Monday 30 January 2017

Nugget 297

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the journal to me last night, and I hope to take it to the printer later today or tomorrow morning. With luck this will mean that it can posted out to members of Wargame Developments by next weekend.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the sixth 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.

Sunday 29 January 2017

A trip to Bristol

My wife and I usually go to Bristol once a year so that I can visit a Bristol Masonic Lodge or Holy Royal Arch Conclave. We set off on Friday afternoon at 2.00pm, and after a long drive through pouring rain, we reached our hotel just after 6.00pm.

We had booked a room at the Victoria Square Hotel in Bristol ...

... which is located in the Clifton area, and which is only a ten minute walk from the Bristol Masonic Temple building in Park Street.

The building that houses Freemasonry in Bristol was destroyed by enemy action in 1940, but was rebuilt to its original plans in 1957. It is a truly magnificent building, with a very imposing entrance hall ...

... and equally impressive Lodge Rooms or Temples.

On this occasion I attended a meeting of the Matthew Chapter No.9688 of the Holy Royal Arch, and I was thus able to see Bristol Workings at first hand. (Bristol is a Masonic Province in its own right, and uses Ritual that is very distinctively different from that used almost anywhere else in England and Wales. Bristol Workings, as the Ritual is called, is always worth seeing, and once experienced it is never forgotten.)

The meeting started at 11.00am, and afterwards the wives and partners of those attending the meeting were able to join us for an excellent lunch in one of the building's airy dinning rooms.

We finished eating our meal not long after 3.15pm, and by the time we had returned to the hotel and collected our car it was almost 4.00pm. We then set off for home, and we back indoors by 7.15pm, having had a somewhat less fraught journey back.

Saturday 28 January 2017

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

Built at Cartagena between 1916 and 1923, the design was an improved Holland-type. They all served in the Republican Navy.

Ships' characteristics:
  • Displacement: 491 tons surfaced; 715 tons submerged
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 210’ 4” (64.1m)
    • Beam: 17’ 4” (5.6m)
    • Draught (on surface): 11’ 3” (3.4m)
  • Maximum Speed: 16 knots (surfaced); 10 knots (submerged)
  • Armament: 1 x 3” (76mm) (1 x 1); 4 x 18” (457mm) Torpedo Tubes (2 bow, 2 stern)
  • Complement: 28
B1 was scuttled at Cartagena at the end of the Civil War.
B2 was scuttled at Cartagena at the end of the Civil War.
B3 was scuttled at Porman at the end of the Civil War.
B4 was scuttled at Porman at the end of the Civil War.
B5 was sunk by Nationalist aircraft off Malaga on 12th October 1936.
B6 was sunk by the Velasco off Cape Penas on 19th September 1936.

Friday 27 January 2017

Errata ... but nothing major!

Mea culpa!

A couple of minor errors in the text of my PORTABLE WARGAME book have been pointed out to me, and although they are not significantly serious, I thought that I would bring them to the attention of anyone who has bough the book.
  • On page 65, in the sentence that reads 'However, because it could not retreat, the Egyptian Infantry unit lost 1SP ... and was wiped out!', I have inadvertently typed in Infantry when it should have been Cavalry.
  • On pages 59 and 65 I appear to have given the attackers their +1 bonus because they were attacking an enemy unit in the flank, but did not apply the -1 penalty to the attacked unit. This does not make a different to the outcome of the Close Combat, and was due to me forgetting to apply the penalty in the heat of tabletop battle! As such this seems to be a blatant case of Cordery's First Rule of Wargame Design (see page 96 and the note on page 102), and means that I should consider removing the penalty from the rules. That said, the penalty is there to reflect the fact that a unit that is attacked in the rear or the flank will have to fight at a disadvantage, just as the unit that is attacking them will have an advantage.

I am sure that other minor errata will emerge in due course, but I hope that they will not ruin anyone's enjoyment of the book or understanding of the rules.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Who is buying which version of my book?

In response to a comment made yesterday, I looked at which versions of my PORTABLE WARGAME book were selling, and what regions of the world were buying it. The results looked like this:

Sales by version (i.e. eBook, paperback, and hardback)

I had expected that the sale of the eBook would do well, followed closely by the paperback, with the hardback coming quite some way behind ... but the figures prove those assumptions to be wrong.

