Thursday, September 22, 2022

"Firing into the Brown" #20 - Canals, gundecks, books and stuff..

"So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chiefs men rushes into a village and takes it; we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy".

Kipling "The Man Who Would Be King"

Time for another update..

The "canal project" that I mentioned back in #14 [clicky]  has at last started (it's been a cracking, long warm, summer and there have been other calls on my time I'm happy to say.. ๐Ÿ˜€) with the start of the section I have an interest in, namely the Chichester end of the inshore route

Map courtesy Chichester Canal History - Chichester Ship Canal

Red marks the navigable route - I need to do some further digging to confirm this, but I already know that the crossing point at the top of Hayling had a swing bridge to allow boat traffic through, and just to the east of the bridge there are the remains of a pier/wharf so I'm fairly comfortable with that part of the route, but the map above indicates that the route would originally also have been north of Thorney, and that warrants some investigation as I have an idea where it might have been.. 

Blue is the Portsmouth end of the navigation which is next on the itinerary

The yellow ring is the following - Salterns Lock - which is the end of the Chichester navigation, and the entry to the tidal harbours...  

Lock basin - following - with the harbour beyond...

These are the lock gates - following - at the Chichester canal end of the basin...  no longer used to my knowledge, but apparently still operational...

Looking up the canal towards Chichester - following - fair to say it's probably changed a fair bit since the days when it was navigable by the big barges...  ๐Ÿ˜€

Loads more of interesting stuff here:

Constructing the Chichester Canal 1818 1822 :: Twog post :: Love Chichester


The summer/retirement was also an opportunity to go walkabout with the grandson one day when his mum was working...  our destination of choice HMS Victory, which is about to enter a massive renovation over the next three or so years...  she was completely covered in scaffolding and plastic the day we went, and we heard while we were there that the renovation was in fact due to start the next day...  I would say that having really enjoyed our day she is long overdue for it, she was looking a little sad and sorry in places, evidence of water ingress, some rot, and paint peeling, but she is still utterly awesome, and still projects a sense of raw power...

Imagine that bearing down on you out of the powder smoke..

Upper/second deck - 24 pdrs

To the immortal memory...

Since the last time I went, ooh years ago, you now also have the opportunity to go down below and see her hull below the waterline...   this was the first stage of the refit, to redo the hull supports so as to better spread the loads, the next two are from down there...

It is believed the rudder is original to Trafalgar



Well worth a read!!


 Laters, as the young people are want to say...

Saturday, August 27, 2022

"Firing into the Brown" #19 - JC memorial game report, Jubilee and stuff..

"So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chiefs men rushes into a village and takes it; we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy".

Kipling "The Man Who Would Be King"

Time for another update..

As promised - a write up on the game - which was short but sweet, I think it safe to say.. ๐Ÿ˜Š

First the field of Mars:

6' x 4' ..  Hessians enter on the road opposite, Franco-American on the road edge nearest.. by the definitions in the rules I am using (the Will McNally AWI rules [clicky]) woods are "open", farm is classed as a 'large building' - able to hold two units.

Forces (following) - as per the last Blog post - British main force in light blue, British reinforcements in red bottom left. American main force red top right, and their reinforcements in pink..  JC himself in green, watching over all ..  ๐Ÿ˜Š

..and so on to the game...

Both sides chose to send one brigade "either way"  from the entry point - the only main difference in tactics being that DG retained his forces in column for longer (to make better distance), and I chose to race my lights (the Indians) forward to occupy the farm complex as soon as possible, and I also deployed my artillery sooner (I took the view long range shooting was better than no shooting)...

Couple of turns in and DG appears to be lambasting his troops for their poor performance to date.. ๐Ÿ˜

Couple of turns later and my Indians have now occupied the farm, but on the far side have sallied out to give DG's artillery a bloody nose..  in the distance clear evidence of bloody fighting as two of DG's line regiments have routed to the table edge..

Neither side opted to call up reserves on moves 3 or 5, I think both of us were happy with the progress we were making and didn't want to incur the additional points costs..

