Monday, May 26, 2008

Move 27 & 28 - 10:00 to 12:00 - Day 2

10:00 to 11:00 - Day 2..

..the results of my decision to put the cavalry "in harms way" is pretty swift - in their second hour of movement we spotted the first of DG's outposts:



..the recon reports identified these as single units:


...further movement in the second hour identified another single unit:



...I need to keep trying and for the next move I'll shift west and north - somewhere on the peninsula DG has his main force - problem is - has he slipped behind me??? J

...more anon...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Move 26 (09:00 Day 2)

09:00 - Day 2..

...as a reminder the campaign map is to the left (click on it and any of the other pictures in this blog for the usual bigger view).

..I continue to worry about what DG is up to, so when the latest move arrived, and there was still no movement by his cavalry I decided it was time to act a little 'proactively' as I have no interest in being "humbugged, by God.." J

...one of the things I've noticed about wargamers is that we have a far lower boredom threshold than most, and often a stupid move in a game, or even campaign, could be initiated by nothing more than wanting to make something happen (hands up, anyone??J) in this case though I think my actions are pretty valid..

Firstly, the cavalry are the eyes of any army in this period, if they're not seeing anything then I'm blind. Secondly, and less justifiably, it's now 0900 and to my knowledge DG's cavalry have been stationary for the better part of 12 hours - he's doing something, and the cavalry are screening it I'm sure!

...sounds reasonable doesn't it? We shall see...

So, it's time to put the cavalry 'in harms way'... accordingly I've moved the squadron north of Carnine further north (nothing sighted), and one of the units west of Carnine (a half squadron) I've ordered north, but to the west of the range of hills, so as to reconnoitre the road between Fourstones (4/.) and Camsix (6.).

Positions at the end of the move then are as follows - no new sightings...


...more anon...

Monday, May 19, 2008

23:00 to 08:00 - Day 2..

..time, I think, for another update on the campaign which has carried on despite the lack of posts - that's the way it's going to be when the moves are taking place overnight and in both instances troops are getting some much needed rest and sleep... I've no interest in boring you rigid...!

...as a reminder the campaign map is to the left (click on it and any of the other pictures in this blog for the usual bigger view).

..you may remember that because my units started moving some time later than DG's they were significantly fresher so I was continuing to consolidate on Carnine long after the British had taken to their encampments for the night...

..positions at the end of move 15 (22:00 day 1) were as follows:


..and to be honest things have not altered much though it is now move 25 (08:00 on Day 2) - I can't speak for DG but I can advise that my troops are fresh and ready to go and all my units are now at the rendezvous point, with the exception of two cavalry vedettes that are positioned north and west of Carnine to give me advance notice of any British movement...

...you have no idea how worrying it is when your opponent just stops moving - I know he's probably resting his troops, but DG is a wily customer and I haven't excluded the possibility of an outflanking movement (hence the scouts to the west). I've toyed with the idea of withdrawing on Eighton, and Sevenoaks, but don't see the point as my current position is defensively strong - the river is impassable except at the road. DG is going to have to come and winkle my troops out of a strong defensive position in order to win the campaign - so bring it on... J

...more anon...

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..on a separate subject - the answer to the little quiz in the post before last, about what the weapon represents? I got a response from Minifigs that both my answers were right ie. it can be used for either a tripod mounted MMG/HMG, or an anti-tank rifle...

...finally, I urge the wargamers amongst you (or anyone else who has a tendency to have too many irons in the fire, come to that) to slip on over to Henry (Hyde's) Battlegames Blog (http://battlegames.wordpress.com/) where you should immediately read (and hopefully enjoy) his last post on the subject of "focus"...

...Henry has a happy knack of cutting to the quick and I found his comments particularly pertinent to my situation as well.. you'll be aware that I've been looking to get my American Civil War project off the ground for ages, with little or no success - despite my initial decision to go with 15mm, I've been finding myself looking at my 25mm AWI's and thinking "what if", I have rules I want to try and no time to try them as when I see DG we have games in other periods that, in the time we have, we would prefer to play. The focus that Henry mentions then is easily applicable to my current situation so I've decided to put the American Civil War project on the back burner for the time being... I have enough to be getting on with that I'm already enjoying immensely!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Appointment in London... part 2 of sorts..

..just a short update.

I hadn't realised quite how aposite my post was the other day - it turns out that today is the 65th Anniversary of the Dam Busters raid...

..can I suggest that you all raise a glass of your own particular "pleasure" today - mine will be a real ale of course - and salute the memory of some very brave men...

Link to the BBC story.... and follow this one Link to the BBC news video of the fly past..

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Appointment in London...

..no, I've not been travelling this was the title of a film that was one of a slew of free DVD's that a UK paper was giving away a couple of weeks ago..

