SPECIAL THANKS. I would like to thank Paul Watson for his sponsorship of several lead figure collections on this blog. Having decided to clear his spare/surplus figures, he generously forwarded them on with no other requirement than they deserved to be restored. I would also like to mention George S. Mills, who kindly furnished a quantity of metal and plastic figures which allowed me to complete another five or six military units, serving in several collections.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

MAJOR BATTLE FOR NEW ORLEANS

BACKDROP

As part of my Dominion campaign, an American army comprising twenty four military units launched an expedition to retake New Orleans from the French. Aware that they were likely to be attacked in the new year, the garrison had been reinforced to thirteen units. In artillery, the Americans could field seven pieces of mixed caliber, while the French could muster five, with a further one operating from a gunboat.(There was a second, but the crew were serving on land.) This must be one of my largest battles fought in the campaign.

STATE OF THE GAME

MOVE ONE commenced with the American howitzers opening up on the French ships in the harbour. No hits. But a field gun did hit a building, which caught alight. The French replied with two heavy guns and the gunboat on the American howitzer battery, with two hits on the crew. MOVE TWO saw the rival guns seeking to knock each other out, with the French having particular success, an American battery being reduced to half strength and the survivors scarpering for cover. MOVE THREE allowed the Americans to make serious progress towards New Orleans, there was a price to pay by the French for concentrating on enemy guns. And they too had also lost a field gun! Only one American unit, light cavalry, had been broken, and the skirmishing screens were doing their job.
And four photos from the French view.
MOVE FOUR was not good for the French, the American guns were throwing six's and they took their toll. MOVE FIVE had the Americans only a short distance from the city, and in overwhelming numbers. French small arms and gatlings broke a cavalry unit, and the panic spread to an infantry battalion. 
MOVE SIX the Americans were now pushing at the highways into the city. The California Hussars made a gallant charge on the naval barricade, only to receive a volley (two six's) which brought down half their unit, and they routed. This was a bloody round. MOVE SEVEN obliged casualties to be removed so as to allow further movement. An American battalion was rallied, but another had been broken while also attempting to charge the naval barricade. The following shows the horde now attacking that position.
MOVE EIGHT saw little actual movement, the Americans preferring to rely on small arms. MOVE NINE continued on this theme. But a fluke occurred on the American right, their two skirmishing units put an end to a French gun crew and routed a battalion, but they in turn broke from accurate fire from one of the houses, and routed. MOVE TEN the French were now retiring in the hope that several battalions would still obey orders if kept out of range of American small arms, several battalions were near 50% down. The exception was the Cuirassiers, a last gamble. MOVE ELEVEN the cuirassiers charged (which gets priority over standard movement). It was a beautiful move, the American battalion held and fired, but ineffective, the Cuirassiers in column sliced through taking out three for no losses. In shock, this battalion scattered, as did another nearby, already under half strength. The impetus allowed the cavalry to hit and melee another battalion, but without impetus. Despite inflicting heavier casualties on the 'Marines', the cavalry were down to half strength, but held on for another round of melee. MOVE TWELVE was all about the cuirassiers, all other action was now irrelevant. In this second round of melee, the cuirassiers won again, and inflicted two casualties. However, during these engagements, another skirmishing unit was permitted to fire on the melee, and as long as they only inflict one casualty per move, it is on the enemy...... they shot the last cuirassier! (The staff officer does not count). In the adjacent fighting, the naval battalion finally broke. The French had been defeated, but the Americans were in no position to restrict the harbour evacuation as there was now two gunboats with full gun crews.
NUMBERS INVOLVED The French numbered 110, with 5 staff/extras. They suffered 41 casualties, 69 escaping by boat, of which 15 were no longer obeying orders. As this includes the brave naval battalion, I don't think they will get reprimanded.). The Americans mustered 187, with 8 staff and signals. They lost 54, with a further 44 routing. I did enjoy this game. And the cuirassiers finally showed their worth after some previous poor showings, they effectively broke three battalions. And I could not help rooting for them (an American expression) in that final melee, and to be wiped out by some skirmishers with a lucky shot is a bit unsporting? 
MGB
PS. If all goes well with our postal deliveries, I'm expecting a useful addition to my French collection!

STATE OF THE DOMINION CAMPAIGN

Sunday, 5 February 2023

NAVY DAY IN 54MM

Its been an extremely busy start to the year sorting out paperwork and other matters relating to the passing of my father in late December. What spare time I have allowed myself has been directed towards consolidating my research notes on various topics, and this has proved a valuable excursion. As I haven't posted anything since before Christmas, I wanted to put something up which might work on several levels.

My father served in the Fleet Air Arm, perhaps influenced by his father having served in the Royal Naval Air Service during WW1. In the late 1960s I was taken to Portsmouth for a Navy Day, and remember being impressed by the row after row of ordnance grey Royal Navy ships, and there were others representing navies from around the world. Like most 'Brits', any vessels from Australia, Canada, or New Zealand aren't really foreign, they are British folk that just live a bit further away, but it was still nice to see our cousins represented. There was also a French vessel, which to my young mind was confusing, what was it doing in a British harbour, and why was it still afloat? (I am just jesting.)

My father admitted that he was granted a very great deal of time to just roam around the aircraft carrier with a camera. Uncannily, my grandfather was employed to take aerial photographs of the German trenches, but under rather more risqué conditions.

I include a photograph of my father, as it shows him wearing the blue naval cap, which was used during WW2, it was abolished in 1956, when the white cap was adopted for all stations/regions.

And I include my own Navy Day in miniature, it seems a nice link.

