Wednesday, 24 February 2016

With the Jocks

I spent the day with an interesting Jock, Randall Nicol, ex-Scots Guards and author of the upcoming book "Till the Trumpet Sounds Again: The Scots Guards 1914-19". I have thirty-two maps to draw for this project and typical of an ex-Guards officer Randall wanted to make sure I understood what was required and that he had provided all the information I needed. He told me he was arriving at a local railway station from Edinburgh with a suitcase of information and to my horror he did indeed arrive with a suitcase, as I have completed just over half the maps I wondered what could possibly require a suitcase.

Randall turned out to be a complete gentleman and I enjoyed my time with him, he is passionate about his book and the Guards, as you would be if you were one of the six people in charge of recording the regiments history and making sense of the wealth of information contained in the museum. He helped me make sense of the images and instructions I have for the second half of the maps and entertained me with anecdotes about the personnel in his book along with showing me many photographs of the Jocks at war and the personalities mentioned. You read in histories about the 'regimental family' and Randall talked about the officers and soldiers as if he knew them personally as indeed he does through their personal letters and diaries. He pointed out one young officer who had arrived at the front aged nineteen and who would be killed two months after the photograph had been taken, as he looked over the maps and pointed to places like 'the Brewery', 'Sunken Road' and 'Signpost Lane' he simply uttered the word 'frightful' to indicate the ferocity of the fighting.

He also brought along several large reproduction maps of the areas where the regiment fought, these are about three feet long by two feet wide and were supposed to be sold to the public but were not popular, he very kindly gave me one showing the area around Maricourt on the Somme and I intend to get it framed and will hang it in my wargame room when that plan comes to fruition. He also very kindly left his copy of 'Topography of Armageddon' which contains large amounts of maps of British trench lines and is one of those books which once you pick it up you can easily lose all sense of time as you are transported back to that fateful ground.

We finished off with a couple of pints in the local, alcohol free for me as I was driving him back to the station and discussed war, history, books and historians, many of whom he knows personally or has met. By coincidence I have already produced maps for a book by one of his friends, General Anthony Leask, a small world.

All my lovely new paints arrived today, thirty bottles only three of which are doublers, result, I had to get some seconds as it was four paint sets which turned up, so three was acceptable, my son may use them. That puts my count up to about 80 bottles, it doesn't look like that amount. I will be back at the tray next week in order to complete another Carolingian mounted Milites unit, after that I will be getting my WWII figures. I have an urge however to get a couple of vehicles first to have some fun.

I am off to a War and Conquest tournament near Swindon on Friday run by a couple of friends, I will be leading the 'Thunderbolts' against Celts, Germans, Romans and Masai, yes Masai. Rob Broom has the Masai army and as he wrote the rules I am not one to argue, I am sure whatever it is it will be fun.


  1. George,

    What a superb privilege to spend time with a chap like Randall Nicol. I must confess to being a little envious :o) particularly given my deep interest in all things WW1. Hopefully you'll preview a few pics of the maps on the blog (if contractual obligations permit?)??

    Oh, and you can never have enough paint!?!



  2. I will post a couple of maps when I am finished Matt, the deployments have still to be completed by Randall so I am concentrating on the groundwork at the moment.

  3. George,

    If you're getting into WW" wargaming (again) I'd strongly recommend that you read "With the Jocks" by Peter White. It's an excellent book. See you on Friday evening in the bar !!


    1. That book was recommended to me yesterday, hence the title, so I shall put it on my list. I will indeed be in the bar. See you soon.