Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Airfix French Foreign Legion

What was his name again? I forget. 

Another offering from our mysterious friend in Budapest.  This time a hardened veteran of the North African deserts. 

Heavily laden fellow

Like every man of a certain age, I immediately associate the above with PC Wren's heroes in Beau Geste and Beau Sabreau. I read Beau Sabreau first, in a slightly ragged edition that had a green dragon on the spine, I think they were meant for young readers - I'm not sure I ever saw another.  I would struggle to tell you what the plot was, to be honest Conan Doyle, Rider Haggard and Stevenson made a much greater impression on me, but I can recall certain scenes. There is a siege and a bazaar mob running amok that is led astray by a disguised Frenchman. 

March or die!

I may go back to PC Wren - I have Beau Sabreur and The Wages of Virtue (which I've never read) on my shelf, purchased on a whim. This chap is guarding them at present. He's a grim looking character. The dusty effect on his boots and coat and the furniture on his 8mm Lebel are well done to my mind at least. The Legions uniform does not offer the same opportunities as lets say the Napoleonic era, but our mystery man has captured the folds and drapes of the fabric simply and effectively. Long may he guard the upper borders of my book shelves. 

(click to embiggen)

On a slightly less grim note - I came across this happy little family while walking along the canal the other day.  I've been watching them carefully for quite some time, lest some drunken jerk do something stupid, but over the days and weeks the great Irish public have pleasently surprised me and nothing untoward happened to the little family of Swans. You may have to enlarge the picture to see the cygnets.

And if that doesn't gladden the heart, I don't know what will. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Waterloo Day - 20th June

The boys ponder how they are going to take Quatre Bras while General Villainous LeGlace of the Dutch army checks his phone for cheap flights out of here...

This will be a short post as I have quite a few photos and to be honest, it was such a good days gaming it deserves a full report.  Suffice to say - there was a gathering on Saturday and we played my Quatre Bras scenario and Waterloo.  A great time was had by all - many thanks to all that attended. For all my worrying about how I was going to tackle Quatre Bras - the inspiration provided by last minute panic did the job. 

Marshall Von Casey looking like the sassiest French general there is.

I was actually quite happy with how the scenario turned out. Most of the things I was worried about didn't occur, though the game dragged on longer than I had anticipated (three hours, which is very long for a CNN game) - I put this down to a number of factors. The reinforcements that needed to be deployed took some time, but I think the major factor was that I included too many troops in the order of battle. Having realised my mistake, I reduced both sides by a third.

And then promptly forgot to reduce the victory conditions in accordance with the new troops numbers. That's something I'll bear in mind for the next version.

General Von Kerrigan looking pleased as yet more French cavalry hove into view

Man of the match has to go to General Von Kerrigan, who took on the role of General Picton with hard charging vigour.  Absolutely unflappable in the face of imminent destruction. Well done that man. 

The field of Waterloo

After we finished Quatre Bras, General Von Casey had to womble off as he has recently become a father and had to go look after his new charge. It was great to see him, but a higher duty calls.

The light drawing in, it was nearly five before we finished Quatre Bras, and the Prussians getting nearer, we reset the battlefield for Waterloo and dived in with a will. I shall leave the account (and who won) for the full report. 

Team picture - care to guess who won?

We finished around half seven and stayed for a few drinks afterwards. General Von Kerrigan (on the right with top hat) did excellent duty as General Picton having grasped the fundamental truth of good generalship which is SHOUTING! And hat waving - excellent hat waving on that man. 

Many thanks to all that attended, Marshall Terens, The Villainous LeGlace, General Von Kerrigan, the Unlikely Douglas McKenzie and General Du Gourmand. And a big welcome to newcomer, Marshall McShannon - who took to the whole enterprise like a duck to water and earned immortal fame by out Du Gourmanding Du Gourmand in his first battle. 

More in the days to come. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The dawn of Waterloo

The Dawn of Waterloo by Lady Butler

There is some part of my heart where it is always half seven in a muddy Belgian field and the freedom of Europe is being staked on whether brave men can endure just that little bit longer.  

