Friday, May 24, 2019

Yapton Beer Festival 2019..

Yapton has been and gone again... and another year has passed!

The sun shone despite the prognosis by the weather gonks, the beer flowed again, and Yapton worked it's usual magic and we got mildly sun burnt and enjoyed some decent (but not outstanding) ales... it doesn't get any better despite the slightly smaller turnout from the jolly boys (the bunch I go drinking with) this year, due to holidays and other commitments...

Beers were still cheap, but more than last year - I think we were paying £1.70/ £1.90 a half (compared with 30p less last year), but still excellent value and I thought the choice of beer was up this year so that may be the (acceptable) price for that improved quality.  

Long may this little festival continue!

Picture courtesy
So without further ado here's the ales.....  I have to say, much like last year I didn't have a poor beer, the choice was largely from lesser known breweries (as is the norm at the beer festivals as they are looking to keep prices in check), on the other hand perhaps one of my two favourite beers of the day was from a brewery I wouldn't normally rate..  so horses for courses, and you pays your money and... that's why we go to beer festivals, to try the stuff we wouldn't normally drink.. 

By the way - there's a PDF of the programme if you're interested here [clicky]

Brewery Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Blue Monkey "Infinity IPA" 4.6% An infinitely satisfying golden ale brewed with ‘Citra’ hops from the USA. This was a replacement for another beer that hadn't turned up. I have an affinity for the brewery as I have relatives that live close by and they usually get me a selection of their bottles for Christmas - not disappointed, this was a good start - refreshing golden and light..
Bad Seed "Waymarker" 4.6% American Pale Ale with big citrus aromas and flavours of grapefruit and pine. This beer is packed full of Simcoe, Azacca, Columbus and Cascade hops. Very dry and hoppy, a step up from the first one and I was beginning to think I was on a roll..  
Almasty "DDH Amarillo Waimea" 4% Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale: Grapefruit on the
nose and citrus orangey tones on the palate,
with subtle piney tones.
Time to clam it down a bit on the strength...  not listed on the brewery website so possibly a one off, or very new? Unfined (hazy) beer which I have to say I dislike on principle - it adds nothing to the taste of the beer and detracts from the look of it - but a nice tasty beer for all that though..
Vibrant Forest "Malus" 4.5% Unfined APA. The Malus hops give refreshing
fruity flavours but low on bitterness.
Another hazy beer..  mate of mine says it is lazy brewing, I agree..   Lovey tasting beer, but how does the look of this beer improve your enjoyment of it??

Goldmark "WahWah IPA" 5% A golden india pale ale made using insane amounts of columbus, chinook and citra hops, giving a rich, sharp, smooth finish Oh my - first of the two best beers of the day - very good - so dry you could feel your teeth shrinking in your head.. another hazy beer but I'll forgive them that for the fantastic hoppy bitter, grapefruit'y tastiness of it...  I came back and had another half of this at the end of the session..
Kelham Island "Steel Rider" 5.4% A full flavoured IPA Dry hopped for a thunderous aroma hammered home with a massive juicy pallet, all the way from Valhalla Not an understatement to say that there wasn't a single one of the jolly boys who weren't keen on trying this one as we're all fans of the breweries "Pale Rider" (top 6 beer in my opinion) so we were keen to see what this one was like, which is their May 2019 "special"..  suffice to say that this was the second of my two favourite beers of the day..  light amber in colour, clear as a bell (tick) and packed full of flavour - for this festival that was it for me as I had two or three halves of this and before I knew it the festival was over! 

...and that was it - wended my way home for a snooze on the sofa and the end of the FA Cup ...

Monday, May 20, 2019

"The Battle for Spain".. a review..

