Sunday, 15 October 2017

View From The Window

Yes, dismal again, just like my mood at the moment. Were you among the small number in the country who enjoyed the tropical heatwave of BBQ weather yesterday before the hurricane hits, did you lounge in the area warmer than Istanbul, how do these people still have jobs at the end of the month. I have deliberately lay in a bit more than usual today as I have no plans whatsoever and the highlight of my day will be a nice fried breakfast in an hour or so, but it is early yet.

At sometime during this morning I passed 200,000 hits on here, I am quite chuffed with that, this blog managed to scratch my writing itch once I gave up on the Wargame magazines and my cartography took up the spare time which a declining customer base in the Post Office gave me. My co-author has mooted a new flag booklet for the Confederate Army of Tennessee at some point, but otherwise I shall stay with the blog.

The public don't want it, doctors don't want it, politicians don't want it, almost nobody wants it, what am I? I am an imposition on your privacy which you will be asked on a visit to any NHS outlet near you from 2019, you will be asked your sexual preferences, yes you can say no but there is a tick box for that as well, but not one for 'what the hell has this to do with my ingrown toe nail.' Oh, who does want it, the LGBT Foundation lobby group in Manchester, who are obviously out of touch as you can now add another fifteen letters to that, but the NHS are using their Joker, sorry, white flag on this one.

Why is every year now 1984?

Another surrender involves a trader in Loughborough who has been banned from the market in case her wares bring back memories of the Crusades which may upset a certain part of our population, do we have a lot of Saracens here, she sells mugs and bric a brac with Knights Templar themes. Now considering the vast majority of the public have such a grasp of history that they think Winston Churchill is a dog mascot selling insurance they might be a tad premature with this one. They didn't ban her when her mugs etc. showed Nazi memorabilia, go figure.

I read last week that we were preparing our plans for going to war with North Korea in the event the Americans pull our lead. Yes, the badly coiffured leader of that country is a nut, but what have the North Korean's ever done to us? Couldn't we just sit around the table and ask him if he seriously thinks anyone would want his country and just whom is he 'defending' it from. Besides, how stupid would it be to send an aircraft carrier with no planes and hardly enough surface ships to provide proper anti-submarine and anti-air cover to protect it.

And while we are on about the RN, not the one I was in of course it was different back then, who would have thought a woman on a submarine would have an affair with one of the officers, well just about everyone who didn't think putting women on ships and submarines was appropriate to be honest. Now we have the prospect of one of our nuclear submarines 'striking' because of some hanky panky in the wardroom, and when were matelots allowed to strike? More than one person being bolshie together could be considered mutiny in my day.

And anyway what 'special' relationship do we have with the US, it seems to have come as a shock to our ruling class that we are no more thought of, and perhaps less thought of than Papua New Guinea etc. Yes Ronnie Reagan had a soft spot for us but Obama's first act on moving in to the White House was to ditch Churchill's (the man, not the dog) statue, the defence rests M'lud.

That'll have to go.

I don't leave many reviews on TripAdvisor, I could count them on one hand, I sometimes say we will have to but I then don't get around to it, but in exceptional circumstances I will. If I had paid £38 for two nights at a hotel in Blackpool to 'celebrate' my wedding anniversary and it was really bad I would keep my mouth shut. The £19 a night price tag tells you you are not going to have your bed turned down and a Ferrerro Roche on the pillow, so why you would go to the newspapers and crow about it is beyond me.

I wonder what time Happy Hour is?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Once More......

Having almost recovered from the holiday blues and my jet lag, things are beginning to fall into place, the Monday game at Kevin's, Tuesday at the club, Wednesday at the pub and still more gaming on Thursday afternoon.

This was the first Thursday in a while and I half expected to be facing Republican Romans but they are not quite ready yet so it was the Greeks once more, this time however we went for 3,000 points a side, not a lot but enough for at least one extra unit and some additional command figures. Because of this I set up an 8x5 table instead of 6x4, Kevin and I like to fight a simple pitched battle and do not use the objective cards, we also fight until one side is defeated.

