Sunday, 26 February 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 407

The February issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered several days ago, and I have managed to read it thoroughly before writing this review.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Who will rid me of this turbulent priest? (Part Two of 'The March on Canterbury') by Conrad Kinch
  • Wargaming my way: by Colin Ashton
  • Mad Dogs and Englishmen: Indian Mutiny skirmish rules (Part One) by Jon Sutherland
  • Firefight: Simple rules for small actions in the modern age (Part Two) by Stephen Jones
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • From Cradle to Frostgrave: by John Treadaway
    • From the 4Ground up: Customising MDF building for SF games (Part One) by Roger Dixon
  • Bloody Big Borodino: How to play a big Napoleonic game by adapting the 'Blood Big Battles' rules by Richard Morrill
  • Recce
  • Yes Minster: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Spotlight: Crisis? What Crisis ...: The Tin Soldiers of Antwerp Wargame Club by Willie Bogaerts
  • Club Directory
At first glance I thought that I was going to feel a little let down by this issue ... but as began to read it I discovered there was a lot in it that was of interest to me. Of particular interest were:
  • The three scenarios in Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence article that all looked eminently playable and very suitable for either re-fighting using my own MEMOIR '44 stuff or even my own PORTABLE WARGAME rules.
  • Jon Sutherland's Mad Dogs and Englishmen reminded me that although I think of myself as a Colonial wargamer, I have neglected to give serious thought to fighting Colonial battles in the Asian sub-continent ... and that I ought to do something to remedy that in the not too distant future.
  • Roger Dixon's From the 4Ground up article about customising MDF buildings. (I don't own any MDF buildings as yet, but this article made me realise that I really ought to think about buying some.)
  • The bulk of Bloody Big Borodino by Richard Morrill might refer to a set of rules that I neither own nor have used, but the scenario notes and map will no doubt prove useful to me once I have renovated, varnished, and based my small Napoleonic Russian Army.
The magazine also included a guide to HAMMERHEAD 2017, which will be taking place on 4th March at the Newark Showground.

Whilst I will not be going to this particular show, the fact that the guide was included with but not part of this issue is something that I applaud. I really don't like show guides that are stapled into the centre of a magazine, and I hope that this example will be followed by other shows and magazines in the future.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

French seaplane carrier Commandant Teste

Unlike the Spanish and Italians seaplane carriers, the French Commandant Teste was specially designed and built as such. She was laid down at the FC Gironde shipyard in Bordeaux on 6th September 1927, launched on 12th April two years later, and entered service on 18th April 1932.

Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 10,000 tons (standard); 11,942 tons (full load)
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 547’ 11” (167m)
    • Beam: 88’ 7” (27m)
    • Draught: 22’ (6.7m)
  • Maximum Speed (when new): 27 knots
  • Armament: 12 x 3.9” (100mm) (12 x 1); 8 x 1.5” (37mm) Anti-aircraft Guns (8 x 1); 12 x 0.5” (13.2mm) Machine Guns (6 x 2)
  • Complement: 644
  • Aircraft carried: 26 seaplanes
  • Aviation facilities: 4 catapults; 5 cranes
During the Spanish Civil War Commandant Teste helped to protect neutral merchant shipping, and during World War II she acted as an aviation transport between France and North Africa and in support of the French Mediterranean fleet. She was slightly damaged during the bombardment of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir on 3rd July 1940, and later made her way to Toulon, where she was scuttled on 27th November 1942 after the German invasion of Vichy France.

Commandant Teste was refloated after the war and plans were prepared for her conversion into an escort or training carrier. As there were plenty of surplus American-built escort carrier available it was decided not to proceed with the conversion, and she was used as a store ship for until she was sold for scrap on 15th May 1950.

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Cloisters, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire

On Wednesday I visited the Masonic Centre in Letchworth Garden City to deliver a lecture about Masonic references in the work of Rudyard Kipling. The Centre is known as 'The Cloisters', and the building has a unique design and interesting history.

