Saturday, January 31, 2009

More losses to music ....

Just a brief post as other places & sites have written on it far more eloquently than I ever could, but I just wanted to recognise the passing of two musicians who both died this week, way too early in their lives, and whose music has given me a huge amount of enjoyment over the years...

First John Martyn, who wrote some stunning music and played some beautiful guitar... despite his "life issues" (what a hideous phrase) he was a real talent and as I say, died far too young ... check this out and you'll see what I mean..



The second was a musician whose name most people probably wouldn't recognise, Billy Powell.

Way back in the day, as a spotty nerdy teenager, wearing an RAF greatcoat with a handful of LP's under my arm, this man played keyboards for the first 'proper' rock band I ever went to see... Imagine the scene if you will - it was 1976 at the Portsmouth Guildhall, and I think it was "The One More for the Road Tour". My mates from school and I were there.... open eyed at the sight of the Hells Angels and their ladies sat on the floor in the Guildhall bar chugging bottles of Jack Daniels they'd bought with them rather than have to pay bar prices, while the little old ladies who worked there showing people to their chairs etc looked on in horror ...my mum would have had kittens if she'd seen it!

I can remember it to this day and I count myself very lucky that I got to see Lynyrd Skynyrd (for it was they...) in their prime, and before the dreadful plane accident killed so many of them the next year....

Here they are in all their glory - this was from the same year I saw them, so I guess I got to see them a few months before this was taken. The video is from their appearance at the Knebworth festival where they were on the same bill as the Rolling Stones - wouldn't have liked to have been in the Stones tour bus when they heard how these guys were going down with the crowd!

,


John Martyn: http://tinyurl.com/afoaho

Billy Powell: http://tinyurl.com/b7njtb

Commerce raider...

An interesting day out today with my first ever visit to Penarth to attend the "Crusade" show...

You may remember that my regular wargame opponent DG moved to Wales some time ago, and mentioned that his "local" show (though it takes even him a couple of hours to get to) is in Cardiff and did I fancy going?

Three hour drive each way aside, it was a bit of a no-brainer, one, it was a good opportunity to have a chinwag with DG face to face - catch up on news, next steps for the campaign etc. etc, and two, it's a long time since "Warfare", and still some way to go to "Salute"!

Either way, 06:00 this morning found me in the dark, getting into the car, and heading for the principality...

The day was good, the show was fine, and it was good to see DG and have the aforesaid chat - shame the bar wasn't open as I'd promised him a beer! Will have to wait for "Salute" for that.. either way, Crusade is held in a Leisure/Sports Centre so the setup is very similar to Warfare. A much smaller show though, I would say that the trader area was probably half the size of the Warfare show, but nonetheless respectable, and it was good to have a rummage about...



Highlight of the day for me was to see the new Warhammer Historical production "Trafalgar", which allows you to fight naval battles in the late 18th early 19th century ie. the classic sailing era covering off the battles from the War of Independence through to the 1812 War with America (and probably later).. as you'd expect the book is absolutely full to the gills with fine pictures - I was interested to see that in a book of about 150+ pages though the rules only take up 30! The rest is scenario's, fleet lists, a bit of history, and modelling tips - wish the Warhammer guys gave us the opportunity to dump the bits we didn't want! At £20 though it's pretty typically priced these days, and I've promised myself a copy at "Salute"... a new project perhaps??

Two favourite games at the show - if I really had to make a choice, and I guess I don't, I think this one probably shaded it for me:

This game was set on the Eastern Front, and had some gorgeous modelling - it made you reach for the scarf and gloves just looking at it! I particularly liked those Sturmoviks!

The game was presented by a group called "The Escape Committee" and was titled "Battle Before Moscow 1941"..

My other favourite game was this one - a jaw dropping effort put on by the Skirmish Wargames Society..

all those figures were 54mm and as you can see in the close up shot, exquisitely painted...

a top notch effort, with loads of work...

..but they put them in this really dark corner of the hall - hence the flash...


Thursday, January 29, 2009

A shaft of blinding light...