From my father's Royal Navy Album
And finally, I include one of my recent watercolours, linked to my own researches.
MGB

Monday, 26 December 2022

CIVIL WAR in RURITANIA

Set in the central European kingdom of Ruritania in 1870, this is a small action involving the armies of Crown Prince Rudolph and his half-brother Prince Michael. Now, it must be said, in the original book, and in all the subsequent films that have been produced under the title 'The Prisoner of Zenda', all sympathy and allegiance has been given to Rudolph. After all, he is the rightful heir to the throne. However, the original book acknowledged that Michael was actually more popular with the population. Indeed, it is clear he always carried out his state duties with energy and dedication. While his idle half brother preoccupied himself with shooting anything with four legs, and consuming the nation's grape production. So, for a change, I openly declare my allegiance to my namesake, Prince Michael the Dark, the man that will truly serve the Crown and People of Ruritania, or die fighting in their defence!

Aware that his half-brother was gaining in popularity and might just threaten Rudolph's control of the treasury, and not forgetting the palace wine cellar, the Crown Prince ordered those regimental commanders he still trusted to meet him at Zenda Railway Station. From there, he would personally lead his army against the Castle of Zenda. and destroy all potential opposition to his rule. 

But Good Prince Michael had friends in high places, and forewarned, he called upon those that honoured his late father, the King, to join him at Castle Zenda, where, God Willing, the dignity of the realm might still be saved. By the way, the original book also confirmed that Michael was the more popular son of the late king!

MOVE ONE. The train arrived with Rudolph and his White Guard. Here, he took command of four battalions, and a company of artillery. There was a slight delay in their moving off, however, when Rudolph resolutely occupied the station's cafe.

MOVE TWO. Prince Michael hurriedly deployed two loyal battalions, and his own cavalry regiment to the South of Castle Zenda. He ordered the fearless Count Rupert to hold the castle, with the Zenda regiment, and an artillery piece. A band of armed farmers and smallholders also demanded that they should be allowed to aid Michael in his honest cause, and promised to give Rudolph a bloody nose. Michael thanked them for their support. 
MOVE THREE, Rudolph's advance picked up pace. Some of his Jaeger (grey/green) surprised Michael's own regiment (buff/red), but inflicted no casualties. MOVE FOUR saw the partisans surprise the rear of Rudolph's main force, and inflicted a casualty. While skirmishers in the front of the main force now exchanged casualties. There was also the first artillery round fired, on Michael's infantry. 
MOVE FIVE saw Rudolph's infantry (blue/blue) suffer further casualties from the partisans, but not much else. MOVE SIX saw the infantry charge the partisans behind a high hedge, suffering further casualties in their charge. But they made almost equal slaughter of the partisans in the subsequent melee. No one could blame the partisans for now scattering. MOVE SEVEN confirmed that over half the daylight had been expended, and Rudolph's main force were still bogged down in the highway. Time was now against them, night fighting or a siege was not part of the plan. Rudolph decided to cease firing his gun, and ordered a general advance. MOVE EIGHT brought more bad news, his skirmishers on his right flank had suffered two casualties from the castle gun and some kind of multi-firing rifle contraption. He also received word his jaeger were nearly down to half strength. If they broke, what next would follow?
MOVE NINE. Crown Prince Rudolph ordered his troops to retire back to the railway station, where a supply of grape juice had been stored for him, purely for medicinal purposes.
CASUALTIES
Rudolph's Army suffered nine casualties out of fifty-five. Michael's army lost two infantry and three partisans out of fifty-two. (This was a fun game, and my first outing for my Ruritanian collection. Had to borrow some artillery crew from other collections, but all the others are based on uniforms seen in the 1952 film starring Stewart Granger, James Mason, Deborah Kerr, Robert Douglas, and many other great character actors. 
MGB

Friday, 9 December 2022

NEW ADDITIONS for CHRISTMAS (Dec.9)

This is my last batch of painted figures for the year. Have just packed away my hobby paints, etc., to concentrate on home projects, and some socials during the festive season. 

Very much enjoyed working on these, I can remember having several Lone Star naval infantry in my childhood, formerly my late brother's. Picked up this batch for £8 delivered. I think they will prove most useful.

Winter storm at Sea!
Original condition

Also completed, two broken lead figures kindly supplied by George Mills. Rather than a typical WW2 infantry uniform, these will now serve as Royal Navy Reservists on sentry duty, they wore a blue version of the khaki battledress.

Next up, made of bits of metal, is a scratch-built Soviet WW2 Ampulomet. A rather strange weapon, it fired a glass bomb which on smashing would cover an enemy tank in a highly corrosive chemical. Thought to have a range of about 270 yards, fair numbers were used during 1941, but replaced by anti-tank rifles in 1942. Still, it makes an interesting addition to my Soviet army and will require some special rules for service. At eight shots a minute, its not to be mocked!

My Soviet army needed a suitable command base. These are recent swaps with Tim Gow.

The 18th Rifle Division, sixteen figures strong, is now able to take to the field. They are wearing the 1943 light khaki overshirts.


Among a batch of Starlux figures recently acquired were two broken medievals. They have been repaired and given an appropriate paint job.

Have also recruited a Starlux paratrooper, this gives me a unit of seven.


Have constructed from plastic and metal bits a third French artilleryman, to operate a mountain gun.

Here are some 1960s-made British Paratroopers with support weapons. Still to decide how to utilise the figures parachuting? For the moment, they will aid the others by celebrating any successful hits.

Quite common in the US, but not in the UK, this 1950s Lincoln Logs railway figure (lead) has been given a helping hand, using wire and Milliput. 


My battleplan is to now stage a few games during the holiday season, the WW2 Soviets and Germans having already been placed on the wargames table. 

Finally, I must thank Paul Watson for his generous sponsorship, and also George Mills for his kind donations during 2022.
Very Best Wishes for YULE!
MGB