As it happened however, when points were tallied on move 7 of 8, DG, with four regiments and one of the artillery units routing tipped over the losing points level, and the game was mine.. just..  I think I was a point and a half behind him.

Four of my units shaken (yellow dice)

View from the opposite side (following)..

An excellent - but short - close fought game..


"You are so crooked, Dickie, that if you swallowed a nail, you would shit a corkscrew". (Mountbatten according to a quote ascribed to Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer, the former Chief of the Imperial General Staff ๐Ÿ˜ฎ)

Just finished Bishop's book on Jubilee, the code name for the Dieppe raid in 1942 - excellent book, well argued, and yet I still remain in slightly mixed minds about what the real purpose of the raid was ..

Bishop's narrative (which is brilliant - well worth a read) would have you believe that Mountbatten was a charismatic but vanity driven commander without any innate military skill who was looking for something he could pin first, his colours to, and secondly the colours of the clandestine organisation he led at that time, to..  He was a man desperately in need of a victory and the approbation that came with it..  along the way there are a cast of characters great and good who weren't going to get in the way of this "mission", until in the end the incredibly 5,000 brave boys of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division were thrown on to beaches where 3,367 were killed, wounded or taken prisoner, a casualty rate of 68 percent....  

A catalogue of disasters..

  • Montgomery (to my mind) as one of the early generals in charge of planning eventually washed his hands and sloped his shoulders and went off to the desert without a backward glance, despite clearly having misgivings
  • the Canadian commanders were so desperate to get their troops into a fight after years of training and no action, they accepted the plan as given them.
  • The Navy wouldn't commit the capital ships that everyone knew were needed to provide the offensive preparatory barrage (and I don't believe that was a wrong decision given what later transpired)
  • the cloak of secrecy was such no one would take the chance of getting a spy into Dieppe to actually see what was waiting for them, and if they had they would have seen the depth of preparation the Germans had put in place - not because they were expecting this raid in specific, but as art of their general level of preparedness..
What I remain in mixed minds about is whether the raid really was a preparation for a future D-Day, or whether that was just the justification for the bloodshed that had ensued - that everyone told everyone so many times afterwards that was the prime reason for the raid, that in the end even the men who planned it, believed it..

I think I am in less mixed mind that whether that was the actual purpose or not, one thing that did come out of it was some very, very valuable lessons were learned, that were acted on later in the war in both Normandy, and Italy/Tunisia..

Sobering..  "go, Canada!"..   9/10


 "Laters", as the young people are want to say...

Sunday, August 21, 2022

"Firing into the Brown" #18 - books, JC memorial game and stuff..

"So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chiefs men rushes into a village and takes it; we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy".

Kipling "The Man Who Would Be King"

Time for another (long long overdue) update..


Yeah, I know, 12 weeks give or take since the last update, but what can I say, it's been a long hard summer...

Between this..

Result of a small contretemps with the ground when I came off Gertrude, my electric bike.. easy she came off considerably better than I did.
. ๐Ÿ˜€

...and this...

..bye bye 48 hours I'll never get back (where I slept and took paracetamols alternately)..
but thankfully, very thankfully, that was about it for me..  "trust in the science", damn right..

...and also to be fair a summer of excellent sailing weather, and getting ready to retire (yup, after 38 odd years, I retire at the end of this month), I've not had a lot of time or love for the little metal men and the hobby in general - as ever though reading, online Wooden Ships and Iron Men, and online Chess, have been the saviours and kept my involvement ticking over..

Enough of that though - there are signs of spring in the loftwaffe...


DG called me the other day to say he was cat sitting at his daughters place just down the road, and did I want a game? Did I want a game indeed..  decision made and plans were made to fight the 2022 John Corrigan Memorial Game..

Scenario original idea came from: [clicky] from where I reproduce the map with utter shamelessness and no permission whatsoever...  ๐Ÿ˜€

Game Scenario:

  • Each side has the same troops and possible reinforcements.  
  • Each side enters the table on opposite side of the table on the road.  
  • Game is 12 turns maximum

Order of Battle:

NB. All units are regular, all have full strength (5SP in the Will McNally Rules I will use for the game) and are standard morale (ie. no plus or minus) unless otherwise stated.

