Following up my blog post about H.G. Wells’ childhood battles in his head in the late 1860s and early 1870s across the wild spaces of Bromley, recaptured in his Little Wars floor games and garden games of the Battle of Hook’s Farm,
“The land was still mainly used for farming, divided up principally between Hook Farm to the west of Bromley Common, situated in the location of what is today the car park of Norman Park, and Turpington Farm to the east, close to the junction of Crown Lane and Turpington Lane.
Hook Farm was owned by the Norman family of The Rookery, and Turpington Farm belonged to the Wells family of Southborough Lodge (both of these residences are now destroyed).”
There are other mapping programmes or websites that allow you get an idea of the lie of the land as H.G. Wells saw it as an imaginative child General H.G.W. and as you can see it now.
Although the Bromley Local History site maps are placed online, it is worth pointing out that I do not own the copyright of any of these maps – I am sharing screen shots for research purposes, not commercial gain.
Hook’s Farm is where the Norman Park car park can now be found – mid centre of the map.
and scanning around such Street View images I spot a distant spire – Firely Church? I can’t pinpoint it on a modern map or know if it was there in late Victorian times but here is a church, visible just the same roughly from where Hook’s Farm was located.
I have yet to find a photograph of the old Hook’s Farm. Here is what it really looks like inside H.G. Well’s head and house in Little Wars 1913 wooden block form, Firely Church to the left, Hook’s Farm on the right ridge. The Ravensbourne stream is not marked.
Hooks Farm is now ‘Norman Park‘ and the demolished Farm is now a parking area. The restaging of Hooks Farm or a Little Wars centenary game in 2013 that was fought on the lawns of Sandhurst might have been a very different affair on a commandeered Bromley car park.
You can see in the wider Google satellite map how the Martin’s Hill site of many imaginary battles is still part of a green slice or wedge off to the South of Bromley through to the Norman Park Hook’s Farm site and on to Bromley Common and off the map, Keston Fish Ponds or Pool, mentioned in Wells’ battle narrative.
Nice to know from the Google maps overlay of businesses that not only the old Hook’s Farm site is now a place of leisure and hopefully imaginative play and Wide Games but that on the corner of Hook’s Farm Road is a nursery, hopefully full of imaginative play with wooden blocks and small world figures.
One excellent site is the National Library of Scotland websitehttps://maps.nls.uk/which allows you to look at the same place or grid reference on a range of maps over time – it works for your home, where you grew up and for looking up places like Hook’s Farm.
Thanks to Bromley Common and the other Bromley parks there is still a leafy edge that the young H.G. Wells might recognise, despite 150 years of building and suburban infill. The Ravensbourne Stream can be clearly seen.
Here we get a glimpse of Little Wars and the Battle of Hooks Farm in his boyhood imagination forty years earlier, The Battles of Martin’s Hills, Bromley, Kent.
Page 74: “I had reveries—I indulged a great deal in reverie until I was fifteen or sixteen, because my active imagination was not sufficiently employed—and I liked especially to dream that I was a great military dictator like Cromwell, a great republican like George Washington or like Napoleon in his earlier phases.
I used to fight battles whenever I went for a walk alone. I used to walk about Bromley, a small rather undernourished boy, meanly clad and whistling detestably between his teeth, and no one suspected that a phantom staff pranced about me and phantom orderlies galloped at my commands, to shift the guns and concentrate fire on those houses below, to launch the final attack upon yonder distant ridge.
The citizens of Bromley town go out to take the air on Martin’s Hill and look towards Shortland across the fields where once meandered the now dried-up and vanished Ravensbourne, with never a suspicion of the orgies of bloodshed I once conducted there.
“Martin’s Hill indeed is one of the great battlegrounds of history. Scores of times the enemy skirmishers have come across those levels, followed by the successive waves of the infantry attack, while I, outnumbered five to one, manœuvred my guns round, the guns I had refrained so grimly from using too soon in spite of the threat to my centre, to enfilade them suddenly from the curving slopes towards Beckenham.”
“Crash,” came the first shell, and then crash and crash. They were mown [p. 75] down by the thousand. They straggled up the steep slopes wavering. And then came the shattering counter attack, and I and my cavalry swept the broken masses away towards Croydon, pressed them ruthlessly through a night of slaughter on to the pitiful surrender of the remnant at dawn by Keston Fish Ponds.
And I entered conquered, or rescued, towns riding at the head of my troops, with my cousins and my schoolfellows recognizing me with surprise from the windows. And kings and presidents, and the great of the earth, came to salute my saving wisdom. I was simple even in victory. I made wise and firm decisions, about morals and customs and particularly about those Civil Service Stores which had done so much to bankrupt my [shopkeeper] father. With inveterate enemies, monarchists, Roman Catholics, non-Aryans and the like I was grimly just. Stern work—but my duty….
In fact Adolf Hitler is nothing more than one of my thirteen year old reveries come real. A whole generation of Germans has failed to grow up.
My head teemed with such stuff in those days. But it is interesting to remark that while my mind was full of international conflicts, alliances, battleships and guns, I was blankly ignorant about money or any of the machinery of economic life. I never dreamed of making dams, opening ship canals, irrigating deserts or flying. I had no inkling of the problem of ways and means; I knew nothing and, therefore, I cared nothing of how houses were built, commodities got and the like.
I think that was because nothing existed to catch and turn my imagination in that direction. There was no literature to enhance all that. I think there is no natural bias towards bloodshed in imaginative youngsters, but the only vivid and inspiring things that history fed me with were campaigns and conquests. In Soviet Russia they tell me they have altered all that.
 ”For many years my adult life was haunted by the fading memories of those early war fantasies. Up to 1914, I found a lively interest in playing a war game, with toy soldiers and guns, that recalled the peculiar quality and pleasure of those early reveries.”
“It was quite an amusing model warfare and I have given its primary rules in a small book “for boys and girls of all ages” Little Wars.”
“I have met men in responsible positions, L. S. Amery for example, Winston Churchill, George Trevelyan, C. F. G. Masterman, whose imaginations were manifestly built upon a similar framework and who remained puerile in their political outlook because of its persistence.”
“I like to think I grew up out of that stage somewhen between 1916 and 1920 and began to think about war as a responsible adult should.”
H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography, 1934
A gathering of Generals and Staff Officers (Little Wars illustration by J.R. Sinclair)
It is easy to gain a sense of Wells the adult writer trying to recapture the world of Wells the imaginative child (in his hindsight autobiography) yet you can see elements in his recreation of childhood fantasies in his War of the Worlds and other such late Victorian and Edwardian Invasion Literature.
To be honest who amongst us, like H. G. Wells, has not as a child in their Wide Games over parks, woods and gardens had such imaginary battles as knights, cowboys, backwoodsman and troops, especially to relieve the monotony of repeated walks? It is what Baden Powell / Gilcraft in Scouting Wide Games (1933) called the Cloak of Romance.Puck of Pook’s Hill, Treasure Island …
I used, like Wells, on my several mile walks to school as a tweenager / teenager, especially if late, be marching uphill as head of a flying column or parade to get the pace up (music in your head, no Walkmans allowed in school then) before knocking on others doors to collect them and keep going. I had seen Star Wars but had not then seen the film Billy Liar. Thankfully I did not too often have to do the trumpet fanfare running March (of the Italian Bersaglieri) to avoid being late for school.