Sales by region

I had expected the percentage sales in the UK to be much greater than they are (closer to 90%), with a few sales in the US and Australia ... and not many sales outside that area. Again my assumptions have not proven to be as accurate as I had expected, and sales seem to be much more geographically spread than I could have imagined.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

An amazing response!

When I sat down to write my PORTABLE WARGAME book I hoped that it would be popular enough to sell a few dozen copies. You can therefore imaging my surprise when earlier today its sales reached to one hundred mark!

Besides the very positive responses that I have had from numerous wargamers, what I find particularly interesting is the fact that the sales are fairly evenly spread across the various editions of the book. I had expected that the eBook and paperback versions would sell fairly well, and that the hardback might sell one or two copies, but the sales figures show that they are all selling well.

I'd like to thank everyone who has bought a copy in one or more of the versions. It has encouraged me to give very serious thoughts to writing a follow-up book (or even two) that will cover developments of the rules and possibly the naval version as well. If I do they will not appear for some time ... but you can be sure that I will keep my regular blog readers informed of my progress!

Tuesday 24 January 2017

What's in a name ... : The answers

The answers to yesterday's quiz are:
  • Colonel Hilary Bicks (Bicks Pasha) is a simple and rather obvious reversal of the first letters of the name of the man initially sent to catch and punish the Mahdi. William (i.e. Billy) Hicks became Hilly (= Hilary) Bicks.
  • Sheikh Muhammad Sherif is a slight variation on the name Sheikh Muhammad Sharif, with whom Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah (the Mahdi) stayed and studied for seven years before he rose to prominence.
  • Oberst Wilhelm Frederickson's name is 'borrowed' from a character in Bernard Cornwell's SHARPE novels, Major William Frederickson. The latter was a half-English Westphalian who was known to his men by the nickname 'Sweet William'. In the books he suffered a serious facial wound that had destroyed his left eye and broken his jaw as well as knocking out several teeth. This resulted in him having what appeared to be a permanently smug look on his face. When in battle he was reputed to take out his false teeth (all of which had been taken from dead French soldiers) and remove his wig and eye patch.
  • Colonel Pavel Strelnikov's name is a combination of the name Pavel Pavlovich ('Pasha') Antipov (an idealistic young left-winger who is married to Larissa ('Lara') Antipova in Boris Pasternak's DOCTOR ZHIVAGO) and his alter ego Strelnikov (from the Russian word strelok, which means gunner, shooter, or marksman), the name he adopts when he becomes a leader of the Revolutionary forces during the Russian Civil War.

Monday 23 January 2017

What's in a name?

A quick quiz ... but there's no prize for getting the answers right!

In THE PORTABLE WARGAME I gave names to the commanders in the two battle reports. They were:
  • Colonel Hilary Bicks (Bicks Pasha)
  • Sheikh Muhammad Sherif
  • Oberst Wilhelm Frederickson
  • Colonel Pavel Strelnikov
I'm not the most imaginative of people and 'borrowed' or mangled them from a variety of sources. Do you know where from?

Answers will be published by this by time tomorrow!

Sunday 22 January 2017

Doing Masonic research

Some time ago I was commissioned to write the hundredth anniversary history of an important Masonic Lodge, and for the last week I have been doing the necessary research.

Now one thing that most Masonic Lodges have in abundance is records. Lodge Secretaries all keep a Minute Book in which they record the proceedings of each meeting as well as copies of each Summons (the Masonic name for a combination of a Warning Notice and an agenda). This means that if a researcher can get hold of a Lodge's Minute Books and the relevant Summons, it is possible to write a history of the Lodge.

So far I have managed to read through and make notes from the records for the Lodge's first twenty five years. I have also begun to produce a membership database ... and this already has over nine hundred names on it. I expect my researches to take at least another two months, especially as I want to do some wargaming as well over the next few weeks.

Saturday 21 January 2017

More than thirty years on ...

A few days ago my wife and I were eating breakfast in a local cafe when someone who was walking past with his family stopped and addressed me by name. It turned out to be someone that I taught over thirty years ago when I was working at Woolwich Polytechnic Boys School in Woolwich, London.

As a reminder of our meeting we had a photograph taken ...

... and later that day it was featured in a Facebook message.

