Monday 24 April 2017

Home from battle and hurrah for the NHS!

I now have another hole in by back (this is the third) and a new one in my abdomen but the operation has been completed and I have been discharged into the tender hands of my wife and mother in law. I would be lying if I said I wasn't rather (very) sore but I have to say that my experience today with the doctors and nurses at James Cook hospital has been excellent and I was very well looked after and made to feel I was the only person that mattered. The NHS may be underfunded and short staffed but it wasn't apparent to me today and they're certainly not short of TLC, which was in abundance. I go back in two weeks time to have the battery pack activated and then we shall be fully operational and ready for action.

In the meantime, we're staying at the Mother in Law's for a couple of days as being a passenger in a car isn't very comfortable as the seat belt goes right over the site of the front wound.  So although I am itching to get home and do some painting I shall have to be satisfied with just sorting out my swag from Salute and in some cases maybe even trying to remember exactly what impulse led me to buy a couple of particular items.

I also have some more pictures of newly finished or acquired figures to share which I shall do in the next day or so.

Saturday 22 April 2017

Salute after action report.

I am back in the hotel room crashed out on the bed after a long day at Salute. We had a lovely dinner then retired so we could watch Britain's Got Talent. Actually, I diverted to the bar for a bit and thankfully missed most of it. I know I overdid it a bit today, but on balance its been an excellent day. I managed to resist too many impulse buys, apart from a couple of books and a few Perry Egyptian campaign 90th Foot figures to use as an Emigre battalion in Europe, and a Foundry Guillotine set (every French Revolutionary War army needs one!) that is, oh and some Gringo 40s personalities that I can use for the FRW. I also got some Flag Dude flags for my Lombard Legion and some nice freebies off Duncan at Trent and of course my big box of swag from Eureka, thankfully not all mine (David).

I have to say that the games were a bit meh! compared to last year, i.e. there were no real standout displays unlike the 7YW, 40mm Peninsular and ECW games at Salute 2016. Some of the games were of a standard no better than one might expect to see at a typical 'club night'. There were loads of 'nice looking' non-historical games demonstrating some particularly good modelling and painting skills, but many were tied in to specific manufacturers. Why not? Now, I applaud every attempt to bring new blood into the hobby but the 'games' being promoted are just not my thing.  I used to do a fair bit of 'Darkest Africa'  and even have Bolsheviks, White Russians and Chinese somewhere under the table so I can't dismiss this type of game but I'm a big battle 28mm bloke and unrepentant. Then again when I was in my late teens and 20's I couldn't afford much more than one sees with the likes of Frostgrave and Congo so I can empathise with the young 'uns. I'm just very fortunate that I'm in a position to go completely OTT with various 28mm projects.

The best bit about today's show was the many friends and acquaintances I caught up with. Some guys i don't see from one show to he next, some I only ever correspond with via forums (fora?) and email, some I've known for 40 years or so, but it always feels like we've just caught up after a week or sorter than several months or years when it comes to picking upon conversations, interests, new projects and how best to spend our pensions. I feel very fortunate that I know so many traders well enough to have a good old natter about stuff, and being a member of the A Military Gentleman forum has meant a whole new world of new like-minded wargamers has opened up to me. It was great for instance to meet up with fellow forum members from every point of the compass in the UK including the far north of Scotland as well as even further afield, e.g. Melbourne and Sydney in Australia.

I took a few pics of the games that took my fancy and here they are.

First up a 17th game set in the Americas featuring I think, Swedes, Dutch and Native Americans. I liked it. Its obscure and it had ships.

 A SYW game that might have been the battle Prague but I'm not sure. The figures were nicely painted.

 An ACW game using the new 'Picket's Charge rules. I bought a copy and they look interesting and worth a go.
 Sharp Practice 2 in Spain by the TFW. Pretty.

 This was an unusual game put on by Mark of Reiver Castings and friends featuring a real battle fought between Japanese and Nationalist Chinese in 1937 or thereabouts, set on the 18th hole of the local golf course. I'm not a big fan of golf so digging slit trenches in the fairway and on the green seems ok to me..........why not :-)  It looked fun.

