Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, “30 days have November …” 2019
Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, “30 days have November …” 2019
A peculiar satiric 1844 Spectator article addition to my research on The ‘Battle’ of Saxby 1844 (background research here on previous post):
The Battle of Saxby is ‘entertainingly’ described in The Spectator in 23 November 1844 with an amused mock “war correspondent” tone that becomes almost satire.
Britain in the 1840s was in between major wars, Waterloo was now a generation ago and had yet to suffer the shame of Crimea. The tone might not have been so mocking after Crimea.
The article is computer transcribed presumably by optical reader software, so I have corrected and amended as required
The Railway Raid, The Spectator, 23 November 1844
A civil war is raging in Leicestershire.
Hostilities are in active progress between the Earl of HARBOROUGH and the Midland Railway Company.
As we read about the valorous exploits of the champions on either side, the imagination is carried back to the times when feudal barons levied war against incorporated boroughs, and stout burgesses laid siege to the castles of feudal nobles.
Since the days of Warwick the King-maker there have been no such stirring deeds as have of late been doing in the land of foxhunting, and now merit to be recorded in prose or numerous verse. As to such warlike operations as those of the French in Algeria, or our own gallant Engineer-officers at the siege of Chatham, they are far outshone by the untaught military geniuses of the Midland Counties.
The siege of Stapleford Park was raised on Saturday last, (the Commander of the Midland Railway Company’s forces, General COPE, having proved as unlucky as his namesake of the year ’45), by the retainers of Lord HARBOROUGH, commanded by General FABLING; whose victory, notwithstanding his suspicious name, is as authentic as any recorded in the bulletins of NAPOLEON. Till the civil commotions in Guernsey leave General NAPIER at leisure to write the history of this remarkable campaign, we shall attempt a sketch of it. [Ed. see my footnote about Napier and Guernsey].
Stapleford Park is situate near the Confines of Leicestershire and Rutlandshire, between Melton Mowbray and Oakham. The Oakham Canal, or, more correctly speaking, its towing-path, passes close under the park-wall. The Midland Railway Company, proud of its joint-stock force, had sent word to Lord Harborough that its engineers would survey his park, somewhat in the same spirit that the Percy out of Northumberland sent word to the Douglas, “That he would hunt in the mountains Of Cheviot within days three.”
And with the spirit of the old Douglas did HARBOROUGH and FABLING reply, “We will let that surveying an if we may”
‘General’ Cope was the Chief Surveyor for this project for the Midland Railway.
On Wednesday the 13th of November 1844, the Railway forces, a mustering seven strong, attempted to penetrate into the park by the Oakham Canal towing-path. The Harborough retainers, in number nine, overpowered and took them prisoners. The captives were carried to Cold Overton Hall ; but the keeper of that castle being from home, the leader who captured them said, “It would be better for all parties to separate for the night.” This was accordingly done; the Harborough troops retaining the spirit- level of the surveyor as the gauge of victory. It does not appear that the commanding officers on either side were present at this affair.
Cold Overton Hall was the seat of the Earl of of Cowley https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_Overton_Hall
The attack was renewed more earnestly on Thursday [the 13th of November 1844].
At the early hour of nine, the defenders of the park were observed collecting, under General FABLING, to the number of forty, in the vicinity of Saxby Bridge.
The clerk and treasurer of the Oakham Canal Company, which adheres in this war to the Harborough cause, were at their posts. This alliance, and the issue of the siege, may appear to some to corroborate the opinion so often emphatically expressed by Mr. COBDEN, that the aristocracy never triumphed over the towns but by sowing dispensions among them.
Preparations for a most determined resistance were made by the allied forces, by barricading the towing path on both sides of the bridge with ” trays.”
The assailants were soon after seen advancing in two columns, one from Melton and the other from Oakham; each conducted by its leaders in chaises and waving proudly the flag-staffs of the surveyors.
A lengthened parley ensued, in the true Homeric fashion. A demonstration was made against the barrier on the Oakham side of the bridge, but soon relinquished. Reinforcements of his Lordship’s vassals kept pouring in; and strong detachments from Oakham and Stamford were added to the assailants.