As a result I find it interesting to see the evolution of the boyhood imaginary heroic man “General H.G.W.” of the young child and early teenage days on St Martins Hill back into the equally imaginative adult “General H.G.W.” of Little Wars in 1913.
In his 1934 Experiment in Autobiography, his teenage ImagiNations now have to compete with the disillusion of WW1, his Shape of Things To Come (1933, later filmed) and the then topical modern world of the 1930s, of Hitler and Soviet Russia, the disillusion of their future crimes still then unknown.
Maybe our own modern War Games and Role Playing Games are a way to recapture these Wellsian “early reveries” and “fading memories of these early War fantasies” of our own ImagiNations, yard games and garden war games.
Not having sisters or daughters, I presume that, akin to or alongside my schoolboy heroic fantasies, that girls had their own versions.
The charm of Wells’ Little Wars were brought to an end by WW1. The Falklands and the Gulf Wars brought some more such gritty reality to our view of things for my generation.
Wells wrote more about his often quarrelsome relationship with Frank and his brothers
Later on I grew up to my brothers, so to speak, and had great talks with them. With Frank, the eldest, indeed, I developed a considerable companionship in my teens and we had some great holiday walks together. But at the time of which I am writing all that had still to come.
Our home was not one of those where general ideas are discussed at table. My mother’s ready orthodox formulæ were very effective in suppressing any such talk. So my mind developed almost as if I were an only child.
My childish relations with my brothers varied between vindictive resentment and clamorous aggression. I made a terrific fuss if my toys or games were touched and I displayed great vigour in acquiring their more attractive possessions.
I bit and scratched my brothers and I kicked their shins, because I was a sturdy little boy who had to defend himself; but they had to go very easily with me because I was a delicate little fellow who might easily be injured and was certain to yell. On one occasion, I quite forget now what the occasion was, I threw a fork across the dinner table at Frank, and I can still remember very vividly the missile sticking in his forehead where it left three little scars for a year or so and did no other harm; and I have an equally clear memory of a smashed window behind the head of my brother Freddy, the inrush of cold air and dismay, after I had flung a wooden horse at him.
Finally they hit upon an effectual method of at once silencing me and punishing me. They would capture me in our attic and suffocate me with pillows. I couldn’t cry out and I had to give in. I can still feel the stress of that suffocation. Why they did not suffocate me for good and all I do not know. They had no way of checking what was going on under the pillow until they took it off and looked.
A little later Wells mentions another of these Billy Liar-type fantasy moments to relieve boredom when a young teenage apprentice in a draper’s shop:
Part 4 First Start in Life—Windsor (Summer 1880)
…. The one bright moment during the day was when the Guards fifes and drums went past the shop and up to the Castle. These fifes and drums swirled me away campaigning again.
Dispatch riders came headlong from dreamland, brooking no denial from the shop-walker. “Is General Bert Wells here? The Prussians have landed!”
He refers back to his Hitleresque (based in the word Chaplinesque) fantasies once gain later (Part 5 p. 533?)
For a glimpse of Old Bromley in Wells’ childhood you can buy repro maps of 1861 from https://www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/kent0716.htm in case you wish to recreate the Battles of St. Martin’s Hill for yourself as a Little Wars gaming scenario (a change from Hook’s Farm?)
Is Hook’s Farm a real place?
Intriguingly maps of Wells’ imaginative battle areas in 1860s 1870s Bromley feature an area called Hook and Hooks Farm Road (road name still there) . Just as wells wrote about people he knew under different names, maybe he recycled and wrote about real places under other names too?
“The land was still mainly used for farming, divided up principally between Hook Farm to the west of Bromley Common, situated in the location of what is today the car park of Norman Park, and Turpington Farm to the east, close to the junction of Crown Lane and Turpington Lane.
Hook Farm was owned by the Norman family of The Rookery, and Turpington Farm belonged to the Wells family of Southborough Lodge (both of these residences are now destroyed).”
Reginald “Reggie” Turner (1869 – 1938) was a friend of H.G. Wells, also an English author, aesthete and a member of the circle of Oscar Wilde.
He worked as a journalist, wrote twelve novels, and his correspondence has been published. However Reggie is best known as one of the few friends who remained loyal to Oscar Wilde when he was imprisoned, and who supported him after his release.
Interestingly R Thurston Hopkins, another accidental witness to Little Wars wrote literary studies about both Wells and Wilde. Wells also knew Robert Ross, another of Wilde’s circle.
Essex Speech and Humour (Benson, reprinted newspaper pieces, not dated)
Dialect and Songs of Essex (Benson, not dated )
He also wrote a number of comic plays, often in the Essex dialect. Along with Herbert Goldstein (musician/ composer) and his lyricist brother Launcelot, they were part of the Edwardian Vaughan Williams / Cecil Sharp generation of the English Folk Song Society collectors; Hugh and Herbert (according to The Sketch Sept 14, 1910) collected and so “rescued from threatened oblivion a delightful collection, not yet published, of old Essex folk songs.”
The Essex tales or topographical books again put him into the same 1910s 1920s genre as R. Thurston Hopkins who was writing about Sussex and elsewhere.
If Hugh is the Mr Byng noted as a player of Little Wars, then his experience of artillery changes from Spring loaded cannons of Little Wars 1913 to the full size artillery of the Great War, including against Zeppelins or the “aerial menace” that Wells wrote about.
Hugh survived the war and went in to serve in the ARP in WW2, according to the 1939 Register.
The West family were the relatives or parents of his wife, Kathleen West. Appropriately for the daughter of a comic playwright and amateur actor, Hugh Byng’s daughter Roselean is registered in the 1939 Register as an actress.
Essex Chronicle September 23rd 1949
Hugh Byng was also Lord of the Manor of Glencarn in Cumberland (now Cumbria / The Lake District). In August 1912 Mr and Mrs Wells motored up there by car with Hugh Byng and R.D. Blumenfeld (editor of the Daily Express). Hugh Byng had a motor accident on the way home.
De Vere Stacpoole’s obituary from the Penrith Observer 17 April 1951
Launcelot Cranmer Byng (1872-1945)
See above for parent information. Like Hugh, Launcelot was interested in China – sinology – and wrote or edited a number of books of translations of Chinese writing as editor of the Wisdom from the East series.
Launcelot the lyricist was also a friend of the composer Granville Bantock and may even have been a Welsh bard? r For an artistic chap who edited Oriental verse and wrote poems in the 1890s including Poems of Paganism 1895 published under the pseudonym ‘Paganus’, Captain Launcelot A. Cranmer Byng also had quite a long military connection in the Territorial Force and Officer’s General Reserve.