Sometimes something strikes you as being so obvious you have to slap your forehead Homer'like (as in the Simpsons rather than the Ilyiad) and utter the word "Doh!"

So there I am since Christmas wondering what to blog about, and what might interest my readers and then I suddenly realised, I have all this the wrong way round - for some reason people actually enjoy reading here what makes an average wargamer tick, so rather than waiting for some earth shattering, special, or "interesting" event to happen I'd better start writing about what I've actually been doing this week...!

First off, DG & I have been continuing our virtual wargame, and have almost reached conclusion - it's my intent to write up the next few moves and post them here just as soon as I've finished writing this installment. Not wanting to give too much away it looks like I may well achieve my primary objective which was to destroy the two units I'd contacted.... as is the way with virtual games however, and reading between the lines I think Stokes may have experienced some of this, a virtual game really is not so easy as a face to face engagement.

Now this isn't because of the obvious things ie. being able to show the tabletop to the same detail that someone standing over it looking down would get,to someone who is not physycally there etcetc. No, it's because of things you wouldn't actually think would be a problem..

Example, DG and I have been playing Will McNally's AWI Rules for about as long as we can remember - we almost know them off by heart, but the sheer act of working through moves remote from each other caused us to forget things, do things in the wrong order, etc. Most perplexing - and then we realised what it is - when we play face to face we continually exchange views, comments, and in my case little gems of sparkling erudition, about the rules, the game and what have you - it's that that makes a face to face game run far more smoothly (and quickly)... Don't get me wrong, a virtual game is way better than no game, but this game has taken the better part of two or three weeks to play 6 moves and it's because of that built in delay.... interesting isn't it?

What else have I been doing? Well those who read here will know that I'm a bit of a fiend for history facts and information (like most wargamers I know to be honest!) So you can imagine that my interest was particularly piqued by a request for information on the Early Linear warfare Yahoo Group this morning - nothing better on a cold lunchtime in England that getting Google to do some work for a change..

A gentlemen by the name of Nick Dorrell (nick@wfgamers.org.uk) was looking for details on the uniforms of some British regiments in 1710 (reading between the lines it looks like a project for the Spanish theatre of the war), so I decided to see what I could find (though without much hoping of beating some of the exceedingly switched on characters who post to that group)!

Dragoons: Rochefort's / Lepell's, Peterborough's / Nassau's

Infantry: Mohun's/ Dormer's, J.Caulfield's / Bowles, Lepell's /
Richards', Munden's, Gore's, Bourke's or Bourgay's, Dalziel's.

So first step was the old Regiment.org web site - now sadly defunct, but you can download the entire website here and from it:

  • Lepell was found to be Nicholas Lepell who commanded a foot regiment from 1705-10 before commanding a dragoon regiment from 1710-13. So what does "Nicholas Lepell" (with quotes) find us on Google - well the Peerage.com tells us that Brigadier General Nicholas Lepell (so he did well for himself) had had a child in 1706, and that he also "held the office of Groom of the Bedchamber to George, Prince of Denmark"(!) but could I find which Dragoon regiment he commanded??? Could I heck as like...

    One last gem though when I added the 'dragoon' to the Google search I found this site The site had an online copy of the "Warrant Books: June 1709, 11-20" from the Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 23: 1709...

    In it, for June 18th 1709, there is an entry that says "Royal warrant dated St. James's to same to pay to James Brydges, Paymaster of the Forces Abroad, the full pay (according to the Irish Establishment) of the Regiment of Dragoons under Brigadier Edward Pearce and the Foot Regiments of Major Gen. Gorges and Visct. Mountjoy from dates as below to the time they shall embark for Ireland to replace the Regiment of Dragoons under Lieut. Gen. Robert Echlin and the Foot Regiments of Col. Richard Munden and Nicholas Lepell which have been ordered from Ireland to Great Britain; it being certified that the various Troops detailed of Echlin's Dragoons did so embark on 1708 Oct. 7–19 and Munden's and Lepell's Foot on Feb. 6 last. Ibid., pp. 91–2." Good old accountants... but interesting as this is, still no closer to finding what the dragoon regiment was, and as a result their uniform...