A neutral body — consisting of four or five County Police — declared, a la Randolph, “The man who strikes makes us his foe.” Hereupon each party, unwilling to draw upon it another enemy, wisely resolved to eschew striking.
The Harborough forces wedged themselves together on the Melton side, presenting a formidable living barrier.
The Engineer-officers of the other party drew up their front-rank men with their backs close to the forces of the Earl’s party, and instructed the rear-ranks and reserve to rush upon their own friends and drive them like wedges through the hostile array.
“Dire was the din of conflict “; men’s bodies were seen from the pressure to spring as high into the air over the heads of the contending parties as ever lance-heads did at a tournament. Mud bedaubed the clothes of all.
A breach was made in the line of the defenders, and the chain carried through in triumph; but immediately seized hold of, and broken. After this exploit, the defendants scampered for about a quarter of a mile down the towing-path; then halted, and formed their barrier de novo. The Railway troops did not venture to renew the assault; the defendants retired within their intrenchments, and the assailants returned to their quarters.
Friday [the 15th of November 1844] passed without any movement on the part of the besiegers. But late in the evening, news came to FABLING that an assault was to be made before daybreak next morning.
Immediately all was bustle within the intrenchments.
Every assailable point was strengthened with hurdles and waggons, and a fire-engine placed in readiness to pump upon the enemy at the place where the first attack was expected.
The uncertainty, however, of the defenders as to the point selected for the assault, weakened their arrangements: the park contains 800 acres, and the garrison was too small to man every part of the wall.
FABLING in this emergency had, like other great commanders, resource to a fable: he despatched a letter to the hostile chief, assuring him that he had in readiness “a few cannon from Lord Harborough’s yacht,” and concluding “Dear Sir, yours faithfully.” But his adversary had too much experience to be thus deceived: he knew that the cannon spoken of were only meant to throw cold water on his enterprise.
At seven o’clock a.m. on Saturday [the 16th of November 1844], Cope with 100 stout men – fresh recruits from Stamford, and the Peterborough and Midland Railways – swarmed over the park-paling on the side next Oakham; and immediately four chains were in active operation.
Captain LATHAM’S troop had been advanced, it is true, at an early hour in the direction of Oakham to reconnoitre; but he took the route by Whissendine and Langham, and thus missed the enemy, who came on by Ashwell and Teigh.
The successful assailants pushed right on in the direction of Lord HARBOROUGH’S cottage; and already the foremost chain might be descried from the Earl’s bedroom-window, when the gallant FABLING, followed by a handful of men whom he had collected, cantered up on a pony to the scene of action.
COPE, relying on his superior force, scornfully declared he had no wish to hurt FABLING, and ordered the Railway men to carry him off.
The reply deigned by that gallant leader was a command to his followers to carry off the measuring-chains. Brown, the Herculean lock-keeper of the Oakham Canal, threw himself before his chief; and every blow he dealt sent an enemy rolling heels-over-head. But the Railway party galled him sore with their spikes.
The noise of fray was heard in every village for two miles round. Lord Harborough, though enfeebled with illness, was seen to approach the scene of action, accompanied by his lady; and the sight nerved anew the arms of his faithful troops.
Parties of the tenantry kept pouring in from Freeby and Saxby, from Wymondham, Whissendine, and Teigh.
At last, “Cope could not cope,” and the assailants evacuated the park, leaving their staves and chains, and other munitions of war, behind them.
Thus did the merry men of Leicestershire send “bootless home and weather-beaten back a host of invaders, gathered from Stamford and from Hertfordshire, from Birmingham, and from Gracechurch Street and Churchill Street, London.
We have said that this siege reminded one of the old times when barons and burghers used to levy war against each other. The resemblance holds good to the close. It used to be customary in those days to invoke the authority of the Church to allay intestine broils; and we learn from the Times that ” warrants for the apprehension of some of the rioters have been granted by the Reverend G. E. Gillett.”
So the Railway war is in a fair train to get into the hands of the lawyers ; and in that case, both parties will learn, what all have learned who have ever been foolish enough to go to war, that the after-costs are worse than the fighting.