'The Cloisters' was originally built built in 1906-07 as an open-air school dedicated to Psychology. It was designed by William Harrison Cowlishaw and paid for by Miss Annie Jane Lawrence (1863-1953), a Quaker. It cost £20,000 to construct, and when it was finished it had accommodation for 20 students. They were encouraged to study 'how thought affects action and what causes and produces thought.' Amongst other things, the curriculum included skills of the sort that were valued by the Arts and Crafts movement.

The school flourished during the period up to 1939, and became a venue for lectures, conferences, drama and musical performances, and organ recitals as well as being the centre of a small community dedicated to Theosophy. In 1939 the building was requisitioned by the British Army, and when it was handed back to Miss Lawrence in 1948 it was in desperate need of repair and restoration. Miss Lawrence could not afford to pay for the necessary work to be done, and after offering it to the local council – who turned it down – it was donated to the Masonic Province of Hertfordshire, who paid for the repairs and reopened it as the North Hertfordshire Masonic Centre. It retained the name of 'The Cloisters' and the Freemasons of Hertfordshire have maintained the building ever since.

I understand that this building has never been used by a film or TV company as a location. Having visited it, I find that very surprising. It is so quirky and unusual to look at, and I would have thought that it is the sort of location that would have appealed to them, especially if they were making a film or TV programme that was vaguely Gothic or fantastical in content.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Connections UK 2017: Outline programme details

The dates for Connections UK 2017 have been announced (Tuesday 5th to Thursday 7th September 2017 inclusive) and it will be taking place at King's College, London as before.

The outline programme for the conference is as follows:

Day 1: Tuesday 5th September
  • Wargaming 101: A shortened theory session for newcomers and novices.
  • Megagame: 'Dire Straits' which has been designed by Jim Wallman and Rex Brynen to explore a potential crisis involving China, Taiwan, and beyond.
  • Informal gaming sessions during the evening: Bring a game, find a table ... and play.
Day 2: Wednesday 6th September
  • UK military Tri-Service and FCO wargaming examples.
  • Update on UK military wargaming doctrine.
  • Seminar and Matrix Games.
  • Current design ideas in hobby gaming.
  • Games Fair session 1: Attendees sign up before the conference for sessions that they wish to take part in.
  • Keynote speaker: Senior military representative (To be confirmed)
  • Games Fair session 2: Evening session that follows on from Games Fair session 1, and which gives attendees the opportunity to attend different sessions from those they attended earlier in the day.
Day 3: Thursday 7th September
  • Wargaming in education.
  • Modelling Human Terrain.
  • Wargame design.
  • Breakout workshops: The intention is to take a topical subject and develop several nascent approaches that tackle the issue at different levels (e.g. tactical or operational) using varied wargaming techniques.
This looks like being yet another excellent conference, and I certainly hope to be able to attend.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

El Ejertico en Parada by José María Bueno

I recently had an email from Andy Callan – one of the founder members of Wargame Developments – offering me the complete set of José María Bueno's EL EJERCITO ESPANOL EN PARADA paper soldiers. I gratefully accepted his kind offer, and a couple of days ago the five sets of paper soldiers (all of which are printed in full colour on thick card) arrived in the post.

