Thursday, December 17, 2015

100K is Approching

Over this weekend I should pass an awesome milestone, 100,000 views of my blog. It has been a long hard slop to get here, but it is also been a lot of fun.

It has also taken me longer than it should as I have as I took a long break as the Syrian Civil  War was gearing up and it was making gaming in the Middle East distasteful.

So thank you to one and all the have read, commented or possibly learned something from this blog.

Where to Base a Campaign?

Choices, we have so many choices. From the Middle East, Sub-Sahara Africa or Central America. Even in the Caribbean wargamers have so many choices for basing an imagination campaign. It does not matter if we base it on the movies such as Bananas or  Moon Our Parador or any number of Back-of-Beyond stories, gamers have so many choices and I for one do not know what to do. So I will ask (not for the last time in 2015) you the readers to help, where would you like to place or see a campaign occur. (For me I would want to physically play in the Caribbean.) I also would like to know why you want to game there. You have the miniatures or possibly the terrain. Maybe you like the movies.
The time frame is the Cold War (1960s to the early 1980s)
And your choices:
  • Middle East (a country that looks a lot like 1970s Lebanon)
  • Central America (think pseudo-Nicaragua or Guatemala)
  • Caribbean (small island banana republics)
  • Sub-Sahara Africa (sand, diamonds and guns, enough said)
Looking forward to your thoughts and thank you for your input.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Submarine - Cold War and The Falklands

The spring of 1982...

One of the more pressing issues for NATO during the Falkland’s War was how to replace the Royal Navy submarines that went south to the conflict.

Number Available
Number Sent South
Valiant Class
Churchill Class
Swiftsure Class
Porpoise Class
Oberon Class

In general for every boat on station two are needed for support. These other two boats are undergoing refit, training, transiting to their assigned areas or in port. Six may not appear be a big number but assets were already stretched in the early 1980s. NATO did not know how long the conflict was going to last or if it would cause a wider conflict.

Both the Porpoise and Oberon Classes could cover choke points in European waters and were probably doing just that. We will have to wait for the release of official secrets to find out more. It was replacing the five nuclear boats sent south that was a concern for the Royal Navy and NATO. These boats can work in areas not conducive to their diesel brethren, under the ice or in the Arctic Ocean.

So what does this mean for your naval wargamer? Just think of the possibilities outside of the South Atlantic. NATO is forced to use boats in locations and for missions they were not designed for. It may even give the Soviets a chance and wargamers will have a chance to use lesser known classes.

While not as sexy as the fast attack boats, the crews of these diesel boats were well trained. Any takers?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

100 Years War

It started with an idea on Facebook. What is the club was to do battles from the 100 Years War using 10mm figures. OK, it is a period I know little about, I think Joan of Arc has something to do with this as do English long bows. So with the able assistance from Tony and Keith I was off.

After looking over the the Magister Militum website, I had six packs for a Company of 12 stands.

Once the order arrived I had the problem of how to paint them. I didn't think I had any references dealing with the 100 Years War, but a quick look through my old war game magazines I came up with a half a dozen articles. Add in the Internet and I was off.

My initial idea was the Company would be 12 stands with three horsed. Well with inflation I was fast approaching 15-18 stands and I was not using all of the figures.

 Yes they are small...

                            ...but still have a lot of detail

So with the forces based and priming has started I need to think of what type of Captain will be leading this force.

As I want to use a force for both the 100 Years War and the battles in Italy my Captain with be English. (May need a few now armored knights.)

As of tonight I have one stand finished and four others in different states.

I am enjoying the research and the painting and hope the campaigns will be equally enjoyable.

Thank you Tony and Keith for your assistance.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

VBCW at Sea

As an American with only a single visit to Great Britain I should but be as energized as I am when it comes to a Very British Civil War gaming experience in general or the fact that I created a Cornish force in particular. I have been from the very beginning.

It has been my pleasure to contribute to the period writing on as diverse subjects as the Cornish navy, VBCW in British Honduras and a VBCW romp in the BVIs. No matter what I read and write for this period I keep coming back to Cornwall, one of the many places where Agatha Christies' Poirot was active.