This week the Twelfth had four legionary cohorts, one auxiliary and the usual supports, I did treat myself to a unit of Contarii heavy cavalry, the enemy had four phalanxes and a horde of light troops, Peltasts, Hill Tribes and dozens of skirmishers. I put all my strength on my left and centre while most of the support went to the right, the Greeks were fairly strong on their left but there were large gaps in the rest of the line. I saw an opportunity to hit Kevin's right while holding off the rest of his troops, a wood in the centre of his line became a hurdle for him, although I wanted to use the Contarii aggressively I was a little daunted by the amount of firepower to the front of them.

The battle got off to a shaky start as my firepower failed miserably to dent the enemy but this improved dramatically during the next few turns and the Greeks lost all their support from their left, the Contarii advanced but I never quite got close enough and the target of their ire, some Peltasts, kept managing to run away. The Hill Tribes warband was being cut to ribbons by missiles, and although it eventually, and bravely, charged, it was no real threat to my Auxiliaries who had hot footed it to my right flank. A phalanx had also been sent to help but when the Hill Tribes routed, this became the target of all my combined firepower, massed archers, slingers and horse archers and they died to a man. At the same time my cavalry at last got their chance to hit the Peltasts, the poor infantry didn't stand a chance and were ridden down.

As this was going on my left advanced as quick as possible and swept away the skirmishers and Peltasts on the Greek right, Kevin had decided to send a second phalanx to shore up his left but it left the two remaining spear blocks surrounded by Romans. I slowly fell back just enough to lead the Greeks on and then slammed into their flanks. The Praetorians hesitated long enough for me to curse them but recovered and joined the fray, the numbers told and with Cohors I closing on the Greek rear it was all over.

It is easy to say of course once the dust settles but if I had been Kevin I would have settled four phalanxes on the right between the villa and the wood and simply gone forward as fast as possible at the Cohorts opposite, I would not have advanced the left and played for time there. The maths are against the Romans if the blocks hit in phalanx but my men have only succumbed once in all our battles and even that was after a long drawn out combat. I think Kevin will do better with his Carthaginians or Successors, these armies have a much better troop choice than the Greeks and may agree more with his play style once he has had a few more games and developed one. It does take time to get to grips with an army and what it can and cannot do, I have been doing this for three years now against Kevin's few months. Anyway he can have a rest as I think the next game will be Bolt Action.

I have also changed my mind again about the new army, it is not going to be Pyrrhic, but Successor, however I am very busy with maps at the moment and some other small projects so it is looking more like December before I buy some troops, perhaps Santa will be kind.

A comment I am sure the Greeks would endorse!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Soldiers of the Queen

Another lazy night at the club for me, Rob brought along his extensive Sudan collection for a Black Powder game, not a fan of the rules but I will eat my hat as they work fine for this and we always have a tense game. My default setting here is British and Jocks, no Johnny Foreigner for me, which is just as well as I was put in charge of the 'Highland' Brigade on the British left flank.

The scenario involved an Egyptian army dug in along a wadi protecting a small village and oasis, the Imperialists had a mix, the Jocks then a French brigade and lastly an 'Indian' brigade, the deployed in that order, me on the left, the Frenchies in the centre and the Indians on the right.

To take advantage of my excellent troops I quickly formed line and advanced as fast as I could, this left my artillery behind or without a clear line of sight but it couldn't be helped. Once at close range I opened up with my Royal Marine marksmen, a misnomer as it turned out, throughout the game these crack shooters caused one casualty and eventually simply retired having given up trying. The Scots on the other hand were brilliant, I did lose the Highland Light Infantry as they recoiled from an attempt to charge the wadi, however the Black Watch made up for it and stormed in routing their opposite numbers.

The Brigade will advance!

