Monday, 3 January 2022

Catching up on my Reading 9

 Brazen and to the Point. 

When I was at school a very long time ago they still had history lessons where they taught you stuff. Now WHAT they taught you was often later proved to be twaddle but that is beside the point. You were expected to regurgitate it-twaddle or not- so you could pass your exams.

 Some of this was actually Military History of a sort , including the Battle of Minden  during the Seven Years War where apparently 6 battalions of British infantry shot the whole French Army to bits in the supposedly usual manner and won yet another famous victory .. oh and there were some German chaps on our side who helped a bit.

Over the years of course you find out that it wasn't quite like that ......

Nevertheless I suspect it was partly the twaddle they taught you in 1972 that was the initial spark for my interest in the  British contribution to the Seven Years War which despite some periods on the back burner has never completely  left me .

So it was with considerable interest that-

Like a Brazen Wall- The Battle of Minden and its place in the Seven Years War

 by Ewen Carmichael came to my attention  

Published by  the ever busy, Helion this is a meaty tome of some 265 pages of which not one is wasted.

I do sometimes think that the campaigns against the French in Europe during the Seven years War often get a bit of a raw deal compared to the campaigns of Frederick the Great against the Austrians and Russians. This books goes a considerable way to redressing that imbalance.

 The author clearly knows what he is about. In 16 Chapters and 6 Appendices Mr Carmichael (actually a retired Major-General and currently Chair of the Society for Army Historical research) tells the story of the famous battle and puts it firmly into the context both of the campaigns against the French and indeed the overall context of the Seven Years War in Europe.

But this is not merely an overview, the detail is all there. Orders of Battle, Uniform details,(these encapsulated in a collection of tables) lots of contemporary quotes- often from European sources as well as British ones.. The depth of Mr. Carmichael's research is all there for the reader to see.. This is a formidable book telling a sometimes complex story. What becomes admirably clear is what a very mixed force the Allied commander, Ferdinand of Brunswick actually had to draw upon and how few of his troops were actually British. The vast bulk of Brunswick's army consisting of Hanoverians, Hessians, Brunswickers and even a few Prussians.

 It is this depth of research that I found most impressive but there is yet more. There is also a Guide to the Battlefield with some useful photographs and some delightful colour plates by Patrice Courcelle showing uniforms of some of the combatants. Add to this a decent crop of maps showing both theatre operations as well as battle details and we have a book that students will rerun to again and again.

 Niggles - well no not really , if I was picky I could have wished for a few more contemporary illustrations but that really is my only 'complaint'. I heartily reccommend this book to any interested in the Seven Years War.

Friday, 17 December 2021


 There are times when I despair - The run up to Crimbo being one of these. Now don't get me wrong I don't mind a bit of Christmas cheer , assuming I actually get the time to enjoy it. This year that is looking increasingly unlikely. However passing on from that, what  I REALLY dislike is others acting like arseholes 'because its Christmas innit.' . Especially this year  with  Covid still stalking the land. Then of course there are all of those godawful Christmas adverts about the place, bloody Crimbo music in the shops makes me wish for the magical appearance of  heavy weapons so I can blow the sound system away . One more bloody Michael sodding Buble crimbo crooning and I may just scream.

Whatever happened to the Sally Annie band rather than the piped mid-lantic slush. Where  are Noddy Holder  and the lads? People go on about 'Traditional Christmas ' but of course it isn't, it is merely the next  phase in the neverending marketing racket.

 Some of the so-called 'party-food' put out by such as M and S  brings me near to throwing up  just looking at it. Gawd knows what would happen if I was daft enough to actually eat any of that overpriced crap. A bad case of the two bob bits on top of Omicron because I was idiot enough to go to some silly party or other .... NAH I think I'll pass thanks.

 No, as usual Carole and I are looking forward to a bit of P and Q perhaps with the odd glass of something  French and fizzy and (given the foregoing) the odd striped minty sweet ! Even perhaps a mince pie or three and maybe some slight culinary overindulgence. A re-charging of the batteries for the coming year.

 Yes we will be keeping our heads down more than usual .

 Hearing assorted thickies  going on about not being vaccinated is certainly worrying.  Here in the NE of England something around 20-25% of  so called adults have not yet had a single jab. This is mind numbingly stupid to say the least not to mention astoundingly selfish. Kill yourselves by all means - your choice-and it will improve the gene pool, but to infect others because of your intransigent stupidity?' Oh but we wanted to have our Christmas' and see our loved ones .... and possibly infect them perchance? 

Not doing that either- Carole and I have both had 3 Civid jabs plus the flu jab- dumb not to really .So while we are protected up to a point it would be stupid to go out seeking sorrow for some transitory ... er... enjoyment so we'll keep our heads down and 'zoom'  about - well actually portal but you get the point 

Better that than coughing up a lung on boxing day . 