The light draws in, the drums crackle with the pas de charge and Napoleon is still to be beat. 

I wish you all joy of the day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Second Battle of the Chamla Valley

               A scene of disarray 

The Second Battle of the Chamla Valley did not go as well as the first.  I arrived home recently to the now all too familiar eye watering small of male cat.  It emerged that BBC (Big Black Cat) had returned and that there had been another border action between him and Sir Harry Flashman VC.  Unfortunately the engagement was not restricted to the kitchen or the hall, both of which are relatively easy to fumigate. 


In this case the smell of Satan’s sock drawer was emanating from that holiest of holies the War Room. Closer inspection revealed that the Chamla Valley had been the site of a second engagement. From the fur left behind it would appear that Flashman was not unscathed, but that he seemed to have had the best of it. The mat has received an airing and a thorough going over with Fabreeze  and seems to be OK.  


Still, up with this we will not put.  I had not anticipated a second tribal uprising so soon after the first.



                    A happier scene 


In happier news, one of the pleasures of existence is seeing new life ushered into the world.  I saw these little chaps on the way to work recently and they were doing very well.  I got close enough to snap a quick picture, but made sure to steer clear of Mummy & Daddy who would no doubt make their displeasure felt.  It was a wonderful sight and left me smiling for the rest of the day. More of this please.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ruga Ruga

Spot of formation dancing on the porch. 

These chaps are Hat Models Ruga Ruga from the box of the same name. These guys existed between about 1800 and the Great War and were essentially mercenary soldiers who served tribal chieftains, similar to the Scots-Irish Gallowglass in that respect. Their defining characteristic was skill with firearms and they made their way serving as guards for the caravan trade. 

You can read a bit more about them here

The huts are cut down plant pots. I got a stack of 10 for a euro and they do very nicely thank you very much. I'm all about the high speed low drag approach to terrain. 

From the front. 

These guys were dealt with as follows. 

1. Quick run through in the dishwasher to clear any grease. 
2. Base and then give them a coat of PVA. 
3. Let the PVA dry over night and then spray undercoat in Army Painter Brown. 
4. Wash the whole figure in Army Painter mid tone ink straight from the bottle. 
5. Paint the robe white and then wash with another colour. Add a highlight if time permits. 
6. Paint the gun and add hair to taste. 
7. Dry brush a white highlight onto the base, add static grass. 
8. Spray varnish. 

And the rear. 

These came along very quickly, I did them in between more demanding figures and knocked out the lot in a couple of hours split over a few evening. They will no doubt do good service protecting my porters from similarly armed young chaps. 

I intend to use these with The Sword in Africa small unit TSATF variant for African exploration games. The problem has been finding some opposition, my afghans will do for Arab slavers and so on, but there was a distinct lack of general tribesmen that weren't Zulus. 

I had a bit of a brain wave and had a look through the Ancients section of Plastic Soldier Review. Both HAT and Ceasar do biblical era Nubian figures who look close enough to 19th century African tribesmen. I reckon they should do the trick. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Battle in the Chamla Valley - circa 1879

Sir Harry Flashman VC & Lt. St.John Cuthbert De Gormaine 
(De Gormaine on right)

I was lucky enough to enjoy the signal honour of the company of young Du Gourmand, raconteur, pigeon fancier and man about town.  We got a game of The Sword and the Flame in and rather well it went to. As with all wargames, I am still finding parts of the rules that I'm sure I've read, but seem to have no memory of. 

Now as it happened, I discovered that a distant ancestor of Du Gourmands served in the Chamla Valley campaign. Lt. St. John Cuthbert De Gormaine of the Guards was transferred to Afghanistan having made Mayfair to hot to hold him.  The reason for this sudden ejection from the fleshpots of London is not given, though several diarists have recorded it as "unspecified vice." 

Who can say?

Note the careful use of a table cat. 

Now regular readers will be aware that this blog is nothing if not committed to Old School Wargaming at it's heart and while I have noted with considerable pleasure the arrival of the bounce stick, the matchstick firing cannon and the scatter template amongst the blogging fraternity - I have been dismayed at the lack of table cats. 