First Infantry Brigade:
3 x Line Infantry
1 x Light Artillery

Second Infantry Brigade:
3 x Line Infantry
1 x Light Artillery

Independent Brigade:
2 x Light Troops

Possible reinforcements - * these reserves may enter only if you call for them:

Foot Brigade:
1 x Militia (5SP/Morale -1)
1 x Light Artillery


Horse Brigade: 
2 x Cavalry

*Reserves can only be called for on turn number 3 or turn number 5.  

  • The player must decide which Brigade (Foot or Horse) to call on.  
  • To bring them onto the table roll D6.  On a 1 or 2 enter on that turn +1;  3 or 4 turn +2; 5 or 6 turn +3. (Example: on turn 3 you call for reinforcements and roll a 4 so that brigade enters the table on turn 3 + 2 = turn 5).

Infantry reserves enter the table in column, on the road your side entered the table from. The cavalry however are considered be scouting and so are ‘riding to the sound of the guns’ so to see where they arrive roll a d6 – their entry points are marked on the map numbered 1 - 6.  You might want to consider an additional  point 3 and 4 in the same spots on the other table edge to allow both sides cavalry the same level of surprise, or, just number all the edges 1 to 10 and throw a D10 instead,

Victory! Or how to win:

  • At the end of each turn count your “victory penalty” points. 
  • If a player has 7 victory penalty points then they have lost the game.   
  • If by turn 12 neither side has 7 points, the side that has the least victory penalties points wins a marginal victory.


  • For each unit lost: + 1 VP
  • For each unit reforming (shaken or routed):  + 0.5 VP
  • Holding farm buildings at end of turn 12: - 2 VP
  • Asking for Foot reinforcement turn 3:  + 1.5 VP
  • Asking for Horse reinforcement turn 3: + 2 VP
  • Asking for Foot reinforcement turn 5: + 0.5 VP
  • Asking for Horse reinforcement turn 5: + 1 VP

Stay tuned for the game report..


Some cracking books read since the last post - but these are my highlights..

My fruitful and hugely enjoyable meander through the written works of Simenon is now up to book #33 and I'm not even half way!!

Maigret is asked by his chief to investigate the death of a servant girl, poisoned, possibly by accident possibly not.. the investigation is in a small coastal town at the tail end of summer, everyone knows each other, and then money, and a twisted family relationship comes into force..  superb!
I liked this one very much, as in it we find out a lot more about Madame Maigret than we have found out at any time in the books up to now..  Maigret gets an anonymous tip off that someone has been burning a dead body in the central heating stove of a bookbinders in central Paris... teeth are found, the bookbinder is arrested, and then by mere chance Madame Maigret meets one of the suspects and tracks down some vital evidence herself.. cracking!
The one that started it all off - a methodical, incisive, practical, checklist on how to (almost) assassinate a world leader. I have read this book a dozen times and it never fails to suck you in, even when you know he is not going to succeed, he really is not the nicest of people (probably a clinically defined psychopath), and his mission is in support of some unpleasant people. It is stunning, what a story...  really must watch the film again soon (the Zinnemann/Fox one, not that pile of sh*te with Bruce Willis in it)
There are three benchmark authors as far as I'm concerned in the sphere of Napoleonic naval fiction and Stockwin is one of them. The books read well, he has a good writing style and carries the story along at a cracking pace while never making it seem like the hero is a super hero...  in this one, through no fault of his own, and despite other peoples opinions, Kydd gets his step up and is given command of a 2 decker, the Thunderer, but against this has to chafe against the restraints on freedom when he is more used to be a free ranging crack frigate commander. Sent to the Baltic on convoy duty he has an old ship, a poor crew, and Bonaparte has launched his attack on Russia..  good read!
Aubrey fans call reading the entire series a circumnavigation, and this is my second circumnavigation, and the books continue to be just shy of genius..  seriously if you've never read any, you must - they are unique, the stories gripping, the atmosphere, life, doings of the regency Royal Navy described with pin sharp detail. I love them... deep in legal issues, Aubrey asks for any command until his promised new frigate is ready, and is given command of an old 74, the Worcester, a poor and shoddy example of the British builders art she is falling to pieces..  working her up to readiness she joins the blockade off Toulon but is soon detached for independent service in support of diplomatic overtures to the Turks. Following a brisk engagement, Worcester is largely condemned and Aubrey is given command of 'Surprise' again as her captain was killed in the same engagement, with a picked crew ..  there follows a critical mission, and a momentous and bloody battle against large Turkish frigate as only O'Brien can describe - stunning... 10
O'Brien is like crack cocaine - once started it's difficult to drop the habit, so fresh after the event sin the Eastern Mediterranean of the previous book, still in command of Surprise, and with news that his promised new frigate has been given to another man, a man with more connections than he ever could have..  disappointed, he still has command of a ship but she is waiting on repairs in Malta, and Maturin has discovered that the island is home to a network of French spies. An unwilling French informer asks help from Maturin, who discovers her predicament and helps her. Meanwhile, a new Admiral arrives at Malta and sends Aubrey on three missions across the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, one on borrowed ships, and two of the missions are traps. Aubrey escapes the predicaments, but his old enemy, Admiral Harte , who was on another ship in company dies when his ship of the line is destroyed in an ambush. 9

