Friday, 1 October 2021

The legacy of Paddy Griffith

I can put my hand on my heart and say in all honesty that I would not be the wargamer I am today if I had not met Paddy Griffith.

Paddy's death in June 2010 was a shock, and eleven years on his legacy is only just beginning to be truly understood and his vast contribution to military history and wargaming realised. It is therefore worthy to note that John Curry's 'History of Wargaming' Project has recently published two books that cover just a fraction of Paddy's work.

PADDY GRIFFITH'S WARGAMING OPERATION SEALION: THE GAME THAT LAUNCHED ACADEMIC WARGAMING is an edited compilation of the original briefings etc., that were used in the famous Staff College wargame of Operation Sealion that took place in 1974 and the re-staging of that game (in modified form) at the Wargame Developments Conference of Wargamers in 2008.

Its contents include:

  • Foreword (by Peter Perla)
  • Introduction (by John Curry)
  • Reflections on Wargames in General and Operation Sealion in Particular (by Paddy Griffith)
  • Operation Sealion, the Biggest Non-Battle in History (by Paddy Griffith)
  • Operation Sealion: The Book (by Richard Cox, with footnotes by Paddy Griffith)
  • The Staff College Wargame
    • Introduction
    • Structure of the Game
    • General Scenario
    • Hitler's Invasion Directives
    • Exercise Sealion Participants
    • Rules for Umpires
    • Sample Order Sheet
    • The Weather
    • The Weather Forecast of the South East of England
    • Tie Times September 1940
    • Sun and Moon Times
    • Bomber Command Operations
    • The Battle of Britain Wargame
    • Damage to Targets Outside Fighter Command
    • Order of battle
    • German Invasion Craft
    • Briefings
    • Orders for German Invasion
    • Orders for U-Boats
    • Event Logs
    • In Game News Reports
    • The Result of the Operation Sealion Game
    • Peace Offer
    • An Umpire's Post Game Reflections
    • Characteristics of Royal Navy Ships
    • Characteristics of German Ships
    • Characteristics of Main Aircraft in Operation Sealion
  • The Wargame Developments Game at the Conference of Wargamers (2008) (by John Curry et al)
  • Requirements for a Successful Operation Sealion (by John Curry)
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Appendix: Paddy Griffith's Debrief Notes on the Sealion Game at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford

A number of people who would have participated in the actual operation were involved in Paddy's wargame, and I wrote about them in some detail when the book was originally published.

Of possibly wider interest is PADDY GRIFFITH'S GAME OF WAR; REFLECTIONS ON A LIFETIME OF WARGAMING. This is a compendium of some of Paddy's articles, games, and correspondence, and gives a wonderful insight into his thinking about the relationship between military history and wargaming.

Its contents include:

  • Acknowledgements and Challenges (by John Curry)
  • Foreword (by Bob Cordery)
  • Gaming World War II: Paddy's Greatest Legacy
  • Obituary (by John Curry)
  • A Wider View of Wargaming
  • Donald Featherstone and Paddy Griffith
  • A Lifetime of Writing Books
  • Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (1973-1989)
  • The Moor Park Wargaming Conference (1980)
  • The Toy Soldier Debate (1984)
  • Interview with Paddy (1985)
  • The Game of War: Wargaming for TV
  • Waterloo 1815, The Wargame
  • Balaklava 1854, The Wargame
  • Reviews of The Game of War Mini Series
  • British Army Evaluation of SPI's Firefight Wargame (1977)
  • Roleplaying the Experience of Combat: Men Against Fire
  • Naval Wargaming: Hunt the Bismarck
  • 1814 Campaign - The Strategic Statistics
  • The Civil Wars of Wargaming 1960-1990
  • 'Black' Games
  • Monkey Orange Solo Game
  • The Taiwan Crisis Game: The Game that Almost Became An International Incident (2006)
  • Books Published by Paddy Griffith

I did make a minor contribute to these books, and my opinion is therefore biased, but I feel that there is much in both of them that will interest the thinking wargamer who is looking for something a bit different.

