Wednesday 31 March 2021

The Widow at Windsor: The Colonial wargamer's poem?

This evening I am giving an online talk to the Bristol Masonic Society entitled RUDYARD KIPLING: MASON AND POET. I have done this talk many times before, but never online, so I had to prepare a PowerPoint presentation to go with my talk ... and whilst doing so I re-read for the umpteenth time his poem THE WIDOW AND WINDSOR.

I have shared this poem online before, but as I was reading it, it struck me that this was probably what I think of as the archetypal Colonial wargamer's poem ... so here it is again!


'Ave you 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor
With a hairy gold crown on 'er 'ead?
She 'as ships on the foam
– she 'as millions at 'ome,
An' she pays us poor beggars in red.
(Ow, poor beggars in red!)

There's 'er nick on the cavalry 'orses,
There's 'er mark on the medical stores
– An' 'er troopers you'll find
with a fair wind be'ind
That takes us to various wars.
(Poor beggars! – barbarous wars!)

Then 'ere's to the Widow at Windsor
An' 'ere's to the stores an' the guns,
The men an' the 'orses
what makes up the forces
O' Missis Victorier's sons.
(Poor beggars! Victorier's sons!)

Walk wide o' the Widow at Windsor,
For 'alf o' Creation she owns:
We 'ave bought 'er the same
with the sword an' the flame,
An' we've salted it down with our bones.
(Poor beggars! – it's blue with our bones!)

Hands off o' the sons o' the Widow,
Hands off o' the goods in 'er shop,
For the Kings must come down
an' the Emperors frown
When the Widow at Windsor says "Stop"!
(Poor beggars! – we're sent to say "Stop"!)

Then 'ere's to the Lodge o' the Widow,
From the Pole to the Tropics it runs
– To the Lodge that we tile
with the rank an' the file,
An' open in form with the guns.
(Poor beggars! – it's always they guns!)

We 'ave 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor,
It's safest to let 'er alone:
For 'er sentries we stand
by the sea an' the land
Wherever the bugles are blown.
(Poor beggars! – an' don't we get blown!)

Take 'old o' the Wings o' the Mornin',
An' flop round the earth till you're dead;
But you won't get away
from the tune that they play
To the bloomin' old rag over'ead.
(Poor beggars! – it's 'ot over'ead!)

Then 'ere's to the sons o' the Widow,
Wherever, 'owever they roam.
'Ere's all they desire,
an' if they require
A speedy return to their 'ome.
(Poor beggars! – they'll never see 'ome!)

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Reinforcement for my Funny Little Wars/Portable Wargame Army Khaki

In between session setting up my new PC, I managed to add some more figures to my ARMY KHAKI.

I have added:

  • Two Commanders (on foot) (6 SP each)
  • Two Reserve Infantry Battalions (Reserve, 4 SPs each)
  • One Machine Gun Company (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • One Engineer Half-battalion (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • One Field Artillery Battery (Regular, 2 SPs)

My ARMY KHAKI now has the following strength:

  • Commanders (One on horseback and two on foot) (Commanders: 6 SPs each)
  • Infantry comprising:
    • Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • Reserve Infantry Battalion (Reserve, 4 SPs)
    • Reserve Infantry Battalion (Reserve, 4 SPs)
    • Regular Machine Gun Company (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Cavalry comprising:
    • Regular Light Cavalry Regiment (Regular, 3 SPs)
    • Regular Lancer Regiment (Regular, 3 SPs)
  • Artillery
    • Field Artillery Battery (Regular, 2 SPs)
    • Field Artillery Battery (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Engineers
    • Engineers Half-battalion (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Train
    • Supply Column (Regular, 1 SP)
    • Supply Column (Regular, 1 SP)
  • Total Strength Points = 54 SPs
  • Exhaustion Point reached after the loss of 18 SPs

This means that I can field two small armies or one large army for PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME battles, and although I would like to add some more units in due course, my next step is to organise some potential opposition for them.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Up and running ...

After what has seemed like a long time (it’s actually only been four days), I’ve finally got my new PC set up, the programs I use installed, and all the files transferred from the older PC to the new one.

I decided not to rush the process of setting up my new PC ... and I encountered very few problems along the way. I now have a PC that works much, much faster than the previous one, and a screen that will make desktop publishing even easier.