His first wife died in 1913, he remarried one Daisy Elaine Beach twenty years his junior in 1916 during his service in WW1. They had one son.
He became Captain, Adjutant and Quarter Master (London Gazette, 1917). When discharged at the end of the war in 1919, he retained the rank of Captain. His officer records at the National Archives are sadly not available online (not yet digitised) but his Cambridge Alumni listing gives an idea of what he did on the General List in WW1:
By 1939 he listed his past military experience on the 1939 Register
Another Byng Barontecy That Wells knew?
Mathilde Meyer, the Wells family Swiss Governess, was helped to find a new position at Capheaton Hall by Evelyn Lady Byng, of ice hockey trophy fame (1870-1949). She was wife of Julian, Lord Byng, General Byng or Viscount Byng of Vimy Ridge (1862-1935), WW1 General and from 1921 Governor General of Canada. In 1910 they lived at Newton Hall, Dunmow, Essex. General Byng was a cousin to Hugh and Launcelot Byng.
What a distinguished group of gentry and soldiers, artists and aesthetes surrounded the Wells family and its Little Wars ‘Floor Game’, united by clever talk of literature and politics as well as indoor and outdoor games.
Not a bad social circle for the son of a gardener, which is what I will explore in my next post about Jessie Allen Brookes, the Wells’ long-serving Nurse / Cook Domestic throughout the Little Wars period, whose father was also a gardener. I think this is what they now call “social mobility”.
Easton Glebe, November 9th, 1912: Mathilde Meyer’s memoir –
“On our return home we found Mr Reginald Turner, Mr Byng and Mr Wells playing the ‘Floor Game’ in the schoolroom.”
Finally, an interesting article from the Essex Chronicle Friday 25 July 1941 looking back on the Wells family at Easton Glebe in the Little Wars period 27 years earlier, noting how many of this Wells and Warwick Circle had moved on and had begun to pass away.
It is suggested that Wells in Mr. Britling Sees It Through, his satirical or mildly wartime 1916 novel written during WW1, uses several of his Easton circle as thinly disguised characters in his book.
“Where are they now, the old figures in the book, whom Mr. Wells so vehemently denied as being copies of the originals?” asks the columnist “An Essex Man”
Karl Butow was the languages tutor for the growing Wells boys; he replaced Mathilde Meyer in 1913, before the boys went to school. A year or so later he would have returned to Germany on the outbreak of the WW1.
There are tantalising glimpses of the Floor Game that became Little Wars in the memoir of Mathilde Meyer, H. G. Wells and his Family (1955).
She arrived for work at teatime at the Wells’ seaside house, Spade House, Sandgate, Kent on October 22, 1908 when she first meet Frank (b. 1901)and his younger brother Gip (b.1903):
At the far end of the room I saw two little boys squatting among numerous wooden bricks and boards of various sizes, with toy soldiers, and cannons in ambush ready to do battle.
Mrs. Wells asked her two sons to leave their game to come forward and greet me, which they did with the greatest reluctance.
Both Gip and Frank – my new pupils – were dressed alike. They wore navy-blue serge suits with white sailor collars and cuffs, brown shoes and white socks.
Gip, the elder boy, who had brown hair, a small snub nose and intelligent eyes, looked at me critically for a moment, while his brother, a very pretty fair-haired little fellow, showed plainly that he was not interested.
After tea, Gip (the future zoologist) shows his new governess his pet mouse.
“Please come and have a look at my soldiers,” said Frank, taking me by the hand and leading me to the battleground in miniature set out on the linoleum on the floor. Little did I realise then that I was gazing upon one of those early ‘floor games’ which before long became the favourite pastime of distinguished visitors to Spade House and elsewhere.
The battleground had been carefully chalk marked, and divided in two, by a river. On either side of the imaginary river were houses and huts made of wooden bricks, with brown ribbed paper as thatched roofs. There were woods made of twigs from trees and bushes, taken from the garden, and grotesque monuments of plasticine.
“The red-coated soldiers are mine,” explained Gip, who was squatting on his side of the river.
“Yes, and all the other coloured men are mine,” added Frank.
“Is that the town hall, or the post office, Frank?” I asked, pointing to an extra large building bearing a gay paper flag on a pin.
“Oh no,” he replied, “that is the British Museum, but what you can’t see what’s in it unless you come down here where I am.”
I squatted down beside the fair little fellow and looked through an opening in the museum.
“Oh!” I exclaimed amused, “your museum is full of soldiers with cannons and all! How terrifying!”
“Ssh! Ssh! You shouldn’t have said that,” whispered Frank, frowning. “Now Gip knows where most of my soldiers are hidden.”
Alas, yes, I had made a major gaffe. I had given away important military secrets, and the leader of the Red Coats was chuckling quietly to himself on the other side of the chalk lines.
I apologised for my stupid mistake and offered the leader of the Khaki soldiers my help in removing everything from the museum to another place before the next battle.
But Mrs. Wells , who had been looking on highly amused! Intervened at that moment , saying that there was no time now for battles, that it was the nipght when the floor had to be scrubbed, and soldiers and bricks to be put back into their boxes, before bedtime.
Both boys protested wildly:
“Oh, Mummy, Mummy!” They shouted, “not to-night, please, not to-night!” But Mummy was firm.
This was the worst about Floor games. The linoleum, on which they were set out, alas, had to be washed periodically. An armistice had to be declared. The battlefield had to disappear completely; the boards had to be out against the wall, and twigs that looked already looked a little wilted, burnt with the paper flags.
I wished my new pupils good-night, wondering what kind of inspiration I had made on them. It was not until weeks later that Jessie told me what their verdict had been. “Stupid – but quite nice.”
A few pages later, we get another glimpse from Mathilde Meyer of the Floor Game:
My little pupils and I slipped softly upstairs, and were soon ready for tea, which Jessie had prepared for us in the schoolroom.
The boys had brought in from the garden fresh bay twigs and other greenery, and after tea they set out a new battleground on the well scrubbed linoleum. Newly enrolled soldiers with movable arms * were to take part in the forthcoming battle, and new paper flags had to be made. The armistice was called off, and before long the two young generals were firing their toy cannons from opposite sides, and the peaceful life of the schoolroom was once more overshadowed.
Seeing how engrossed my pupils were in waging war, I left the schoolroom for a while. When I returned, the battle was raging fiercer than ever. Guns were now in action in three corners of the battleground, because a third war-lord – a mighty one – had suddenly appeared on them scene. Mr. Wells, relaxing from his work in the study, was lying fully outstretched on the linoleum and aiming a toy cannon with devastating accuracy at his son’s red and khaki clad soldiers. Ah, yes, to be sure, it was a very serious affair, this floor game.
After the battle the wounded were taken to hospital, for, alas, even in toyland, there are always some casualties. Hopelessly damaged soldiers were melted down in an iron spoon on the schoolroom fire, and others had a new head fixed to the body by means of a match and liquid lead.