OCR Transcript can be seen on The Spectator archive website (URL above) and the original page also at Google books https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=O9M9AQAAIAAJ&pg=PA1115&lpg=PA1115&dq=mr+cope+surveyor+Midland+Railway&source=bl&ots=G1mPUKbl7f&sig=xwyORM9ec2Hg9MegR2kFZ9OoYQQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj62ffU2NPVAhUEtRQKHZxcBMcQ6AEISzAG#v=onepage&q=mr%20cope%20surveyor%20Midland%20Railway&f=false
Some more character name references:
Reverend G. E. Gillett was or became Rector at Waltham, Leicestershire, England
Clement Edwin Stretton’s History of the Midland Railway is available as free E-book
The reference to Napier and Guernsey?
William Francis Patrick Napier (1785–1860), Napoleonic Officer and Military Historian
On 29 May 1841 Napier was given a special grant of 150l. per annum for his distinguished services. On 23 Nov. he was promoted major-general, and in February 1842 was appointed lieutenant-governor of Guernsey and major-general commanding the troops in Guernsey and Alderney.
He landed at Guernsey on 6 April, and threw himself into his new duties heart and soul; but he found much to discourage him. The defences were wretched, the militia wanted complete reorganisation, and the administration of justice was scandalous. In the five years of his government, despite local obstruction, he devised a scheme of defence which was generally accepted by a special committee from London of artillery and engineer officers, and was partially executed.
He reorganised and rearmed the militia. He powerfully influenced the states of the island to adopt a new constitution …
At Guernsey he devoted his spare time to writing a history of the ‘Conquest of Scinde,’ the achievement in which his brother Charles had recently been engaged. On the return of Lord Ellenborough from India he wrote, offering to publish the political part of the history first, and after some correspondence which established a lifelong friendship between him and Ellenborough, this was done.
In November 1844 the first part was published, and was read by the public with avidity; but, as with the ‘History of the Peninsular War,’ it involved Napier in endless controversy. There was this difference, however: the ‘History of the Conquest of Scinde’ was written with a purpose. It was not only the history of Sind, but the defence of a brother who had been cruelly misrepresented. The descriptions of the battles are not surpassed by any in the Peninsular war, but the calmness and impartiality of the historian are too often wanting. The publication of the second part of the ‘Conquest of Scinde’ in 1846 drew upon him further attacks, and the strength of his language in reply often exceeded conventional usage.
At the end of 1847 Napier resigned his appointment as lieutenant-governor of Guernsey. In February 1848 he was given the colonelcy of the 27th regiment of foot, and in May he was made a K.C.B. In the same year Napier wrote some ‘Notes on the State of Europe.’ Towards the end of 1848 the Liverpool Financial Reform Association published some tracts attacking the system by which the soldiers of the army were clothed through the medium of the colonels of regiments. The association sent its tracts to Napier, himself a clothing colonel, upon which he wrote a series of six vindicatory letters to the ‘Times’ newspaper, dating 29 Dec. 1848 to 1 Feb. 1849. They form Appendix VII. to Bruce’s ‘Life of General Sir William Napier.’ … (Source: Wikipedia)
I wonder if Napier’s controversial memoirs might have inspired the style of the ‘battle’ report of Saxby in The Spectator.
Some recent painting and penny basing of some very old Airfix railway figures:
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 23 November 2019
Interesting news on Little Wars Revisited forum that a new BBC adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds was out this weekend,
with the following trailer:
Some snippets in the trailer of Edwardian / early WW1 troops in Khaki with artillery and a Gatling Gun!
I’m sure this will inspire the odd gaming scenario of War of The Worlds, a book written in 1898 by H G Wells, who was also the author of Little Wars (1913).
It inspired me to throw a few figures together, mostly metal but a few bits of plastic too. No expense spared. The same kind of historical accuracy shown apparently by the BBC.
Appropriate to use Little Wars style 54mm figures?
This red coat photo of a younger Lance Corporal Jones was inspired by Timothy L. Rose’s mock up photograph on Little Wars Revisited:
The BBC trailer also reminded me of my old Airfix WW1 British Infantry and Artillery.
I could have taken time to flock and sort bases, but I did this all in a bit of a hurry for the fun.
Lots more on War of the Worlds and H G Wells on this Wikipedia entry including the overlap with invasion literature https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 21 November 2019
Tomorrow / today the 18th November is the day of Stuart Asquith’s funeral.