Now that the PC is up and running, I have one or two projects that I hope will come to fruition later this year ... but I’ll write more about that over the coming months.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

A ‘new’ PC

My current PC is showing its age (it is approximately six years old and originally used the Windows 8 operating system), and I am beginning to get fed up with how slow it has become. Each new Windows 10 upgrade seems to be making it work even slower, and after trawling around the Internet, I have bought a reconditioned PC that comes with a 21.5” flatscreen monitor and wireless keyboard and mouse.

I expect that it will take me some time to set up the new PC. In the past I would have tried to do this as quickly as possible so that I could crack on with any current projects, but as I have plenty of time on my hands, I don’t need to rush ... and so I’m going to take as long as it takes.

As a result, I may not be posting very much on my blog for the next few days. Rest assured, once the new PC is up and running, normal service will resume.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Nugget 334

The editor sent me the latest issue of THE NUGGET on Saturday, and I have uploaded the PDF version to the Wargame Developments website. It can be downloaded and read online using the password that was sent to all members when they resubscribed.

This issue will only be available as a download until the current lockdown has eased. At that point a printed copy will be produced and sent out to full members. In the interim, a copy of the PDF version has been sent as an email attachment to all members.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the seventh issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2020-2021 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Monday 22 March 2021

Using up the odds and ends

One byproduct of my recent FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME project has been the opportunity to use various odds and ends of figures to create units that I will be able to use in games. For example, my ARMY KHAKI currently comprises figures that I had painted years ago for a project that never came to fruition. They are about to be reinforced by some more painted figures that were bought second-hand because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Looking through my storage boxes, I’ve found some painted American Civil War Union Infantry that will - with a few minor modifications - be suitable for inclusion in an army where blue jackets are worn ... such as the Greek Army at the end of the nineteenth century. I have also found a number of painted World War I US Army figures as well as some Prussian/Imperial German infantry ... including a number of Landwehr. There are certainly enough of these figures to provide the basis for two more FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME armies, although the absence of suitable cavalry and artillery figures is something that I might need to address.

Friday 19 March 2021

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 179

The Victorian Military Society has recently published the latest issue of its journal, and a copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen) arrived in the post a couple of days ago.

This was a double-sized issue, and the reason for this was explained by in the magazine's editorial. Due to the impact of COVID-19, it had not been possible to publish the issue that was due three months ago, and so it had been decided to make this one twice the normal size. Furthermore, the Victorian Military Society has decided that henceforth the magazine will only be published three times each year rather than the current four times, but that to compensate, one issue each year will be a double-sized issue.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • Before the Eagles Fell: Foreign sovereigns as British regimental colonels-in-chief before 1914 by Dr Andrew Winrow
  • Wireless goes to War: The use of wireless communications in the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 by Dr Brian Austin
  • Delhi, May 1857: Echoes of murderous mutineers and miraculous escapes by Dr Harold E Raugh Jr.
  • Researching Trooper Tommy Atkins by Geoffrey A Pocock
  • Field Marshal Lord Raglan: His final illness and unanticipated demise by Dr Mike Hinton
  • Book Reviews by Dr Rodney Atwood and Andrew Smith
  • Officers of the Victorian Military Society

This was another excellent issue, and yet again the Victorian Military Society is to be commended for managing to publish and distribute its journal whilst the impact of the current pandemic is still affecting everyday life.

Thursday 18 March 2021

The First Blacklands War

Many years ago, I took part in the Madasahatta Campaign. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the range of hardware and software that is readily available nowadays, and as a result, the records of the campaign are rather sparse.

The same cannot be said to be true of Archduke Piccolo’s FIRST BLACKLANDS WAR, which he has been fighting since August last year. He has been regularly publishing blog posts about the progress of the campaign, and a few days ago he wrote the last one.

The military situation at the start of the First Blacklands War.

The full list of his blog posts are as follows:

This was a truly epic campaign that combined both land and naval action, and one that I think is worth great recognition within wargaming because it shows that it is possible to fight a campaign from start to finish without interest waning as it progresses. The blog posts also make for great reading, and a find it difficult to think that all but a few wargamers would not be inspired by reading all of the above!