    So nothing in regiments.org, or Google, and nothing in my dependable fallback Grant's "Armies and Uniforms of Marlborough's Wars" (though Grant spells the other name as Rochford rather than Rochefort). Regiment is listed - but no uniform details..

  • Peterborough's / Nassau's was a little easier - regiments.org soon highlighted the regiment as the 20th Light Dragoons (as they became much much later), formed in 1706 as the Earl of Peterborough's (that's him to the right) Regiment of Dragoons and disbanded in 1712 (they were reformed three years later). Nassau was colonel from 1707.

    Interesting snippet here though - this is from Google Books and is transcript from "The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803" at the bottom of page 16 it makes mention that

    men including officers and their servan therefore it was thought convenient at tb ginning of the year 1707 to take the omini л soldiers which remained in six regime 15 loot then in Valencia and Catalonia and distribute them towards fitling up several of rest of the regiment then there and tost the officers of the said six regiments with lhe officers of the late earl of Barrymore"


    ..so there was me thinking "aha - all I need is the uniform of Barrymore's Foot and that will probably be the same as this Regiment of Dragoons", when I realised that this was a different regiment of Dragoons (Pearce's), ah well.... To cap it all, Grant again lists the regiment but doesn't give any uniform details for that regiment either...

So there you have it, an interesting lunch break, no uniform details, but loads of interesting information, and a really fun search.... like I said - just a geek really (and I still have the infantry to do)...!

PS. If anyone reading here has some facts on those uniforms, do please contact Nick, but I'd be interested as well!

Friday, January 23, 2009

British Cavalry - Sudan

Time to get back to the nub of the whole thing - little metal men - and here's my first output for 2009... two thirds of the figures to represent a troop of His Majesty's West Sussex Yeomanry (a fictional unit that may have actually exisited in one form or another at some time in the past, but certainly not in the Sudan!)

These figures are all Peter Pig 15mm's..

They show the mounted and dismounted versions of the troop - I still have the three bases of horse holders to do that will mark where the unit dismounts..

In the Sudan, after El Teb* a lot of the British cavalry ended up being armed with "home made" lances and native spears as it was found that when charged, the Dervish would lie down and it was difficult for the cavalry to reach them with just the sword - either way, these guys are not! (* source is Bennet Burleigh)

All in all I'm quite pleased with these guys - I especially liked the effect I got with the Windsor and Newton Peat coloured ink on the helmets.. the uniform was inspired by that worn by the 19th Hussars - they wore the standard grey serge frocks, with Bedford cord pantaloons and home service boots.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Fire and Sword" - Simon Scarrow

While Simon Scarrow is better known for his Roman legionary series, he's also writing a fictionalised account of Wellington and Bonaparte's lives - he's now up to the third volume (pictured left) which I've just finished, and I can recommend it to anyone with an interest in 18th and early 19th century military history...

Scarrow has chosen to write the book so that the lives of the two commanders are shown in parallel - typically he has two or three chapters on Bonaparte at a specific point in his careers/life, and then does the same for Wellington showing what he was doing at the same time. It's a very interesting approach, but one that didn't work quite so well in the second volume as it covered the period when Wellington was in India, which was simply too far away from Europe to allow the usual reaction you would expect to breaking news in the continent.In this volume however, with both protagonists in Europe, it works as well as it did in the first volume.

This book runs from just after the return of Wellington from India as the victor of Assaye, and the crowning of Bonaparte as Emperor, to the point where Wellington commands the British army in the Peninsula having just ejected Soult's army from Portugal.

I had approached this book slightly warily, as to be honest, I thought the second volume was a bit duff - there was no interplay of characters due to geographical distance, and I thought the writing was a little weak. Happily, I need not have worried though, as Scarrow was back to the standard he set with the first volume...

