Tuesday 30 August 2016

Nugget 292

Yesterday evening the editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue to me so that I can take it to the printer. I hope to do that by Thursday morning so that I can collect it and post it out to members of Wargame Developments early next week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the first 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. A printed reminder will also be sent out to all subscribers who have not yet re-subscribed.

Monday 29 August 2016


During my recent researches at the National Archives I have spent a lot of time looking at the Muster Rolls and Pay Lists for various 'detachments' of the Royal Artillery during the Napoleonic Wars. This has set me thinking, and I have come to the conclusion that I might need to include rules regarding 'detachments' of various types in my Napoleonic wargame rules.

At present the majority of my Infantry and Cavalry units comprise two bases of figures. It would not be too difficult to split them into two detachments that could be used to garrison a location such as a town or small fortress or – in the case of the Cavalry – to act as scouts for an Infantry Division.

As far as Artillery are concerned I do have several spare figures that could be based on individual bases to act as the gun crews of fortress artillery, thus freeing my 'normal' Artillery units up so that they can support the field armies.

It is certainly something for me to think about ... and it would enable me to find a use for some of the odd figures that I have left over at present.

Sunday 28 August 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 28th August 1936

The Nationalists bombed Madrid for the first time.

Spain at the end of August 1936. The red areas are under Republican control whilst the blue areas are under Nationalist control.

Saturday 27 August 2016

I have been to ... Charlton Cemetery

Yesterday Sue and I paid one of our periodic visits to a local cemetery. In this case we chose Charlton Cemetery, which was originally created as what was termed a 'Gentleman's Cemetery' by Charlton Burial Board. It was created on eight acres of land that had been part of the estate of Sir Thomas Maryon-Wilson.

The cemetery has two chapels; a Church of England one that is built in the style of an Early English church ...

... and a Roman Catholic one.

The cemetery almost doubled in size during the twentieth century when a further seven acres was added.

Because the cemetery contains a number of Commonwealth War Graves, it has a war memorial near the entrance.

True to its original purpose, the cemetery does contain a number of graves and memorials of prominent men and women. They include:
  • Peter Barlow (1776 – 1862): An English mathematician and physicist. He served as assistant mathematics master at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and produced what became known as BARLOW'S TABLES which gives squares, cubes, square roots, cube roots, and reciprocals of all integer numbers from 1 to 10,000. He also worked with optician George Dollond to develop achromatic lens, and received the Royal Society’s Copley Medal for his work on correcting the deviation in ship compasses caused by the presence of iron in the hull.
  • William Henry Barlow (1812 – 1902): One of Peter Barlow’s two sons. He became a renowned the civil engineer and amongst his achievements was the completion of d Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge. In the aftermath of the Tay Bridge Disaster he served on the commission which investigated the causes and he helped to design the replacement bridge.
  • Sir Geoffrey Callender (1875 – 1946): He was an important English naval historian, having served as a Head of the History Departments at the Royal Naval College, Osborne and Dartmouth Royal Naval College before becoming the first Professor of History at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. He was also the Society for Nautical Research's honorary secretary and treasurer from 1920 onwards, was a leading member of the group that campaigned to save HMS Victory for the nation and to set up a national maritime museum. He became the first director of the National Maritime Museum when it opened in 1937, and remained in post until his death in 1946.
  • George Cooper (1844 –1909): He was a London County Council councillor for Bermondsey and later the Liberal Member of Parliament for Bermondsey. He supported the extension of the franchise to women and helped to develop the famous People’s Budget.
  • William Clark Cowie (1849 – 1910): A Scottish engineer, mariner, and businessman who helped establish British North Borneo. He later served as Chairman of the British North Borneo Company.
  • Sir William Cunningham Dalyell of the Binns, 7th Baronet (1784 – 1865): He was wounded over sixteen times in various actions during the Napoleonic Wars and was a prisoner of war in France from 1805 until 1813. He later served as Captain of Greenwich Hospital.
  • Lieutenant General Sir William George Shedden Dobbie, GCMG, KCB, DSO (1879 – 1964): A veteran of the Second Boer War as well as the First and Second World Wars, he was the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Malta during the siege.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Hastings Lascelles, DSO, MID, Legion d’Honneur: His grave had fallen into disrepair and was recently given a new grave marker.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Walter Milward, CB (d 1875): Inventor of a lightweight steel cannon. He was an ADC to Queen Victoria and served as Superintendent of the Royal Laboratory, Woolwich, for nearly five years.