The fact that Archduke Piccolo used an old map of mine as well as his own version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules is purely incidental to my admiration for Archduke Piccolo's FIRST BLACKLANDS WAR campaign, and rather like Thislebarrow's ongoing series of Napoleonic campaigns, it shows just what is achievable if one puts ones mind to it.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Yet another Funny Little Wars/Portable Wargame army: Army Khaki

In LITTLE CAMPAIGNS: RULES FOR THE CONDUCT OF WAR GAME CAMPAIGNS IN MINIATURE​ there is an army list for ARMY KHAKI ... which is intended to represent the pre-First World War Turkish Army.

Its ORBAT in the book is as follows:

  • Divisional Staff Group (Commander: 6 SPs)
  • ARMY BLACK advisors (?)
  • An Infantry Brigade comprising:
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • Machine Gun Company (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • A Cavalry Brigade comprising:
    • A Regular Light Cavalry Regiment (Regular, 3 SPs)
    • Horse Artillery (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Field Artillery OR Fortress Artillery (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Engineers (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Train (Regular, 1 SP)
  • Total Strength Points = 34 SPs
  • Exhaustion Point reached after the loss of 12 SPs

The uniform worn by the Turks in 1913 was khaki in colour and very similar in style to that worn by almost every European army. The main exception was the headgear, which was called a Kabalak or Enveriye. It was a cane frame with two lengths of cloth wrapped about it to form a cloth helmet which from a distance resembled the shape of a British Army Colonial pattern helmet.

Turkish infantry in the uniform introduced in 1913.

As I had some painted but unbased British 15mm-scale figures in Colonial pattern helmets to hand, I decided to 'paint-convert' them into Turks (or ARMY KHAKI) figures by the simple expedient of painting their helmets khaki.

I was rather pleased with the end result, and they have now been varnished and based, and look like this:

The ORBAT is not quite the same as the one shown above, and currently stands as follows:

  • Divisional Staff Group (Commander: 6 SPs)
  • An Infantry Brigade comprising:
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
  • A Cavalry Brigade comprising:
    • A Regular Light Cavalry Regiment (Regular, 3 SPs)
    • A Regular Lancer Regiment (Regular, 3 SPs)
  • Field Artillery (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Train (Regular, 2 SP)
  • Total Strength Points = 28 SPs
  • Exhaustion Point reached after the loss of 10 SPs

Since completing this small army, I have found some other British Colonial figures that might also be suitable for 'paint-conversion' into ARMY KHAKI figures. There seem to be enough to expand my existing force by about 40%, and I hope to renovate, varnish, and base them at some point over the next week.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Spanish Civil War wargames rules: For Whom The Dice Rolls

First, a caveat. I have known the author of theses rules for many years, and we have wargamed together on many occasions. When he first became interested in the Spanish Civil War, I encouraged him to pursue this interest, and even gave him some of the relevant books in my collection when I downsized it some time ago. I will therefore own up to a degree of conscious and unconscious bias in the following review. However, it must be said that the rules he has written are all his own work, and owe nothing to my input other than encouragement.

FOR WHOM THE DICE ROLLS are intended for players who want to fight brigade or divisional-level action of a tabletop. They were designed to be used with 15mm figures and models, but will easily be used with larger or smaller scale figures with little or no adjustment.

The rule book is split into a number of sections and subsections. These include:

  • Introduction
  • The Basics
    • What you will need
    • Playing area
  • Troop Classifications
    • Training
    • Motivation
    • Troop type
    • Will to Combat
  • Army Effectiveness
  • Weaponry
    • Infantry Weapons
    • Artillery
    • Armoured Vehicles
    • Aircraft
  • Figures, Scales & Formations
  • Basing Figures and Vehicles
    • Aircraft
    • Scales
    • Unit Sizes
    • Higher Level Formations
    • Table Top Formations
  • Command and Control
    • Command Cards
  • Turn Sequence
  • Movement
    • Unit Movement
    • Movement Increments
    • Multiple Moves
    • Wheeling & Facing
    • Troops in Vehicles
    • Close Assault
    • Interpenetration
    • Terrain
  • Ranged Combat
    • Bombardment
    • Armour Combat
    • Combined Infantry and Armour Attacks
  • Close Assaults
    • Close Assault Procedure
    • Resolving Close Assaults
    • Close Combat Example
  • Morale
  • Off Table Assets
    • Determining Off Table Assets
    • Playing Off Table Assets
    • Ani-Aircraft Fire
  • Unit Organisations
    • Peninsula Army
      • Infantry Regiment
      • Cavalry Regiment
      • Artillery Regiment(Light or Heavy)
    • Army of Africa
      • Foreign Legion Infantry Tercio
      • Moroccan Infantry (Regulares) Grupo
      • Artillery Brigade
    • Police
      • Civil Guard Tercio
      • Assault Guard Group
    • Political Party and Trade Union Forces and Militias
      • Pro-Republic/Anti-Fascist
        • Militia
        • Anarchist Militia
      • Pro-Nationalist/Anti-Communist
        • Carlist Requetes
        • Falange
    • Nationalist Regular Army
      • Infantry Brigade
      • Cavalry Regiment
      • Artillery Regiment (Light or Heavy)
    • Republican People's Army/Popular Army
      • Infantry Mixed Brigade
      • Cavalry Regiment
      • International Brigade
    • Armour Formations
      • Popular Army Armoured Battalion
      • Regular Army Armoured Battalion
      • Legion Armoured Bandera
    • Corpo Truppo Voluntarie (CTV)
      • Infantry Regiment
      • Artillery Regiment
      • Tank Battalion
    • Euzko Gudarostea (Basque Army)
      • Infantry Battalion
  • Higher Level Organisation
    • Legion Column - November 1936
    • Nationalist Column - Summer/Autumn 1936
    • Republican Column - Summer/Autumn 1936
    • Republican Militia Columns - Summer/Autumn 1936
    • Republican Mixed Brigade - October 1936 onwards
    • Nationalist Division - Late 1936 onwards
    • Nationalist Brigade - Basque Campaign Spring 1937
    • CTV Littorio Division - Guadalajara March 1937
  • Resources
    • Bibliography
    • Figures
  • Alphabet Soup
  • And Finally

The back cover of the rule book has a QRS (Quick Reference Sheet) for the rules, ...

... and the book is illustrated with very useful and informative colour photographs.

Some notes about the rules:

  1. The ability of troops to perform the tasks they are ordered to undertake depends upon their classification and effectiveness. For example, experienced and fanatical troops such as the Foreign Legion will have a higher Will to Combat than committed but untrained Socialist Militia.
  2. An army's effectiveness depends the units it comprises, and this will influence whether or not it has the initiative at the beginning of a turn, how many Command Cards it receives, and how may cards it may play before passing play over to its opponent.
  3. The ground scale is approximately 1:2400 (6" represents about 400 yards) and a pair of figure bases represent an Infantry Company or Cavalry Squadron. A single base represents two Artillery Platoons or an Armoured Squadron.
  4. The Command and Control rules use a full deck of conventional playing cards (fifty-two cards divided into four suits [Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades] plus two Jokers) and these are used to activate units. Interestingly, it is possible to get a more Spanish 'flavour' by using a set of Spanish playing cards (forty-eight cards divided into four suits [Swords, Cups, Coins, and Clubs]).
  5. The rules reflect the fact that the fighting during the Spanish Civil War was very much a contest between opposing armies whose fighting strength was based around the quality and quantity of the Infantry and Artillery that were available. Armoured troops and aircraft played their part, sometimes decisively, but they did not dominate the fighting. Tanks often outran their accompanying infantry, and air attacks were regularly less effective than hoped due to inaccuracy and poor communication.
I thoroughly recommend these rules to anyone who already fights Spanish Civil War brigade and division-level tabletop battles or who is thinking of doing so. They are not a 'World War II-lite' set of rules nor an adaption of an existing set of rules to suit them for the Spanish Civil War; they have been written from scratch with the type of fighting that took place during the war at the forefront of their design.

FOR WHOM THE DICE ROLLS was written by Graham Evans (AKA Trebian) and published in 2020 by Wargaming for Grown Ups Publications (ISBN 979 8 566468 72 3). It is available from Amazon for £14.99.

Sunday 14 March 2021

COW2012: Update

COW2021 2nd to 4th July 2021

In anticipation that Stage 3 of the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions will come into operation on 17th May, we have begun the process of planning for COW2021.

