Monday 31 May 2021

Some more Axis vehicles for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project

Whenever I have had time, I have been working on four more Axis vehicles for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project. These are my scratch-built Sturm-Infanteriegeschütz 33B, a second Steyr 1500A Kommandeurwagen Kfz 21, and two Hungarian 38M Toldi IIa tanks. They are now finished, painted, and based ... and added to the collection.

The Steyr was a ready-built model from Early War Miniatures (EWM) and the Toldis were resin kits bought years ago and fitted with metal guns and mantlets from my spares box.

Sunday 30 May 2021

America's Forgotten Wars: From Lord Dunmore to the Philippines

I already own several of Ian Hernon's books about colonial history, and when I saw that he had recently written a new addition to the series, I had to buy a copy.

The books I already own include:


His latest book is entitled AMERICA'S FORGOTTEN WARS: FROM LORD DUNMORE TO THE PHILIPPINES and covers the period between 1774 and 1902.

It follows a similar pattern to his earlier books, and includes short chapters on each of the following:

  • Lord Dunmore's War (1774) and Native Americans in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
  • Little Turtle's War (1785-1795)
  • Shay's Rebellion (1786-1787) and the Whiskey Rebellion (1791-1794)
  • The Quasi War (1798-1800)
  • The Barbary Wars (1801-1805 and 1815)
  • The German Coast Rebellion (1811)
  • Aegean Sea Anti-piracy Operations (1825-1828)
  • Sumatra Operations (1832 and 1838)
  • The Pork and Beans War (1838-1839) and the Pig War (1859-1872)
  • More Pirates and 'Savages' (1838-1842)
    • The Exploring Expedition (1838-1842)
    • Ivory Coast (1842)
    • Fiji Expedition (1849 and 1859)
  • Cortina Wars, Texas (1859-1861)
  • The Shinmiyangyo Korean Expedition (1871)
  • The Modoc War (1872-1873)
  • The Samoan Crisis (1887-1889)
  • The Spanish-American War (1898)
  • The Philippines War (1899-1902)

I knew a quite a bit about some of the wars covered in the book, I had heard of several that I did not know much about, and there are some that were completely new to me!

From what I have read so far, this is a book that will give Colonial wargamers all sorts of inspiration for odd little campaigns they can fight. In most cases, the armies are small and would not be too dificult to reproduce ... especially if one were to use a suitably adapted version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

AMERICA'S FORGOTTEN WARS: FROM LORD DUNMORE TO THE PHILIPPINES was written by Ian Hernon and published in 2021 by Amberley Publishing (ISBN 978 1 4456 9530 3).

Saturday 29 May 2021

Nugget 336

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET (N336) from the printer earlier today, and I hope to post it out to UK members of Wargame Developments on Tuesday. I have upload it to the Wargame Developments website so that members can download it or read it online.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth (and last) issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2020-2021 subscription year. A re-subscription form/reminder for the 2021-2022 subscription year will be sent out with this issue. 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.

Friday 28 May 2021

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom

I recently sent Ian Dury a number of Peter Laing figures, and in return he sent me several artillery pieces and limbers, mostly from Irregular Miniatures' REALLY USEFUL GUNS range.

These will help fill several gaps in my slow-burn FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME project, especially as I have recently found several painted figures that will form the basis of an additional army to add to this collection.

For those of you who haven't realised, the title for this blog post is the title of Private Baldrick's famous poem entitled THE GERMAN GUNS:

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom
Boom, Boom, Boom
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom
Boom, Boom, Boom

There is some dispute as to whether this is the best poem in his collection of two, the second being entitled UNTITLED SECOND POEM.

Hear the words I sing,
War's a horrid thing,
So I sing sing sing...ding-a-ling-a-ling.

Thursday 27 May 2021

Kharkov, May 1942 – The Last Disaster

Back in June 2018 I wrote a review about Andrew Rolph's BARBAROSSA: KICKING IN THE DOOR. It was an Operation Barbarossa Campaign System that proved very helpful to me when I began looking at developing my own campaign system for the Axis invasion of Soviet Russia.

He has now produced a second book, entitled KHARKOV, MAY 1942 – THE LAST DISASTER, and a couple of days ago he sent me a link so that I could download a free PDF copy. I did so ... and was so impressed that I have now bought a printed edition to add to my bookshelves!

The book follows a similar format to the earlier one, and includes:

  • A brief history of the campaign
  • Background information useful in adapting the system to different sets of rules and suggestions for additional optional rules
  • A comprehensive set of Appendices covering:
    • The Tables of Organisation and Equipment to platoon level for all divisions and regiments involved (around forty regimental sized formations)
    • A record of the At Start forces and reinforcements
    • A chart to track the position and composition of forces on each attack axis
    • 19 colour terrain squares of the battlefields (based on nearly 600 square miles of original 1930s maps) which can be used to generate 570 six feet by four feet tabletops
    • A Campaign Quick Reference Sheet
    • A colour A4 Campaign Map
    • A set of suggestions to convert the system to work with the Portable Wargames rules
Not surprisingly, the last was of particular interest to me, and I am sure that other Portable Wargamers will enjoy reading Andrew's very interesting suggestions.