Set 1
  • Infanteria
  • Tiradores de Ifni-Sahara
  • Mehal-la Jalifiana
  • Bandera de F.E.T. y de las J.O.N.S.
  • Infanteria de Marina
  • Escolta mora de S.E. el Generalissimo
  • Policia Montada de Sevilla
  • Caballeria de las Milicias del Requete
Set 2
  • La Legion
  • Artilleria anticarro de La Legion
  • Bandera de la Falange de Marruecos
  • Battallon del Requete (Tercios del Sur)li>
  • Legion Condor
  • Bandera de Flechas Verdes
  • Escuadron de Lanceros
  • Tabor de Caballeria de Regulares de Melilla
Set 3
  • Artilleria de Montana
  • Artilleria de Montana, Escalon de Municionamiento
  • Primer Tercio del Requete Navarro
  • Grupo de Regulares de Melilla Numero 2
  • Tabor de Caballeria de la Mehal-la
  • Marina
  • Servicio de Trabajo de F.E.T. y de las J.O.N.S.
  • Bandera de Camisas Negras del la Division 'XXIII de Marzo'
Set 4
  • Guardia Civil de Infanteria
  • Guardia Civil de Caballeria
  • Infanteria
  • X Bandera de la Legion
  • Mehal-la Jalifiana Infanteria
  • Bandera de Falange Espanola
  • Compania de 'Bersaglieri' Motorizados
  • Compania de Carros Ligeros del C.T.V.
Set 5
  • Batallon de Esquiadores de la Agupacion ‘Guadarram-Somosierra’
  • Escuadron de Lanceros de Farnesio
  • Seccion de ametralladoras de un escuadron de Caballeria
  • Batallon Expedicionario de Infanteria de Marina
  • Seccion de Sanidad
  • Grupo de Regulares de Laranche Numero 4
  • Bandera de la Falange de Navarra
  • Aviacion Legionaria Italiana
These paper soldiers are an invaluable research tool for anyone who is interested in the Spanish Civil War, and they now occupy pride of place in my collection of books and documents relating to that conflict.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Vive l'Empereur: A few more Light Infantry for my French Napoleonic Army

Amongst the odds and ends of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm figures that I had in storage, I found enough figures to form several more French Light Infantry units.

The figures were intended to be used in a small diorama of the fighting around Hougoumont, hence the odd-looking 'firing upwards' poses. Once based they didn’t look too bad and they will fit in fairly well with my existing Napoleonic French Army.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Italian seaplane carrier Giuseppe Miraglia

The Spanish Navy was not the only Mediterranean Navy to operate a seaplane carrier. The Royal Italian Navy's Giuseppe Miraglia began life as a railway ferry called the Citta di Messina, but in 1923, before she was completed, she was bought and converted into a seaplane carrier. Just before she was completed in 1925 she sank during a storm, and she was not salvaged and completed until 1927.

Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 5,400 tons normal
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 397’ 8” (121.22m)
    • Beam: 49’ 3” (15m)
    • Draught: 19’ (5.82m)
  • Maximum Speed (when new): 21 knots
  • Armament: 4 x 4” (102mm) (4 x 1); 12 x 0.5” (13.2mm) Machine Guns (12 x 1)
  • Complement: 396
  • Aircraft carried: 17 seaplanes
  • Aviation facilities: 2 catapults
Giuseppe Miraglia took an active part in operations during the Spanish Civil War and the Italian invasion of Abyssinia as well as the Second World War. In December 1943, as one of the conditions of the Armistice, she sailed to Malta with the other units of the Royal Italian Navy. She was taken over by the British to be used as a Motor Torpedo Boat depot ship, and returned to the Italians in 1945. She was then used as a barracks ship and floating workshop until she was scrapped in 1950.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Other people's Portable Wargames

Although I have been busy doing other things, some of my fellow wargamers – Ross Mac and Tradgardmastare in particular – have been fighting PORTABLE WARGAMEs.

The results look quite stunning, and if you haven't already done so, I would thoroughly recommend that you visit their respective bogs.

Whereas Ross Mac has been concentrating on the Colonial ...

Ross Mac's 54mm Zulus attacking some of his red-coated British troops.
... and mid twentieth century ...

Yet another major border incursion. Naryatrian forces moving into Roscian territory ... again!
... in his battles, Tradgardmastare's battle took place during the seventeenth century.

25mm Minifigs showing that they can still look good on the tabletop!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Listening whilst I work

When I am working on wargames figures, vehicles, and terrain in my toy/wargames room, I like to listen to the spoken word as it seems to help me to concentrate on what I am doing. During the summer this usually involves listening to Test Match Special on the radio, but at other times – when the weather or the time of year prevents cricket from being on air – I listen to recorded books and radio plays.

