Wednesday 31 May 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 31st May 1937

The Republicans began an offensive to capture Segovia. Three Republican Divisions, under the command of General Domingo Moriones, broke through the Nationalist front-line at San Ildefonso and captured La Granja. Nationalist troops, led by General Jose Varela, were detached from the Madrid front and used to mount a counter-attack that stopped any further Republican advance.

The Segovia Offensive forms the background to the event in Ernest Hemingway's novel FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS.

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 166

Despite the best efforts of the Royal Mail not to deliver it, latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered last weekend, and I have just finished reading it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Isandlwana and a Four Letter Word by Charles Aitkenhead
  • 'Ask for the London Ikonas!': Rudyard Kipling and the Mounted Infantry, South Africa 1899-1902 by Dr Andrew Winrow
  • Dr John Gill: Baker Pasha's Maturin by Frank Jastrzembski
  • Last Man Standing: Colonel John Bonham 1834-1928 by David Howell
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS
Every single article in this issue was of interest to me ... something I wish that I could write about every periodical that I subscribe to!

Some days ago the Royal Mail posted a card through our letterbox informing me that they were unable to deliver an item because 'THE SENDER DID NOT PAY THE FULL POSTAGE'. It also demanded that I pay £1.50 if I wanted to receive the item. I duly paid ... and a standard A4-size envelope – with a Second Class stamp for a Large Letter on it – was delivered. In it was the latest copy of SOTQ. As far as I can make out, this was sufficient postage for the item, which was neither oversize nor overweight.

I have informed the Victorian Military Society that this has happened as it is likely that I am not the only subscriber who has had to pay additional – and unnecessary – postage charges.

Monday 29 May 2017

I have been to ... Rochester, Kent

Yesterday Sue and I went to Rochester, Kent, for a short visit. It is only thirty minute drive from where we live, and there is usually something of interest going on that makes the visit worthwhile.

After parking in the Blue Boar car park, we took a leisurely walk up and down the High Street ...

... most of which still looks much as it would have looked in Dicken's time. (Most of the buildings remain the same, but I doubt that there were quite as many restaurants, coffee shops, tea rooms, and antique shops back then!)

Set back on one side of the High Street is the Cathedral ...

... which was looking most impressive. Had a service not been taking place as we reached the cathedral, we would have paid it a visit.

It was lunchtime by the time we had finished our perambulation, and Sue and I decided to see if we could eat in one of our favourite Italian restaurants, 'Mamma Mia'.

It is located at the end of the High Street near the Rochester Bridge, but as we approached it we saw that part of the area had been taped off by the police.

We were able to reach the restaurant without any difficulty, but it was very apparent that there had been some sort of incident nearby. The staff told us that it had occurred before they had arrived that morning, and that the police had been to question them about what they might have seen.

The police were still at the scene when we left to go home ...

... and we later discovered that there had been a serious road rage incident that had resulted in someone suffering serious head injuries which required them to be taken to hospital by helicopter ambulance.

According to several of the online news sources, the incident occurred when a man on a bicycle jumped a red light and a motorcyclist stopped him, and after a heated argument, began hitting him. According to an unnamed witness quoted by several sources, the cyclist is then reported to have had some sort of seizure as the motorcyclist (and their pillion passenger) rode away from the scene.

Sunday 28 May 2017

Developing The Portable Wargame: Almost there!

I have finally finished writing and illustrating the DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME, and it is now being proof-read prior to publication. It is currently 128 pages long and contains three full sets of rules and 82 illustrations.

