Thursday 31 August 2023

And so it begins … at last!

On Tuesday I was supposed to go to Guy’s Hospital Cancer Care Centre at London Bridge for my first session of radiotherapy treatment, but on Monday this was cancelled, and I was told that I would have to go to the hospital’s outstation (the Macmillan Dimbleby Cancer Care Centre) at Queen Mary’s Hospital on Wednesday afternoon to start my treatment. On Tuesday I had a telephone call that told me that my start date had been moved to Thursday, so later today I hope that I will begin my course of radiotherapy.

I have read all the literature I’ve been given about the treatment, and I’ve got a fairly good idea what will happen … but until it does my nervousness about the treatment and any possible side effects will remain.

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Some more Command Decision cover photographs

The response to my recent blog post that featured the cover images used on Frank Chadwick’s BARBAROSSA 25 was very positive and I thought that my regular blog readers might appreciate seeing the photographs used on the covers of the other COMMAND DECISION series of books.


This mini-campaign book was included with my copy of the first edition of COMMAND DECISION.

The front cover image. Its caption reads 'Armored column of CCB halts while a battery of the 696th Field Artillery passes through Bastogne'.
The back cover image. Its caption reads 'German Volksgrenadiers move southwest along the rail line, escorted by a Gw38(t) and two StuG IIIs'.


This was the Cold War version of COMMAND DECISION and included the ORBATs and hexed map for LANDJUT, the Soviet invasion/NATO defense of Schleswig-Holstein and the Jutland Peninsula.

The front cover image. Its caption reads 'While a ZSU-23/4 stands guard, a T-72 battalion moves across a small stream by means of an AVLB'.
The back cover image. Its caption reads 'British infantry hold the edge of a town against a Soviet mechanized assault'.


This was the Great War version of COMMAND DECISION and included the ORBATs and hexed maps for ten scenarios, including a bathtubbed version of the 1914 campaign on the Western Front.

The front cover image. Its caption reads 'In the east, the war remained mobile. Germans attack a Russian-held village in 1916'.
The back cover image. Its caption reads 'During 1914, strongpoints expand into trenches. The BEF defends against a German counterattack'.

BASTOGNE was written and developed by Frank Chadwick and the late Loren Wiseman and published in 1987 by Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) (ISBN 0-943580-31-5).

COMBINED ARMS was written and developed by Frank Chadwick and Brad Hay and published in 1988 by Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) (ISBN 0-943580-32-3).

OVER THE TOP was written and developed by the late Greg Novak and Kevin Brown and published in 1990 by Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) (ISBN 1-55878-012-2).

Monday 28 August 2023

Looking backward in order to go forward

Like most wargamers of my generation (i.e. those born during the late 1940s and early 1950s) I began my wargaming in the age of Donald Featherstone’s WAR GAMES and James Lawford’s and Peter Young’s CHARGE! I had armies of Airfix plastic figures and a collection of model vehicles manufactured by ROCO and Airfix, with air support supplied by model aircraft from Frog and Airfix. I had two main collections – American Civil War and World War II – and I fought numerous wargames with them on the floor of my shared bedroom and the living room floor and table. I eventually ended up with a green-painted pasting table … which was great for battles that could be fought on a tabletop that was approximately 2’ wide and 6’ long!

After leaving school in 1968 I bought my first metal figures from Hinton Hunt’s shop in Camden Passage. It was just after Tony Richardson’s film ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ was released, and I bought a number of British and Russian infantry and cavalry, which I painted (very badly) using gloss Humbrol enamel paints. (I still have some of them in storage and I really ought to strip of my awful paint job and repaint them.) I supplemented the Russian infantry with some bought from Douglas Miniatures, which were painted using Matt Humbrol enamel paints.

I studied for my Cambridge University Certificate in Education at Hockerill College of Education, Bishop’s Stortford, from 1971 to 1973, and during my time there I bought quite a few ROCO Cold War tanks and vehicles. Once I had qualified, I worked for two years at Burnt Mill Comprehensive School, Harlow, and my Cold War and World War II collections continued to expand. I did attend a few meetings of the Harlow Wargames Club, but never felt particularly welcome, and this confirmed my decision that solo wargaming was for me.

In 1975 I moved to London and began working at Woolwich Polytechnic School for Boys, Woolwich, and during my time there I was able to run an after-school wargame club which attracted a few loyal members, one of whom (Alan Abbey) I am still in regular contact with.

