Wednesday, September 01, 2021

RIP Don...

I've had this newspaper clipping floating around on my desk for ages now, and thought it was high time I saved it for posterity before it eventually gets lost, or becomes unreadable..

On this, the anniversary of his death, I for one recognise completely what a huge (huge) impact his books and writings had on a young impressionable mind, and which lead in the end to a hobby that I have enjoyed and pursued for what must be almost 50 years now.. 
Happily, I did get to meet him..  just the once, at the COLOURS wargaming show as I was leaving he was coming in, or vice versa - I forget, as I was reduced to a gibbering wreck, but I got to shake his hand, and I got to tell him (in not enough words) how much I appreciated his work..
Cheers, Don, RIP..

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Alive and kicking...

Close run thing...  two months without a post and up until then I was doing my level best (and mostly succeeding) to put one up a week...  

I blame the boat and the summer..  little or no practical wargaming activity, but I have been busy with the boat, and also busy with the new love of my life, meet Gertrude...


2021 model Cube Town Hybrid EXC 500 Electric Hybrid

...bought end May and already hit 800 miles ..   should have bought one years ago! 😁

Wargaming content soon - not the least because I owe DG a game - but not going to be soon as I have the Jolly Boys (yacht) trip round the Solent this weekend..

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Rebasing the French...

Been a while - for which apologies - I'm afraid bigger things [clicky] have been demanding my paintbrush time.. 

Been meaning to update the basing for 15mm French for some time so as to bring them in line with the recent (well.. fairly...   well only 6 years ago!😲) basing that I'd done for the British..

The French were passed to me by DG more years ago than I care to think about, I think we'd done some kind of a deal - I'd passed him a whole load of 6mm stuff (another of my ill found and inexplicable prejudices..  I just can't like 6mm figures.. to me they are little more than board game counters.. ) and he passed me these in return....

These little men have fought many, many, times but I like the new style |I chose for the British so it is a long term goal to move all my 15mm WWII stuff to the same style..

As a reminder they were based as per the following - square card bases and numbers..

..but they now look like this..

Officers/command at the back on 2p pieces - rank and file on 1p's

I also rebased the antitank and support weapons..

.. mortars..

..machine guns..

I'll be using these sabot bases to move and deploy on the table..  I've just ordered another ten..

Armour and transport next...   and then the Germans... 

Friday, April 23, 2021

"Sicily '43" - a review..

Fantastic book - I have his book on Normandy in the "to read" pile and based on this one it has moved up a few places towards the top ..  

So a concise (well I say concise, but it's actually 600 or 700 odd pages... I can honestly say it didn't seem that long!) but easily read book, on what was the first Allied powers invasion into mainland Europe..   

Very much a learning exercise for the Allies, that in planning teams was a success beyond all expectations..  Holland has good coverage on the importance of naval cover (the ability to call in naval broadsides for what was predominantly a land campaign can't be underestimated), the air cover (originally from Malta cab rank style, and later from landing strips on the island itself was an absolute game changer and a significant input to the overall success of the campaign)

He touches on the the politic'ing and infighting between Patton (who I am sorry, and who despite his obvious skills as a battlefield commander, still comes across to me as a bit of a kn*b) and Montgomery (who could be prickly), and most of all the soldiers on the ground, that despite the Allied doctrine of "steel not flesh" were called on time and time again to attack well dug in, veteran and elite German forces simply because the terrain did not allow them to deploy their significant advantage in tanks and artillery...

Holland touches on the Mafia angle (and who knows how significant that was, as no one seems sure??) but my overwhelming impression was of how quick the campaign was, how important the air cover was, how hard the infantry had to fight, and how well Alexander managed the campaign.

A fascinating book.. 9 out of 10!

