by Brian Cameron
  • Grid Based Wargaming by David Burden
  • Bonaparte by Dirk Donvil
  • Critical Hits
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Crooked Dice
    • 4Ground
  • Recce
  • SELWG 2016 by John Treadaway
  • Wobby Bridge: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Spotlight: SELWG by Chris McNeil
  • Club Directory
Other than ignoring the 16-page Fantasy Facts section which was of no interest to me whatsoever, I found the rest of the contents of informative.

My 'stand out' articles were Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence (as usual!) and David Burden's Grid Based Wargaming. My interest in the latter needs little explanation to my regular blog readers, and indicates the growing level of interest in grid-based figure wargaming.

The death of Amy Johnson

During a recent visit to Herne Bay I saw a statue of the British aviatrix Amy Johnson.


At the time I understood that Amy Johnson died when her aircraft crashed into the Thames Estuary about twelve miles north of Herne Bay ... but I subsequently discovered that the truth was somewhat more complicated.

Amy was a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary. This was a group of male and female civilian pilots who ferried military aircraft between factories, Maintenance Units (MUs), and active service squadrons and airfields. It was during one such flight that Amy Johnson died.

On 5th January 1941, Amy was flying an Airspeed Oxford from Prestwick to RAF Kidlington near Oxford when she went off course due to bad weather.

An Airspeed Oxford.
It would appear that the Oxford ran out of fuel and Amy bailed out. Her parachute was seen by the crew of HMS Haslemere, and she was seen to be alive and in the water. The ship's commanding officer - Lieutenant Commander Walter Fletcher - dived in to save her, but the heavy seas, strong tide, and snow prevented him from doing so. He was rescued, but later died in hospital. He was awarded the Albert Medal posthumously for his attempt to save Amy.

HMS Haslemere.
Amy Johnson's body was never found.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Vive l'Empereur! Even more Line Infantry are added to my Napoleonic French Army

I have managed to finish what I think is the last batch of Napoleonic French Line Infantry I will be adding to my collection for some time.



I now have a batch of French Light Infantry to work on, and I hope to finish them before taking an extended break from this project in the run up to Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Nugget 295

I have collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N295) from the printer and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments by later this afternoon.


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 fourth 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.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Taking the plunge

A year ago, whilst on our cruise to North Anerica, I wrote a thriller. At the time I did it to satisfy an intellectual 'itch' ... and to do something other than to read, sit, eat, and drink on the cruise's sea days. When it was finished I had no real intention of making it available to a wider audience, but recently I decided to take the plunge and to publish it.

The plot arose from some research I did for a game I was planning to stage at a Conference of Wargamers (COW). The scenario for the game revolved around a terrorist attack on London, and the more research that I did, the more the plot of my book began to formulate in my mind. In the end I quite literally dreamt the story over a series of nights, and each day I wrote down the main events that had occurred in my dreams. Once that was done I began to fill in the details ... and the book was written.

The paperback edition of THE ELEPHANT AND THE COBRA is currently available from Lulu.com at a discounted price of £11.96, and an EBook edition is also available for £4.99.


Both editions of the book should be on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers in the near future.

I'm not sure if I will write any more fiction in the future, but if a story that I think is worth telling does emerge, then I may well put pen to paper or - to be more accurate - finger to keyboard.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Christmas is coming ...

Yes, I know that it is not yet the end of November, but Christmas seems to be very close ... and I seem to have lots to do beforehand.

I've decided to finish at least one more batch of figures for my Napoleonic project, I want to finish one writing project, and to make more progress with my book of PORTABLE WARGAME rules. I also want to sort out the data I have on the warships used by both sides during the Spanish Civil War, and to make it available as a series of blog entries ... if only to help David Crook with his proposed SCW naval project.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 20th November 1936

Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera (the leader of the Falange), who had been stranded in Republican Spain at the time of the Rising, was executed in Alicante.

A painting of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera in Falange uniform.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 19th November 1936

Buenaventura Durruti (a leading figure in the Anarchist movement) was wounded in the front-line at Madrid. He died the next day.

Buenaventura Durruti, surrounded by some of his supporters.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 18th November 1936

Italy and Germany recognised General Franco's government.

A cartoon predicting what would happen as a result of Italian and German support of Franco's government.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Vive l'Empereur! Some more Line Infantry are added to my Napoleonic French Army

Using my 'slowly but surely' approach, I have managed to add three more units of French Line Infantry to my collection.



