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Wednesday 29 May 2024

A quick update

Despite the fact that is was very cold in the conservatory (which is where I am currently living 24/7), I managed to get some work done on both the Third Portable Wargame Compendium and my next YouTube video.

I also applied to my local Adult Social Service Department for reablement. This can be defined as being free short-term support that helps people to regain their skills, abilities, and confidence to manage everyday tasks and to live as independently as possible. This support in delivered at home by a team of professionals, usually led by an occupational therapist and can include rehabilitation, the provision and use of specialist equipment and technological devices, and physical changes to the home environment (e.g. stairlifts, grab handles, slopes).

I am hoping that if my application is successful, I'll begin to regain some of my mobility over the next six to eight weeks. Once I can walk (even with crutches or other walking aids) and can climb stairs, I will no longer need my carers and can begin to live a much more normal life.

Monday 27 May 2024

One hundred YouTube subscribers!

I was quite amazed to see that my YouTube channel has already attracted one hundred subscribers!

This and the very supporting and useful comments I have received has convinced me that my decision to set up the channel as an adjunct to my blog was a good one. I am already working on the next installment of the Franco-Prussian War of 1810, and hope to cover the twin Battles of the Northern Frontier.

Sunday 26 May 2024

Cast off!

After two days of blog posts about ship modelling, it was rather appropriate that today's should have a nautical title, even if the topic isn't ship-related. I wrote Friday's and the first of Saturday's blog posts in advance as I suspected that I would be rather busy on one or both of those two days ... and I wasn't wrong!

I had an appointment at the Fracture Clinic at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, at 3.10pm on Friday. I was collected by HATS, the patient transport provider, at just before 2.00pm, and by 2.30pm I had been booked in to the clinic and was having my cast removed. The break was examined by the consultant and he proclaimed it to be healed. However, after some discussion with him, he advised me to contact my GP as soon as I could as he felt that until the problem with my left leg is sorted out and I can put weight on it, I should avoid trying to walk on the newly-healed leg, even with the aid of crutches.

It looks as if I'm going to be slightly less immobile but until I have had reablement and can walk again, my life is going to remain somewhat restricted.

Saturday 25 May 2024

My second YouTube video has been uploaded

I found myself with a couple of hours on my hands this afternoon, so I decide to see if I could create a video of a 3 x 3 Portable Wargame battle report.

I chose the first battle of the Franco-Prussian War of 1810, and despite a few mistakes that I made along the way, I learned a lot and this will hopefully help me to make more and better videos in the future.


The video can be seen using this link.

Three simple ship model designs

Further to my recent blog post about the article in the May issue of Model Boats magazine that was written by Ashley Needham about his very simple model boat based on the RMS Titanic, I sat down with MS Paint and designed an escort carrier, freighter and tanker that shared a common hull. The results looked like this:

Escort Carrier

Freighter

Tanker

Obviously, the finished models would have masts, cargo hatches, ventilators, armament where appropriate, ship's boat and life rafts, etc. In the case of the freighter, the additional of scramble nets and some landing craft would turn the model into an amphibious assault ship/attack transport. The tanker model could also be used to represent a freighter which had its engines located near the stern or even one of the Maracaibo tankers that were converted into Landing Ships, Tank Mk.1 (e.g. HMS Misoa).


I give permission to my regular blog readers to download and use the above designs free of copyright. My only request is that if they do build models using my designs as a basis or share them with a third party that I am acknowledged as the origniator of the designs and there is a link to this blog.

Friday 24 May 2024

Model Boats Magazine (May 2024): A versatile model boat for wargaming?

I subscribe to Readly, and this gives me access to a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Amongst these is Model Boats magazine, and earlier this week I was reading the May issue in which I read an article that particularly interested me.

The article was by Ashley Needham and explained how he had built a very simple model boat whose design was based on the RMS Titanic. He named it the Mintanic, and in outline it certainly resembled the Titanic.

He built his model so that the main superstructure was removeable. This is normal and allows the ship modeller to access a model's motor or motors, its radio-control receiver, and any batteries that it might require. In this case, Mr Needham turned this necessity to his advantage and modelled three other superstructures so that his model boat could be used to represent four ships rather than one. He chose to base his alternate superstructures on prototypes with three, two, and one funnels, and the end results were very different in outline.