This opened a floodgate of messages from some of my former pupils (and a former colleague), and the sharing of numerous memories. It would appear that many of them live all over the country (and at least one resides outside the UK), although quite a few still retain links with South East London.

Friday 20 January 2017

The Portable Wargame book: An update

I have just received an email from that informs me that the copies of the PORTABLE WARGAME book that I ordered have been printed and are on their way to me.

As I know that quite a few people have ordered copies from (at least forty at the last count!), this means that their copies must also be on their way to them or perhaps have already been delivered. Some of those who bought the ebook version (which I know is already available from and Amazon) have already been in contact with me and seem to have been quite pleased with their purchases.

Thank you very much to everyone who has bought a copy of my book, and please can I ask you to write a review on or Amazon if you enjoyed it. I have already had a few ideas for at least another book that would develop certain aspects of the rules (e.g. adding a little bit of additional complexity for those wargamers that want it and suggesting ideas for mini-campaigns). I am also thinking of bringing out a book that would include the rules for my PORTABLE NAVAL WARGAME.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 406

The February issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered several days ago, and for once I have had the opportunity to read it thoroughly before writing my 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? by Conrad Kinch
  • Wargaming my way: by Jason Weiser
  • Journey to the Dark Side: Dark Age raiding scenarios for 'Dux Britannia' by George Anderson
  • Firefight: Simple rules for small actions in the modern age (Part One) by Stephen Jones
  • Problems at the Pot Bank: A battle report of a battle re-fought using 'Rapid Fire' nearly thirty years after it first appeared in 'Miniature Wargames' by Ron Miles
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Battletech: Alpha Strike by Joe McCullough
    • Painting Toy Tanks Redux by John Treadaway
    • Copying the Copycats by Jamie Gordon
  • It's the Chicago Way: Part Two by Brian Cameron
  • Recce
  • Star Architecture: Building a Vauban Fort by Niall Barry
  • Terrain Renewal: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Spotlight: Sheffield Wargames Society by various members of the Society
  • Club Directory
It might have been the fact that I had longer to read this magazine before putting my thoughts down on paper, but my gut feeling is that this is a better issue than the last. Conrad Kinch's VBCW scenarios in Send three and fourpence are interesting (and eminently playable!) as are those in George Anderson's Journey to the Dark Side. I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgia of Ron Mile's Problems at the Pot Bank (I can remember the original article and think that I have a copy in my cuttings folder) and whilst they are not quite my cup of tea, both Stephen Jones' Firefight rules and the second part of Brian Cameron's It's the Chicago Way were both well written and made me wonder if I ought to give them a try sometime. I always enjoy Diane Sutherland's articles, but I think that on this occasion Niall Barry's Star Architecture was the outstanding article about creating terrain for the tabletop.

All-in-all this was a good issue, and I am already looking forward to reading the next one.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: Jupiter-class Minelayers

Built at El Ferrol between 1934 and 1937, they all served in the Nationalist Navy. The design was dual-purpose, and they were intended to function as Gunboats as well as Minelayers.

Ships’ characteristics:
  • Displacement: 2,100 tons standard; 2,600 tons full load
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 320’ (100m)
    • Beam: 41’ 6” (12.7m)
    • Draught: 11’ 6” (3.5m)
  • Maximum Speed: 18.5 knots
  • Armament: 4 x 4.7” (120 mm) (4 x 1); 2 x 2.9” (75 mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (2 x 1); 4 x 0.8” (20 mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (2 x 2); 264 Mines
  • Complement: 123
Jupiter survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the 1970’s.
Volcano survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the 1970’s.
Marte survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the 1970’s.
Neptuno survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the 1970’s.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 17th January – 6th February 1937


With the arrival in Spain of the Italian "volunteers" the Nationalists now felt able to mount an offensive on the southern provinces of Republican Spain. Three Nationalist columns converged on Malaga; the Army of the South, led by General Gonzalo Quiepo de Llano, advanced from the West; from Granada, to the north-east of the city, came forces under the command of Colonel Antonio Munoz; and moving down from the North were the Italians, led by General Mario Roatta.

Although large numbers of Republican troops were available to defend Malaga, they were badly organised and they steadily retreated. By 3rd February the attackers had reached the outskirts of the city and, three days later, when the last defenders fled northward towards Almeria, the Nationalists entered Malaga.

