Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Down with Nelson's Column!

I have just been watching one of the news channels, and was somewhat amazed to discover that a social historian is advocating the removal of Nelson's statue in Trafalgar Square because of his racist attitudes. She also argued that statue of Clive of India should be removed as it is an affront to people from South Asia. In addition the statues of Cromwell (it offends Irish Catholics) and Winston Churchill (he apparently caused the death of three million Indians from starvation as a result of his policies) are targets for removal.

I suspect that this was 'news' because of recent events in the US ... about which I will not comment as I regard that as something the Americans have to sort out for themselves. What surprised me was that the social historian did not mention some of the other statues that can be found in central London. Generals Napier, Havelock, and Gordon (to name but a few) all helped to expand the British Empire, but were missed off her list.

All this has put me in mind of George Orwell's comment in his book 1984:
'He who controls the past, controls the future. He who controls the present, controls the past'.
History is a powerful tool ... which should be used sparingly and with great care ... and not by people who do not understand how powerful a tool it is.

Monday, 21 August 2017

A brief progress report

Despite the diversions that presented themselves over the weekend (a trip to Faversham and a lunch out with friends that involved the purchase of a new book), I've still been make slow progress with my two main current projects ... re-writing my book about the Spanish Civil War and playing around with my Heroscape terrain.

The book now has nearly 250 pages and is still growing. I will be going through the whole text to undertake revisions once I have finished writing the first complete new draft, but for the moment well over 75% of the book is at a stage where it could be published tomorrow, and what remains to be done is mostly to double (and in some case triple) check the data I have already added or hope to add.

On the Heroscape front I am still experimenting with the colours I am going to use to paint my existing hex tiles. I think that I am going to use grass green for the majority of them , with a darker green for woods and a light green for soft going/marshes. I may also try to find a further shade of green that is similar to grass green to add to my paint pallet so that all the 'standard' hex tiles are not absolutely uniform in colour.

As to my other projects ... well renovating, varnishing, and basing my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic figures is currently 'on hold', as is work on my NAPOLEONIC PORTABLE WARGAME book. I am still slowly acquiring bits and pieces for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project and have plans to resurrect my somewhat moribund Colonial endeavours.

I am really glad that I am retired; at least I now have the time to devote my energies to thinking about and working on so many potential projects!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848-70 (1): Piedmont and the Two Sicilies

Today Sue and I went out to lunch with some friends. We arranged to meet them in the Bluewater branch of the Loch Fyne chain of restaurants at 2.00pm, and because we got there a little early, I paid a visit to the branch of Waterstones bookshop that is next door to the restaurant. As a result I found and bought a copy of ARMIES OF THE ITALIAN WARS OF UNIFICATION 1848-70(1): PIEDMONT AND THE TWO SICILIES that was written by Gabriele Esposito, illustrated by Giuseppe Rava, and recently published by Osprey Publishing (ISBN 978 1 4728 1949 9) as part of their Men-at-Arms series (No.512).

What interested me about the book is that it deals with one of the series of wars that were fought at a time when warfare was on the cusp of great change. The Napoleonic era was finally coming to an end, and the new age of mass armies and rifled weapons was just beginning. The book is full of illustrations that show uniforms that would not have looked out of place in 1815 alongside those that look as if they were worn during the American Civil War and Franco-German War.

I look forward to reading this book over the next few days ... and no doubt getting inspiration from it.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A trip to Faversham, Kent

Sue and I felt like a change of scene today, and after some thought we decided to take a trip to Faversham in Kent.

There have been people living in what is now called Faversham since before the Roman invasion, and it is one of those small, historic market towns that seem to pepper the English countryside. It lies close to the route of Roman Watling Street, and has had a market for the last 900 years.

In the late sixteenth century it became a major production centre for gunpowder, and when the move to other explosives was made towards the end of the nineteenth century, two new factories were built for the production of trinitrotoluene (TNT) and cordite. These production facilities closed in 1934 when the manufacture of explosives was moved to Ardeer in Ayrshire, which was much farther away from the threat of attack by a potential enemy.

The town is also famous for being the home of the Shepherd Neame Brewery (the oldest family-owned brewers in Great Britain), which was officially founded in 1698, although records show that brewing was taking place in the town as early as 1573. Brewing still takes place in Faversham, and visitors can book tours of the brewery and visit the onsite shop.

The reason for our visit was two-fold. Firstly to visit the market that is held every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday … and secondly, so that I could visit THE HOBBY SHOP. This is located in West Street, Faversham, and although it is quite small, it sells all sorts of model kits, model trains, diecast model cars etc. I bought a bag of assorted model trees that I hope will work with my Heroscape hexed terrain.