I know that several of Stuarts’s long term gaming friends and magazine colleagues and contemporaries will attend.
I hope the many online tributes and the tribute games played this weekend in his memory will be of great comfort to his family.
Aerial view of the skirmish area set out as in the Solo Wargaming book. Turn 1
My tribute to Stuart, using some of his former 15mm Peter Laing troops, is a small Ancient skirmish.
It is based on the ‘Wheel Meet Again’ scenario in his Guide To Solo Wargaming. The rules are based on his simple rules in his Guide to Wargaming.
Scenario 8 – Wheel Meet Again
“A lightly guarded convoy of wagons has run into a spot of bother. One of the wagons has suffered a broken wheel and had to be left behind with a guard by the rest of the convoy. On reaching their destination the scouts pass on their news about the disabled wagon. At once a relief column is organised, complete with spare wheel to put the wagon back in service and sets off.
Meanwhile the enemy is also interested in the immobile wagon and its small escort and decide to investigate. The wagon guard, on the alert for just such an event, open fire on the inquisitive enemy, hoping that relief is at hand.
This scenario is fought in three stages. Firstly the wagon guards attempt to keep their attackers at bay. Next reinforcements arrive and deploy to allow the wagon to be repaired. Finally the wagon and its new escort have to gain the safety of the eastern edge of the table once more. A moderately complex, three-part engagement follows and offers numerous permutations for the solo player …”
Stuart Asquith, p.74 Solo Wargaming (1989)
I am not normally an Ancients player but having picked up several years ago a 15mm Pict / Celtic and Roman army from Stuart Asquith and also other figures from online sellers, I have enough scraps of Egyptians, Greeks, Assyrians etc to field several different national skirmish forces.
The setting: Roman Britain – the Pictish wilds
A Roman supply column has left behind a broken down wagon with a few escorts, promising to send a relief force.
A small shadowing hunting party of Pictish scouts lurk to the Northwest.
The broken wagon is a fire cart, a blacksmiths cart, belonging to the Roman Army.
Stuart recommends a small ‘Wagon Guard’ force for part one, such as 6 archers (or musketeers in later periods).
A d6 is thrown to find out when reinforcements on both sides will arrive. In this game they would appear on Turn 5, Romans to the East and Picts to the West.
After playing the game I noticed that Stuart Asquith suggested that one d6 is thrown to work out which turn for the arrival of the enemy, two d6 for the arrival of the supply column.
There are several areas of uncrossable forest to the Southeast and Southwest and a passable rocky forest outcrop to the North East.
It takes two turns to fix the wagon once the Roman forces reach this waggon with the repair tools and a spare wheel. Repairs take the help of four men.
Phase 1 – Holding the Pictish Scouting Party at Bay
Turn 1 sees the Roman armoured archers spread out into a defensive circle, the Pictish scouting party spread out to the Northwest. The Roman archers land two successful hits at mid range and hit the two Pictish archers.
Without distance or range weapons, the Picts charge into melee – one Roman archer is killed and two more Pictish spearman.
In some melee situations, the +1 advantage of the armour of a Roman archers is cancelled out by being confronted by two Pictish spearmen +1.
Roman archers fought the melee with their swords, so are unable to fire this round.
With few Pict scouts left, we take a morale test to work out what the Picts will do. Roll d6 – 1,3, 5 continue for melee and 2,4,6 outnumbered, retreat. The Picts move into melee and being within firing range, the last Picts are quickly wiped out.
Turn 4 sees the Roman Archers regroup.
Phase 2 the Relief Column Arrives
The Pictish War Band and Roman relief column arrived on the scene at opposite ends. The Light Cavalry and Light Infantry head out ahead of the others. Roman archers take out a Pictish light cavalryman and archer. The Pictish archers miss their targets.
The Roman light infantry and cavalry ride up with the mounted office of the relief column to join the Roman archer Wagon Guards who fall back behind the wagon to join them.
In the ensuing movement / melee and fire turns, 2 more Pictish archers are successfully targeted by the Roman archers but the Roman mounted officer is killed by a Pictish archer.
