Monday, 27 February 2017

I have been to ... Cavalier

Yesterday I paid a visit to CAVALIER, the annual wargames show that is held in Tonbridge, Kent. It was organised by the Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society, and took place in the Angel Centre, which is not far from the main shopping street of the town. I arrived early, and as a result finding a nearby parking space was easy. I was inside the venue by just after 9.45am, fifteen minutes before the doors opened.


The Main Sports Hall contained most of the trade stands, ...




... with the smaller Medway Hall providing a venue for most of the demonstration/participation games ...



... and the 'bring and buy' area.


The Jubilee Room was also used, and the Society of Ancients had a stand just outside the door.


One of the main reasons I go to shows like CAVALIER is to catch up with other wargame bloggers, and this show was no exception. Soon after I arrived I was able to meet and chat with (from left to right) Big Lee, Ray Rousell, Postie (of Postie's Rejects), and David Crook.


I then spent some time looking at the various games that were taking place at the show, starting with those in the Main Sports Hall.

D-Day: Operation Overlord (Crawley Wargames Club)


Holding up the traffic: Prudka, Poland, 1939 (Deal Wargames Club)



The Restless Dead (SEEMS)



Stalingrad: As above, so below (Friday Night Firefight Club)


Freikorps und Spartacist: German Civil War 1919-1929 (Hailsham Wargames Club)



Blood, Bilge and Iron Balls (Rainham Wargames Club)


Fenris Descending (Maidstone Wargames Society)


Four Days Battle, 1666 (Southend Wargames Club)


Star Wars X-Wing (Gravesend Gamers Guild)



Vietnam, 1967: Operation Kittyhawk (North London Wargames Group)


Warhammer: Age of Sigmar (Tonbridge Wargaming Club)


Cannae, 216 (Society of Ancients)


Calvados and Chips (The Anti-Alchemists)




It was another great little show, and although I came away empty-handed, I really enjoyed my time there.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 407

The February issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered several days ago, and I have managed to read it thoroughly before writing this review.


The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Who will rid me of this turbulent priest? (Part Two of 'The March on Canterbury') by Conrad Kinch
  • Wargaming my way: by Colin Ashton
  • Mad Dogs and Englishmen: Indian Mutiny skirmish rules (Part One) by Jon Sutherland
  • Firefight: Simple rules for small actions in the modern age (Part Two) by Stephen Jones
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • From Cradle to Frostgrave: by John Treadaway
    • From the 4Ground up: Customising MDF building for SF games (Part One) by Roger Dixon
  • Bloody Big Borodino: How to play a big Napoleonic game by adapting the 'Blood Big Battles' rules by Richard Morrill
  • Recce
  • Yes Minster: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Spotlight: Crisis? What Crisis ...: The Tin Soldiers of Antwerp Wargame Club by Willie Bogaerts
  • Club Directory
At first glance I thought that I was going to feel a little let down by this issue ... but as began to read it I discovered there was a lot in it that was of interest to me. Of particular interest were:
  • The three scenarios in Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence article that all looked eminently playable and very suitable for either re-fighting using my own MEMOIR '44 stuff or even my own PORTABLE WARGAME rules.
  • Jon Sutherland's Mad Dogs and Englishmen reminded me that although I think of myself as a Colonial wargamer, I have neglected to give serious thought to fighting Colonial battles in the Asian sub-continent ... and that I ought to do something to remedy that in the not too distant future.
  • Roger Dixon's From the 4Ground up article about customising MDF buildings. (I don't own any MDF buildings as yet, but this article made me realise that I really ought to think about buying some.)
  • The bulk of Bloody Big Borodino by Richard Morrill might refer to a set of rules that I neither own nor have used, but the scenario notes and map will no doubt prove useful to me once I have renovated, varnished, and based my small Napoleonic Russian Army.
The magazine also included a guide to HAMMERHEAD 2017, which will be taking place on 4th March at the Newark Showground.


Whilst I will not be going to this particular show, the fact that the guide was included with but not part of this issue is something that I applaud. I really don't like show guides that are stapled into the centre of a magazine, and I hope that this example will be followed by other shows and magazines in the future.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

French seaplane carrier Commandant Teste

Unlike the Spanish and Italians seaplane carriers, the French Commandant Teste was specially designed and built as such. She was laid down at the FC Gironde shipyard in Bordeaux on 6th September 1927, launched on 12th April two years later, and entered service on 18th April 1932.





Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 10,000 tons (standard); 11,942 tons (full load)
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 547’ 11” (167m)
    • Beam: 88’ 7” (27m)
    • Draught: 22’ (6.7m)
  • Maximum Speed (when new): 27 knots
  • Armament: 12 x 3.9” (100mm) (12 x 1); 8 x 1.5” (37mm) Anti-aircraft Guns (8 x 1); 12 x 0.5” (13.2mm) Machine Guns (6 x 2)
  • Complement: 644
  • Aircraft carried: 26 seaplanes
  • Aviation facilities: 4 catapults; 5 cranes
During the Spanish Civil War Commandant Teste helped to protect neutral merchant shipping, and during World War II she acted as an aviation transport between France and North Africa and in support of the French Mediterranean fleet. She was slightly damaged during the bombardment of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir on 3rd July 1940, and later made her way to Toulon, where she was scuttled on 27th November 1942 after the German invasion of Vichy France.