Over the past few years my favourite recordings have included:
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' stories
  • John le Carré's books and the BBC radio play adaptations of them
  • Margery Allingham's 'Campion' books
  • The Father Paolo Baldi Mysteries (radio plays about the amateur sleuth – and Franciscan priest – Father Paolo Baldi)
  • The Charles Paris Mysteries (radio plays about the amateur sleuth – and actor – Charles Paris)
  • The Inspector Mclevy Mysteries (radio plays about the criminal cases dealt with by a Police Inspector in the Leith area of 1860s Edinburgh)
  • Recordings of Dorothy L Sayer's 'Lord Peter Wimsey' books and the BBC radio play adaptations of them
More recently I have 'discovered' recordings of Terry Pratchett's books, and I am about one third of the way through THE TRUTH.

I know that some wargamers like to listen to music whilst they work, and that others watch TV or DVDs, but I find both of these activities distracting when I am trying to concentrate.

My 'discovery' of Terry Pratchett's work is only recent because of a number of factors. One of these relates to the fact that for over ten years I shared an office with a serious Terry Pratchett fanatic ... and this rather coloured my perception of the books. My colleague was such a fan that he bought a limited edition resin model of the Unseen University that was so big that it covered the top of a large coffee table! When you have worked with someone who is that dedicated to the work of a particular author it can – and in my case did – rather put you off their work.

Another factor was down to my own sheer cussedness. I was told by all sorts of people how great the stories were and how much I would enjoy them ... so I didn't even bother to look at them.

More fool me, as I have now discovered.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: Delado-Class Seaplane/Airship Tender

Originally built as a merchant ship (ex-Neuenfels) at Swan Hunter in 1901. She was interned in a Spanish port during the First World War and taken over by the Spanish Government in 1918. She was converted to a Seaplane/Airship Tender in 1922 and was in Republican hands during the Spanish Civil War.

Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 10,800 tons normal
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 420’ (128m)
    • Beam: 55’ (16.8m)
    • Draught: 20’ 6” (6.3m)
  • Maximum Speed (when new): 12.5 knots
  • Armament: 2 x 4.1” (105mm) (2 x 1); 2 x 1 pdr (37mm) (2 x 1)
  • Complement: 324
  • Aircraft carried: 20 seaplanes, 2 dirigibles, 2 captive balloons
Delado was laid up at Sagunto when the war broke out, and was sunk by Nationalist aircraft before she could be re-commissioned for service in the Republican Navy. She was scrapped in Valencia in 1940.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Vive l'Empereur: A return to my Napoleonic project!

After a break of nearly three months, I have resumed work on my Napoleonic project.

Sorting through the figures that I had yet to renovate, varnish, and base, I discovered that I had far more to do than I had originally thought. I have at least ten units of French Infantry to do – most of which are destined to represent Garrison or Veteran/Invalid troops – and nearly as many Artillery units. I also found quite a few more French Cavalry ... and the small Russian army that I had totally forgotten about!

The latter are also Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm figures, but were sold as part of the RELIVE AUSTERLITZ! range, which was not sold in the UK. I acquired my figures via eBay, and although there are not a huge number of figures, there are sufficient for my needs ... at present!

The joy of this project is that I can take a break to do other things, and then return to it with new enthusiasm. I find the renovation process quite cathartic, and it gives me time to think about all sorts of things ... including my proposed PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: General Mola/Archimede-Class Submarines

These submarines were originally built for the Royal Italian Navy at the Franco Tosi shipyard in Taranto, and were transferred to the Nationalist Navy in April 1937. General Sanjurjo (ex-Archimede) was launched in 1933, and General Mola (ex-Evangelista Torricelli) was launched in 1934.

Ships’ characteristics:
  • Displacement: 970 tons surfaced; 1,239 tons submerged
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 231' 4" (70.5m)
    • Beam: 22' 6" (6.87m)
    • Draught: 13' 6" (4.12m)
  • Maximum Speed: 17 knots surfaced; 8 knots submerged
  • Armament: 1 x 3.9" (100mm) (1 x 1); 2 x 0.5" (13.2mm) Machine Guns (2 x 1); 8 x 21" (533mm) Torpedo Tubes (4 bow, 4 stern)
  • Complement: 55
General Sanjurjo survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in 1959.
General Mola survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in 1959.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

But it was a bargain!