I read today that PTDockYard is releasing a set of rules to cover a hypothetical US-Canada war on the Great Lakes.  These rules will allow for coastal battles in the shallow waters of the lakes using torpedeo baots, coasters and drifters.. They will also allow in my opinion to conduct the naval battles along the English Channel and Irish Sea. Battles that are important to keeping open the supply lines for food and weapons to the different factions. The ships look good and for me they will be augmented by additional ships and boats in the PTDockYard line and from Shapeways. I now wait for their release this month.

Friday, November 6, 2015

FALL IN! 2015

Fall In has come to Lancaster Pennsylvania this weekend and while I will be unable to attend, I wish all of the gamers attending a great convention. Looking forward to seeing plenty of blog posts and pictures.

I look forward to Cold War and all of the joys that come with a late winter early spring convention. Ice storm anyone?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

End of the campaign - July 1863

Early July 1863 was a bad time for the Confederacy. A really bad time.Vicksburg surrendered on the 4th and four days latter Robert E Lee surrendered two thirds of his army to General Meade. While General Ewell's Second Corps as well as southern cavalry under Stuart and Rhodes' infantry division made it back to the valley; these troops will hardly constitute a new army in Virginia.

While losses were heavy for both sides Washington was celebrating.

Using the game factors we can see how much was lost in the 1863 campaign. Number are for the start of the campaign x and than after the campaign y. Name of corps or division x/y.

Reynolds I Corps 22/24
Hancock II Corps 21/22
Sickles III Corps19/22
Sykes V Corps 19/21
Sedgwick VI Corps 25/28
Howard XI Corps 15/16
Slocum XII Corps 9/15
Artillery 5/6
Cavalry 7/

Couch's  PA militia and attached cavalry
25 Infantry factors
10 Cavalry factors

Ewell II Corps 36/41
Stuart 5/8

POW and Lost
I Corps 37/43
III Corps 33/46
Cavalry 3

US Losses Killed 19 infantry factors for 9,500 men (historically 17,300 killed wounded)
CSA Loses Killed/POW 24/70 factors for 12,000 men killed (historically 17,600 killed and wounded)

After the campaign, Union losses will partially be made up by Lincolns call up for short term militia. Pennsylvania troops under General Couch were critically in the pursuit of the Confederate Second Corps into the valley. While not as well seasoned as the Army of the Potomac, these two ad-hoc divisions were useful in allowing Meade to carry out the encirclement of Lee's forces.

I was very surprised that my numbers came in lower those from the historical battle. I believe part of the reason was the Confederates kept slipping away from General Meade. The numbers are also lower as I am missing many of the ad-hoc cavalry units that were on the board but not under a divisional HQ.

This was an interesting thought experiment but shows two issues with the rules. First troops can disengage easier than was historically possible. I believe a reworking of the ZOC rules will handle that. It might also mean I need to roll better for the Union. Mental note, get new dice.

The second issue is with the exhaustion level of the forces in play. Most divisions can be sent back into the thick of things with only a day's rest. There is nothing in place other than victory points to restrict players from pushing their troops to far. In most cases losses are similar for the battles so there is no breakthrough moment. For the Union there advantage was in more numerous Corps level leaders. I wonder how the Union would have fared with a smaller number of Army Corps, but with larger manpower.

I will take all of these ideas and several discussed with friends into the next campaign. This will be Grant's Overland Campaign with and attachment for the Beast in the Bottle. Maybe the Beast can get out.

My idea is to use the exploits of the Army of the James (X and XVIII Corps) for a Civil War Sharp Practice campaign. Right now waiting on the new rules.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Look What is in the Mail!

This came in the mail yesterday and it is just in time. The club is looking at doing 100 Years War campaigns and this is a similar and possibly more colorful addition to the period.

My initial force is ordered and should come out at about 12-14 stands. A rather large Free Company. Not sure of the rules but that is not stopping me from moving ahead. (Thank you Tony.)

I will look at doing a full Italian Condottieri force towards the end of this year. Playing the rules and doing some more research will make the final decision easier.