The Seaforths now took their turn and once again to the skirl of bagpipes the brave lads grabbed more of the wadi, albeit the Black Watch helped with this attack catching the Egyptians in the flank. A hole had opened up which would allow the French to pour through and rout the remaining enemy unit holding this part of the wadi, get intae them shouted the Jocks. Despite this urging the blighters simply marched up and took station behind my hard fighting troops in the wadi! Elsewhere the gaily caparisoned continentals were having a hard time closing with the enemy, 'whit are they up tae' thought my boys. Away over on the right flank the Indians were holding their own against several assaults by Egyptian infantry, cavalry and camelry, the British cavalry on this flank turned in a wonderful performance and threw back several enemy units causing them to eventually head for Cairo. As night fell and the Royal Marines rallied back the Black Watch took more of the Wadi while some of their French allies headed for the rear hastened by the jeers of derision from my troops.

The boys take the wadi 'supported' by the French.

Another good game and plenty of excitement, it was noted that the dice gods were being particularly favourable to me last night, something which I enjoyed as I threw my troops in with abandon against the enemy. Although the battle was declared for the Allies there was still a way to go to get the Egyptians to relinquish the village and oasis, we would have had to regroup for this but I think we would have managed in the end.

Elsewhere we had a Bloodbowl game, a boardgame and a Chain of Command 1941 Eastern Front game. I kept my eye on the latter and it seemed that it took nearly three hours to move one German squad from a bit of rough ground, everything else was basically in the same places they had been at the start.

Tomorrow I have a War and Conquest game and next week we take to the skies over the Western Front. I caught this on Facebook I have never seen this guy before, Lindybeige is his name, and although I may not agree with his ideas they were excellently put forward and gave me a new way to look at an old problem. I grabbed a cuppa later in the night and watched more of his videos, very entertaining and some are thought provoking, give him a try if you have ten or twenty minutes spare.

Monday, 9 October 2017


I was invited to Kevin's this afternoon to play his latest boardgame, Tricorne which is a Command and Colours game covering the American War of Independence. Now I have read several books on this affair and it has never gripped me, much like Napoleonics, and I do wonder if I am missing something which is why I wander back now and again having forgot my disappointment the last time, only to be disappointed again.

Anyway I am assured by the blurb that it is a typical C&C game, a wargame with blocks instead of soldiers but it isn't, despite everything you will find in a wargame rule set i.e. morale, leaders, firing, movement, melee etc., but it is a fast, exciting game. The main reason it isn't a wargame, although there are games with soldiers quite like it, is that you can only do what your hand of cards allows you to do. You cannot look at the board and decide to attack with your left as that is your strongest force unless you get the cards which allow you to move/attack with your left flank, no matter how good you plan your troops will simply not move in the end unless you get those specific cards, sure you can shuffle forward but your attack will not be coordinated.  Much of what I have just said is also a result of my own prejudices against command card games, well almost all of them, there is one, I digress.

Right, how did the game go, well we fought the simplest scenario in the booklet, Bemis Heights, a small British force had been told to go and reconnoitre an American position, the Americans got wind of it and met the British with a regular force along with a large militia brigade. At first glance it looked like the British would be overwhelmed, despite this as usual I decided to attack and went forward with my left and some Grenadiers, big mistake, within a few moves I had lost the Grenadiers, I wanted to move my right flank but did not draw the right cards and anyway there was too much going on on my left so I had to use what orders I had there. Eventually the lines stabilised and I decided not to go forward and simply hold my ground.

Kevin had managed to get a victory chit by this time and it still looked like it was all over for me, but as the Yanks tried to advance I managed to shoot them up and cause them to retire time after time (good cards), pretty soon I had four chits to the enemy one. I got a good card and decided to throw an assault in and get one more, hoping this would eventually gain me the six to win. Another disaster and some good play and cards by Kevin stopped me dead, it was the Yanks who benefited and he gained another two chits.

We called a halt, neither of us had managed to get our victory conditions, I had a pretty thin line while the Continentals had lost most of their regular units and were now left with the bulk of their militia to force the day, a big ask. We started slow but by the end we were flying through the turns and another 45 minutes or so might have seen the end proper.