At present, the situation regarding what restrictions might be in place when Knuston Hall reopens is unclear, but rather than wait until 17th May to begin preparations for the conference, we are starting now. With this in mind, we would like to make the parameters we are working to as clear as possible.

  • All those who paid in full for COW2020 have had their bookings carried forward to COW2021. If you fall into this category, you do not need to book a place at COW2021 but it would be helpful if you could confirm that you still wish to attend by emailing Bob Cordery (using the email address on the back page of Nugget). If you wish to cancel your booking, please do so as soon as possible, again by emailing Bob and any money you have paid will be refunded to you.
  • It is not possible at present to take any further bookings for COW2021.
  • If you wish to offer a session for inclusion in the COW2021 programme, please could you contact Tim Gow (again, contact details are in Nugget) as soon as possible? He can then begin to plan the conference programme in anticipation that COW2021 will take place.
  • Any arrangements that we make will need to be flexible and may be subject to change at short notice. We have no control over the restrictions that Knuston Hall may need to operate under when they reopen, but rest assured that we will do our utmost to regularly update attendees.

Bob Cordery and Tim Gow

COW Co-ordinators

Saturday 13 March 2021

Futile Exercise? I don’t think so!

When I ordered my copy of REPORT ON FOREIGN MANOEUVRES IN 1912, I also purchased a copy of Simon Batten's FUTILE EXERCISE?: THE BRITISH ARMY'S PREPARATIONS FOR WAR 1902-1914. This examines the various British Army manoeuvres conducted between the end of the Boer War and the outbreak of the Great War, a period that saw the lessons of the former impact upon the training and deployment of the army, as well as the rise to the top of their profession of many of the men who would later command the British Army during the Great War.

The book contains the following sections and chapters:

  • Foreword (by Dr Spencer Jones of the Department of War Studies, University of Wolverhampton)
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1. The British Army and Manoeuvres
  • 2. Invading Essex: The 1904 Manoeuvres
  • 3. Manoeuvres 1904-1912
  • 4. Haig v Grierson: The 1912 Manoeuvres
  • 5. The 1913 Exercise
  • 6. Foreign Manoeuvres, Foreign Wars
  • 7. 1914: The B.E.F. goes to war
  • 8. Conclusion
  • Appendix: Order of Battle for the 1912 Army Manoeuvres
  • Bibliography

The Military Manoeuvres Act of 1897 and the purchase of large tracts of land (40,000 acres in 1897 and a total of 42,000 acres by 1900) on Salisbury Plain enabled the British Army to do something that it had previously only be able to do rarely; namely, to regularly deploy and train larger formations of troops than had hitherto been possible, not just in the area around Aldershot, but across the country.

The week-long 1898 manoeuvres saw two Army Corps (each comprising three infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade, and respectively led by Sir Redvers Buller [Blue] and the Duke of Connaught [Red]) fighting it out on Salisbury Plain. Sir Redvers Buller's Corps was beaten ... something that did not bode well when the Second Boer War broke out in October of the following year.

The Second Boer War threw up a number of lessons that the British Army had to address, and there were attempts to widen the scope and area over which the manoeuvres took place.

  • 1903: The manoeuvres covered not only Salisbury Plain but also parts of Hampshire, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.
  • 1904: Concerns were expressed that the area normally used for the manoeuvres (Salisbury Plain and the surrounding counties) was not typical of the terrain over which any counter-invasion fighting might take place (e.g. the Essex coast and countryside). This concern may well have arisen because of the publication of Erskine Childer's THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS in 1903. As a result, the 1904 Army Manoeuvres saw an 'invasion' of Essex between Clacton and Holland-on-Sea being countered by a smaller body of defenders.
  • 1905, 1906, and 1907: These manoeuvres took place on Salisbury Plain as well as parts of Wiltshire and the West Country.
  • 1908: These manoeuvres took place in area centred on Hampshire.
  • 1909: These manoeuvres took place in the areas around Cheltenham, Swindon, and Oxford.
  • 1910 and 1911: These manoeuvres were planned to take place on Salisbury Plain as well as parts of Wiltshire and the West Country, but they were cancelled in 1911 due to a national drought.
  • 1912: These manoeuvres revisited the invasion scenario of 1904, with a notional invasion having taken place between Hunstanton and Well-next-the-sea. Red Army (the attackers) were led by General Haig whilst the defenders (Blue Army) was under concentrated around Cambridge and under the command of General Grierson. Red Army's objective was London, and both sides were given biplanes and dirigibles to use for reconnaissance.
  • 1913: These manoeuvres were officially termed an exercise, as the troops involved followed a specific movement plan and timetable that was intended to lead to a pre-arranged result. It involved a larger force (Brown, led by Sir John French) pursuing a much smaller force (White, commanded by Major General Monro), and took place in an area that included Buckinghamshire and South Northamptonshire. Unlike previous annual manoeuvres, which were 'designed to test the capabilities of Commanders and Staffs opposed to one another', this exercise was conducted to assess the working of GHQ and the Army Headquarters.
  • 1914: Cancelled due to the outbreak of the Great War.

