Tuesday, 23 February 2016
In memory of an old friend.
I learnt yesterday that one of my oldest friends had passed away in what can only be described as tragic circumstances. Colin Smith had been my Best Man at my first wedding, and I probably first got to know him at the Durham Wargames Group around the mid-1970's. Colin's passion was naval wargames and we enjoyed many a game using his beautifully scratch built 1/1200 ships. Many of Colin's games and especially his campaigns are etched in my memory. We refought the attack on a fabulous looking Pearl Harbour in 1/1200 scale - on the floor! Next up was a refight of the ENTIRE Pacific campaign in WW2. A map of the Pacific was hand-drawn on the wall of the clubs games room. The amount of planning and detail that went into this campaign and indeed all of them was vast. I think the campaign went on for several years but work took people away and in the pre-Internet/email age it fizzled out. I had been the Dutch, gallantly defending the East Indies, and failing in the best traditions of the Royal Netherlands Navy. A WW2 aerial role play also sticks in my memory. Using that wonderful range of plastic 1/1200 aircraft produced by Helmet Miniatures together with numerous fabulous conversions we all took on an individual persona, joined a squadron and refought all its documented actions, getting promoted, wounded, shot down, posted away, etc. I remember I was a Belgian, starting with the German invasion and surviving through the war, finishing on Tempests with 34 or so kills. Other campaigns followed. World War One, but assuming the Kaiser's 1918 push had worked and the British ejected from France in a 1918 version of the Battle of Britain, World War One and a Half, a naval campaign set in the 1920's, the Great War of 1898 pitting the Royal Navy against the combined 'might' of Imperial Russia and France, and the Great South American War of 1980, with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru against Brazil, Chilli and Paraguay. That was an interesting one as we were still playing it at the time of the 1982 Falklands War. There were more, including a range of massive 6mm ACW games, but too many to list. In terms of wargaming, Colin always did it big, even with 6mm figures and 1/1200 or 1/2400 ships and aircraft. His memory as a friend of 40+ years, our holidays with a dozen or so other friends on the Norfolk Broads, drinking beer in the smokey Colpits Pub, Wednesday night boardgames, cheese and wine, and as a wargamer will live with me forever, and my thoughts are with his wife Linda and their family.