Sunday 30 October 2022

Napoleon's War: The 100 Days

As I have written many times before, it took me a long time to get really interested in the Napoleonic era, and after several failed attempts to put a figure collection together, it wasn't until Del Prado published their WATERLOO LIVE series of magazines and associated 25/28mm figures that I finally began to put a proper collection together.

Once the bug had bitten, I continued to acquire more figures and a few relevant board games, and now I have added a copy of NAPOLEON'S WAR: THE 100 DAYS to my collection.

I did this on the recommendation of David Crook, and to be frank, it was not cheap (a nearly new copy cost me just under £60.00) ... but now that it has arrived and I have unpacked it, I think that I certainly got my money's worth!

The game includes:

  • 120 plastic figures in three colours (red, blue, and grey to represent the Anglo-Dutch, French, and Prussian armies)
  • 1 Counter Sheet
  • 4 Gameboards (one each for Wavre, Ligny, Quatre Bras, and Waterloo)
  • A book of rules
  • Two D6 dice

The figures are very reminiscent of those found in some of the more recent versions of RISK, and the figures (which all seem to be wearing British Army uniforms) are about 12mm.

I am looking forward to playing the battles featured in the game, and now that I have a copy, it may well be possible to fight a remote face-to-face one with David Crook.

NAPOLEON'S WAR: THE 100 DAYS was designed by Grant and Mike Wylie and produced by Worthington Games in 2010.

Friday 28 October 2022

Nugget 348

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET on Thursday, and I will post it out to members later today. In the meantime, members can read this issue online.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2022-2023 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. 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.

Thursday 27 October 2022

A wonderful gift

Yesterday I mentioned that Carl Luxford paid me an all too fleeting visit to give me a gift. It consisted of a card with a wonderful picture of Whitby on the cover ...

... and a sealed metal box with ‘Hotel Chocolat’ on the lid.

When I opened the card, it contained a ‘Thank You’ for some books that I sent him and included a cryptic message that hinted at what the box contained … and when I opened it, I was gobsmacked! It contained what Carl described as an African Colonial playset … and in my opinion, this was a massive understatement!

As the following photograph shows, the ‘playset’ consisted of a number of Askaris and European officers, native and Arab troops (including cavalry), and native bearers. They are all beautifully painted and based … and my first thought was that these figures cry out to be used for a Madasahatta-type game.

Thank you, Carl, for your wonderful gift!

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Running to catch up with myself!

After Monday’s day of ‘excitement’, I had hoped that by today life would have settled down to a somewhat more pedestrian pace … but that was not to be!

The courier delivering the fridge was supposed to phone us thirty minutes before he was going to arrive, but the first we knew that he had arrived was a heavy knocking on our front door. (For some reason, he ignored the doorbell.) He deposited it in the kitchen and left me to unpack it and dispose of the packing material.

I had just done this when the front doorbell rang, and our regular postman was there with a pile of post to hand over to me. As I hadn’t seen him for a couple of weeks, I asked him if he had been on holiday … and it turned out that he’d been in hospital for two weeks with a serious chest infection. Apparently, he had suffered intense chest pain and been ‘blue-lighted’ to the local hospital with a suspected heart attack. His heart rate had been over 200, but once they had stabilised him, they discovered that it was being caused by a serious chest infection.

(Our postman is a real character who collects American Civil War memorabilia and books, and we often have a chat about nineteenth century military history. During one of these I discovered that one of his relatives had served with the Berkshire Regiment at the Battle of Maiwand.)

Whilst I was conversing with the postman, our cleaner – whose great uncle was Colour Sergeant (later Lieutenant Colonel) Frank Bourne of Rorke’s Drift fame – arrived, closely followed by one of my regular blog readers, Carl Luxford from Whitby! He is currently visiting relatives in Plumstead and took the opportunity to pop round to drop off a very nice gift for me ... which I hope to write about tomorrow.

Once the fridge was plugged in and working, Sue and I refilled it with the food we had been storing on cool bags. We then paid a hurried visit to Dartford to collect some things that we had ordered and to have a snack lunch.

We got back at 1.30pm ... and I had just enough time for a quick drink and a rest before I got changed and set off to drive to Cheshunt for a meeting of my Masonic Mother Lodge.

My journey to Cheshunt should have taken about an hour, but actually took nearly two thanks to roadworks in the Blackwall Tunnel approach road. I finally got to Cheshunt at 5.15pm, got changed into my regalia, and entered the Temple at 5.25pm. Luckily, I had not missed much, and was able to spend the next ninety minutes watching a candidate Passed to the Second Degree.

After the meeting, we had a drink in the Masonic centre's bar before we went into the dining room to eat our after-meeting meal (which we call the Festive Boad). That finished at 9.00pm, and after saying goodbye to the other attendees, I drove home.

I was home by 10.00pm … and then sat down and wrote this blog post.

Monday 24 October 2022

… and then the fridge door fell off!

Having written that I would only blog when I had something to write about, I have had a day of travails that I needed to share with my regular blog readers!

My day started well. I had an appointment with the consultant oncologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, at 10.15am, and the news was encouraging. The treatment I am undergoing seems to be working, and they may be able into reduce the dosage level of Erleada/apalutamide after Christmas. In addition, I am going to be referred to the consultant radiographer to see if the cancer in my lymph glands can be treated.

It was once my appointment was over that things began to go downhill.

I had to collect my next batch of Erleada/apalutamide from the oncology treatment area, but when I presented myself, it wasn’t there. It had been ordered last Friday, but the pharmacy had not yet delivered it. The receptionist telephoned them to ask where it was and was told that it was on its way. It finally arrived nearly forty-five minutes later, during which time I was able to go the the phlebotomy department to have a blood test that the consultant oncologist had asked me to have before I left the hospital. It is worth noting that I had to walk past the pharmacy to get to the phlebotomist but was not allowed to collect my medication as I did!

After I had finally managed to collect my medication, I walked to the nearby bus stop to catch the 244 bus to go home … and waited … and waited … and waited! The 244 bus is supposed to come along every fifteen minutes, but today it was nearly forty-five minutes before one arrived. Apparently, one bus had broken down and then the next one had to be taken out of service after the driver became ill. As a result, I did not get home until just before 1.00pm.

Sue had waited until I got back before she made lunch, and whilst I sat having a drink in our living room, she went to the kitchen to start preparing our meal. All of a sudden, she cried out for help and when I got to the kitchen, she was holding the fridge door ... which had fallen off! The bottom pivot had sheared off without warning and the door had nothing to hold it in place.

We hurriedly emptied the contents of the fridge into cool bags or the freezer so that I could move the fridge in order to see if I could repair the pivot, but it was soon apparent that it was well beyond my capabilities to fix it.