When reading this book, one is conscious of the fact that it spans a period between two wars, and that these manoeuvres were intended to ensure that the lessons of the first of those wars (the Second Boer War) were embedded into the way the British Army would perform in the next war (the Great War). They also showed how the changing situation on the continent was incorporated into the Army's thinking and training, and that the threat of invasion was taken seriously.

FUTILE EXERCISE?: THE BRITISH ARMY'S PREPARATIONS FOR WAR 1902-1914 was written by Simon Batten and published in 2018 by Helion & Company (ISBN 978 1 911512 85 1).

Thursday 11 March 2021

Another version of the Snakes & Ladders Campaign system

In response to my recent blog post about the Snakes & Ladders Campaign system, Peter (who is one of my regular blog readers) pointed me at Jozi’s Tin Man blog because it recently described a version of the Snakes & Ladder Campaign system that has been adapted to fight an anti-slavery campaign set in Africa.


... and a briefing document and set of campaign rules.

I love the way that he has adapted the Snakes & Ladders Campaign matrix to look like a map, and the whole setup looks as if it would be very suitable for a short solo or face-to-face mini-campaign.

Please note that the map featured above is © Jozi’s Tin Man blog.

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Armies of the World 1854-1914

Whilst I was reading REPORT ON FOREIGN MANOEUVRES 1912, I was reminded of a book I bought many years ago, David Woodward’s ARMIES OF THE WORLD 1854-1914.

The book starts with a brief military history of the period between the Crimean War and the start of the Great War, followed by chapters that deal with the main armies of the World:

  • Introduction
  • Conscript Armies of Europe
    • Prussia & Germany
    • France
    • Austria-Hungary
    • Russia
    • Turkey
    • Italy
  • Volunteer Armies
    • United Kingdom
    • India
    • United States
  • Armies of the Far East
    • Japan
    • China
  • The deterrent that works: Switzerland
  • The view from 1899

Each national section comprises a general history of each nation's army followed by short sections that cover the following:

  • History and traditions
  • Strength*
  • System of recruiting*
  • Terms of service*
  • Officers*
  • Organization
  • Infantry#
  • Cavalry#
  • Artillery#
  • Engineers#
  • Reserves and Territorial army (France only)
  • Landwehr and Landsturm (Austria-Hungary only)
  • Cossacks (Russia only)
  • Mobile militia and Territorial militia (Italy only)
  • Militia and Volunteers (United Kingdom only)
  • Army service corps (Switzerland only)

* These are not covered in the chapter about China.

# These are not covered in the chapters about India, the United States, Japan, and China.

ARMIES OF THE WORLD 1854-1914 was written by David Woodward and published in 1978 by Sidgwick & Jackson.

Monday 8 March 2021

Snakes & Ladders Campaign system

Back in August 2019, I looked at a variety of different ways to create a simple campaign system. One of the ideas I looked at was using existing games as a starting point, and I mentioned Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, ...

... and Monopoly as possible examples that I could adapt. In the end I opted for something different (see here, here, and here), and this formed the basis of the system outlined in THE PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME. It also led to the development of my terrain generator (see here and here), which was also featured in THE PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME.

Interestingly, one of my regular blog readers (Peter of Grid based wargaming - but not always) did take one of my rejected examples (Snakes & Ladders) and did turn it into an elegant, workable, and fundamentally simple campaign system.

Since then, Steven Thomas of Steven's Balagan has produced a version for his 'Tilly's Very Bad Day' campaign, ...