I have no doubt we missed some stuff, especially the value of leaders but apart from my doubts above on whether the C&C system is a real wargame, it is a good game and I look forward to another clash.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

View From The Window

Well it is grey and dry, for now, possibly in for a mild September but the cold is coming. Washington House is still forlorn with its For Sale sign looking weathered, if it ever does sell some of the locals will be nonplussed as the small drive is now used for off road parking. I have said goodbye to the Batmobile, a car I thought I would have until the end, sadly, economics caught up with her along with commonsense, we don't need two cars, simples. The wife's car is also going when we pick up our new car at the end of the month, it is a nice car, has all sorts of gadgets and can park itself, it also already has a name, 'Ghost' (it is charcoal greyish) but it's not the Batmobile. I may be less able to persuade my grandchildren I am Batman now.

I had a laugh with one of our Chinese guides about their capacity to flood the planet with fakes, she was nonplussed and I had to admit I had watched the odd pirated movie courtesy of her more criminal countrymen. I did however have one tense moment over fakes, we were watching a show in a rather grand theatre and I ordered some wine for the missus and some 'Original Pringles' for me, feeling the need to pander to my salt craving. The bowl of wafers which turned up were not Pringles, now I am not keen on Pringles but they were going to have to do, but not fakes, I called the girl over and despite her not understanding English she immediately understood what I meant. I was prepared for a diplomatic incident but instead she took the bowl away and presented me with my money, crises averted.

Do you believe all the guff about women in the forces being the equal of men, especially at the front line as say, infantry or marines, every time the forces are shown these days front and centre is a woman in uniform, TV dramas fall over themselves to show how tough these ladies are. Well here is where it all falls down, Michelle Keegan, playing the tough, yet always perfectly made up trooper in 'Our Girl' almost pulled out of playing her fearless, action hero character, because there are big spiders in Kenya where they were filming, the defence rests M'lud.

Just to back this up in a round about way, you may remember bimbo Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris some time back, recently she was invited to a friends house in Mexico but was terrified that the country may be unsafe for her. This 'fear' has been put down to PTSD, yes, the same illness suffered by troops in battle having been to hell and back, you couldn't make it up.

Just when will the Eco-Warriors draw the line, they are not just happy to cover the country in useless windmills and bill us extra for building said junk while ensuring we will not have enough energy in ten years to keep the lights on, now they want to ban wood burners. Coal bad, Nuclear bad, gas bad, burn wood it is a natural sustainable fuel source, well it isn't, ask the third world where all their trees are going, but now wood is bad. Sadiq Khan wants to ban wood burners from areas of London, if wood is out what are we left with? If you are a young person I recommend searching around for the most habitable cave in the area now.

Did you hear the one about the blind Immigration judge who had "no idea of the law or his own powers" it is all very well to condemn the man now but he should never have reached such a position in the first place. Now I am unsure whether the fact that he is a Moslem, coloured, disabled and had already won a case for discrimination played a factor but I can guess. Stable door and horse come to mind.

I see the Conservatives have promised more billions for the NHS. I read this morning that a couple who have let their son dress as a girl for the past eight years now want 'puberty halting' drugs for him courtesy of you and me on the NHS. No doubt these are highly expensive and already up to 800 children are eating them like smarties. Putting aside the fact that you have to have drugs and then have your body altered by the knife to feed your idea of what or who you are why is it down to the NHS to provide all this. Stop this along with the boob jobs, the nose jobs, the gastric bands, the nicotine patches and all the rest and perhaps use it to keep people with real illnesses alive.

Fancy a change, come right in, free gratis.
After my visit to China I get the impression that the vast majority of Chinese are like the majority of us, I doubt they are interested in having a showdown with the Americans in the Pacific or invading Taiwan or causing a planet meltdown by hacking every server in the world. They want a job, a bit of spending money and a holiday, they enjoy meeting people from different countries, they laugh and smile. You do have to wonder if we would be better off without politicians and big government.