I'm not sure if this concept is applicable to model ships that wargamers might wish to use on their tabletops (or lawns!) ... although I can remember some wonderful 20mm model warships being used in RAPID FIRE games many years ago.

Doing something like this is not as far-fetched as it might at first appear. The escort carriers used by the Allies during the Second World War were built using converted or adapted merchant ship hulls, therefore it might be possible to build a simple hull that could have a removeable escort carrier superstructure that could be replaced with that of a freighter, tanker, or amphibious assault ship/attack transport.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Charles Esdaile’s Wargaming Waterloo

I suspect that amongst most wargamers in the United Kingdom – and possibly beyond its shores – the Battle of Waterloo is a battle that they may have hankered to refight at some time. Like Hastings, Agincourt, and Trafalgar, the battle marks one of those points in our country’s history which somehow seem to define us as a nation. (There are other more recent ones that I could have added but I did not want this to be a list of battles lost and won.)

There are so many different wargames out there that seek to recreate the Waterloo campaign or the final climatic battle that by studying them, one is inevitably going to examine the almost endless variety of methods and mechanisms that wargame designers have used to create their wargames of the battle. Professor Charles Esdaile has done this in his recent book WARGAMING WATERLOO … and it is – in my humble opinion – a tour de force that should be essential reading for anyone who likes to think of themselves as a wargame designer. Its analysis may be based on the way wargame designers have designed their wargames about this one specific battle but it applies an analytical approach that could – and possible should – be applied to other wargame designs.

If wargaming wants to be treated as a serious academic pursuit, this book points the way in which this can be achieved. It is therefore of no great surprise that Professor Esdaile’s book has been published by the US Marine Corps, an organisation that takes its wargaming very seriously. (The publisher is actually the Marine Corps University Press.)

The book is divided into the following parts:

  • Foreword (by Tony Pollard, Professor of Conflict History and Archaeology, University of Glasgow, field director of Waterloo Uncovered, and prime organiser of the huge refight of the battle in Glasgow in June 2019.)
  • Preface
  • Chronology of Events, February – July 1815
  • Chapter 1: The History and Development of Wargames
  • Chapter 2: The Waterloo Campaign and the Battle
  • Chapter 3: The March of the Miniatures: Fighting Waterloo with Model Soldiers
  • Chapter 4: How Many Hexes to Hougoumont? Waterloo by Board Game
  • Chapter 5: Historical Hexagons (1): Grand Tactics
  • Chapter 6: Historical Hexagons (2): Operations
  • Chapter 7: Historical Hexagons (3): Strategy
  • Chapter 8: Historical Hexagons:(4): Fantasy
  • Conclusion: Some Thoughts on the Wargame as a Research Tool
  • Appendix A: Suggested Amendments for Napoleon at Waterloo
  • Appendix B: A Ludography of Waterloo
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author

The first chapter contains an excellent summary and is – in my humble opinion – in itself worth the cost of the book. It does have a bias towards the ways in which this particular battle has been wargamed over the years, but this in no way detracts from its excellent examination of the history of wargaming.

The following chapter gives a first-rate description of the battlefield and includes short history of the events leading up to the battle as well as a blow-by-blow account of the fighting, and the third chapter examines the pitfalls inherent in the use of miniatures for such a refight and is reminiscent in places of the case against toy soldiers propounded by the late, great Dr Paddy Griffith.

The remaining five chapters look at the ways in which the battle – and the campaign leading up to it – have been modelled using gridded board wargames.

The concluding chapter puts forward a very convincing argument as to why properly designed wargames can be a valuable research tool. Towards the end of the chapter Professor Esdaile quotes from Robert M Citino's contribution to ZONES OF CONTROL: PERSPECTIVES ON WARGAMING, which was published in 2016 by MIT Press. In it, Citino suggests that a military historian who seeks to better understand a war, a campaign, or a battle should fight a wargame about it. To this I would add that getting them to design the wargame would be an even better route to achieving that understanding!

As I stated above, in my opinion this book is a tour de force and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who considers themselves to be a wargame designer.


WARGAMING WATERLOO was written by Professor Charles J Esdaile and published by the Marine Corps University Press (ISBN 979 8 9865 2944 4). It is available as a free download via www.usmcu.edu/mcupress.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

I've started work on the Third Portable Wargame Compendium

As I remain immobile and am not likely to be able to walk unaided for some time, I decided to begin the preliminary work on the next (and third) Portable Wargame Compendium.