I am a big supported of Guy and WSS and think it one of the best magazines out there for anyone interested in history and/or gaming. This new project may have me looking at subscribing to his medieval magazine.  This is all in the name of research.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

General Sickles - The Hero

From the Editorial Board at the Philadelphia Republican 
9th of July 1863

One of our stalwart reporters has sent a message today that General Sickles III Corps has taken the surrender of southern General Anderson's Division east of Harpers Ferry. After several days of skirmishes and battles along the Potomac River the rebel troops found no way to escape from Sickles' boys and surrendered.

While this paper and other across the United States await more information on the events along the Antietam Creek and the surrender of General Lee; we are gladdened that the men of the Third Corps have much to celebrate.


Now for the game as an after-action-report. For four game days Sickles and Anderson fought along the Potomac with Sickles trying to surround Anderson and Anderson trying to cross back over the river. With one day of rain and a second with the river to high to cross Anderson's Division was forced to surrender on July 7th after Sickles launched a third attack in so many days. With each attack the southern forces were reduced. In the end Anderson had less than 2,500 men left to lay down their arms to General Sickles.

Now before Tim chimes in and says I was playing favorites with this colorful New York leader, the original plan was to have him cross over through Harpers Ferry with General Sykes to corner the Confederate forces. An opportunity for greater laurels. In the end General Anderson was to important of a force to leave alone and the Third Corps was sent in to finish them off quickly. Unfortunately, as in most American Civil War battles the troops could not be defeated as fast as the generals expect. Well done General Sickles.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Roads to Gettysburg - July 8th

From the Editorial Board at the Philadelphia Republican

July 8th will go down in the history of the Republic as one of the greatest days of Thanksgiving for all of our peoples.  From our great industrial cities like Philadelphia and Washington DC to our farming towns, we have been celebrating the surrender of the confederates at Vicksburg on this past July 4th. Our celebrations were redoubled with the announcement of Robert E Lee surrendering of his forces in and around Sharpsburg on July 8th.

While only one of our three reports have sent the paper word, we know from our man attached with General Reynolds that the confederate line was ruptured on the evening of the 7 th near Sharpsburg.  Losses were considered heavy but the Union troops under Generals Howard and Reynolds was enthusiastic in their success this day.

On the morning of the 8th General Heath attempted to force his way across the Potomac River to breack out of the Union encirclement, but were thrown back by cavalry under General Custer.  Later that day officers from the southern troops came to the Headquarters of General Meade to request terms. Later that  same evening Generals Meade and Lee with their staff meet in Sharpsburg to sign official terms. We await further news.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A New Profile Image

As a child I enjoyed the seasonal Charlie Brown specials as many children of the 60s and 70s were. From Halloween to Easter we were covered. The animation was not exceptional but it was of an endearing quality that has me watching Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown this fall.

It is also this fall that The  Peanut's Movie is to be released. With this 3D
release also came an app for creating a profile for an individual that makes you look like a Peanut's character. The choices are broad and I feel give a good set of choices. I only wish there was a couple of choices of characters in button down shirts, no ties.

I am happy with how mine came out. Give it a try.

Roads to Gettysburg - July 3rd 1863

The third day of July 1863 was relatively quite as the troops involved in the campaign were exhausted. Skirmishes along all of the passes of the Catcotin Mountains continued, some turning into battles between brigades. Lee’s army was running out of room to escape as Meade’ s troops continued their death dance. In the north, Generals Ewell and Stuart continue to work their way to the river crossings skirmishing along the passes. The Union was able to get a cavalry brigade to one of the river crossings, waiting for infantry support.

The advantage appears to be with the Union as they have two relative corps available. On to the 4th Of July and the fireworks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Operation Martlet

It has been awhile since I have purchased anything wargame related. OK, there were a few books here and there but no rules or miniatures. We that changed today when I heard Richard @ TOOFATLardies released Operation Martlet, part of his pint sized campaigns.

This was right up my alley as I have most of the Germans and Mark Kinsey should have all of the British needed.

So please look forward to an after action report on what I hope to be another gem.

Operation Martlet

Operation Martlet is the fourth of our Pint-Sized campaigns for Chain of Command, designed to be played using the campaign handbook At the Sharp End.