This was a Kindle bargain a while ago and having had an interest in this particular war since my youth (when I first read Homage to Catalonia, For Whom the Bell Tolls, As I Walked Out One Summer Morning etc.) it was a "must buy". In much the same way as the English Civil War has always sat in the back of my mind as a potential wargames project this has also done the same...  I am fascinated by the possibilities of those inter war armoured vehicles, planes, Moroccan's, and most of all the International Brigades. I still may very well do this one day (also either Wellington in India or Bonaparte in Egypt). This is the expanded version of the book that first came out a number of years ago, and is huge - but just over half the book is notes and bibliography.

Covering from the very beginning of the war to well after the fighting ceased in mainland Spain, this is a huge old read - took me two weeks - it's also not an easy read...

The Republican's (and it's not always made clear, but they were the elcted government at the time hoistilities broke out) seemed doomed to fail from the very beginning - every shade of red (politically), yet none trusted the other and their ability to cooperate doomed them to failure from the beginning. What won the war for the Nationalists/Franco was
  • a singularity of purpose anyoe who disagreed with Franco was either transferred or executed, 
  • the support of the western world who distrusted "Bolsheviks" almost as much as they wanted to appease Hitler/Mussolini (and thereby also stopped all means of waging war reaching the Republican armies except from Russia), 
  • the support of Hitler who used the war as a test bed and provided the Condor Legion (which was not just airforce, but tanks/artilery/infantry as well),
  • the support of Mussolini (who almost bankrupted Italy with the cost of the support provided)
  • the support of the Roman Catholic church - which among many other things influenced the US not to provide weapons to the Republicans as a result of lobbying by Roman Catholic pressure groups within the US
Points of interest for me - how much Russia and Germany gained from the war - the Spanish Republican government transferred their gold reserves to the Russians as a way and means of continuing to get the arms and ammunition they needed to continue the war but the Russian accounting method was very "interesting" indeed in their favour.

The Germans on the other hand got (if I remember rightly) 15% of the Spanish output of iron and steel as payment - which set back the Spanish economy by years. In a practical way the Germans learnt how effective the 88 was in a ground attack role, how good the Stuka was (ditto), how they needed to urgently replace the Pz I as it came up against heavier Russian tanks, how to make fast/effective attacks with all arms..  the list goes on, and then there was Guernica.

Stunning book - well worth reading - and that project will come to fruition one day! 9 out of 10..

Friday, May 17, 2019

Infernal machines...

A saker - this one is in the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
So, having re-read my notes on artillery [clicky] just to refresh my brain, it was time to add some artillery to the English Civil War project...

Choice for these was Peter Pig, which I had the chance of seeing in the flesh at Salute, so bought there and then - the guns are lovely, the crews are as characterful as the infantry and cavalry..  not surprisingly.. 

What I was looking for at this point was mediums..  there's scope, and I will definitely add, some lighter battalion level pieces later, but for the moment I wanted some battle level assets..  these represent saker/demi-culverin/culverin type ordnance.

I also thought about limbers, but that's a lot of painting for something that wouldn't usually appear on the table so I decided to forego - if there is a scenario specific requirement at some time in the future I'll add then.. ..

So on to the guns..  four of them (Peter Pig Medium gun), with crew (16 figures - one pack Gun Crew Firing, one pack Gun Crew Loading) allocated two of them per side..

I researched but didn't find any specifics about gun carriages being coloured/painted, so went with natural wood for the carriages, the guns are bronze as per the example above - in all reality, on campaign they would probably not have been polished, the barrels may even have been blacked, but artillery barrels are always this colour in my armies (except when I know they're iron )

Two part bases - the crew are mounted on 30x30 as per the infantry, with space left for the cannon trail. The cannon are mounted on a separate 15x30.

The idea being that the cannon can be left in situ when the crew are destroyed, or they leave the gun to seek refuge with the nearest pike block, or for any other reason..

Painted in a variety of muted colours, grey and brown predominate, 16 figures, four guns, painted May 2019.

Next on the painting table, 'dragooners'!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Clearing some of the pile...

