Sunday, 27 June 2021

Harry’s War

I finished this last night. A gripping read. Very informative of day-to-day life on the Western Front in WWI. And very well written by Drinkwater. Useful explanatory notes by the editors.

Only one quibble is that Harry served until 1920 including a spell in Egypt after the Great War finished, but the diary extracts stop in November 1918.  Maybe he stopped the diary then but I don’t get that impression.

Now to get back to my ECW reading.

Going to the Wars - start of a campaign

It is March 1642 Captain Starmer's New Year preparations have been interrupted by a messenger arrived from Britford,  a quarter before the hour of five. 

"Show him to the Hall, Healey and have Dodds tend to his horse. And bring us both a hot toddy. It's typical Yarkshire weather. Tell the messenger I'll be along presently."

Having attended to his attire and with a final check of his magnificently coiffeured hair, Starmer entered the hall of his ancestral home Heckmondwike Manor. 

"Compliments of his Lordship, Captain Starmer. He requests your company at his camp outside Britford. I am bidden to give you intelligence that it is a matter of the utmost importance to King and Parliament. May I give your reply to his Lordship?"

"Yes, err, Thonberry? I will give my servants instructions to have horses ready to leave after breakfast."

"Thank you Captain. I will return presently to Britford. His Lordship will despatch an esquardron of his Lifeguard to meet you on the road and escort you to the camp."

Approaching midday on the morrow Starmer, escorted by cuirassiers from Lord Carfax's Lifeguard arrives in the grounds of Shibdon Hall where Carfax is mustering the Yarkshire Association troops.

Starmer enters the grounds of Shibdon Hall. Lord Carfax is with the  foot colours in the left centre

The Parliamentarian foot is being put through its paces. The matchlock men on the right are getting used to the sound and smoke that their pieces emit. 

Stamer salutes His Lordship

The two brave men meet and over a sparse six course lunch, His Lordship will reveal his plans to Starmer

Carfax reveals that Starmer must assemble, post haste, all of the local trained bands that he can and accompanied by a troop of horse from His Lordships force. He must proceed to Wokefield where the Royalists are causing great inconveniences to the locals and to the cause of King and Parliament. The local Royalists have seized the castle there and are carrying out dragonades, plundering the area and collecting stores for the Earl of Tynecastle, the King's General of the North. The Royalists are not thought to number more than a handful of foot and a company of dragoons, and the castle has ill-kept walls so a quick success can be hoped for if the attempt is carried out with sufficient dash.

"Now remember, be swift and bold. The tyrants are led by a wicked mercenary lately come from Germany. He's cunning in his way but not really bright. Not a patch on thee and thy lawyerly ways.  What's he called Thornberry? "

"Alexander von der Pfeffel, my Lord."

"Aye, that's it. de Pfeffel. He's said to have served the late Swedish king, and then the Emperor, so he's completely unprincipled. But dangerous. Root the scoundrel out. All Ingland will be in thar debt and tha shall have my eternal gratitude Starmer lad. If tha carries this off. If tha don't, the poor people of Yarkshire will remember this for generations. If affairs go well at Holl, to where I must go, I may be able to send you more men, powder and lead to help secure the castle, for Tynecastle is bound to want it back. Now good luck, and God's speed."

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Wall together now

I was left alone to get on with things today. I.E. for much of the day I did nothing but watch TV. I caught the second half of a doc on Maxmillian Schell, and watched 3 hour-long episodes of Robson Green walking Hadrian's Wall*. How's that for a seguƩ!

* I never realised how short the remaining sections are. Miles of it has been plundered by the locals over the centuries.

During the latter programme I finished off the earthen parapets atop some of the Jenga-block walls and painted the Leven castle walls. A quick calculation of the total length of wall made me realise I'd probably hadn't made enough - I'm looking for a total of about 800 yards and I've got about 500. So a quick order to Mr Leven was made. I've got quite a few Jenga blocks left but I reckon I need a good number of those to stand my foot bases on.

I'm also waiting for the baking foil roll to run-out as I plan to use the cardboard roll as the basis for some low, round towers.

So almost ready.

The 'turf' on the earthen parapets looks a bit too long.

I think the paint job on the Leven castle sections works quite well with the stone paper. I used the base paint (3 successive dry brush layers) from the Baccus basing pack.

Ships guns and wall pieces bought from Stonewall. The y are really meant for early 19th C ships but they'll do for me. The guns are on taller carriages than the ships guns from Irregular so I think they look better as fortress pieces.

I need to look in the spares box for some suitable figures for the gun crews. I'll probably mount the guns and wall pieces on smaller MDF bases than I would use with field guns. I've got some smaller guns which I'm hoping are not too big for my 6mm figures.

These walls are meant to be more run-down than than the sections represented by the Leven pieces. Here they have been allowed to become somewhat overgrown with vegetation. I might add some earthen parapets to these, with maybe less 'flock'.