PADDY GRIFFITH'S WARGAMING OPERATION SEALION: THE GAME THAT LAUNCHED ACADEMIC WARGAMING was edited by John Curry and published in 2021 by The History of Wargaming Project (ISBN 979 8 510 67146 9).

PADDY GRIFFITH'S GAME OF WAR; REFLECTIONS ON A LIFETIME OF WARGAMING as edited by John Curry and published in 2021 by The History of Wargaming Project (ISBN 979 8 464 48388 0).


  1. Thanks for the 'heads up' Bob, with the Operation Sealion book of particular interest.

    1. Steve J.,

      The background information makes life much easier for anyone who wants to stage an Operation Sealion campaign … and that alone is worth the price of the book.

      All the best,


  2. A colossus of the hobby, who likewise made a deep impression on me and the way I wargame. I shall be looking out for those in due course.

    1. Trebian,

      I understand that John Curry has loads more of Paddy’s stuff to publish.

      I shall certainly be buying the next book (or books) in the series.

      All the best,


  3. It’s good to see Paddy Griffith’s contribution to wargaming celebrated in this way. He was always innovative and challenging and his games were often wacky but always good fun. What should not be forgotten though, Is he culinary aspects of his events. The food was always terrific whether a Pirate Feast or a Byzantine mezze....

    1. Bohemond1099,

      Even the games that were not a 100% success were worth taking part in for the fun and the fact that they always made you think. As to the food … well, I can remember eating borscht and kasha whilst acting a member of an armoured train crew during the Russian Civil War.

      All the best,


  4. I'm still working my way through the Op: Sealion book (and itching to try the naval rules in it, as well as the free-kriegspiel guidance). Have not heard of Game of War, will definitely buy it next! Thanks!

    1. Jennifer,

      Paddy was a very prolific writer and wargame designer, and I hope that John Curry will be able to publish even more of his games and ideas in due course.

      All the best,


  5. It has long been a source of regret to me that I sold off my copy of Paddy Griffith's 'Napoleonic War Games for Fun.' For a very long time at the Club we used a version of his Division level rule set for our Napoleonic refights. I must have been involved in at least a dozen of these, a highlight being to command the Austrian Army to a great and glorious victory at Aspern-Essling.

    I have a copy of the 'Paddy Griffith's Wargaming Operation Sealionbook. It make a formidable resource book for a project of any size or level. I've read it cover-to-cover twice, and have come away with some ideas on how to 'do it' at a solo or 'two-player' level, but one thing is plain: it would have been a formidable task for the Germans - several degrees of difficulty higher than the reverse operation of 1944. Two prerequisites were in my view wanting for it to have been a serious operation of war:
    1. Wholehearted enthusiasm for the project by all arms and the supreme command;
    2. Planning to have begun not later than 1 June 1940, and probably much earlier.
    Neither prerequisite was even close to fulfilment. Note that I don't mention air dominance or superiority. Field Marshal Kesselring stated that such an aim was unrealisable, but air contestability ought to have been sufficient, given suitable preparation in other respects.

    That doesn't make the whole notion less than intriguing and compelling. My one real caveat is that the book could have stood a bit of editing...

    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      A paperback reprint of Paddy's NAPOLEONIC WAR GAMES FOR FUN is available from the 'History of Wargaming' Project.

      I agree with your analysis of the situation in 1940. The Heer thought of crossing the Channel as being just a big river assault (which it wasn't!), the Kriegsmarine knew that it just did not have the assets to do the job even inadequately, and the Luftwaffe's highest levels of command (i.e. Goering) was so sure of its ability to destroy the RAF that they were only too keen to get on with it. In a way, they defeated themselves because they were not 'singing from the same hymn sheet'.

      All the best,


  6. Hi Bob, I ordered my copies in response to your post. I just had to see what Paddy said about his time at Sandhurst...! Also from time to time I get enquiries about the Sealion game, so that particular book will be very useful. Cheers, Anthony

    1. Anthony Morton (Anthony),

      I understand that there will be further books about Paddy in the series.

      I saw the Sealion game referenced on a TV programme last week by James Holland, although I think that he was incorrect in some of the things he said. This might well have been due to the nature of the way TV programmes are made, where what someone says gets slightly mangled in the editing.

      All the best,



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