Romans move first and the legionaries in the relief column reach the stranded waggon – the light infantry and cavalry on both sides clash in melee. Two Roman cavalry and two auxiliaries are quickly killed.
At this stage the Picts have a series of lucky dice throws, spelling disaster for the Romans. They slam into the Roman ranks, killing the last 4 Roman archers of the Wagon Guard.
The Romans are unable to fire their pilum short spears as their own men are out in front. Fortunately the Pictish archers are equally blocked from firing by the presence of their own men.
In the melee the Roman Eagle standard bearer and another infantry officer is killed. However the Eagle is quickly grabbed by another legionary.
As soon as the Romans can throw their pilums, six Pictish warriors are brought down.
Rule – only the first two rows can throw pilums.
In turn 8 the two front Roman ranks who have thrown pilums spread out to counter the Picts to their right. 6 more legionaries are lost in melee before the remaining pilums are thrown taking out three more Pictish archers and spearmen.
As the Picts move into further melee, 2 more legionaries fall – the Eagle is again grabbed to safety by the Roman officer – and 4 Picts are killed. Only one of the Pictish archers is left.
On the Pictish side, only one archer, a spearman and the mounted Pictish officer and one of foot remain.
On the Roman side, 4 legionaries, the trumpeter and officer with the Eagle remain.
The morale test – throw d6 1,3,5 to retire and 2,4,6 to fight on.
The Picts choose to retire, the Romans to fight on.
Phase 3 – The Wagon repaired and rescued
The Picts retreat and the Roman legionaries repair and recover the wagon, heading off to the East, wary of further Pictish attack.
A beer tribute to Stuart Asquith who watched over the whole proceedings.
Once the game was over, I raised a glass of WW1 anniversary beer to Stuart in thanks for all he had done for my hobby.
Sadly my last bottle of this 2014 WW1 anniversary Cornish vintage beer picked up on my travels hadn’t aged well in the bottle. I had picked up a couple of beer mats for figure basing from the pub after Sunday lunch after an earlier walk – appropriately drinking some Tribute beer.
Rest In Peace, Stuart Asquith – hope you enjoyed the game.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 17 / 18 November 2019.
B.P.S.Blog Post Script – 18 November 2019,
Appendix – Amending Stuart Asquith’s Ancients Rules
I reduced the movement scales and weapons ranges down from Stuart’s simple rules for 15mm scale:
Spears (such as pilum) 4 inch range.
Bows 12 inch range
Weapon ranges –
Close range up to 4 inches, throw d6 4,5 or 6 for a kill.
Medium range 4 to 8 inches, throw d6 5 or 6 for a kill.
Long Range 8 to 12 inches, throw d6 6 for a kill.
Light Infantry 6 inches – Roman Auxiliaries and Picts Celtic warriors
Heavy Infantry 4 inches e.g. Roman legionaries and Archers
Heavy Chariot / Ox Cart 6 inches
Light Cavalry 9 inches
Individual melee, throw a d6 for each man involved, highest number wins. If there is two versus one man, add +1 for each attacker.
Mounted versus foot, +1 for mounted.
Fighting troops with shield or armour, -1 for attackers.
Unarmoured troops, -1 from their dice.
My Solo Opponent for the weekend? Stuart Asquith in his 1988 Guide to Solo Gaming.
I was saddened by the news about Stuart Asquith’s death, whose funeral is on Monday the 18th of November. It has been good to read the many tributes to him by his gaming friends and readers, as his family have also publicly said.
Along with many other gamers worldwide, I will be holding a small tribute game in Stuart’s memory. It will be a solo Ancients Skirmish game for this coming weekend. This will be using some of my 15mm Peter Laing Ancient Roman and Picts / Celts that used to belong to Stuart.
Here is my excellent research material:
Some Ancient inspiration …
One of these excellent books mentioned by Stuart is literally top of my list of Ancients research, Nils Saxtorph’s Warriors and Weapons of Early Times (Blandford Colour). Many of my childhood drawings were based on this book. Like the Asquith titles, my copy of this wonderful colour book came from my local childhood branch library when they started inexplicably selling off ‘old’ books in the 1990s (!) That was back in the days of reading Stuart Asquith in Military Modelling.