...having decided to go with 15mm on the English Civil War project, that leaves me with a small pile of 20mm lead to divest myself of...

If anyone is interested these are the Fleabay links... 

Charles Gerrad's :

Various officers:

Assorted Les Higgins:

Tumbling Dice regiment in waiting:

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Lord Brooke’s Regiment of Foote... the "Dyers"

...couldn't help myself and went slightly off piste for these guys (rather than completing brigades I'd already started), purely so I could use that splendid new Vallejo purple I found at Salute..

The Brooke in question was a fascinating man..  enjoyed the research on him very much.. more properly known as Robert Greville, he was a cousin of, and the adopted son of, his unmarried uncle Fulke Greville, first Baron Brooke who clearly needed an heir.

Educated at the universities of Leiden and Paris he travelled extensively until on the death of his uncle (murdered by one of his servants in 1628*), he inherited the title and became 2nd Baron Brooke.

He married Katherine Russell, daughter of the Earl of Bedford three years later, and it was through Bedford (or was that why he married Katherine, as he was already that way inclined??) that he was introduced to the group of puritan aristocracy opposed to the King's religious reforms and leanings (Lord Saye and Seale was one of the leaders).
The man himself.. an etching by
William Henry Mote

During the Bishops War's he (and Saye and Seale) refused to provide support to the King and were imprisoned briefly. The year after the wears ended he wrote A Discourse on Episcopacy in which he attacked the political power of the bishops and the established church. Nailing his colours to the mast I think... When the Long Parliament met in 1640, Brooke was prominent in demands for the exclusion of bishops from the House of Lords.

After the "first Army Plot" of April 1641 (an alleged attempt by the army to take over Parliament and also free Stafford from the Tower as a result of discontent over Parliament sending money to the Scottish army rather than the English army it was intended for), Brooke began to stockpile weapons and ammunition.

In March 1642, he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Warwickshire, secured the county magazine at Coventry and fortified his ancestral home, Warwick Castle but came into conflict with the Earl of Northampton, the King's commissioner of array. Northampton captured a convoy of artillery that Brooke was bringing up from London and used it to besiege Warwick Castle in August. Brooke led the relieving force, that succeeded in driving back Lord Northampton and securing control of Warwickshire for Parliament.

In December 1642, he was appointed commander of Parliament's Midlands Association and proved to be a popular leader. He drove the Royalists out of Stratford-upon-Avon in February 1643 and advanced on the city of Lichfield.

During this siege, Brooke was shot dead on the 2nd March by a Royalist sniper stationed on the central tower of Lichfield Cathedral (possibly/supposedly/allegedly the first ever recorded death by sniper fire). This was a serious loss to the Parliamentary cause, many saw him as the potential replacement for the Earl of Essex.

Anyway - on to the regiment in question...  On Thursday, July 28th, 1642, volunteers from London and the Southwark of Essex registered at the New Artillery Gardens (from the Thomason Tracts E109). On August 1st, 1642, these volunteers were divided into companies and regiments for the Earl of Essex's Army, with officers appointed over them (Thomason Tracts E109) some of these were ear marked for Brooke.  At the same time Brooke was recruiting in Warwickshire in 1642, but there is some confusion, as Brooke received monies from Parliament for two separate regiments, and it's unknown whether these recruits were for a separate regiment to the same one of his name in Essex's army (recruited in London).

By the time of the compilation of “The list of the Army …..”# in early September, however, they seem to have been combined into one regiment with 6 London and 4 Warwickshire companies. Their theoretical strength from the same list was 1200 [clicky], but I would have thought it unlikely they were anywhere near that and Giglio quotes from  the Calendar of State Papers Domestic Series that on August 22nd, 1642, there was a warrant for 740 sets of clothing issued..