This book spans the period from when (militarily at least) Bonaparte was probably at his his most skilled, to just after his peak. The highlight of this period being Jena & Auerstadt, Eylau and the total humbling of Prussia/Russia at the Treaty of Tilsit. There's an excellent little vignette in the book, by the way, about a supposed meeting between Queen Louisa of Prussia and Bonaparte at Tilsit one night, where she had attempted (you can imagine how!) and failed to make him change his mind about the almost ruinous conditions he'd laid on Prussia.

Most historians seem to think that tactically and strategically, Bonaparte was never at his best after this period - it ends with his disastrous handling of the Spanish issue. Scarrow seems to think that Bonaparte may have had psychological problems (megalomania) that were exacerbated by his success.. there's clear indications that his handling of situations militarily after this time were not as deft - more sledgehammer than scalpel...

So while Bonaparte was being made Emperor of France, and driving all of Europe before him, Wellington was struggling to make his name - throughout the book his career is primarily political, but there's interesting sections on the "Danish adventure" when he commanded a brigade in the British force that besieged and bombarded Copenhagen in order to deprive the French of the Danish fleet (a sad interlude if ever there was one), and at last his chance to shine in the Peninsula (the first time) with Vimiero before being recalled. After the death of Sir John Moore however, Wellington was given command again, and the books end with his success at Oporto against Soult.

Excellent stuff - and as one of the reviewers on Amazon put it - please don't make us wait too long for the next and final one!

Steve the Wargamer rates this an 8 or 9 out of 10..

The picture by the way is titled "Napoleon Bonaparte Receiving Queen Louisa of Prussia at Tilsit, 6th July 1807", painted in 1837 by Nicolas Louis Francois Gosse. Not received in the way she wanted, I dare say...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Catch up & The Skirmish at Carnine - continued..

Been a funny old year so far - January is disappearing at the speed of light and I don't seem to be getting anything done! (Can't believe I saw the Easter Eggs out at my local supermarket..... talk about wishing your life away!)

So time for a catch up....

Jeff - I haven't forgotten your question in the comment you left on the last post about the Battlegames "Table Top Teasers - Volume 1" special - I'm now half way through, and I think it worth an unqualified thumbs up (definitely an 8 or 9 out of 10) for the contents , and the price... The Teasers included are all as per those in the magazine, but many of them have additional maps and colour work. There is also totally new content in the form of re-fights by various wargaming luminaries of the included Teasers, often set in different periods. There is also new material from Mr. Grant, and a reprint of the first ever Teaser (which is also available on my Teasers page ... here). So yes, it's definitely worth it.... (for the record, I also haven't forgotten your other question about purchasing commissions in the War of the Spanish Succession; I have that one stashed away for a rainy days googling because it's an excellent question and I'd like to know too! )

You may remember that I got a shed-load of book tokens for Christmas, I have now spent those and the first books are arriving even as we speak...

Last weekend I went to pick up the first two (and no doubt fuller reviews of all these will appear in time) The first one is by James Holland and is titled "Together We Stand: North Africa 1942-1943, Turning the Tide in the West". I chose this based on all the positive feedback it's had from other gamers - it's chock to the gunnels with first hand accounts from the soldiers of all ranks, and both sides, who fought in the desert campaigns of the second world war. It's a big thick book but I'm looking forward to reading it immensely - in fact it's sitting on top of the pile ready to be started as soon as I finish the current book..

The other book is just a joy to behold - like many with an interest in military history I've long admired the paintings of Don Troiani, and coupled with my interest in the American War of Independence, his book "Soldiers of the American Revolution" was a real "no brainer" - the soldier to the right is just one example of his painting from the book, which is full to bursting with images of regiments and soldiers from the war, most importantly in campaign settings - it's a big book, glossy, and very colourful - real imagination fodder....

Next, DG and I continue to battle away from our respective domiciles at the virtual table top encounter known as the "Skirmish at Carnine".. I'm adding these to the Campaign Diary page so that if you want you can refresh your memory as to what happened in previous moves

You may remember that when I last posted, a (very) weakened battalion of American Militia had just opened up with a holler, pulled out their tomahawks and bowie knives and charged into the flank of one of the units of British Rangers. The fact that they had to charge across the fence to get at them did not in the end even factor, and the sheer ferocity (ie. my better dice roll!) caused the Rangers to recoil with casualties, and become shaken (one morale status worse than "normal" in our rules)...