Then suddenly the schoolroom door opened, and there stood Jessie, gaunt and serious. ‘Bath-time for you, Frank,” she announced curtly, and a Frank without a murmur, followed her out of the room …
Spade House Chapter 1 / Part 1, Mathilde Meyer, H.G. Wells and his Family (1955)
It is good to see that Jessie their former nurse maintained her relationship with the boys, even though Mathilde has arrived formally as governess.
Interesting that Mathilde mentions “soldiers with moveable arms” as prior to William Britain’s Ltd, this was not the norm. This makes them different from the Germanic flat toy soldier. Britain’s soon had competition from other British based firms also producing toy soldiers with moveable arms.
When Floor Games was published in 1911, Mathilde made a mistake in allowing The Daily Graphic to photograph the boys, thinking Wells had agreed and arranged it. Mr Wells was not pleased but allowed the photograph to be published in the Daily Graphic.
If her recollection is correct, this press photo is not the one on the cover of Floor Games. I have so far failed to find a copy of this Daily Graphic December 1911 photograph.
I have identified two more literary players of the Floor Games in November, 1912, both suitable for a future blog post. Finally for today, a link to a past blog post about three friends of the Wells family, well known Edwardians, that Mathilde Meyer mentioned who also played the ‘Floor Game’ at Easton Glebe c. 1912/13:
In another blog post I will feature more about Jessie Allen Brooks (b. 1873, Richmond, Surrey) the nurse to the Wells children until 1908 who then reverted to more general household duties (‘cook – domestic’) when Mathilde Mary Meyer arrived:
Mathilde Mary Meyer, Governess, 28, single, born Switzerland Lucerne
Jessie Allen Brooks, 38, single, cook (domestic) born Richmond, Surrey.
They were previously briefly mentioned on my blog post here:
The other household employee, most probably the wielder of the dread mop and scrubbing brush, interruptor of Floor Games and Little Wars, burner of wilted twigs and paper flags, was in Hampstead in 1911 one Mary Ellen Shinnick.
Mary Ellen Shinnick, 27, single, housemaid (domestic) , born in Ireland (Co. Cork, Coppingerstown)
Again another incidental character to research. Jessie Allen Brooks gets mentioned by name in Mathilde’s memoirs, the other domestic (Mary) doesn’t. This suggests that one is more permanent than the other or that Jessie has more of a working ‘handover’ relationship with Mathilde as their former nurse.
For Wells’ health, the Wells household also had before Church Row Hampstead a seaside home at Spade House, Sandgate, Kent. After time at the Hampstead (London) house, the Wells family moved their main residence from Spring 1912 to a new Wells country bolthole on the Countess of Warwick’s estate at Little Easton Rectory which Wells renamed Easton Glebe, Dunmow, Essex. Here Wells’ second wife ‘Jane’ (Amy Catherine) Wells died in 1927.
This is the only photograph (below) that I have found of Mathilde Meyer, taken from her memoir H G Wells and his family.
This lawn may be where the famous photographs of Wells’ outdoors playing Little Wars on the lawn were taken. It is also where the only photo I have found of Mathilde Meyer from her book seems to be taken.
I’m not yet sure if these same household servants travelled with the Wells family from place to place, house to house, as the cook and housemaids were often part of the emotional stability of a young middle class Edwardian child’s life (before boarding school).
A young tutor Mr Classey arrived and after five years as governess teaching the boys French and German, Mathilde Meyer moved to another post in late 1913, around the time that Little Wars was published July or August. A year later both boys went as boarders to Oundle School in Northamptonshire throughout WWI. Gip was about twelve, Frank ten years old.
Mathilde Meyer moved on to tutor another child, the only daughter of Lady Swinburne at Capheaton, Northumberland, the area where she stayed during WW1. This child may possibly have been Joan Mary Browne-Swinburne (1906 -2012).
It is nice to know that Mathilde Meyer kept in touch with the Wells children well in to the 1950s when, with their permission, she wrote her memoir in 1955 in her late sixties / early seventies. H. G. Wells had died in 1946. It is a highly complementary memoir towards the Wells family. Wells offered her the promise of support ‘like a distant brother’ throughout the rest of his life. Frank helpfully wrote the preface to the book.
I also looked at press images of “Rosies” (one of the nicknames for US women war workers) and a similar Norman Rockwell 1943 magazine cover.
I restrained myself from trying to do the polka dot head piece or the lapel badge, even in 54mm. Gloss acrylic paint , gloss varnish and pink cheek dots give this figure an old fashioned toy soldier feel.
I wanted her to look like she had been made by William Britain’s Ltd during the war, albeit unlikely as Britain’s Ltd was turned over to munitions production after 1941 .
Next up, almost done on the painting table – the BMC Plastic Army Women – painted for FEMbruary – including another version of Rosie.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 15 FEMbruary 2021
Blog Post Script B.P.S.
Thanks to Alex at the Lead Balloony blog for setting up the FEMbruary challenge of painting believable female Miniatures and gaming minis.
“These ladies form a nice segue into another topic – that of my now-annual ‘Fembruary Challenge’! It’s a simple affair, just paint & post one or more female miniatures from your piles-of-shame, in the name of fair representation within the hobby. Just link back to this post, or ping me directly & I’ll grab a pic and include your entry in the final round-up in early March (usually by International Women’s Day, 8th of March)
Given that this is intended as an encouragement to think about inclusion in the hobby then it makes sense if your entries are kick-ass ladies, and not the product of some socially awkward mini-sculptor’s sexy fantasies… Anything dodgy & I’ll omit it from the round-up, otherwise, have at it! I usually pick my favourite of the bunch – no prizes I’m afraid, but a boatload of kudos to you as an official Fembruary Winner!”
Alan Tradgardland Gruber’s post on Skirmish Kokoda Trail rules from Lone Warrior magazine reminded me of a failed experiment of mine last summer.
Maths was never one of my strongpoints.
I have often found that drawing hexagons that interlink well is not easy either.
I found this out about twenty years ago trying to plan some hexes to make a D & D style random terrain jungle path to suit Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars forest skirmish rules in the Appendix to his first War Games book (1962).
These simple rules call for impenetrable forests and dead ends to paths etc. as Natives track down Troops in the cluttered terrain on the tabletop terrain, mostly collected from the garden.
I discovered some interesting things.
Hexagons are not Octagons.
One of them has six sides.
I noticed too late that the toffee tin castle lid that I found at home, my sure-fire way to mark out rough draft cardboard hexagons, had on closer examination eight sides.
I was happily looking through the photo archive of original and DIY versions of Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol minigame (2000) on Board Games Geek. The game was reissued in a different form in 2016 and here is also a useful Skip the Rule book on YouTube video on the rules and tile placing in the 2016 re-release.
This difference between hexagons and octagons eventually explained why, as I tried to produce rough cardboard copy DIY version of the original tiles for Lost Patrol, that some curved path tiles and the ‘start’ clearing tile of six paths did not work for me. They did not copy across for some reason. It was admittedly quite late in the evening that I was roughing this out.
I wondered why it didn’t work.
One of my family pointed out that my cardboard tiles did not tessellate properly without square inserts. Hexagons should fit snugly together without gaps.