Twenty eight pages long, Operation Martlet follows the established Pint-Sized Campaign format, with an overview of the forces involed on both sides, their deployment shown on period maps and the course of the campaign described in detail before going on to present a mini-campaign covering this combined arms operation launched by the British 49th Division immediateloy prior to Operation Epsom to seize the Rauray Spur from the defenders from 12 SS Hitlerjugend.

The campaign is a total of six game tables with the duration running between six and eleven games. Briefings are provided for both sides, along with measurable objectives, period maps, force and support option listings and everything you need to play this campaign through to its conclusion.

Like all of our Pint-Sized campaigns, this is available for the price of a pint in our local pub. We're sure that you'll agree, that is great wargaming value!

The Magic Number is now 59.14

The magic number is now 59.14. That is the average number of views I need for my blog to get to the magical number 100,000. What happens at 100,000? I do not know. Something will come to me.

While this should not be an issue with my GCACW campaign going on and two Chain of Command projects starting up, I do want to ask each of my current followers to please suggest my blog to those interested in gaming, both board games and miniatures. I also think there will be more board games on this blog as I try to use them as a means to generate battles with miniatures. Also a train friend (from my commute) has me looking at the board game MTB and IDF.

So please let me know what you think. And the picture, it is part of a project I am working on. Plus if you count them there are 100,000 peasants in the background.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Roads to Gettysburg July 2nd 1863

The second of July 1863 will to go down in history (at least this time line) as one of the most costly in American military history with the Confederates losing well over 2,500 men and the Union nearly 6,500 troops. This nearly matches the historical losses that occurred during the historical Pickett's Charge.

This reversal of fortunes was to the advantage of the Union. With General Ewell's Corps, General Stuart and Hood's Division have been cut off by Union forces and the rest where being encircled by the Union forces. Most of the troops on both sides are disorganized and exhausted.Some divisions are reduced to the size of 1862 brigades.

All that is but General Reynolds I Corps. His troops and the artillery reserve have recovered and are waiting to get back into the fight. They are able to either assault McLaws division or to cut off the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia. These troops, the cavalry and Sickles III Corps recovering will cause a great of trouble on the third and fourth of July.

Any bets on which infantry division will make it to the Potomac River first?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Roads to Gettysburg - 1st July 1863

The first of July 1863 was less successful for the Confederacy in my game than the historical events.  After attempts to pull back General Hood and the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia, Gereral Lee is left with a less than optimal situation.

The force deployments include;
  • Sedgwick north of Frederick containing Stuart and Ewell
  • Hancock and Sedgwick surrounding Hood in the Catoctin Mountains
  • Army of the  Potomac holding the remains of the Army of Northern Virginia

Will General Lee make it back to Virginia?

Nova: First Air War

I have been waiting through the summer for this Nova episode and it was worth the wait. We have here not only vintage film of World War I but a group in New Zealand building replica aircraft based on period plans.

The aircraft are than tested against each other in evaluation and mock-battles. There are also scenes in this documentary of the aircraft  at air shows.

In the collection the company, The Vintage Aviator, have BE2c, SE5a, Camels Eindecker and Albatross aircraft.  All in period colors and markings.

I found this episode to short, as they cover the entire war in an hour so much of the video is more visual than factual. More in depth in the individual periods would be welcomed. Nova could easily have done three episodes, Fokker Fodder, Bloody April, Strategic Bombing, and The Elites (SE5a and Fokker D.VII).

Well worth watching but it could have been so much better.

I rate this as a 3 1/2 out of 5.
First Air War 
Nova Transcript

Friday, October 9, 2015

We had a plan

Well both sides had a plan but it did not work out for either side.

General Sickles was to advance to the crossing sites on the Potomac and take them as the Army of Northern Virginia was heading north cutting of southern supplies. The problem was the army never moved north and Sickles was not able to advance very far.

The rest of the Union forces was going to head north to engage the enemy, but instead came on to the map turned left and went after the majority of the southern forces along the Catoctin Mountains.

Now the Army of Northern Virginia was to fight the Army of the Potomac in Maryland but the fight in the mountain valleys was difficult and troops were seperated with General Hood caught in Federick.

Is there a chance for either side to pull out a victory. Possibly but it is too difficult to do a blow by blow. Will have to do a replay I believe. Stay tuned.