 Nick the Tsar, a 54mm Russian Civil War game. Looked really good. Lots of fun features, including a nice train and terrain features and lots of dressing up by the players.

 I think this was a game set during the 1859 Italian/French/Austrian war. I didn't see anything that actually said what it was about but I did like it.

So there you go. I had a good day out. I spent more than I planned to. (A given really). I had a great time chatting with what seemed like zillions of friends etc. What's not to like? So for everyone I had a conversation with, good to see you today and I hope everyone got back home safely. Cant wait to get home to start painting today's swag!

Salute today

We've made the trip down to London again so Katherine can go and meet up with old friends. By coincidence it's Salute today so isn't that good 😊 . We got the train down yesterday and are staying at a hotel actually attached to the Excel centre so as I lie in bed with my morning coffee a mere 5 minutes trundle from the event I am staring out of the window across the Thames thinking 💭 about what I shall do today.

I don't have a shopping list as such, but I do have a rather large package to collect from Eureka stuffed with lots of FRW figures for me and my friend David. I also have a scratch built classic style Vauban gatehouse to go with my Magister Militia fortress to pick up courtesy of the skills of another friend Stuart which is in the tender care of Dave Jarvis who is helping on the Eagle miniatures stand today.

I do have a list of traders I'd like to speak to! Such as Trent, Reiver, Gringo 40s, Flag Dude, Studio Miniatures and Cran Tara to name but a few. Most of all I'm looking forward to bumping into (or running over) lots of friends and acquaintances that many of the sort that one only tends to meet at wargames events yet when you do it's almost as if you were only chatting yesterday. I have no need to rush around this year as I'm not 'on the clock'. Katherine won't be back till early evening and we don't go home until the morning.

Then, on Monday, at the ungodly hour of 07:30 I am back into James Cook Hospital for the second stage of my electronic spinal implant procedure when I shall have the internal battery pack inserted into my abdomen and wired up to the stimulators fused into my spine. Nice.

Breakfast is calling so I shall check in this evening with a report on the day's activities.

Thursday 20 April 2017

The Anglo-Russian expedition to Holland

Now I know just about everyone will know about this totally obscure and pointless campaign......or maybe not. As an advocate of wargaming utterly pointless and obscure conflicts this was one I had to consider, especially as I am already well on track to complete my 1799 Suvarov in Northern Italy and Switzerland project and therefore have copious amounts of Russian and French figures readily available for a rapid deployment to the windswept and waterlogged wastelands of North Holland.

The English 🇬🇧 were keen to descend upon the Netherlands 🇳🇱 and sought assistance from Russia's  Czar Paul 🇷🇺 who agreed, probably/certainly influenced by a fair bit of cash, to send a corps to join the English in this venture, aimed partly at removing the Dutch fleet from the scene by seizing it and taking it back home, or burning it, delete as applicable. The British didn't really have a plan, and according to Fortesque, didn't even know, or couldn't agree, where to invade, beyond the general objective of 'The Netherlands'.

Skipping over the details of the campaign until a later post, there are some interesting facts about the expedition that make it well worth wargaming, well in my opinion at any rate, as follows:

1. When they finally agreed on where to land, the British army conducted an opposed amphibious landing onto the beach at Callantsoog;
2. Many of the British regiments contained a significant number of drafted in Militia and Fencibles , were short of officers and were thought to be barely trained to a standard suitable to be sent on campaign;
3. There were exceptions, e.g. The four battalions of Guards and Major General not yet Sir John Moore's brigade (2/1st Foot, 25th Foot, 49th Foot, 79th Foot and 92nd Foot) but generally the quality of the English/British infantry was certainly not as good as it had been in the American Revolution and would become in theNapoleonic War;
4. The English commanders included such notable figures as the grand old Duke of York (mmm?), John Moore, Ralph Abercrombie, Eyre Coote and others. There were a fair few numpties like Harry Burrard, Lords Cavan and Chatham and HRH Price William to balance things out;
5. There are a fair number of battles to refight on the tabletop, and the prospect of fielding British and Russians on the same table is quite a fun one;
6. Liaison between the Allies was pretty non existent, contributing to the failure of the campaign and their evacuation, and was not helped by the fact that the Russian commander was a bit of a knob who managed to get himself captured;
7. The Russians were not made of the same stuff as those fighting in Switzerland.
8. It looks fun.