... as well as a 'Crossfire' campaign, ...

... whilst Steven Smith has fought an English Civil War campaign using his version (and produced an interesting YouTube video that explains how it works), ...

... as did Kaptain Kobold, using an even simpler version.

It looks like I missed a trick by not pursuing my original idea ... so I have copied it and begun designing my own campaign matrix based on these examples! At present it looks like this ...

... but in due course, I hope to add some more detail and information.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Peter of Grid based wargaming - but not always, Steven Thomas, Steven Smith, and Kaptain Kobold.

Sunday 7 March 2021

Another Funny Little Wars/Portable Wargame army: Army Khaki/Red

This army is based on the FUNNY LITTLE WARS ARMY KHAKI (which is itself based on the Ottoman Turkish Army) but using figures painted in Egyptian Army uniforms. As the latter was commanded, administered, and trained by the British, I have termed it ARMY KHAKI/RED.

The resultant army looks like this:

Its ORBAT is as follows:

  • Divisional Staff Group (Commander: 6 SPs)
  • An Infantry Brigade comprising:
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Reserve Infantry Battalion (Reserve, 4 SPs)
    • A Reserve Infantry Battalion (Reserve, 4 SPs)
  • A Cavalry Brigade comprising:
    • A Regular Lancer Regiment (Regular, 3 SPs)
    • A Reserve Lancer Regiment (Reserve, 3 SPs)
  • Machine Gun Company (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Field Artillery (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Supply Column (Regular, 1 SP)
  • Total Strength Points = 33 SPs
  • Exhaustion Point reached after the loss of 11 SPs

I also have four Sudanese Infantry Battalions (all Regular, 4 SPs) that. could be used to reinforce this army or be used as a substitute for one or more of ARMY KHAKI/RED's existing Infantry Battalions.

Saturday 6 March 2021

Report on Foreign Manoeuvres in 1912

Spurred on by the response to my recent blog post about the 1912 British Army manoeuvres, I bought a copy of the reprint of REPORT ON FOREIGN MANOEUVRES IN 1912.

The original was compiled from reports of British army officers who were official observers at various annual army manoeuvres conducted. The nations whose manoeuvres are covered in the book are:

  • Austrian-Hungary
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United States

Each report covers the following topics:

  • Direction of manoeuvres
  • Staff; tactics of the tree arms combined
  • Infantry
  • Cavalry
  • Artillery
  • Engineers; signal services
  • Air service
  • Supply, transport, quarters
  • Medical
  • General impressions

The book is full of very useful details as well as the professional judgements of the observers. Bearing in mind the fact that the book was prepared and distributed less than two years before the outbreak of the Great War, and that it covers the main combatants of that war, it should prove to be a great resource for both serious students of the events leading up to the outbreak of the war as well as wargamers with an eclectic taste in wargames.

REPORT ON FOREIGN MANOEUVRES IN 1912 was originally published in that year by the General Staff, War Office. My copy was published by The Naval & Military Press (ISBN 978 1 847348 45 6).

Thursday 4 March 2021

Wargaming the 1912 British Army Manoeuvres

I recently had an email from Nick Huband, who is an old friend and fellow member of Wargame Developments.

Knowing my interest in Peter Laing Miniatures, he sent me a number of photographs of his two small British armies that he has used to refight the 1912 British Army Manoeuvres. These took place from 15th to 19th September 1912. Blue Army (the defenders) was under the command of General Grierson, and Red Army (the attackers) was commanded by General Haig. Red Army was assumed to be invading England (Blueland) between Hunstanton and Well-next-the-sea, with its objective being London. Blue Army was concentrated around Cambridge, which is where the umpire (General French) was based,

Blue Army comprised:

  • A cavalry division of two scratch cavalry brigades make up of the Household Cavalry, the Royal Scots Greys, some Yeomanry regiments, and several units of cyclists
  • 3rd Infantry Division (from Southern Command)
  • 4th Infantry Division (from Eastern Command and the Territorials)
  • Blue Army’s headquarters staff were drawn from throughout the army, excluding Aldershot Command

Red Army comprised:

  • A cavalry division drawn from Regular Army cavalry regiments
  • 1st Infantry Division (from Aldershot Command)
  • 2nd Infantry Division (from Aldershot Command)
  • Red Army’s headquarters staff was drawn from Aldershot Command

Red Army was expected to beat Blue Army quite easily ... but General Grierson out-performed and out-generalled Haig, mainly because of his superior use of aerial reconnaissance

In the following photographs, Blue Army is wearing manoeuvre bands on their caps except for the umpire on the command stand, who has a white cap cover and brassard. The scale is broadly one stand to a brigade, regiment of artillery, or cyclist battalion.