The contents remain pretty well as they were in my last update, and looks like this:
  • Introduction
    • Acknowledgements
  • Pinning and Unpinning Units
  • The Two Kills Option
  • Army Lists, Balanced, and Unbalanced Forces
    • Army Lists: Some generic examples
    • Army Lists: A pair of historically-based examples
    • Balanced Forces: The 40 SPs per side method
    • Balance Forces: The randomly-generated number of SPs per side method
    • Unbalance Forces: The randomly-generated number of SPs per side method
    • Elite, Average, and Poor quality units
    • Fortifications, fieldworks, and prepared defences
  • Big Board – and Small Board – Gridded Wargames
  • A few observations about Portable Wargame Rules: Ancients
  • Portable Wargame Rules: Ancients
  • Army Lists for The Portable Wargame: Ancient Army Lists
    • Tactical Formations
  • The Portable Wargame in Action: Some example from the Ancients Rules
  • A few observations about the Developed Portable Wargame Rules: Early and Mid Twentieth Century
  • Developed Portable Wargame Rules: Early and Mid Twentieth Century
  • Adding another dimension: Some thoughts about Air Combat Rules
    • Types of Aircraft
    • Aircraft Arcs-of Fire
    • Turning
  • Portable Wargame: Air Combat Rules
  • The Portable Wargame in Action: Some examples from the Air Combat Rules
  • Simple Mini-Campaigns
    • An example of a mini-campaign: 'Long live the Revolution!'
  • Scenarios
  • Bibliography
  • Endnotes
To give a bit of flavour of what the new book will contain, here are a few of the illustrations I have used, with their original captions:

Figure 27: The same wedge formation as that shown immediately above, but on a hexed grid. The wedge formation is the one of the tactical formations that is easier to reproduce on a hexed grid rather than a squared grid.
Figure 29: The same Barbarian army in wedge formation as that shown immediately above, but on a hexed grid.
Figure 47: Let battle commence! The War Elephant unit has moved into contact with an enemy Heavy Infantry unit.
Figure 67: An example of a point-to-point campaign map of the Waterloo Campaign (1815). The forces involved move from one point to another.
Figure 75: The leader of the Revolutionaries prepares to fight to the last surrounded by his loyal troops.
Figure 82: A hexed grid version of the original Sittingbad map, modified to represent Sittingrad during the Rusland Civil War.
With luck the book should be ready for publication at some time during June or early July.

Saturday 27 May 2017

Vive l'Empereur! Finally, some more French Artillery figures are added to the collection!

Finally – and after a few diversions and distractions along the way – I've managed to finish renovating, varnishing, and basing some more French Artillery figures to add to my Napoleonic collection.

Hopefully the next batch (which is probably going to be French Horse Artillery and Veteran Artillery figures) will be completed in somewhat less time.

Friday 26 May 2017

Nugget 300

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N300) from the printer today, and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments over the coming weekend.

I have already uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and they are now available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth and last issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2016-2017 subscription year ... and is the three hundredth to be published. This is an important milestone in the history of Wargame Developments and THE NUGGET, and this issue will be published just a month before the 38th annual COW (Conference of Wargamers) takes place at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire.

Thursday 25 May 2017

I have been to ... Mark Masons' Hall, St. James's, London

Every so often Sue and I like to go out to lunch ... and yesterday we went to the carvery restaurant at Mark Masons' Hall, 86 St James's Street, St. James's, London.

We have been there several times before, and because I registered with 86 St James (the catering arm of Mark Masons' Hall) I get notification of special offers for lunch. Yesterday was one of the days when lunch was 30% off its usual price ... so Sue and I decided to book.

We had booked lunch for 1.30pm, and left home just before midday. The local 244 bus took us to Woolwich Arsenal Station, where we caught a South Eastern train to Cannon Street Station. (We had hoped to go directly to Charing Cross Station, but the train that we were due to catch was delayed, and then the service was going to be terminated at London Bridge Station. Cannon Street seemed like a better option ... and choosing to use it turned out to be the right decision to make.)

From Cannon Street Station we travelled by London Underground to St. James's Park Underground Station. At Westminster a group of musicians got on the train, and entertained us with some live music between stops!

On leaving St. James's Park Underground Station we walked up Queen Anne's Gate, ...

... crossed over Birdcage Walk, and into St. James's Park.

Our route took us across the bridge over the Serpentine ...

... from where we had excellent views of Westminster ...

... and Buckingham Palace in the distance.

We continued to walk through St. James's Park ...

... and then across The Mall.

We saw two female Metropolitan Police officers from the Mounted Branch on patrol in The Mall ... and they kindly stopped still long enough for me to take a photograph.

Sue and I then made our way up Marlborough Street ...

... and past St. James's Palace ... which was being guarded by members of the RAF Regiment.

From there it was but a very short walk to 86 St. James's Street. (Mark Masons' Hall is the building with the Union Flag flying at half-mast as a sign of respect to those who died in the recent terrorist attack in Manchester.)