It was during the late 1970s that I came into contact with Eric Knowles, and for the first time I actually began to wargame as a member of a group (you could never term the collection of wargamers who met once a week in Eric’s shop’s basement as a club!) and took part in the Madasahatta Campaign … which fired my interest in colonial and World War I wargaming. In 1980 the late Paddy Griffith invited me to attend what became the first Conference of Wargamers (COW), and I’ve remained a very active member of Wargame Developments ever since, having served as the Treasurer and Membership Secretary for the last forty-three years.

By the mid 1980s I was married to Sue, and I had moved on to a new role as a Post-16 Consortium Coordinator. I was based in a number of schools in the Borough of Greenwich, and whilst I was at Thomas Tallis School, I ran a wargame option as part of their Wednesday afternoon elective studies course. It was quite a successful course (we fought an Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War mini-campaign) and I actually had one student achieve an A grade for his General Studies GCSE coursework based around a wargame that he designed.

When the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) was wound up in 1991 I moved on to work as the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) coordinator and Head of Careers/Work Experience Coordinator at Crown Woods School, and I remained there as a full-time teacher until 2001. At that point my job became redundant, and I set up a teaching supply agency that provided experienced teaching staff to fill long term vacancies … and I returned to work in the IT Department at Crown Woods School for several days a week whilst also working part time for the Greenwich Education Business Partnership (GEBP). I finished my career in 2013 as a Business Studies and Travel & Tourism Lecturer at Crossways Sixth Form in Brockley, at which point I decided that forty years in teaching was enough and that it was time to retire.

During my working life I continued to wargame as and when I could and built up - and disposed of - quite a few collections. Now that I am a seventy-three-year-old, the time has come to think seriously about downsizing my collections, and recently I have been pondering the answer to the wargamer’s version of the final ‘Desert Island Discs’* question: what wargaming book and what wargame collection would you want to have with you if you were marooned on a desert island?

After considerable thought my reply would be:

  • Joseph Morschauser’s HOW TO PLAY WARGAMES MINIATURE (which just bumped Donald Featherstone’s WAR GAMES into second place).
  • My Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War collection (with my Belle Époque collection just behind it).

Writing this blog post and answering that question has helped me to identify how I now want to move forward for the foreseeable future.

* For the benefit of my non-UK blog readers, ‘Desert Island Discs’ is a BBC radio programme that has been broadcast weekly (with seasonal breaks) since 29th January 1942! The format is simple: each week a guest is invited to share a choice of the top ten records that they would like to have with them if they were castaway on a desert island. They were also entitled to chose one book (in addition to the Bible or similar religious book and the complete works of Shakespeare) and one luxury that they could take with them.

Sunday 27 August 2023

Barbarossa 25 cover images

I was surprised to read that some of my regular blog readers had not heard of this book before and one expressed an interest in the image on the cover. I have therefore scanned them in, and here they are:

The front cover image. Its caption reads 'Soviet infantry mans the fortification line on the outskirts of Moscow'.
The back cover image. Its caption reads 'German tanks and panzer grenadiers engage a Soviet rearguard while horse-drawn artillery withdraws up the road'.

Unfortunately the other photographs in the book are all quite small and reproduced in black and white. The terrain used was produced by Geohex.

Friday 25 August 2023

The historiography of World War I: The latest Military History Plus podcast

I managed to listen to the last of the current series of Military History Plus podcasts yesterday … and it was yet another excellent one!

Professor Gary Sheffield and Dr Spencer Jones are both well-known for their research and writings about this conflict, and I cannot think of any other historians who are better placed to discuss its historiography.

In my opinion they pretty well demolish the emotive (and inaccurate) idea that the British Army were ‘lions led by donkeys’. I first came across this interpretation of history when I read Alan Clarke’s THE DONKEYS back in the mid-1960s, and at the time it was the popular view of how warfare was conducted on the Western Front. It’s probably true to say that Clarke’s book, when coupled with the study of the ‘war poets’ as part of the secondary school curriculum and Joan Littlewood’s 1963 stage musical of ‘Oh, What a Lovely War! (and Richard Attenborough’s 1969 film version) embedded this in popular culture. Add ‘Blackadder goes forth’ into the mixture, and I suspect that this point-of-view still predominates.