Commandant Teste was refloated after the war and plans were prepared for her conversion into an escort or training carrier. As there were plenty of surplus American-built escort carrier available it was decided not to proceed with the conversion, and she was used as a store ship for until she was sold for scrap on 15th May 1950.

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Cloisters, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire

On Wednesday I visited the Masonic Centre in Letchworth Garden City to deliver a lecture about Masonic references in the work of Rudyard Kipling. The Centre is known as 'The Cloisters', and the building has a unique design and interesting history.



'The Cloisters' was originally built built in 1906-07 as an open-air school dedicated to Psychology. It was designed by William Harrison Cowlishaw and paid for by Miss Annie Jane Lawrence (1863-1953), a Quaker. It cost £20,000 to construct, and when it was finished it had accommodation for 20 students. They were encouraged to study 'how thought affects action and what causes and produces thought.' Amongst other things, the curriculum included skills of the sort that were valued by the Arts and Crafts movement.




The school flourished during the period up to 1939, and became a venue for lectures, conferences, drama and musical performances, and organ recitals as well as being the centre of a small community dedicated to Theosophy. In 1939 the building was requisitioned by the British Army, and when it was handed back to Miss Lawrence in 1948 it was in desperate need of repair and restoration. Miss Lawrence could not afford to pay for the necessary work to be done, and after offering it to the local council – who turned it down – it was donated to the Masonic Province of Hertfordshire, who paid for the repairs and reopened it as the North Hertfordshire Masonic Centre. It retained the name of 'The Cloisters' and the Freemasons of Hertfordshire have maintained the building ever since.

I understand that this building has never been used by a film or TV company as a location. Having visited it, I find that very surprising. It is so quirky and unusual to look at, and I would have thought that it is the sort of location that would have appealed to them, especially if they were making a film or TV programme that was vaguely Gothic or fantastical in content.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Connections UK 2017: Outline programme details

The dates for Connections UK 2017 have been announced (Tuesday 5th to Thursday 7th September 2017 inclusive) and it will be taking place at King's College, London as before.

The outline programme for the conference is as follows:

Day 1: Tuesday 5th September
  • Wargaming 101: A shortened theory session for newcomers and novices.
  • Megagame: 'Dire Straits' which has been designed by Jim Wallman and Rex Brynen to explore a potential crisis involving China, Taiwan, and beyond.
  • Informal gaming sessions during the evening: Bring a game, find a table ... and play.
Day 2: Wednesday 6th September
  • UK military Tri-Service and FCO wargaming examples.
  • Update on UK military wargaming doctrine.
  • Seminar and Matrix Games.
  • Current design ideas in hobby gaming.
  • Games Fair session 1: Attendees sign up before the conference for sessions that they wish to take part in.
  • Keynote speaker: Senior military representative (To be confirmed)
  • Games Fair session 2: Evening session that follows on from Games Fair session 1, and which gives attendees the opportunity to attend different sessions from those they attended earlier in the day.
Day 3: Thursday 7th September
  • Wargaming in education.
  • Modelling Human Terrain.
  • Wargame design.
  • Breakout workshops: The intention is to take a topical subject and develop several nascent approaches that tackle the issue at different levels (e.g. tactical or operational) using varied wargaming techniques.
This looks like being yet another excellent conference, and I certainly hope to be able to attend.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

El Ejertico en Parada by José María Bueno

I recently had an email from Andy Callan – one of the founder members of Wargame Developments – offering me the complete set of José María Bueno's EL EJERCITO ESPANOL EN PARADA paper soldiers. I gratefully accepted his kind offer, and a couple of days ago the five sets of paper soldiers (all of which are printed in full colour on thick card) arrived in the post.

Set 1
  • Infanteria
  • Tiradores de Ifni-Sahara
  • Mehal-la Jalifiana
  • Bandera de F.E.T. y de las J.O.N.S.
  • Infanteria de Marina
  • Escolta mora de S.E. el Generalissimo
  • Policia Montada de Sevilla
  • Caballeria de las Milicias del Requete
Set 2
  • La Legion
  • Artilleria anticarro de La Legion
  • Bandera de la Falange de Marruecos
  • Battallon del Requete (Tercios del Sur)li>
  • Legion Condor
  • Bandera de Flechas Verdes
  • Escuadron de Lanceros
  • Tabor de Caballeria de Regulares de Melilla
Set 3
  • Artilleria de Montana
  • Artilleria de Montana, Escalon de Municionamiento
  • Primer Tercio del Requete Navarro
  • Grupo de Regulares de Melilla Numero 2
  • Tabor de Caballeria de la Mehal-la
  • Marina
  • Servicio de Trabajo de F.E.T. y de las J.O.N.S.
  • Bandera de Camisas Negras del la Division 'XXIII de Marzo'
Set 4
  • Guardia Civil de Infanteria
  • Guardia Civil de Caballeria
  • Infanteria
  • X Bandera de la Legion
  • Mehal-la Jalifiana Infanteria
  • Bandera de Falange Espanola
  • Compania de 'Bersaglieri' Motorizados
  • Compania de Carros Ligeros del C.T.V.
Set 5
  • Batallon de Esquiadores de la Agupacion ‘Guadarram-Somosierra’
  • Escuadron de Lanceros de Farnesio
  • Seccion de ametralladoras de un escuadron de Caballeria
  • Batallon Expedicionario de Infanteria de Marina
  • Seccion de Sanidad
  • Grupo de Regulares de Laranche Numero 4
  • Bandera de la Falange de Navarra
  • Aviacion Legionaria Italiana
These paper soldiers are an invaluable research tool for anyone who is interested in the Spanish Civil War, and they now occupy pride of place in my collection of books and documents relating to that conflict.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Vive l'Empereur: A few more Light Infantry for my French Napoleonic Army