...you can imagine that as they were free, there were some fair old clangers amongst them, but there were also some nuggets... Reach for The Sky, In Which We Serve, Aces High, Above Us The Waves, Battle of The River Plate etc. One of them however, I'd not seen before and turned out be an absolute cracker..

"Appointment in London" (click here) is set in 1943 and is about RAF Bomber Command. At that time the chances of bomber aircrew surviving a tour of 30 missions was just one in three. Dirk Bogarde stars as a wing commander approaching his 90th mission (so 3 tours under his belt) and the film is about the mental stresses of being in the position he is, how his superiors dealt with it, etc.

What made it for me however, was the extraordinary quality of the flying scenes - I read afterwards that the Dirk Bogarde character was based on Guy Gibson (of Dam Busters fame) and that actual veterans of Bomber Command were consulted during the production at every stage - it certainly shows... the film also depicts at length the methods used by bomber command to mark targets using different coloured flares, and how bombers were directed to the target often on differing routes so as to eliminate "creepback" (the tendency because of the danger was for bombers at the end of the group to drop their bombs earlier than those at the front - causing impact further and further away from the primary target)

The Dirk Bogarde character also acts as the "master bomber" a role taken by one of the crews, and tasked with ensuring bombs are dropped as efficiently as possible and on the correct targets.

Absolutely brilliant film and was then the cause of me finally picking up a book that has been on my "to read" pile for too long.. "Bomber Boys" (click here) is by Patrick Bishop, and I have to say is one of those books that you occasionally get where there is a genuine sense of disappointment when you finish the book - this was one of them, it's un-put-downable and I finished it in about two days....

Without a doubt my favourite military historians are those that deal with the individual - I am far more interested in the tactical than the strategic, and I am fascinated by first person accounts of the people who were actually there. Richard Holmes & John Keegan are masters, and I would add Patrick Bishop to their ranks.. the book is about the guys that flew bombers, he covers their training, the missions, the fear, the relationships, the weapons, tactics, bomb development, strategy, why bomber command targeted the cities, etc etc. There is huge amounts of personal detail from diaries, journals and letters - and it is absolutely fascinating..

The air crew were fantastically brave (I gave the odds just above), and the book is a fitting tribute, whilst also not avoiding the obverse side of the coin which was the huge damage dealt out to Dresden, Cologne, and many other German cities, some of which were of very limited military benefit.. "Bomber" Harris has taken much of the blame for this, the book shows how he was just the personal face of decisions that had been taken much higher than him (although he pursued those directives aggressively)...

So, also absolutely recommended for anyone interested in military history, and the stories of men at war...

Finally - seems a pity not to stand the hairs up on the back of your neck - have a look at the following and listen to those engines - fantastic....

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Rules of War..

..no not a set of wargame rules, but the latest book by Ian Gale in the Jack Steel series. This is the second one and follows on from "Man of Honour" which I reviewed previously here and here...

..the first book was set against Blenheim - this one is set against Ramillies. Gale has a fairly interesting approach to these major engagements as unlike Cornwell, who works his way up to the major engagement throughout the course of his books, Gale seems to start his books off with the actual engagement, the rest of the book then deals with the aftermath.

..in this case then the story starts off at a cracking pace with Jack Steel (the hero of the story, and a Captain of Grenadiers in a fictional British infantry regiment) taking part in the assault on Autre-Eglise and subsequently, Ramillies. Excellent description of the battle and some good insight into the views of the commanding officers (especially Orkney - who sounds an interesting if not very pleasant character!) when told they had to withdraw from Autre-Eglise following their hard won victory...

Following the assault on Ramillies however, and Marlborough's victory, the rest of the book covers off the aftermath of the battle. Gale goes into some detail on the difficult political position Marlborough faced in Belgium with the start of Belgian nationalism (Marlborough was offered and turned down the governorship of Belgium - I think he knew it was going to be a thankless task!) Also the difficult political position at home - Marlborough never had an easy ride of it.

Most of the second part of the book however, deals with the siege of Ostend. The port was needed to provide a supply line for Marlborough's further campaigns, it was also a base for French privateers who preyed on British shipping in the Channel. Gale packs in some interesting description on Vauban's fortification. Steel of course is selected to lead the forlorn hope in the assault, but not before he experiences a number of other adventures and escapades in and around Ostend.. good book, recommended!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Austrian Grenadiers

A busy day at the painting table over the bank holiday resulted in the following joining the ranks of Marlborough's Allied army


They were part of Montfort's Bde at the assault on the Schellenberg. The brigade comprised 3 battalions of converged grenadiers from Austrian, Franconian & Swabian regiments..

This unit represents the battalion made up from the Austrian regiments, so the battalion includes grenadiers painted to represent the infantry regiments of Baden, Salm and Tollet.