We had reached 86 St. James's Street in plenty of time to have a drink in the Second Floor bar.

Just before 1.30pm we made our way down to the First Floor, where the carvery restaurant is situated.

The meal comprised three courses. The starters are a selection of hors d'oeuvres from a trolley the waitresses wheel to your table, after which you go up to the carvery to select the main course you want to eat. Yesterday the choices were beef, pork, and salmon. As can be seen from the following photograph, I decided to have the slimmers lunch!

The desserts are also brought to your table on a trolley, and one can finish with either tea of coffee. The total cost of our meals (including drinks) was less than £50.00 ... and we both left feeling rather full!

We decided to walk back to Westminster to try to catch the Thames Clipper service that goes along the River Thames to Woolwich. We strolled down Pall Mall ...

... until we reached Waterloo Place.

We then turned right and made our way down towards The Mall. Along the way we passed a statue of King Edward VII (who was know as 'Edward the Caresser' because of the number of other men's wives that he enjoyed 'entertaining'!) ...

... and the column atop of which is a statue of the Duke of York. (He was the second eldest son of George III, and became a professional soldier. The famous nursery rhyme, 'The Grand Old Duke of York' was written to mock his lack of success in the 1799 military campaign in the Netherlands.)

We crossed The Mall close to the Royal Artillery Memorial ...

... and then paid our respects at the National Police Memorial.

From there our route took us past Horse Guards Parade (which has been prepared for the Queen's Birthday Parade AKA Trooping the Colour), ...

... the Guards Monument, ...

... and the statue of Clive of India.

After turning up Great George Street ...

... we soon reached Parliament Square.

We continued on towards Westminster Bridge ...

... from where we had an excellent view of our destination, Westminster Pier.

Sue and I walked down the steps to the Pier, only to discover that the first Thames Clipper to Woolwich was not going to run for another hour and a half. Despite the fact that we were both feeling tired and rather hot, we decided to take the Underground from Westminster Station back to Cannon Street Station, where we were able to catch the 4.07pm train to Woolwich Arsenal Station.

On reaching Woolwich we took one look at the massive queues at the bus stop ... and walked across the road to the taxi rank. Some ten minutes later we were home, still feeling very full, rather tired, and in great need of a cold drink and a hot shower!

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Warship 2017

The latest copy of WARSHIP was delivered last Friday. This is Volume XXXIX of this annual publication, and it is edited by John Jordan and published by Conway (ISBN 978 1 8944 6472 0).

This year's edition of the annual includes:
  • Editorial by John Jordan
  • The Japanese Battleships Kawachi and Settsu by Kathrin Milanovich
  • The British Armour Plate Pool Agreement of 1903 by David Boursnell
  • From Eritrea to Courbet by John Jordan
  • DDL: The Australian Light Destroyer Project of the early 1970s by Mark Briggs
  • From Elba to Europa by Michele Cosentino
  • Modern Mine Countermeasures by Conrad Waters
  • The Light Aircraft Carrier Ibuki Class by Hans Lengerer
  • HACS: Debacle or Just In Time? by Peter Marland
  • HMS Surrey: Britain's Last Treaty Cruiser by David Murfin
  • After the Kaiser: The Imperial German Navy's Light Cruisers after 1918 by Aidan Dodson
  • The US Navy's Last Monitors by A D Baker III
  • Warship Notes
  • Naval Books of the Year
  • Warship Gallery
Yet again this year's annual is full of interesting really articles, and I look forward to reading them over the next few days and weeks. In particular I want to spend some time reading Aidan Dodson's After the Kaiser: The Imperial German Navy's Light Cruisers after 1918. It is often forgotten that quite a few of the Light Cruisers that Germany built before and during the First World War were still in service – albeit in secondary roles – during the Second World War. For example, the former SMS Niobe became the Croatian Navy cruiser and training ship Dalmacija after serving in Yugoslav Navy as Dalmacija, then the Royal Italian Navy as Cattaro (she was seized after the invasion of Yugoslavia), then in the Kriegsmarine as Niobe for a second time, before being handed over to the Croatians! ...

... and SMS Ancona ended its life as a Flak Ship with Naval Flak Group 233 in and around Wilhelmshaven.