Monday 16 January 2017

The Liberal War: The ships that took part in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent

I was rather intrigued by the fact that a British admiral commanded the Liberal fleet during the war, and did some research into the ships that took part in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent.

Liberal fleet
Commanded by Admiral Charles Napier
  • Frigates:
    • Rainha de Portugal (46 guns [5th Rate]; Flagship; Captain MacDonough)*
    • Dona Maria (42 guns [5th Rate]; Captain Peake)
    • Dom Pedro (50 guns [5th Rate]; Captain Thomas Goble)
  • Corvette:
    • Vila Flor (18 guns [6th Rate]; Captain Ruxton)
  • Brig:
    • Portuense (20 gun [6th Rate]; Captain Blackstone)
  • Schooner:
    • Faro (6 guns)

Miguelite fleet
Commanded by Admiral Manuel António Marreiros
  • Ships-of-the-Line:
    • Rainha (74 guns [2nd Rate]; Captain Barradas) – Captured by Rainha de Portugal
    • Dom João (74 guns [2nd Rate]; Flagship) – Captured by Rainha de Portugal
    • Duquesa da Bragança (56 guns [4th Rate]) – Captured by Dona Maria
  • Frigate:
    • Martinho de Freitas (50 guns [5th Rate]) – Captured by Rainha de Portugal after beating off an attack by Portuense, during which Captain Blackstone was killed
  • Corvettes:
    • Isabel Maria (22 guns [6th Rate]) – Captured
    • Princesa Real (24 guns [6th Rate])
    • Tejo (20 guns [6th Rate])
    • Sybille (20 guns [6th Rate])
  • Brig:
    • Audaz (18 guns [6th Rate])
  • Xebec:
    • Activa

* The Rainha de Portugal is shown on some lists as having been built as a 74 gun ship-of-the-line in the 1791. She is thought to have been rebuilt as a frigate and in 1833 she was renamed (somewhat unsurprisingly) Cabo de São Vicente. She is thought to have been discarded by 1848.

Sunday 15 January 2017

The Liberal War

Doing the research into the design of the flag of the Portuguese Autonomous Region of the Azores brought my attention to the so-called Liberal War of 1828 to 1834. As I knew next to nothing about this war, I did some further research ... and thought that it might be of interest to some of my regular blog readers.

The Liberal War
The French invasion of Portugal in November 1807 had forced the Portuguese Royal Family to flee to Brazil. On 16th December 1815, Prince John (João) – who was acting as Regent for his mother, Queen Maria – created the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (Reino Unido de Portugal, Brasil e Algarves). This gave Brazil equal status to Portugal and allowed Brazilian representatives were elected to sit in the Portuguese Constitutional Courts (Cortes Constitucionais Portuguesas). In 1816 Queen Maria died, and after several delays Prince John was acclaimed king (King João VI) of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves in a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.

The Royal Family remained in Brazil until 1821 when, in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution in Oporto in August 1820, they returned to Portugal. King John VI’s eldest son – Prince Pedro – remained in Brazil. When the Portuguese parliament (the Cortes) demanded that Brazil revert to its former status as a Portuguese colony, the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Senate (the Senado da Câmara), persuaded Prince Pedro to declare Brazil independent, which he did on 9th January 1822. Furthermore on 12th October of that year he had himself crowned Emperor of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, taking the title Dom Pedro I.

Dom Pedro.
Dom Miguel.
When King John VI died on 10th March 1826 the question of who was to succeed him led to a dispute between Dom Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil and his younger brother – Dom Miguel. The latter believed that when the former had declared Brazil to be independent of Portugal, he had forfeited his claim to the throne. Dom Pedro I then began to use the title of Dom Pedro IV of Portugal in addition to that of Emperor of Brazil, but as neither the Portuguese or Brazilians wanted to return to a united kingdom with a single monarchy, Dom Pedro abdicated the throne of Portugal in favour of his daughter, Maria da Gloria. Dom Pedro then revised the 1822 Portuguese Constitution to ensure that the future succession to the throne of Portugal was assured.