However, certainly since the centenary of the outbreak of the war, this has begun to change … thanks to the work done by Messrs Sheffield and Jones amongst others. Far more people now accept that the British Army and its commanders learned the hard lessons meted out to them, and by the time of the Hundred Days campaign in 1918, they were more than capable of defeating the Germans. It has even been written that the British Army of 1918 was probably the best army that the country has ever sent into battle.

I thoroughly recommend that anyone with even the vaguest interest in the Western Front from 1914 to 1918 should listen to this podcast.

Thursday 24 August 2023

Barbarossa 25

I bought a copy of Frank Chadwick’s BARBAROSSA 25 when it was first published in 1988, and I’ve read it many times.

I would rate it as being almost as influential in generating my long-term desire to re-fight the Axis invasion of Russia as reading about Lionel Tarr’s wargames The book outlines how Frank Chadwick devised a bathtub campaign of the invasion with everything being scaled down by 1:25 … approximately. (This seems to have been done so that the maps from the board game FIRE IN THE EAST could be used as the campaign maps.) I was so taken with the concept that I bought the tabletop rules that the campaign was designed to work with (COMMAND DECISION) and even painted and based a two-battalion Hungarian infantry regiment (with supporting artillery) to use with them.

I never used my Hungarians, and I even lent them to another wargamer for a time. They eventually ended up in my shed … from which they were rescued some years ago. Some have even been recently renovated and now form part of my newly-flocked Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War collection.

They are now awaiting their turn to have their bases flocked ... which should be in the very near future.

BARBAROSSA 25: COMMAND DECISION CAMPAIGN MODULE was written by Frank Chadwick and published in 1988 by Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) (ISBN 0-943580-98-6).

Monday 21 August 2023

Flocking news

Over the weekend I’ve been making progress with the flocking of the bases of my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War collection, and I should finish all the renovated and rebased figures and vehicles before my radiotherapy starts.

What I have realised is that I still have loads of figures and vehicles that still need to be renovated and/or repainted and/or re-based, and depending upon how I feel during my treatment, I might have a go at dealing with them so that the collection is ready to be used.

Whatever I do, I have a few other wargame-related tasks to perform over the next two months, and they may well have to take precedence. In the meantime, here are some of the photographs of Lionel Tarr’s battles that first inspired me to want to wargame the Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Rapid Fire! Reloaded

I bought a copy of the RAPID FIRE! rules when they were first published in 1994, …

…but although I enjoyed reading them and the associated supplements, I never persisted with using them and never bought the second edition.

Recently I watched the videos on Ken Hanning’s YouTube channel and he persuaded me that I ought to take a look at the most recent iteration of the rules, RAPID FIRE! RELOADED: FAST PLAY WARGAMING RULES FOR WORLD WAR TWO LAND BATTLES ...


The first of these is split into thirteen sections:

  • What is Rapid Fire Reloaded?
  • Assembling the Forces
  • A British Force
  • A German Force
  • Will they Fight?
  • Can You See the Eenemy?
  • Moving the Troops
  • Firing at the Eenemy!
  • Smoke Shells
  • Close Assault
  • Ambush Firing
  • Multiple Rocket Launchers
  • The Battle for Mouen 28th June 1944

The second contains additional rules and is split into fifteen sections:

  • Paratroops and Gliders
  • Ground Attacks by Aircraft
  • Boats and Amphibious Vehicles
  • Minefields & Engineering Tasks
  • Artillery Options
  • OP Variants and Air OPs
  • Command
  • Supply
  • Vehicle Repairs
  • Amphibious Landings
  • Concealment Markers
  • Large Tank Battles
  • Night Fighting and Snow
  • SMG Companies
  • Solo Games

The books only cost £5.00 each and particularly liked the user-friendly layouts of these conveniently A5-sized booklets. I'm not sure if I will actually use the rules for my own wargames, but even a cursory glance through them has made me realise that the have lots of potential ideas that I can tinker about with and incorporate into my own home-brewed rules.


Thursday 17 August 2023

Reinforcements for my 20mm World War Two Russian collection

Very recently my old friend David Crook made me aware that a former trader was selling off diecast models of BA-64 armoured cars. As my collection needs some of these light armoured scout cars, I ordered ten and they arrived by post earlier this week.

I hope to repaint and base these vehicles once I have finished flocking the renovated figures and vehicles in my existing collection. They will then form the reconnaissance elements of my Soviet Red Army formations.