Friday, 6 October 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 15

 A week or so ago our cooks spent a lot of money, time and effort stirring a gigantic Christmas pudding, the recipe called for a gallon of rum, however that has now been banned from our modern high tech navy so it was replaced by brandy. The shore base here, HMS Jufair, held a large ceremony for the passing of the rum ration, it was a faux funeral and they buried a 'rum fanny' the large wooden tub used to mix the water and rum when dishing it out to the messes for lunch. Up until then if you did anyone a favour the payment was so much of his rum ration, usually 'sippers' or 'gulpers' which are self explanatory. I never liked the stuff and preferred the beer, the idea of banning it was to stop people getting drunk but you could get a hold of plenty of beer if you really wanted to so it was a bit of a waste of effort and the end of a unique piece of history. One strange ingredient of the pud was carrots, no, I don't know either. Anyway I wouldn't be eating it as I don't like fruit puddings like that. On the Tartar for the end of the rum ration we 'spliced the mainbrace' and everyone no matter what their age got a tot, yuch.

We received a visit from an MP while alongside and he was hounded about our useless stint on Beira Patrol and the loss of the rum ration amongst other things, he beat a hasty retreat. As we will be in Singapore at the end of the year we are expecting the arrival of a Chinese tailor, this chap will make just about anything you want and their skills are legendary. The problem however is where to put him, he will no doubt bunk with the rest of the Chinese in the laundry but where he will carry out his job has not been settled, a small room/locker under the flagdeck looks favourite for now.

Three days ago we had a families day and went to sea taking army and RAF personnel along with their loved ones and some civilians on a jolly, some 350 people took advantage of the trip around the harbour. We entertained them with mortar firings, helicopter demos and man overboard exercises, all while the band of the Royal Irish Rangers played on the rear end. A full speed run back to Bahrain ended the day, one of those soldiers aboard I met years later when working on Ninian Central Platform for Chevron UK, small world.

On the 4th October we took part in Exercise Bugle Call, an amphibious landing exercise with our Royal Marines and some Scots Guards at Sharjah. We are now on a cruise around the Gulf with the new Commander Naval Forces Gulf to show him his patch.

Thursday, 5 October 2017


We have been back five days now but by 2000 hrs I am fighting to keep out of my bed for at least another hour before giving in to the jet lag. We have been almost continually tired since the start of the holiday as our itinerary involved travelling long distances across China in order to see the main attractions. We had booked through Wendy Wu tours, a name which always brought a smile to my face, but explained by the use of familiar English names by all involved in the tourist industry. We had decided to have a private guide rather than join a group and I think we made the right choice, all of our guides were excellent and nothing was too much trouble for them, this was also true of the crew of our cruise ship on the Yangtze.

We arrived in Shanghai late on the Saturday night and on the way to the hotel we got a flat in the middle of a bridge with the only road works I saw in our whole trip until we arrived back in the UK, not a great start thought we, sure enough the four star hotel left a lot to be desired, the room was grubby and it was a fair distance from the centre of the city. The next day we toured Shanghai, a financial centre with an ultra modern heart sitting along side the Western buildings in the Bund, relics of the pressure put upon the Chinese to trade with the outside world. We took a detour to go to the top of the Shanghai Tower, the second or third tallest building in the world depending on where you look, the lift ascends at 55m a second and your ears pop. The light show on the buildings along the Huangpo River at night is very impressive. We were let loose later that night in a shopping district on our own and had great difficulty finding a restaurant and had to resort to, yes, fish and chips, I couldn't believe it.

The next day was lost as we had to catch a flight to Wuhan and then a bullet train to Yichang, thence a bus to meet up with our cruise ship. On the bus was a particularly vocal bunch of Chinese from Shanghai, we were the only two Foreign Devils on the transport. We arrived quite late at the ship and asked to see the selection of cabins in case we wanted to upgrade, as we looked in on our original cabin amidst the banshees from Shanghai I only got out "Eve..." which was returned with "I know!" We upgraded to one of the two staterooms at the front of the ship which was lovely and had it's own large deck rather than a balcony, and it was quiet. We met the only other two Westerners at breakfast the next day and they had not slept a wink due to the noise from neighbouring cabins and could not enjoy their balcony due to underwear flapping on the adjacent handrails having been washed and hung out to dry. Noise, no, not a peep, slept like logs.

