Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Let us now praise famous blogs II - Maiwand Day




There's a one-column brown blog
To the north of Kathmandu;
There's a little marble cross below the town;
And a brokenhearted woman
Tends the grave of the 'Mad Guru' ,
While the brown blog keeps rolling on.
(apologies to Hayes & Clarke)

I have realised that it's been a while since I've done another blog recommendation, probably because there are so many good blogs out there.  We really are spoiled for choice. But one that I have come across recently and which particularly struck me was "Maiwand Day" written by "The Mad Guru".

Maiwand Day is an unusual beast, a blog devoted to the recreation of a single battle, the battle of Maiwand.

There is some really cracking stuff up there, but if I had to pick a top three, here are some of the best posts.

1. Some British & Afghan Conversions

The Mad Guru is deeply steeped in the look and feel and history of his chosen period, the mythos of Afghanistan if you will.  No where is this more apparent than in this piece, where is painstakingly recreates figures using conversions, green stuff and considerable industry to model particular figures from the history of the 1880s.

Probably my favourite is the two drummer boys from the Kipling story, "The Drums of the Fore and Aft", a story that still brings a lump to my throat every time I read it.

2. The Battle of Charasiab

While the blog focuses on the disaster at Maiwand, where Doctor Watson picked up his wound, the Guru has since expanded his focus a little and most recently put together a scenario for the Battle of Charasiab. This is less well known than that famous field of grief,  but took place in in 1879 during Roberts march on Kabul.

What's impressive about it is the care that has gone into the figures and the terrain, the playtesting (much under valued in my opinion) and the determination to produce an experience that was both evocative of the period, but also gave a good game.

This has extended to making bespoke cards, proper quick reference charts and ensuring that those of us who cannot make it there in person, get to see high quality images of all those lovely models in play.

3. Bobbie

Bobbie was the pet of a sergeant in the 66th Berkshire, who was said to have been present at the last stand of the last eleven. He later escaped and managed to make back to British lines, where he was subsequently decorated by Queen Victoria.

The Mad Guru has commemorated him in lead, where he shall roam for evermore.

So if you have an interest in terrain making done well, colonials or just want to see one wargamers fascination explored in exquisite detail, you should have a look at Maiwand Day. 

(looking at this picture, it is quite indistinct, I shall have to take a better one on Sunday). 


My first knowledge of Maiwand came as a boy when I was always intrigued by this memorial in St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Lt. Thomas Rice Henn, a Clare man who led a rear guard towards the end of the battle, is commemorated there.   The group made up of survivors from the 66th Foot and Bombay Grenadiers made their last stand in a garden, until their numbers whittled down to eleven charged out into the enemy and were cut down. 
The inscription reads as follows; 

“QUO FAS AT GLORIA DUCUNT” 
Sacred to the Memory of THOMAS RICE HENN, LIEUTENANT OF THE ROYAL ENGINEERS, THIRD SON OF THOMAS RICE HENN, PARADISE HILL IN THE COUNTY OF CLARE, ESQ, 
(ONE OF HER MAJESTY’S COUNSEL AND RECORDER OF GALWAY) BY JANE ISABELLA, DAUGHTER OF THE RIGHT HONOURABLE FRANCIS BLACKBURNE, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND. 

Having led into action a Detachment of the Bombay Sappers and Miners – the last of all the Troops to leave the line of battle, and of whom all, save eight, were either killed or wounded – he perished gloriously on the fatal field of MAIWAND IN AFGHANISTAN, July 27 1880, IN THE 31ST YEAR OF HIS AGE, Crowning his noble conduct in that disastrous combat by a deed of heroism, than which (to quote the words of the Official Despatch) “History does not afford any grander or truer instance of gallantry and devotion to Queen and Country;” covering with a small, but indomitable band – eleven in number – the retreat of the entire British Brigade and holding in check the over-whelming Forces of the enemy, who did not dare to continue their advance, until he and his brave comrades had been every one shot down.
HIS BEREAVED PARENTS, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, HAVE ERECTED THIS TABLET, MOURNERS YET GRATEFUL. “NO HERO EVER DIED MORE NOBLY THAN HE DID, - I ENVY THE MANNER OF HIS DEATH.- IF I HAD TEN SONS, I SHOULD BE INDEED PROUD IF ALL TEN FELL AS HE FELL.” WORDS WRITTEN UPON HIS DEATH BY LIEUT.-GEN. SIR GARNET J. WOLSELEY, G.C.B., &C. 

“HE HATH DELIVERED MY SOUL IN PEACE FROM THE BATTLE THAT WAS AGAINST ME.” PSALM LV. 18 

9 comments:

  1. One of my favourites, a truly inspirational blog.

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  2. Conrad, I am genuinely touched by your tribute to my modest blogging efforts, and thank you immensely for it.

    Not sure if I've ever expressed it to you directly via a comment here or elsewhere, or if I had emailed the thought to my friend and fellow colonial gaming stalwart (and fan of your blog!) Nick Stern, but, "Joy and Forgetfulness," has had a special place in my field of "Blog Vision," since I first discovered it some years ago. This is because of its distinctive, even singular, mix of hard-&-fast miniature wargaming content and a certain fanciful wisdom -- as well as the semi-regular presence of finely brewed or fermented beverages -- and to top it all off, one of the very best titles in the blogosphere.

    Re: Lt. Henn, I do indeed know of him, officer of the Royal Engineers, and commander of the Company of Bombay Sappers & Miners at Maiwand, where as described above, they fought with incredible heroism.

    Changing topics, I was glad to read in your year-end post of 2015, that you plan to raise more colonial troops and play more games of The Sword And The Flame, activities which I heartily endorse!

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    1. Richly deserved Guru. And here's to more TSATF in 2016.

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  3. Thank you for this recommendation, CK. I did not know of this blog hithertofore. Much inspired madness - I look forward to studying it. Also, the name "Mad Guru" inspires a certain fellow feeling in my breast.
    Best,
    MP

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    1. There's some good stuff there alright.

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  4. Dear Joy,
    Splendid of you to bring the Irish War Memorials to our attention. Thank you sir.

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  5. First t's there and then it's gone.. "Prince August Indian Lancer"... "magnifique" is all I can say.. don't be shy put it back up.. :o)

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