As part of their recoil then, the Rangers ended up on the other side of the fence to their rear, which then brought them directly in line with the other Militia unit that had been out there for that exact purpose (see picture above)!

Happily for DG it was now the British turn to move and he opted to retire both his Ranger units directly to their rear.. the unit recoiling from the melee now ended up outside of musket range, but the other unit only just managed to scramble over the fence to their rear and as a result were fired upon by both Militia units (the Dragoons were out of range).

In the ensuing volley, the Ranger unit nearest the fence took further casualties this time from the accurate shooting of that very under strength Militia unit - battle honours are in the offing! At last things are beginning to look up for the Americans..

Move 4

Never speak too soon... time for the Americans to move, and in the first phase of this the Dragoons fail their morale test and rout - two rounds of firing was enough.

In the movement phase the second, bigger, Militia unit launches itself after the rapidly retreating Ranger unit and declares a charge. Lauzun's move up to exploit any further routs. The smaller Militia unit, not wanting to chance it's luck any further retires back over the fences it had charged across so shortly before..

Positions were now as follows (click on this or any other pictures for a bigger view by the way!):

The Rangers fire but are unable to stop them charging home, though they pass the test to stand and prepare to give as good as they get - unfortunately this is not to be, and the Militia drive them back with considerable casualties - they rout!

As we leave the skirmish for the time being, the British are about to test morale and move...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Skirmish at Carnine...

Time at last has been gained (at the expense of the usual evening cigar) to spend some time on the blog!

First of all - look what I got in the post today (to the left)! :o) Chuffed doesn't even cover it... it's safely placed on the bedside table for a good read later!

The second piece of extraordinary news is about Warblington Castle - some of you may remember that I posted on this castle sometime towards the end of 2007, here, here and finally here. Imagine my surprise yesterday then to find that one of my colleagues at work happens to know the family who currently live in the farmhouse built on the site! He was visiting them last night, showed them the research I'd done, and the long and short of it is that I've been invited to visit and have a look around at close quarters!!!!! Double chuffed! :o)

The year is no different to previous one's and the conflicting calls on my time are more than a little irritating, nay stressful, but here I am - safely ensconced within the attic, a pint of "Summer Lightning" at my elbow, a ramekin of spicy nibbles at the other, and a comfortable half hour to forty five minutes to commit recent activities to paper/blog..

Part of the problem, I'll be the first to admit, is the damn Internet - there is a thoroughly thought provoking article in this months Wargames Illustrated that I can identify with more than a little... in summary the author poses the view (in a humorous manner) that the Internet may not be the "friend" that we all really think it is.. in a nutshell he puts the view very nicely, that basically it's a damn great black hole that sucks all our available time and energy into "nothingness" ie. time not spent wargaming in the truest sense, across a table, with good company etcetcetc. He may have a point... :o)

I am into my second free trial of "World of Warcraft" - now there's a black hole if there ever was one... a true siren to your average wargaming geek (ie. me!) Immense fun, a little interaction with one's fellow geeks, but ultimately hours and hours of time that should have been spent applying paint to little metal men, planning campaigns, and all the rest of it... no more say I - that's it - my tenth level Dwarf hunter (known to his colleagues as Biriyani) and my twelfth level Night Elf Warrior (known to his mates as Roganjosh, and yes you may sense a trend in the names!) will have to cope on their own.. been there, enjoyed it, don't want any more...

So back to the core of our existence - battles with little metal men, on a scenically crafted table top...

Some of you will be aware that my regular opponent DG and I have been gainfully employed since the beginning of last year, in a campaign set in the American War of Independence period - those of you following this epic will know that he and I are currently engaged in a minor skirmish - the end result of which (I hope) will be the total and utter destruction of at least two of his units... time I think to give you an update on where we are with this..

The battle is being fought virtually (and I already know enough by this stage in the experience to know that I much prefer a non-virtual game! Beggars however, can't be choosers..) and we are now up to half way through move 3...