I have another batch of French Line Infantry to complete before I can move on to what I think will be the last batch of French Light Infantry I will need to renovate, varnish, and base.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Nugget 295

In order to ensure that the December issue of THE NUGGET arrives well before Christmas, the editor sent the latest issue of the journal to me over the weekend so that I can take it to the printer this week. It is my intention to do that today so that it can be posted out to members of Wargame Developments as early as possible.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fourth 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.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 15th – 17th November 1936

The German Condor Legion went into action for the first time. The air attacks were made in support of further Nationalist attempts to capture Madrid.

A Ju-52 Bomber. These formed the backbone of the Condor Legion's bomber force at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Britannia's Amazon: The Dawlish Chronicles: April - August 1882

I've just finished reading the latest addition to Antoine Vanner's excellent DAWLISH CHRONICLES, BRITANNIA'S AMAZON (ISBN 978 1 943404 08 7).


Unlike the previous books in the series, Florence Dawlish – Royal Navy officer Nicholas Dawlish's wife – is the main character. The events covered in the story take place whilst Nicholas Dawlish is in command of HMS Leonidas during her cruise to the Far East (I reviewed that book last December ... and it was a thundering good read!) and it deals with certain very dark aspects of Victorian life. Be warned, this is no rip-roaring yarn about naval battles but it is an excellently told social detective story about child abuse and prostitution as well as the social and working conditions that many members of the working class had to live and deal with on a daily basis.

The book also contains a short story about Nicholas Dawlish's early life which explains why he joined the Royal Navy.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Vive l'Empereur! Some more French Light Infantry are added to my collection

The first figures I decided to tackle on my return to my painting table were four units of French Light Infantry.


By doing the renovation work as and when I felt like it, it ended up taking me not much longer to complete these units than it would have done using my previous method ... and I made fewer mistakes in the process.


The next batch of figures that I hope to tackle is some French Line Infantry, and hopefully they will take a week or so to complete.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Battle for Warsaw

I bought this DVD some time ago, but have only just got around to watching it.


When I bought it I expected the film to be about the Warsaw Uprising ... but it isn't. It is actually the film version of Aleksander Kaminski's novel THE BATTLE OF WARSAW (A.K.A. STONES FOR THE RAMPART).

It is a fictionalized account of the lives of three members of the Gray Ranks or Szare Szeregi, which was part of the Polish Scouting Association or Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego within the Polish Underground. The three leading characters are known by their noms-de-guerre – Rudy (real name: Jan Bytnar), Zośka (real name: Tadeusz Zawadzki), and Alek (real name: Maciej Aleksy Dawidowski) – and much of the film deals with their preparation for fighting the German occupiers and their attempts to rescue Rudy (Operation Arsenal) after he is captured and interrogated by the Germans.

Be warned, the interrogation is depicted in all its brutality, and the story does not have anything approaching a happy ending. That said, it is an excellent film, and certainly increased my understanding of the role and importance of the Polish Scouting Association in the fight against the German occupiers of Poland.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Remembrance Day 2016

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh month, ninety eight years after Armistice Day 1918 ...


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today
.’
We will remember them.

Dedicated to the memory of all those who died in the so-called Great War ... and in all the wars and conflicts that have taken place since then.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

My Portable Wargame book: A further update

During the recent break from my Napoleonic project I have been working on my PORTABLE WARGAME book. This has involved taking numerous photographs, searching the Internet for illustrations of some of the earlier gridded wargames, and redrafting some of the text.

Amongst the images I found were two of Johann Hellwig's late eighteenth century wargame:

The gridded playing surface used in Johan Hellwig’s wargame.
A close-up of one section of the image of Johan Hellwig’s wargame.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The US election result

Warning: The following blog entry may contain political comment!

It appears that Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States of America ... and – according to some observers – the de facto leader of the so-called 'Free World'.

Having watched the two main candidates go through the process of being selected as their party's candidates, and the, having followed their subsequent campaigns, it seemed to me that the American people had a difficult choice to make.

One candidate was a professional politician with lots of experience of how government works at the highest level, but seemingly little real connection with the majority of the population ... and the other was a multi-millionaire property developer and 'reality' TV star with no experience of government. One was apparently unable or unwilling to use secure modern communications technology, with the result that electronically-held confidential information was put at risk ... and the other seemed incapable of telling the truth or apologising for anything that he might have done wrong. Neither had blameless or spotless lives before they became candidates, and both have been accused of dubious - and even potentially criminal - behaviour.