The new Constitution established four branches of government:
  • The Legislature, which comprised the upper chamber or Chamber of Peers (which was composed of life and hereditary peers and clergy appointed by the king), and the lower chamber or Chamber of Deputies (which was composed of 111 Deputies elected for four-year terms by local assemblies, which in turn were elected by a small number of male tax-paying property owners).
  • The Judiciary;
  • The Executive (i.e. the ministers of the government);
  • The Monarch, who had a veto over all legislation.
The new Constitution ran counter to the wishes of the absolutist landowners and the Catholic Church, who felt that Dom Miguel was the legitimate successor to King John IV. The country then entered a period of civil unrest, with Dom Miguel’s supporters taking control in Lisbon and the supporters of the Constitution – led by General João Carlos de Saldanha – concentrating around Oporto.

The situation became so bad that in January 1827 the British government sent an expeditionary force to Portugal to restore order. The 5,000-strong force was led by Sir William Clinton and landed in Oporto in support of General Saldhanha’s constitutionalists. Dom Miguel bowed to international pressure, and left Portugal soon afterwards. Having apparently achieved their objective, the British troops eventually withdrew on 28th April 1828.

When Dom Miguel returned to Portugal in February 1828, he did so with the apparent intention of swearing to uphold the new Constitution. However, with the support of the absolutists and the Church, he dissolved the Chamber of Peers and the Chamber of Deputies in March, and in May he summoned a meeting of the traditional Portuguese Parliament (the Cortes) which proclaimed him King Miguel I of Portugal. He immediately repudiated the new Constitution and from 7th July onwards he began to rule as an absolute monarch.

Reaction to this was swift, and on 18th May 1828 the army garrison in Porto declared their support of the new Constitution and Maria da Gloria as well as their loyalty to Dom Pedro. This was followed by several revolts elsewhere in Portugal, and civil war broke out. The new king swiftly moved to suppress the revolt, and many thousands of Liberals were either arrested or fled abroad, mainly to Spain and Britain.

In the meantime the young queen – Maria da Gloria – had returned to Brazil, where her father was involved in a power struggle with the major landowners. Eventually in April 1831 he abdicated the throne of the Empire of Brazil in favour of his son – Pedro II – and set sail for Britain.

Maria da Gloria.
As soon as he arrived in Britain Dom Pedro obtained a large loan from British sources and began to assemble a military expedition with which he hoped to regain control of Portugal. (Besides a number of Portuguese Liberals, the force comprised volunteers from Brazil, England, and France.) Once this had been done, Dom Pedro set sail for Terceira in the Azores, which was in the hands of the Liberals, and once there he set up a government in exile.

Miguelist ships had tried to blockade the Azores prior to Dom Pedro’s arrival, but at the Battle of Praia Bay on 12th August 1828 they had been defeated. The fleet had then retreated to the Tagus, where in July 1831 – in retaliation for the ill treatment of numerous French nationals in Portugal – a French naval force had seized several of the fleet’s ships.

In July 1832 the 6,500-strong expeditionary force finally landed in Oporto, Portugal. It was commanded by Dom Pedro and opposed by a besieging force of 80,000 Miguelist troops. The fighting around Oporto included the indecisive Battle of Ponte Ferreira on 23rd July 1832, where 5,000 Liberals (led by António José Severim de Noronha, 1st Duke of Terceira) fought 15,000 Miguelists (led by Luís Vaz Pereira Pinto Guedes, 2nd Viscount of Montalegre and General Cardoso). The two sides suffered 440 and 1,400 casualties respectively.

The Battle of Ponte Ferreira.
The Duke of Terceira.
The ships of the expeditionary force were led by Admiral Charles Napier (using the alias 'Carlos de Ponza'), and on 5th July 1833 they defeated the Miguelist fleet off Cape St. Vincent. With the support of Napier’s ships, the Duke of Terceira sailed from Oporto to Faro in the Algarve, and marched north through the Alentejo to capture Lisbon on 24th July.

The Battle of Cape St. Vincent.
Admiral Charles Napier ('Carlos de Ponza').
A nine month-long stalemate then ensued, during which Maria da Gloria was proclaimed queen (Maria II of Portugal) with Dom Pedro as her regent. He immediately confiscated the property of anyone who had served under Dom Miguel and suppressed all religious houses. He also confiscated any property belonging to the latter, an act which alienated the Catholic Church for many years thereafter.

