Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Shorncliffe Barracks and Military Cemetery.

I occasionally have cause to pass Shorncliffe Barracks and Military Cemetery, set high on the hills overlooking Folkestone and out across the English Channel. Shorncliffe has a long association with the British Army, the Light Infantry were trained there under Sir John Moore and the 95th Rifles are probably one of the best known units to have learned their trade at Shorncliffe. During WW1 it was the final stop off before heading to France and there are many images of columns of happy, smiling soldiers making the short march down towards the Harbour. I know that my own Grandfather Alfred Gramson made that same march as part of the British Expeditionary Force, having trained at Canterbury Barracks before being sent to Shorncliffe prior to departure.

Shorncliffe Military Cemetery contains over 600 Commonwealth War Graves, 470 from WW1 including 300 Canadians, it is set beside the barracks on the hillside and is a sobering place to visit. Three recipients of The Victoria Cross are also buried there:

Private Patrick McHale (1826-1866), Royal Artillery, Indian Mutiny
Sergeant Joseph Charles Brennan (1818-1872), 5th Regiment of Foot, Indian Mutiny
Private John Doogan (1853-1940), King's Dragoon Guards, First Boer War

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Going back to the English Civil War.

Such sad news from Manchester to start such a beautiful day, young people innocently going about enjoying their lives, where and when will this ever end?

I am in the process of starting a new blog dedicated to my Hinchliffe ECW project. It seemed better to start fresh rather than include it here, as this blog has taken so many twists and turns over the years.

Should you wish to join me the new blog can be found HERE. I'll link it from this blog eventually as it develops, early days of course but the first post is up.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Plans, Howitzers & contemplating Hinchliffe ECW's.

Sunday Morning again, the Sun is shining and over on the beach it's lovely and calm. I just watched a very skilled water skier making several fast runs up and down, looks great fun. With the Election looming and uncertainty over just how Brexit will pan out we have decided to hold off our planned move until end of Summer here, we are still going to Spain, but the house won't now go up for sale until September 1st. With that decided we invested in a garden hot tub (Laz-y-Spa) and I have been busy repairing and repainting the old garden shed to house it, it will go with the house sale as an additional feature, but meantime it's a little touch of the Spanish lifestyle we are looking for here on the Kent Coast and the kids and Granddaughters all love it!

Had a break from painting the Travel Battle figures this week and returned to my Flames of war collection. I painted up a couple of German Howitzers that I had for some time and I'm pleased with how they turned out, metal Battlefront models, they will add a bit more indirect fire ability to my German forces. Version 4 has done away with the need for separate command teams, one gun being nominated as the command gun instead, so I marked this with a red square on the front and rear of one model.
10.5cm leFH18 Howitzers.

The table is back up in the hobby room, the board size of 4' x 5' 6" fits comfortably in there, as it's only 9' long x 7' wide the slightly reduced length allows me to pass by without dragging any models off the table! I intend to play out some 'Flames of War' games as and when I feel like it.

Finally for now.
I have been looking for another project to add to the FIW & FoW collections that are really both about finished now save a few bits and bobs such as replacing the Tigers. The Travel Battle sets will continue to get painted slowly as I must admit to finding it a bit of a strain on my old eyes. I tried ACW's in 28mm but they are just not doing it for me I'm afraid, wonderful figures but I really need something fresh and different. They do paint up well, but I'm calling it a day now on this one.

One thing I have long had at the back of my mind is to do my very own 'Nostalgia' project using Hinchliffe 25mm figures. My first 25mm collection back in the day was English Civil War and to this day I still admire that range, especially the cavalry, the first figures I painted was a unit of  Haselrig's 'Lobsters', inspired by an article in one of the magazines. That would have been around 1977 - 78 -ish when I was living in a bedsit in Blackheath, London, my parents having moved down to deepest Kent and I was serving my printing apprenticeship at Municipal Mutual Insurance, Great Queen Street, Westminster. In those days it was common to have a couple of pints during the lunch hours and my Manager introduced me to Courage Directors Bitter as part of my education, having guided me away from drinking lager and lime! Anyway, I digress, the picture was cut out of the magazine and put in a frame on my wall, amazingly I found the very image on the web and as you can see from below it was indeed an inspiring image.

I have checked out the Hinchliffe range, now owned and sold by Hind's Figures and they do indeed still look good to me. I'm going to place a small order so I can see them in the flesh, but research on the 'Unfashionably  Shiny' blog has indicated just what can be done with them, along with figures from Peter Gilders collection, as used in the 'Battleground' Edgehill edition which can still be viewed HERE albeit somewhat blurry. The figures are old true scale 25mm castings, in the slim style of that time.