The table cat, vulgarly called "The Board Moggy" by the uninitiated is an invaluable assistance to the gentleman wargamer. Properly deployed, he can keep key parts of the battlefield warm, ensure that stray dice are batted on the floor where they belong and also serve as a navigational aid. 

An aerial view

The scenario is as follows, after McKenzie's patrol, it was discovered that the Multani outpost was not in sufficiently good repair to act as a base of operations. Consequently, another fortification was constructed, the name of which is lost to history. A local Khan, on the losing side in the latest feud has hitched his wagon to the British star and has agreed to provide a platoon of irregulars to supplement the Crown forces in the valley. The Irregulars are returning from a brief exercise and Lt. De Gormaine has been given the job of drilling them. His objective is to hold the fort.  It would also be politic if the Irregulars did well - but De Gormaine has little faith in those "Hairy Herberts". 

Considering what he calls his own men, the Hairy Herberts isn't actually too bad.  Capability Savage on the other hand is quite capable of coming up with names that would have this blog the subject of a fatwa from The Guardan.

That is if Teh Guardian is still issuing fatwas.

A sentry making for the fort at speed

I took up the cudgels as the wily Pathan, while Du Gourmand planned his defence. He had one platoon of the Royal Mallows, a 7lber manned by the Royal Artillery and a platoon of the Irregulars, who were rated as Egyptian regulars. Capability Savage had originally been nominated to play the Pathans, but was unable to stay.  He made up for it by making up awful names for most of my command (which are thankfully lost to history) and issuing wisdom from on high. 

Probably one of the best (and certainly the cleanest) was; 

"C'mon lads, lets get at 'em - you can't spell Cali-phate without Cali-fight!"

Du Gourmand made use of the Scouts rules to place two sentries outside the fort, something I had not considered when setting up my forces. My original plan called for setting up a Pathan gun overlooking the fort, but masked from the fire of the Royal Artillery.  I would then sting the British into leaving the fort and catch them in the open. My main objective was to ensure the treacherous dogs that allied themselves with the redcoats received condign punishment for their sins. 

The Afghans unmask their gun

Du Gourmands use of scouts exposed my party of swordsmen before I had been able to spring the trap.  With that in mind, I unmasked my gun and began lobbing shells at the Mallows. A thoroughly dismal turn of shooting resulted in one wounded Irishman.  I enquired who had been hit, to which De Gormaine replied. 

"It doesn't do to learn their names.  Start doing that and a chap could get attached to them. Wouldn't do at all. Very upsetting."

It looked like I might be being sued by the Guards Division for libel as well as the Afghan ambassador. Oh dear. 

The Mallows catch some swordsmen taking a liberty

While trying to outflank the fort, my party of swordsmen tried to take a short cut, which left them exposed to the fire of the Mallows. This crushing volley dropped nine out of twenty of my stout sons of the Prophet. Bugger. 

Accurate return fire from the Royal Artillery causes difficulties

Not only that but De Gormaine managed to get the gunners to man handle their 7lber to the other side of the building. This unmasked my gun from their fire and they wasted no time in making their superior skill tell. Double bugger. 

An aerial view

At this point, the Irregulars having made for the safety of the table cat (removed for ease of photography) were just about to make it inside the fort. The Royal Artillery were pummeling my poor gunners and the Mallows had sloshed by lads on the right rather badly. The wheels were definitely beginning to come off this wagon. 

Concealed riflemen spring a half hearted ambush

So I sprang my ace in the hole, a unit of concealed riflemen who rose up and gave the Irregulars a volley at close range in march column.  

And only managed to score three hits.   I was thoroughly disgusted. I had hoped to pin this unit and finish it off. 

Casualties are not heavy, but critical

A lucky draw on the casualty cards downed the Irregulars leader, wounded, but out of action.  This might just work. 

Hooting from the Afghan lines

Finally things were beginning to go the way of the sons of the Prophet, soon we would send these dogs to the grave. 

Murphy bolts for the wall

Whenwhile, the second sentry from the Mallows decided not to risk running for the gate and started to climb the wall. Meanwhile, the Royal Artillery failed to silence my gun.