Although the Liberals controlled Portugal’s two main cities – Lisbon and Oporto – and had a great deal of support amongst the middle class, the Miguelists had the support of the majority of the aristocracy and the landowners. Attempts by the Liberals to achieve a military solution resulted in the Battles of Alcácer do Sal – where the Liberals were defeated – and Asseiceira (or Santarém) (16th May 1834) – where the Liberals won a resounding victory. The latter was sufficient to convince Dom Miguel that victory was impossible and on 24th May he formally renounced all claims to the throne of Portugal. I return he was guaranteed an annual pension, and agreed to go into permanent exile. Dom Pedro immediately restored the new Constitution, but he died so afterwards on 24th September 1834.

Saturday 14 January 2017

A new flag for my collection

Over the years I have collected a number of flags from the various countries that I have visited, and during our last cruise I was able to add the flag of the Azores to my collection.

The symbols used on the flag reflect the history of this autonomous region of Portugal:
  • Blue and white were the traditional national colours used by the Portuguese, and are a reminder of the role played by the islands during The Liberal Wars.*
  • The Azores are known as the Açores in Portuguese, the name given to the islands because the goshawk (açor in Portuguese) was supposed to be the most common bird found there. This was in fact incorrect as the early explorers misidentified a type of buzzard which lived on the islands as being a goshawk.
  • The arms in the top corner of the flag are the lesser arms of Portugal.
  • The nine stars represent the nine islands of the Azores which are: São Miguel, São Jorge, Terceira, Santa Maria, Graciosa, Faial, Pico, Flores, and Corvo.

* The Liberal Wars (which were also known as the Portuguese Civil War, the War of the Two Brothers, or Miguelite War) took place between 1828 and 1834, and were fought between the progressive constitutionalists (led by Dom Pedro, the eldest son of the King of Portugal) and authoritarian absolutists (led by Dom Miguel, the king's younger son) over the royal succession. The Azores was one of the strongholds of the constitutionalists.

Friday 13 January 2017

The Portable Wargame book ... is now available!

Thanks to a slight misunderstanding on my part (I failed to select the right access option on my PORTABLE WARGAME book has been published before I was able to send out review copies.

The book comes in three different formats:

As a hardback (ISBN 978-1-326-90454-8) for £14.99  ...

... as a paperback (ISBN 978-1-326-90458-6) for £5.99, ...

... and as an ebook (ISBN 978-1-326-90460-9) for £2.99.

All three are currently on sale via, and will be on sale from Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc., in the near future.

Thursday 12 January 2017

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 165

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered early yesterday, and I was able to read through it yesterday afternoon and this morning.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Field Marshal Sir George White, VC by David Nalson
  • The Other Baker Pasha: Major General Charles George Baker, VC by Frank Jastrzembski
  • VMS Seminar on the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, Saturday 29 April 2017 - 11.00am-5.00pm
  • Florence Nightingale before the Royal Commission: 'The very first requirement of a hospital should be that it should do the sick no harm' by David Snape
  • Diehards' Review of 2016 by Tim Rose
  • A Leicestershire Naval Officer: The Life and Early Death of Lieutenant Rudolph Edward Lisle March De Lisle RN, 1853-1885 by David Howell
  • The Crimean War Hero Who Never Saw the Crimea by Mike Boxall
  • Obituary: Lt. Col. M.L. Clewer (Trustee of the Victorian Military Society) 3 September 1931 - 26 October 2016 by Lt. Col. Donald 'Hobo' Hobson
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS
I particularly enjoyed the articles about General Charles Baker and Lieutenant De Lisle because of their connections to two of my Victorian heroes, Valentine Baker and Colonel Frederick Burnaby.

Yet another excellent issue of the magazine that anyone with an interest in Victorian and Edwardian military history should read.

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: Calvo Sotelo-class Gunboat

Built at Cadiz between 1934 and 1936 for the Mexican Navy, she was taken over on the outbreak of the Civil War and served with the Nationalist Navy.

Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 1,600 tons standard; 2,000 tons full load
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 303’ (92.4m)
    • Beam: 40’ (12.2m)
    • Draught: 10’ (3.1m)
  • Maximum Speed: 20 knots
  • Armament: 4 x 4” (102 mm) (4 x 1); 2 x 2.9” (75 mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (2 x 1); 3 x 0.8” (20 mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (3 x 1)
  • Complement: 141
Calvo Sotelo survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the late 1950’s.

