David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Saturday 22 June 2024

The 88th Foot

Before we set off for our break in the South West I had completed the first base of figures for the 88th regiment, later the Connaught Rangers. The remaining two bases of figures have been completed since we came home. The finished regiment completes a Brigade for my Light Division. As usual these are Great War Miniatures, from the 'charging' line infantry packs with others added from the 'casualty' and 'command' packs. The base is from Warbases and the Colours are from North Star

With the completion of this regiment all but one of the British elements are finally finished! That is because I have recently purchased a third kilted Highland regiment, designated to be the 42nd, the famous Black Watch. They will have to wait though for their moment under the brush, as I have to steel myself to paint yet more hose, kilts and bonnets!

As I've decided to leave the French until later in the year next up on the painting desk are some Cossack Scouts and a  pair of Roosian  casualty/first aid vignettes. These are all from the as yet unreleased range from Eureka Miniatures in Australia. More on them next week I'd think as Phil is away, meaning I've no game to host in GHQ.

Thursday 20 June 2024

A Small Tribute

I enjoy tatting with peripheral pieces for my wargames projects, I find it disrupts the tedium inherent in painting both armies for a project. You may recall that around the turn of the year I showed two such friparies for the Crimean War project utilising spare figures and a TAG Orthodox priest in one instance and two Warlord Games Russian 12lb guns and crew with the second priest. Thanks to Phil while I was down in Cornwall I was able to take advantage of the post free offer from Warbases to acquire a van and draught horse. 

As I expect you will recall I had assembled a photographer and subjects from the odd figures in the Prodigal Foundry Collection, so it had been on my mind to sometime add a Photographic Van to the collection in tribute to Roger Fenton's pioneering work in the Crimea ~

This image of Fenton's photographic van gave me the idea originally. As you will all know I'm not overly gifted in the modelling department, so a scratch built copy was out of the question. Instead I painted up the Warbases generic van kit and added a graphic I had knocked up on Word. It seemed appropriate to me by this vignette to also pay homage to a contemporary well known photographer of wargames miniatures.  So here is the photographic van of one D. Faulconbridge Esq, intrepid traveller and expert photographer of wargames figures far and wide ~
I'm off down to Herefordshire this weekend to visit with Matt and his family. No doubt we shall chew the fat on all things family and hobby, so I'm hoping that I will come home fully refreshed and eager to press on with my Eureka Miniatures Cossack Scouts and First Aid vignettes!

Friday 14 June 2024

Home Again, Home Again...

...Jiggity Jig! We've just spent over 9 hours  making a four hour journey home from Cornwall!! I would personally like to emasculate the moron in charge of our motorways with a rusty knife! To raise my spirits here are a few pictures of Anthony House, the ancestral home of the Carew family.

The present house, in the care of the National Trust, postdates the English Civil War period.
But the grand entrance hall gives a nod to that epoch with several periods paintings, with nearly-headless Charlie dominating the fireplace wall.
I love this picture: cut out of its frame, thrown in the cellar, rescued and restitched into its frame. All as the Carews supported first one cause, then another. Very ECW if you Ask me.
The colour of the Carew regiment of foote. Protected behind a screen, is it an original?
Some of the medals awarded to one of the Carew-Pole family in the C19th. Can you identify the star? Or any of the others?
Some 'military bits' casually arranged about a door!
A silver table centre piece? A bit posher than the ship in Compton Castle!
Dinner is served! You can make out the ship in the background!
C18th Chinese earthenware funery figures, not brought to England until 1996 apparently.
I loved this painting! The last time England had a decent test team perhaps? 
The terrace face of the house. Worth a visit if you are in the area. The tea room doesn't decent pastie as a bonus.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Castles and stuff

I have enjoyed seeing various folks' photos on their blogs from their haunts out and about on holiday or more locally, so I thought I'd join the trend with a few from our jaunt to Devon and Cornwall. 

Our first base of operations was the aptly named Bickley Mill Inn, chosen for no other reason than it's name! As a bonus just a mile down the lane was Compton Castle, a National Trust property so free entry for members!
The first sight you get of the castle, approaching from the car park area, is fairly spectacular!
It's clearly a medieval structure which morphed over time into a fortified family home - the family still live in a part of the castle.
There are squirrel symbols everywhere you look, the family taking that from the ship commanded by one ancestor, a model of which is prominently displayed.

As is this rather splendid silver table centre piece with scenes from the Sikh Wars I think.
The volunteer guides are very personable, well informed and suitably costumed to add to the enjoyment of a visit! Mark here is studying for his Masters in history, focusing on early concentration camps! It takes all sorts!

In the inner courtyard garden you get a sense of how the structure of the castle developed into a fortified home. On the right is the Great Hall, on the left family living quarters developed from the medieval solar. 
The early castle structure though is very evident, a portcullis gateway with murder holes and a flanking tower to deter attackers.
Another costumed volunteer striking a pose for the photographer!
The later gardens and orchard can be enjoyed as a part of the visit and also afford a different aspect view of the castle's evolving structures.
The medieval Great Barn, sadly not open, though the parked car gives a good idea of its size!
Just five miles away we found Berry Pomeroy Castle, a ruin in the hands of English Heritage. It's supposedly the most haunted site in England! There was a nice model of the castle in its Tudor heyday.
Also a large area of surviving wall painting, the Adoration of the Magi, which you can just make out. Conservationists are fighting an ongoing battle with the droppings of the six species of bats living above! Hence the wall board!
The Tudor period Hall perhaps suggests the splendor of the castle at its peak.
Mind, it was never properly completed, with rocky outcrops not cleared from the inner courtyard.
Still, it looks impressive as you approach the gatehouse. And it has a very decent tea room for the weary grottle!
We spent a pleasant day in Plymouth, mostly around the Hoe and the Barbican. You can tour parts of the citadel, which is still in use today 
Drake's Island is also fortified to command the approaches to the Devonport naval dockyards and Plymouth harbour.
The battery can be made out on the seaward face, while the garrison buildings face the shoreline on the opposite face of the island.
Guns are mounted on the shoreline of the Barbican too. An obligatory shot here of wargamer with canon!