Neither candidate came to the contest without considerable 'baggage' ... and it was how potential voters viewed the relevance or importance of that baggage that determined which of the two they would vote for. One thing that did become very apparent was that a significant section of the population no longer holds the professional political class in anything other than contempt ... and this is a phenomenon that is also noticeable in the UK. To people like this someone who seemed to reflect their distrust of the 'system', and who promised that he would restore prosperity and pride to their nation, must have been an attractive candidate. That candidate's personal failings could be dismissed as being of little importance in the grand scheme of things, and not that dire in contrast to the 'crimes' with which their 'crooked' opponent has been accused.

If I had been an American voter, I must admit that I would have found it difficult to decide which of the two candidates to vote for. The choice would have to come down to which candidate was the 'least worst' of the two ... and my personal choice would have been to reluctantly vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump.

One interesting aspect of the US Presidential election was the fact that individual voters don't actually cast direct votes for either candidate; it is the Electoral College that actually votes for the President. Each state has a number of Electoral College votes, and the number of votes each state has is based upon its population. All that state's votes go to the candidate that the majority of the state's voters have voted for. It is therefore possible for one candidate to get the majority of the national vote and the other to win the overall contest because they get the majority of the Electoral College votes.

This apparently odd system is a result of fears on the part of the writers of the United States Constitution that a simple majority voting system would lead to what Alexis de Tocqueville called 'the tyranny of the majority'. James Madison had a solution to this problem ... the inclusion of an Electoral College in the process of electing a President. According to Alexander Hamilton in THE FEDERALIST PAPERS, the Electoral College is there to ensure that a president is chosen 'by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favourable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice' and that 'the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.'

I wonder what Madison and Hamilton would have made of this recent Presidential election campaign, the two main candidates, and the ultimate winner.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Woolwich Barracks to close

It was announced this morning that Woolwich Barracks is to close and the buildings are to be sold off. Assuming that all the ancillary buildings that are included in the complex are also sold off, this will sever links between the British Army and Woolwich that date back to the mid seventeenth century.

The first military presence in the area was a result of the decision by the Board of Ordnance to create an Ordnance Storage Depot at The Warren in 1671. This was used to store powder and shot, and the nearby marshes were used to proof-test guns.


In 1695 the ammunition laboratory (i.e. the workshop where ammunition was manufactured) that had previously been based in Greenwich was moved to The Warren, and the building was named the Royal Laboratory. This was followed in 1717 by the building of a Board-owned gun foundry (the Royal Brass Foundry) after there was a devastating explosion at the private foundry the Board of Ordnance had previously used in Moorfields, London.

This complex of military buildings in Woolwich continued to expand as time went on:
  • 1716: Two companies of artillery were formed at The Warren by Royal Warrant.
  • 1720: Royal Military Academy was set up to train officers for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers.
  • 1722: The number and size of the artillery detachments based at The Warren had grown and they were organised into the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
  • 1750s: Gun carriages began to be built onsite; this led to the setting up of the Royal Carriage Department in 1803.
  • 1770s: Royal Military Repository was created for the storage of military machinery.
  • 1776: Construction of the Royal Artillery Barracks began; they were completed in 1802.
  • 1806: Royal Military Academy moved to a new site off Woolwich Common.
  • 1855: The Royal Brass Foundry was renamed the Royal Gun Factory.
  • 1865: Royal Herbert Military Hospital was built to the south of Woolwich Common.
1867: A map of The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
Since the Second World War, the military presence in Woolwich has slowly declined.
  • 1939: Royal Military Academy closed; its functions were absorbed by the new Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, that was set up in 1947.
  • 1967: Royal Arsenal Woolwich begins to close down and a large part of the eastern end of the site was sold to the Greater London Council, who used it to build the new town of Thamesmead.
  • 1967 - 1994: The Royal Arsenal is run down and its functions are transferred to other sites and/or establishments.
  • 1977: Royal Herbert Military Hospital was closed; it was later redeveloped into luxury housing.
  • 1977: Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital (a replacement for the Royal Herbert) opened; it closed in 2001 and was handed over to the NHS.
  • 1994: The Royal Arsenal ceased to be a military establishment. After a period of hiatus the site began to be developed to provide housing.
  • 2001: Firepower, the Royal Artillery Museum, which was based in part of the Royal Arsenal site, opened.
  • 2006: Second Royal Military Academy building was sold for redevelopment as luxury housing.
  • 2007: The last Royal Artillery unit left Woolwich.
  • 2012: The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery moved to new quarters in Woolwich.
  • 2016: Firepower, the Royal Artillery Museum, closed.
  • 2016: Ministry of Defence announced that Woolwich Barracks are to be sold for redevelopment ... probably as luxury housing!

