Friday, 26 August 2022

The Herring War of 1912/The Second Herring War

Last Tuesday I took part in the opening moves of The Herring War of 1912/The Second Herring War. This was a distanced wargame conducted using Zoom, and it was organised by Tim Gow, who writes the Megablitz and more blog.

The First Herring War of 1908 was featured in Paul Wright's excellent LITTLE CAMPAIGNS: RULES FOR THE CONDUCT OF WAR GAME CAMPAIGNS IN MINIATURE ...

... and was a four-page supplement in the style of the 'Illustrated London News'.

It was also featured on Tim's bog in September 2013 and again in January 2016 here and here.

Both sides had been expanding their navies since the First Herring War had ended, and I had been promoted to command the defences of Jutland from a possible attack on the ports of Skagen and Hitshals.

The First Herring War was fought between Norway and Denmark as a result of disputes over fishing rights. The latest was fought because the Norwegian press published scurrilous (and possibly true) stories about a Danish royal princess.

Under my command were the following units:

  • Knusden Nyborg (Coast Defence Battleship)
  • Sorensen Fonsmark (Monitor)
  • Malling Friis (Monitor)
  • Laugensen (Cruiser)
  • Olsen (Cruiser)
  • Larsen (Torpedo Boat Destroyer) 
  • Herkind (Torpedo Boat Destroyer)
  • Two Heavy Coastal Forts
  • Two Medium Mobile Naval Batteries
  • The University Cycle Volunteers 
  • Local Defence Volunteers
  • A Bleriot aeroplane

As commander, I had to submit my opening moves to the umpire (Tim) before the Zoom session took place. I will not share them or the subsequent events with my regular blog readers as these will no doubt form part of a longer report that will appear on Tim's blog in due course. Needless to say, it was great fun, and several silly hats were worn by the participants!

LITTLE CAMPAIGNS: RULES FOR THE CONDUCT OF WAR GAME CAMPAIGNS IN MINIATURE was written by Paul Wright and published in 2013 by The (Virtual) Armchair General. It is hoped that a second revised edition will be published in due course.


  1. I literally laughed out loud at the Illustrated London News. Bravo!

    I have a copy of the Grimsby Evening Telegraph from the time. Interest was naturally high in the fishing port, with many personal and commercial links to Scandinavia. Here is a brief item from page 7, after Births, Deaths and Marriages.
    “Trouble spilled out of the Prince of Wales public house, Freeman St, where partisans of the rival belligerents of the Herring War took umbrage at each other’s presence and insults such as ‘dirty flaming Scrobs’ were heard before fisticuffs broke out. Later the local constabulary were called upon to break up a mass brawl at Riby Square. Several local urchins were seen dashing between the legs of the battling fishermen, collecting change that had fallen out from their pockets.
    Inspector ‘Taff’ McFisheries stated, ‘several noses were broken, most will have black eyes, and torn shirts, but they’ll be pals again by the time they sail for the Dogger Bank on tomorrow’s tide.’
    All in all, a normal Friday night.”

    1. Anonymous (Chris/Nundanket),

      This copy of the Iilustrated London News was an amusing way to tell the story of the First Herring War, and is testimony to the fun attitude that Paul Wright’s development of H G Wells’s original rules engenders.

      I love the story from the Grimsby Evening Telegraph. I assume that the combatants were local ‘gangs’ of fishermen … but was the police officer’s name really Taff McFisheries … or is the whole thing a wonderful, made up story? I remember going to branches of Mac Fisheries when I was a boy (they ceased trading in 1979).

      All the best,


    2. I’m afraid it was totally made up Bob, in homage to the London Illustrated News.
      There are in fact long-standing links between Grimsby and Scandinavia (it even has its own foundation myth linked to Danish royalty in the Viking age). In more modern times Danish fishermen settled in the town (and had their own seamen’s mission) and various shipping related concerns were established. There weren’t really rival gangs of fishermen, but it did get a bit ‘rough’ on a night out 😄

    3. Anonymous (Chris/Nundanket),

      You convinced me it was true … right up until I got to the mention of Inspector ‘Taff’ McFisheries! Like all tall stories, it had an essential kernel of truth that made it sound true, if a little far fetched.

      Whilst researching my wife’s family history we came across a police statement about an affray outside the gates of the old Woolwich Dockyard. One of those taking part hit his head on a cannon, and later died of his injuries. The local inspector of the dockyard police saw the whole thing, and wrote that he didn’t intervene in the punch up because he thought that it was just an ‘ordinary’ fight!

      (The dead man was an American medical student who was studying in London. He and some fellow students came to Woolwich by the new fangled steam railway, where they got drunk and smashed shop windows. They were chased by a group of locals, and the fight started when the students were cornered. The injured man went home, died overnight of his head injury, and then his body was seized by his Professor so that he could dissect it at in front of the other students! They did things very differently back then in 1849!)

      All the best,


  2. Enjoy the second Herring War Bob! I throughly enjoyed the first, it was terrific fun.
    Alan Tradgardland

    1. Anonymous (Alan Tradgardland),

      I certainly enjoyed my small part in this wargame ... and judging by what I have read elsewhere, the resulting sea battle turned out to be great fun as well.

      All the best,


  3. Great posting, Bob -
    Read the Illustrated London News 'from cover to cover' - most entertaining and well produced, too! I'll be looking forward to seeing how this present conflict 'plays' out...

    1. Archduke Piccolo (Ion),

      It’s a truly outstanding example of how to tell the story of a wargame. As to the Second Herring War … well that story is told on Tim Gow’s blog.

      All the best,



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