1939 Battle of Westerplatte

When I first heard of the movie 1939 Battle of Westerplatte I was intrigued. This is a little know engagement in a campaign that most students of World War II do not spend a great deal of time on.  As I had family living in Poland at the time any movie of the conflict is of interest to me.

This is a battle on a small peninsula on the Baltic between Polish and German forces. German naval infantry, SS troops and field artillery were pitted against 200 plus Polish garrison troops. In this lopsided battle the Germans also used the pre-dreadnought Schleswig-Holstein to fire at at Westerplatte.

The Poles held out for seven days longer than any one assumed possible; a moral victory for the Poles that had little to cheer about.

Now for the movie, it is almost two hours long and filled with the chaos of war.  Some reviews fault the production value of this but I felt it was as real as a movie could get. The battle scenes where designed with cinematography in mind and not actual tactics in action but it is a movie. I did like the artillery scenes as they limited the use of gasoline in their pyrotechnics and looked real.

The length of the movie comes about because there are many scenes dealing with Major Henryk Sucharski and Captain Franciszek Dąbrowski having command issues with leadership and the surrender. While important to the film, these scenes were over played.

The Poles had several cloth colors used in their uniforms giving painters many opportunities.  As a reference this makes it a must have for those gamers interested in this period.

I will take the time to learn more about this battle as I can see engagements from it being put on the table for Chain of Command.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Nautical Porn

The title of naval porn was my first thought for this piece, and than I Googled it. Not a good idea. Don’t try this at home with the kids around. 

By naval porn I meant nautical as in ships, old ships, really old ships. These are ships with breach and muzzle loading guns and thick (crappy) armour. Think pre-dreadnoughts and armoured cruisers, warships no self-respecting naval wargamer would want in their fleets.

Well all but me, I have always admired these designs. They were artistic and had a mechanical beauty to them. Today we look at the poor damage control, protection, fire control and wonder why anyone would have wanted to use them in combat. Do not think 2015, but 1915.

These designs that I am talking about were thought of in the 1880s and 90s and with the coming of The Great War were seen by many as antiquated hulls only worth the value of say you have a couple of dozen extra battleships and a few score of armoured cruisers. But these death traps were more than just numbers but an active part of all navies in general, and the Royal Navy in particular. And the Admiralty was willing to send them into harms way.

While I cannot prove this, I have always felt that these old warships were best the best way to see combat. There was the hunt for the SMS Goeben and clearing German raiders from the sea. British used them on the North Sea patrols and at the Dardanelles.

My version of nautical porn is what most wargamers would want in their libraries. With the Internet books can seem passé but these are great titles than anyone interested in the era would want to have. For me this is my top five list. And there will be other lists as well. 

The Great War List
Conway’s All The Worlds Fighting Ships 1860-1905
This is the pre-dreadnought with all of those wonderful and wacky warship designs. Some of them even worked.

Conway’s All The Worlds Fighting Ships 1906-1921
Here we have the great battleships, HMS Dreadnought, USS Pennsylvania and the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Yes I am biased. What is missing, cruisers, many navies the French and US included sort of forgot about cruisers.

British Battleships 1889 – 1904
A grand study with a great deal of detail on the battleships of the Royal Navy from the beginning of steel warships to the end of the pre-dreadnoughts with the Lord Nelson class.

Naval Weapons of World War One by Norman Friedman
My go to reference for weapon systems of World War One and the pre-dreadnought era. This could be a coffee table book in a nautical geek’s house.

British Cruisers of the Victorian Era also by Norman Friedman
This one is currently not in my collection, yet. But for those that have read this far down the list you have already understood my appreciation for these armoured cruisers. This needs to be a coffee table book in a nautical geek’s house.

Please let me know if there are any titles from the period that you do not want to live without.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Roads to Gettysburg - 24th June 1863

Taking this classic Great Campaigns of the Civil War for a spin using Alt-History for the backdrop and support. Orders are based on conversations with both gamers and students of history.

Both the Confederates and Union forces have orders that they are to follow. From the beginning of the campaign General Rhodes appears to be on a mission to raid the farms of southern Pennsylvania. Already General Ramseur's Brigade has been dispatched to raid and levy Greencastle and Waynesboro.