I now have the start of my British contingent. I'm intending to field the Guards brigades made up of the 1st Foot Guards and a massed Guards grenadier battalion in one and the 2nd and 3rd Foot Guards in the second. I'm also in the process of putting together Maj-General John Moore's brigade, comprising 2/1st Foot, 25th, 49th, 79th and 92nd Foot, the whole supported by a couple of batteries of artillery and cavalry.

So, here the first completed units. Most of these were painted for me but some are my work and as always I did all the basing. Almost all the figures shown are Reiver Castings, with the exception of the light dragoons, the cannon, and a few odd figures that are Trent.

 10th (I think) Light Dragoons. I'm waiting for a guidon off Maverick Models. 

 Kings Dragoon Guards. Now, I know now that no British heavy cavalry served in Holland in 1799, or even in the earlier Flanders campaign, but (a). I'd already bought the figures, (b) I like them, and (c). why not?
 Royal Artillery manning a short 6pdr cannon.
 HM 25th Regiment of Foot.
 HM 49th Regiment of Foot
HM 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards.

The grenadier and light companies will be stripped out to form a separate 'elite' battalion as was common practice. Certainly that happened with the grenadier companies of the Guards, whether their parent battalion was part of the expedition or not I believe.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Another Demi-Brigade is mustered: A Batavian one this time.

I picked these Dixon French in Egypt figures ages ago and they've been waiting to be base up for around a month or two. They're a little on the small side when compared to their comrades in arms from Elite and Trent but massed together they look good. I'm not entirely sure that greatcoats were issued to the French infantryman in Europe during the FRWs,  let alone Batavian ones but as both my 1799 projects are set in the winter they might have acquired some. Who knows?

Now I know I already have more than enough French for my Suvarov in Switzerland and Italy project so I thought that I would 'flag' these as a Dutch/Batavian Republic Halve-Brigade for my 1799 Anglo-Russian expedition to North Holland. The flags can be detached and replaced with French ones if necessary.

More surprises when I get some more tufts so I can finish the next bunch of figures for 1799.

Monday 17 April 2017

"Action, Front!" - French Revolutionary War Horse Artillery

This weekend finally saw me finish off quite a number of units for my ever expanding FRW project. I will limit this post to just one however, namely my French horse artillery battery which after many months of sitting in the corner of my painting desk, now has its full complement of gun teams and limbers. So, we now have three teams pulling limbers, a Wurst wagon carrying the gunners into battle and the battery commander. Very splendid they look too!

The figures are all Eureka, and the cannon are mdf kits from Warbases. I'm heading off to Salute this weekend where I'm looking forward to picking up a nice big package of figures from Eureka which'll see me through the next few months........

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Refighting the Battle of Fontenoy

This week's game was the delayed but much anticipated Battle of Fontenoy.  Paul T organised the game and brought his glorious and venerable collection of 15mm War of the Austrian Succession armies and set up on my table. Paul doesn't possess every regiment that took part in the WAS (but nearly does) so some units were reflagged for the day. All the terrain pieces, buildings etc were scratch built by Paul. We were joined by Conrad Cairns, Dave Jarvis and Paul Stevenson. Conrad and Paul S were the Allies while Paul T and Dave were the French. I was going to play but in the end decided to umpire and offer impartial advice on the rules, (Honours of War), mainly to the Allies I have to say 😉. Also, I was (and am) still rather sore so my role of Quartermaster (coffees and lunch) was more important.

The Allies were saddled with Cumberland as their C-in-C who Paul made 'dithering'. The French were led by the 'dashing' but unwell Marshal de Saxe in his perambulator as he was suffering from an attack of Dropsy.