Once the food was safely stored in cool bags or the freezer, Sue and I trawled the Internet to see if we could find a replacement fridge. This proved to be a harder task than we imagined it would be as most retailers who had suitable fridges in stock were unable to deliver them before next week. One website in particular was extremely useless (I won't name it, but its name rhymes with Ruby Murray) as it promised next day delivery on almost every model of fridge listed, but when you got to the checkout page, it informed you that the fridge you had selected was no longer available for delivery. Needless to say, we bought our new fridge from another online retailer, and they should be delivering it on Wednesday morning. In the meantime, over the next couple of days Sue and I are going go have to eat the food that we could not get into a cool bag or freezer!

Nugget 348

The editor of THE NUGGET sent me the latest issue on Saturday, and I will send it to the printer this morning. I am hoping that it will be ready to be posted out to members later this week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2022-2023 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. 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.

Thursday 20 October 2022

Real life has a habit of getting in the way of one’s plans

When my wife and I retired, we expected that we would be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy life at a more leisurely pace. Unfortunately, we soon found that real life has a habit of getting in the way of any plans that we might have.

In my case, my health problems have rather impacted on what I hoped to do and has rather slowed me down. Since the end of 2020 I seem to have been visiting - and sometimes staying in - the two local hospitals on a fairly regular basis and the medication I have been on has added to general feeling of debility. The upshot of this is that although I have the desire to do work on various wargaming projects, I don’t always have the mental energy to do work on them.

I’ve already put my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project on the back burner and work on my Belle Époque project seems to have stalled, albeit temporarily. At the moment I am concentrating my efforts on making sufficient 4-inch/100cm square terrain squares to experiment with FP3x3PW and FP5x5PW rules as well as preparatory work on the next PW Compendium and David Crook’s Ironclad Naval Wargame rules.

I will be trying to write blog posts as and when I feel the urge, but I expect that my output might be significantly less than it has been over recent years. I’ll still be here but taking a bit of a break from trying to blog on a daily basis … so if I seem to have disappeared for a few days or a week, don’t worry … real life will have got in the way of my plans, and I’ll be back soon.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Some thoughts on wargame design

Following on from the Wargame Development Annual Virtual Gathering, I shared my thoughts about wargame design on Facebook, Twitter, and the Wargame Developments

The responses were very interesting. There were quite a lot of detailed comments about my thinking, some of which were more supportive and in agreement with me than others.

My thoughts about wargame design were included in my book, THE PORTABLE WARGAME, and are shown below:

The main steps in the wargame design process

  • Identify the main objective.
  • Analyse the design parameters.
  • Design the game’s structure and select and/or design the necessary game mechanisms.
  • Implementation of the game’s structure and game mechanisms.
  • Testing and Evaluation of the game’s structure and game mechanisms ... and – if necessary – go back one or two steps in the process.

Some guidelines for wargame designers

  1. Set out what you want to achieve before you start. This should determine the basic structure your rules will follow and will help you to identify the mechanisms you want to use.
  2. Try to keep the structure to your rules logical.
  3. Always try to devise the simplest method of achieving the results you want to achieve.
  4. Always err on the side of simplicity rather than complexity.
  5. Always remember that less is more.
  6. Use the psychology of numbers (i.e. high is good, low is bad) when using dice to generate results.
  7. Try to ensure that each mechanism is not dependent upon another mechanism otherwise changing one can end up affecting everything else. In other words use ‘plug in’ mechanisms that can be ‘unplugged’ if they don’t work.
  8. Play-test each mechanism before you add it to the rules.
  9. Keep the language you use simple and consistent.
  10. Remove anything that does not contribute to the rules. In other words, if players keep forgetting to use a mechanism and the game is not affected by its absence ... then ask yourself whether you need that mechanism. (This is sometimes referred to as Cordery’s First Rule of Wargame Design.)

These thoughts and guidelines are the result of many years of trial and quite a few errors ... but they seem to work.

Monday 17 October 2022

I’m getting my money's worth out of the National Health Service

In the pre-assessment that took place before my TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate), I had my oxygen levels monitored whilst I was asleep. Apparently, this testing indicated that I am suffering from mild sleep apnoea, and I have just had an online consultation with a Registrar from the Respiratory Medicine Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. As a result, sometime in the next few months I will be issued with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

The CPAP machine gently pumps air into a mask that one wears over one's mouth or nose while you are asleep. It should:

  • Improve my breathing whilst I am asleep by stopping my airways from narrowing
  • Improve the quality of my sleep and help me feel less tired
  • Reduce the risk of problems that are linked to sleep apnoea, such as high blood pressure

I have never slept particularly well, and this may well be the reason why. If this machine improves the quality of my sleep, I’ll be very pleased indeed … and if it doesn’t, I’ll try any other remedy that the doctors can come up with.

Sunday 16 October 2022

Wargame Developments Annual Virtual Gathering

On Saturday I took part in the second Wargame Developments Annual Virtual Gathering. To enable US members to take part, it began at 2.00pm and lasted - with breaks for snacks, meals etc. - until almost 10.00pm.

After a very brief introduction (2.00pm to 2.05pm), the first session (2.05pm to 3.00pm) was a presentation about Oxford during the English Civil War.

The next session lasted from 3.15pm to 4.15pm and was a discussion and workshop about Wargaming Positional Warfare during the Great War.

From 4.30pm to 5.30pm was a discussion about the future of Wargame Developments and saw the launch of the draft of the third edition of the Wargame Developments Handbook.

This was followed from 5.45pm to 6.45pm by a presentation about Wargaming in the Royal Navy from 1900 to 1915.

After a long break for attendees to eat a meal, the next session ran from 8.15pm until 9.15pm and examined the efficacy of professional wargames fought between 1970 and 1995 at predicting the future.

The event ended with a session about the Battle of the Atlantic.

As usual, the whole event was well organised and now that so many people have experience of using Zoom, went off without any significant technical problems.

Please note that attendance at the Virtual Gathering was restricted to members of Wargame Developments, unlike VCOW (the Virtual Conference of Wargamers) where non-members can pay to attend.

Saturday 15 October 2022

A bargain from Baggins Book Bazaar in Rochester

Yesterday, Sue and I planned to drive to Deal to have a further look around the area and to have lunch, but a check of the local weather forecast indicated that it was likely to be cold and wet, so we changed our plans and went to Stroud and Rochester instead.

After doing some shopping in Stroud we crossed the Rochester bridge and parked in the centre of Rochester. Sue and I then went for a walk along the High Street, passing the Huguenot Hospital and Museum and the Cathedral as we did. After eating lunch in the local branch of Pizza Express, we paid a visit to Baggins Book Bazaar … where I was able to buy a copy of D K Brown’s BEFORE THE IRONCLAD: DEVELOPMENT OF SHIP DESIGN, PROPULSION AND ARMAMENT IN THE ROYAL NAVY, 1825-60.

The copy I bought was in excellent condition and cost me £20.00 (when it was published, the price was (£30.00) and has a library quality dustcover.