Some of Stuart’s books and his Peter Laing figures feature in my Full Metal Hic Jacet project ‘research’ pile: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/full-metal-hic-jacet/
Choosing just one suitable small scale Skirmish scenario has been a challenge from the many ones in his Solo Wargaming book. One that I have looked forward to playing again is the ‘Stranded Wagon’ scenario 8, Wheel Meet Again, adaptable to almost any period from stranded oxcart of early times and Wild West waggon to broken down supply lorry or futuristic (but broken) cargo speeder.
When is the rescue party going to arrive?
Will the escort hold out long enough?
Can wheel repairs be done in time under the threat of attack?
Stuart’s stranded waggon scenario in his Guide to Solo Wargaming
I had one recent go at this scenario theme in my Bronte inspired Angrian Imagi-Nation skirmish https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/a-skirmish-in-angria-close-little-wars-rules/
Before I play out this Solo scenario at the weekend or on the evening of the day that he is put to rest on the 18th November, I need to slightly undo some of Stuart’s handiwork to turn these figures back to single basing.
I’m sure Stuart would be pragmatic about my adapting his multi figure basing to single figures. Stuart’s basing tips from his Guide to Wargaming are shown above, including beer mats that Stuart has used here.
Beer mats aside, some Beer may need to be opened and drunk in Stuart’s memory as well, on or close to the 18th November in spirit alongside my fellow gamers and admirers of Stuart’s many books.
I also want to fit in a 54mm game skirmish in Stuart’s memory soon, an unfashionable scale that he supported.
I shall post pictures afterwards.
The Click2Comic treatment of Stuart Asquith, Solo gamer!
And finally … my Peter Laing 15mm Ancient British Chariot Squadron which will probably not be appearing in this “Wheel Meet Again” Stuart Asquith Solo Scenario.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 15 November 2019
Preparing for an Ancients Solo Skirmish this weekend, a tribute game in Stuart Asquith’s memory, using Stuart’s very own old 15mm Peter Laing Roman and Pictish Army.
I bought these figures, which were painted and based by Stuart, from him via an online dealer about two years ago. I have yet to split or alter the beermat bases into individually based skirmish figures.
Before I do this rebasing (which mostly involves simply cutting the multiple figure beermat bases like the archers into two individual bases), I wanted to photograph them all together, under the watchful eye of their old commander for the last time.
The Picts have some attractive swirly body tattoo or body paint, along with some great command figures.
Elsewhere if I want to transform these into Ancient Britons, I have some old Peter Laing 15mm British chariots somewhere and some Assyrian and Egyptian ones – good for chariot racing games.
There are some attractive 15mm Peter Laing Pictish and Roman / German Auxiliary Cavalry and Mounted Archers. There is also a non-Laing Pictish C in C on Horseback
The Roman and Pictish foot soldiers are backed up by these colourful Peter Laing Pictish and Roman Cavalry.
Many of the figures have Stuart’s unit ID notes on the bases, which I will do my best to photograph and preserve as I split up the bases to individual figures bases.
The Peter Laing Romans are superb little figures.
There are also what I take to be auxiliary troops and some great Roman artillery.
I’m sure my fellow Peter Laing collector colleagues will help me ID with catalogue numbers some of these Ancients figures over the next few months.
I have other Peter Laing 15mm Ancient figures acquired over many years or dual use items from my teenage Middle and Dark Ages Peter Laing figures. Stuart’s Romans can take on (in Ancient future) my Egyptians, Greeks, Sea Peoples and others, even my Zulus. I even have a Peter Laing elephant with howdah somewhere!
I wish I’d asked Stuart for a bit of ‘commander in chief’ advice, as Ancients are a relatively new period for me, aside from playing rough games with my Airfix Romans and Britons many years ago.
I have long wanted to explore the Teutoberg type scenarios and The modern Vietnam style “natives versus more technologically equipped infantry” with milecastle ‘firebases’ etc https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/full-metal-hic-jacet/
However there are his many books to give me some strategy advice.
As well as Stuart’s very simple rules in his books (pictured), there are also simple Ancients rules in Donald Featherstone’s War Games (1962), which also has as an appendix my favourite ‘Close Wars’ Skirmish rules.