To Greencastle  was rushed a brigade of infantry to protect the town from Grumble Jones' cavalry. Instead Knipe ran into Rhodes's division with appropriate results.

As the campaign is starting questions are asked. Where is General Stuart and the Union Army of the Potomac? Any thoughts where battle will be joined?

General Rhodes comes to a fork in the road. June 24th 1863. Guesses on the direction he will take?


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Psychopathic Peacocks

This comes from The British History podcast and I think as a title it is pretty awesome. While Jamie’s intention was to use this moniker for the warrior class of the Anglo Saxons during the Dark Ages. These were highly trained warriors that were paid for by their lords. Payment that was often gaudy and showy. Weapons, jewelry, and bling.

While the originally intent was for a specific group of Anglo Saxons, I thought of the many other instances where troops liked their elaborate kit, with showy markings a little too much. I think of the German SS heavy units from World War II. These tanks have some extremely complicated schemes; I know as I have painted many of them with multiple layers of paint and zimmerit.

It is interesting how different the Allies (US, UK and USSR) painted their tanks and half-tracks compared to the Germans. The Allies painted different shades of solid khaki green with a few markings while the Germans painted three or four different colored schemes. All very complicated.

So am I saying all German tankers were psychopathic peacocks? No but the did like mounts that looked like peacocks.

For those not aware of the British History Podcast, Jamie has created an impressive collection of content covering British history from the beginning, mammoths and all, to currently the Viking era.

From the website…

History is human. History is drama. History is our story, and it belongs to all of us.

The BHP is a chronological retelling of the history of Britain with a particular focus upon the lives of the people. You won't find a dry recounting of dates and battles here, but instead you'll learn about who these people were and how their desires, fears, and flaws shaped the scope of this island at the edge of the world.

This is a podcast that I look forward to each week. It is a podcast that anyone interested in British history should follow and support.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Coral Sea

After a few tries Tim and I finally got around to playing Coral Sea by Avalanche Press. It was an interesting game with some issues.

The first issue was the weather. From the opening of the game to when the Japanese were approaching Port Moresby the weather was rainy or worse. Air searches were ineffective until the invasion was underway a little to late for the Allies.

Once the weather cleared, at least cloudy, the Allies attacked concentrated on attacking the transports. After two strikes one transport was sunk and three were damaged. We had some issues with those rules but we were still learning.

The Japanese used land based and seaplanes for effective searches finding the carrier Yorktown. Two waves came in one finishing off the USS Yorktown and the other heavily damaging two cruisers.

Submarines came in handy for both sides in tracking targets and the Allies put a torpedo into the Shōhō. Damaged she limped back towards Rabaul.

So the out come was a Japanese victory with the Japanese holding  Port Moresby and Tulagi and inking the USS Yorktown. The Japanese loses when we called the game was a transport.

This will effect the Battle of Midway in that the USS Lexington will be there in all of her glory, but the Japanese will also have the IJN Zuikaku and Shōkaku with their full aircraft complement.

Now for the issues with the game...

Submarines can spot but it does not appear they can spot for airstrikes. Which they historically did. A rule change and a modifier on the chart would be helpful for the the players and historically accurate.

Clear examples of play and stand alone charts for air attacks and torpedo shoots would be helpful. I was using the charts from their WWI rule set, OK for now but improvements would be welcome by the publisher.

I have seen reviews of these rules showing mixed results. One of the chief complaints was that they were rules for The Great War with aircraft  rules superimposed on them. And not very cleanly. This I have to agree with.

Will I play them again, yes but with some serious house rules. Keep an eye on this blog for the changes.

Do you have any thought on these rules?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Holding Action - Sealion

In the third game the LDV were attempting to slow a German advance. After some minor shooting and a few causalities (4 German and 2 British) the brave volunteers attempted to launch an anti-tank attack with a Molotov cocktail.  The die roll says it all.

The British pull back and leave the battlefield to the Germans. For those playing at home that is 3 - nil to the Germans. Next up a change of scenery.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mystery Writers at War

Many of the mysteries written in the late 1930s and into 1940 took the approaching conflict in Europe and China as a backdrop. What is interesting for me as the historian is how close many of their suppositions were correct. Well at least some of them.