A brief anecdote

Apparently, two of the official observers (the Canadian and South African Ministers of Defence) came to blows during the manoeuvres, and had to separated by onlookers. Their disagreement arose when the South African (Jan Smuts) said that one of his countrymen could fight better than twenty Britons, to which the Canadian (Sam Hughes) replied that one Canadian could outfight twenty South Africans.

A Canadian officer wrote a detailed report about the manoeuvres, and these have been reproduced on the CANADA AT WAR blog here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Nick Huband.

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Funny Little Wars Army Red and The Portable Wargame

Having very recently finished renovating and basing a batch of 15mm British Colonial figures, I decided to see what a FUNNY LITTLE WARS ARMY RED would look like if I was going to use it with my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

The ORBAT would be:

  • Divisional Staff Group (Commander: 6 SPs)
  • An Infantry Brigade comprising:
    • A Guard Infantry Battalion (Elite, 4 SPs)
    • A Regular Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Regular Light Infantry Battalion (Regular, 4 SPs)
    • A Reserve Infantry Battalion (Reserve, 4 SPs)
  • A Cavalry Brigade comprising:
    • A Heavy/Guard Cavalry Regiment (Elite, 3 SPs)
    • A Yeomanry Cavalry Regiment (Reserve, 3 SPs)
    • Horse Artillery (Elite, 2 SPs)
  • Engineers (Regular, 4 SPs)
  • Field Artillery OR Garrison Artillery (Regular, 2 SPs)
  • Army Service Corps (Regular, 1 SP)
  • Total Strength Points = 37 SPs
  • Exhaustion Point reached after the loss of 13 SPs

I first set up a FUNNY LITTLE WARS ARMY RED to use with my 'The Widow at Windsor' Colonial wargame rules. It looked like this:

I then set up one to use with my 'The Gatling's jammed ...' simple Colonial wargame rules, and it looked like this:

I can see both giving players an interesting game, but feel that the inclusion of the Horse Artillery might just make the smaller army a bit too powerful, and if it were removed, the resultant army would be more balanced.

My feeling is to 'go' with the first and larger of the two armies. After all, I can always split it is two and fight one half against the other if ARMY RED ever wants to conduct manoeuvres!

'The Widow at Windsor' and 'The Gatling's jammed ...' simple Colonial rules were published in THE PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME in 2020.

Tuesday 2 March 2021

The additional figures for one of my Portable Wargame armies are finished ... at last!

I began work on renovating and basing theses figures nearly two weeks ago, but I finally managed to finish them yesterday.

They will be useful additions to the 15mm British Colonial army in my collection, especially as it currently has no cavalry.

Monday 1 March 2021

Funny Little Wars: An update from Paul Wright

Paul Wright has responded to the emails Tim Gow and I sent him, and has asked me to pass on the following message about the possibility of republishing FUNNY LITTLE WARS et al.

'From PW at FLW

Dearly beloved,

I was delighted to hear from Bob and Tim that there was a desire to see a re-run of FLW. This project has been on hold for a few months due to work and personal commitments; but I will be delighted to get the books back in publication as soon as possible with Bob's expert advice. Tim and I are also looking at a FLW competition when things allow us to escape.

The fellowship that I have enjoyed from the Little Wars world has been wonderful, and it will be excellent to re-engage with you all again soon. The loss of the Yahoo group was a blow, and I am looking at new ways to form our online group again. I am also very grateful to Patrick (Wilson) at TVAG for his continued support.

And although I have been taking a sabbatical of sorts, I have completed the FLW 3 – Inter War (Tankettes) - and it is being play tested. Three small WW1 supplements are also in hand, which cover land/sea/air games.

With very best wishes to you all in these strange days, and please do email me at

As ever,


This is very good news indeed, and I look forward to giving Paul as much assistance as he needs in order to get his books back into print.