At the Schellenberg – this brigade was part of the advance guard and Count Styrum was killed while leading the formation in support of Goor's assault, while the rest of the imperial army outflanked D'Arco's position.

Bit of history and reference – and there’s plenty of discussion about the how’s and when’s of these converged units – some argue that the Austrians combined and un-combined converged regiments at the drop of a hat, others say they were converged at the beginning of a campaign and stayed together to the end – the more middle view – and the one I’m taking, is that it could have been either depending on situation – my further impression is that for at least the attack on the Schellenberg it was a decision taken just before the battle/assault – so a more ad hoc arrangement..


Alphons Freiherr von Wrede wrote a book, “Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht”, at the end of the 19th Century that details on a regiment by regiment basis from about 1618 onwards every unit of the land forces including all engagements, commanders, losses of senior officers and lineage (now that would be worth reading!). In it he states: `In times of war, at least from the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, it was the custom that the grenadier companies were taken from their parent regiments and formed into special battalions under nominated commanders and used as such on separate, important missions.” So jury is out – it was obviously common practice but no view on how permanent these converged units were..

Duffy wrote that Austrian grenadier “units” were basically more a part of their parent regiment than the Prussian grenadiers were, and they did not have a sort of permanent inhaber (commander) like the Prussians. Commanders of the Austrian grenadier battalions, when brigaded, tended to be very much more appointed on a kind of ad hoc basis. "Austrian Grenadiers… not organised, nor deployed by combined grenadier battalion, but by company and only by company. A group of companies may be given a specific task and sent off on an expedition or to another part of the battlefield, but it was entirely an ad-hoc measure (unlike Prussians for example).” In the winter, generally in winter quarters, the grenadier companies were with their parent regiments, which was not the case with the Prussian grenadier battalions. So he leans very definitely towards the ad hoc argument…


Figures are 15mm and by Essex (purchased at Salute this year) - good fun to paint as well - made a nice change from tricorne's to be painting bearskins! For something much more nicely painted than mine see the following from the Front Rank website.. exquisite....

Thursday, May 01, 2008

April Totals and a little quiz...

...and there went April - you might just have missed it went by so fast! That's a third of the year gone by already... and it only seems like yesterday it was Christmas!

..either way - April was good - highlight was undoubtedly Salute, but some other fine things happened this month, amongst which were...

First run through of the Sudan rules which I think went OK and generated a fair amount of interest between myself and DG culminating in v.3 of the rules - looking forward to the next game... see following for a new base of Dervish that have just joined the faithful of the Madiyah cause... the three kneeling guys firing muskets were part of my April painting output...(as is usual - click on any of them for a bigger view)


Discovering the new Minifigs website, and that it takes PayPal... new heavy weapons and support groups have been bought and currently being painted for the Afrika Corps and their Italian allies - the little quiz by the way refers to these guys - see end of post for more, but here's a taster of some of them - anti tank guns and LMG's:


Some nice book purchases were completed - from eBay I've just taken delivery of a near mint copy of "The Ancient Wargame" by Charles Grant the senior - lovely!! Made my day... I'll be reading, and reviewing here soon. Whilst on the reading front I've also taken delivery of "Under the Lily Banners" which takes the prize for being the nicest looking set of rules I've ever seen - DG and I are looking forward to trying them out on the table to see how they actually play. Finally on the reading front, it was my birthday in March, and with it came a hand full of Amazon vouchers some of which were exchanged for a new copy of "Scenario's for All Ages" by Grant (the younger this time) and Asquith... I'll review that as well once I've had time to read it...

Last of all - the campaign started - and while I realise that for some it may be a bit like the blogging equivalent of watching paint dry, DG and I are enjoying it loads... there'll be more posts going forward but I promise to keep them short('ish!) J

So - how did the blogs do this month?


Not bad... I'm endlessly amazed by the number of people who read my drivel so once again thanks.. the blog "winner" this month was the Teaser's - lots and lots of people read there this month (twice as many as last month). If any of you also read here, please let me know how your battles go, as I'd like to reference them from the relevant teaser so that people can see how others have done when playing the particular scenario..

The figure painting went reasonably OK as well:


...campaigning (and all the other things going on) kind of bit into my available brush time, but 15 points is reasonable when you consider that I also almost completed my Italian WWII support weapons groups - but as they weren't all based I haven't included them in the April totals - gives me a head start for May, though...J

..finally - here's the quiz... in the following - what does the weapon represent do you think? I'm honestly not sure, so feel free to respond via the comments tab...

It's either the tripod mounted version of the LMG's previously shown, or it might be an anti tank rifle, I'm thinking of the Solothurn S-18/100 20 mm Anti-Tank Cannon:


..the Italians used these quite a lot - among other things mounted on their armoured cars (see http://www.inert-ord.net/atrkts/50-55-20/index.html) - answers on a postcard!