I have several promises of articles and I have started writing one of my onw in which I look at some of the scenarios included in the earlier wargame books (e.g. The Battle of Hook's Farm) and 'convert' them so that thy can be used with the PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

So far I have drawn maps for three such scenarios:

  • The Battle of Hooks Farm from H G Well's LITTLE WARS.
  • The Action at Blasthof Bridge from Brigadier Peter Young and Lieutenant Colonel James Lawford's CHARGE! OR HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES
  • The Battle of Sittangbad which is also from CHARGE! OR HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES

Drawing the maps takes some time but it is keeping me entertained during my enforced immobility. I also plan to add the three battles from Donald Featherstone's WAR GAMES, giving a total of five scenarios and ten maps that readers might find useful, especially those who like well-tried and tested scenarios.

To whet the appetites of potential purchasers, here are the two maps I have drawn for THE BATTLE OF HOOK'S FARM.

Monday 20 May 2024

Warship 2024

This year's issue of WARSHIP was delivered just over a week ago and since then I have spent several very happy hours reading it.

This issue was edited by John Jordan, and contains the following article:

  • Editorial
  • Nagato and Mutsu: The 16in-gun battleships that Survived the Washington Treaty by Hans Lengerer
  • The beginnings of Soviet naval power: The flotilla leader Tashkent and her would-be successors by Przemyslaw Bubzbon
  • Action off the Bosphorous, 10 May 1915 by Toby Ewin
  • SuffrenDuquesne: France's first modern carrier escorts by Jean Moulin
  • The escort destroyers of the Matsu and Tachibana classes by Kathrin Milanovich
  • The making of an armed merchant cruise: SMS Seeadler by Dirk Nottelmann
  • The battleship Bouvet, martyr of the Dardanelles by Philippe Caresse
  • Mussolini's caprices: the Italian midget submarines and elektroboote of 1934-1943 by Enrico Cernuschi
  • Fit for purpose? The Royal Navy's Fishery Protection Squadron, 1883-2023 by Jon Wise
  • From Orel to Iwami by Stephen McLaughlin
  • Warship Notes
    • From Graf Zeppelin to Aquila: The Italian Navy's assessment of the German carrier, 1941-1942 by Enrico Cernusschi
    • The Niger, Le Mage and Faidherbe: A tale of river gunboats by Ian Sturton
    • HMS Cossack and Mr Rapley: A cautionary tale by John Roberts
    • An outsider's view of the Marine Nationale's naval construction organisation by Conrad Waters
    • 'Zombies' in warship history: A few more of the 'zombie facts' that continue to stalk the history of the world's warships by Aidan Dodson
  • A's and A's
  • Naval Books of the Year
  • Warship Gallery
    • The Soviet Navy 1960-1990 by John Jordan

Yet again, there is a lot of very interesting stuff in this year's annual. In fact, every single contribution was top notch, and I will certainly be re-reading it and consulting it again and again. Of particular interest to me was Toby Ewin's article, Action off the Bosphorous, 10 May 1915. Not only do I have an interest in the fighting that took place between the Ottoman and Imperial Russian Navies during the Great War but I also know Toby quite well and have had long and interesting discussions with him, particularly about naval wargaming during the period from 1880 to 1920.

The short article about the French river gunboats Niger, Le Mage, and Faidherbe includes some interesting plans and illustrations of these vessels, and will be of great assistance to any Colonial wargamers who are looking to model some small non-British river gunboats.

My one regret is that the second part of the The German Flak Ships series of articles that was originally going to be included in this volume has had to be postponed until 2025 ... but it gives me an excuse to buy next year's publication ... not that I needed much of an excuse!


WARSHIP 2024 was edited by John Jordan, assisted by Stephen Dent, and published in 2024 by Osprey Publishing (ISBN 978 1 4728 6330 0).

Sunday 19 May 2024

A Victor Meldrew moment

Yesterday I had what I can best describe as a Victor Meldrew moment.

I was reading the Naval Wargaming Facebook page when I saw that someone had bought my GRIDDED NAVAL WARGAMES book from Walmart Online! Now, this was news to me, so I investigated further … and discovered the Walmart Online actually has ALL my books on sale!

This is amazing! I cannot get my books stocked by any of the UK High Street booksellers but an American multinational retail corporation will sell them online.

As Victor Meldrew would have said, 'I don't believe it!'