Reading Patrick Bishops book on the Dieppe raid - "Operation Jubilee" - at the moment - brilliant but sobering...


Laters, as the young people are want to say...

Friday, June 03, 2022

"Firing into the Brown" #17 - thumbs, books, Bellona and stuff..

"So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chiefs men rushes into a village and takes it; we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy".

Kipling "The Man Who Would Be King"

Time for another update..  and yeah, I appreciate I am off target, but hey ho..  the summer is here...  ๐Ÿ˜

Book catch up first...

Seventh in the Bernie Gunther series, and a real watershed in the story as this is the one where Bernie's past as the member of a police unit on the Eastern Front in WW2, so often alluded to in previous books, finally catches up with him..

Following the events of the previous book where Bernie had holed up and dropped out of sight in post-war, pre-Castro, Cuba looking for a quiet life and trying to get by un-recognised he is arrested by the American's and investigated for war crimes, before being handed over to the French to do the same..  

The key to his eventual outcome is a Communist he helped once in in pre-war Berlin, and it would seem everyone is after him.. more than any other writer, Kerr has the ability to describe and picture how monstrous crimes can be explained in terms of people responding that they were "only following orders" or were"only doing what they were told to do" or were "helpless to make a difference..  if I hadn't done it I would have been killed/imprisoned"...  as an imagined snap shot of a tie in history he writes cracking books!  9/10

A Pan 70th Anniversary edition..  and I reckon I must have first read this about 50 years ago..  probably because I had just read his other well known book "Escape or Die" which I had enjoyed enormously and as a result was looking for more of his books..

Unlike "Chastise" which I read last year, this book is more an operational history of the squadron than an exhaustive look at the Dams raid..  in fact the raid only takes up about a third of the book, as the rest of it covers events after the raid, and how 617 Squadron became a special operations squadron known for their fantastic ability to drop bombs from considerable heights into very small area's (one of the bomb-aimers in 617 had an average of dropping a bomb within 70 yards of a target, which given this was pre-laser is astonishing!)

The squadron had a very close relationship with Barnes Wallis who is best known as the inventor of the bouncing bomb, but who also designed and invented the Grand Slam and Tall Boy bombs (and also the Wellington bomber, by the by)..  known as 'earthquake bombs' they were massive (10 and 6 tons respectively) designed to bury themselves deep underground, and explode on a delayed fuse causing shock tremors to destroy the target..  

617 were the specialists in dropping these with pin point accuracy, and focused on the U Boat pens, the rocket sites, and enemy concentration sites (marshalling yards, bridges, viaducts, etc) 

Grand Slam bomb - the fins would cause the bomb to spin as it dropped helping stability and it's ability to drive deep into the surrounding ground..