# "The list of the army raised under the command of his Excellency, Robert Earle of Essex and Ewe, Viscount Hereford, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, Bourcheir and Lovaine: appointed captaine generall of the army, imployed for the defence of the Protestant religion, the safety of his Majesties Person, and of the Parliament; the preservation of the lawes, liberties, and peace of the kingdom, and protection of his Majesties subjects from violence and oppression. With the names of severall officers belonging to the army". The author of this, snappily entitled, tome was George Glover....

The regiment probably mustered for review on September 20th near Coventry (Thomason Tracts E239). The regiment then departed en-route to Oxford. While en-route to Sherbourne on September 22nd, 1642, it stopped to pillage one of the Queen's servants at Uxbridge on the 23rd. They were diverted, so as to reach Oxford by the 27th, along with Granthams Regiment of Foot. It appears that the regiment was about 1,000 strong at this period.

In October 1642, when the King moved towards London, the Earl of Essex's Army followed, which resulted in the Battle of Edgehill (Oct. 23rd, 1642). Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot was part of Thomas Ballard's brigade, which acted as the reserve in the center rear of the Parliamentarian order of battle. One company, however, were left to garrison Warwick Castle. The strength of the regiment for the Battle of Edgehill appears to have been about 740 strong.

The outcome of the battle left the King's Army in possession of the field since four of the foot regiments of the Earl of Essex's Army (the whole left wing) routed from the field when the Royalists advanced, although the other foot regiments (including Lord Brooke's Regt.) fought valiantly. This has been attributed to the fact that the Earl of Essex's Army was well armed with muskets and pikes (about 2:1 ratio) with a lot of the pikemen wearing corselets of armor. Whereas the King's forces were badly armed at this time (in addition, there was help from two parliament horse units as well).

Only ten battle scarred foot regiments of the Earl of Essex's Army managed to return to London after the battle. Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Edgehill, being reduced to 480 strong by mid-November, when it was stationed at Brentford along with Holle's Regiment of Foot.

Freikorps figures, for a change from the purely Peter Pig I've used up to now...

Prince Rupert attacked Brentford on November 12th, 1642, while the King was in peace negotiations with Parliament. After a stubborn resistance by Lord Brooke's and Holle's regiments, which were short of "musket, pike or powder", the barricades were stormed by the Royalists, and the parliamentarians forced onto the plain beyond Brentford, where Captain John Lilburne rallied the remnants of both regiments. The Royalists described the two regiments as butchers and dyers playing on their red and purple coats. Some were eventually forced into the Thames River, where many drowned, and Lilburne captured. Both regiments lost over 200 casualties each at Brentford.

The regiment apparently went into winter quarters after Brentford, and in 1643 took part in the siege of Lichfield, where Brooke died. The regiment did not survive long after his death, eventually being disbanded in mid-March. Although officers were retained on half pay, and at least two were sent to Baronett Northcote's Regiment at Plymouth on the 20th and 30th of March, 1643. 

Uniquely, as far as is known, Brooke’s regiment wore purple coats. In September 1642 a regiment carrying purple flags differenced by stars (mullets) marched through Oxford. A student, Anthony Wood, who wrote, witnessed their entry in Oxford on the 27th; "there were 8 or 10 auntient (standard) of them, of a purple colour, with the arms of England and 7 stars in the field. Every auntient had a hundred men under it (i.e. 100 men per company)." This is generally assumed to have been Brooke's due to the use of purple. The colour of stars was not recorded, but likely was white or yellow. "It is unknown but probably unlikely that the Warwick companies were issued any uniform never mind purple ones".

NB. Brooke had five sons. The eldest, Francis, succeeded to the title, but dying unmarried was succeeded by his brother Robert Greville, 4th Baron Brooke, who also dying without male issue the title devolved upon his younger brother Fulke, who became 5th Baron Brooke. Fulke happily did his marital duties... 

* He was murdered by one, Ralph Haywood, who believed that he had been cheated in his master's will. Haywood then turned the knife on himself. Greville's physicians treated his wounds by filling them with pig fat rather than disinfecting them, the pig fat turned rancid and infected the wounds, and he died in agony four weeks after the attack. Yikes...