De Gormaine was unsurprised, "What does he expect dressing in blue like that? Might as well employ a bloody tradesman."

The second half of the ambush also fails to cut the mustard

But this rally of Afghan luck was short lived.  I sprang my cavalry at the flank of the Irregulars led by none other by than the fierce chieftain (and noted dancer) Ifyacancan Khan. I can only presume that this mighty warrior had indulged in a sneaky bacon sandwich early in the weak, because fortune was not smiling on him today.  A botched charge roll (a total of 8 on 5d6) left him hanging in the air, short of his target and worrying close to the Mallows.

Meanwhile the swordsmen moved around the flank

Bloodied, but unconcerned about those of their fellows that had departed for paradise, the swordsmen moved to outflank the gun.  The Royal Artillery men, tradesmen though they were, had plied their bloody trade well and made mincemeat of my gun before I could withdraw it. 

At least I was now in the dead ground to the gun and would be able to see how the gunners liked a taste of cold steel. 

A lone watcher

Meanwhile, a lone figure watched from the hill (packing material from Mrs. Kinch's steam mop - women ask for the strangest things for Valentines Day), taking careful note of all that occurred.

A remnants of the Afghan cavalry pile in

Ifyacancan Khan pursued the Irregulars into the fort, smashing down the door and massacring the wounded that had been left by the Irregulars who had rushed to stop the swordsmen who were scrambling over the undefended wall.

What isn't pictured is the absolutely hammering they took on the way in.  The Mallows used Independent Fire (using two ammunition tokens) to pour lead into their flank, emptying half the saddles in a single turn. 

Swordsmen cross the wall, the Royal Artillery are shot down

While the Gunners were drawing swords and readying to face the charge, the Afghan Rifles had scurried forward into the crags over looking the fort. They opened fire on the surprised Gunners, laying them all out.  It was a bad day for the Royal Artillery, the sergeant in charge and his corporal were killed.  The other two gunners were wounded, one of whom subsequently died of his wounds and the other had to be shipped home to Blighty. 

As I have aspirations to running a sort of loose campaign, I've been tracking the casualties taken by the Mallows and friends.  I doubt De Gormaine will be in good standing with the Gunners after that display. 

Could lead to a touch of frostiness in the Mess. 

The Afghan cavalry failed their morale and began to withdraw. It was all down to the Swordsmen. 

The Irregulars earn their keep

The Swordsmen faced a fight of almost equal numbers, unfortunately a poor straggling roll and a failure to close left their leader out on his own in advance of the rest of the party. 

He promptly joined the Choir Eternal in a hail of Snider fire, his shattered command were then pinned against the wall by the vengeful Irregulars, who I suspect dealt with them with the gentility and kindness that they are famous for. 

With Ifyacancan Khan fleeing, the gun silenced and the Rifles taking casualties from fire from the Mallows, I decided to withdraw. 

On mature reflection, I think I would call this a minor British victory. The Irregulars took a pasting and were on half strength at the end of the game, one figure away from being broken, which would have taken the game to a draw. The crushing losses of the RA turned what would have been a total washout into a loss, but not a complete disaster for Ifyacancan Khan. 

Du Gourmand summed up the situation with his usual sangfroid. "Well, I'll be writing this one up as a victory."  It was his first game for The Sword and the Flame, which he called "Civilized Force on Force". I am looking forward to the next one. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Some Sikh Gentlemen

Some Sikh gentlemen

These are some rather excellent Sikh infantrymen that I picked up from Old John of 20mm Nostalgic Revival some moons ago. I have absolutely no idea who the original manufacturer was, but they are top notch little figures and were an absolute pleasure to paint. These are painted as 15th (Rattrays) Sikhs as described in The Sword and the Flame painting guide. Looking at them now I think they might be a better fit for some of the pictures of the Ludhiana Sikhs that I've seen online. 

Some homework needs to be done there I think. 

From the rear

These really are cracking little models and I painted them with thinned acrylics over a white undercoat.  This meant that I didn't have to muck about with any highlights or anything like that. It didn't quite work on the red coat, but I added a wash of red ink that made them slightly less flat.  Either way, they're finished and should be taking to the tabletop before too long. 