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 8th – 23rd November 1936

THE BATTLE FOR MADRID

The Nationalists were now poised to make an all-out attack on Madrid in the hope of capturing the Spanish capital and thus ending the war. The forces at their disposal were led by General Emilio Mola and the majority of them were units of the Army of Africa. Mola ordered Colonel Jose Varela to attack the north-west flank of Madrid's defences, and by 16th November Varela's troops had forced a bridgehead over the River Manzanares.

During the following week almost three-quarters of the University City fell to the Nationalists, but the poorly armed militia units that comprised the Popular Army, led by General Jose Miaja and aided by Russian tanks and aircraft, stemmed the Nationalist advance.

Republican defenders manning the trenches in Madrid.
Further assistance to the Republican cause came from the first International Brigade units to reach the front-line. It is worth noting that the XIth Brigade, which was mostly composed of German, Polish and French volunteers, arrived after the front-line had stabilised.

By 23rd November both sides were exhausted by the fighting and began digging in. Varela had failed to achieve the desired break-through. Although the Nationalists held the areas to the North and West of the city, it was obvious that all further frontal attacks upon Madrid would be costly and likely to fail.

Monday, 7 November 2016

A change is as good as a rest

After a week away from my painting table and work on my Napoleonic project, I feel much more motivated and hope to start work again on this project in the very near future.

I had originally set myself a goal to finish this project by Christmas ... and I could do that quite easily if I did nothing other than renovate, varnish, and base figures. However I have a feeling that if I tried to keep to that self-set deadline, my interest in the project would wane again quite quickly. So my new tactic is to do a little bit of work on the project as often as I feel like it ... and if that means a gap in 'production' of a week or a fortnight (or even longer), so be it. The project will get finished ... but not quite as quickly as I had originally planned.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 6th November 1936

Because they expected Madrid to fall at any moment to the Nationalists, the Republican Government moved to Valencia. A Defence Junta, under the leadership of General Jose Miaja, was established to organise the last-ditch defence of Madrid.

General Jose Miaja.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Battalion

Over the past few years a growing number of war films originating in Eastern Europe (mainly Poland and Russia) have been released on DVD in the UK, and this is the latest one that I have bought.


BATTALION tells the story of the 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death, a female-only Russian infantry unit that was raised in Petrograd in May 1917 and fought during the First World War. The driving force behind the creation of the unit was its first commander – Maria Bochkareva – and it was authorised by the then Minister of War of the Russian Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky.

Maria Aronova as Maria Bochkareva.
The film's main character is Maria Bochkareva (played by Maria Aronova), a peasant women who had managed to join the Russian Army in 1914 and risen to the rank of a junior NCO by 1917, and who became the unit's commanding officer. After training ...

The battalion on parade outside the Winter Palace in Petrograd (St Petersburg)..
The battalion on a training run past the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Petrograd (St Peterburg). (This Church was built between 1883 and 1907 on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded in March 1881 by an anarchist's bomb.)
... the unit was attached to the 525th Kiuruk-Darinski Regiment, which was located near Smorgon.

The battalion's trenches.
It took an active part in the Kerensky Offensive, and managed to break through the German trenches ... unlike its male counterparts.

The battalion reached the German front line trenches, but were then unable to hold them in the face of a counter-attack. The angled pipes in the background are gas shell projectors or mortars that were known as Gaswurfminen.
The unit became isolated, and were eventually forced to retreat back to their starting point. The 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death was still in the front line when the October Revolution took place, but not long afterwards it was disbanded.

The story told by the film remains fairly true to actual events, although – as one would expect – it does change certain things for dramatic effect. The battle scenes are quite brutal and graphic, and are not for the squeamish. It also shows the effect 'Soldier's Committees' had on the discipline of the Russian Army (basically there was none!) and the inability of Officers to induce the rank-and-file of their units to do anything they did not want to do.