24 figures - Freikorps 15mm - painted April/May 2019


Thursday, May 02, 2019

Sir John Gramson's Regiment of Horse..

The man himself (caught in perhaps one of the
first selfies), while serving in the low countries
By way of a bit of fun..  here's the next regiment to join the Parliamentary ranks.. 

Bawdy, cowardly, and courageous by turns, Sir John (known to his closer acquaintances, and a fair few ladies, as Lee) Gramson was a seventeenth century gentleman who over the course of his lifetime was caught between, and served,  various allegiances, and who at separate times had to either bludgeon, lie, or bed his way out of a number of troubles.

Born in 1601, Sir Lee's family’s fortunes came from his Scottish father’s boyhood friendship with King Charles, and as the heir to Gramson House, the family mansion on the Thames near Richmond, he always believed himself  destined for greater things.

As a young man, he was sent to Oxford University, where he spent three years deciding that he was not interested either in continuing academic life. or entering one of the professions—law, the Church, or medicine. An uninspired scholar, his time appears to have been sent mostly at "The Vulgar Unicorn", a public house of ill repute where he was usually to be found (when not upstairs with Meg, Lill, Kate, and/or Beth) in a corner of the bar with friends.

While he was at university, his father died and he inherited..

Sometime around 1626 (his memoirs are unclear, possibly due to his life-long prodigious appetite for Sack and Malmsey), he lost the house and inheritance in a game of Cribbage. Subsequent accusations that the game was rigged were unproven, yet resulted in a life long enmity for the man  he believed to have deprived him of his fortune (Sir Mamaduke Forstescue).

Much taken with the two "yellow duns" (really..) in the middle..

With no money, and pursued by debtors and ladies of ill repute, Gramson crossed the Channel and after minor adventures on the road, arrived in Paris. Facts are unclear but his subsequent early departure from Paris may have been due to him killing a man in a duel and needing to avoid the authorities.

He journeyed to Italy and travelled there for some time, arriving in Vienna in 1631 and then going on into Bavaria. In Germany, he was witness the fighting between the Protestant Germans, led by the Elector-Duke of Saxony, and the Catholic forces headed by Emperor Ferdinand. Needing money he took a commission as a volunteer officer in the Protestant forces and was present at the siege of Magdeburg where the Gramson coffers were replenished again by the looting that followed.

Love that uniform blue..

After the fall of Magdeburg, Gramson was introduced to Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who had joined the Protestant Germans against Emperor Ferdinand and was apparently impressed enough that he took service with the Swedes as a gentlemen volunteer and was present (but not conspicuous) at both Lutzen and Breitenfeld, and where the coffers were added to again.

On the death of Adolphus he again surrendered his commission, and returned to France via Holland, before eventually returning to England, when the news of the troubles (that were to lead to the English Civil War) reached him.

As a hardened veteran of the wars in the Low Countries, his memoirs also make clear that he is still also seeking revenge on Forstescue, the man who he believed cheated him, but who is serving Charles. Driven by revenge then, rather than a conviction to serve Parliament’s cause, he takes service with Parliament and is given a commission to raise a regiment of horse, and passes the time while doing this, cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress, and plotting the death of Forstescue.

Gramson died in 1662, childless, possibly as a result of cirrhosis of the liver following a lifetime of Sack and Malmsey intake (right up to his death his usual breakfast was a dozen oysters washed down with a jug of Malmsey).

Forstescue outlived him ()

Figures Peter Pig - painted March '19 (but not by me - as can clearly be seen!) - love them, cheers, Lee!

The real stuff:

The vast majority of the above is of course scurrilous nonsense, but it was fun inventing it, and I wanted a way of marking Lee's kindness in painting these two regiments of horse for me and this seemed as good a way as any.. 

The following however, are actually true..