Amongst the odds and ends of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm figures that I had in storage, I found enough figures to form several more French Light Infantry units.



The figures were intended to be used in a small diorama of the fighting around Hougoumont, hence the odd-looking 'firing upwards' poses. Once based they didn’t look too bad and they will fit in fairly well with my existing Napoleonic French Army.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Italian seaplane carrier Giuseppe Miraglia

The Spanish Navy was not the only Mediterranean Navy to operate a seaplane carrier. The Royal Italian Navy's Giuseppe Miraglia began life as a railway ferry called the Citta di Messina, but in 1923, before she was completed, she was bought and converted into a seaplane carrier. Just before she was completed in 1925 she sank during a storm, and she was not salvaged and completed until 1927.





Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 5,400 tons normal
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 397’ 8” (121.22m)
    • Beam: 49’ 3” (15m)
    • Draught: 19’ (5.82m)
  • Maximum Speed (when new): 21 knots
  • Armament: 4 x 4” (102mm) (4 x 1); 12 x 0.5” (13.2mm) Machine Guns (12 x 1)
  • Complement: 396
  • Aircraft carried: 17 seaplanes
  • Aviation facilities: 2 catapults
Giuseppe Miraglia took an active part in operations during the Spanish Civil War and the Italian invasion of Abyssinia as well as the Second World War. In December 1943, as one of the conditions of the Armistice, she sailed to Malta with the other units of the Royal Italian Navy. She was taken over by the British to be used as a Motor Torpedo Boat depot ship, and returned to the Italians in 1945. She was then used as a barracks ship and floating workshop until she was scrapped in 1950.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Other people's Portable Wargames

Although I have been busy doing other things, some of my fellow wargamers – Ross Mac and Tradgardmastare in particular – have been fighting PORTABLE WARGAMEs.

The results look quite stunning, and if you haven't already done so, I would thoroughly recommend that you visit their respective bogs.

Whereas Ross Mac has been concentrating on the Colonial ...

Ross Mac's 54mm Zulus attacking some of his red-coated British troops.
... and mid twentieth century ...

Yet another major border incursion. Naryatrian forces moving into Roscian territory ... again!
... in his battles, Tradgardmastare's battle took place during the seventeenth century.

25mm Minifigs showing that they can still look good on the tabletop!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Listening whilst I work

When I am working on wargames figures, vehicles, and terrain in my toy/wargames room, I like to listen to the spoken word as it seems to help me to concentrate on what I am doing. During the summer this usually involves listening to Test Match Special on the radio, but at other times – when the weather or the time of year prevents cricket from being on air – I listen to recorded books and radio plays.

Over the past few years my favourite recordings have included:
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' stories
  • John le Carré's books and the BBC radio play adaptations of them
  • Margery Allingham's 'Campion' books
  • The Father Paolo Baldi Mysteries (radio plays about the amateur sleuth – and Franciscan priest – Father Paolo Baldi)
  • The Charles Paris Mysteries (radio plays about the amateur sleuth – and actor – Charles Paris)
  • The Inspector Mclevy Mysteries (radio plays about the criminal cases dealt with by a Police Inspector in the Leith area of 1860s Edinburgh)
  • Recordings of Dorothy L Sayer's 'Lord Peter Wimsey' books and the BBC radio play adaptations of them
More recently I have 'discovered' recordings of Terry Pratchett's books, and I am about one third of the way through THE TRUTH.

I know that some wargamers like to listen to music whilst they work, and that others watch TV or DVDs, but I find both of these activities distracting when I am trying to concentrate.

My 'discovery' of Terry Pratchett's work is only recent because of a number of factors. One of these relates to the fact that for over ten years I shared an office with a serious Terry Pratchett fanatic ... and this rather coloured my perception of the books. My colleague was such a fan that he bought a limited edition resin model of the Unseen University that was so big that it covered the top of a large coffee table! When you have worked with someone who is that dedicated to the work of a particular author it can – and in my case did – rather put you off their work.

Another factor was down to my own sheer cussedness. I was told by all sorts of people how great the stories were and how much I would enjoy them ... so I didn't even bother to look at them.

More fool me, as I have now discovered.