Friday, April 09, 2021

Wargamer's Newsletter - Phil Barker's "Rules for World War Two (Normandy) Wargames"

Another opportunity to share some of the gems from that recent purchase.. complete with hand typed notes, and wonky page lay outs..  glorious..  this time some vintage Phil Barker in the form of WW2 rules

Going to guess the paper slipped in the type writer..  πŸ˜€

First interesting note - Normandy was not well known for it's "open steppe's" so I suspect these originated in another rule set...  One to one scale - so these are skirmish level... By the by I think I have applied "inherent military probability" to every game I've ever played - very sound words indeed..

Interesting .."Time spent in throwing dice" - as compared to overturning over a card? I can see 'overwatch' fire being difficult to adjudicate and subject to discussion... πŸ˜€  The firing mechanism is entirely random so it couldn't easily be dice driven - it requires a specific result to score a hit - not a result range... I like the idea about using colours to help adjudicate hits in cover or not, though - simple and clever

Straight forward given the explanation on the previous page - note that there is no range for medium MG's, basically everyone in the line of fire has a 50% chance of being hit (!)..   the "6" under 'Radius of Effect' is a mis-type I think... 

I can't imagine Normandy was awash with T70's and Josef Stalin 122's... πŸ˜€ So a 25% chance of hitting irrespective of range, and then a 50% chance after that if the vehicle is hull down - waiting to see if there are any suppression rules as clearly unless you can hit the tank you aren't going to fire at it...

No suppression option but that's an easy add - the black and white nature of inflicting damage on an armoured vehicle - it is either penetrated, or it is not, there's no scope for morale effect on the crew.

So the two Appendices' are not wholly applicable to the rules - the penetration values are purely informational (it would be nice to know the source), and all you need from appendix 1 is the gun type for the vehicle you are firing, Appendix 2 is purely informational..

Post match analysis:
  • there is much in these rules that I like, and I would say it is more than possible I will have a go with my 15mm "Fall of France" figures, since there is more than enough here to be able to reverse engineer the earlier vehicles
  • the core mechanism is the card driven result - red or black, and a number between 0 and 3. 
  • It wasn't until I saw the firing results for light machine guns that I realised that the result given to hit something is an "actual", not a less than, or more than number...  if you need "1" to score a hit and you pull a "2" or a "3", then the fact those numbers are bigger, is irrelevant - you miss...  
  • so effectively then you automatically have a 25% chance of scoring a hit
  • that 25% chance is unaffected by range - which is a little strange - the range bands provided just require you to pull a different number - still with a 25% chance - so I am not sure what is being modelled there..  the rules could lose the range bands as they are irrelevant in terms of making it easier or harder to hit the target. What I would have done is to offer multiple chances to hit at lower ranges eg, at close range you hit on "1", "2" or "3", medium range on "2" or "3", long range on "3". A "0" would always be a miss (as they are in the rules as written)...
  • the other core mechanism is red or black - whether a result is red or black governs (among other things) whether a hit is on a hull or a turret (anti-tank fire), whether it is a hit or not (eg. targets in cover, targets for MG's etc.), and whether a vehicle is destroyed or immobilised (infantry anti tank)
  • no morale or suppression rules - given the level of abstraction that may be by design/decision, but for me, my reading would lead me to the conclusion that it isn't only penetrating hits that disabled vehicles..
  • no hand to hand rules either - which is probably more understandable, and easily dealt with under firing
  • what a refreshing set of rules...  like them...   but yeah, I'd have to replace the cards - a lot of what they bring is good, but it also means other mechanisms need tweaking..

Friday, April 02, 2021

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 22 - "Ambush" - Set Up and Game - Redux!

The game of a few weeks ago, while absolutely hilarious (clicky), still rumbles (and rankles) in the back of my mind as it was quite clearly one of those utterly strange, 'quirks of fate' type game, where die rolls and their outcomes resulted in an outrageously easy win for the Royalist/"Blue" force...

Time then I thought, to have another go, and confirm one way or the other whether the scenario is flawed, or whether it really was just luck last time... 

DG and I are about to embark on our next virtual game, which will be an American War of Independence outing, using Battle Chronicler, and my go-to AWI rules by Will McNally (details as ever in the project page in the side bar), so I thought, 'why not?', and set this game in the period as well - I never need much of an excuse to get those glorious Minifigs out of their boxes..  