The French army deployed ready to engage the Allies who had a tough task ahead of them facing entrenchments and fortified villages along almost the entire front. The Allied plan was to move all the    Dutch and assorted Austrian and Imperial troops on the left, where they were facing three redoubts and a fortified village, to the centre in order to support the main attack. The English and Hanoverians were tasked with making a frontal assault on the French centre while the remaining Dutch were to assault Fontenoy itself. 
Fontenoy and its supporting redoubts, with infantry, cavalry and dismounted dragoons to the rear.
The Allied left. All of these troops were ordered to march quickly to the centre, but Conrad managed some dreadfully unlucky command rolls and it took them far longer than was expected.
The French centre, with the Gardes Francais, Gardes Suisse and various others including a couple of Irish battalions in the far distance waiting for the Allied assault. 
The main Allied thrust about to head off towards the French.
Another view of the French centre, before things started to get messy.
The English and Hanoverians move through the screening horse and begin to deploy into line. The Hanoverian battalions in the foreground were caught by artillery in Fontenoy before they could form line but were fortunate to get away with minimal casualties.
The Anglo/Hanoverian advance seen from behind the French centre.
The English were by now taking casualties but still kept coming on.
Austrian and Dutch horse on the Allied left screening the passage of the infantry from the extreme left towards the centre.
Some unfortunate command rolls and mounting casualties forced the English to slow their advance, but the Hanoverians pressed on with the lead regiment taking refuge of sorts in the sunken road. The Gardes Francais were pounded by musketry and close range canister fire and the right-hand battalion was driven off (they ran away).
Meanwhile the Dutch had launched their first assault on Fontenoy. The garrison's defensive fire was so effective that one attacking battalion was broken before it could close (the blue one in the centre of the picture) and the other was driven off after failing to gain entry to the heavily fortified village.
The French garrison of Antoing. Apart from a couple of long rantge shots with their artillery at the start of the battle they were able to sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

The French seem to have developed a habit of positioning their heaviest artillery out of the way across an impassable river. They were wasted as they only had the opportunity for a couple of shots before the Dutch and German infantry opposite Antoing marched off to the Allied centre.
The second assault on Fontenoy about to go in. 
This time the Dutch are successful and push the French out.

The three French redoubts between Fontenoy and Antoing. These were largely ignored by the Allies, although the one closest to Fontenoy was cleared of its defenders by a combination of grapeshot from its front and musketry from its flank.
The English have almost closed with the French while the surviving Hanoverians are exchanging point blank fire with the French Guard. Allied horse have advanced to fill the gap in the French line now that Fontenoy had fallen.
The Allied horse wheeled into the flank of the Gardes Francais and sent them streaming to the rear in disarray. Pursuit would have been suicidal so the victors withdrew.
While the Gardes Francais were being seen off, the French and Allied horse clashed. The Allies were initially successful but numbers told in the end and they were driven back.
This left a rather large hole in the centre of the battlefield which was about to be plugged by more Allied horse. In the distance the English foot was causing crippling casualties on the French, and although their own losses were high they were able to rally, shrug them off and rejoin the fight.
With support from fresh horse to their flank the Dutch captors of Fontenoy sortied out and formed up to threaten the remaining French horse and dragoons.
Not wishing to be crippled by close range musketry the French horse and dragoons on their right pulled back out of range and rallied their shaken units.
Over on the far Allied right the Highland Regiment had been slowly pushing the Arquesbusiers de Grassins back through the Bois de Berry. Eventually the latter decided that they'd had enough and dispersed, giving the Allies an opportunity to attack the redoubts from the flank as earlier frontal assaults had been costly failures.

At this point, after nearly five hours of play and around 15 turns (I lost count in the mid teens) we called it a day. Technically it was a narrow French victory as the Allies failed to cause sufficient damage on their army and force them to retire, but the Allies could and did also claim a narrow victory as they'd captured Fontenoy, had devastated the French centre and most of the English foot were still a fighting force. There were also fresh foot and horse in support.

An interesting and challenging game. It would have been very different if some of the many Allied failed command rolls early on had been successful but we shall never know. Honours of War coped well with a big game again. Thanks to Paul for organising it and bringing the troops and to Paul, Conrad and Dave for coming up to the 'wilds' yet again for a game.

Next time its the Battle of Rocoux.