Featherstone’s Close Wars Appendix to his 1962 War Games that inspired my first hex attempts on tiny paper c. 1999 / 2000.
Maybe I would find the answer looking at my tiny flimsy paper hex versions from the year 2000?
Putting numbers on the paper hex tile edges meant that using a d6 dice roll could help to place the tiles for solo play at random. Throw one d6 for the connecting tile edge, another d6 for which of the newest tile sides is connected. And so your path randomly grows before the game or as you travel … d6 dice roll by d6 dice roll.
Fast forward to 2020: Late one evening a few weeks ago I decided to have another go at a random forest path of larger hex tiles.
I had been looking at the Solo Wargaming with Miniatures group on Facebook post on this attractive 3D DIY terrain hexes for Lost Patrol by Raymond Usher.
Obviously the attractive 3D terrain modelling would be more difficult to store than the original design of flat tiles but they looked very impressive.
Raymond Usher’s solo play ideas are very interesting including the random tile choosing tokens.
The interesting concealed enemy (originally ‘lurkers’) have the advantage that they can cross the jungle across country from tile to tile whereas troops need to stay on the paths, which are surrounded by impenetrable jungle forest.
The jungle grows around the troops and can even encircle them. Apparently it is very hard to survive and win in the original Lost Patrol game as the Marines.
The Lost Patrol type hex or octagon path could be easily adapted back from fantasy and futuristic sci-fi of “aliens and lurkers” back to other jungle encounters in colonial times, ImagiNations, Victorian and Interwar explorers or modern / WW2 jungle forces. This malicious forest has a strong fairy or folk tale feel to it.
The Original Lost Patrol rulesby Jake Thornton 2000
Useful starter rules from Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol 2000 version game design / rules by Jake Thornton – reprinted by Hulkskulker on Trove.net
Looking at Board Game Geek, now that the GW 2000 Lost Patrol original is no longer available at sensible prices, there are lots of interesting DIY variations that people have posted including using hex tiles from other games like this urban warfare futuristic game.
The Octagon and Hexagon thing aside, these tiles were ‘doodle relaxing’ to draw up as rough tile copies. They could hopefully pass for alien forests or earth jungles.
The original Lost Patrol had ensnaring Tangleweed tiles that you had to dice to escape from. I used ridged garden wire to create my own renamed ‘Snarewort’ tiles.
In the original 2000 Lost Patrol, lurking forces of spirits of the forest were represented by card markers, an idea which could be cheaply and easily adapted such as card markers for the forest Natives in Close Wars / French Indian Wars. Forest spirits? Spirit warriors or ghost soldiers (Thanks, Wargaming Pastor / Death Zapp! ) are another possibility. That’s why your troops should never camp on the old Indian burial ground …
The route out or victory and end condition for the troops is to make it to the crashed dropship and retrieve documents. They do not have to fight their way back anywhere in the original. Presumably they get zoomed somehow out of the situation.
Again the lure or target such as the ‘drop ship’ plans could be adapted to period – a rescue mission, rescuing plans or vital maps and secret documents from a lost wagon or appropriate era vehicle. Explorer figures would have to find the Jungle Temple artefact Indiana Jones style etc.
Like the random path, where will this idea go?
Who knows? I could add or insert 3D jungle elements to the square spacer tiles but again this is a challenge for storage.
First off, I will explore Raymond Usher’s solo wrgaming ideas, read through the original and simplify it to my level.
If it doesn’t work it has cost only cardboard, paint, some ink and some time. I will have relearnt again some basic geometry. Hexagons. octagons. One of these has six sides.
Watch this space.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN August 2020 / 12 February 2021
A World War I British Army patrol is crossing the Mesopotomian desert when their commanding officer, the only one who knows their destination [and mission] is killed by the bullet of unseen bandits. The patrol’s sergeant keeps them heading north on the assumption that they will hit their brigade. They stop for the night at an oasis and awake the next morning to find their horses stolen, their sentry dead, the oasis surrounded and survival difficult.
One of the literary figures supporting H. G. Wells and his development of the Floor Game and Little Wars was the author Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) or J.K.J. as he is known in Little Wars. I mentioned him in a recent blog post:
As H G Wells says of the origin of Little Wars being the spring loaded cannon, “It was with one of these guns that the beginning of our war game was made.” It was at his seaside home at Sandgate in Kent, England. Wells had two young sons, Gip and Frank Wells, born 1901 and 1903, to whom the “irrepressible debris of a small boy’s pleasures” probably belonged. Wells wrote:
“The present writer had been lunching with a friend – let me veil his identity under the initials J. K. J. – in a room littered with the irrepressible debris of a small boy’s pleasures. On a table near our own stood four or five soldiers and one of these guns.”
“Mr J. K. J., his more urgent needs satisfied and the coffee imminent, drew a chair to this little table, sat down, examined the gun discreetly, loaded it warily, aimed, and hit his man. Thereupon he boasted of the deed, and issued challenges that were accepted with avidity. . . .”
“He fired that day a shot that still echoes round the world. An affair – let us parallel the Cannonade of Valmy and call it the Cannonade of Sandgate –occurred, a shooting between opposed ranks of soldiers, a shooting not very different in spirit – but how different in results! – from the prehistoric warfare of catapult and garter. “But suppose,” said his antagonists; “suppose somehow one could move the men!” and therewith opened a new world of belligerence. The matter went no further with Mr J. K. J. …” (H G Wells, Little Wars, 1913)
Here Wells’ war game with toy soldiers moved from skittles or a shooting game more to one of strategy.
Reading his biography page on the website, Jerome can be seen as a hidden casualty of the Great War that Wells warned about in his Pacific last chapter of Little Wars in 1913.
Jerome wrote in his memoirs that in August 1914: “I heard of our declaration of war against Germany with cheerful satisfaction. The animal in me rejoiced. It was going to be the biggest war in history. I thanked whatever gods there be that they had given it in my time. If I had been anywhere near the age limit I should have enlisted. I can say this with confidence because later, and long after my enthusiasm had worn off, I did manage to get work in quite a dangerous part of the front line.”
“Men all around me were throwing up their jobs, sacrificing their careers. I felt ashamed of myself, sitting in safety at my desk, writing articles encouraging them, at so much a thousand words. Of course, not a soul dreamt the war was going to last more than a few months. Had we known, it might have been another story. But the experts had assured us on that point. Mr. Wells was most emphatic. It was Mr. Wells who proclaimed it a Holy War. I have just been reading again those early letters of his. A Miss Cooper Willis has, a little unkindly, reprinted them. I am glad she did not do the same with contributions of my own.”
