Saturday 30 June 2018

I don't believe it!

Last night – quite by chance – I discovered that the eBook version my latest book – GRIDDED NAVAL WARGAMES – seems to have been converted into a PDF and is now being made available online as a 'free' download by someone called Yelich Mulac.

I have contacted Lulu, who assure me that this individual IS NOT part of their distribution network. They have also supplied me with a formal letter that I have sent to Yelich Mulac requesting that he remove the download.

As his profile features the Guy Fawkes mask from V FOR VENDETTA and his blog includes a long list of other 'free' book downloads, I suspect that Yelich Mulac regards himself as above the conventions of normal society, and that providing free downloads of other people's work is helping to 'destroy the tyranny of capitalist society'.

Friday 29 June 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: 1st Schleswig-Holstein War

I am a member of several Facebook groups, including the one devoted to 19th (1815-1914) CENTURY WARFARE AND WARGAMING. Yesterday one of the other members – Paul Mooney – posted a short report of a recent battle he had fought set during the 1st Schleswig-Holstein War. He had used my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, 10mm-scale figures (a mixture of Irregular Miniatures and Pendraken Minatures figures), and the hexed game board from the game HOLD THE LINE.

The results looked very interesting ...

... and after a request for more information, Paul wrote the following:
For this game, I used two infantry bases (frontage 30mm) for each infantry unit and one base for cavalry and artillery. Each side had 12 units and two commanders. I used the strength point option with exhaustion levels of 1/3 and an army break level of 1/2 of total strength points. The game was fought to a conclusion in about two hours. It was decided that cavalry winning a close combat could follow up against any troops, while infantry could only follow up against other infantry or artillery; artillery, of course, could not follow up in any situation. Elite units were limited to one unit per side, but if this option was chosen, one other unit had to be classed as poor.

Next time, I intend to use one base per unit and use the sudden death option. This will allow a really big game with 30+ units/bases per side. For skirmishers, I might experiment with allowing them to move 2 hexes and still fire but give target units that are hit a +1 on the results table, making it harder for skirmishers to inflict a kill. Skirmishers will be unable to initiate close combat and will receive a -1 if attacked in close combat.
Paul has made some interesting minor changes to the rules so that they fit the specific period somewhat better than the generic rules, and as this is a period that I hope to cover in a future book, the alterations have given me some ideas that I might well include.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Paul Mooney.

Thursday 28 June 2018

Fifty years on ...

Just before going to bed, I realised that today was the fiftieth anniversary of the day when I left secondary school. I finished my A Level Economics examination in the morning ... and then – in the company of some of my classmates – I went to a pub in the nearby town centre for a drink. I was still wearing my school uniform (as were we all) but no one batted an eyelid, and after a single pint of beer, we parted company and went home.

On the following Monday I started work at small, private bank, having left my part-time job with a leading supermarket on the Saturday. From that day until the day I retired, I was never out of work for more than a few days, even whilst I was studying at college. (The life of a city banker palled with me after nearly three years, and I applied for a place – and was accepted – at one of Cambridge University’s accredited Teacher Training Colleges.) Even whilst at college I worked part-time, and some of the jobs that I did were more than a little testing!

Fifty years on, would I have done things differently? I don’t know … and frankly if I had, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog entry now!

Here’s to the next fifty years … I hope!

Military Uniforms of the Nineteenth Century

One book that was in no danger of being 'culled' during the downsizing of my book collection was my copy of AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MILITARY UNIFORMS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.

Even a quick glance through this book is enough to make the reader aware that military fashion during the period from 1850 to 1900 was dominated by certain influences. Initially most troops wore updated versions of Napoleonic uniforms, although the coats were shorter and had lost their tails and trousers had become almost universal. The shakos of the Napoleonic era gradually became less elaborate and eventually evolved into the shorter kepi or were replaced by the leather helmet. The latter started off as being quite tall, but over time it also became shorter and evolved into the pickelhaube. The peaked cap also seemed to have been popular, especially with officers of certain armies.

The colour of infantry uniforms also tended towards predominately blue jackets (there were some notable exceptions to this!) and dark-coloured trousers (again with some notable exceptions), sometimes worn tucked into boots and sometimes into gaiters worn with short boots. The trousers tended to follow civilian fashion and varied between tight to very baggy.

Towards the end of the period the growing number of colonial wars being fought by the European powers saw the introduction of predominately dust-coloured field uniforms, often worn with some form of light-weight cork helmet or wideawake hat.

So, what does this mean for the wargamer who – like me – likes to get lots of use out of the figures they have in their collection and who isn't too bothered about absolute uniform accuracy?

What it means is that with a little judicial buying of certain generic figures that are then painted in basic uniforms, several different armies can be represented on the tabletop using the same figures. For example, a Union infantry man in kepi, dark blue jacket and light blue trousers can make a passable Danish infantryman for the Second Schleswig War or a Greek infantryman from the First Balkan War. Likewise, a Confederate infantryman in a butternut-coloured uniform and slouch hat can easily pass as a Boer, and one in an all-grey uniform and kepi looks very similar to a British rifle volunteer of the 1880s.

One of the less obviously generic uniforms worn during the period was the Zouave-style uniform, which was first copied by the French and then by the Americans. It became the uniform worn by the Ottoman infantry until they adopted the ubiquitous brown uniform of the latter part of the era … and it was even adopted by the West Indian Regiment of the British Army.

Now I know that there are some wargamers who might read the above and want to shout at their computer or tablet screen that I am some sort of heretic who should not be allowed near ‘proper’ wargamers and wargames … but frankly, I don’t care. Let them enjoy the hobby their way, and I’ll enjoy it my way … and I suspect that is a view that is shared by quite a few of my regular blog readers.

AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MILITARY UNIFORMS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY was written by Digby Smith, Jeremy Black, and Kevin F. Kiley, and published in 2009 by Lorenz Books (ISBN 978 0 7548 1901 1).

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Preparing for COW2018

My preparations for this year's Conference of Wargamers (COW2018) are well underway.

My two PowerPoint presentations about self-publishing are finished (although they may need a little polishing before I go to the conference) and the map I will be using for my Matrix Game (SAVE GORDON!) is ready to be taken to the local printer for enlargement.

I have found the figures that I used when I first took the Matrix Game to COW many years ago, and although they have not all stood up to the ravages of time that well, it will not take long to repair any damage. I still have the original player briefings and the turn display, and as far as I can see it will only take a couple of hours to get everything put together in a box and ready to take to the conference.

A history of the Matrix Game is going to be published in the very near future by the 'History of Wargaming' Project. I wrote the chapter about the early days of Matrix Gaming in the UK and SAVE GORDON! is one of the games I mentioned.

It is interesting to note that when Matrix Games were first demonstrated in the UK, they were met with a mixture of interest, incredulity, and downright scorn. Now they are accepted as a valid type of wargame design and are being used by hobby wargamers and government organisations across the world, in the latter instance for research, training, and other purposes.

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Other people's Portable (Naval) Wargame battle reports: The Battle of Manila Bay

Two naval battle reports have recently appeared on the RED IN THE MORNING blog.

A developed version of my PORTABLE NAVAL WARGAME rules was used in both battles, which were re-fights of the Battle of Manila Bay (Re-fight 1 and re-fight 2).

Some of the changes that have been made make for interesting reading, and I recommend them to anyone wishing to develop the rules for a specific scenario or naval campaign.

Monday 25 June 2018

Publish and be damned!: The presentations are almost finished

Since I have begun to feel better, I have been working on two presentations for my forthcoming COW2018 sessions. The first will be a general introduction to self-publishing and some of the decisions one has to make ... and some of the pitfall to be avoided.

The second presentation is much longer 'how to' guide, and will take the viewer through the various stages of self-publishing a book.

I don't intend to show the second presentation at COW2018, but I do intend to make it available to anyone who wants to use it as a guide and/or learning aid when they self-publish.

To illustrate this I have 'created' a book from my HEXBLITZ rules.

The book contains the rules as well as an exemplar battle (the Battle of Alderstadt) and is forty-four pages long. It is now available in hardback and paperback versions from, but as the text is still available online for free, I don't expect to sell many copies!

As a matter of interest, the choice of a green background with a yellow sans-serif font (in this case Arial) was not an arbitrary one. Long experience shows that the yellow-on-green combination works well with anyone who suffers from sight problems and dyslexia. It is also more restful on the eye than the normal black-on-white combination used in many presentations.

Sunday 24 June 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: The Battle of Newark

Although I have yet to write an English Civil War version of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules, others have ... and a report of one such game recently appeared on Kaptain Kobold's THE STRONGHOLD REBUILT blog.

He re-fought the Battle of Newark using some of his excellent 2D paper figures ...

... and showed just what can be achieved using my rules as a basis for his own home-grown English Civil War rules.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Kaptain Kobold.

Friday 22 June 2018

Getting better

Since Monday I have been suffering from a 'flu-like virus that has laid me low. As a result, I have done little more than sleep or sit in my armchair for the last four days. I've tried working on my computer and doing some reading ... but I just couldn't concentrate.

(I did manage to release my latest book for publication on Wednesday evening ... but I almost made a mess of it due to my poor level of concentration.)

I'm finally beginning to feel a lot better, but my ability to concentrate still isn't what it was. Hopefully I'll be completely rid of the virus by Sunday ... and then I can continue preparing for COW2018.

When we woke up this morning my wife appeared to be in the first stages of the symptoms of the virus ... so it looks as if I will be spending quite a bit of time over the next few days looking after her.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Gridded Naval Wargames ... has been published!


This book was written as a follow-up to THE PORTABLE WARGAME and DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME to show examples of naval wargames that can be fought on a gridded tabletop. The book contains six sets of rules (three of which are from the PORTABLE NAVAL WARGAME stable), four explanatory battle reports, and a chapter that explains ‘How to …’ build simple model American Civil War ironclads. The book is aimed at the wargamer who wants to include aspects of naval warfare in their wargames, and it has been written with the intention that it will be suitable for both novice and experienced wargamers.

This book contains chapters entitled:
  • Introduction
  • Notes and explanations
  • Grids: Their advantages, disadvantages, and usefulness in naval wargames
  • The Game of Naval Blockade
  • ‘Prepare for Ramming!’
  • ‘Prepare for Ramming!’ … in Action
  • The Portable Naval Wargame: American Civil War
  • The Portable Naval Wargame: American Civil War – How to construct simple model ironclads
  • The Portable Naval Wargame: American Civil War … in Action
  • The Portable Naval Wargame: Pre-dreadnoughts
  • The Portable Naval Wargame: Pre-dreadnoughts … in Action
  • The Portable Naval Wargame: Dreadnoughts
  • Mimi and Toutou Go Forth
  • Mimi and Toutou Go Forth … in Action
  • Developing some of the rules in this book: Ideas, suggestions, and notes
  • Coastal Operations
  • Selected Bibliography

GRIDDED NAVAL WARGAMES: NAVAL WARGAMING IN THE AGE OF STEAM, IRON, AND STEEL is published by Eglinton Books and distributed by It has 136 pages and contains over 175 illustrations and diagrams. The book is available in three versions:
  • Hardback: £16.99 (ISBN 978 0 244 68854 7)
  • Paperback: £7.49 (ISBN 978 0 244 38854 6)
  • eBook: £3.99 (ISBN 978 0 244 08856 9)

Comments: Problem fixed? Blogger says it is!

The following message has recently appeared on the Blogger Help Forum:
Hi everyone,

Thank you for your patience. I'm happy to inform you all that the email notifications for comments capability is now functioning with some additional improvements:

What's changed:
When an email address is added in the Comment moderation (Settings; Posts, comments and sharing; Comment moderation), Comment Notification Emails (Settings; Email; Comment Notification Email), or Email posts to (Settings; Email; Email posts to) fields, notifications are not necessarily enabled as they were before. Instead, if an email address is added to these fields, an email is sent inviting the email owner to either accept or decline the subscription. If the owner accepts, they will receive email notifications on new posts/comments. If the owner declines, the email address will be immediately removed from the field in their Settings.

Please note that when you enter an email alias that includes multiple members (for example:, all members of the group will receive the invitation to either accept or decline the subscription.

When email notifications are sent, an unsubscribe link will also be available at the bottom of the email, should the recipient(s) wish to opt-out. Therefore, if any member of a group alias clicks the 'Unsubscribe' link, the entire group alias will be unsubscribed.

Thank you again for your patience as we worked on these improvements!

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Kelly, Blogger Community Manager
I've just managed to follow the procedure outlined above ... and it seems to work.

Problem solved? I hope so!

Monday 18 June 2018

A double celebration

There are two events that occur of the 18th June each year that are worth celebrating. The first is the birthday of my fellow blogger and all-round jolly good chap, Conrad Kinch. The second is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, where Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher led the Allied armies to victory ... aided (to a certain extent) by the Prince of Orange.

Interestingly both Conrad Kinch and Arthur Wellesley share much in common. They are both Irishmen, lived in Dublin, and were at the Battle of Waterloo. In must be admitted that Conrad Kinch's appearance there was somewhat delayed (by a mere two hundred years) and that the location was closer to the playing fields of Eton than to the countryside of Belgium (it was a lawn in central London) ... but he was there, and here is the photographic proof!

As can be seen from the following portrait of the Duke, they also share a similar hairstyle ...

... and from the back they look very similar.

So, let's all raise a glass to celebrate this wonderful day. The toast is 'Happy Birthday Conrad ... and death to the French!'

Sunday 17 June 2018

Comments: Still no solution in sight

The General Data Protection Regulations came into force on 25th May and either by design or coincidence, Blogger's automatic email comment notification function stopped working. There have been numerous complaints raised about this on the appropriate Help Forum, but little appears to have been done to solve the problem as yet.

Currently I and many other bloggers who use the Blogger platform are working around the problem by using the 'Notify me' option in the 'Comments', either by making a comment on our own blog entries and selecting this option or by replying to the first comment made by a reader and selecting it then. Whilst this is not the most satisfactory way to deal with the situation, it has the benefit of working albeit rather clumsily and requiring a bit more effort to be made on our part.

This is not the first time I have experienced problems with Blogger, although it is true to say that any previous ones have were mostly minor and were solved quickly. I did, however, take the precaution of creating a back-up blog on Wordpress, and recently I have been regularly backing up my blog content to the alternative blog.

I like the way that Blogger works and I do not want to change platforms, but I have concerns that Google – who own Blogger – might be looking to replace it or to delete it entirely, and having a back-up plan in place seems both sensible and prudent.

Saturday 16 June 2018

Conference of Wargamers 2018 Programme

I collected the Conference of Wargamers 2018 Programme from the printer on Friday and posted it out late this morning.

Hopefully it should be delivered to attendees by the middle of next week.

Published and be damned!

One of the sessions I will be putting on at this year's Conference of Wargamers in early July is entitled PUBLISHED AND BE DAMNED! It is intended to be a talk and workshop for anyone who is thinking of trying self-publishing, and at present I am working on the PowerPoint presentation that I will be using to illustrate my talk.

I know that it is possible to have what has been termed 'death by PowerPoint' (during my professional life I certainly attended meetings where this was true!) but I hope to make mine more than just a set of notes that will appear on screen. What I intend to produce is a tool that attendees can take away and use afterwards at their own pace. It will break down the process of how to lay out your book before you proceed to the self-publishing stage so that users can avoid some of the common pitfalls that can dog self-publishing writers.

I am using as my example my HEXBLITZ rules, which I am turning into a small book. The end result should be that I produce yet another book to add to my list of published writings and a learning tool for potential self-publishers.

Here are some examples of the PowerPoint slides that I will be using:

Friday 15 June 2018

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 15th June 1938

The Republican gunboat Laya was sunk by Nationalist aircraft at Valencia.

The Republican gunboat Laya.

Thursday 14 June 2018

Downsizing: Another progress report

So far, I have managed to empty the 'hidden' alcove behind the draw units and stacked REALLY USEFUL BOXES in my toy/wargames room and to sort through my book collection. In total I have boxed up six boxes full of books that are going to be bought by an online second-hand book buyer ( and have filled three plastic crates full of Heroscape hex terrain that I will store in a shed in the garden.

I have also set aside several boxes of terrain and painted 15mm-scale buildings that I will be passing on to fellow wargamers ... and the three Games Workshop vinyl terrain clothes have also be allocated to new owners.

The only contents of my toy/wargames room that have not yet been sorted are my figures ... and that is a job that I want to take time over. I need to spend some time looking at what I have and to identify what I am likely to use in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Comments: The problem still continues

On 25th May the General Data Protection Regulations came into force ... and simultaneously Blogger ceased to send emails to bloggers notifying them that a comment had been made on one of their blog entries.

Whilst waiting for Blogger to fix the problem, some of us discovered that if we left a comment on our own blogs with the 'Notify me' option ticked, we received email notifications of any comments that were made.

I used this method for a few days, hoping that I would not be required do so for more than a couple of days ... but over two weeks have passed and all that seems to have happened is a message on one of the forums to the effect that Blogger are 'working on it'.

The situation is becoming intolerable for some, and Blogger's lack of communication with its users is driving people away. At present I am going to stick with Blogger because I have ten years of entries and comments with them ... but even my patience has its limits. If (or when) I do move to another platform, I'll give my regular blog readers plenty of notice. In the meantime, I'll just have to keep on using the 'Notify me' option.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Conference of Wargamers 2018 Programme ... and Timetable

I took the Conference of Wargamers 2018 Programme to the printer this morning, and I hope to collect it on Friday for distribution to attendees.

The centre of the programme contains the timetable ...

... which I hope will not undergo any changes by the time the Conference starts on 6th July.

Monday 11 June 2018

My latest book sales figures have just sent me my latest book sales figures, and they look like this:

It is interesting to see that most of my books continue to sell reasonably well, with both THE PORTABLE WARGAME and DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME being far and away the best sellers. The eBook edition of the former outsells the paperback edition, whereas the opposite is true of the latter, and sales of the hardback editions of both have stagnated. As I expected, LA ULTIMA CRUZADA is selling better in its hardback edition than the eBook and paperback editions because it is aimed at readers who will want a reference book they can use for the foreseeable future, and the latest addition to my catalogue – THE MADASAHATTA CAMPAIGN – has attracted a small number of purchasers even though the book is only available as a hardback.

Sunday 10 June 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: More Zulu War action

A few days ago Ross Macfarlane staged a Zulu War battle using 54mm-scale figures and my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

This battle looked like it was great fun to fight, and a fuller battle report can be found on Ross's blog.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Ross Macfarlane.

Saturday 9 June 2018

Kicking in the door: An Operation Barbarossa Campaign System by Andrew Rolph

A few days ago Andrew Rolph – a wargamer who has written numerous very interesting articles that have been published in MINIATURE WARGAMES – sent me a link so that I could download a PDF copy of his latest book, BARBAROSSA: KICKING IN THE DOOR ... .

The book explains how to fight a wargames campaign that covers Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of the Soviet Union) from June until September 1941. It is designed to work with rules in which a stand represents a platoon, but it seems to me that the basic system will work with most rules that cover World War II, including my own PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

The campaign map uses point-to-point movement, with each node on the map generating a potential battle between the Axis forces and the Russians.

The book contains:
  • A short history of the campaign (this has also been published in Andrew Rolph's earlier book GREY STEEL, RED STORM – REGIMENTAL SCENARIOS IN THE SOVIET UNION 1941-1943);
  • Background information (including time scale, ground scale, and suggestions for additional/optional rules) that will help wargamers adapt the system so that it will work with a particular set of rules;
  • A system for generating tabletop terrain for individual battles;
  • Numerous Appendices that cover:
    • Platoon and Company-level Tables of Organisation and Equipment for the divisions and regiments involved in the campaign;
    • Forty-two coloured terrain squares that can be used with the tabletop terrain generation system;
    • An example of how the tabletop terrain generation system works;
    • A Campaign Quick Reference Sheet;
    • An example of a Campaign Turn;
    • A set of suitable quick-play rules for use with the campaign system;
    • A full colour A4-sized Campaign Map.
Andrew sent the link to me because he knows that I have had plans to re-fight Operation Barbarossa for a very long time, and having read it, I can see the potential his campaign system has in helping me achieve my ambition.

BARBAROSSA: KICKING IN THE DOOR ... is written and published by Andrew Rolph. It is available from the Wargames Vault as a watermarked PDF ($4.95) or as a softback book with coloured illustrations ($9.95) or as a combined purchase of PDF and book (usually $14.90 but currently on sale at the discounted price $9.95).

Friday 8 June 2018

Miniature Wargames Issue 423

The latest issue of Miniature Wargames arrived in the post on Wednesday, and I have managed to read it during breaks during my downsizing project.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: The Right Tool For The Job (or how I learned to stop worrying and love Sharp Practice) by Conrad Kinch
  • Tales of the Towpath: How to make a canal of wharf by Dave Tuck and Malc Johnston, with photographs by Malc Johnston
  • Spotsylvania County: Virginia, May 1st 1863 by Jon Sutherland, with photographs by Diane Sutherland
  • Show Preview: The Joy of Six by Peter Berry and John Treadaway
  • Hooray for Hollywood: Cinematic scenario design by Nick Hughes, with photographs by John Treadaway
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Under the brush: The very best of the SALUTE 2018 painting competition photographs by Roger Dixon
    • Scouting Parties: A preview of Vanguard by Manic Games by James Dyson, with photographs by Manic Games
    • Preaching to the Unconverted: How to convert North Star's plastic Dwarven infantry by Graham Green
  • Light Division: Tactical Napoleonics for Players with a Small Board by Robert Piepenbrink, with photographs by Michael Hamon
  • It's On The Cards: Card-driven activation for army-level Portable Wargames by Arthur Harman
  • Recce
  • Grow your own terrain: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Show Report: Hammerhead 2018s: A moveable feast by John Treadaway
  • Club Directory
So what did I particularly enjoy in this issue?

The stand-out article for me this month was Arthur Harman's It's On The Cards ... and not just because it contains a card-driven activation system for army-level battles using my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. Arthur has taken my simple system and developed it into something that is far more sophisticated but not a great deal more complex. Furthermore, it can be used with other rules, which makes it even more flexible.

Of the rest ... I found Robert Piepenbrink's Light Division interesting because it is aimed at wargamers who – like me – do not have a lot of space, and Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence was – as usual – good value.

All-in-all, this was another good issue that was in my opinion well worth its cover price.

Thursday 7 June 2018

Downsizing: A further progress report

As I write this in our home office, the table of my toy/wargames room next door is groaning under the weight on numerous REALLY USEFUL BOXES full of toy soldiers. Sorting them out into some sort of order will take place either later today or tomorrow, but the first thing I must do is to address the contents of the large crates that were stored behind them.

These larger crates contain all sorts of things: spare Heroscape terrain (mainly 21-hex pieces, of which I seem to have over fifty!), all manner of green and sand-coloured cloths, boxed games, a few books, and various pieces of gaming paraphernalia. On top of the crates were several boxes containing models, a drone (which I have yet to be master flying!), three large rolled-up vinyl wargames terrain cloths from Games Workshop (two desert and one green), two large cardboard tubes (one contains rolled-up vinyl chessboards and the other contains rolled-up Chessex gridded games mats), and two large pieces of felt ... one green and one sand-coloured.

I am definitely going to keep some of this stuff ... but the Games Workshop terrain cloths are going to have to go (I'm never likely to use them) as will some of the spare Heroscape terrain. The models are saleable on eBay, but difficult to post, and the vinyl chessboards have served their purpose and I would like to pass them on to someone who will be able to use them. I will take some of the stuff to COW in the hope that one or more of the attendees will find a use for my cast-offs ... and may even be willing to part with some beer-vouchers in exchange! As to the rest ... well that is something that I am going to have to think about.

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Seventy-four years on: D-Day

Seventy-four years ago, Allied forces landed in Normandy, and the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi rule was set in motion.

I was born six years after the landings took place, and I grew up surrounded by people who took part. Most of the veterans are now in their nineties, and each anniversary fewer and fewer of them remain alive.

Next year will see the seventy-fifth anniversary, and one hopes that the present-day governments of the Allied nations will stage commemorative events.

Nugget 309

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N309) from the printer yesterday, and I will be posting it out to members of Wargame Developments later today.

I have already uploaded the PDF version of THE NUGGET to the Wargame Developments website so that it can be read online or downloaded and printed.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth and last issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2017-2018 subscription year.

Details regarding re-subscriptions to Wargame Developments and THE NUGGET will be sent by post in due course.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: The Battle of Isandlwana

Recently Mike Lewis and Anthony Morton staged a re-fight of the Battle of Isandlwana using 54mm-scale figures and my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

To my no doubt biased eyes the results look spectacular, and a full battle report can be found on Mike's blog.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Mike Lewis.

Monday 4 June 2018

Downsizing: A progress report

To date my progress regarding downsizing my various collections has been rather erratic and episodic. I could try to explain this by citing the weather (it has been rather hot on several occasions and working in the converted loft space where my toy/wargames room is located has been unpleasant at times) or a rather active social life (Sue and I have been out a couple of times on days when I could have been sorting stuff out) but the reality is my general reluctance to get rid of anything.

I suspect that this is a trait I share with many other collectors in general and wargamers in particular. We have items in our collections that we no longer need and/or have not used in a long time ... but when we pick them up to decide whether they should be in the 'keep' or 'discard' pile, there is more than a little hesitation in our hearts and in our heads to place them in the latter. In the end we usually end up with three piles: 'keep', 'discard', and 'keep if there is just enough room', with the latter being as big (if not bigger) than the other two.

Despite this, I have made some progress. The books are pretty well sorted, and I have already disposed of some hardback novels to an online second-hand book buyer. The other fiction books and few travelogue and guide books are destined to go to a local charity ship. The rest of the books I am going to get rid of – which are almost exclusively non-fiction military books – are sitting in crates waiting for me to list them.

I have begun work on the wargames collections and have found some terrain items (mainly painted buildings) that I can dispose of, and they will most likely be offered to wargamers I know who might be able to find a use for them. Those that remain will be sold on eBay ... I hope! I have not yet begun to think about my figure collections as I suspect that disposing of any part of them is going to be really difficult.

Sunday 3 June 2018

Warship 2018

Like a lot of people of my age, one of the things that I looked forward to each year were the Annuals that were published in time for Christmas. Even though I am a lot older, there is one annual that I always look forward to reading when it is published ... WARSHIP.

WARSHIP first came out in 1977, and the current issue is the fortieth volume to be published. It was originally a quarterly publication, but after several years it moved over to become an annual.

The current volume contains the following:
  • Editorial
  • Niels Iuel: 'A funny little Danish warship' by Tom Wismann
  • The Battle of the River Plate: A Tactical Analysis by Alan D Zimm
  • Under the Guns: Battle Damage to Graf Spee, 13 December 1939 by William J Jurens
  • The Armoured Cruiser Jeanne d'Arc by Luc Feron and Jean Roche
  • Breaking 'Ultra': The Cryptologic and Intelligence War between Britain and Italy, 1931-1943 by Enrico Cernuschi
  • The IJN Light Cruiser Oyodo by Hans Lengerer
  • Coastal Defence and Coastal Offence: Russian Monitor Designs of the First World War Era by Stephen McLaughlin
  • Modern Naval Replenishment Ships by Conrad Waters
  • Lost in the Fog of War: Royal Navy Cruiser Designs for Trade Protection 1905-1920 by David Murfin
  • Amatsukaze: A Destroyer's Struggle by Michael Williams
  • USS Huntington (ex-West Virginia) by A D Baker III
  • Warship Notes
    • The IJN's 15.5cm Gun & Triple Turret by Hans Lengerer
    • The Sinking of U-56 in 1916: An enduring mystery by Stephen McLaughlin
    • Political nomenclature in the US Navy by Kenneth Fraser
  • Reviews
  • Warship Gallery
    • A series of photographs of former U-boats in Japan during the early 1920s presented by Stephen Dent and Ian Johnston
At first glance this looks as if it is going to be one of the best issues ever, with every single article or section having something that I will enjoy reading and re-reading. In particular, the coverage of the battle damage suffered by Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate is going to be very helpful when it comes to designing wargames, and the article about Russian Monitor designs contains some wonderful 'what if' designs that would be relatively easy to model, and which would – if suitably updated for service in the Soviet Red Fleet – have posed serious problems for the Kriegsmarine during Operation Barbarossa.

An excellent publication ... and I will be ordering next year's issue as soon as I can!

WARSHIP 2018 is edited by John Jordan and published by Osprey Publications (ISBN 978 1 4728 2999 3).

Saturday 2 June 2018

I have been to ... the Royal Hospital Chelsea

Last Thursday – as part of London History Day – the Royal Hospital Chelsea – the home of the famous Chelsea Pensioners – staged a special event that was open to the public. Sue and I booked a place and spent the afternoon there.

Our journey began with a short trip to Woolwich on the local bus. We alighted almost outside the entrance to Woolwich Arsenal Station, and as a mainline train to Cannon Street was just arriving as we reached the platform, we caught it. It took thirty minutes for us to reach the centre of London, and after a short discussion about how to get from Cannon Street to Chelsea, we took a Circle/District Line underground train to Sloane Square, the closest station to the Royal Hospital.

By the time we re-emerged into the daylight at Sloane Street Tube Station, it was lunchtime. As we only wanted a snack lunch, we took a walk along the King's Road to find somewhere to get a drink and a sandwich. After only walking a few hundred yards we came to Partridges in Duke of York Square, a grocers and delicatessens that also has a café.

Although all the outside tables were taken, the inside was fairly empty, so we ate there ... and although it wasn't cheap (which was hardly surprising at we later discovered that Partridge's holds a Royal Warrant and supplies groceries to the Queen!) it was excellent.

It took less than ten minutes to walk from Partridges to the London Gate of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The gatekeeper directed us to a small entrance at the northern end of the East Wing, and after having our tickets checked, we were admitted into the room where Keith Collman's photographs of World War One veterans entitled Great War Portraits were on show.

A selection of photographs and captions from the collection

The room also contained a number of displays that told the stories of Chelsea Pensioners, including one that featured survivors of the Battle of Waterloo ...

... and another that showed a modern Pensioner unveiling a commemorative plaque at Victoria Station.

We then moved into an adjacent room where we were treated to a short introduction to the history of the Royal Hospital that was told to us by a wonderfully charming (and very funny) Pensioner.

At 3.00pm author and illustrator Robin Ollington recounted the stories of some of the forty Chelsea Pensioners has had interviewed over the years for a series of biographical books that he has produced entitled Before they fade. It was supposed to last thirty minutes, but he was so engrossing that the time sped by, and by the time he had finished, over forty-five minutes had passed.

Sue and I then joined a group that were conducted on a short tour of the Chapel and Dining Hall. This was led by the Pensioner who had talked to use earlier and was very informative.

The Chapel

The Dining Room

Once our tour was over, Sue and I made our way back to the London Gate. Along the way we passed one of the 'There but not there' statues that were created to mark the centenary of the First World War ...

... before paying a visit to the Royal Hospital's Old Burial Ground.

The Burial Ground contains many unmarked graves, including one of Sue's ancestors.

Adjoining the Burial Ground is the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary, which was completed in 2009 and that serves as an onsite hospital and care facility for Pensioners.

Lady Thatcher donated £1,000,000 to the fund for its construction (she used to attend the Royal Hospital Chapel every week for the Sunday service after she retired from office) and her ashes and those of her husband – Sir Denis Thatcher Bt. – are buried in the Burial Ground close to the Infirmary ...

... and near a memorial to all the Pensioners who have lived at the Royal Hospital.

Once our visit was over, Sue and I walked back to Partridges for some tea before taking a Circle/District Line underground train from Sloane Square to Tower Hill, where we changed to the Docklands Light Railway. This took us back to Woolwich Arsenal Station, where we took a taxi back to our house. We finally arrived home just before 7.00pm having had a very enjoyable day out.