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Catching Up On My Reading 8

Back in 1978  I did a small demo wargame on the First Afghan War  based loosely upon the Battle of Beymaroo.. I have maintained an interest in this conflict ever since, just another facet of my continuing interest in the Indian Armyand Indian Military History.  So a new book on the war is very welcome indeed.

 Published by Helion 'Dust of Glory' by Bill Whitburn  is a meaty tome  of over 400 pages, not one of which is wasted.

It is well known that the First Afghan War was not the East India Company's- or indeed Britain's finest hour of the first half of the nineteenth century, with hindsight one can see that interreference in Afghanistan never seems to end well- not that politicians  ever seem to learn from History. The war inspired at least 2 major paintings - a print of Woolen's @Last Stand of the 44th at Gandamack' adorns my sitting room wall and of course Lady Elizabeth Butler's 'Remnants of  an Army' will be familiar to many.

 The basic story of the First Afghan War has been told many times. George Bruce has done it Peter Macrory has done it and more recently , this century, William Dalrymple has told the tale each in their own way. How the British  invaded Afghanistan to replace its ruler with one more controllable and how, due to treachery, mismanagement and sheer incompetence they were hounded out of the country by the Afghans loyal to their rule Dost Mohammed.

 Mr Whitburn's book treads this travelled path  with significantly  more military knowledge than most. Not only that, the book is by no means as narrow in concentrating on the occupation of Kabul and the fallout from the disastrous mismanagement political, military and fiscal as some of the others of the genre.

 We get to know what was happening in other parts of the country- in Kandahar for example and other outlying garrisons. There are many other battles and actions outlined often in detail and orders of battle for the British and sometimes the Sikh forces and numbers for the Afghans  and sometimes with maps than one usually sees. This is well done and very useful indeed.

Equally this book is by no means as 'Anglo-centric' as some earlier narratives, we learn about  the Sikh state's involvement in the debacle- they were Britain's ally in the enterprise-and about the small army known as 'Shah Shuja's Contingent' which was supposed to be the military force of the replacement ruler but was in fact a small carbon copy of the East India Company's army which formed the bulk of the invading forces. Some of these units would continue in EIC service after the war was over.

This book is full of fascinating detail and anecdote and will repay careful study.. It is well illustrated in both colour and black and white and included a good few illustration I was unfamiliar with  or in some cases had seen previously only in black and white in older volumes. George Anderson's maps are up to his usual fine standard.

Niggles? Well one or two. At least one of the illustrations is miscaptioned- page 37  has a full page plate captioned 'Afghan Warriors'. when they are, by their dress and weaponry clearly Sikhs- possibly Akalis or Nihungs  and are clearly differently dressed from those figures in other plates who ARE Afghans.

 It might also be said that some of Mr Whitburn's frequent digressions can get just a little tortuous. I'm still unsure for example what Peterloo and the Bristol Riots have to do with the First Afghan War. Yes other such digressions are both interesting of themselves as well as instructive. I know more about how the East India Company was governed  than I did before  and some of my own misconceptions have been washed away.

 I liked the book and over time will study it with more care and I'd recommend it to anyone who has even a passing interest in the military of India or in the  campaigns of the British Army. 

Friday, 26 November 2021

You Can't have too many Elephants.

My various Indian projects often move with almost glacial slowness- what with work and other stuff getting in the way-  but I do get the odd item finished every now and again  so here are a few pictures of the most recent efforts that I have actually finished myself. 

Rohillas Jezzailichis, or Pathans if you prefer.
All Old Glory 28mm from the same pack CNP2

There will be a fair amount of intermixing here between the various units and forces stretching from the late 18th century until the end of the Indian Mutiny and in a few cases even later- though of course much of the earlier stuff is not usable for the later campaigns.

Another shot of the Pathans/Rohillas.

A pair of old Willies !
A couple from the old Suren 'Willie' range of 30mm figures 
These from his Sikh Wars range.

Now for the finale as you might say. One of the reasons for wargaming Indian campaigns is the simple fact that you can model Elephants. I have a couple on the painting table currently - in the queue as it were- but this is the first one to be finished. 

Elephant drawn 24pdr gun.

Another shot of the same model..

The elephant and limber are from AW miniatures who do some nice stuff for India - though perhaps it it on the large side for some tastes. The gun , which fits in perfectly, is an old Hinchliffe model from the 30mm range but you can get a nice 24pdr from AW.. I had a couple of these Hinchliffe pieces lying about so it  seemed appropriate to use them.  Different crews from  the 1790s onwards will use this in various scenarios. 
 This will be having its first outing tomorrow as I am umpiring a small game for our little group .
 Should be fun! 