Borrowed from the 'Unfashionably Shiny' blog is this wonderful image of Gilder designed figures, just look at the animation. These are actually from the 'Foremost' range and sold under the heading of 'Prince Ruperts Charge'

I'll be back with more on this once my samples arrive.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Blasted Eurovision!

My Sunday morning routine normally sees me out early with the dogs, followed by watching the previous evenings Match of The Day recorded on Sky. This morning however it had not recorded because the powers that be in their great wisdom had switched MoTD over to BBC2 to make way for the Eurovision Song Contest! I really was not amused, especially as I had - as usual - carefully avoided the results on Saturday. I have no idea who won the damn thing and I really don't care, I saw a few clips earlier in the week of some entries, that seemed to me to be stuck in a previous decade (or century?) bland, repetitive and cringe worthy. I apologise to those who might actually enjoy this stuff, but it's really not my cup of tea at all.

Anyway, with no footie to catch up with I sat down and painted these tiny Hussars from the Travel Battle set. Took around an hour, again carefully picking out the colours whilst leaving some black to give depth and shade. Enjoyed doing the horses, the figures are just generic French hussars. So now I have painted all of the French figures from one TB box. The rules state that each players begins by dividing his army into three Brigades, each commanded by a Brigadier mounted figure. What you see is two infantry brigades of 4 units with attached artillery battery, and a cavalry brigade. You can use any combination so long as it's just three brigades. I'm going to paint the other two blue sprues next before starting the British. This will give me six brigades per side under the rules.

This represents the French Army contents of one TB box.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Travel Battle - painting part 2.

Things are coming along nicely now that I seem to have got my eye in for this scale. Painting on the sprue laying flat definitely helps because I can use both hands to steady the point of the brush! I have now knocked up more infantry and some heavy cavalry for the French, just the light cavalry (Hussars) to go and that's two sprues done. I decided to paint the French heavy's as Carabiniers, maybe I should have gone with the white jackets, but went with the (latter?) light blue. I'm trying not to be too fussy but it's good fun, trick is knowing when to stop.

I put the four boards together to see how things looked, I wont touch them until I have all of the figures finished. It struck me that one more set would give a more conventional battlefield, I'll see how things go.

Main thing is I'm enjoying the challenge immensely and I can visualise how it should all look once it's all finished.

Now, should I highlight those 'black' horses? maybe I will at a later stage.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Travel Battle - painting the figures, part 1.

I managed to paint the first infantry figures from the Travel Battle sprues this week, plus an artillery base and officer bases. I must admit that I found it quite daunting at first, it's been a long time since I have painted anything quite this small! having base coated in black I began by picking out the blue coats followed by the white trousers. At that stage I was not too impressed with progress, only once I painted (dotted) in the flesh did the figures seem to 'come alive'. I then dotted in the red facings with a fine brush, followed by painting the cross belts carefully, laying the sprues flat and using both hands to steady the brush. The shakos were then given a brass plate and pom poms dotted in red and blue for a touch of contrast. At this stage I called it a day, deciding there was little point in attempting to add further detail at this scale. Once glued into their bases I felt quite satisfied with the results as you see below. I'm halfway  through the next blue sprue, leaving the cavalry until last, and as I have two sets to paint I have 8 sprues to work through in total.

I'm sure the fully finished results will be worth the work, just hope my old eyesight holds up!

Monday, 8 May 2017

A nice surprise!

Arrived home this afternoon to find our postie had left my two copies of Travel Battle in the garage for me as he usually does if we're not in. I was quite surprised as they were only posted on Friday and I have read of a few people waiting a couple of weeks for them. I eagerly opened them up and must say I'm impressed with the contents. I wont waffle on about the various bits and bobs at this stage, just to say that I'm very keen to see what I can do with painting them. I'll spend the new few days working on them and hope to have something to show here by the weekend. The quality of the figures is most impressive in my humble opinion, and should reward a careful paint job. I'll probably start with a flat black undercoat and pick the colours out as I used to do when painting the Baccus figures a few years ago, hopefully the hands are still as steady and my eyesight has not deteriorated too much!

For inspiration I looked back at some of my old 6mm's and in particular my  '6mm Painting Guide'. There is also a '6mm Napoleonic Gallery' on my old 'War Artist' blog should anybody be interested in a peep.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Battle in the Wilderness -the conclusion.

Sunday again already, and having caught up with last nights Match of The Day - I avoid the results on Saturday where I can - It's time to play out the final phase of the French & Indian War battle set up in the dining room before clearing the table.

