Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas New Year hiatus/catch up...

In to the 'dog days' of Christmas here at Chez Steve the Wargamer and I have the week off... 

The Christmas haul was good, mostly self funded from various vouchers requested, and gratefully received...  the two Arnold titles are novella's by the way ("short books" to you and I) and stupidly cheap for your Kindle - less than a pint * for a good read...  the Kydd book is an absolute bargain though, three books for the price of pint...   I'm well into the 'Prince's Gambit' at the moment (which chronologically takes place just before the Marston Moor book) and it is well worth the money spent...

* as in beer...  currently about £3.70 in the posh south of England.. 



...but the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer did come up trumps with the following surprise...


...concert footage from the Floyd "Pulse" Tour back in the day (she was pregnant at the time with our eldest ...  who is now 20! Gah!!! Where did that time go???) Looking forward to seeing it immensely..

Elsewhere - Steve the Wargamer is not a huge television watcher these days - not enough time (and usually bolleaux on there anyway) but I do wholeheartedly recommend "Dickensian" [clicky] if you get the chance (and for those in the UK it's all on catch up) - what an absolute diamond of an idea - imagine the characters in all of Dickens's books existing in a single story line, and what would happen...  imagination running wild at it's very best by the writers....  the Scrooge depiction, and Fagin, are spot on... hideously recommended, and the BBC at it's very best...

I'd also recommend "And Then There Were None" [clicky] which is another BBC drama, this time of the well known Agatha Christie...  3 episodes and it's edge of your seat stuff..  brilliant actors, good script, fantastic film work, looking forward to episode 3 tonight very much as I have no idea "who dun it"

On the war-gaming front, yesterday I repaired to the loft (where the "stuff" is ) and embarked on the first of two fairly major projects I have in mind for this coming year, which is to re-base the Sudan and AWI collections..

The AWI collection because it is now over 25 years since I first based them, and some of them are looking a little sad and threadbare - I also have a view to change the base style so that more information is available on top of the stand (name of unit, and perhaps some basic rule stats?? etc)..

The Sudan collection because I have grown increasingly un-enamoured of the 6 to a base for the infantry - they're too cramped - so I am moving to four to a base, and also taking the opportunity to standardise the basing material, and move to MDF bases..

Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man" - a review..

..not too many posts lately, like everyone else mostly just too busy with work, visits by visitors, and the general run up to Christmas...

I have however just finished this, which was recommended to me as a good general history of the Fall of France in 1940 (a particular interest of mine), in addition to being almost the definitive account of the 'rescue' of the British Expeditionary Force from the beaches of Dunkirk...

It's a big old book (with very small print), so it took some time to get through - the copy I had was a second/revised version, and Montefiore has extensively updated the book,  and included quite a lot of additional/new information as a result of subsequent research.. having said that it only cost me £3.50 new (from our local Tesco's) so I'd say that classes it as an absolute bargain!

So having said all that, what do you get? 720 odd pages, of which I conservatively estimate 50% is personal testimony (from personal, and unit war diaries, reports, court testimony, etc) from those involved int he actual battle - the book is primarily a British perspective so most of this personal experience is from the British point of view..   I was reminded throughout this book of the time I read Alistair Horne's book on the same period [clicky] - they are both equally readable, and as I've always preferred the Richard Holmes approach to military history (personal viewpoints to the fore), absolutely fascinating at times, but they were both also quite hugely depressing...!

When push comes to shove, France was lost due to unpreparedness, stupidity (in some cases), and a monumental collapse in morale on the part of the French (for various and multitudinous reasons) and 600+ pages of that is going to get you down in the end. More than anything though what comes through is the fighting spirit of the British troops (and to be fair some of the French), all they wanted was an even chance to have a go at the Germans, but what they got until Dunkirk was an endless succession of withdrawals and retreats as they time after time found their flanks abandoned by other troops..  when they did get chance to fight (and the stand out is the tank lead counter attack at Arras) they had the ability even this early in the war to scare the Germans mightily..

Once the British got to Dunkirk, it was the sacrifice and fighting ability of a comparatively small rear guard force that then allowed the majority of the army to escape (almost 340,000 men, mostly British, were rescued through Operation Dynamo [clicky] as the British code named it)..

What did interest me however, was the slightly/more unknown story of what happened after Dunkirk, when the British launched Operation Aerial [clicky] which recovered a further 190,000 troops from the western Channel ports (St Nazaire primarily)...  stunning!

Brilliant book, perhaps a litle too detached to make it stand out?? Well worth a read, but the Horne book shaves it for me..  8/10