The ship may not have been lovely to look at as it was a bit top heavy but it was well up to standard inside and the crew were fabulous, each day we were taken on a morning tour with an optional tour available in the afternoon which was extra, we took advantage of two afternoon tours. We became firm favourites with our fellow travellers on giving up our seats on a cable car so that two elderly ladies could sit down, it also helped that we joined in the evening entertainment and afternoon lectures while our two companions disappeared to their cabin at the earliest opportunity, catching up on sleep perhaps. The highlight of this part along with the scenery was the Tribe of the Three Gorges, a paradise of a place and one of the most beautiful and tranquil areas I have ever visited.

On leaving the ship four days later we caught another bullet train to Chengdu the capital of Sichuan Province, we had a classic spicy meal on our first night there, I have never seen so many chilli's on a plate, thankfully you didn't have to eat them, just pick out the meat. The next day was the Panda's, something the wife had been looking forward to, I took an instant dislike to the large, pandered monsters, all they seemed to do was eat and sleep. They are looked after so well that they cannot be bothered to procreate and are shown 'Panda porn' and given Viagra in their bamboo meals, smarter than the average bear Boo Boo. It was back on the trail again after the Panda's, a flight to Xian and what I had been waiting for.

Xian was lovely, the hotel was in the inner city behind the enormous walls, I expected more of these on our travels but most had been destroyed due to war or modern construction. The highlight of this part was the Terracotta Army, this simply takes your breath away once you enter the huge building built to protect them from the elements. You immediately notice that there are more still to be uncovered, these are left for the moment as contact with the air causes the original colours to fade and they want to find a way to preserve these. I met one of the farmers who found the site while digging a well. We were bombarded by facts but the one which stood out for me was that only one of the figures unearthed so far was complete, a kneeling archer, all the rest had to be rebuilt. The four large pits on this part of the grave site are only a taste of what else lies still buried, the Emperor's tomb is being left alone for now due to the fear that it contains large amounts of mercury. A dumpling dinner finished the day.

The next day was a visit to the Muslim Quarter with its local stalls, narrow lanes and food shops, after which we again headed to the airport to transfer to Beijing. We had upgraded our hotel for the last few nights and it was very impressive, we had a contretemps due to overbooking but which turned out in our favour as we got a suite upgrade free of charge for our stay, the icing on the cake so to speak. The Forbidden City was stunning and the history imparted by our guide was fascinating, in the afternoon we toured the Summer Palace and this again was a wonder, set in beautiful gardens covering a huge area and containing its own lake, a favourite hide out of the imperial family. In the evening we were taken to an acrobat show, we were not keen and toyed with giving it a miss, as it turned out this would have been criminal, the show was breath taking in parts, the highlight was six motorbikes crammed into a large metal ball, all going at speed and crisscrossing with abandon, I was on the edge of my seat.

Our last day and a trip outside Beijing to the Great Wall girding the Juyong Pass, the scenery was again beautiful, other parts of the wall are more popular but this part has been restored and has excellent facilities. I was dismayed by the climb to the top, it was hard going, ten to fifteen steps at a time and then a rest, every time we got to a watchtower, there was another higher up, I called a halt after four of them. From our height we could look across the ridges and see the line of further fortifications and the large walled area protecting the pass below. The afternoon was spent at the Temple of heaven complex and our trip was topped off with a Peking Duck dinner.