Off we go...

Forces for each side were diced for on the relevant table in the book, the only change being to ignore the skirmisher column and substitute regular foot.

I threw for and deployed the Red / British (or rather Hessian) force ie. the ambushed force, first. They got five regiments of foot, and an artillery piece (classed as light). I deployed them in a straight line, two of foot, gun, and two of foot, with another unit set back as a reserve, and at the front of the allowed  deployment zone..

The Americans threw and got three of foot, and a regiment of horse, so I deployed one of the foot regiments in the redoubt with the rest of the force  at the edge of the wood waiting to unleash death and destruction...  

All foot for both sides get maximum strength points (6), and are classed as regular with no morale modifiers - there are also no national modifiers, so both sides are equal in fire/melee..

On to the game - which was a cracker...  click on any of the following to embigen..

Initial deployment and table layout following.. the line of trees marks the edge of the wood

End of turn 1, following.. and an immediate change of fortunes for the Hessians (c/w with their Parliamentary colleagues in the previous game) - the American infantry have piled out and attacked the first/nearest Hessian regiment in the flank with the other American regiment providing an overlap..  in an outrageous change in fortune though, the Hessians throw off the attack, and both sides recoil! The American cavalry however are better..  crashing into the rear of the second Hessian regiment in the line, the Hessians are sent howling off into the pre-dawn dusk (the unit with the red dice / rout, heading for the right table edge following)...

End of turn 2, following.. not put off in the slightest the American infantry pile in again, and this time the second regiment have enough movement to bend round and attack in the rear rather than just providing an overlap - the result is inevitable, the Hessians break and run (foreground). The American cavalry pivot, and attack the artillery, routing it (the crew can be seen legging it)..

End of turn 3, following.. the Hessian fight back starts.. the first Hessian regiment to rout recovers, and the Hessian regiment next to the artillery turns to face the American cavalry who are about to charge and deliver a stinging volley stopping them in their tracks (shaken/yellow dice)..  the American foot advance rapidly to get into the fight. The British general meanwhile has chased after the other Hessian regiment to provide aid in the forthcoming morale check...

End of turn 4, following.. the American cavalry has had a retire morale check, but the two American foot regiments (one of whom is French) march on with flags waving and drums drumming - the green flagged regiment charge, but are halted in their tracks and sent packing - can Gallic verve save the day?? In the background another Hessian regiment has been sent packing, but the artillery crew have rallied, and the British general's presence has also steadied another regiment..  things are getting desperate for the American's, and the regiment from the redoubt ready themselves to enter the fray..

End of turn 5, following.. a turning point move...  the British re-crew their artillery, all the morale checks have been cleared, and two un-blooded Hessian regiments send the French packing..  the only glimmer on the horizon is on the British/Hessian right flank where the cavalry and the garrison are ready to take on a single slightly battered Hessian infantry regiment

End of turn 6, following.. the American infantry both recover enough to halt, but take fire from the British artillery, elsewhere as expected that battered Hessian infantry regiment breaks and scatters while the British general organises his remaining troops to cover the flank..

End of turn 7, following.. charge!  The American cavalry who have worked so hard throughout the game charge and are halted in their tracks by a perfect volley..  the green flagged regiment however have girded their loins, passed their morale check and charged home on the artillery sending their crew off in disarray for the second time this game, they are however, about to be flanked..

End of turn 8, following.. the flank attack sees for the green flag regiment, the cavalry fail a morale check and rout from the table, and in the melee the American regiment from the redoubt are also sent packing..

...end of game..  the American general realises that he can't achieve his goal and orders his troops to retire..  "we shall fight again"!

Post match analysis:
  • one of the quirks of the scenario is that it is only the blue player that can win - all the red player has to do is survive for the game duration...   anything else is a red win..
  • realising that, and I've played the scenario twice which shows how dull I am, it makes no sense for the red player to deploy anywhere near the front of the deployment zone as that makes it easier for the blue player to get to you..
  • I enjoyed that..  good fun..  

Friday, March 26, 2021

Sir William Pennyman’s Regiment of Foote

The brushes are flying!

Welcome to another Royalist regiment of foot for the English Civil War project - these guys represent 'Sir William Pennyman’s Regiment of Foote', perhaps one of the first regiments of foot raised for the Royalist cause..

They trace their origins to a regiment first formed from the Yorkshire Trained Bands in 1638/39 and intended for service against the Scots. 

Although this didn't come to anything, and they returned home before any fighting, my reading would indicate they weren't wholly disbanded, and this was the regiment that Pennyman took with him when he joined the King and his court in York in 1642. 

William's cousin/half brother, Sir James Pennyman, was the regiments Lieutenant Colonel (their de facto field commander) as Pennyman (a rich man as we shall see below,) had also raised a troop of horse and took command of that.

They were then present at Nottingham at the raising of the Royal Standard, and approximately 600 strong before leaving for Edgehill via Shrewsbury. At Edgehill they were in Belasyse's Brigade [clicky] in the second line of the Royalist infantry...

Courtesy/copyright "All The Kings Armies" by Reid

..after Edgehill (and a reading of the link to Belasyse's regiment will refresh you on their role at the battle) where the regiment was commanded in the field by Sir James, Sir William being in command of the aforementioned troop of horse, they were at the capture of Marlborough (later in the year, 1642). 

Alternative basing alignment ...  what do you think?

Traditional alignment

Regrettably, Sir William (who had only just been given the post of governor of Oxford) died of the plague the next year but James took the Colonelcy, and under him they fought at Newbury and the next year at Copredy Bridge (1644) before being moved into the west country where they fought in the Lostwithiel campaign (1644). Sir James then retired (I'd love to know why, but can't find anything), and under a new Colonel (Sir Richard Page) they were present at the storming of Leicester (1645) and  Naseby (1645) where Page was captured and the regiment all but destroyed. those bandoliers/Apostles

..and what of Sir William?? Well he was born in 1607, and was the illegitimate son of William Pennyman a Clerk in Chancery. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford and then Inner Temple (so he was trained in the law). He was recommended by Strafford (and he repaid his debt by later voting against Strafford's attainder), and became a JP, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire and a member of the Council of the North. Pennyman who as we saw was a lawyer, held an office in the arbitrary court of Star Chamber which was worth a full £2000 p.a. (something like a half a million sterling in today's money - based on RPI)

He was also hideously rich as a result of owning the rights on alum mining (a mineral compound vital to paper making and other things) on the estates his father had bought a third share of in 1616 (Marske, Yorkshire - Redcar/Cleveland area).

Pennyman then married Ann Atherton, granddaughter of Katherine Conyers and heiress to the remaining two thirds of the estate, on which he built Marske Hall in 1625. They had no children and she was to die the year after him in 1644.

He was created a Baronet by Charles on 6 May 1628. He served as High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1635-1636 before becoming Deputy Lieutenant later. He was Member of Parliament for Richmond 1640-1642 in both the Short Parliament and Long Parliament but was barred from sitting in 1642. 

..and the figures - they are from my early buy-in on the new Steel Fist range [clicky] - they are lovely figures, almost painted themselves, and spoilt only by the fact that I had to fit my own pikes - I hate doing that! They are slightly smaller in size and heft than my usual Peter Pig choice, but have bags of character...  uniform choice is contrary to most painted examples you see on the web, but there are little or no sources on what the regiments on either side wore at Edgehill, and the only thing we have on this regiment of any certainty, is that they probably got an issue of either red or blue uniforms in Oxford the year after the battle, so I chose red just... because...  πŸ˜€   Similarly, the flag reference is from considerably later in the war, but I thought it looked good so went with it..  