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Useful items found in the aquarium section of a pet shop

During a recent visit to a local pet shop I happened to be browsing in the aquarium section when I saw some items that I thought might be useful as scenery for wargames ... so I bought them!

Note: I have included some based 15mm Essex Miniatures in the photographs to give some idea of the size of these items.

None of them cost me more than £3.00 each, and they seem to have all sorts of potential. The castle wall and arch might need repainting, but that will not be too difficult to do, and will improve their appearance no end.

Monday 9 January 2017

Nugget 296

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N296) from the printer on Saturday and I will post it out to members of Wargame Developments later today.

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 fifth 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.

Sunday 8 January 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: Antonio Canovas del Castillo-class Gunboats

Built at Cartagena between 1920 and 1923. The original names were shortened c1930 by the omission of the first word of the name. All served in the Nationalist Navy.

Ships' characteristics:
  • Displacement: 1,314 tons standard; 1,335 tons normal
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 251’ 4” (76.6m)
    • Beam: 33’ 9” (10.3m)
    • Draught: 11’ 9” (3.6m)
  • Maximum Speed: 15 knots
  • Armament: 4 x 4” (102mm) (4 x 1); 2 x 3 pdr (47mm) Anti-Aircraft Guns (2 x 1)
  • Complement: 220
Antonio Canovas del Castillo survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the late 1950’s.
Jose Canalejas survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the late 1950’s.
Eduardo Dato was sunk at Algerciras on 11th August 1936 by Jamie I. She was raised and repaired after the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in the late 1950’s.

Saturday 7 January 2017

1944: Forced to Fight

The number of war films set in the twentieth century and produced by the countries of Eastern Europe continues to rise. The latest one that I found on sale for £3.00 in ASDA is entitled 1944: FORCED TO FIGHT, and was made in Estonia.

The film is interesting in that it begins by telling the story of members of 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Estonian) (20.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (estnische Nr.1)), and then switches over to the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps of the Soviet Red Army. The latter was renamed the 41st Guards Estonian Tallinn Rifle Corps in June 1945. In both segments it examines the reasons why the soldiers chose – or felt forced to – fight for one side rather than the other.

The events it portrays took place between July and November 1944, and include the Battle of Tannenberg Line (25th July to 10th August 1944) and the Battle of Tehumardi in Sõrve Peninsula (October to November 1944). The battle scenes are amongst some of the best I have watched, and the attention to detail is superb. There seems to have been minimal use of CGI and as a result the film looks and feels very realistic.

The film is ninety five minutes long, and is in Estonian, Russian, and German, with English subtitles.

Friday 6 January 2017

The Portable Wargame book: An update

Overnight I received a couple of emails from about my book, THE PORTABLE WARGAME.

From the contents of the first email it appears that the proof copies of the hardback and softback versions have been printed and have been sent to me. They should arrive within the next five to seven days, and once they have been checked and any typos have been corrected, they can be released for publication and printing.

The second email informed me that there were several problems with the file I had submitted to be converted into an ebook, and I have just spent the last thirty minutes dealing with them and uploading a revised file. The problems were technical and arose because:
  • I had entered my name in the metadata as Robert Cordery but used Bob Cordery as the author's name. This apparently means that the file would automatically be rejected when it was converted into ebook format.
  • I had used capital letters in the title inside the book, but not on the cover, and I had set its format as 'Title' and not 'Heading 1' as required. This would also cause the file to be automatically rejected.
With luck the book should be available in its three versions by the end of the month if not by the middle. I certainly want to put this project to bed as I have another writing commission that I want to start ... and I have already had suggestions as to what a second book about THE PORTABLE WARGAME should include!

Thursday 5 January 2017

Toy Soldier Collector December/January 2016 Issue 73

Having read and enjoyed the last issue of TOY SOLDIER COLLECTOR, I had hoped that I when we got back I would be able to find a copy of the issue that was published whilst we were on our recent cruise. In fact it took several visits to different branches of WHSmith before I found a copy that I could buy, and I have now managed to read it.

It contains two articles that are of particular interest to wargamers rather than those whose hobby is just collecting and displaying 54mm military figures. (I know that there are quite a few people who are wargamers and who also collect 54mm figures, but the main content of this magazine is aimed more at the latter than the former.)