The book has fourteen chapters and fourteen appendices:


    1. Victory 1793-1815
    2. Science, Seppings and the School
    3. Resources, Money and Men
    4. Swansong
    5. Steam
    6. Paddle Fighting Ships
    7. Iron Ships
    8. Condemnation of Iron Ships
    9. Screw Propulsions
    10. HMS Rattler and Other Early Screw Ships
    11. The Screw Fleet
    12. The War with Russia
    13. The Last Wooden Ships
    14. Warrior


  1. Horsepower
  2.  The Work of Colonel Beaufoy
  3. Cost
  4. Building Programme, Sailing Ships
  5. The Design of Wooden Warships
  6. A Note on the Strength of the Nemesis
  7.  Fouling and Corrosion
  8. Notes from Dupuy de Lôme
  9. Strength of Wood and Iron
  10. A Technical Note on the Rattler and Alecto Trials
  11. The Battle of Eckenfjorde 1849
  12. The Gun Boat Builders
  13. The Attack on Kronstadt
  14. Notes on Individual Dockyards

This book was the only one of D K Brown's series about the development and design of ships that I did not own and finding such a good copy was a real bonus to what what a great day out.

BEFORE THE IRONCLAD: DEVELOPMENT OF SHIP DESIGN, PROPULSION AND ARMAMENT IN THE ROYAL NAVY, 1825-60 was written by D K Brown and published in 1990 by Conway Maritime Press Limited (ISBN 0 85177 532 2).

David K Brown was born in Leeds in 1928. He became a member of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors and by the end of his career in 1988 he was the Deputy Chief Naval Architect. He then became a fulltime writer and book editor, specialising in books and articles about the technical development of warships in the Royal Navy. He died in Bath, Somerset, on 15th April 2008.

Thursday 13 October 2022

Prototype terrain squares

I have made several prototype terrain squares using the method that was sketchily outlined in my previous blog post. The plain terrain square looked like this ...

... and my first attempt at a hill terrain square looked like this:

As the latter looked a bit too rugged, I made another where the sides are much smoother, thus:

I am now embarking on the wholesale 'manufacture' of twenty-five plain terrain squares, after which I will make four hill terrain squares.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

This week I will mostly be …

… working on the renovation of my Army of the Commonwealth of Avalon and making some 10cm/4-inch terrain squares. Having these two projects running side-by-side means that I can switch from one to the other whenever I start to feel a bit bored or in need of a break.

I am using pre-cut thin ply squares bought via Amazon as the basis of the terrain squares.

For the flat terrain I am covering the squares with coloured felt, which I am gluing to the plywood using a thin layer of PVA glue. Once the glue has dried, I will trim off the surplus felt using a fabric cutting wheel. (I saw these being used on the BBC’s ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ and bought one as they make cutting fabric easier than using scissors or a modelling knife.)

Hills will be created using thick cork mats I bought from IKEA. These will made by gluing a plywood square to the mat using wood glue and then, once the glue has thoroughly dried, breaking the excess cork off. This should leave a somewhat ragged edge to the hill, which I can smooth off using a modelling knife and sandpaper if I think that it needs it.

I plan to seal all the terrain tiles using a coat or two of thinned PVA glue. This should make them hard wearing. I may also add anti-slip material to the back side of each terrain square to orevent them moving during a wargame.

Monday 10 October 2022

Delve Deeper Tour Ship Models: Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre

The Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre of the National Maritime Museum in Kidbrooke, Southeast London is running a ‘Delve Deeper Tour on Ship Models’ during the evening of 17th November from 7.00pm to 8.30pm. The tour costs £10.00 for members and £20.00 for non-members.

According to their website:

Join Simon Stephens, Curator of the Ship Model and Boat Collections as he delves into the collection to showcase some of his favourite ship models currently stored at our collection centre in Kidbrooke. See a wide range of models from Navy Board models through to 20th century models. After a visit to the store with Simon, we will then go to our conservation studio, where Object Conservation Manager Karen Jensen will tell us the processes and techniques she uses to care for the world’s largest ship model collection.

I hope to go on the tour, and I will write a blog post about it if I do.

Please note that the photographs used above are © National Maritime Museum and have been used here solely to inform blog readers about this event.

Sunday 9 October 2022

My collection of Axis & Allies Miniatures continues to grow

Thanks to some gifts from people like David Crook and some purchases from eBay, my collection of Axis & Allies Miniatures has grown quite substantially. The list now looks like this (the numbers indicate how many of each I have in my collection):


  • Veteran SMLE Riflemen (Contested Skies; Infantry; Common) 2


  • Canadian Infantrymen (D-Day and 1939–1945; Infantry; Common) 4
  • Eagle-Eyed NCO (D-Day and 1939–1945; Commander; Uncommon) 4
  • Entrenched Antitank gun (Reserves; Artillery; Common) 2
  • Sherman DD (D-Day; Tank; Rare) 1

Nationalist China

  • Kuomintang Machine-Gun Team (Set II; Machine-Gun Team; Uncommon) 3
  • Kuomintang Officer (Set II; Commander; Uncommon) 1
  • Kuomintang Riflemen (Set II; Infantry; Common) 4
  • T-26 Series 1933 (Set II; Tank; Rare) 1


  • Croat Infantry (Counter Offensive; Infantry; Common) 10


  • Finnish Infantry (Eastern Front; Infantry; Common) 1
  • Finnish Machine-Gun Team (Eastern Front; Machine-Gun Team; Uncommon) 1
  • T-26E (Early War 1939–41; Tank; Rare) 3


  • Bold Captain (Contested Skies; Commander; Uncommon) 2
  • Canon de 75 modele 1897 (Early War 1939–41; Artillery; Common) 2
  • Char B1-bis (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Tank; Rare) 1
  • Hotchkiss Machine-Gun Team (Eastern Front; Machine-Gun Team; Uncommon) 3
  • Lebel 86M93 Grenadier (Contested Skies; Infantry; Common) 1
  • MAS 7.5 mm Rifle (Base Set and 1939–1945; Infantry; Common) 23
  • Somua S-35 (D-Day, 1939–1945 and Early War 1939–41; Tank; Rare) 1