This film has been described as being a piece of modern propaganda – and it probably is – but the acting is good (if a little stylised in places), and the attention to detail is excellent. At one point during a trench raid one of the women picks up and fires a German light machine gun ... and it is a Madsen of the sort used by the Germans during the First World War!

Friday, 4 November 2016

The Callan File: The Definitive Guide

Whilst I was at the printer collecting the most recent issue of THE NUGGET, we were discussing the cost of publishing books. Over recent years I have used LULU.COM to print, publish, and market my books, but the printer tried to persuade me that they could do just as good a job and probably for less money. As an example of the sort of book that they can produce, the printer showed me a copy of a paperback that they had just printed and bound for a customer. It was THE CALLAN FILE: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE!


Now for wargamers and lovers of secret agent stories from the late 1960s and early 1970s, James Mitchell's antihero Callan was someone whose adventures we followed avidly. It was therefore an absolute necessity for me to obtain a copy of this book, and the printer was only too happy to oblige.

THE CALLAN FILE: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE has been written by Robert Fairclough and Mike Kenwood, and it has been published by Quoit Media Ltd. (ISBN 978 1 911537 01 4) It is over 500 pages long, and has a small selection of photographs at its centre. The book is split into the following chapters and sections:
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword by Peter Mitchell
  • Introduction: 'I've got a job for you ...'
  • 1. Section Personnel
  • 2. Cold Warriors
  • 3. ABC Presents ...
  • 4. A Magnum for Schneider, A Red File for Callan
  • 5. Series One: Nobody loves a freelance
  • 6. Series Two: Hunter/Hunted
  • 7. Series Three: Somebody got murdered
  • 8. Series Four: Last rat standing
  • 9. File on a Working Writer
  • 10. 'A Bloody Good Little Film'
  • 11. Never say Never Again: 'Wet Job'
  • 12. MI5 not 9 to 5
  • 13. Callan Lives!
  • Afterword by Bharat Nalluri
  • Appendices
  • Footnores
  • Bibliography
  • Index
I watched as many episodes of CALLAN as I could when they were broadcast, and own DVDs of the film and numerous episodes. Despite this, even a quick look through this guide revealed that my knowledge of the character and the stories is far sketchier than I thought.

This book is an absolute 'must buy' for Callan aficionados, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 4th November 1936

The Nationalists captured Getafe.

Russian fighter aircraft appeared for the first time in the skies over Madrid.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Nugget 294

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N294) from the printer on Wednesday morning, and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments by later this afternoon.


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 third 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.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

FIFA and the Remembrance Day Poppy

I'm not a great lover of football. (By football, I mean is soccer, and not American or Australian Rules Football). It is a 'sport' that has become so commercialised that it has become just another business, with overpaid executives and players. It was not always thus ... but the arrival of satellite and cable TV changed all that.

At the top of world football is FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Over recent years it has been rocked by a number of scandals related to bribery at the highest level within the sport, with the result that a large number of its top officials have been indicted of – and in some case either been found guilty or pleaded guilty to – corruption.

Despite this, this 'august' body (and I mean that ironically!) has ruled that on 11th November the England and Scotland football teams MAY NOT wear Remembrance Day Poppies on their shirts or on armbands because FIFA regards wearing them as contravening its rules

This is the today's headline from the relevant BBC Sport webpage.


According to the BBC:
Fifa has turned down a request from England and Scotland for players to wear armbands featuring poppies when they face each other at Wembley on Armistice Day, says the Scottish Football Association.

The two nations meet in a 2018 World Cup qualifier on 11 November, the day when the United Kingdom traditionally remembers its war dead.

SFA chief Stewart Regan says Fifa, which bans political, religious or commercial messages on shirts, is "sticking to the letter of the law".
I find FIFA's ruling on this matter to be very offensive. It offends me that an international body that is known to have been corruptly run at the very top for many years, feels that it can ban the wearing of something that is dedicated to the memory of millions of war dead because it rules it to be a 'political, religious or commercial message'.

I shall wear my poppy with pride and not a little humility ... and I hope that both the English and Scottish Football Associations will encourage its international teams to do so, regardless of FIFA's ruling. If they do, I might just learn to like football a little bit more.