Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Cannonade of Sandgate

A Britains 4.7 inch Naval Gun

"The present writer had been lunching with a friend—let me veil his identity under the initials J. K. J.—in a room littered with the irrepressible debris of a small boy's pleasures. On a table near our own stood four or five soldiers and one of these guns. Mr J. K. J., his more urgent needs satisfied and the coffee imminent, drew a chair to this little table, sat down, examined the gun discreetly, loaded it warily, aimed, and hit his man. Thereupon he boasted of the deed, and issued challenges that were accepted with avidity....

He fired that day a shot that still echoes round the world. An affair—let us parallel the Cannonade of Valmy and call it the Cannonade of Sandgate—occurred, a shooting between opposed ranks of soldiers, a shooting not very different in spirit—but how different in results!—from the prehistoric warfare of catapult and garter. "But suppose," said his antagonists; "suppose somehow one could move the men!" and therewith opened a new world of belligerence.

The matter went no further with Mr J. K. J. The seed lay for a time gathering strength, and then began to germinate with another friend, Mr W. To Mr W. was broached the idea: "I believe that if one set up a few obstacles on the floor, volumes of the British Encyclopedia and so forth, to make a Country, and moved these soldiers and guns about, one could have rather a good game, a kind of kriegspiel."..."

From Little Wars by HG Wells.

There was work to be done today when I returned home - but I threw my hands up and had a nap instead. I'm not sure I'll ever really become accustomed to four hours of sleep between shifts, but I manage pretty well most days. This was not one of them and I took to my bed when I came home. I chatted to Mrs. Kinch, who is a little better, about a wedding that she had attended the day before and we discussed the oddities of civil ceremonies over dinner.

She then settled down to watch the final evening of Gay Christmas and fulminate at the perfidy of the voting. As a competition whose main purpose is to my mind to fortify drag acts with new material so that they may pass through the hard winter months, the winning entry seemed a little odd.

While she did that, I tried to set down my thoughts on "Little Wars" - my first non-work writing in a while. It was not something that came easily, my prose is never fluid after a long hiatus, but it is nice to not be writing a report for a change.

Which begs the question; how many of the blog folk have played Little Wars? And of those who have not, do they have any desire to do so?


  1. I'm glad to read that your dear lady wife is feeling a bit better.

    -- Jeff

  2. Ditto re Mrs Kinch.

    I am currently engaged in a Little Wars campaign by email which will have battles played out upon our umpire's lawn. The rule used are Funnylittle wars - an updating of LW by Paul Wright. They are well worth a look...

  3. J.K.J. - could that be Jerome K. Jerome? (author of Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel among other books).

    I've never played Little Wars, but I used to check out the book from the local library when I was a teen and always enjoyed leafing through it.

  4. LW has always had a place on my bedstand, though I have never played an actual game. Funny Little Wars is also beckoning these days and as my son approaches the age where he is willing to entertain a bit of structure to our games LW may be our first outing with actual rules!

  5. it a number of times, always enjoyed the read, never wanted to play it for real... for two reasons I guess, one, I have enough trouble justifying the fact that I play with model soldiers without firing little cannons as well :o)))

    The second being they take a long time to paint so why would I want to risk the damage?? :o)

  6. Hi Eamon,

    Sadly, I've not yet had a chance to play Little Wars, though I found a copy through a university library and read it several times in the late 90s. I've always wanted to have a go using figures in either mid-19th century uniforms (Crimean era British and Russians, or Austro-Prussian forces for example), or early WWI uniforms. There was an article in Wargames Illustrated by, Mark Elwynn (I think) back in the early 90s on just such a venture between the author and his father, using a mish-mash of plastic 1/72 figures, which always sounded like great fun. But for me, it's always been that old problem with finding enough time to do it myself.

    Best Regards,