All-in-all it was a nice place to visit, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Barcelona: Another city, another tragedy

So another group of innocent people has been mindlessly killed, and numerous others have been injured ... and one has the question 'Why?' What did the perpetrators hope to achieve? Martyrdom? Revenge? If the latter, what supposed act was being avenged?

I first visited Barcelona in the mid 1960s when – like so many others – my family went on a package holiday to Spain. We stayed in a hotel along the coast from Barcelona, and travelled there by train for a day trip. Franco was still 'El Caudillo', and Catalonia sometimes seemed like an occupied country. During the daytime this was not obvious, but at night time there were regular army patrols along the beach and local roads. We were told that they were there to prevent smuggling ... but not what the smugglers were bringing in.

It was many years later that I returned to Barcelona, but since then my wife and I have been back there several times. We have walked up La Rambla, visited several of the cafés that line it, shopped in some of the stores in the Plaça de Catalunya, and wondered – somewhat frivolously – how the numerous living statues manage to make a living.

Our thoughts are with the families of the dead and injured as well as with all those people who have been affected by this terrible event.

One would hope that this will be last of these such attacks ... but I am terribly afraid that it won't be.

I wrote the above last night, just before I went to bed. I had originally intended to publish it right away, but for some reason I decided not to, just in case the situation became clearer overnight. It has ... and it would appear that the attack in the centre of Barcelona was part of a bigger, co-ordinated series of attacks, at least some of which have been foiled by the Police.

According to the BBC the casualties include people from Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Taiwan, and that the so-called Islamic State (or as I prefer to call them, Daesh, the Arabic acronym for the 'organisation') is claiming that the attacks were carried out by some of its 'soldiers'.

It has yet to be determined if the latter is true, or whether or not this appalling act of needless violence was committed by people who took their inspiration from the distorted and perverted view of the world that the leaders of Daesh continue to propound. Regardless of this, the second to last sentence of my original draft remains true ... at this time our thoughts must be with the families of the dead and injured as well as with all those people who have been affected by these terrible events

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A Fantasy version of my Portable Wargame rules

One of my regular blog readers is Maudlin Jack Tar, and whilst I and others have been thinking about writing a Fantasy variant of my PORTABLE WARGAME Ancients rules, he has actually gone and done it!

His rules are available on his blog page, PROJECTS & PROCRASTINATION ...

... and besides enough information to actually fight a Fantasy battle using his rules, he has added a battle report.

I strongly recommend anyone with an interest in a possible Fantasy variant of my rules to pay Maudlin Jack Tar's blog a visit. I don't think that you will be disappointed.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Aircraft used during the Spanish Civil War

Over the past two days I have been working on the section of my book that deals with air forces that took part in the Spanish Civil War. This has proven to be bit if a Gordian Knot to unravel ... but I finally managed it. Both the Republican and Nationalist air forces underwent several reorganisations during the course of the war, on top of which the presence of both Italian and German independent air forces in Spain added another layer of complication. Sorting this out was not an easy task, especially as several of the references I am using contradict each other.

I am now in the process of putting together data about the main types and makes of aircraft used by both sides ... and it is quite a long list! With a bit of luck I should be able to get this data together by the end of tomorrow, and then I can move on to the next section of the book.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 15th August 1937

A new political police force, the SIM (Servicio Investigacion Militar), was formed in Republican Spain. It was controlled by the Communists and contained many Russian 'advisers'.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Some more (not quite) forty shades of green

Let it not be said that I don't read and act upon the comments made by my regular blog readers. I have therefore created an 8 x 8 'mix and match' grid of Heroscape hexes using those that I have already painted and a few originals. The resulting grid looked like this:

It certainly makes for an interesting and varied look ... and has made me wonder if there might not be something worth pursuing here.

Time for a bit of reflection, I feel.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 14th – 25th August 1937


After capturing Bilbao, the Nationalist forces in the North of Spain switched their offensive towards Santander. The Nationalists, who were led by General Fidel Davila, advanced westwards through the Cantabrian Mountains. Despite the large numbers of troops General Mariano Gamir had under his command, Republican resistance was weak. This weakness was due, in the main, to poor training and a shortage of weapons. On 23rd August the Basque forces in the Republican army surrendered to General Ettore Bastico, and because further resistance was impossible, Ulibarri abandoned his remaining troops and flew to safety in France. The Nationalists were then able to enter Santander almost unopposed.