“The newspapers had roped in most of us literary gents to write them special articles upon the war. The appalling nonsense we poured out, during those hysterical first weeks, must have made the angels weep, and all the little devils hold their sides with laughter. In justice to myself, I like to remember that I did gently ridicule the “War to end war” stuff and nonsense. I had heard that talk in my babyhood: since when I had lived through one of the bloodiest half centuries in history. War will go down before the gradual growth of reason. The movement has not yet begun.” (P.281, Jerome’s My Life and Times)
At first Jerome was keen as any other volunteer or writer to do his bit, preferably near the front line (or “got out”). However by his age his options were limited including the ‘Home Guard’ of the Volunteer Training Corps VTC, nicknamed the “Gorgeous Wrecks” or Rejects from their red GR arm bands:
Jerome K. Jerome’s 1925/6 memoir “My Life and Times” was written a year or so before he died:
“It was in the autumn of 1916 that I “got out,” as the saying was. I had been trying to get there for some time. Of course my age, fifty-five, shut all the usual doors against me. I could have joined a company of “veterans” for home defence, and have guarded the Crystal Palace, or helped to man the Thames Embankment; but I wanted to see the real thing. I had offered myself as an entertainer to the Y.M.C.A. I was a capable raconteur and had manufactured, or appropriated, a number of good stories.”
“The Y.M.C.A. had tried me on home hospitals and camps and had approved me. But the War Office would not give its permission. The military gentleman I saw was brief. So far as his information went, half the British Army were making notes for future books. If I merely wanted to be useful, he undertook to find me a job in the Army Clothing Department, close by in Pimlico. I suppose my motives for wanting to go out were of the usual mixed order. I honestly thought I would be doing sound work, helping the Tommies to forget their troubles […]”
A few years younger, Jerome could have joined the Cavalry or Yeomanry. In an earlier chapter ‘The Author at Play’, Jerome mentions his dislike of game shooting, his dislike of fox hunting (because of the fox) and his love of riding and driving carriage horses:
“I learnt riding with the Life Guards at Knightsbridge barracks. It was a rough school, but thorough. You were not considered finished until you could ride all your paces bareback, with the reins loose; and when the Sergeant-Major got hold of a horse with new tricks, he would put it aside for his favourite pupil.”
There is a whole chapter in his memoir (published in 1925/26) about his war experience, starting with his news of how foreign wars were reported, supported or opposed in Britain throughout his childhood, almost taking the Queen’s shilling out of poverty:
“I was down on my luck when the Russo-Turkish War broke out. There were hopes at first that we might be drawn into it. I came near to taking the Queen’s shilling. I had slept at a doss-house the night before, and had had no breakfast. A sergeant of Lancers stopped me in Trafalgar Square. He put his hands on my shoulders and punched my chest.
“You’re not the first of your family that’s been a soldier,” he said. “You’ll like it.”
It was a taking uniform: blue and silver with high Hessian boots. The advantages of making soldiers look like mud had not then been discovered.” (Chapter 12, The War)
… right through to the shifting colonial and international tensions in the build up to WW1 and how he served with the French Ambulance units. You can read this for free in this Project Gutenberg ebook free download:
Over service age in 1914, he volunteered to serve in the Ambulance units in France and the experience of what he must have seen had a lasting effect on the comic novelist.
When he returned to England, his secretary observed “The old Jerome had gone… in his place was a stranger … a broken man”.
JKJ – player of Little Wars, sportsman, comic novelist – “Those who talk about war as a game … ought to be made to go out and play it.”
This quote came from his 1925/26 memoir, remembering his experiences in the Verdun French sector where a field hospital was shelled by the Germans but also thinking about his trip to America (1915) shortly before.
Now writing as Ambulance Driver Nine, he notes:
“The town was strangely peaceful, though all around the fighting still continued. Our Unit, Section 10, had been there the winter before, during the battle, and had had a strenuous time. During the actual fighting, Hague Conventions and Geneva regulations get themselves mislaid. The guns were eating up ammunition faster than the little tramways could supply them, and the ambulances did not always go up empty.
“Doubtless the German Red Cross drivers had likewise their blind eye. It is not the soldiers who shout about these things. I was on the “Lusitania,” the last voyage she made from New York to Liverpool, before she was torpedoed. We were loaded to the Plimsol line with war material. The Germans were accused of dropping shells on to the hospital. So they did. How could they help it? The ammunition park was one side of the railway head and the hospital the other. It was the most convenient place for both. Those who talk about war being a game ought to be made to go out and play it. They’d find their little book of rules of not much use.”
Presumably his quote about playing at war was not too much of a dig at his friend Wells’ Little Wars Chapter IV and its warning about the blunder of Great Wars?
“How much better is this amiable miniature than the Real Thing,” Wells writes in Little Wars. “You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realise just what a blundering thing Great War must be. Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion …”
Wells’ wartime path diverged from that of Jerome. Wells was very active in Government Propaganda throughout WW1 through the Wartime Propganda Bureau run by his friend and Little Wars opponent Charles Masterman (see the related blog post on the Declaration of Authors).
Maybe Jerome’s remark is aimed at fellow jingo writers and poets like Sir Henry Newbolt with their sporting analogies to war (echoed in the sportsmen’s battalions)?
“Play Up, Play up, and Play the Game!”
(Vitai Lampada! or “They Pass On The Torch of Life”)
There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night —
Ten to make and the match to win —
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote —
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’
The sand of the desert is sodden red, —
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’
This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind —
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’
Sir Henry Newbolt, 1892
Like Wells and Jerome, Newbolt signed the 1914 Authors’ Declaration and was part of inspiring a generation of ‘heroic’ war poetry in the style of Rupert Brooke and minor, often public school wartime poets.
It is worth noting that even some of the later antiwar poets like Wilfred Owen started out with a flowery Rupert Brooke style heroic poetic view of the war at its beginning.
Brooke through the Neo Pagans group on the edge of the Bloomsbury group knew Harold Hobson, who played at Little Wars with Wells. We could play this ‘six degrees of separation’ connections and influences game back to Wells and Little Wars with a number of people. You know the sort of thing – Hobson knew Brooke who died en route to Gallipoli, a Churchill inspired disaster of a campaign; Wells can be doubly connected to Churchill through toy soldiers and through Liberal politician Charles Masterman. And so on and so on …
Reading Gissing’s letters to and from Wells and his family, there is a lovely informal group snapshot in Italy c. 1890s of Gissing, Wells, Conan Doyle and his brother in law Hornung. As the ‘Declaration of Authors’ signatures also show, the literary world was well connected at a professional and social, even friendly level.
“[Israel] Zangwill used to be keen on croquet, but never had the makings of a great player. Wells wasn’t bad. Of course, he wanted to alter all the laws and make a new game of his own. I had to abandon my lawn, in the end.” From the ‘Author at Play’ chapter in Jerome’s memoir.