  • General Sir Charles Edward Nairne (1836 – 1899): He was commissioned into the Bengal Artillery in 1855 and took part in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny in 1857. He served as a Horse Battery Commander during the Second Afghan War from 1878 to 1880, and two years later he took part in the Anglo-Egyptian War and commanded the Artillery at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir. After having served as Inspector-General of Artillery in India, he was appointed Commander of a District in Bengal in 1892 and the following year he became Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army. He served as acting Commander-in-Chief, India, from March to November 1898.
  • Admiral Sir Watkin Owen Pell (1788 – 1869): He had an active naval career from 1799 to 1841, and served for a time under Lord Nelson. He later became a Superintendent of Dockyards (1841 to 1845) and a Commissioner of Greenwich Hospital
  • Admiral George James Perceval, 6th Earl of Egmont (1794 – 1874): He was a midshipman aboard HMS Orion at the Battle of Trafalgar (aged 11) and commanded HMS Infernal at the Bombardment of Algiers in 1816. He was also the nephew of Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Victor Henry Sylvester Scratchley, DSO, OBE
  • Sir John Maryon–Wilson (1802 – 1876): A land owner and early conservationist, he was instrumental in the preservation of Hampstead Heath from development. (His family had the manorial rights over the land until 1940.)
  • Rachel Orde Wingate (1901 – 1953): She was an English linguist and missionary to Xinjiang in Western China, where she served with the Swedish Missionary Society.
  • Major General Orde Wingate, DSO and two bars (1903 – 1944): Nephew of Sir Reginald Wingate, an army general who had been Governor-General of the Sudan between 1899 and 1916 and High Commissioner of Egypt from 1917 to 1919, He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1923, and transferred to the Sudan Defence Force in 1927. He returned to the UK in 1933, and served there until 1936, when he went to Palestine to become an intelligence officer. By 1938 he had organised the Special Night Squads to counter increasing levels of Arab sabotage. He returned to the UK in 1939, and when the Second World War broke out he was in command of an anti-aircraft unit. He went back to the Sudan in late 1940, where he helped to raise and lead Gideon Force, a guerrilla force composed of British, Sudanese and Ethiopian soldiers. Gideon Force helped to defeat the Italians in Ethiopia and East Africa. It was this success that eventually led to him creating a jungle long-range penetration unit in Burma, the famous 'Chindits'. He was killed in an air crash in Burma and his body is buried at Arlington Cemetery, Washington, U.S.A.
  • Memorial to the fifty two men and boys who died of Yellow Fever aboard HMS Firebrand in July 1861.

Friday 26 August 2016

Some of my 'fine fellows'

I have finished renovating, varnishing, and basing the first of my additional British Infantry ... and here they are!

They were originally British Guardsmen, but by repainting their trousers from white to grey and making one or two other minor alterations, they can now just about pass muster as line Infantry.

Thursday 25 August 2016

The hunt for William Richardson continues ... and leads to the discovery of some very interesting maps

Sue and I went back to the National Archives, Kew, yesterday to continue searching for information about the career of William Richardson. We had a degree of success (we now have details of his promotion to Sergeant Major of the First battalion, Royal Artillery in 1811 and his pay records for 1824) but we are still looking for information that will fill in the gap between 1811 and 1822. I did find his entry on the relevant Description Book (a register of every recruit into the Royal Artillery) but not much more ... so we will have to return in the not too distant future to continue our search.

Whilst we were at the National Archives we paid a visit to the onsite shop. Besides all sorts of genealogical and historical publications that they sell, they also sell a range of reproduced old maps. These are published by Alan Godfrey Maps, and after we returned home we both had a browse through the company's website. The company specialises in reprinting of Old Ordnance Survey Maps of towns throughout Britain and Ireland ... but it also reprints other old, historical maps. These include the Bigot Plans that were prepared for the Allied Invasion in 1944, and a section of one of these maps (taken from the company's website) is shown below:

The series currently includes:
  • NE St Pierre du Mont – Omaha Beach 1944: The map covers the coastal area around Pointe du Hoc and Vierville-sur-Mer.
  • NW Ouistreham – Pegasus Bridge 1944: The map is double-sided and covers the area around the bridge that is now known as Pegasus Bridge and the area from Ouistreham in the north, southward to Herouvillette, and westward to Cazelle.
  • SW St Aubin – Sword & Juno Beaches: The map covers the area north of the Ouistreham map including St Aubin, and Langrune-sur-mer, and includes parts of Juno and Sword beaches.
Alan Godfrey Maps also sell maps of parts of Germany (mainly the Ruhrgebiet and Rhineland areas) that are taken from the British War Office 1:12,500 plans and reduced to approx 1:19,000. These show the areas largely as they were before the bombing raids of 1943-44, and include industrial sites, collieries and transport links (i.e. roads, canals, rivers, and railways). The maps that are available are:
  • Sterkrade & Osterfeld 1944
  • Oberhausen 1944
  • Mülheim-an-der-Ruhr 1944
  • Gladbeck & Buer 1944
  • Schalke, Horst & Bottrop 1944
  • Essen 1944
  • Werden, Kettwig & Villa Hügel 1944
  • Recklinghausen & Herten 1944
  • Gelsenkirchen & Herne 1943
  • Bochum & Wattenscheid 1944
  • Hattingen 1944
  • Castrop-Rauxel (N) 1944
  • Castrop-Rauxel (S) 1944
  • Witten & Langendreer 1944
  • Dortmund (N) 1944
  • Dortmund 1944
  • Hohensyburg 1944
  • Hagen 1944
  • Hamm 1945
  • Duisburg (N): Hamborn & Bruckhausen 1944
  • Duisburg & Ruhrort 1944
  • Duisburg (S): Rheinhausen & Wedau 1944
  • Neuss, Heerdt & Wolzheim 1944
  • Düsseldorf 1944
  • Wuppertal-Elberfeld 1945
  • Wuppertal-Barmen 1945
  • 1 Köln (N) 1944
  • 2 Köln (N) 1944
These maps cost £3.50 each, and I am sure that they will be of interest to quite a few wargamers.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Tin Soldiers In Action

David Crook (who writes the A WARGAMING ODYSSEY blog) recently bought a copy of TIN SOLDIERS IN ACTION: FAIR AND SQUARE RULES FROM 1680 UNTIL ABOUT 1914 from Caliver Books, and knowing my great interest in wargames that use a gridded playing surface, he suggested that I should buy a copy. I did ... and it arrived a few days ago.

The book has been written by Rüdiger Hofrichter and Klaus Hofrichter. It is published by Partizan Press (ISBN 978 1 85818 721 1) and costs £27.50 plus postage. On the face of this the price seems to be rather steep, but the book is a hardback and has 272 pages. It is well illustrated, and has a section containing colour photographs in the middle.

In the Introduction the author writes that he began the process of designing the rules in 2010 because he wanted to create 'a more manageable system of war gaming for our tin soldier armies. The aim was to find a game, which would be quick and easy to play'. He sums his objectives as follows:
'The challenge was to design a game which is
  • action driven
  • quick and easy to play
  • historically accurate
  • realistic in its feel
  • easy to understand
  • smooth in its flow
  • simple to explain
  • while taking it easy on our hand-painted tin soldiers
I am currently still reading my way through the book. It is well laid out, and I am finding the rules easy to follow, although I do find the language a bit ponderous at times. I suspect that this is due to it being translated from German, the language the book was originally written in.

The book has its own Facebook page and section on BoardGameGeek, and I suspect that it will attract a small but enthusiastic following.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 24th August 1936

The new Russian Ambassador, Marcel Rosenberg, arrived in Republican Spain. He was accompanied by a large number of Russian "advisers".

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Connections UK 2016: Programme details

I have now downloaded a copy of the Connections UK 2016 Programme, and it looks like this:

Day 1: Tuesday 6th September
  • 9.00am – 09.30am: Arrivals and coffee.
  • 9.30am – 09.40am: Welcome and introduction.
  • 9.40am – 5.10pm: Megagame – ‘War in Binni’. (Breaks for drinks at 11.30am and 4.45pm, and for lunch from 1.00pm to 2.00pm.)
  • 5.10pm – 6.00pm: Megagame After Action Review. How the game could be improved.
Day 2: Wednesday 7th September
  • 9.00am – 09.20am: Arrivals and coffee.
  • 9.20am – 09.30am: Welcome and introduction.
  • 9.30am – 11.00am: Plenary 1: The psychology of successful wargames.
  • 11.00am – 11.30am: Drinks break.
  • 11.30am – Midday: Games Fair briefing.
  • Midday – 1.00pm: Lunch.
  • 1.00pm – 2.15pm: Plenary 2: Non-combat (non-map and counter) wargames.
  • 2.30pm – 5.00pm: Games Fair Session 1. (Break for drinks at 4.00pm).
  • 5.00pm – 6.00pm: Keynote address: Advancing and Expanding the Craft of Wargaming: Ten (Not Entirely Randomly-Generated) Reflections on Wargaming.
  • 6.00pm – 7.00pm: Supper.
  • 7.00pm onwards: Games Fair Session 2.
Day 3: Thursday 8th September
  • 8.45am – 09.00am: Arrivals and coffee.
  • 9.00am – 10.00am: Plenary 3: Computer simulations and technology.
  • 10.00am – 10.45am: Plenary 4: Strategic Gaming.
  • 10.45am – 11.15am: Drinks break.
  • 11.15am – 12.30pm: Plenary 4: Successful real-world wargames.
  • 12.30pm – 1.15pm: Lunch
  • 1.15pm – 2.35pm: Plenary 5: Wargaming Innovations.
  • 2.40pm – 2.50pm Breakout introduction: How might we institutionalise wargaming and build the wargaming capacity?
  • 2.50pm – 3.00pm: Drinks break.
  • 3.00pm – 3.45pm: Breakout Facilitated syndicates for:
    • Serving ‘front line’ personnel;
    • Defence Science & Technology;
    • Education and Training;
    • Connections (global);
    • Historical Analysis/Conflict Research;
    • Academia;
    • Industry;
    • Game designers/hobby gamers.
  • 3.45pm – 4.30pm: Breakout back briefs and discussion.
  • 4.30pm – 4.45pm: Closing remarks.
I have booked my place at this year's conference, and I am looking forward to attending it. As it tends to be quite 'hands on' and not like many of the 'Death by PowerPoint' conferences that I used to attend before I retired, I know that I will come away from it with lots to think about.

Monday 22 August 2016

My three thousandth blog entry!

This is the three thousandth blog entry that I have written since I first started this blog back on 18th September 2008!

In that first entry I wrote the following:
I intend to share my thoughts on wargaming (and other related matters that crop up) with a wider audience ... probably much to the relief of my wife and wargaming colleagues. So watch this space ... and come prepared to be bored!
Well eight years on I still have thoughts to share, and judging by the number of 'hits' my blog gets each day, I've not been too boring ... yet!

Sunday 21 August 2016

The scum of the earth

In November 1813 the then Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington, is reported to have said in a private conversation that:
A French army is composed very differently from ours. The conscription calls out a share of every class — no matter whether your son or my son — all must march; but our friends — I may say it in this room — are the very scum of the earth. People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling — all stuff — no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children — some for minor offences — many more for drink; but you can hardly conceive such a set brought together, and it really is wonderful that we should have made them the fine fellows they are.
I currently have some of Wellington's 'scum' (or at least wargame figures of them) on my work table in the process of being renovated, varnished, and based ... and to put me in the mood for the task ahead I am listening to a recording of SHARPE'S FURY, read by Paul McGann.

Paul McGann was originally cast as Richard Sharpe in the TV series based on Bernard Cornwall's books, but two weeks into the filming of the first episode McGann injured his knee whilst playing football, and he was replaced by Sean Bean. Instead he went on to portray another fictional fighting man of the Napoelonic era, Lieutenant William Bush ...

... the best friend of Horatio Hornblower, in the TV series based on C.S. Forester's books.

Saturday 20 August 2016

Looking Down On War

Whilst we were at the National Archives earlier this week, Sue paid a visit to the onsite bookshop ... and bought me a copy of LOOKING DOWN ON WAR: AXIS WARSHIPS AS SEEN ON PHOTOS FROM ALLIED INTELLIGENCE FILES.

The book was written by Colonel Roy M Stanley II, USAF (ret.) and published in 2011 by Pen & Sword Maritime (ISBN 978 184884 471 1). The book makes extensive use of aerial and other intelligence photographs, most of which were taken under combat conditions. It is split into the following sections:
  • Introduction
  • Chapter I - Background
  • Chapter II - Naval Bases, Ports and Harbors
  • Chapter III - Reichsmarine
  • Chapter IV - Regia Marina
  • Chapter V - Marine Nationale
  • Chapter VI - The Imperial Japanese Navy
  • Chapter VII - Final Observations
  • Bibliography
  • Index
I particularly enjoyed the first chapter because over the past ten years I have visited quite a few of the places featured in the photographs, and I spent quite some time trying to identify exactly where we had been. Some of the action photographs are amazing, and two in particular stand out. One is of Bristol Beaufighters attacking German mine-layers in the Gironde Estuary. Seven of the rockets that have been fired can actually be seen in flight on their way towards their target. The other photograph is used on the cover of the book, and shows a Japanese sub-chaser being attacked by an American B-25.