I need more Heroscape hexed terrain like I need a hole in the head ... but I saw a lot on sale on eBay and could not resist putting a bid in. I won ... and the parcel containing what I had bought arrived today.

In the box were 26 single hexes pieces (16 x Green, 6 x Grey, 4 x Sand), ...

... 9 double hexes pieces (4 x Green, 3 x Grey, 2 x Sand), ...

... 10 triple hexes pieces (5 x Green, 3 x Grey, 2 x Sand), ...

... 9 septruple hexes pieces (4 x Green, 3 x Grey, 2 x Sand), ...

... 4 twenty-one hex pieces (2 x Green, 2 x Grey)

... and 21 single blue water hexes.

The hexes are 40mm face-to-face, and this is is more than enough to allow me to create a set of portable hexed terrain that I can use with 15mm or 10mm figures.

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Portable Wargame book ... is now on sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

I understand that the corrected version of my PORTABLE WARGAME book is now on sale on Amazon ...

... and Barnes & Noble ...

... as well as

It continues to sell quite well (usually a couple of copies per day), but now that it is available from a larger number of retailers, potential purchasers have more choice as to where to buy a copy.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Jewels and Jackboots: Hitler's British Channel Islands

Sue and I first went to Jersey on our honeymoon back in 1982. One of the reasons why we did was thanks to the then-current TV show, BERGERAC, which starred John Nettles.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the island, and since then we have returned many times for holidays. We have travelled around it very extensively, and thanks to my interest in military history we have visited almost every German bunker or gun position that is open to the public. It was therefore a great pleasure when my old friend Tony Hawkins recently gave me a copy of John Nettle's book JEWELS AND JACKBOOTS as a birthday present.

JEWELS AND JACKBOOTS: HITLER'S BRITISH CHANNEL ISLANDS (ISBN 978 1 905095 38 4) was written by John Nettles and published in 2012 by Channel Islands Publishing and Jersey War Tunnels. The book's contents include:
  • A Chronology
  • A Prologue: which gives a brief history of how World War II came to the Channel Islands.
  • Chapter 1: The Bombing: Prelude to an occupation.
  • Chapter 2: Betrayal and Buffoonery: How the Germans took over the Islands.
  • Chapter 3: Shaking hands with the Germans: How the civil authorities reacted.
  • Chapter 4: Those that were left: The treatment of Islanders who were left after the evacuations.
  • Chapter 5: Who are these people and why are they here?: Description of the German invading forces and their leaders Lanz, Aufsess, Huffmeier et al.
  • Chapter 6: The Empire strikes back: Commando raids – Nicolle and Symes, the Basalt raid.
  • Chapter 7: Precious little resistance: Those who resisted and those who suffered. Gould, Le Druillenec, Cohu, and Sherwill.
  • Chapter 8: The Jews in the Channel Islands: The Jews. Story of Steiner, Pitz and Grunfeld. Coutance and Pfeffer, Cyril Orange, Carey, Sculpher.
  • Chapter 9: Festung Alderney: Concentration Camps on British soil, Alderney and the slave workers. Pantcheff and war crimes.
  • Chapter 10: It was over: Liberation: Huffmeier's last throw. Revolt in the German ranks and the arrival of the Bulldog.
  • Chapter 11: Crime and Punishment: Those who were guilty.
  • Epilogue
I understand that John Nettles lost some of the friends he had made on Jersey because the book does not gloss over some of the more unpleasant facts about the Occupation. It is still a sore subject in some quarters in the Channel Islands, although with hindsight it is difficult to see how the people who were not evacuated in 1940 before the Germans arrived could have done things very differently. As I once heard an elderly Islander who had been a boy during the Occupation say, 'The Germans had guns and we did not. They controlled everything, and unless we cooperated, we would have starved. We did resist whenever we could, but in most cases it was a passive rather than an active resistance.'