Reading Jerome’s 1925/6 memoir I found that he was not the only one of the Author’s Declaration to suffer during WW1. In his chapter the ‘Author at Play’ about the “internationalism” of winter sports at Davos in Switzerland and such like in the years prior to the outbreak of WW1, p.233 –
“Engelberg is too low to be a good sports centre. We had some muggy weather, and to kill time I got up some private theatricals. Kipling’s boy and girl were there. They were jolly children. Young Kipling was a suffragette and little Miss Kipling played a costermonger’s Donah. Kipling himself combined the parts of scene-shifter and call boy. It was the first time I had met Mrs. Kipling since her marriage. She was still a beautiful woman, but her hair was white. There had always been sadness in her eyes, even when a girl. The Hornungs were there also, with their only child, Oscar. Mrs. Hornung, née Connie Doyle, was as cheery and vigorous as ever, but a shade stouter. Both boys were killed in the war.” (P.233)
Oscar Hornung, Conan Doyle’s nephew, was killed in 1915 – CWGC entry. Like the Hornung family, the Kiplings suffered the added grief of a son missing and an unknown grave until a recent (and disputed) identification – CWGC entry. The tragic story of John Kipling, Kipling’s only son, is well told in the Holt book, play and BBC TV drama My Boy Jack.
As Wells writes it at the end of Little Wars “And if I might for a moment trumpet! How much better is this amiable miniature than the Real Thing!”
Bloog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 2 / 3 February 2021
Blog Post Appendix – the ‘pacific’ challenge by Wells at the end of Little Wars, 1913: source – e: text from Project Gutenberg
I COULD go on now and tell of battles, copiously. In the memory of the one skirmish I have given I do but taste blood. I would like to go on, to a large, thick book. It would be an agreeable task. Since I am the chief inventor and practiser (so far) of Little Wars, there has fallen to me a disproportionate share of victories. But let me not boast. For the present, I have done all that I meant to do in this matter. It is for you, dear reader, now to get a floor, a friend, some soldiers and some guns, and show by a grovelling devotion your appreciation of this noble and beautiful gift of a limitless game that I have given you.
And if I might for a moment trumpet! How much better is this amiable miniature than the Real Thing!
Here is a homeopathic remedy for the imaginative strategist. Here is the premeditation, the thrill, the strain of accumulating victory or disaster—and no smashed nor sanguinary bodies, no shattered fine buildings nor devastated country sides, no petty cruelties, none of that awful universal boredom and embitterment, that tiresome delay or stoppage or embarrassment of every gracious, bold, sweet, and charming thing, that we who are old enough to remember a real modern war know to be the reality of belligerence.
This world is for ample living; we want security and freedom; all of us in every country, except a few dull-witted, energetic bores, want to see the manhood of the world at something better than apeing the little lead toys our children buy in boxes. We want fine things made for mankind—splendid cities, open ways, more knowledge and power, and more and more and more—and so I offer my game, for a particular as well as a general end; and let us put this prancing monarch and that silly scare-monger, and these excitable “patriots,” and those adventurers, and all the practitioners of Welt Politik, into one vast Temple of War, with cork carpets everywhere, and plenty of little trees and little houses to knock down, and cities and fortresses, and unlimited soldiers—tons, cellars-full—and let them lead their own lives there away from us.
My game is just as good as their game, and saner by reason of its size. Here is War, done down to rational proportions, and yet out of the way of mankind, even as our fathers turned human sacrifices into the eating of little images and symbolic mouthfuls. For my own part, I am prepared. I have nearly five hundred men, more than a score of guns, and I twirl my moustache and hurl defiance eastward from my home in Essex across the narrow seas. Not only eastward. I would conclude this little discourse with one other disconcerting and exasperating sentence for the admirers and practitioners of Big War. I have never yet met in little battle any military gentleman, any captain, major, colonel, general, or eminent commander, who did not presently get into difficulties and confusions among even the elementary rules of the Battle. You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realise just what a blundering thing Great War must be.
Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but—the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realisation conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.”
In the early chapter of Little Wars, H.G. Wells identifies by initials some of the men who had helped in the development of his ‘Floor Game’ that became Little Wars. This material was published first in magazine article form in late 1912 and in book form by Frank Palmer in Summer 1913.
A number of famous men are identified – J.K.J. – Jerome K. Jerome the writer, another writer and invalid friend of Wells was probably George Gissing, Mr. W as the socialist and writer Mr Graham Wallas.
I’m not sure if the Great War in South Africa meant the Boer War which Captain M. served in, the Great War not having yet acquired its WW1 connotation or this 1906 Bambatha Zulu Rebellion.
Having read H.G. Wells and his Family, the 1955 memoir by Mathilde Meyer, Swiss Governess to Wells’ two young sons Frank and Gip, I noticed that she described how on wet afternoons at Wells House, one of the favourite indoor pastimes was “The Floor Game” as it was called in the house. Three more of the named players were Liberal politician Charles F.G. Masterman, engineer Mr. Harold Hobson of the Bloomsbury literary set and Mr. E.S.P. Haynes.
This gave me a clue to who might be “a certain Mr. M” – could this be Mr Charles Masterman, important enough a political figure not be obviously named by Wells in association with Floor Games and Little Wars?
Did he have a “brother, Captain M. hot from the Great War in South Africa”?
I started tracing the Masterman family tree and a Boer War connection.
At first sight, the Tonbridge Boer War Memorial lists only a dead brother Captain Henry [Thomas] Masterman (1875-1900) who died on service in South Africa, a casualty like so many in that war of disease.
MASTERMAN, HENRY (Harry) [Thomas]. Captain. 3rd Battalion, Welsh Regiment.
Died 28 November 1900. Aged 25.
Born Wimbledon, Surrey 17 July 1875.
Fifth son of Mrs. Margaret Hanson Masterman, (1841-1932) (née Gurney) of “Lonsdale,” Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and of the late Thomas William (Willie) Masterman, F.R.G.S. (1839-1894) of “The Hall,” Rotherfield, Sussex.
Buried Prieska, Northern Cape, South Africa.
“At the time of the 1881 census, the Masterman family resided at “South Villa,” Main Road, Bexley, Kent. Head of the house was 41 year old Wanstead, Essex native Thomas William Masterman, who was of Independent Means.
Henry was a Day Boy at Tonbridge School, Kent in 1889, and after leaving Tonbridge School he went to Weymouth College. At the latter establishment he was in the cricket and football teams. On leaving Weymouth College, Henry went up to St. John’s College, Cambridge, and afterwards to Christ’s College.”
“Whilst at Cambridge he was a Captain in the University Royal Volunteer Corps. In January 1899, he entered St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, but his battalion was embodied in December 1899, which he joined and accompanied to South Africa in February 1900. Whilst at Prieska he was appointed the Garrison Adjutant, a post which he held until he was taken ill. Henry died of Malaria and Meningitis at Prieska, which is situated on the south bank of the Orange River, Northern Cape, South Africa.”
This was not looking promising – Captain Henry Masterman died in 1900, so he could not be Captain M., until the same useful Kent Fallen Boer War Memorial Tunbridge publication mentioned another brother who became a Captain after service in the Boer War in South Africa:
“Henry’s brother; Walter Sydney Masterman was a Day Boy at Tonbridge School from 1889 to 1893, and he too served in the 3rd Battalion, Welsh Regiment which had included serving in the Second Boer War in 1900 and 1901.
Whilst at Tonbridge School, Walter won the Swimming Points Cup in 1893. From Tonbridge he went up to Christ’s College, Cambridgeshire.