Move 1:

As the Americans I moved first and advanced all my units; DG orders both his units to retire. It's clear that he intends to keep distance between his units and mine!

There was no US firing (my units were out of range) so that brought the move to an end.

Positions at the end of the move were as follows:

Move 2(06:20 in campaign time)

All the American units advanced – the pictures show the end of this movement - one from the west:
..and one from the north:
The British firing was devastating (and thereby hangs a funny tale which I'm too embarrassed to share!) the Rangers both fired at the cavalry in front of their respective positions inflicting a hit on one unit, but causing both the units to become "shaken"..
Move 3:

Both Ranger units continued to retire … DG's objective was the other side of the fence behind them. As it turned out they didn't quite have the legs to get there so stopped with their backs to it…

The US firing was dreadful. The nearest US militia regiment fired but with huge numbers of deficits (for being lights, militia, under strength etc.) came to no effect..

In the US move the cavalry both passed their morale tests - though Lauzun's retired before recovering.

The American Dragoons - having recovered - charged the right of the two Ranger units, while the militia unit that fired so abysmally before charges the flank of the other unit.

The remaining Militia move to fence line to the right of charging Militia unit - their purpose is to cover the area immediately behind the fence:

British firing was as effective as it could be - the cavalry were stopped in their tracks - a second strength point lost, and shaken to boot..

The other Ranger unit could only bring half its number to bear, and their fire as a consequence was not enough to stop the militia swarming over the fence and into their flank - you could almost see the tomahawks and hatchets gleaming as they were swung up into the air..

The Rangers may well have gulped, but true to their lineage drew their own edged weapons and stood to oppose the charge...

After the initial clash however, it is the Rangers who were forced to retire, and the Americans claim their first casualties...

More anon... :o)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone - trust that the Christmas and New Year periods were spent pleasantly, restfully, and without injury (!)...

It seems common amongst my fellow bloggers to spend time reviewing progress and achievements in 2008, but having spent all last year already doing that I don't think it fair to inflict it upon you again..

What I will say however, is "thank you" - without a shadow of a doubt the best thing about blogging is the people who pop in and leave comments etc. It's always appreciated - and as I've said before, although I could it's difficult blogging in a vacuum!

So to finish off 2008, here's some numbers - without a doubt the thing I'm most pleased about is my painting totals - I finished up on 473 points made up of:
  • WSS - 10 regiments of Infantry and 4 squadrons of cavalry
  • WWII - 9 tanks, one Stuka and some German infantry support weapons
  • Sudan - 4 company's of Imperial foot and two thirds of a squadron of cavalry (just the mounted one's to finish)
  • AWI - three regiments of foot
  • Terrain - trench's and redoubts..

So by far and away my most productive area's was the War of the Spanish Succession - not surprising really - I still feel I have some way to go before I can put respectable armies in the field!

The other periods don't have quite the same urgency - WWII is almost done, one's or two's of various tanks required to allow me to put full company's in the field, but otherwise good.

AWI is a steady build towards the orbat for Yorktown - getting there slowly - and I think the next unit I paint will be for that era.

The Sudan is a joy - just the best fun - I need to finish off the British cavalry (they're also next) and then some more Dervish... after that I have a yen to find some Indian (Sikh) infantry to paint up a couple of company's of, more Dervish mounted/foot, maybe a Naval Brigade, a gunboat........... and so it goes on!

The blog totals ended up as follows (click for a bigger view):



..& I'm (very) happy with that - this blog seems to generate about 3,000 readers a month which is pretty special I think!

So - finally - what are the plans for 2009??

Well, unlike (it would seem) most of my blogging wargaming colleagues, or the Soviet government, I don't have a five year plan... ...so I don't have any specific plans over and above the painting jobs I mentioned above... so at a push I'd say:
  • .."those"... :o)
  • Paint more points than I did in 2008 (yikes!)
  • Have as many good games as I did in 2008 (need DG's assistance for that....)
  • Carry on the campaign.. and I note that DG has just sent his move...!
  • ..and that's it...

Happy 2009 everyone..