  • 7.5 cm LEL G18 (North Africa; Artillery; Common) 1
  • BMW R75 (Contested Skies; Motorcycle; Uncommon) 1
  • DAK Infantry (Counter Offensive; Infantry; Common) 10
  • Fallschirmjäger (Reserves; Paratrooper; Common) 5
  • Flammenwerfer 35 (Eastern Front; Flamethrower; Uncommon) 1
  • Focke-Wulf Fw 190A (D-Day; Aircraft; Rare) 1
  • Jagdpanther (Base Set and 1939–1945; Tank Destroyer; Rare)
  • 1 Jagdpanzer IV/70 (Eastern Front; Tank Destroyer; Rare) 1
  • Luftwaffe Infantrymen (Contested Skies; Infantry; Common) 8
  • Light Mortar (Base Set; Mortar; Common) 10
  • Marder II (D-Day; Tank Destroyer; Uncommon) 9
  • Mauser Kar 98k (Base Set and 1939–1945; Infantry; Common) 24
  • Messerschmitt Me 262 (Reserves; Jet Aircraft; Rare) 1
  • MG 42 Machine-Gun Team (Base Set, 1939–1945 and North Africa; Machine-Gun Team; Uncommon) 15
  • Nebelwerfer 41 (Reserves and Eastern Front; Artillery; Uncommon) 2
  • PaK 35/36 Antitank Gun (Eastern Front; Artillery; Common) 7
  • PaK 40 Antitank Gun (Set II; Artillery; Uncommon) 1
  • Panther Ausf. D (Reserves; Tank; Rare) 1
  • Panzer II Ausf. C (Base Set; Tank; Rare) 2
  • Panzer II Ausf. F (Eastern Front and Early War 1939–41; Tank; Uncommon) 1
  • Panzer III Ausf. F (Set II, 1939–1945 and Early War 1939–41; Tank; Uncommon, Rare) 4
  • Panzer IV Ausf. G (Early) (Eastern Front and Counter Offensive; Tank; Rare) 6
  • Panzerfaust 30 (Base Set and 1939–1945; Infantry Antitank Team; Common) 15
  • Panzerschreck (Contested Skies; Antitank Team; Common) 4
  • Sd Kfz 222 (Base Set; Armoured Car; Uncommon) 2
  • Sd.Kfz. 251 (Base Set, 1939–1945 and North Africa; Half-Track; Uncommon) 2
  • Sd.Kfz 303 Goliath (Reserves; Demolitions; Uncommon) 1
  • sGrW 34 81mm Mortar (D-Day and Eastern Front; Mortar; Uncommon) 5
  • sIG 33 (Base Set; Assault Gun; Rare) 1
  • SS-Haupsturmführer (Base Set and 1939–1945; Commander; Uncommon) 13
  • SS-Panther Ausf. G (Base Set; Tank; Rare) 3
  • SS-Panzer IV Ausf. F2 (Set II; Tank; Rare) 2
  • SS-Panzergrenadier (Base Set and Eastern Front; Infantry; Common) 8
  • SS Stormtroopers (Contested Skies; Infantry; Common) 8
  • StuG III Ausf. D (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Assault Gun; Uncommon) 2
  • Tiger I (Base Set, 1939–1945 and Eastern Front; Tank; Rare 5
  • Veteran Fallschirmjäger (North Africa and Counter Offensive; Paratrooper; Uncommon) 11
  • Volkssturm Infantrymen (Reserves; Infantry; Common) 4
  • Wehrmacht Expert Sniper (Set II; Sniper; Uncommon) 1
  • Wehrmacht Oberleutnant (Set II and Eastern Front; Commander; Uncommon) 2
  • Wehrmacht Veteran Infantrymen (D-Day and North Africa; Infantry; Common) 1
  • Werwolf Partisans (Reserves; Partisan; Common) 4


  • Greek Mountain Infantry (Counter Offensive; Infantry; Common) 10
  • Greek Officer (North Africa; Commander; Uncommon) 1
  • Greek Soldier (North Africa; Infantry; Common) 7


  • 8mm Huzagol 35M (Reserves and Eastern Front; Infantry; Common) 17
  • 37mm Light Antitank Gun (Reserves; Anti-Tank Gun; Common) 2
  • PzKpfw 38 (t) (Eastern Front; Tank; Rare) 1
  • Tenacious Officer (Reserves; Commander; Uncommon) 2
  • Turan I (Reserves; Tank; Uncommon) 12
  • 40/43M Zrinyi Assault Howitzer (Counter Offensive; Assault Gun; Rare) 1


  • 47/32 Anti-Tank Gun (North Africa; Artillery; Common) 2
  • Blackshirts (Set II; Infantry; Common) 4
  • Brixia M35 45 mm Mortar (Contested Skies and Eastern Front; Artillery; Uncommon) 5
  • Fucile Modello 1891 (Base Set and 1939–1945; Infantry; Common) 10
  • Italian Conscript (North Africa; Infantry; Common) 11
  • L3/35 (D-Day; Light Tank; Uncommon) 3
  • L6/40 (Eastern Front; Tank; Uncommon) 1
  • Stalwart Lieutenant (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Commander; Uncommon) 4


  • 47mm Anti-Tank Gun (Base Set; Anti-Tank Gun; Uncommon) 2
  • Azad Hind Fauj Infantrymen (Reserves; Infantry; Common) 5
  • Type 89 Mortar (Base Set and 1939–1945; Mortar; Common) 5

New Zealand

  • New Zealand Commander (Counter Offensive; Commander; Uncommon) 1
  • New Zealand Infantry (Counter Offensive; Infantry; Common) 2


  • Cavalrymen (Set II; Cavalry; Uncommon) 4
  • Determined Infantrymen (Reserves; Infantry; Common) 6


  • Antitank Grenadier (Set II and Eastern Front; Infantry; Common) 13
  • Bohler 47 mm Antitank Gun (Contested Skies; Artillery; Uncommon) 1
  • R-2 LT-35 (Set II; Tank; Rare) 1
  • R35 (Eastern Front; Tank; Uncommon) 1
  • Romanian Infantry (Eastern Front; Infantry; Common) 1
  • Vigilant Lieutenant (Contested Skies and Eastern Front; Commander; Uncommon) 17

Slovak Republic

  • Slovakian Infantry (Counter Offensive; Infantry; Common) 3

Soviet Union

  • 82mm PM-37 Mortar (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Mortar; Common) 18
  • BA-10M (Reserves; Armoured Car; Uncommon) 1
  • BA-64 (Eastern Front and Counter Offensive; Armoured Car; Uncommon) 1
  • BM-13 Katyusha Rocket Launcher (Contested Skies; Artillery; Rare) 6
  • Commissar (Base Set and 1939–1945; Commander; Uncommon) 9
  • Communist Partisans (Contested Skies; Partisan; Common) 16
  • Cossack Captain (Set II; Commander; Uncommon) 5
  • Cossack Cavalrymen (Contested Skies; Cavalry; Uncommon) 7
  • Degtyarev DP27 (Reserves; Infantry; Common) 2
  • Fanatical Sniper (Set II and Eastern Front; Sniper; Common) 6
  • Guards Infantry (Counter Offensive; Infantry; Common) 1
  • Hero of the Soviet Union (D-Day; Hero; Uncommon) 2
  • IL-10 Sturmovik (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Aircraft; Rare) 1
  • IS-2 Model 1944 (Set II and 1939–1945; Tank; Rare) 4
  • KV-1 (Base Set and 1939–1945; Tank; Rare) 3
  • Mosin–Nagant 1891/30 (Base Set and 1939–1945; Infantry; Common) 12
  • PPSh-41 SMG (Set II and Eastern Front; Infantry; Common) 12
  • PTRD-41 Antitank Rifle (Set II and Eastern Front; Antitank; Uncommon) 6
  • Red Army Forward Observer (Contested Skies; Artillery Observer; Common) 5
  • Siberian Shock Troops (Counter Offensive; Infantry; Uncommon) 1
  • Soviet Grenadiers (Contested Skies; Infantry; Common) 6
  • Soviet M3 Lee (Reserves; Tank; Rare) 1
  • Soviet-Polish Infantry (Eastern Front; Infantry; Common) 4
  • SU-76M (D-Day; Tank Destroyer; Uncommon) 6
  • SU-85 (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Tank Destroyer; Rare) 1
  • T-34/76 (Base Set and 1939–1945; Tank; Rare and Uncommon) 10
  • T-34/85 (Eastern Front; Tank; Rare) 2
  • T-35 (Reserves; Tank; Rare) 2
  • T-70 Model 1942 (Set II, 1939–1945 and Eastern Front; Tank; Uncommon) 5
  • ZIS-2 57mm Model 1943 (Set II and 1939–1945; Anti-tank Gun; Uncommon) 14