If one looks carefully, the crew of the ship's forward gun can actually be seen running for shelter!

An interesting book, and well worth reading if you have an interest in aerial and other intelligence photographs.

Friday 19 August 2016

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 401

My copy the September issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine was delivered yesterday morning, and I have just finished reading through it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Henry Hyde
  • Corking outcrops: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • To the next river!: Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle as a time: Part Five by Andrew Rolph
  • Centreville refought: A Memorial to Terrence Wise by Mike Batten
  • A Piper at the Gates: A Hammer's Slammers scenario by John Treadaway
  • Wargaming my way by Steve Jones
  • Grenouisse at bay part 3: The Wars of the Faltenian Succession continue by Henry Hyde
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
  • Send three and fourpence: Exclusive Interview with Richard Borg by Conrad Kinch
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer-Barnes
  • Making More Hay by Tony Harwood
  • The Joy of Six 2016 by Neil Shuck
  • Recce
The highlights of this issue were – as far as I am concerned – the ongoing series of Great Patriotic War scenarios by Andrew Rolph, Henry Hyde's description of the latest campaign in the The Wars of the Faltenian Succession, and last – but by no means least – Conrad Kinch's interview with Richard Borg. I own copies of several of Richard's games, and I really enjoy their combination of the best of both miniature and board wargame design.

Thursday 18 August 2016

The hunt for William Richardson continues

Yesterday Sue and I paid one of our irregular trips to the National Archives in Kew in order to continue our hunt for one of her forebears, William Richardson. (Earlier blog entries about our search can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

My searches proved to be more successful that Sue's, and I have now traced him through his entire eleven years of service in the West Indies, his return to the UK, and his first year back in Woolwich, the then home of the Royal Artillery. Bearing in mind that being sent to the West Indies was often tantamount to a death sentence (very few soldiers survived a posting there, and many often died within a few months of arriving in the Caribbean), he must had been a very hardly soldier. He was also a lucky one, as he sailed home on HMS Anson, a frigate that had taken part in several successful actions in the Caribbean before returning to Great Britain. Only months after her return, HMS Anson was wrecked off Loe Bar, Cornwall on 29th December, 1807.

HMS Anson
HMS Anson was a member of the fifteen-strong Intrepid-class of 64-gun third rate ships of the line. She was built in Plymouth Dockyard between January 1774 and October 1781. She was converted into a frigate in 1794 when her original forecastle and quarterdeck were removed and her former upper deck was remodelled to give her a new lower forecastle and quarterdeck. This process was known as being razeed, a term that is derived from the French vaisseau rasé(i.e. a shaved down ship).

HMS Anson was now a 44-gun frigate and embarked on a very successful career:
  • 10th September 1794: Along with four other ships, she was involved in the capture of the Tordenshiold.
  • 16th July 1797: Helped to drive the French corvette Calliope on shore, where she was wrecked.
  • 29th December 1797: Recaptured Daphne, which had been captured by the French in December 1794.
  • 7th September 1798: Helped to captured the French frigate Flore after a 24-hour long chase.
  • 18th October 1798: Helped to capture the French frigate Loire.
  • 2nd February 1799: Helped to captured the French privateer cutter Boulonaise off Dunkirk.
  • 10th April 1800: Detained the merchant ship Catherine & Anna bound for Hamburg with a cargo of coffee.
  • 27th April 1800: Captured the French brig Vainquer.
  • 29th April 1800: In action with four French privateers, Brave (36 guns), Guepe (18 guns), Hardi (18 guns), and Duide. HMS Anson inflicted damage on Brave and managed to capture Hardi. The latter was taken into Royal Navy service and after being known as HMS Hardi, she was renamed HMS Rosario.
  • 1802 to 1805: HMS Anson served in the Mediterranean. She was then sent to the West Indies.
  • 23rd August 1806: HMS Anson, in company with HMS Arethusa, attacked and captured the Spanish frigate Pomone near Moro Castle in Cuba.
  • 15th September 1806: Unsuccessfully engaged the French ship of the line Foudroyant (84 guns) 15 miles off Havana. HMS Anson's sails and rigging we badly damaged during the action , and two members of the crew were killed and thirteen wounded.
  • 1st January 1807: HMS Anson, along with HMS Latona, HMS Arethusa, HMS Fisgard, and HMS Morne Fortunee, captured Curaçao. The British force also captured the Dutch frigate Kenau Hasselar, the sloop Suriname (a former Royal Naval sloop which had been captured from the French on 20th August 1799 and then taken by the Dutch on 23rd June 1803), and two armed schooners.
HMS Anson was wrecked on 29th December 1807, having been driven onto a lee shore by a gale on the previous day whilst attempting to sail into Falmouth.