Mike Blake's second article about wargaming is entitled 54mm WARGAMING, and is a good general introduction to wargaming in general as well as including a very useful chart that explains the different figure scales that are used by wargamers.

There is also an interview with Ian Kay of IRREGULAR MINIATURES, which explains how the company was founded and how it has become a real family business.

Whilst TOY SOLDIER COLLECTOR is not a magazine that I will be buying regularly, it is one that I will always look through when I see a copy on sale 'just in case'.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

The Wargamer's Notes Quarterly

The first issue of THE WARGAMER'S NOTES QUARTERLY has been published ... and very nice it is too!

This is a no-cost online magazine that is being produced by Greg Horne (of Australia) and Stokes Schwatz (of the USA). They met through the Old School Wargaming group on Yahoo, and having found a mutual admiration for Donald Featherstone's WARGAMERS' NEWSLETTER and Phil Olley's short-lived CLASSIC WARGAMING, they decided to emulate them and produce an old-style wargames magazine using modern production and distribution methods.

This issue contains the following:
  • Wargaming the Ninth Cape Frontier War by Noel Williams (UK)
  • Call It Macaroni: A Quick and Dirty Approach to Horse and Musket Warfare by Stokes Schwatrz (USA)
  • Converting Plastic 20mm WW2 German Paratroopers, Part 1 by Will Harley (UK)
  • Boer War Blockhouses by St John Holystone Greenacre
  • Simplicity and Brevity in Game Design - Part 1 by John Acar (USA)
  • About the Editors
  • The Costs of War: Wargaming on a Budget by Noel Williams (UK)
  • Hexagonal Terrain: How To by Otto Schmidt (USA)
  • Setting the Scene for Russo-Japanese Naval Armageddon by Rob Grace (UK)
  • Little Lead Men by Chris Gregg
  • Tales from a Bedfordshire Village by John Preece (UK)
I enjoyed reading every article in this issue ... and that is saying something that I cannot say for the mainstream glossy wargames magazines that are on sale in the UK. More power to their elbows ... and I am already looking forward to reading the next issue!

If you are interested in getting hold of a copy of THE WARGAMER'S NOTES QUARTERLY, contact them at

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Nugget 296

The hardworking editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the journal to me over the weekend so that I can take it to the printer later this week. It is my intention to do that on Wednesday so that it can be posted out to members of Wargame Developments early next week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fifth 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.

Monday 2 January 2017

A look back at 2016

If I had been asked what I spent most of my time doing last year with regard to wargaming, I would have answered work on my Napoleonic project and my PORTABLE WARGAME book ... but even a cursory look at the record shows that my memory of the year is more than a little out!

January and February seem to have been dominated by my WINTER-ISH WAR mini-campaign, whilst March saw the beginning of my model pre-dreadnought shipbuilding programme and the acquisition of Stuart Asquith's collection of Del Prado painted 25/28mm Napoleonic figures. In April I seemed to be a bit all over the place until the very end of the month, when AIRFIX BATTLES: THE INTRODUCTORY WARGAME was published. The latter got a bit of play during the following month and I spent quite some time reading through ZONES OF CONTROL: PERSPECTIVES ON WARGAMING. June saw the end of my massive shipbuilding programme as well as extensive reports on the models that I saw in the Monaco Naval Museum.

July is always a busy month, and began with COW2016. It also saw the first glimmerings of my renewed interest in my ongoing Napoleonic project, and by the end of August my Dutch-Belgians, Brunswickers, and Hannoverians were all renovated and based. Connections UK 2016 took place in September, and work on my Napoleonic project continued apace, with the result that my British Napoleonic Army was finished by the middle of October. I then began work on my un-renovated French figures, and by the time Sue and I went on our latest cruise (which took up the last week of November and the first three weeks of December), the bulk of the French Infantry were well on the way to completion.

So where did my PORTABLE WARGAME book fit into all this? Well it has been gradually coming together over the months, and as I write this, it is approaching the stage where it is almost ready to be proof-read before publication. With luck it will be published early in 2017, and then I can begin work on my next book ... which will be the centenary history of an important Masonic Lodge.

Sunday 1 January 2017

Happy New Year!

Wishing all my regular blog readers a ...

May you all have a safe, healthy, and happy New Year!