United Kingdom

  • 6-Pounder Antitank Gun (Base Set; Antitank Gun; Common) 10
  • 17-Pounder Antitank Gun (Contested Skies; Antitank Gun; Uncommon) 2
  • Archer (Set II; Tank Destroyer; Uncommon) 4
  • Bren Machine Gunner (D-Day and North Africa; Infantry; Common) 2
  • Churchill Crocodile (Base Set; Tank; Rare) 2
  • Cromwell IV (Set II and 1939–1945; Tank; Rare) 5
  • Defiant Paratroopers (D-Day; Paratrooper; Common) 7
  • Entrenched Antitank Gun (Eastern Front; Antitank Gun; Common) 2
  • Gurkha Riflemen (Contested Skies; Infantry; Common) 8
  • Humber Scout Car (Base Set and 1939–1945; Armoured Car; Uncommon) 6
  • Inspiring Lieutenant (Base Set and 1939–1945; Commander; Uncommon) 53
  • M3 Stuart (Base Set and North Africa; Tank; Uncommon) 1
  • Mk.VII Tetrarch (D-Day; Tank; Uncommon) 3
  • PIAT Gunner (Set II; Anti-Tank Team; Uncommon) 1
  • Royal Engineers (Base Set; Engineer; Common) 17
  • Sten Gun (North Africa; Infantry; Common) 4
  • Universal Carrier (Contested Skies and Counter Offensive; Transport; Uncommon) 5
  • Vickers Machine-Gun Team (Base Set and 1939–1945; Machine-Gun Team; Uncommon) 14

United States

  • 3" Gun M5 (Set II; Antitank Gun; Uncommon) 2
  • BAR Gunner (Set II; Infantry; Common) 2
  • Bazooka (Base Set and 1939–1945; Antitank Team; Common) 14
  • Buffalo Soldiers (D-Day; Infantry; Common) 9
  • FO Jeep (Contested Skies; Artillery Observation vehicle; Uncommon) 2
  • Hunting Sniper (Contested Skies; Sniper; Uncommon) 5
  • Jeep (Base Set and Eastern Front; Transport; Common) 4
  • M1 Garand Rifle (Base Set and 1939–1945; Infantry; Common) 12
  • M3 Lee (Base Set; Tank; Rare) 1
  • M4A1 Sherman (Base Set and 1939–1945; Tank; Uncommon) 9
  • M4A3 (105) Sherman (Base Set and 1939–1945; Artillery; Rare) 1
  • M4A3E8 Sherman Easy Eight (Base Set; Tank; Rare) 2
  • M5 Half-Track (Set II, 1939–1945 and North Africa; Half-Track; Uncommon) 3
  • M18 Hellcat (Base Set; Tank Destroyer; Rare) 2
  • M26 Pershing (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Tank; Rare) 1
  • M36 MGC (Contested Skies; Tank Destroyer; Rare) 2
  • Marine Riflemen (Contested Skies; Infantry; Common) 12
  • Marines M2-2 Flamethrower (Base Set; Flamethrower; Common) 5
  • Mortar M2 (Base Set; Mortar; Common) 4
  • P-51D Mustang (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Aircraft; Rare) 1
  • Quad 50 (Contested Skies and 1939–1945; Antiaircraft Gun; Uncommon) 4
  • Red Devil Captain (Base Set and 1939–1945; Commander; Uncommon) 12
  • Resourceful Hero (D-Day; Hero; Uncommon) 1
  • Screaming Eagle Captain (Set II; Paratrooper Commander; Uncommon) 2
  • Thompson Sub-Machine Gun-Gunner (Reserves; Infantry; Common) 1
  • U.S. Engineer (Eastern Front; Engineer; Uncommon) 1

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

  • Yugoslav Partisan Infantry (Counter Offensive; Infantry; Common) 1

Obstacles and Support Units

  • Barbed Wire (D-Day; Obstacle; Common) 4
  • Fuel Depot (Reserves; Support; Uncommon) 1
  • Headquarters (Reserves; Support; Uncommon) 1
  • Minefield (D-Day; Obstacle; Common) 1
  • Pillbox (D-Day; Obstacle; Uncommon) 3
  • Tank Obstacle (D-Day; Obstacle; Common) 7

This is now a very sizeable collection, and although I have a few gaps that need filling (particularly the Finish and Japanese sections), I think that I am almost 'ready to roll'!

Saturday 8 October 2022

Getting back to something like normal

The COVID pandemic and my two bouts of cancer (the removal of a cancerous polyp in my colon that led to my colostomy, followed by my current prostate cancer) has meant that my involvement in Freemasonry has been severely curtained over the past two and a half years. During that time I have managed to go to a couple of Masonic meetings, but yesterday was the first one I have attended since I was told that my prostate cancer was pretty well dormant.

I am the treasurer of the Veritatem Sequere* Lodge No.9615, and yesterday saw the Installation of our new Worshipful Master into the Chair of King Solomon. For the first time in a long time I was able to attend a meeting without any concerns that my colostomy or prostate would ‘play up’ during the proceedings in the lodge room or at the Festive Board, which is what Masons call the after-meeting meal.

The crest of the Veritatem Sequere Lodge No.9615.

The Veritatem Sequere Lodge is almost unique in that it is what is termed a research lodge. Unlike most other Masonic lodges, the main work done during the meeting is the presentation of a lecture or talk by a member of the lodge or a distinguished visitor. The subject of the presentation is on a Masonic topic that he has researched. On this occasion, after the Installation of the incoming Worshipful Master he gave a presentation entitled ‘French Freemasonry, a brief examination of the similarities, the differences and the reasons'.

Traditionally, attendees and visitors don't ask questions about what they have heard until after the Festive Board has finished, and this session can often last longer than the actual presentation.

The meeting was held in Radlett, Hertfordshire, and it took me about ninety minutes to get there by car ... and about the same time to get home, even though the first journey was made during the run up to the rush hour on the M25. I had a great time, all the more so for the reaction I had from the members who were there. They have been following the progress of my cancers and my treatment with interest and were extremely pleased to see that I was now well enough to fully return to fill my office in the Lodge.

Yesterday marked another step on the road back to normality, and I hope that it will be the first of many.

*Veritatem Sequere means ‘follow the truth’.