So still a little work to do to get my Skirmish game ready for Sunday / Monday in Stuart’s memory.
I have chosen a scenario from the Stuart Asquith book of Solo Wargaming.
The WW1 centenary (2014) ‘soldier’ beer is ready.
Preparation of the game blog post to follow.
Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 15 November 2019
I have backed my first Kickstarter for a bag of these new BMC 54mm Plastic Army Women figures next Christmas!
You can read more about the project so far at previous blog posts such as https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/11/09/bmc-toys-plastic-army-women-update-5/
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 14 November 2019
Christmas has come early to Man of TIN house, as my first order of Jacklex figures has arrived from the new owner Mark Lodge.
Before they go into the Christmas present box to be given to me by the family, I thought I would check my order through – all present and correct.
I have long wanted to buy some Jacklex figures having seen them in Donald Featherstone books.
Whilst they are out of the lovely red box and sawdust packaging before Christmas, I thought I would photograph the figures alongside their 20mm Airfix counterparts.
Jacklex figures were made by the talented Jack Alexander (90 this year, 2019) in the 1960s and 1970s, partly to complement the popular OOHO Airfix American Civil War and Foreign Legion figures.
This ‘origin story’ is told here – I have yet to track down in online scan archives the Featherstone Meccano Magazine article or War Games book review in 1962 that first inspired Jack Alexander to make his toy soldier range:
The Airfix WW1 Americans come across as quite slender in comparison with the Jacklex American Punitive Expedition to Mexico just before WW1. Others like the limited WW1 Jacklex range are a far closer size match to Airfix.
Airfix WW1 German and British Infantry alongside the Jacklex equivalents, albeit with mid to late war steel helmets.
The American Civil War figures generally blend well with the Airfix Civil War figures.
My conversions from British Commandos and Japanese Infantry look quite slender in comparison to Jacklex drummers and standard bearers but these are the sorts of figures that oddly Airfix did not produce for their ACW range. Trumpeters and Officers for the American Civil War were produced by Airfix but oddly not drummers or standard bearers. The American War of Independence and Waterloo Airfix range was better served in this way.
The Jacklex horses match quite well the Airfix ACW / Seventh Cavalry and may be a solution to the awkward Airfix horses that do not glue well to their bases.
Again these lovely colonial British and Navy officers and French Foreign Legion officer match quite well the size of the relevant Airfix French Foreign Legion, Arabs and Esci colonials and Zulus.
Lead Mountain Warning – you could happily spend a small fortune on the new old Jacklex ranges (but at least you would have something decent and long lasting to show for it).
I have yet to sample the Jacklex Russo Japanese War, Colonial Natives, Mexicans Ranges but they do look attractive figures. Fighting as I tend to do small solo Featherstone ‘Close Wars’ type skirmishes with only a few dozen figures on each side, I can (almost) get away with gaming a wide range of figure scales and periods without additional storage problems and bankruptcy. Oddly appropriate as ‘Close Wars’ rules are a simple appendix to the 1962 War Games book by Donald Featherstone that inspired Jack Alexander to make Jacklex figures in the first place.
It is a great easy to use shopping website with good customer service, easy payment, fast despatch and some quirky touches like free PDF Andy Callan 19th Century Rules (veteran rules writer Andy Callan is an old gaming friend of new Jacklex owner Mark Lodge). There are also links to these two Jacklex inspired websites:
All Things Jacklex: jacklex.blogspot.com
ABC Wargamers: abcwargamers.blogspot.com
Jacklex – a company and figure range well worth supporting.
Too dark in the evening now to photograph my new figures anymore. Time to pack away for now.
Back in the box they go till Christmas to snooze away the time with their sawdust infused dreams of glory …
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 5 November 2019.
Saddened to hear of the passing of Stuart Asquith, former wargames magazine editor and author:
It is often said that a man dies two deaths, once when he physically dies and second when he is past living memory and his name and works are forgotten.
Someone like Stuart Asquith with his magazine columns and books, along with the many figures he painted, will not be forgotten, at least not by a small band of wargamers of a certain age and hopefully younger people who discover his simple approach in his accessible wargaming books.