Friday, March 19, 2021

Earl of Carnarvon’s Regiment of Horse

Some Royalist cavalry reinforcements for the ECW project - not sure how it happened but I noticed that the two forces had got out of kilter, so this regiment brings us back to parity..
So - these guys represent the Earl of Carnarvon’s Regiment of Horse, a Royalist regiment of horse serving with the Oxford Army and in the West Country - after Carnarvon's death (see below), they became Colonel Richard Neville’s Regiment of Horse.
The regiment dates its formation to August 1642 where they first moved to Newark, and were then present at the raising of the Royal standard in Nottingham. They went on to fight at what most people accept is the first armed clash of the civil war(s) at Southam in August, and then Edgehill (where they were 4 or 5 troops strong) - further information on their subsequent service can be found in the BCW Wiki link below.
The regiment was raised by Robert Dormer, the only son of a wealthy Catholic family who had inherited a large fortune while he was still a minor. He had became a ward of Philip Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, and he went on to marry his daughter, Anna Sophia, in 1625. 

After travelling in Europe and as far afield as Turkey and the Middle East, Dormer was created Viscount Ascott and Earl of Carnarvon (also spelt Caernarvon) in 1628. By all accounts he was a bit of a sportsman and was also known for his gambling, but he also served as a gentleman volunteer in the navy (!) during 1637 and commanded a cavalry regiment in the 2nd Bishops War (the biography also says he served in the regiment of his father in law in the 1st war) so he was not without military experience.
van Dyke's painting of
Dormer in about 1630

Anyway - defying the wishes of his father-in-law (the aforementioned Lord Pembroke) he declared for the King at the outbreak of the war - Pembroke  declared for Parliament (citing religious differences with Charles) so yet another example of how this war divided families..  it must have been difficult for his wife - husband and father as enemies.
They regiment at Edgehill was in Lord Wilmot's brigade on the left wing, where they numbered about four or five troops and were approximately 200 strong (according to Young, and also Scott/Turton/von Arni). 
After the successful charge and rout of the Parliamentary foot and horse on that wing, Sir Charles Lucas (the regiments Lieutenant Colonel) managed to rally about 200 horse from the three regiments of horse that had started the day, and before they legged it off after the Parliamentary baggage. The intent was that these would attack the flank and rear of the Parliamentary foot in the centre but in the event they got caught up in an orgy of flag/ensign taking from routing Parliamentary regiments (probably Essex's among others) and the attack failed to make any significant effect..

In February 1643, Carnarvon served under Prince Rupert at the storming and capture of Cirencester then went with the Marquis of Hertford and Prince Maurice in the cavalry force that joined Sir Ralph Hopton's Cornish army advancing from the west. Carnarvon gained a reputation as a courageous and gallant cavalry officer in the south-western campaign of 1643 where he served as the Marquis of Hertford's lieutenant-general of the horse. 

He was wounded at the battle of Lansdown, but during the subsequent withdrawal he joined Prince Maurice and Lord Hertford to break out of Devizes with some of the horse, and bring reinforcements from Oxford. 
Added in a casualty figure I had in the box..
Carnarvon went on to serve at Roundway Down as a volunteer in Lord Byron's Regiment, his advice to Lord Wilmot regarding Sir William Waller's tactics helped to secure the Royalist victory (basically he told them to focus on Haselrige as his was the strongest unit). 
After the fall of Bristol, Carnarvon led a force of 2,000 horse and dragoons into Dorset. In early August 1643, Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland surrendered to him on generous terms. When Prince Maurice arrived with the bulk of the Royalist western army, however, the terms Carnarvon had agreed were not honoured and the towns were plundered. Carnarvon resigned his command in protest and joined the King's army at the siege of Gloucester. 


He remained with the King during the subsequent pursuit of the Earl of Essex's army but was mortally wounded at the first battle of Newbury on 20 September 1643. He was carried to an inn at Newbury, where King Charles is said to have sat with him until all hope of life was gone. 
Yet another giant from history, that not many people have heard of - a brave and honourable man, indeed...   fascinating..

Peter Pig..  15mm..  painted March 2021