Also a pack of 3mm thick polystyrene insulation board arrived today. My daughter's employee discount saving me enough for a pint in a pub chain owned by a Brexit supporting millionaire who can no longer recruit enough staff. The plan is to use the polystyrene as the 'filler' for the walls of the BEPAF** that I plan to make next. Last time I used this stuff must have been c 1978-9 when I slavishly followed the WRG rules for hills in the 1685-1845 set.

** Blackpowder Era Permanent Artillery Fortification, or 'Vauban fort'.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Helion sale

For those interested, in case you weren’t aware already, Helion have 20% off all Napoleonic books today 18th June.

Use code Waterloo20 at checkout.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Nice evening stroll

I love the evenings best in the kind of weather we’ve been enjoying. The sun isn’t so intense, I love the long shadows and the quality of the light, especially as it shines through leaves. And the birdsong is always more welcome than the dawn chorus to me.

Here are a couple of shots taken on the walk down Richmond Hill to Petersham Meadows and then back up the hill in the park. We are very lucky to have places like this close at hand.

Looking down the hill, about halfway, towards the meadow and a glimpse of the Thames

I like the pattern the paths make, those darker streaks against the grass
Local residents are back

Looking slightly unkempt. It’s that lockdown look. Even the cattle are letting standards slip.

A CBE and MC! I googled the name and found that he was MO for 2 Coldstream Guards in North Africa and Italy. The MC was for recovering wounded from no man’s land at Monte Casino. In later life he was influential in the BMA and was instrumental in paving the way for doctors to work across the EC (before Free Movement). Grey-Turner was also a polyglot. Talented and brave.

The inevitable walk back up the hill to where the car was parked.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Yet more walls!

I decided on the lower of the wooden block walls. The one with a L-shaped profile as it is more stable. I added the stone paper to the front and back.

Left-most section with modelling clay added for earthworks in place of ‘crumbled walls’. Pikemen to indicate relative height.

I might add some paper to the top of the walls, depending on whether I go for earthworks added to the top. Then I’ll decide whether to add paper to the sides or just paint them.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Wall experiments

Had a little dabble during the second half of the Welsh game. A couple of samples here.

With the option on the left I think I need to top the walls off with some earthworks. Low wall on the right is printed paper on card, formed into the shape of a bastion. It can be shaped to cover either a corner or a curtain wall. I need to find a suitable filler to keep its shape and to form a gun platform.

You can see the way the wall is constructed 

Alternative variant in the centre. In my impatience to cut the paper I didn’t wait for the PVA to dry and the paper tore.

Side view of the second variant. Both blocks are place on their ‘thin edge’

Forgot: some dimensions. The figures are Pendraken 10mm. The blocks are c 45mm x 10 x 15. The bastion is c 18mm tall by c 40/45 wide depending on the angle of the flanks to the faces.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

A Contemplation On Walls - being a Relation of Ill-considered Notions, in which the Protagonist regrets Hasty Decisions, and starts to have some more.

One thing that’s been holding me back from starting the Civil War siege campaign is the lack of a walled place to besiege. Whilst the campaign game won't always feature the Place* on the table, it would be pretty embarrassing if the Parliamentarians were to turn up with pick and shovel to dig their lines if there is nothing to beleaguer.

* I'll probably use this word for now as I'm not sure yet whether it will be a large castle or a small town

Within my existing resources I had a couple of wall sections, two towers and a gateway piece bought from Leven Miniatures way back in the early days of the Plague. Originally I wan't convinced that they would look right, so I started casting about for other ideas.

Then I hit upon the idea of Jenga blocks so I ordered a pack of cheap imitations. The pack came with 48 blocks. The individual blocks are only 4.5 cm long. Just a wee bit longer than the width of my Foot bases. Quite handy. Only problem is the other dimensions are only 1.5 and 1 cm. To create a decent height wall I would need to stack them 2 high. I would then need to use other blocks as platforms for the models to stand on to reach the battlements.

Then came the question of how to make wooden blocks look like castle/city walls. The easiest was to buy some printed sheets with stone or brickwork printed on. The sort that railway modellers use. I found a supplier of N-gauge accessories and ordered a couple of different types. N-gauge is sometimes described as 2mm to the foot, so a bit bigger than 10mm figures, but not much assuming 17th century men were not much above 5 feet tall**, not that it matters much as I'm taking a mix and match approach to scales when it comes to terrain and buildings.

So here are a few pics of the bits and pieces ready for experimentation.

Sandstone ashlars. 5 A4 sheets to a pack, so plenty of material.

This set of stone and brick wall comes with capping stones, and pre-cut card to stick the paper to.

Comparison of the size of wooden blocks and printed wall sections. There's enough to cover 20 blocks on one side only, which is OK if I make the rear face "earth backed".

Using the wooden blocks I'd probably need to stack them 2 high, to get a decent height. I'd need to use about 32 blocks to create a decent length of curtain wall*** which means I'd require another sheet of the brick and stone pattern. Or I could mix and match styles of stone. Castles and town walls weren't always built at the same time. To create crenallations, I could cut short sections out of the paper (backed with card). 