KHARKOV, MAY 1942 – THE LAST DISASTER is written and published by Andrew Rolph. It is available from the Wargames Vault as a watermarked PDF ($4.99) or as a softback book with coloured illustrations ($10.95) or as a combined purchase of PDF and book (usually $15.94 but currently on sale at the discounted price $10.95).

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Two pandemic-related firsts

On Monday I achieved two pandemic-related firsts. I attended my first Masonic meeting since 24th February 2020 (a mere fourteen months ago!) and travelled public transport ... something I haven’t done since before the pandemic started.

The meeting was held at Wax Chandler’s Hall, Gresham Street, in the City of London. This is the home of one of the City’s Livery Companies, and the meeting was of a Masonic Lodge that was linked with one of the other Livered Companies. The surroundings were magnificent, and it was a great pleasure just to visit the Hall, which has been on the same site since 1501. The original Hall was burned down during the Great Fire of London in 1666, and the current building is the sixth to occupy the site. Its immediate predecessor was almost completely demolished as a result of being hit by a bomb during the London Blitz. The Hall was renovated between 2004 and 2007 and manages to mix modern design with traditional features.

Getting there was easier than I had expected as the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) runs a direct service from Woolwich to Bank, and the walk from Bank to the Hall only took a few minutes. I did get a little lost in Bank station as the route I usually use was blocked off as part of the COVID-19 precautions, but this added just a couple on minutes to my journey. Getting home was much easier (and quicker) and the trains were almost empty.

The meeting was a relatively short but nonetheless interesting one. Besides the normal business of the Lodge, we listened to a short talk about the Masonic symbolism contained within the 3d stamp issued after the end of the Second World War, one of the so-called 'victory stamps'.

The food that we ate after the meeting was excellent ... and there was lots of it! Even better was the company, and despite having to be very careful, it was possible to interact with loads of people that I already knew and to make new acquaintances. In addition, the lecturer agreed to send me the text of his lecture so that I can use it myself in the future.

All in all, it was a great day out, and hopefully the precursor to a return to relative normality.

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Nugget 336

The editor sent me the latest issue of THE NUGGET on Sunday evening, and I sent it to the printer this morning. With luck, it should be printed and available to post out to members of Wargame Developments by next weekend.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth (and last) issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2020-2021 subscription year. A re-subscription form/reminder for the 2021-2022 subscription year will be sent out with this issue. 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 24 May 2021

My contribution to 'The Last Word'

Having mentioned Arthur Harman's contribution to MINIATURE WARGAMES 'The Last Word', I realised that quite a few of my regular blog readers might not have read mine!

Mine was included in the March issue ...

... and looked like this:

The original text read as follows:


By Bob Cordery

I find myself in an unusual position … that of being regarded by many of those in the hobby who know me as being an old wargamer. True, I am now seventy years old, but I do not feel old, and I put a lot of that down to the fact that I am an active wargamer. It keeps my mind alert, even if my body is a little less efficient than it used to be.

I began wargaming (well, playing with toy soldiers) when I was given a fort with a small garrison of Britain’s figures when I was six. Each birthday and Christmas saw a few additional figures added to the collection, but they were bit eclectic, and by the time I went to secondary school in 1961, it included lots of plastic ones from Woolworths and cereal packets.

The arrival of the two-shilling box of Airfix figures changed all that, and each month new figures (as well as aircraft and military vehicles) were bought with my pocket money, and I quickly developed armies of World War II British and Germans as well as Union and Confederate forces. It was the discovery of Donald Featherstone’s WAR GAMES in the local library that turned my ‘pushing the figures around on the carpet’ games into ‘proper’ wargames with rules.

By the time I left school and went to work in 1968, I had acquired copies of both CHARGE! and WAR GAMES, and soon afterwards I visited Marcus Hinton’s shop in Camden Passage, and I bought my first metal figures for the princely sum of one shilling each. From then on wargaming became my main hobby, and I have never looked back.

I am now a silver-haired veteran of well over fifty years of wargaming … and I think that I am incredibly lucky to be living in what I consider to be a golden age for the hobby.

Let me explain why.

I have heard that the hobby is greying, and that it is likely to die in the foreseeable future … and yet I have been hearing the same thing for at least thirty years. It has changed and evolved, but it has done so to meet the needs of the time, and in my opinion, it will continue to do so. It is oldies like me that should be saying ‘things are much better now than they have every been’ … because they are!