Friday 7 October 2022

Guy Debord's Kriegsspiel is now available as an app

According to Wikipedia, Guy-Ernest Debord (28th December 1931 to 30th November 1994) was 'a French Marxist theorist, philosopher, filmmaker, critic of work, member of the Letterist International, founder of a Letterist faction, and founding member of the Situationist International'.

He was also the designer of a very impressive, gridded wargame.

Debord wrote about the wargame that he devised in his book A GAME OF WAR, which was co-authored with Alice-Becker-Ho and published in 1987. He described the book as follows:

So I have studied the logic of war. Indeed I succeeded long ago in representing its essential movements on a rather simple game-board… I played this game, and in the often difficult conduct of my life drew a few lessons from it — setting rules for my life, and abiding by them. The surprises vouchsafed by this Kriegspiel of mine seem endless; I rather fear it may turn out to be the only one of my works to which people will venture to accord any value. As to whether I have made good use of its lessons, I shall leave that for others to judge.

Although all the unsold copies of his book were pulped on his orders in 1991, it was republished in French in 2006, with an English translation in 2008. Since then, Class Wargames has been demonstrating it at special events around the world.

I first became aware of Guy Debord's game when I began the research for my book, THE PORTABLE WARGAME, and I became intrigued by it. I bought Richard Barbrook's book entitled CLASS WARGAMES: LUDIC SUBVERSION AGAINST SPECTACULAR CAPITALISM, which described the game in some detail, but until now I have never had the opportunity to play it.

Guy Debord's wargame is now available as a free iPad app, and I recently downloaded it to mine. The app allows you to play online against a live opponent or against the game's own artificial intelligence. So far, I have chosen the latter option as I want to master the rules before trying my luck against someone who has more experience than me.

On screen, the gameboard looks like this:

The rules are deceptively simple and can be briefly summarised thus:

  • The game is played on a 20 x 25 square gridded board
  • The terrain is broken up by mountains, and there are several forts that either side can occupy during the course of the game
  • Each side has two arsenals or supply bases, and the game ends when one side loses all their units or both of these arsenals
  • There are supply routes that run vertically, horizontally, and diagonally across the board, and in order to move a unit, players must either have them on one of the supply routes or be contiguous with a friendly unit that is on a supply route
  • Each player has a number of different units (infantry, cavalry, foot artillery, horse artillery, and generals)
  • Players take turns moving troops across the board
  • Each player can move up to five units each turn and is allowed mount one attack.
  • Attacks are decided by summing the offensive power of all the units that are in the range of an enemy target square and then subtracting the total defensive power of the other player's unit.
  • If this number is greater than 2 then the attack is a success

Sounds simple, doesn't it ... but like with all 'simple' games, the subtlety is in the play.

Some illustrations from Richard Barbrook's book show how the basic game (as shown above in the screen shot of the iPad screen) ...

... can be adapted for Napoleon's Marengo campaign ...

... and the Battle of Austerlitz.

Please note that the copyright of all the illustrations from Richard Barbrook's book lie with him and are used here for review purposes only.

Thursday 6 October 2022

The eastern end of the District Line

Whilst mentioning Jervis Johnson in passing yesterday, I was reminded that I have a very tenuous non-wargaming link to him. His father, the highly esteemed actor Richard Johnson (who played Colonel John Stewart in the film 'Khartoum' and Abou Fatma in the 1978 version of 'The Four Feathers'), was born in Upminster, Essex, the place that I lived from the age of eight until I left home at the age of twenty-two. My parents continued to live their until my mother died in 2002 and my father went into a care home in 2011.

Upminster was part of Essex when we moved there in 1958, but it became part of the London Borough of Havering when the Great London Council was set up in 1965. Its railway station is the terminus of the Underground’s District Line as well as being a station on the mainline between Southen-on-Sea and Fenchurch Street in the City of London. When I used it to commute to my job with Coutts & Co in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was almost universally known as the ‘misery line’. Trains were frequently late or cancelled, but I understand that now it is operated by c2c (which I understand stands for Coast to City), things are marginally better.

A map of that part of the District Line that runs from Upton Park to Upminster. © Transport for London (TfL).

There is a story that the word Upminster was used by some senior civil servants and/or politicians as a code word to describe some of the ideas that Mrs Thatcher came up with during her premiership. This was because Upminster was the end of the (District) line, and several stops past Barking (as in ‘barking mad!’). I don’t know how true this is, but there was an Operation Upminster. This was the name given to British Army operations in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in December 1998.

Over the years, Upminster has had its share of ‘famous’ people be born, live, or die there. These include:

  • Sir John Benn DL and his son William Wedgewood Benn DSO, DFC, PC (last 1st Lord Stansgate and the father of Tony Benn MP) lived in Upminster during the nineteenth century
  • Ian Dury (of Ian Dury and the Blockheads fame) lived in Upminster when he was a child
  • Jimmy Greaves MBE (who was a member of the World Cup winning England Soccer squad but who did not play in the final) lived in Upminster
  • Alice Perrers, who was Edward III's mistress, lived and was buried in Upminster
  • Field Marshal Sir Henry Evelyn Wood, VC, GCB, GCMG lived out his final years in rented property in Upminster
  • William Derham FRS was the Rector of Upminster, and used the tower of his church (St Laurence, Upminster) as one of the locations for his experiments to successfully measure the speed of sound in 1709

I should point out that my family actually lived in Corbets Tey, a small village that was subsumed into Upminster during the housebuilding booms of the 1930s and 1950s. This is about a mile to the south of the centre of Upminster, and still had a working village forge when we moved there.

The last time I visited Upminster, I saw that my favourite shop, Swan Books (which I remember as being called Swan Libraries) was still going strong, but I understand that it was forced to close on 18th January 2020 due to 'changes on the high street, aggressive competition online and evolving consumer habits'.

This was very sad news. It was the local book shop, and it is where I bought my first wargames books, firstly CHARGE (by Brigadier Peter Young and Lieutenant Colonel James Lawford), and sometime later, WAR GAMES (by Donald Featherstone).

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Tempting, very tempting ...

I bought this month's copy of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED on Monday so that I had something to read whilst waiting for my hospital appointment ... and I really ought not to have done!

Besides a free copy of a simple set of Napoleonic wargame rules by Jervis Johnson, Alan Perry, and Michael Perry entitled 'Valour & Fortitude', ...

... there was an article written by Mark Copplestone about his latest range of 30mm imagi-nation interbellum figures.

Now, I am currently looking at downsizing my figure collection, and have promised my wife that I will not buy any more until I have got rid of some of the ones I already own. I need to downsize because we are looking to move to a bungalow somewhere as neither of us is getting any younger, and since my colostomy and my worsening arthritis, I am finding it increasingly difficult to climb stairs ... and our current house has lots of them! The problem is that Mark's new figures are so tempting, and I really, really want to buy some!

He describes them as being 'pseudo-nostalgic', and the poses and the lack of minute detail means that they are very reminiscent of earlier ranges of figures that I cut my wargaming teeth on. They are also generic enough to represent pretty well any interbellum imagi-nation I could want to portray ... and there is a promise of more to come!