The loss of the HMS Anson as depicted in 1808 by William Elmes.
As was the custom at the time, the bodies of the drowned sailors from the wreck were buried without a shroud or coffin in unconsecrated ground. A local solicitor – Thomas Grylls – was so incensed by this that he drafted a law to provide drowned seamen with a proper, Christian burial, and this was eventually enacted as the Burial of Drowned Persons Act 1808. Furthermore, Henry Trengrouse, who had witnessed the wrecking of HMS Anson, was so distressed by the fact that it had proved impossible to get lines over to the ship to help rescue survivors, that he developed a rocket apparatus to shoot lines to shipwrecks so that survivors could be taken off in an early version of a breeches buoy.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

My Prussian troops are finished!

I have now completed the renovation, varnishing, and basing of the last of my Napoleonic Prussian troops. The additional units comprise:
  • Four Infantry units
  • One Artillery unit
  • One mounted officer
  • Two officers on foot
I am now in a position to organise the Prussian troops into Divisions.

The First Division – which is entirely composed of Regular troops – comprises four Infantry units (1st to 4th Infantry Regiments), an Artillery unit (1st Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The remaining three Divisions (which also comprise of four Infantry units, an Artillery unit, and an officer), are the Second (Landwehr) Division (5th to 8th Landwehr Infantry Regiments and 2nd Artillery Battery), ...

... the Third (Landwehr) Division (9th to 12th Landwehr Infantry Regiments and 3rd Artillery Battery), ...

... and the Fourth (Landwehr) Division (13th to 16th Landwehr Infantry Regiments and 4th Artillery Battery).

The rest of the Prussian army is made up of the following units:
  • 1st and 2nd Dragoon Regiments
  • 3rd Hussar Regiment
  • 17th, 18th, and 19th Landwehr Infantry Regiments
  • 20th and 21st Landwehr Garrison Infantry Regiments
  • 5th, 6th, and 7th Artillery Batteries
  • The Commander-in-Chief and numerous supernumerary officers

This is a fairly formidable force, and totals 163 figures.

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 16th August – 3rd September 1936


On 9th August a Republican expeditionary force of Catalan and Valencian troops, commanded by Air Force Captain Alberto Bayo and Guardia Civil Captain Manuel Uribarri, landed on Ibiza. With the help of local people the expeditionary force quickly overcame the Nationalist garrison, and the island returned to Republican control. Seven days later, at dawn on 16th August, the Catalan troops, led by Captain Bayo, landed on Majorca, and by the evening they had advanced eight miles inland from their landing place at Porto Cristo.

The Nationalist garrison on Majorca was commanded by Colonel Garcia Ruiz and proved to be much stronger than that on Ibiza. With the help of Italian fighter aircraft and bombers the Nationalists were able to contain any further Republican advance, and on 3rd September they mounted a counter-attack on the Republican bridgehead. The Catalan troops rapidly withdrew to the beaches and re-embarked aboard the ships that had brought them whilst under cover of the guns of the battleship Jaime I.

Republican troops coming ashore in Majorca.

Monday 15 August 2016

Happy 247th Birthday, Napoleon!

On 15th August 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica, Maria Letizia Ramolino – the wife of Carlo Maria di Buonaparte – gave birth to a son, whom they named Napoleone di Buonaparte. Napoleone was their fourth child (but only the second to survive into adulthood) and he was born a year after Corsica had been transferred from the Republic of Genoa to France.

The Buonapartes were descended from minor Tuscan nobility, and had moved from Liguria to Corsica during the sixteenth century. The family were reasonably prosperous, and this enabled them to send Napoleone to the military academy in Brienne le Château when he was nine. He remained there until he was fifteen, when he was admitted to the elite École Militaire in Paris to be trained to become an artillery officer. Due to the death of his father, he was forced to complete the two-year course in a year.