How many of us can say for definite that we would have done otherwise in the same circumstances?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

A new book about Lionel Tarr's wargames

Although versions of Lionel Tarr's Modern Wargaming Rules have previously been republished in WAR GAMES ...


... the latest offering from the 'History of Wargaming' project – LIONEL TARR’S MODERN WARGAING RULES 1939-1945: THE FIRST MODERN WARGAMER (ISBN 978 1 326 91498 1) – brings together a lot of other material produced by Lionel Tarr.

The contents include:
  • A short biography of Lionel Tarr
  • Introduction
  • Reflections on the Lionel Tarr Game
  • The Lionel Tarr WWII Rules: Donald Featherstone's 1962 Edition
  • The Lionel Tarr War Game (Kriegssiel) Circa 1939-1945 (Note: Originally written in February 1947, these rules were revised through many drafts until June 1967)
  • The ORBATs for Lionel Tarr's Russian and German Armies
  • RETASOL: Tarr's Solo Wargaming Eastern Front Campaign
  • Wargaming the Battle of Stalingrad
  • Air Wargames
  • Attack and Defence in Modern War Games
  • The Lionel Tarr Periscope
  • The Space Size Continuum by Carl Reavley
  • The Lionel Tarr Napoleonic Wargame (Circa early 1960s)
  • A W Saunders' Rules for Modern War Games (1957)
I have been looking forward to the publication of this book, and as I sit here with the snow falling outside, I know that I will have an enjoyable day ahead reading this book.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: C-class Submarines

Built at Cartagena between 1926 and 1929, the design was an improved B-class Holland-type. They all served in the Republican Navy.

Ships' characteristics:
  • Displacement: 916 tons surfaced; 1,290 tons submerged
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 247’ (75.3m)
    • Beam: 20’ 10” (6.34m)
    • Draught: 13’ 6” (4.1m)
  • Maximum Speed: 16 knots surfaced; 8.5 knots submerged
  • Armament: 1 x 2.9” (75mm) Anti-Aircraft Gun; 6 x 21” (533mm) Torpedo Tubes (4 bow, 2 stern)
  • Complement: 46
C1 was sunk by Nationalist aircraft at Barcelona o 9th October 1938.
C2 survived the Civil War, and stricken and broken-up in the 1950’s.
C3 was torpedoed and sunk by an Italian submarine off Malaga on 21st December 1936.
C4 survived the Civil War, and was lost at sea in 1946.
C5 sank (cause unknown) in the Bay of Biscay in December 1936.
C6 was scuttled at Gijon after being bombed by Nationalist aircraft on 20th October 1937.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

1944: The Final Defence

When I bought this DVD I had expected that it would be a fictional account of the 1944 Russian attack on Finland and in particular the Battle of Tali-Ihantala. What I had actually bought was something somewhat different; it was a drama-documentary about the fighting from a Finnish perspective.

The film has been heavily criticised in some quarters, and one reviewer described it as being a poorly made, low-budget film of the sort that you might expect a re-enactment group to produce. In my opinion it was not. It tells the narrative of events from a purely Finnish point of view, and does it using a number of vignettes that are based on real events. Considerable use has been made of actual vehicles used by both sides (the exception being a KV-1 that has been mocked up on what looks like a T-54 or T-55 chassis), and the uniforms seemed to look very authentic.

I certainly feel that this DVD was well worth watching, and at a price of less than £5.00 I don't feel that I have been sold something that was not worth what I paid.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

What next?

Having reached a natural point at which to take a break from my Masonic researches (I've reached the end of one Minute Book and have yet to start reading the next), I've decided to start work on a couple of other projects.

Firstly I am going to do some more work renovating and basing some of my pre-painted 25/28mm Del Prado Napoleonic figures. I have found some more French Infantry that need doing, and working on them will make a nice change from sitting in front of my computer making notes and building my increasingly large database of lodge members.

Secondly I am going to expand some of the notes I have drafted for my DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME book and – if time permits – begin to word process them.