I can easily rationalise a purchase of these figures as allowing me to take my existing Belle Époque project thirty or so years forward ... but in a different scale. And hereby lies the madness that could easily come upon me. Can I justify ANOTHER collection? NO! Do I want to buy these figures? YES!

I am not asking for suggestions as to what to do ... but if over the next few months you see the occasional post about some 30mm imagi-nation figures I've been working on, you'll know that I have given in to temptation.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Some good news

I had an appointment at the hospital yesterday to discuss the continuing treatment of my prostate cancer. As the blood test I had on the previous Friday showed that my PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) level was 0.1, this appears to indicate that there is a very high probability that the cancer is no longer growing and may in fact be dormant.

The MacMillan nurse who is dealing with my treatment told me that I will be taking Erleada (apalutamide) for the foreseeable future and continuing to have injections of Zoladex (goserelin) every twelve weeks. My PSA level will be monitored regularly, and assuming there is no change, there should be no need for radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

This is good news … or at least, Sue and I think it is. Furthermore, the TURP (transurethal resection of the prostate) seems to have worked, and I am no longer experiencing problems urinating.

After a rather traumatic seven months, life seems to be gradually returning to normal. I still have concerns as there is no guarantee that the prostate cancer will stay as it is, but I now have hope, and I feel that a great mental load has begun to lift.

Monday 3 October 2022

Arctic Patrol Ships

The research I did for the High North game that I took part in made me aware that the Norwegians, Canadians, and Russians are all building similar Arctic Patrol Ships.

Svalbard (Norwegian Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel)

  • Displacement: 6,375 tonnes
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 340ft 3in/103.7m
    • Beam: 62ft 7in/19.1m
    • Draught: 21.3ft/6.5m
  • Propulsion: 4 x Rolls-Royce Bergen BRG-8 diesel generators powering 2 x ABB azipods Vl1500A units
  • Speed: 17.5 knots
  • Complement: 50
  • Armament: 1 x 57mm Bofors automatic gun; 1 x 12.7mm machine gun; equipped for 1 x Sinbad anti-aircraft missile launcher
  • Aircraft: 2 x helicopters (initially Westland Lynx; later NHIndustries NH90)

Harry DeWolf-class (Canadian Arctic offshore patrol vessel)

  • Displacement: 6,615 tonnes
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 339ft 11in/103.6m
    • Beam: 62ft 4in/19.0m
    • Draught: -
  • Propulsion: 4 x diesel generators powering 2 x electric motors, each powering a propeller
  • Speed: 17.0 knots
  • Complement: 65 (with accommodation for 87)
  • Armament: 1 x BAE Mk.38 25mm automatic gun; 2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns
  • Aircraft: 1 x helicopters (Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone or Bell CH-146 Griffon and/or CU-176 Gargoyle UAV

It is planned to build a total of eight ships of this class, six for the Royal Canadian Navy and two (unarmed) for the Canadian Coast Guard.

Project 23550/Ivan Papanin-class (Russian ice breaking patrol vessel)

  • Displacement: 6,800 tonnes
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 374ft/114m
    • Beam: 59ft 1in/18.0m
    • Draught: 19ft 8in/6m
  • Propulsion: 4 x Kolomna 28-9 diesel generators powering 2 x electric motors, each powering a propeller
  • Speed: 18.0 knots
  • Complement: 49 (with accommodation for 96)
  • Armament: 1 x 100mm AK-190 or 1 x 76.2mm AK-176MA automatic gun; 8 x 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles
  • Aircraft: 1 x Ka-32 helicopter

It is planned to build at least four ships of this class, two for the Russian Navy and two for the Russian Border Patrol Service/Coast Guard.

Sunday 2 October 2022

The High North

Yesterday I took part in an online political game about the High North (i.e. the Arctic region). As the ice cap melts, this is very likely to become the next part of the world where the different major world powers find themselves confronting each other for control of the exploitable resources that will become available. The scenario was set to take place in 2050, by which time it was expected that much of the Arctic region would be navigable and that seabed mining and oil extraction would be feasible.

I was a member of the Canadian team (Canada is a member of the Arctic Council) and was one of two negotiators who visited the other teams and players during the six-turn game. We used Zoom to meet for general end-of-turn plenary meetings, team meetings (in breakout rooms), and for individual negotiations (again in breakout rooms). The other teams/players were:

The negotiations and plenary votes on proposals went to and fro during the game, and although some progress was made, the situation remained unresolved by the end, although I think that quite a few issues were thrown up that require further investigation in future games.

This was a serious game, and I would not describe it as being fun ... but I did enjoy the experience and it did give me the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of this potential geo-political hotspot.

My thanks go to John Curry (of Bath Spa University) and Stephen Aguilar-Millan (of the European Future Observatory) for staging the game, and to Charlotte Aguilar-Millan for acting as the technical support.

Being a wargamer, I did some pre-game research into the military and quasi-military assets that Canada currently has or will have in the near future … and it makes for interesting reading. These assets are:

Canadian Assets

Military (Navy):

  • Six Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessels are Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS). The class is armed with 1 × BAE Mk 38 25 mm (0.98 in) gun and 2 × M2 Browning machine gun and is equipped with a hangar and flight deck and can operate the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone and UMS Skeldar V-200/CU-176 Gargoyle drones. The ships can deploy with multiple payloads, including shipping containers, underwater survey equipment, landing craft, snowmobiles, and all-terrain vehicles, and have a 20-tonne (20-long-ton; 22-short-ton) crane for loading and unloading. They can also carry 22 military personnel in addition to their crew of 65. They are designed for use in the Arctic regions of Canada for patrol and support within Canada's exclusive economic zone.

HMCS Harry DeWolf. © Royal Canadian Navy.

Military (Air Force):

  • Fourteen Lockheed CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft based in Nova Scotia and Vancouver. Due to be replaced by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon or the Raytheon Sentinel.

Military (Army):

  • Canadian Rangers a 5,000-strong sub-component of the reserve that provides a limited military presence in Canada's sparsely settled northern, coastal, and isolated areas. They also conduct inspections of the North Warning System (NWS) sites.
  • Four Arctic Response Company Groups have been created to support the Regular Force and the Canadian Rangers in operations to ensure security and the protection of Canada's national security and sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic.
  • The Canadian Army is currently in the process of replacing its existing fleet of fourteen BV206s with a purchase of around one hundred vehicles, either the ST Kinetics Bronco 3 or the BAE Systems Hägglunds BvS 10 Beowulf.

Coast Guard:

  • Two polar icebreakers, two heavy icebreakers, seven medium icebreakers, seven high endurance multi-task vessels (with icebreaking capabilities), and two Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessels. None of these are armed.