Napoleone graduated in September 1785, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the La Fère artillery regiment. He remained with his regiment until the outbreak of the French Revolution, at which point he returned to Corsica. Initially he gave his support to Pasquale Paoli, the Corsican nationalist, but when the latter decided to split Corsica away from France, the two men became bitter enemies. It was as a result of this that the entire Buonaparte family had to flee Corsica and go to Paris.

By this time he adopted the more French-sounding Napoleon Bonaparte, and had been promoted to the rank of Captain. He had also come to the notice of some of the more important leaders of the revolution, and as a result he was appointed artillery commander of the republican forces at the Siege of Toulon. During the assault that led to the recapture of Toulon, Napoleon was wounded in the thigh. Soon afterwards he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and he was put in charge of the artillery of Revolutionary France's Army of Italy. In April 1794 the Army of Italy used his battle plan to win the Battle of Saorgio, after which it advanced upon Ormea. This enabled them to outflank the combined Austro-Sardinian force in Saorge, and the resulting battle ended in a defeat for the Austrians and Sardinians.

Napoleon then undertook a mission to the Republic of Genoa on the orders of Augustin Robespierre, and this association with Robespierre may have been a contributory factor in Napoleon’s house arrest after the events of July 1794. His imprisonment only lasted two weeks, and he was soon back in action, both preparing plans for a French attack in Italy and taking part in an abortive expedition to recapture Corsica.

His career then entered a period of hiatus, and after pleading ‘ill health’ in order to avoid service with the Army of the West, which was fighting a royalist counter-revolution in the Vendée, and failing to get an appointments to the Bureau of Topography or to Constantinople, he was removed from the list of active generals.

Matters changed rapidly in the aftermath of the Paris Rebellion of 3rd October 1795. Napoleon was called upon to defend the Convention that was taking place in the Tuileries Palace, and with the assistance of a young cavalry officer – Joachim Murat – he was able to seize some cannon with which he could defend the palace. He used them to good effect on 5th October when he opened fire on a large crowd of royalist supporters, killing nearly one and a half thousand of them. This action brought him to even greater prominence, and soon afterwards he was given command of the Army of Italy. On 9th March 1796 he married Joséphine de Beauharnais, which further cemented his place as a rising star of the revolution.

From this point onwards Napoleon’s career flourished. After successful campaigns in Italy – and a less successful one in Egypt – he became First Consul as a result of the coup d'état that took place on 9th November 1799. This overthrew the existing government and saw the introduction of the new ‘Constitution of the Year VIII’, under which France was ruled by a First Consul and two Second Consuls. In 1802 – after a plebiscite – Napoleon was made Consul-for-Life, and after a further plebiscite in 1804 he assumed the role of Emperor of France. He was crowned Emperor on 2nd December 1804 at a ceremony in Notre-Dame de Paris.

Sunday 14 August 2016

TMS and the art of renovating toy soldiers

Over the past few weeks I have been making steady progress with the renovation, varnishing, and basing of my collection of pre-painted Napoleonic figures. To help me concentrate I like to listen to the radio or recorded books, and thanks to the recent series of Test Matches between England and Pakistan, I have been able to listen to the Test Match Special (or TMS) radio broadcasts.

Now for people who don't love cricket, I am sure that TMS is a total waste of time and broadcasting resources, but for those of us who love the sport and the programme, being able to listen to TMS is something wonderful. It isn't like any other form of sports commentary that I have ever come across anywhere else in the world, mainly because it isn't just a commentary; it is much more like listening to a conversation in a pub or bar. The commentators and summarisers are almost all extremely knowledgeable ex-professional cricketers, but more than that, they are characters with real personality.

Thanks to the likes of the late Brian Johnston and Henry Blofelt (better known as 'Johnners' and 'Blowers'), TMS has developed its own unique style. The 'conversation' one listens to not only covers the action that is taking place on the pitch, but also playing techniques and styles, past matches, famous players, passing buses, pigeons, what fancy dress some of the spectators are wearing, cakes people have sent up to the commentary box, and numerous other extraneous subjects.

Today is my last opportunity to listen to TMS until next year ... and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 14th August 1936

Nationalist forces, drawn from the Army of Africa and led by Colonel Juan Yague, captured Badajoz. The two parts of Nationalist Spain were now linked.