 What was it really like you ask. Well the Chinese people were lovely and friendly although not many speak English, but you can get by with gestures if you have to, you do have to learn to push your way to the front anywhere we would normally queue, especially at the train stations and airports. The food leaves a lot to be desired as they like it served lukewarm, only in Beijing did we get piping hot food, the street food looks delicious and I was sorely tempted but only once did I test some little fried fish. After the horror stories about toilets I found I had no problems, most along the tourist route are far cleaner than our public toilets and although there are a lot of squats there are also seats in some cubicles and always in the disabled toilet. There were only one or two times I found them in a bad state but these were not on the tourist route. There was not as much spitting as I feared, this was confined mainly to the older generation and there were not a lot of these on the tourist trails. The country is a powerhouse, the cities are generally like high rise farms always with more buildings being built, I did not feel crowded however, no more than I would do in London or Glasgow.

So there you have it, a superb holiday with everything you could ask for, a real adventure, albeit a comfortable one.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Too Many Big Cats

I'm back and suffering holiday blues along with jet lag, I really do not want to serve the great British public at the moment, but needs must. I was going to give the club a miss this week as by late afternoon all I want to do is lie down in a darkened room and for people to leave me alone. But I thought it might help to keep me from doing just that so I dropped a text to Simon and off I went.

I wasn't too keen to organise anything myself so took the lazy route and joined in a Battlegroup game being run by Rob and Andy, somewhere in NW Europe in '44 I think. The scenario was historically based on an attack by a group of Panthers on a Canadian position, they had comms problems and took severe fire from some 17pdr's which spooked them and they beat a hasty retreat.

I thought once we (the Canadians) had deployed that we could have problems recreating history, sure enough the first four Panthers rumbled on to the table while our totally useless shells bounced off them. At first the German fire was rather dismal, but soon they got the range and our Sherman's were knocked out one after the other while our anti-tank guns were pinned by machine gun fire. Our infantry crouching in their foxholes looked on in dismay as the impervious monsters came ever closer. Just as the last of our first wave brewed up our second wave of tanks arrived and once again achieved nothing except to add to the burning piles of Allied steel. Our off table, hidden, 17pdr was particularly useless.

By the end of the night the Canadians had lost almost all their tanks and had nothing left with which to halt the German advance, the Hun had lost a few infantrymen and their tanks a bit of paintwork. The scenario obviously did not work, we found it almost impossible to hit and then knock out the German tanks, I found it odd that the rules made the 17pdr and the Panther's 75mm gun the same as I was under the impression that the former was as good if not better than the 88.

What else is on the wargaming horizon now that reality is once again biting, well, Kevin has bought the new Command and Colours game on the American War of Independence 'Tricorne', I have the rules to download and will be reading them over the weekend as we have a game on Monday afternoon. You can fight the entire war with this game so expect a few reports in the future. We will also be continuing with War and Conquest as Kevin completes his several armies and brings them along to test the Twelfth. I have a cavalry unit of Carolingians to finish for my son, the horses are done and I just have to find time to do the riders, I also need a couple of Centurion figures for the Thunderbolts at some point. I have decided to do a new army over the winter and am coming down on the side of a Pyrrhic force, although I cannot see me buying any figures until late November.

Map projects are coming out of my ears at the moment, several have built up while I was away and several more have come in in the last few days, they range across the ages from 1711 to 1988.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 14

Mid way through September now and back at sea, our only visit apart from Bahrain after Karachi was Sharjah one of the United Arab Emirates and where we had an Army and RAF base. We had a very raucous run ashore at the local NAAFI bar where our resident Tartar 'pop group' played, two of the members were from the RO's mess or at least Chris Short was, the drummer if I recall. There was nothing else of interest in Sharjah and the trip was quickly over and forgotten.

Next we visited Doha in the state of Qatar, Doha was very much on the way up back in 1970, a new airport was being built along with a road programme and the ruler was considered 'progressive', or as much as such a ruler can be. This visit was much quieter than Sharjah, there was no alcohol to be had at all, so with only sporting activities to be had we RO's had a pretty boring visit. The place is very much different now of course and I visited it some years back when my son lived there, who would have thought.