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Last Salute 2-Not with a bang but a whimper.

 Last Saturday saw the re-vamped Salute 2020  at  Ex-cel in London actually happened. Well when I say happened .......

I had decided beforehand that this would be my last Salute. After all I've done 28 as a trader and I've had enough of the travelling and all around faffing about. As I've said previously I'm pulling back a bit from shows so next year will only see me and the crew (that's you Jim) at 3 events as traders. Mail order will of course carry on as normal.

So back to the show. As usual the Warlords organisation was pretty flawless, despite extra Covid related faffing set up went like a dream. No problems.

 Getting to the Hotel  cost us an extra 30 quid in congestion charges for the weekend (Hope you enjoy the extra cash Sayid) but that is not the Warlord's fault.

 Saturday dawns and again a bit of extra faff  to enter the venue  but this was not unexpected- though perhaps ex-cel could have made the info a bit clearer but again once inside, no problems.

However where the hell did Salute go?

Trader numbers were down . I was told 35 no shows by one of the Warlords. And as for the games , basically there seemed to be more blank empty tables than  full ones. Wide acres of empty space that SHOULD have been a-bustle with games,  greeted the wanderer in his spare moments. Again not the Warlords fault but the fault of the no-shows who didn't turn up. Obviously many had not bothered to inform the Warlords or the tables needn't have been set out- nice of those no-shows  to be so well mannered.

One nice game stood out for me, a lovely Wellington in India affair put on by Martin Gane as his friends - who I think were all Warlords- the 6 pages (yes a mere 6 pages) of rules they used look interesting too.. once I get time to read them properly.

What amazed me was that I actually had time to see the show .... except that it wasn't there. Trade was pretty sluggish but again that was expected due to Brexit and Covid- almost no Europeans turned up.. There was no point this year  where we were rushed off our feet - which in the past has been 'Salute Normal'.

Of course none of the particular problems of this years show can be laid at the door of the Warlords. But the combination of circumstances did rather take the shine off an event that is usually the showcase for the wargaming hobby . It wasn't Salute it was A.N.Other wargames show.

So the end of an era- for me at least and no it did not end with a bang.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Last Salute

 The re0imagined 'SALUTE 2020' is now little over a week away .

This will be my last Salute.

Two nights in a hotel  and 12 hours in a van(6 hours each way - less if we are lucky) plus the rigours of the show itself are no longer as easy as they used to be- nor are they as much fun.

 Time was when I did 26 shows a year before the internet and, like horseshit, I was never off the road but the world has changed since those 1990s days.

 I've done 28 Salutes as a trader plus a couple as a demonstrator and its enough. 

It's the travelling that gets you.

After this I'm sticking to shows closer to home, maybe even do some as a demonstrator again - which would be nice.

Now don't misunderstand I'm still selling soldiers and  there and back in a day shows such as York and Partizan are still in my sights but long journeys and  bloody hotels are off the menu.

 Been there done that.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Minot 30mm

 Over the last few years I have amassed a fair collection of 30mm models for the 'shinyloo' project. Most of these have been Stadden with a few Willie and some not quite 30mm Connoisseur or Hinchliffe 'Foremost'. The point being that they were all designed  before 1984 some having been sculpted  2 decades or more earlier.

Four Minot 30mm French Cuirassiers giving it some ! I have another half a dozen of these in various stages of disrepair. 

 However another maker from the latter part of that time  I have become something of a fan of is Barry Minot. Probably best known for his rather esoteric fantasy ranges, he had several ranges of 30mm historical figures out there as well. I am aware of 5 - though there may be others.

 A Battle of Jena range of which I only have 2 examples.

A Zulu War range centred around Rourke's Drift- some lovely active figures though I don't currently have any.

Another view of the Cuirassiers.

A retreat from Moscow range with lots of cold looking French which I have and some predatory Cossacks which I don't. Those I do have need quite a bit of TLC before a public viewing.

A Sudan range - which I have seen pictures of.

 and Finally

For a long time this was the only Minot model I had. 

 A Waterloo range which a have quite a few of and are the pictures on this post. I would not claim to have them all as I only have  2 highlanders and by no means all of the British Infantry. Doubtless there are plenty of others to  find as well.

French Imperial Guard. This was the first completed Minot unit. I now have plenty of these to paint in most of the poses that Minot made. 

 I love the movement of these blokes even if compared to some the small details may be lacking- but of course that means no buttons the size of golf balls or such other silliness and anyhow  you can paint the details in. It is not that hard. Or leave 'em off if you prefer. 

British Infantry. These paint up really well and once I get some of the more active poses into the collection .....


 All in all these Minots make a decent addition to the 'Shinyloo' collection.