Saturday 13 August 2016

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 164

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered this morning, and I have spent a couple of very relaxing hours reading it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • 'War Horse' Revisted: British Cavalry on the Western Front 1914-1918 by Dr Rodney Atwood
  • 'Bwab': A Portrait of Major-General John Palmer Brabazon CVO, KCB (1848-1922) by Dr Andrew Winrow
  • Mildred Dooner and The Last Post by Meurig Jones
  • 'Viva Cuba!': General Jordan's 1869 Filibuster Expedition by Frank Jastrzembski
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS
As usual this magazine covers a range of topics, some of which I would not normally have considered as being of interest to me. On reading them – however – I have yet to find an article that was not very informative and well-written.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 13th August 1936

The Republican battleship Jaime I was damaged by a Nationalist air attack off the coast at Malaga.

Friday 12 August 2016

A (not so) Grand Review

Having finished renovating, varnishing, and basing the Dutch-Belgian, Brunswick, and Hanoverian figures in my Napoleonic collection, I had to reorganise their storage. I therefore took the opportunity to photograph each contingent as I did so.

Dutch-Belgian Army
This comprises:
  • Three units of Carabiniers
  • Five units of Infantry
  • One mounted officer
  • Four officers on foot

Brunswick Army
This comprises:
  • Four units of Infantry
  • One mounted officer

Hanoverian Army
This comprises:
  • Five units of Infantry
  • Five officers on foot

At some point I would like to add a few additional units to each of the above (e.g. a minimum of one Artillery unit to each and at least one Cavalry unit to the Brunswick and Hanoverian armies).

Thursday 11 August 2016

A small batch of Hanoverians

I have just finished the next batch of figures that will be added to my Napoleonic Hanoverian army. It comprises six Infantry (i.e. one new unit) and two officers on foot.

At this point I had planned to take a short break from renovating, varnishing, and painting more figures, but whilst I still have the enthusiasm I intend to move on to a somewhat larger group of figures ... the additional Prussians that I have acquired!

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 11th August 1936

The Nationalist gunboat Eduardo Dato was sunk at Algeciras by the Republican battleship Jaime I.

The Eduardo Dato was one of the three gunboats of the Antonio Canovas del Castillo-class that were seized by the Nationalists at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.

Eduardo Dato after modernisation.
Eduardo Dato was salvaged in late August 1936 and taken to Cadiz. She was modernised and returned to service in February 1937.

Wednesday 10 August 2016

I have been to ... Scotney Castle, Kent

Last Sunday Sue and I visited Scotney Castle, which is located near Lamberhurst in Kent. The property belongs to the National Trust, having been bequeathed to them by Christopher Hussey, who died in 1970. It was not – however – opened to the public until 2007, a year after the death of its last resident, Elizabeth Hussey.

The property consists of two main buildings – Scotney New Castle and Scotney Old Castle – which are separated by a series of lawns and gardens. We began our visit with a tour of the New Castle, after which we walked downhill to the Old Castle.

The New Castle – which is usually referred to just as Scotney Castle – was built between 1835 and 1843 as a replacement for the Old Castle, which was felt to have become too derelict to remain in use as a practical family home. The replacement was designed by Anthony Salvin in a style that has become known as ‘Tudor Revival’.

We entered via the main doorway ...

... and our tour began in the main entrance hall, ...

... which was dominated by a magnificent fireplace.

From there we went into the library, ...

... and then back across the main entrance hall and along a corridor ...

... which gave access to the main dining room.

From there we went through the small dining room ...

... and into the kitchen, which was one of the more modern rooms in the castle.

We then retraced our steps along the corridor and back into the main entrance hall, whence we made our way upstairs using the wide wooden staircase.

As one would expect, most of the upper floor rooms were bedrooms ...

... although one room had been used as a drawing room by the last resident.

We then descended the stairs ...

... and exited the building.

After completing our tour of the New Castle, we made our way downhill towards the Old Castle.

The Old Castle is situated on an island, and the moat is crossed by a stone bridge.

The original building was deliberately ruined in order to make it into a garden feature or folly, although what remained was made secure, and for a time it was used to house some of the estate workers before being used as storage for some of the older equipment that had been used around the estate.

The rooms inside the Old Castle were empty, ...

... although its windows did give an interesting view of the surrounding moat and gardens.

Having finished our visit to the Old Castle, we returned uphill to the main building, and after a brief visit to the shop and the café, were returned to our car and made our way home.