For example, when I started out the number on wargame magazines that I could buy in the UK totalled one, the good old Wargamer’s Newsletter. It was published by Donald Featherstone and later by Tradition, and it was our main means of communicating new ideas and products within the hobby. Nowadays, if I want to know the colour of the cuff of the Morschauserland Light Infantry in 1887, I can go on numerous internet forums and get an answer in a matter of minutes, whereas back then I would have to send a letter to the editor, wait for him to publish it, and then wait for an answer to be printed in the next issue … if I was lucky!

Back in 1968 I could buy metal figures from the small number of manufacturers, but nowadays I can buy any number of different figures in a multitude of scales. I am spoilt for choice … and yet I still hear people complaining that they cannot get the exact figure that they are looking for.

The cost of the hobby has also changed, and in my opinion, it is for the better. When I bought my first metal figures from Marcus Hinton, they cost me one shilling each, which was the equivalent of 1/13,000th of my annual salary of £650 … which was more than the average wage for an eighteen-year-old in 1968. The equivalent size of figure nowadays is about 66p each, and if this represented that faction of a modern salary, I would be earning £8,580 per year, which is about half the current average yearly income of a working eighteen-year-old.

Yes, I am silver-haired in a golden age … and I am loving it!

I wrote this after having read a number of online complaints from wargamers about lack of instant, free access to uniform data and historical information and/or that they felt that most manufacturers were overcharging for the figures they produced.

I wonder how many of my regular blog readers feels the same as I do?

Sunday 23 May 2021

I have been to ... Tiverton ... again!

The last time Sue and I visited Tiverton I had the phone call from the hospital that informed me that they had found cancerous cells in my colon. I was determined that once I was declared cancer free, I would return to Tiverton again. The restrictions imposed by the government meant that we could not go to one of the apartments or houses at Tiverton Castle until 17th May, but we decided to go as soon as the ban was lifted ... so at 10.30am on 17th May, we had packed our luggage in our car and were on our way to Tiverton!

Monday 17th May: Getting there

Our journey to Tiverton took far longer than expected. Google Maps predicted that the journey using the M25, M3, and A303 would take 3 hours and 30 minutes, and the in-car satnav suggested that it would take slightly longer. In fact, it took nearly 6 hours and 30 minutes ... mainly due to very heavy traffic on the A303.

We tried to stop for a break not far from Yeovilton, but the first place we stopped was so crowded that we drove on to Podimore Services. We were able to eat the rolls we had brought with us from home and to take a comfort break. Suitably refreshed, we then drove across country to join the M5 near Taunton, and by just before 5.00pm we had parked outside Castle Lodge, Tiverton Castle, and the castle’s owner had handed over the keys to the house.

At 7.30pm we set off into the centre of Tiverton to find a restaurant where we could eat dinner. Luckily, Branzino (an Italian restaurant we had used before) was open, and Sue and I ate a very filling meal of pizza (Sue) and spaghetti bolognese (me). We returned home and watched TV for an hour or so before going to bed.

Tuesday 18th May: Tiverton and Barnstaple

We both work up at about 8.00am, and after breakfast Sue and I set off for the centre of Tiverton. After a quick look around the Pannier Market, ...

... we did some shopping ... just as the rain began to fall.

We had hoped that the rain wouldn’t last long ... but it did ... and it was torrential.

In the end, we made a mad dash for home in the hope that we would not get too wet.

In fact, we did get soaked and after drying off, we each had a hot drink and discussed what to do for the rest of the day. By just after 1.00pm, the rain had stopped, and after a short discussion we decided to drive to Barnstaple. The journey took just under 45 minutes, and after parking in the multi-storey car park at the Green Lanes Shopping Mall, Sue and I went for a walk around the centre of Barnstaple. We ate lunch in Costa Coffee and did some very successful shopping in a number of stores, including The Works, WHSmith, TKMaxx, and Rieker.

We were back home not long after 4.30pm and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and resting. Sue and I had intended to go out to eat dinner, but by 7.00pm the rain had returned, and after a short discussion we drove to the nearby branch of Marks & Spencer Simply Food to buy something to eat. This took us about 30 minutes, and by the time we had cooked and eaten what we had bought, it was just after 8.00pm.

We spent the rest of the evening resting, reading, and watching TV.

Wednesday 19th May: Tiverton Castle and Congresbury

After a very restful night's sleep (the quarterly chimes of the clock on St Peter's Church, which is next door to the castle, did not disturb us at all!), ...

... we had a leisurely breakfast before the owner of Tiverton Castle took us on a conducted tour of the castle.

We started outside in the ruined Solar Tower, which was used as the main living area of the castle when it was first built.

The tour then looked at the only remaining part of the original castle wall (which is in need of repair) ...

... and the modern road into the castle, which runs along the site of the original wet moat. (Castle Lodge can be seen in the centre background.)