Doha 1970
 A quick weekend in Bahrain and back to sea, this time with two American ships, USS Noa and USS Power, both these ships were Gearing class destroyers built during and after WWII. The Yanks had one more ship in Bahrain, I cannot remember its name but it was quite often tied up alongside us, it was some kind of patrol ship and was ancient, it reminded me of the vessel from the film 'The Sand Pebbles'. It also had an open quadruple AA gun on the front and stencilled in big letters along the shield was 'MAN KILLER', I always had the urge to add 'eventually.'

I had a personal encounter with our Allies while in Bahrain. Coming out of a restaurant we frequented, a more down market establishment than the Moons Plaza but nearer and cheaper, my oppos Keith Wilman and Mick D’Cruz tried to enlighten a drunk Yank that he was paying too much for his taxi back to base, the Yank took offense and a yelling match started. It was too much for me and the Yanks companion, a very large black man and we both held back resignedly. Keith ignored my advice that he let the guy pay over the odds and wanted to help him despite himself, a bit of shoving now ensued and I heard the fatal words uttered by Mick "I'm with you Keith." In the time it took me to roll my eyes, turn around and look back, both my mates were on the deck bleeding profusely from their noses, the very large black American standing over them, he came at me as I stood transfixed and in shock and I thought my time had come. He raised his arm, looked into my eyes, shrugged, dragged his drunken mate into the taxi and left. I could only pick my mates up, cart them into a taxi, pay the proper fare, and get them back onboard, one clean white shirt and two red ones.

Anyway we exercised all over the place with the two destroyers, popping back to Bahrain for the evening then out again to meet the RAF and a couple of Hawker Hunters doing fake strafing runs on us, it may be an old aircraft but they were pretty sharp when attacking us. We will be returning to Bahrain on the 18th for several weeks for a maintenance period. Pretty much a nice break for us RO's, maybe a bit of work on the flagdeck helping out the Buntings but you can't do very much maintenance on radios when all you do is use them, not fix them. I pity the poor stokers and seamen, no, I don't.
Mucking about on the flagdeck, me, Lofty, Mick (glasses to hide black eye) and Dave.
 Note: Mick became an officer and a gentleman and had a successful career, Dave a meat inspector in New Zealand, looks after posh peoples houses now and no idea where Lofty is.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Fulminata Victrix

Despite the dire warnings given out with glee by the weather people about 'Storm' Aileen I braved the rain to take the Twelfth to the club for my last game before the holiday, I was fighting Ryan's Successors with longer sharp sticks than Kevin's hoplites. They are not painted yet as he is a busy young man and not an old lag with more time than he knows what to do with, however he does have all the troops in his plastic mountain. Hence the maps as his army resembles the Unsullied at the moment.

I actually got a fairly well balanced army for 2,000 points, Early Imperial Romans have some great choices for troop types and it is a tough army. I knew Ryan had cavalry this time so did not feel guilty about bringing some cataphracts, I also took bolt shooters and massed archers in fear of his elephant. It may be boring but it is about the only valid tactic for fighting a phalanx army so I again went for the flanks, I was helped in this as Ryan threw his Elephant and Companions straight at my line. The Lanciarii dodged and my cataphracts countercharged, the Companions narrowly missed a lovely hit by a Scorpio, they saved them all, but they were no match for my cavalry and were soon dispersed.

As the cataphracts positioned for a roll up of the Successor flank the elephant on the other side started to receive a hail of fire from javelins, arrows and bolts, it screamed in pain and went amuk, luckily for both of us away from our lines, the beast therefore crashed out of the battle. My missile troops now turned their attention on the advancing phalanxes.

My cavalry now drove into the flank of one of the phalanxes, while a cohort moved up to support, the writing was on the wall and Ryan conceded. Ryan was rushed into this game and if he had turned up earlier he may have thought more about his deployment, having fought with the Thunderbolts now for several weeks I am very comfortable with them.

Elsewhere we had two boardgames and some of the lads having a run through with Bolt Action. That's it now for about three weeks wargaming wise, the last part of the year promises more action as Kevin sorts out his Republican Romans and Carthaginians while Ryan is determined to grab a paintbrush and work on tactics. As for the Twelfth, bring it on!