Wednesday 16 August 2023

First Bull Run: Today’s Military History Plus podcast

Later this morning Professor Gary Sheffield and Dr Spencer Jones will be discussing the First Battle of Bull Run in Episode 7 of the Military History Plus podcast.

Last week’s podcast looked at the late Dr Paddy Griffith’s book RALLY ONCE AGAIN, ...

... which was published in 1986 and revised and republished as BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR in 1989, ...

... so today’s podcast will hopefully be a nice follow up to that podcast.

Sunday 13 August 2023

Miniature Wargames Issue 485 September 2023

I subscribe to Readly and one of the magazines I can read online is MINIATURE WARGAMES. The latest issue was of particular interest because the PORTABLE WARGAME is mentioned twice.

  • Portable Middleton by Arthur Harman is a small Portable Wargame scenario for the Battle of Middleton Cheney 1643.
  • The Second Portable Wargame Companion is reviewed by Chris Jarvis in the magazine’s RECCE section.

I might buy a printed copy of this issue if I happen to see it on sale as some of the other articles look interesting, including one by Arthur Harman about edible casualty markers!

Saturday 12 August 2023

A start date at last!

Last Monday I had to visit the Guy’s Hospital Cancer Care Centre near London Bridge Station for a hydration briefing and urine flow test. This was followed by a second visit on Thursday for a CT scan, after which I was given the schedule of dates and time for my radiotherapy treatment. This will start on Tuesday 29th August and should end on Wednesday 18th October.

I’m not sure whether I will suffer any side effects but I’m hopping that if I do, they won’t be too bad. I am hoping that travelling to the treatment centre in Sidcup won’t impact too much on my normal daily routine. One thing I am certain about: it won’t be as tiring as having to go to London Bridge during the rush hour has been!

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Wargames Illustrated Issue 428 August 2023

I happened to be in the Bluewater branch of WHSmith when I saw this month's issue of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED. I had a flick through it and several articles caught my eye, so I bought a copy.

The articles that caught my eye were:

  • Loose Files and American Scramble by Andy Callan
  • Returning To Old Favourites: One Person's Passion - Collecting Old School Armies by Rick Priestley
  • Fashoda Showdown by Nick Buxey
  • Citadel to Perry Minis, via Foundry, and interview with the Perry twins
  • Making an Acacia Tree by Matt Parkes
  • Thane Tostig by Daniel Mersey

I've known Andy Callan for forty-three years, and I know that any rules that he has written will be worth reading, even if they relate to a period of wargaming that I don't wargame.

As a bit of an 'old school' wargamer, Rick Priestley's article - and especially many of the photographs of good old Minifigs figures - really struck a chord ... and it was interesting to see that in an age of super-detailed figure sculptures and shaded figures, how good they looked!

The Fashoda Showdown article looked at what might have happened if the British and French had come to blows on the banks of the Upper Nile. It's a 'what if?' I've thought about refighting myself, and this article certainly made me think about actually doing so at some time.

The interview with Alan and Michael Perry was interesting and informative, and showed how their careers and their sculpting has developed over the years.

The acacia tree has a special place in the hearts of all Freemasons, so this article was a 'must read' ...

Thane Tostig was the brainchild of my old friend, the late Eric Knowles, ...

... and his son William ... although we always called him Bill! It was a fantasy game that featured figures by the legendary Barry Minot, and although I never played any of the games Eric staged, I can well remember seeing the figures being cast in the basement of his shop - the New Model Army - in Manor Park, east London. Daniel Mersey's article does contain a few errors (for example, Eric and Bill were father and son and not brothers!) but it was great to see that Thane Tostig has not been forgotten!

(I devoted a whole appendix to ‘The Quest of Thane Tostig’ or ‘The Quest of Thane Tostig for the Magic Sword Blooddrinker’ in the book I compiled about the Madasahatta Campaign. It included a list of all the figures that Eric planned to release.)

Sunday 6 August 2023

Martinstaat 1744: A detailed wargame campaign set in a fictitious world

Like a lot of wargamers that enjoy wargaming with imagi-nations, I’ve been waiting for Henry Hyde’s latest book with bated breath. I decided to wait until it was available in hardback, and my copy was delivered on Thursday.