Our tour then took us inside the main courtyard and into the round tower.

The stairs inside were very steep, but the tower did give an interesting view of the castle's main gate.

Returning downstairs, we entered the main part of what remains of the old castle, and passed through a storeroom that contains, amongst other things, a portrait of one the Courtney family, who owned the castle during the Tudor era.

(The portrait is of Edward Courtney. After his father was implicated in a plot against Henry VIII, Edward, who was twelve years old at the time, was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and only released in 1553 by Queen Mary. He was romantically linked with the young Princess Elizabeth, and when he was suspected of being involved in a plot against Queen Mary, he was imprisoned for a second time in the Tower. He was eventually banished and died in Padua in 1556.)

Another flight of stairs took us into the long gallery, which is full of items relating to the English Civil War ...

... as does the small room that we visited next.

The final part of our tour took us into the Napoleon Room.

The current owner's family connection to Napoleon is Major General Sir Neil Campbell CB, who was in charge of escorting Napoleon to Elba and then overseeing his exile there. Sir Neil was absent due to ill health at the time that Napoleon set sail from Elba for France. After an enquiry, into the matter he was exonerated.

His career as a soldier took him to the Caribbean, where he saw active service on the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jamaica, Martinique, Iles des Saintes, and Guadeloupe. In 1811 he was seconded as a Colonel to the Portuguese Army, and in 1813 he was a military attaché to the Russian Army. He took part in the Battle of Fère-Champenoise, where he was wounded by a Cossack who mistook him for a French officer. In 1813 he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and was subsequently knighted in 1815.

Sir Neil took part in the Waterloo Campaign and later commanded some of the British troops who occupied France until 1818. In 1825 he became Governor of Sierra Leone, where he died in 1827 of disease.

Once our tour was over, we got ready to drive to Congresbury, Somerset, where we were going to have lunch with two old friends and neighbours who had recently moved there. We ate lunch in the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill which is situated in the Doubletree at Hilton, Cadbury House, Congresbury, and then paid a visit to our friends' new house.

We returned to Tiverton Castle during the early evening and spent the time until we went to bed reading, resting, eating a snack supper, and watching TV.

Thursday 20th May: Tiverton and Exmouth

We both slept well, and took our time getting ready to go out. It was raining quite heavily, and we did not leave Castle Lodge until 11.00am.

It was probably a good thing that we were walking into Tiverton, as someone had parked their car so that we could not get our car out!

We discovered later that this is quite common, as there is a doctor's surgery on the opposite side of the road, and locals often park illegally 'for just a minute or two'.

Sue and I walked down into Tiverton, and across the bridge over the river ...

... and then on the Heathcoat's Fabrics.

They are a long-established firm that specialises in producing fabrics for all sort of uses, including the material used for the parachute fitted to the recent NASA Mars Lander.

Sue spent some time in the retail shop and left with a very interesting selection of material that she intends to use to make a dress.

We walked back to the castle through the rain, and after dropping our bags off and having a quick drink, we drove to Exmouth to have lunch. The journey took us about 50 minutes, and we parked in a small seafront car park.

Because of the inclement weather and high winds, the sea was very rough, and the beach was almost deserted.

We ate lunch in 'The Pavillion', ...

... and then drove into the centre of town for a walk around. Despite visiting several shops, we bought absolutely nothing, and by just before 5.00pm we had driven back to the castle ... only to find that another local had parked so that the gate was pretty well blocked!

I managed to negotiate my car through the gap they had left, whilst they continued to sit there and read their newspaper!

The weather improved somewhat, and at 7.30pm, Sue and I went to the 'Tiverton Steak House' for dinner. We have eaten there several times before, and as usual the food and service were excellent. We were back home by just after 9.30pm, and after watching some TV, we did some packing and went to bed.

Friday 21st May: Home again ... eventually!

If Sue and I thought that the drive to Tiverton had been difficult, then the drive home was worse!

We handed back Castle Lodge to the owner's wife at 10.00am, and after a visit to the local branch of Morrison's supermarket for a cooked breakfast and to fill up with petrol, we set off for home just before 11.00am ... and arrived home at 6.00pm!

A combination of heavy rain, high winds, roadworks, and a higher than usual level of traffic flow meant that our journey lasted nearly 7 hours. (We stopped for a 15-minute-long comfort break about halfway through the drive back.) The final icing on the cake was a traffic jam on the M25 caused by the Dartford Bridge being closed due to high winds. This caused a massive tailback, which we tried to avoid. Unfortunately, when the Dartford Crossing experiences holdups, so do all the roads feeding it and the M25, and it seemed to us that almost the entire road network in South East London was gridlocked. We did find a way through using local roads, but each junction was blocked by waiting traffic.

We arrived home very tired, very hungry, and very frustrated. We spent the evening trying to recover, had an early night, and both slept like logs!