The Wikipedia article on Grand Slam [clicky] is well worth reading..

Brilliant book - well worth reading...  10/10

Probably the edition I first
remember reading.. ๐Ÿ˜Š


The last post I did on Bellona products sparked a smidge of interest, and the excellent Jim Walkley sent me a scan of another catalogue that he had discovered - thanks, Jim..

This one pre-dates even me, and is from 1965 (!)

Badgers Mead by the way (above) is gone...   it looks like a property developer got it and then rebuilt it, but as is my way I found some pictures of the original building here [clicky]

I'd completely forgotten about the Bellona AFV prints (above) - they were an intrinsic part of the scratch builders armoury back in the day..  I remember them featuring a lot in Airfix Magazine..  ๐Ÿ˜€

Magic stuff..  thanks again, Jim..  good to save this stuff for posterity..


Things have slowed down slightly (following)... only a thumb, only the top joint of the thumb, but booted and splinted for a few weeks..   amazing how many things you require a fully working right hand for, even when you're nominally left handed...  scissors...  trouser zip fly's (๐Ÿ˜)..  the list goes on..

How? Came off Gertrude [clicky] while looking at helicopters rather than where I was going.. what can I say, it was a very low helicopter and I am a foolish old man..  ๐Ÿ˜‚


Laters, as the young people are want to say...

Friday, May 06, 2022

"Firing into the Brown" #16 - spares, freebies, books, and stuff..

"So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chiefs men rushes into a village and takes it; we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy".

Kipling "The Man Who Would Be King"

Time for another update..  and apologies, other priorities are seeing my schedule slip..   summer's here and the boat's in the water - focus has shifted.. ๐Ÿ˜€


Gettysburg refight - picture I took at Warfare in 2107 - glorious..

Books first - as they are a given..

Love these Bernie Gunther books - the way that the author manages to switch backwards and forwards in the life line of the protagonist, so in this one we move on from post-War Nazi refuge Argentina which Gunther has left in some haste, to pre-Castro Cuba where he has taken up residence, and is living quietly, that is until two significant people from his past turn up..  excellent. 

What I found most fascinating (and the flashbacks to a pre-WWII Berlin under increasing Nazi domination are brilliant in themselves) was the description of Cuba under Batista..  the increasing threat of the Castro lead revolutionaries, and the sheer amount of money and the associated corruption that flowed..  

Very good..  9/10 for me..


Bit of a change after the previous book, but it was a Kindle bargain that arrived at the right time! 

A long time ago this series of books by Arthur Ransome featuring the Swallows and the Amazons kick started a sailing hobby for me that has lasted the better part of 50 years  - I would say Ransome has been as influential on me as Featherstone! 

So in this, the fourth in the series we are introduced for the first time to Dick and Dorothea Callum who will provide an ongoing story line through the books. It is winter in the Lake District, snow and ice all over, the lake is freezing, and Dick and Dorothea have been sent to spend the holidays with their mothers old nurse. 

While there they make friends with the Walker's (the Swallows) and the Blackett's (the Amazons) and despite the lack of boats, embark on an "arctic" adventure featuring skates, sledges, storms, and feasts...  just brilliant..  straight 10/10..


The last post where I did an "unboxing" of the spares box seemed to chime with one of my reader (I'm absolutely delighted to say) and the Minifigs 25mm ACW stuff has now moved in it's entirety to Northern Ireland - stonking news - really pleased to say that the new owner is very much looking forward to getting them on the table, and on his blog..  I'll post here when that happens..


With thanks to contributor Jim Walkley, how about this for a walk down memory lane for the older amongst us?? 

..and from that page.. U-RV2 I do believe on my table.... that piece has traveled to Australia and back...

...and U-RV9..

...and look'ee there - a few pieces of U-WV1 or 2 - that brick wall set was the one we all wanted - being vacuum formed you could make yards and yards of wall simply by using it as a mould for plaster of paris.... ๐Ÿ˜

You'd give your right arm for either that English Civil War star fort, or the Bunker Hill fortification...

Brilliant - cheers, Jim! 

 Laters, as the young people are want to say...