To the front

The stripes on the turban took a bit of doing, eventually I settled on a scheme that allowed me to give the impression of stripes without adding as many as would actually be required. They came out quite pleasingly I think.  I still have to finish their officer, but Rome wasn't build in a day. 

A much more welcome visitor 

Sir. Harry Flashman's campaign to defend the Empires borders has been going relatively well - or at least so it appears as there has been no recurrence of the horrendous stench. 

We have however, had far more welcome visitors to the house (or at least the garden). 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A very welcome surprise from the Kitchen!

The Old Fellow himself

I received a wonderful surprise in the post the other day.  I had been fortunate and while doing some cleaning out I found a few things that I thought might be of use to Mr. AW Kitchen of Tin Soldiering On.  He warned me several days later that there would be a "little something" winging its way back to me. It was of course totally unnecessary, but having seen it arrive I'm very glad I didn't try to talk him out of it. 

This is a semi-flat Frederick the Great painted in a high gloss style, about 42mm I think, and he is just charming. He guards my important books (Henty, Doyle and Stephenson) in the front room now and I must say, he's doing a fine job of it. 

Thank you very much to Mr. Kitchen for such a delightful gift. Which frankly deserves a better photograph, I shall attend to it. 

The fleeing Barbarian Horde, Flashman in pursuit.

In other news, Sir Harry Flashman VC has been stoutly defending the borders of the Empire from a large furry intruder.  A large black cat*  has been sneaking in through the cat flap and trying to make away with Flashman and Sissi's food. I have been woken in the night several times now to hear crashing, banging and breaking glass from the kitchen. Casualties thus far have been limited to a vase and a couple of scratcheson Sir Harry's ears, but he has emerged victorious on each occasion thus far. 

Unfortunately, BBC has sprayed on several occasions generally just before taking to his heels. Sir Harry has never done so and I had forgotten the eye stinging ammonia scent of cat pee and marking fluid. It smells of Satan's arm pit and the sooner Sir Harry organises some kind of punitive expedition to put a stop to this, the better. 


One of the small pleasures of working in uniform is that it gives you an almost limitless reason to speak to people on the street, something this atomised modern world seems to be against. I had the pleasure of running into Otto (pictured above) the other day while he was out with his mistress. And what a wonderful, friendly chap he was. 

And a handsome fellow too. 

*Mrs. Kinch has named him BBC. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Heliograph Team

Is that Jones over there?

I've been mucking about with Colonials recently, mainly because I've a real yen to play more The Sword and the Flame and because they don't require a huge investment of time and painting energy.  This is a HAT models heliograph team from one of their artillery sets. I've read a little bit about heliograph's recently. They consists of a focused mirror that could send a beam of light towards another station.  This was shuttered so that the operator should make the beam flash either short or long. The chap with the telescope them noted down the flashes which were in morse.  The result was that messages could be send relatively quickly anywhere in line of sight, so long as it was clear and there was light. 

Who is that fearful Herbert with the telescope? 

The result was that helios saw extensive service in Afghanistan, the Sudan and South Africa. I painted up these boys because three figures don't take very long it's nice to finish something in an evening.  The machine is a simplified version, lacking the arms with the additional mirrors, but it serves.  I've painted these fellows as members of the 117th Royal Mallows, so faced in green.  I'm in two minds looking at them now, I am wondering if I should have added some white lace to the cuffs. I've certainly made a hash of the equipment, as I believe the holsters should be brown. I just liked the "Zulu" style bright white on red. 

Here it comes - flash signal. 

The figures were given an undercoat of white and then painted with washes of colour, not something that has worked particularly well on the red, but one can't have everything.  But, who is that odd looking fellow in the blue facings with all that extra stuff on his uniform?

Well from the blue facings and the insouciant air, it appears he's a recent transfer from the GAAAAAAARDS! I have yet to discover his name, but he is an elegant extract, who sports more lace on his tunic than the Mallows consider really decent. His cuffs definitely look the worse for the lack of additional lace, so he is due an assignation with his tailor once I have a moment.