** It is a big assumption on my part admittedly. For all I know they could have built them bigger in those days than men of the 18th or early 19th century.

*** at a rough estimate, there perimeter of Pontefract castle was c 800 yards, thought there were additional walls between the wards.

All potentially good. 

But then I decided to dig out the Leven walls again, which are higher than I remembered. Below is a shot of them with some Foot for size. The musketeers are on the Jenga blocks - two high in each case stacked on the 1.5cm side and 1cm side respectively. Not sure which looks better.

The beauty of the Leven-based solution is that it will be less fiddly. I would still make use of the blocks and I could possibly dress them with the 'stone paper' or paint them earth colours. They will be more durable too than the paper/block solution. The downsides are that I need another £20 worth of wall and towers and still need to paint them. Incidentally, I put some of the beading 'earthworks' I prepared a few years ago in front of the Leven walls and it looks pretty good as an earth retainer or as an earthwork covered way. If I did this, it would leave me short of siege works, but I can always buy some more beading.

I also have half an idea for using the stone paper to make some permanent, polygonal, black-powder era, artillery fortification. A "Vauban fort" in other words.


Monday, 7 June 2021

Interesting article

In my on-going endeavours to push the “Woke Agenda” (copyright purple-faced buffoons of all ages) I bring the linked article to your attention.

I have signally failed to interest my own daughters in wargaming. To put it into context, I’ve only been partly successful with my son (he’ll play a game but has rarely been known to lift a paint brush or read a book on the subject). Encouraging the girls to wargame wasn’t actually part of some right-on agenda*, but was simply to have opponents on hand without actually having to be sociable.

How have you got on in this respect?

* do they still say ‘right on’?

My son managed to get the eldest of his sisters to participate in a LOTR game at the Salisbury branch of Games Workshop about 10 years ago, but she never showed any more interest. Geekdom is not her thing. It is his though. He also got one of the twins to play a few games with him, and he passed his GW collection on to her when he went away to study his BSC in Geekology, but the toys never got touched again until I took it to a charity shop last year.

As for persuading my wife........I never want to provoke such a look of disdain again. It’d be a bit like the reaction this genius would get if he tried to interest Naomi Campbell in some horizontal exercise:

Imagine This Was Your Dad (@Imagineyourdad) Tweeted: Imagine this was your dad


Thursday, 3 June 2021

Beating about the bush

I have made little progress on my prospective ECW siege campaign despite fewer distractions. The lack of motivation that I felt in mid-April seems to have returned and stuck around for the last few weeks. There doesn't seem to be any particular reason for this.

However, I have done a fair bit of reading in recent weeks. After finishing the Vyborg 1944 book, I picked up the book on Monmouth that I put down in March. The book is good on the historical background to the Duke, even reaching back to the origins of the Civil War. The downside of this is that Monmouth, or rather the boy who would become the Duke of Monmouth, doesn't make an appearance until well into the book. Even then the actual biographical detail on the man is rather thin. He appears almost as a cardboard cut-out, a puppet if you like, and then but briefly. The book is very strong on the politics of Restoration England and I learned a lot about that subject. But not much about Monmouth himself. My biggest criticism however is the way it is written. It reads like a series of undergraduate essays, is very repetitive in the manner of modern historical documentaries, and at times sails close to gushing a 'chick lit' style.

Next, keeping to the Restoration period, I read Buccaneer King: The Story of Captain Henry Morgan. An interesting subject and one with lots of potential for small scale wargames as I mentioned to the Polemarch on his blog. Surprisingly, most of the action is on land. Well it was a surprise to me. But if you like your ships and piratical adventures on the Spanish Main, this could be for you. I'm tempted, but I'm not sure I'm ready for a new period. At least not one which will require a whole new set of terrain, boats and buildings. The big bugbear for me with the book (well apart from the opening chapter, which is pure fiction) is that the author has an axe to grind. And keeps grinding it. Overall a decent read though and a good introduction to the early colonial period.

In parallel with the Morgan book, I've been dipping into the Portable Pike and Shot Wargame. Some thought-provoking stuff in there. Of particular interest is the chapter by Arthur Harman on siege games. Now I've picked up Devon and Exeter in the Civil War, which was in the batch of books I mentioned in the last post.

I almost forgot that I also order 5 packs of 10mm ships guns from Stonewall Miniatures. They're meant for the early 19th century I believe but they pass for 17th/18th century guns as far as I'm concerned. No I'm not intending to swash my buckle on the Spanish Main. I plan to use them as fortress guns as the carriages are similar. I bought some ships guns from Irregular for this purpose a few years ago, but the carriages are a bit too low for fortress guns, and the ones from Stonewall appear to be higher.

The guns on the right will do for wall pieces

Also in preparation for the siege campaign, I've been thinking about how to model the castle that will be subjected to the siege. Last year I bought some castle walls from Leven, on the One Scale Down principle, but these look a bit too small. I would also need to add some platforms for my guns and men to stand on. In the absence of anything else, I had an idea of how to produce something flexible and cheap. Of that more anon.