There are information boards handily placed all around the Barbican walk, so you can take in as much or as little detail as you want! There's also a really good second hand bookshop in the Old Customs House. { I got three Richard Woodman Nathaniel Drinkwater omnibus editions for £5.00!}

The memorials on the Hoe are dwarfed by the large Naval Memorial. Most though couldn't be accessed because of ongoing works. My father served in the navy in WWII, training at HMS Raleigh in Devonport. His service took him to the Arctic, Pacific and back and forth across the Atlantic on convoy duty. His ship was torpedoed out or Archangel but did not sink!
The RAF Memorial was the only one I could get near! Sue's dad served in the RAF in the immediate post war period and her nephew serves currently as am Armourer Flight Sergeant I think.
Lots of other history abounds around the harbour. I liked the information about the rubber necking caused by Napoleon being held here before his exile to St Helena!
The Mayflower steps commemorate the stay of the Pilgrim Fathers en route to the New World. The ship is unrecorded in the harbour logs, it did not carry cargo being the reason suggested.  
Finally, you really can't beat Fish and Chips at the seaside! Harbourside's are highly recommended!

As is a pint of Thatcher's Gold I have to add.

As I started at Bickley Mill Inn I'll end with the view from our gaff in Downderry, Cornwall.

"It takes a lot of this to make you ill!", as my father would surely have said of the view!

Thursday 6 June 2024

"The Dawn of Freedom" ~ A D-Day inspired game.

As I promised in the previous blog post, here is a brief AAR for our D-Day game in the form of my usual anotated photomontage. We played the game using Rapid Fire Reloaded and although somewhat rusty and unsure we got up to speed by Turn 3 and managed 9 Turns before our alloted time ran out. All the figures, vehicles, boats and aircraft are from my own collection built up over the years from many sources, though Wargames Foundry and AB provide much of the infantry and Ready to Roll from Colin Rumford most of the vehicles. Anyway, introductions over, here we go ~

The game is preceded by bombardments from sea and air. As Allied commander, Phil chose five targets, concentrating on the obvious bunkers housing artillery or machine gun emplacements.
Let's be kind and say the capricious 'dice gods' were not awake yet, patiently awaiting Turn 1! Only one Bunker was hit and destroyed! Von Bikelburgher was more than relieved! 
Using the supplementary rules from RFR we opened proceedings by checking for losses amongst the approaching land craft and DD Sherman's of the first wave. This time those 'dice gods' were on their game: one DD Sherman struck a mine and sank, landing craft drifted left or right but the first wave were ashore! The shell shocked Germans did not achieve more than a single hit!
Engineers in the first wave advance up the beach on foot and by armoured 'dozer clearing the way for the assault infantry. German fire becomes more affective, infantry losses occur and the ARV is damaged, though this gives its neighbouring DD Sherman a breathing space 
On the Allied left flank the Sherman crab clears a path through the wire and begins to clear the minefield. The Churchill bunker buster is ashore supporting the infantry assault as is the second DD Sherman. German fire remains ineffective.
Meanwhile the engineers reach their target and succeed in destroying a second bunker. Infantry losses mount on the Allied right flank as the second wave of landing craft approach the beach, once again without loss!
The engineers turn their attention to breaching the sea wall successfully. The first wave of infantry advance in their support coordinated by the HQ element. German fire remains ineffectual sadly. 
The Allied right is still hung up on the beach, holding up the deployment of the second wave of infantry. Casualties have begun to mount both on the Allies and on the German defenders.
The engineers lead the way, turning their attention to the entrenchments on the rise beyond the beach, where the Germans are holding up the assault. The first wave of the infantry assault are advancing through the breach to take the sea wall defenders from the flank and rear.
The Sherman Crab has cleared a path through the wire and minefield which the infantry are quick to exploit allowing the congestion caused by the arrival of the second assault wave to ease.
The Beach Master in this section is at last able to get the men moving in the right direction as confusion eases. German 80mm mortar and 150mm artillery fire rain down on the beach area to little effect. Communication has been disrupted it seems by activity from the Maquis. 
The Allies have now cleared two exits from the landing beaches. Losses have been considerable but the men have pressed home the attack with determination. For the Germans it must be said the troop quality in this section looks to have been poor!
Another flying dustbin round from the Churchill takes out the anti aircraft bunker atop the low rise beyond the beach, while the engineers deploy their flamethrower team to the eastern section of the entrenchments.
German resistance in the forward area on the Allied left has been neutered effectively and the landing force begins to move inland towards the next objective. Churchill's land successfully without loss in the third wave of the assault and move inland to support the advancing infantry.
In the western sector the Allies are off the beach in strength and engaging the next objective of the heavily defended ruined farm complex. 
German morale amongst the frontline defenders having finally collapsed as they are effectively destroyed, the beachhead has been secured, and troops begin to move inland in strength despite losses.

It was all up for  Von Bikelburgher's Germans in Turn 9 when as a result of failing my third consecutive Morale check, the first line troops having been destroyed and the second line loosing 50% casualties, we called a halt as darkness fell on what seemed to have been The Longest Day...