MARTINSTAAT 1744: A DETAILED WARGAME CAMPAIGN SET IN A FICTITIOUS WORLD is exactly as described in its title. It has 104 full-colour pages and is absolutely choker-block full of maps and illustrations that complement the text. The book is divided into the following chapters and sections:

  • A Word About Illustrations
  • Introduction
  • What Are Imagi-Nations?
  • Martinstaat 1744: The Background
    • The Campaign Background
    • Campaign Rules Used Specifically for 1744
    • The Opposing Forces for 1744
    • Prunkland’s Armed Forces in 1744
    • The Faltenian Army
    • My 1744 Planning Notes
  • The 1744 Campaign in Detail
    • Week 1:1st-7th February 1744
    • Week 2: 8th-14th February 1744
    • Week 3: 15th-21st February 1744
    • Week 4: 22nd-28th February 1744
    • Week 5: 1st-7th March 1744
    • Week 6: 8th-14thMarch 1744
    • Week 7: 15th-21st March 1744
    • Week 8: 22nd-28thMarch 1744
    • Week 9: 29th March-4th April 1744
  • Crossing the Steinwasser at W31
    • Situation
    • Week 10: 5th-11th April 1744
    • Week 11: 12th-25th April 1744
    • Week 12: 19th-25th April 1744
    • Week 13: 26th April-2nd May 1744
    • Week 14: 3rd-9th May 1744
    • Week 15: 10th-16th May 1744
  • Thoughts About the 1744 Campaign
  • A Few More Detailed Hexes
  • More About the Opposing Forces
  • The Cost of Raising an Army
    • Economics, Infrastructure and Supply Rules from the 1742 Campaign
    • Additional Economics, Infrastructure and Supply Rules and Amendments from the 1743 Campaign
    • Additional Notes Found
  • A Partial Atlas
  • Afterword: Guy's Perspective

Reading this book gave me an immense amount of fun ... and lots of ideas for my own campaigns!

This is a book for wargamers by an extremely talented wargamer, writer, illustrator, and cartographer, and I think that all wargamers should buy a copy. It might not be set in a period that you wargame (and I certainly don't wargame eighteenth century conflicts, even imagi-nation ones!) but you will gain so much from this book that it will repay its cost many times over.

MARTINSTAAT 1744: A DETAILED WARGAME CAMPAIGN SET IN A FICTITIOUS WORLD was written and illustrated by Henry Hyde and published in 2023 by Gladius Publications (ISBN 979-8-8532-4500-6).

Saturday 5 August 2023

A busy time on the domestic front

The last few days have been rather busy ones for Sue and I.

It all started when water started to drip through the ceiling of the bathroom on the first floor of our house. As there is a shower immediately above where the water was dripping through, I assumed that the outlet pipe from the shower was leaking and telephoned our insurance company. (We have a policy that covers us for leaking pipes.) Within a couple of hours the emergency plumber arrived, examined the shower, and announced that the problem wasn’t a leaking outlet pipe. He then tapped the tiles inside the shower and announced that they had ‘blown’, and that water was getting behind them and running down the wall behind the tiles, and this was causing the dripping.

Luckily my one of my next-door neighbours is a builder, and he arranged for his site manager (Yuri) to come and look at what needed to be done. Yuri duly arrived on Thursday morning, looked at the tiles, and announced that he would have to remove most of them to cure the problem. He returned that afternoon, and by the time he left he had removed and cleaned up the tiles so that they could be reused and cut away the satuarated (and somewhat mouldy) plasterboard that was behind them.

He returned on Friday morning, replaced the plasterboard, fitted some sort of waterproof membrane, re-tiled the shower and – after a suitable interval – grouted the tiles. He also sealed the area around the shower tray with silicone and then fitted a plastic seal over that to ensure that the sealant should not deteriorate too quickly.

We now have a working shower again … and no drips coming through the bathroom ceiling!

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Some personal news

Yesterday I had a meeting with the consultant oncologist who will be supervising my radiotherapy and I have signed the treatment form so that it can begin in the near future.

If everything goes according to plan, I should start treatment in about four weeks. This will involve me having CT scan at Guy's Hospital in central London so that they can identify and tattoo the target areas for the x-ray beams, and this will be be followed by thirty-seven daily sessions of radiotherapy at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup.

The consultant has told me that there may be a number of inconvenient and/or unpleasant short- and long-term side effects but given the choice it made sense to undergo the treatment.

The treatment will only last a short time each day, but travelling to and from the hospital and any side effects may well impinge of my daily life. I will endeavour to continue blogging as regularly as I can once my treatment starts, but I suspect that I may well blog somewhat less than I usually do.