I also discovered that there are as yet to be solved problems with communication in the High North. These are:

  • Communications satellites operating in geostationary Earth orbit do not cover the area of the Arctic. Even when a link can be made, it can be prone to interruption from icing on antennas, or from disruption caused by heavy seas.
  • The Iridium satellite constellation can supply communications services in the Arctic, but there have been recorded cases of interruptions to the service which can last several minutes. It also does not provide the broadband communication that will be needed more and more with the development of human activities in the region, posing a challenge for the coming years 
  • The Canadian Space Agency has been developing the Polar Communications and Weather satellite (PCW) mission. Although the project is still being developed, it would comprise two satellites to serve Canada’s communication needs, as well as collecting information for the global research community on Arctic weather and climate.
  • In polar regions the ionosphere has rather different properties from those found elsewhere. These differences affect HF wave propagation in two important respects:
    • at frequencies below 30 mc./s., natural noise levels are lower than those existing in middle and low latitudes, and
    • the frequency of occurrence, duration, and severity of ionospheric disturbances is greater. The last factor is of major importance in designing arctic communication circuits.

Please note that most of the above information about communications is a 'cut and paste' exercise from various sources.

Saturday 1 October 2022

Backstories for my Belle Époque imagi-nations: The Commonwealth of Avalon

A thousand years ago the island of Avalon was settled by successive waves of tribal invaders from the areas that are now known as Burgundy and Schwarzenberg, and these incomers displaced the original inhabitants to the west and north. Over many centuries the invaders interbred with each other and the indigenous population, and although those from the north and west retain some elements of regional differences in terms of accent and dress, the modern population of Avalon can be regarded as being largely homogenous.

The flag of the present-day Commonwealth of Avalon.

The Commonwealth of Avalon came about after a bloody civil war between the monarch and his parliament. After the king’s death in battle, the parliamentary forces won and a republic (or commonwealth) was set up, with an elected head of state who was known as the Lord Protector.

Some fifteen years after the end of the civil war, the king’s son Edward – who was by now thirty years old – returned from exile in Burgundy. He did not come back to claim his throne, but as a commoner. However, he soon became the leader of the political party that had been set up by his father’s former supporters, and by the time he was forty he had been elected Lord Protector.

Edward’s enthusiastic adherence to the Commonwealth’s Constitution eventually led to the gradual demise of the republican movement, and few years before his death, parliament passed an Act that restored the monarchy. Before he signed it, the king insisted that the country should continue to be known as the Commonwealth of Avalon and the head of state’s title should henceforth be monarch and Lord Protector to ensure that the monarch remained subject to the Constitution.

The current monarch and Lord Protector is Valberta, who was the niece of the previous, childless monarch and Lord Protector.

Being an island, Avalon has always been outward looking, and has relied on seaborne trade to import raw materials that cannot be found on the island and to export the products of its industries. Its economy is based on light and heavy industries (mining, iron and steel production, shipbuilding etc.), agriculture, and fishing, and its merchant navy is the largest in the world.

The armed forces of Avalon consist of a navy and a small professional army. The latter is backed up by reserves and volunteers whose main task in time of war would be to defend the country from invaders.

Act declaring Avalon to be a Commonwealth

Be it declared and and enacted by this present Parliament and by the Authority of the same – That the People of Avalon and of all the Dominions and Territories thereunto Avalon a Commonwealth. belonging are and shall be and are hereby constituted, made, established, and confirmed to be a Commonwealth and free State And shall from henceforth be Governed as a Commonwealth and Free State by the supreme Authority of this Nation, the Representatives of the People in Parliament and by such as they shall appoint and constitute as Officers and Ministers under them for the good of the People and that without any King.

The original Constitution of the Commonwealth of Avalon

  1. That the supreme legislative authority of the Commonwealth of Avalon and the dominions thereunto belonging, shall be and reside in one person, and the people assembled in Parliament; the style of which person shall be the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of Avalon.
  2. That the exercise of the chief magistracy and the administration of the government over the said country and dominions, and the people thereof, shall be in the Lord Protector, assisted with a council elected by Parliament, the number whereof shall not exceed twenty-one, nor be less than thirteen.
  3. That all writs, processes, commissions, patents, grants, and other things, which now run in the name and style of the keepers of the liberty of Avalon by authority of Parliament, shall run in the name and style of the Lord Protector, from whom, for the future, shall be derived all magistracy and honours in this nation; and have the power of pardons (except in case of murders and treason) and benefit of all forfeitures for the public use; and shall govern the said country and dominions in all things by the advice of the council, and according to these presents and the laws.
  4. That the Lord Protector, the Parliament sitting, shall dispose and order the militia and forces, both by sea and land, for the peace and good of the nation, by consent of Parliament; and that the Lord Protector, with the advice and consent of the major part of the council, shall dispose and order the militia for the ends aforesaid in the intervals of Parliament.
  5. That the Lord Protector, by the advice aforesaid, shall direct in all things concerning the keeping and holding of a good correspondence with foreign kings, princes, and states; and, with the consent of the major part of the council, have the power of war and peace.
  6. That the laws shall not be altered, suspended, abrogated, or repealed, nor any new law made, nor any tax, charge, or imposition laid upon the people, but by common consent in Parliament.
  7. That there shall be a new Parliament summoned to meet once in every third year.
  8. That Parliament shall not, during the time of five months, to be accounted from the day of their first meeting, be adjourned, prorogued, or dissolved, without their own consent.
  9. That Parliaments shall be summoned and elected in manner hereafter expressed; that is to say, the persons to be chosen within Avalon to sit and serve in Parliament, shall be, and not exceed, the number of two hundred.
  10. That the persons to be elected to sit in Parliament from time to time, shall be according to the proportions and numbers hereafter expressed in a list of constituencies, to be listed hereafter in a separate schedule.
  11. That the summons to Parliament shall be by writ under the Great Seal of Avalon.
  12. That the persons who shall be elected to serve in Parliament, shall be such (and no other than such) as are persons of known integrity and being of the age of twenty-one years.
  13. That all and every person shall be capable to elect members to serve in Parliament.
  14. That all Bills agreed unto by the Parliament, shall be presented to the Lord Protector for his consent; and in case he shall not give his consent thereto within twenty days after they shall be presented to him, or give satisfaction to the Parliament within the time limited, that then, upon declaration of the Parliament that the Lord Protector hath not consented nor given satisfaction, such Bills shall pass into and become laws, although he shall not give his consent thereunto; provided such Bills contain nothing in them contrary to the matters contained in these presents.
  15. That the office of Lord Protector over this nation shall be elective and not hereditary; and upon the death of the Lord Protector, another fit person shall be forthwith elected to succeed him in the Government; which election shall be by the People.
  16. That all laws, statutes and ordinances, and clauses in any law, statute, or ordinance to the contrary of the aforesaid liberty of the People from the tyranny of a king, shall be esteemed as null and void.
  17. That every successive Lord Protector over this nation shall take and subscribe a solemn oath, that he will seek the peace, quiet and welfare of this nation, cause law and justice to be equally administered; and that he will not violate or infringe the matters and things contained in this writing, and in all other things will, to his power and to the best of his understanding, govern these nations according to the laws, statutes, and customs thereof.

Upon the restitution of the monarchy, certain articles of the Constitution were amended accordingly (e.g. Articles 15 and 16), but it remains the same in all its major provisions.