Beginners will not forget borrowing from branch libraries or now tracking down online his Military Modelling Guide to Wargaming, which had lots of entry level plastic figures and simple rules. I still have and use the local branch library copy that I borrowed as child, picked up cheaply when it was sold off by the library service.
Solo Wargamers will not forget his interesting book on the topic with some innovative solo games mechanisms.
Siege Wargamers will not forget his book on this unusual subject.
I really like his Comfortable Wargaming articles with their laid back, enjoy your games approach with No Units. No Morale Tests: “If you want to shell out around £30 for a set of rules, then feel free, but you know, you really don’t have to – don’t worry about phases or factors, go back to simple enjoyment.”
I never met Stuart in person but you feel like you sort of know somebody when you have read and reread their books and magazines for 30 to 40 years.
However in the last couple of years I was fortunate enough to be able to say a small thank you for all that he had done for my hobby.
I heard from Stuart after reprinting some sections of the Brian Carrick article Big Wars on 54mm gaming sections from the Battle For Wargamers Military Modelling Wargames Manual on my blog(s) as part of a discussion on 54mm garden gaming.
Stuart asked if anyone had a spare copy of this Manual magazine / annual as he could not find his own copy. He wanted to see a copy again but there were no second hand copies around. Not wishing to part with the original (a treasured gift from my Dad), I managed to photocopy it all and send it in a presentation folder to him.
It was my small way of saying thanks for all he had done for simplifying and inspiring my hobby over many years. I was happy to have given him a weekend of comfortable wargames nostalgia.
I was trying not to be a total fanboy but Stuart Asquith – the Stuart Asquith – had read my blogs. He left a comment on them and then I had a few emails from him.
Could I have imagined that as an 1970s 1980s Airfix kid pushing my plastic armies around a felt cloth on the dining room table?
The editor of the wargames bits and books from Military Modelling Magazine, Stuart Asquith was a giant in my Airfix boy eyes, along with Donald Featherstone. More important to me than any 1970s or 80s popstar, TV celebrity or footballer. (No, you’re right, that is a bit total fanboy but still …)
I was delighted and not a little surprised to hear that he was still enthusiastic and active in our wonderful hobby, cropping up on some of his regular gaming partners’ blogs. Hope for us all yet …
I received an appreciative email or two back from Stuart, who was also pleased when I let him know that his 15mm Peter Laing Roman Army and Ancient British Celtic armies were in good hands, mine, and still in use. Painted and used by Stuart, they now take pride of place amongst many treasured objects in my games room, still looking good after many years but awaiting rebasing.
They receive a passing mention of these very troops in his Comfortable Wargaming article in the form of Boadicea in her chariot that Peter Laing had specially made for Stuart, one figure that he had not parted with when he started downsizing his figure collection.
Amidst our email conversations, I mentioned the Wargames Manual’s general unavailability secondhand to John Curry of the History of Wargaming Project, who started talking to Stuart about possibly reprinting the Wargames Manual as part of his long to-do list of reprints. John has already reprinted several Stuart Asquith titles. http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/asquithandwise.htm
Thinking back to my first Osprey book written by him to help paint my Pater Laing ECW armies, Stuart’s 2019 reprinted ECW rules book ought to be on my Christmas list.
Tell it to the Bees …
Like bees, when their bee keepers die, I wonder if you have to break it to the tiny tin and lead men very gently that their painter and former (owner) Commander in Chief is no longer with us, gone to that Valhalla in the skies which is a bit like an eternal weekend of the Wargames Holiday Centre.
There, Stuart Asquith and Donald Featherstone, H.G. Wells and many of the wargames pioneers who are no longer with us are, I hope, having good natured arguments about wargaming in the afterlife and rolling the odd dice together …
Thank you Stuart Asquith, not forgotten, whenever and wherever a simple comfortable wargame is played and enjoyed.
I remain proud to lead his tiny legions and tribes into battle with his blessing as their new Commander.
Blog posted by Asquith fanboy Mark Man of TIN, 4/5 November 2019
B.P.S. Blog Post Script:
The Muffled Drum of the title is common at soldiers’ funerals as in this Victorian poem by Anne S. Bushby, minor poet and Victorian translator of Hans Christian Andersen http://ojs.ub.gu.se/ojs/index.php/njes/article/download/240/237