Agatha Christie in N or M and Margery Allingham both write about the fears that were prevalent in England in 1940. Both talk of the concerns of Germans landings (some dressed as nuns), 5th Column activates and a general feeling of fear. France had fallen, the army lacked arms and there were no easy solutions. All took time and that appeared to be in short supply.

In these stories, as in the reality of 1940, the British saw it as their duty for each individual to do their part. While not everyone can be an Albert Campion or Tommy and Tuppence, there were the Peter Fleming and George Orwell.

The stories give a good feel for the period. A time when no one knew if America would be entering the war or if Germany was going to cross the channel. When most people were not aware of what Peter Fleming was up to or the fellows in Bletchley Park.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Taking the LDV Out for the Weekend

This past weekend I took Chain of Command (CoC) out for a spin using my 1940 early LDV (Home Guard) for a little Sea Lion fun. And I wish it was fun for the British. This game was mostly to let me re-remember the rules before taking it to the club in general and Mark in particular. So while I was learning some of the rules again I was finding the LDV a difficult force to command.

In the first game, the LDV barley lasted past the pre-game patrol phase with the Germans quickly splitting the British and called the game. The issue was the British had little depth and were quickly going to lose not one but two Jump Off points. There are no pictures of the first game.

In the second the German Platoon with two tanks were going to try to spit the British again. A fire fight occurred by the German Jump Off Point at the church and the Germans took significant causalities. And than the German Oberleutnant showed up. He organized the Panzer I to support the second section and the two MG34 teams were in support. The significant firepower on the center farm house and the infantry went in and cleaned it out. After breaking the center of the British line the Germans turned right and headed for the second farm house when I remembered I had enough Command Dice saved up to end the turn. That forced the British section to rout with both the British Senior Leader and Junior Leader in tow causing the British moral to collapse.

Will have to rethink how to effectively use the LDV. At a minimum forces with only a couple of Lewis guns for support have to stay closer. Limited support will force them to concentrate firepower and the limited leadership. Looking forward to the next game.

The Battlefield

British Command on the run.

Causalities were heavy to both sides.

Germans advancing on the next farm...

...and than I remembered.

British trying to get around the Germans but ran out of time.
Would hate to see them meet up with two MG34.

Overview by the church.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sea Lion Books Part 1

Wanted to share with you my reading list for this project. It will grow as there are a number of titles I am reading grow.

  • Operation Sea Lion by Peter Fleming 1957
  • Invasion: The German Invasion of England, July 1940 by Kenneth Macksey 1980
  • Sea Lion by Richard Cox 1977
  • More to come…
  • Hitler's Pre-Emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940 by Henrik Lunde 2009
  • Hitler's Armada: The Royal Navy and the Defence of Great Britain, April - October 1940 by Geoff Hewitt 2008
  • The Home Guard: A Military And Political History S.P. Mackenzie 1995
On the reading list to get
  • Ultra goes to war by Ronald Lewin 1978
  • The Ultra Secret by F. W. Winterbotham 1975
On order
  • When Britain Saved the West: The Story of 1940 by Robin Prior 2015
  • If War Should Come: Defence Preparations on the South Coast, 1935-1939 by Philip MacDougall 2013
 As the list grows I will move it over to its own page. Any suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sea Lion as Cover Art

I have always been intrigued with cover art. I have been known to purchase a second copy of an Agatha Christie mystery just based on the cover art. Those of the 1960s and 70s had a very distinct look and feel to them compared to the earlier works for the 30s and 40s. . While at the Navy Exchange I was known to buy a sci-fi or alt-history novel based on the cover art, with mixed results. Now that I am adding to my early World War II library, I am intrigued by the cover art and dust jackets of the books I am buying come from the 1940s to the present. Much of my Sea Lion collection is fiction with appropriate art.

My most recent purchase for this project is Sea Lion by Richard Cox. This novelizes The Staff College wargame that was fought by real 1940 Sea Lion participants in 1974. It is an enjoyable read and has well though combat examples. Well worth a read by anyone interested in World War II in general or Operation Sea Lion in particular.