On a side note my two copies of  'Travel Battle' have been dispatched by Perry Miniatures so I'm hoping they will arrive soon so that I can start painting them later this week. Those who have seen the step by step painting guide on the Perry Facebook page will know the potential of the plastic sprues. Incidentally, Perry have confirmed that they do plan to make the individual sprues available shorty, and I very much doubt it will stop there.

So, onto the game, French just 1 Victory point from winning, the British need to be very cautious now in their Command Card choices, preserving damaged units and trying to get fresh units up to the front line. The French are pouring across the shallow river, Regular infantry including the Grenadier Company who remain at full strength. They are a 5 'block' company who roll a massive 6 dice in non moving volley fire and melee so morale is high.

It's the British turn but cards are limited, mostly flank attacks but there is a 'Coordinated attack' card in hand which allows one unit on each flank and two in the centre to be activated, the Virginians and a company of the 1st Regiment of Foot move up and fire volleys into the French Grenadiers and Canadian Militia, the latter rout but the Grenadiers stand firm with light casualties and on the next turn they return fire with devastating effect. But it's a final attack from one Huron Warband against a British infantry unit, already reduced to a single 'block' that wins the final VP and the game 6 - 3 to the French.

The British retire from the field and concede the victory. There are still units uncommited including the two Iroquois warbands on the British left, but the game became very much focused on the action in the centre where the French concentrated their attack. I could have played on a little longer, but doubt it would have changed things much. All in all a very enjoyable solo game with the C&C system doing it's stuff as I would have hoped. I liked moving the individual figures, a real old school game of toy soldiers, but also felt that it captured the period feel well. Plenty of 'Leader Casualty' rolls  added to the tension but not a single commander was hit. The Indians were quite effective - I give them an extra dice on melee throws to represent their prowess at hand to hand fighting with clubs and tomahawks.

French Regulars fall back from British Musketry, but the Grenadiers stood firm and take their place.

Virginians and Regulars side by side exchanging volleys with the Grenadiers.

The winning attack, Huron charge an already depleted company of Regulars and finish them off.

The game is won on a Scout card!

The final roll of the dice.

I apologise once again for the picture quality, I was trying to light the action with one hand whilst holding the camera in the other, I hope to improve the lighting for next time and borrow my daughters tripod!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Battle part 2.

* A quick note re unit strength and my referral to 'block' losses, In C&C units generally comprise 3, 4 or 5 blocks, I'm basically doubling things up in figures, so for example a typical Regular infantry company comprises 8 figures, but are routed once they have lost 4 figures. In the case of more elite 5 block units such as Grenadiers they are removed on losing 5 figures etc. Artillery are 3 block units although I may have an extra crew figure present.

Part 2.

Next the French switch the attack to their left flank, sending the two Huron warbands forward. One  attacks a British gun killing the crew, but the British immediately respond with three companies of infantry moving up and routing the warband, forcing the attached Huron chief to make a 'Leader retreat' move having survived a casualty roll. Now the British Grenadiers can advance and immediately rout a French infantry company for the loss of just a single figure. Rangers attempt to drive Canadian Militia out of the captured log cabin, but with a -2 dice for attacking a defended building it's a tough call and they inflict just a single casualty, and in the battle back they also lose a figure. Regulars on both sides are now beginning to square up to each other for a firefight in the centre. At this stage the Victory Point count is 3 - 2 to the British.

The Huron Chief, forced to make a 'Leader Retreat' move after his Warband were wiped out by British Regulars and he survived a casualty check. He fell back to join his second warband.

Overview of the French/Indian felt flank, regulars beginning to wade across the shallow river.

After the Huron eliminated the artillery crew (no doubt trophy scalps were taken) the highlanders charged into them and routed them.

The British Right.
Things now take a turn for the worse for the British as the French Grenadiers supported by artillery decimate their counterparts, the commander surviving two casualty throws. he falls back to join his Highlanders, the two Company's formed up side by side and standing firm. The Canadian Militia now attack the lone British artillery piece and rout the crew, paving the way for a general French assault across the river. More British foot are moving up to counter them, including blue coated Virginians under a young  Colonel George Washington, but it's now 5-3 in Victory points to the French and they are across the river in strength.

The French surge forward in the centre.

The French gun that helped finish off the British Grenadiers, now picking off the Highlanders.

En Avant.

Virginia Regiment advance under Colonel Washington.

The 5 British lost Victory Points.

General Braddock can do little to stop the relentless French advance.

The finale will follow tomorrow, I can't see the British winning this game. So far I'm pleased with how it's reflecting the FIW style of fighting, I may have to look at my 'Indian' charts again to capture the speed and brutality of a Huron attack.