Thirdly I’d like watch yet another of my recently-released, foreign language war films about fighting on the Eastern Front. I might even manage to do that later today if circumstances allow.

Finally I am going to have to tidy up my office as it has got into a bit of a mess over the past few months ... but that hardly counts as a project and is more a bit of sensible housekeeping.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The next Portable Wargame book?

I've had a rather busy day today, but during a break from my Masonic researches I have begun to make notes for my next PORTABLE WARGAME book. The working title is DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME and I hope to include things such as:
  • Rules for pinning and unpinning units
  • Fighting campaigns using the Portable Wargame Rules (with a short example)
  • A more complex version of the Early and Mid Twentieth Century Portable Wargame Rules
  • The Portable Naval Wargame Rules for the Mid and Late Nineteenth/Early Twentieth Century (with an explanatory battle or two)
  • The Portable Napoleonic Wargame Rules (with an explanatory battle)
This might actually be too much for one book, but I won't know if it is until I begin to put the book together, and that is something that is probably not going to begin in earnest until later in the year. I will, however, keep my regular blog readers apprised of any progress that I do make.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 6th – 24th February 1937


The Nationalists renewed their attempts to capture Madrid. This time they concentrated their efforts upon cutting the Valencia Road where it runs through the Jarama Valley to the south-east of the city. The Nationalists, under the leadership of General Luis Orgaz, began their assault on 6th February and, by 11th February, they had driven the Republican army, commanded by General Sebastian Pozas, eastwards across the River Jarama.

To restore the situation General Jose Miaja took over personal command of the dispirited Republican troops on 15th February. By 24th February, when the fighting finally ended, the Nationalists had driven a salient into the Republican front-line but had failed again to cut Madrid off from the rest of the Republic.

In These Times ... and Taboo

I am currently reading Jenny Uglow's IN THESE TIMES: LIVING IN BRITAIN THROUGH NAPOLEON'S WARS 1793 - 1815 (ISBN 978 0 571 26952 5). It is based on first-hand accounts written at the time, and although the majority of the sources seem to be middle and upper class, it does give a somewhat different idea of what life was like from what one might have gathered from reading Jane Austen.

I am also watching the BBC series TABOO ... or what I recently called in a Facebook comment, PRIDE AND EXTREME PREJUDICE. This is set during the War of 1812 with America, and is so dark that it makes most Nordic Noir look almost light-hearted! (It is directed by Kristoffer Nyholm and Anders Engström, who respectively directed THE KILLING and JORDSKOTT.) You can almost smell the filth ... and life is cheap. If you haven't seen it yet, try to imagine a combination of Jane Austen and Dicken's OLIVER TWIST, with a touch of RIPPER STREET. (I know that the latter is set in the late nineteenth century, but it has a similar uncompromising attitude to portraying the casual violence and social hypocrisy of the era.)

James Keziah Delaney (played by Tom Hardy).
TABOO tells the story of James Keziah Delaney, who has returned from eight years in Africa to claim his inheritance (a defunct shipping company and a treaty that gives his family ownership of Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island), and the machinations of the East India Company, the British Government, and the American Government, all of whom are trying to get their hands on it. It might not be historically accurate, but I am finding it compulsive viewing.

James Delaney and one of his confederates, Atticus (played by Stephen Graham).

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Fighting battles on a squared grid in 1968: The Armchair General Volume 1 No.4

A couple of days ago Tim Gow sent me a copy of the fourth issue of THE ARMCHAIR GENERAL. This was the first 'over the counter' wargame magazine produced in the US and it was published by the late Pat Condray.

Tim sent this particular issue to me because it features the second part of Henry Bodenstedt's rules for re-fighting battles of the Franco-German War using multi-figure bases and a square gridded playing surface. I have scanned the relevant pages, and they can be seen below. (The images can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

When time allows, I will try to transcribe the rules and publish them on my blog.

The photographs that were used in the article were not of very high quality, but I have scanned them separately as I know that quite a few of my regular blog readers will enjoy looking at them almost as much as I have!