In 1901 following the Second Boer War he was promoted to the rank of Captain, and attached to the 1st Cadet Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps.
In 1910 he became an Inspector of Musketry, and resided at 25, Woodbury Park Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent.”
Surely this must be our Captain M hot from the Great War in South Africa?
Chapter 1: “But as there was nevertheless much that seemed to us extremely pretty and picturesque about the game, we set to work — and here a certain Mr M. with his brother, Captain M., hot from the Great War in South Africa, came in most helpfully—to quicken it. Manifestly the guns had to be reduced to manageable terms.
“We cut down the number of shots per move to four, and we required that four men should be within six inches of a gun for it to be in action at all. Without four men it could neither fire nor move—it was out of action; and if it moved, the four men had to go with it. Moreover, to put an end to that little resistant body of men behind a house, we required that after a gun had been fired it should remain, without alteration of the elevation, pointing in the direction of its last shot, and have two men placed one on either side of the end of its trail. This secured a certain exposure on the part of concealed and sheltered gunners. It was no longer possible to go on shooting out of a perfect security for ever. All this favoured the attack and led to a livelier game.”
[It is difficult to know how much of Little Wars was developed with Mr M (Charles Masterman) and Captain M (Walter Sidney Masterman) but I assume here that ‘We’ and ‘Our’ refers to his collaboration with Mr M and Captain M, quickening the game.]
“Our next step was to abolish the tedium due to the elaborate aiming of the guns, by fixing a time limit for every move. We made this an outside limit at first, ten minutes, but afterwards we discovered that it made the game much more warlike to cut the time down to a length that would barely permit a slow-moving player to fire all his guns and move all his men. This led to small bodies of men lagging and “getting left,” to careless exposures, to rapid, less accurate shooting, and just that eventfulness one would expect in the hurry and passion of real fighting. It also made the game brisker. We have since also made a limit, sometimes of four minutes, sometimes of five minutes, to the interval for adjustment and deliberation after one move is finished and before the next move begins. This further removes the game from the chess category, and approximates it to the likeness of active service. Most of a general’s decisions, once a fight has begun, must be made in such brief intervals of time. (But we leave unlimited time at the outset for the planning.)”
“As to our time-keeping, we catch a visitor with a stop-watch if we can, and if we cannot, we use a fair-sized clock with a second-hand: the player not moving says “Go,” and warns at the last two minutes, last minute, and last thirty seconds. But I think it would not be difficult to procure a cheap clock—because, of course, no one wants a very accurate agreement with Greenwich as to the length of a second—that would have minutes instead of hours and seconds instead of minutes, and that would ping at the end of every minute and discharge an alarm note at the end of the move. That would abolish the rather boring strain of time-keeping. One could just watch the fighting.”
“Moreover, in our desire to bring the game to a climax, we decided that instead of a fight to a finish we would fight to some determined point, and we found very good sport in supposing that the arrival of three men of one force upon the back line of the opponent’s side of the country was of such strategic importance as to determine the battle. But this form of battle we have since largely abandoned in favour of the old fight to a finish again. We found it led to one type of battle only, a massed rush at the antagonist’s line, and that our arrangements of time-limits and capture and so forth had eliminated most of the concluding drag upon the game.”
“Our game was now very much in its present form. We considered at various times the possibility of introducing some complication due to the bringing up of ammunition or supplies generally, and we decided that it would add little to the interest or reality of the game. Our battles are little brisk fights in which one may suppose that all the ammunition and food needed are carried by the men themselves.”
Little Wars, H.G. Wells, 1913
After Little And Great Wars
If we are correct about Captain M being Walter Sidney Masterman, then he had a strange career path after the War, not unlike H.G.Wells’ early career.
I wonder if their semi-professional football career and games had an effect on the shaping and briskness of Little Wars, as much as their military careers:
“fight to some determined point, and we found very good sport in supposing that the arrival of three men of one force upon the back line of the opponent’s side of the country …We found it led to one type of battle only, a massed rush at the antagonist’s line.” (Little Wars, 1913)
Walter became an Assistant Headteacher (1903-5) in a private school after the Boer War in the period when Little Wars was being developed. He was also active as a Football player with Tunbridge Wells FC.
For a brief while Walter Masterman was part of the British Boy Scouts, the BBS, a more ‘pacifist’ Peace Scouts rival to the more ‘militaristic’ Baden Powell’s Scouting Movement –
Being an Inspector of Musketry attached to the 1st Cadet Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles, at the same time as being part of the BBS or Peace Scouts, whilst also being involved as Captain M. in the shaping of Little Wars shows what a complex character Walter Masterman was and what odd times that he was living in.
He served as a Major with the Welsh Regiment during the Great War / WW1. After Demob in 1919, Walter became again a Fisheries Inspector (civil servant) in Grimsby in his zoologist brother Arthur’s area of fisheries.
According to his relative Colin Salter in his family history blog, this career ended in court and jail for three to four years in 1922 over allegations of embezzlement.
Walter Sidney Masterman, fishery inspector at Grimsby, a brother of a former Liberal Minister, is being charged with embezzling £862 belonging to the Board of Fisheries. The prosecution alleges that the defendant paid into his own account sums received, for the sale of coal and gear handed over from German trawlers.
February 1922 the Sunday Times of Perth in Western Australia
His ‘Former Liberal Minister’ Brother Charles’ position (Mr. M) was the only thing that made this newsworthy around the world.
His next career move in the mid 1920s was to become a writer of science fiction, detective and mystery novels as Walter S. Masterman.
His first book The Wrong Letter in 1926 had a Foreword or Preface by Charles and Wells’ mutual friend G.K. Chesterton which can be read here on these sample pages
I wonder if his author brothers Howard Masterman the bishop and Charles the Liberal Politician (Mr. M.) or H.G. Wells were in any way able to help or involved in aiding Walter’s postwar literary career?
Chesterton was also friends with Charles Masterman and dedicated a book What’s Wrong with the World to him – see
The list of titles and supernatural topics is not so far from fellow Little Wars witness and fellow Sussex resident, the author and ‘ghost hunter’ Robert Thurston Hopkins, also on such a sci-fi database.
The Masterman family were quite amazingly accomplished – writers, bishops, politicians, army officers, medical missionaries and naturalists.
The two Captains Henry and Walter we have already mentioned.
They had one sister called ‘Daisy’ or Margaret Masterman, who had an academic career.
1. One older brother, easy to tell by his dog collar in the photo is the second son John Howard Bertram Masterman (1867-1933), Suffragan Bishop of Plymouth, author and Historian. Howard the bishop married Theresa Boroder (b. Saxony, Germany) and became father of Cyril Masterman (1896-1973) OBE (1956 for services as Technical Director, Underground Gasification Trials, Monistry of Fuel and Power). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Masterman
These were the six sons of Mrs. Margaret Hanson Masterman, (1841-1932) (née Gurney) of “Lonsdale,” Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and of the late Thomas William (Willie) Masterman, F.R.G.S. (1839-1894) of “The Hall,” