Saturday 30 September 2017

The Portable Wargame: Other people's battles

When one designs and publishes a set of wargame rules, one is never quite sure how they will be received by people one does not know. Will they be a success ... or was the whole thing just an ego trip on the part of the author? Well in the case of THE PORTABLE WARGAME, it would appear to have been a reasonably successful venture ... and it hasn't done my ego any harm either!

Over recent weeks I have featured two of the battles fought by Archduke Piccolo in which he used my ANCIENT rules, but have not yet mentioned the third, ENCIRCLEMENT OR BREAKOUT.

I really enjoyed reading these three battle reports as the rules seem to have resulted in what I would judge to have been reasonably accurate results.

A few days ago Jeff Butler wrote a blog entry about a naval battle he had recently fought using a developed and modified version of my Pre-Dreadnought Portable Naval Wargame rules (as yet only available as an online PDF download).

Reading Jeff's blog entry reminded me that I need to give some serious thought to properly publishing the various versions of my naval rules sometime soon ... and this has now moved up my list of 'things to do'.

If my ego wasn't inflated enough already, I recently received an email from a wargamer in which he stated that his ten-year-old son had said that 'the rules are so simple you just concentrate on the tactics' and that he had 'been trying to engage him (his son) in my beloved hobby. Your rules may have succeeded!'

That email gave me an immense amount of pleasure. Having spent most of my working life trying to inspire young people, that simple email was both humbling and made me feel that publishing my rules was a very worthwhile thing to do ... and worth all the time and effort I put into writing and publishing them.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Archduke Piccolo and Jeff Butler.

Friday 29 September 2017

A trip down memory lane

Although I have been very busy for the past few days, I have managed to spend some time reading old copies of MINIATURE WARFARE. They were given to me by David Crook, who recently bought them at a boot fair. The magazine's came ready-bound in green binders with the name of the magazine in gold lettering on the spine, and include all the issues in volumes one to three.

The magazine was published and edited by John Tunstill, who lived less than two miles from my present address, and who later owned a toy soldier shop near the a Imperial War Museum. It is interesting to note that in the first editorial he wrote in February 1968 that expected to initially reach a world-wide audience of about five thousand.

The names of the writers of the first articles published also make for interesting reading, as do the subjects they wrote about. They include:
  • Ed Smith: Fact or Fiction in Early History
  • Malcolm Woolgar: Cavalry Training: Horsed
  • John Tunstill: ACW Campaign Part 1
  • Anthony Anderson: On Naval Matters
  • John Davis: Napoleonic Fighting Formations
  • Jack Scruby: Letter from America
  • Phil Barker: Modern Rule Proposals
  • Bish Iwaszko: Modern Warfare
The advertisers in the first issue included:
  • Historex (from Historex Agents of Dover, Kent)
  • Hinton Hunt Figures (both direct from the manufacturer in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, and from the Model Soldier Boutique, Camden Passage, London)
  • Minitanks (from Model Hobby Products, Halifax, Yorkshire)
  • Jack Scruby Miniatures (direct from the manufacturer in Visalia, California)
  • Edward Suren/'Willie' Figures (of Ovington Street, London)
  • Bellona (based in Bracknell, Berkshire)
  • Morgan-Grampion Books (of The Strand, London) advertising CHARGE! OR HOW TO PLAY WARGAMES by Brigadier P Young and Lt Colonel J P Lawford [The book was also reviewed in this issue of the magazine]
  • Airfix
  • René North Uniform Cards (based in Blackheath, London)
  • A A Johnston Military Books (of Langport, Somerset)
  • The Garrison (W&P [Militaria] Ltd., based in South Harrow, Middlesex)
The first three issues were printed on ordinary paper, and the quality of production seemed to improve with each issue. By May 1968 the inside pages of the magazine were being printed on glossier paper which allowed for photographs to be used (previously the magazine had only included line drawings), and by July 1968 the thin card plain cover was replaced by one with a coloured title banner at the top and a black and white photograph below.

Amongst the more iconic issues was that of May 1970, which featured a picture of Edward Woodward in the role of CALLAN on the cover.

It also featured two pages of photographs taken during the production of the episode where Callan goes to a Wargame Convention and takes part in a number of tabletop battles with Heathcote Land (played by actor Anthony Nicholls) in a magnificent wargames room. I don't think that I was alone in drooling over the latter ... and hoping that one day I would have somewhere similar in which to fight my wargames. It is now nearly fifty years later, and I do have a toy/wargames room of my own, even if it is not quite as luxurious as that featured in the TV programme!

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Two days of Masonic activity

I will be very busy for the next two days. On Wednesday I will be attending the Hertfordshire Provincial Grand Lodge meeting at Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London. It takes place towards the end of September every year, and is when anyone who is receiving their first Masonic appointment or a promotion is personally greeted and given their symbols of rank and office by the Provincial Grand Master. This takes place in front of Masons from every Lodge in the Province as well as leading representatives of neighbouring provinces.

The meeting is followed by a formal dinner in the Connaught Rooms, which is next door to Freemasons Hall. The quality of the food and service can vary from reasonable to downright awful, and in the past several of us have 'opted out' and eaten in a nearby restaurant. As a number of us are getting appointments or promotions to 'active' offices this year, we are sort of expected to eat at the Connaught Rooms.

On Thursday I have to attend another event at Freemasons Hall, but this will be a much smaller affair as it is a meeting of my Holy Royal Arch Chapter. On this occasion we do not have a specific ritual to perform, and as a result I will be delivering a lecture about Sir Charles Warren. This meeting will also be followed by a meal ... but as it will be in the Trattoria Verdi, Bloomsbury, I know that it will be excellent.

So I'm going to be quite busy for the next two days ... but hopefully I'll be well fed as well.

Monday 25 September 2017

Nugget 302

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the journal to me on Saturday, and I hope take it to the printer tomorrow or on Wednesday. This should mean that it will be printed and posted out to members of Wargame Developments by the weekend or early next week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the second issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2017-2018 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Sunday 24 September 2017

Leipzig on the lawn: The battle

All the participants had arrived at the venue in central London by 10.00am, and preparations for the start of the re-fight were well underway.

In the centre of the battlefield was the city of Leipzig, with two smaller towns forming the basis of the outer ring of defences.

After a quick break for coffee, the re-fight began, with the Russians pushing forward on the Allied right, ...

... the Swedes and Prussians in the centre, ...

... and more Prussians and the Austrians on the left.

As these forces gradually pushed forward ...

... the French mounted a fighting withdrawal, ...

... centred on Leipzig.

By the time lunch was over, the increasing pressure on the French was gradually beginning to have an effect.

On the Allied right a Russian cavalry charge ...

... caused considerable casualties on a French cavalry brigade.

The French Cavalry Brigade eventually dissolved and the Russian Cavalry exploited the gap ...

... and charged forward yet again, causing further French losses.

The depleted Russian cavalry then withdrew to recover.

Elsewhere the Swedes continued to advance, and the cautious Austrians gradually pushed the French right flank back. The Prussians continued to move forward, and having pushed the French defenders aside, some of their cavalry entered the city.

The battle ended ...

... with the French in retreat, beaten but unbowed.

Readers are strongly advised to double click on the individual photographs shown above in order to see them in detail.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Leipzig on the lawn

This morning I am off to central London to take part in a re-fight of the Battle of Leipzig ... the first figure-based wargame I will have been involved in since early July.

The battle has been organised by Tim Gow and others, and will feature over two thousand 54mm toy soldiers, a large lawn, and some rules inspired by H G Wells' LITTLE WARS. Amongst those rumoured to be taking part are Conrad Kinch, Tradgardmastare, and David Crook ... but I won't definitely know until I get there.

I hope to publish a selection of photographs of the battle in due course.

Friday 22 September 2017

Captain Sir Thomas Edgar Halsey, Bt, DSO, DL, JP

Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey's nephew, who became the third Baronet, also joined the Royal Navy. His life was almost as interesting as that of his uncle, but for rather different reasons.

Thomas Edgar Halsey was educated at Eton and Jesus College, Cambridge, and besides being a naval officer he was a first-class cricketer. He was a batsman and fast right-hand bowler, and played cricket for his school in 1915 and 1916. He made his first-class debut for the Royal Navy team when they played Cambridge University in 1920. He also played for his university team during the same season, but after that most of his cricket was played for the Navy against the Army or for Hertfordshire. In 1936 he captained the Egyptian national team(!) in a match against the visiting Hubert Melville Martineau XI, scoring a century during the first innings.

Until the Second World War his naval career followed a slow but steady path. He became a Midshipman in 1917, a Sub-lieutenant in 1918, a Lieutenant in 1920, a Lieutenant Commander in 1928, and a Commander in 1933. In August 1934 he was given his first command, the destroyer HMS Boadicea, which was serving with the Mediterranean Fleet), and he stayed with her until February 1936. He then attended the Senior Officers' War Course before becoming an Assistant to the Naval Assistant to Second Sea Lord.

He was promoted to the rank of Captain just fourth months before the outbreak of war, when he took over command of the destroyer HMS Malcolm and became Captain D, 16th Destroyer Flotilla. He remained with her from July 1939 until October 1940 (except for a short break from late June to early August 1940 when she was commanded by Captain Augustus Willington Shelton Agar, VC, DSO, the so-called 'secret VC'). After a brief spell ashore he moved to command of another destroyer, HMS Worcester. He only served as her captain from January to May 1941, when he moved yet again, this time to command of the destroyer HMS Mackay.

He left HMS Mackay in September 1941, and again served ashore before becoming Flag Captain of the battleship HMS King George V in February 1943. He remained with her until April 1945 except for a short break when he seems to have taken command of the battleship HMS Revenge for a couple of months from April 1944 onwards.

During his time commanding HMS Malcolm Captain Halsey was awarded a DSO for 'good services in the withdrawal of the Allied Armies from the beaches at Dunkirk'. The ship made eight runs across the Channel to pick up soldiers from Dunkirk and is estimated to have brought back well over two thousand men.

He married Jean Margaret Palmer Brooke, the daughter of Bertram Willes Dayrell Brooke, the Tuan Muda (literally 'Little Lord') or 'White Rajah' of Sarawak, and they had one son (the current Baronet) and two daughters.

Thursday 21 September 2017

Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey GCMG, GCVO, KCIE, CB, ADC

Having tantalized some of my regular blog readers with a reference to one of the naval members of the Halsey family in yesterday's bog entry, I thought that I might add a few biographical details about him today.

Lionel Halsey was the fourth son of Sir Thomas Frederick Halsey Bt MP, and very early in his life he decided upon a career in the Royal Navy. After attending Stubbington House School in Fareham, Hampshire (a well-known navy 'crammer'), he joined HMS Britannia as a Cadet in 1885. He became a Midshipman in 1888, a Sub-Lieutenant, and then a Lieutenant in 1894, having served with the Royal Yacht Squadron from 1893.

His next sea appointment was to HMS Powerful, and in 1897 he sailed in her to the Far East. The ship was supposed to come back to the UK in 1899, but during her return journey the Second Boer War broke out, and she was diverted to South Africa to given what support she could. This took the form of a Naval Brigade, part of which – a battery of 4.7-inch naval guns mounted of extemporised mountings – was commanded by Lieutenant Halsey. His exemplary service marked Lionel out for rapid promotion, and he became a Commander in 1902 when he joined the newly-built cruiser HMS Good Hope. Only three years later he became a Captain, and took over command of HMS Donegal.

In 1912 Captain Lionel Halsey took command of the newly-commissioned battle cruiser HMS New Zealand, and during a cruise to New Zealand to show the flag, Lionel was presented with a Māori piupiu (warrior's skirt) and hei-tiki (pendant) which he was asked to wear if the ship ever went into battle. He did so, and it is recorded that he wore them on the bridge of his ship at the Battles of Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank.

By the time of the Battle of Jutland in 1916 Lionel had been promoted and was Admiral Jellicoe’s Captain of the Fleet, serving aboard the flagship, HMS Iron Duke. When Admiral Jellicoe moved to the Admiralty in November 1916 to become First Sea Lord, Lionel went with him and became Fourth Sea Lord. The following year he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral and moved to the position of Third Sea Lord. He returned to sea the following year when he took over as Rear Admiral commanding the Second Battle Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet at the same time as becoming the commander of the Australian Fleet. He held these two posts from 1918 to 1920, during which time he received his knighthood.

He retired in 1926 and became an Extra Equerry to the King, King George V. He also took on the role of Comptroller and Treasurer of the Prince of Wales’s household, and when King George died, he moved over to become an Extra Equerry to King Edward VIII. Unfortunately the relationship between the two broke down as the Abdication crisis loomed, and he ceased to perform these duties, only to return as an Extra Equerry to King George V when the latter came to the throne.

He died in 1949, and Arthur Marder (the famous naval historian) wrote of him that he was:
'one of the most popular Officers of his day – a delightful, outgoing, frank person, a fine leader, a very zealous and competent Officer, who might have gone to the very top after the War but for his acceptance of a Court Appointment.'

It is of interest to note that he was a very, very distant cousin of Admiral William Frederick 'Bill' (or 'Bull') Halsey USN, who at various stages of the Second World War commanded Carrier Division 2, Task Force 16, the US forces in the South Pacific Area, and the US Third Fleet.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Well that's one task completed; only a load more to do ...

I've spent the last three days putting together the talk I have to present when I am Installed as the new Worshipful Master of the Veritatem Sequere Lodge in Hertfordshire. It is the Province's Research Lodge, and it is a tradition that the incoming Master gives a talk on a subject of their choosing.

I have chosen to talk about the Halsey family of Great Gaddesden, Hertfordshire. They held the major offices in Freenasonry in Hertfordshire for a period of over one hundred and fifty year, and many of them had distinguished non-Masonic careers in politics and the armed forces. The latter includes a naval captain who wore a Maori war-skirt on the bridge of his battle cruiser at the Battle of Heligoland Bight and the Battle of Dogger Bank!

They don't breed them like that anymore ... or do they?

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 414

After some considerable thought, I decided to renew my subscription to MINIATURE WARGAMES for a further three months. As a result I received the latest issue by post yesterday, and have now had the opportunity to read it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Good things in small packages by Conrad Kinch
  • Frontier Warfare: Part Two - Rules and Strategies by Chris Jarvis
  • Reinventing an old friend: Part Two by Jon Sutherland
  • Customs Office: Scenery building using 4Ground models and stuff from the scrap box by Roger Dixon
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!: Aerial Adventures in an Alternative World by Tony Francis
    • Uhtred and the Fire Dragon by Gordon Lawrence
  • Wargaming My Way by Dave Tuck
  • Creighton Abram's War: Fast-play microscale World War II rules for Battalion/Brigade Level wargames by Robert Piepenbrink
  • Recce
  • Tower of Balsa: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Show report: Claymore 2017 by John Treadaway
  • Club Directory
So what did I enjoy in this issue?
  1. Well it goes without saying that as Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence was written about his use of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, it came out top! His article shows how easy it was for him to create his own version of the game, and his suggested rule changes to make them suitable for re-fighting American Civil War battles make a lot of sense. Furthermore he has included three short scenarios that I will certainly copy and use at some point.
  2. The second part of Chris Jarvis's Frontier Warfare came a close second ...
  3. ... with Robert Piepenbrink's Creighton Abram's War coming third. I don't think that I will stop using my own World War II rules and start fighting battles with these, but it was nice to see someone designing a set of rules for a game that can be fought on a small tabletop.
Not an outstanding issue, but good enough to justify my decision to re-subscribe.

The one downside of this magazine is the continued presence of the Club Directory section. In my opinion it is an utter waste of paper ... and should NOT be in every issue!

A copy of the Derby Worlds 2017 Tabletop Wargaming Convention Official Show Guide also came with this issue.

I won't be going to the convention (competitive wargaming has never held any attractions for me, in addition to which it is quite a journey to get there from where I live), but it was nice to see what demonstration and participation wargames be available to see and/or take part in.

Monday 18 September 2017

Byzantines vs. Bulgars: Portable Wargame battle reports from Archduke Piccolo

Having created Army Lists for the Byzantines and the Bulgars, Archduke Piccolo has now used them in a couple of battles, which he has reported on his blog.

Judging by the photographs he has used on his blog, the two battles seem to have been full of action.

Battle 1

Battle 2

He has also made several interesting comments about the rules, and made a suggestion with regard to the card-driven unit activation system that others might wish to copy and/or experiment with. I am certainly going to do so ... when I have enough time!

Please note that all the photographs featured above are © Archduke Piccolo.

Sunday 17 September 2017

Open House London: Sunday 17th September 2017

Following on from our visits on Saturday, Sue and I decided to visit some Open House London venues that were somewhat nearer to where we live. We left home close to 11.00am, and by 11.30am we had parked our car in Greenwich in the National Maritime Museum's car park.

We walked across the front of the museum ...

... and into the small adjoining garden, where we were able to visit the Devonport Mausoleum ...

... that originally formed part of the former Royal Naval Hospital's graveyard. The building is actually the entrance to the now-sealed underground burial chamber, and it is adorned inside and out with memorials to some of those buried inside and in the immediate vicinity of the mausoleum.

Edward Riddle wrote A TREATISE ON NAVIGATION AND NAUTICAL ASTRONOMY that became the standard navigation textbook used by the Royal Navy. His son died in an unfortunate accident in his classroom when he injured himself falling off the dais his desk was on.

The inscription on Edward Harris's memorial records that he 'was 18 years a slave in Barbary'!

Inside the grounds of the mausoleum is an oak tree planed to commemorate Captain (later Admiral) Hardy, who served a term as Governor of the Royal Naval College.

Nearby is the tomb of Admiral James Alexander Gordon, another of the Hospital's Governors, ...

... and a memorial to all those sailors and Royal Marines who lived out their days in the Hospital and who were buried in its cemetery, and officers who served as Governors and Lieutenant Governors between 1749 and 1869.

There is also a small but unique memorial to Thomas Allen, Admiral Horatio Nelson's faithful shipboard servant, who although not a sailor, was allowed to end his days in the Hospital.

Only a short way away is the memorial in memory of Captain Thomas Boulden Thompson, who had an illustrious naval career and who later became Comptroller of the Royal Navy, a Member of Parliament, and finally Treasurer of the Royal Naval Hospital.

The final memorial in the grounds is that in memory of Captain John Simpson, who rose from being an apprentice to the rank of Post Captain, and who end his career as Senior Captain of the Hospital.

As we still had plenty of time before we had to leave, we crossed the road and entered the former Royal Naval College (which occupied the former buildings of the Royal Naval Hospital) ... which is now the main site of the University of Greenwich.

Walking through the grounds it is not difficult to understand why it has been used as a location for numerous films.

Most of the tours around the site were already booked up, but we were free to wander around if we liked. Our first stop was to the skittle alley ...

... which is located near to the Chapel's undercroft.

This is now used as a cafe/canteen, and is adorned with several boards displaying the names of naval officers who served at the Royal Naval College as Presidents and Directors, ...

... Staff College Directors and Deputy Directors, ...

... Naval Staff College Directors and Commodores, ...

... and the Joint Directing Staff.

We then went upstairs to the College Chapel, which proved to be lavishly decorated.

In the entrance to the chapel were two monuments to Admiral Hardy ...

... and King William IV (who was known as the 'Sailor King'), ...

... as well as numerous other people who were associated with the Royal Naval Hospital.

As the skies were beginning to darken and we were only a few minutes walk away from where we had parked, Sue and I decided to return home for lunch and a much-needed rest.