What I find most distressing is the fictional artwork on the cover. It is not the shallow eyes of the soldier, or the Ju-87 bombing the building (a church?) but it is the little tank in the lower left corner. To me it looks like a Soviet T-34. My assumption is that the artist was told to draw a tank and the T-34 was what was in his sketchbook. Does this make the book less valuable, no, but it makes the arguments about the History Channel getting video wrong just the most recent errors that I have caught. Oh bother.

For now back to the landing beaches. Cannot wait to find out what is going happen,

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Home Guard

Part of my thesis dealing with the historiography of Operation Sea Lion is how the British dealt with the prospects of invasion at different time. And while the German Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) was not prepared to invade Britain right after Dunkirk and the capture of the channel; the British forces were not ready to repel any Axis forces that landed on their shores.

The LDV while started to organize after Secretary of State for War, Anthony Eden radio speech on 14th of May, by early July most units were limited in the number of official weapons distributed to the units with most still relying on personal and museum pieces.

So while a 4th of July invasion sounds good in a novel (more on that latter) both the Germans and British will have to wait until September or October before their forces are ready.

And yet Admiral Raeder conceived a possible landing as early as the late fall of 1939...

Right now I am reading Mackenzie's The Home Guard and enjoying it immensely. It is an ex-library copy and the amusing thing is that it came from the Cornwall County Council Library system, the same location as my proposed miniature campaign. The other is Hitler's Armada by Hewitt. This is covering in some detail how the two navies stack up in a possible Operation Sea Lion. Well worth looking at if interested in naval affairs or Sea Lion.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Home Guard Getting Ready

For Father’s Day while the ladies were out so I finished the rest of the British LDV/Home Guard platoon. These will be based in Cornwall looking to take the fight to the German invaders. The force has three sections, a piece of captured Ottoman artillery, and a few Lewis and anti-tank teams.

The village is also a work in progress. I repainted the roads a lighter color and I need to wash and dry brush them. Will be adding a few more buildings and a cemetery for the church in time. Will also be adding an estate house for some of the VBCW battles as well. I do love the 1936-40 period.

A captured Ottoman artillery piece with crew and transport.

We even have a horse unit.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dad's Army in Quiet Cornwall

Our local squire was very pleased with himself as a new batch of recruits have been outfitted and accepted into the LDV. This allows our small village to report a full platoon ready for action, more or less.

Up until this week our village and the surrounding farms only could muster two complete sections. As this was not enough to count as a platoon the squire changed the records a little that were sent up the chain of command and reported to the district office a platoon with three under strength sections. This technicality allows him to maintain the platoon and his Lieutenant’s pips. If he has his way, the other two nearby villages will bring in another platoon and he can be made a Captain. Although we in the LDV think he is aiming higher. Much higher.

Not sure how London feels about it, but he tells everyone he has brought in support for the unit. I am not sure a captured Ottoman howitzer that stood in the village square and a couple of farming trucks count as support but he is happy.

So begins the LDV here in Cornwall…

While not quite Dad’s Army, the LDV and latter the Home Guard here in sunny Cornwall has little to fear, other than the squire and his business associates. As I am building up this force for Chain of Command I ended up doing this a little backwards.

Normally a gamer will choose a unit or period and start building it and as he or she is doing this they will also conduct research. I started on this ass-backwards (remember war is heck). I was researching Operation Sea Lion academically and found I had a hankering to build a platoon to fight my 1940 Germans.

The academic question seemed simple. How was history, popular or academic, written differently before and after the release that the Allies were reading the German codes.

This requires reading a lot of books and viewing movies and seeing how the war was displayed. And I am OK with that.

The year 1974 is when much of the official disclosures about the code breaking were done in the United Kingdom. A few spotty references can be found in popular works, but for now I will stick with 1974 as the pivot date.

Is this important, for Sea Lion it is very important. We have gone from looking at the plucky British standing up to Hitler with little more than a band of under-equipped volunteers, a few soldiers from Dunkirk and some Spitfires to the understanding (misunderstanding) that the Germans could never launch a successful invasion of Britain. Am I over simplifying, yep but so do the individuals that only see history from the perspective of 2015 and not 1955. Oh bother.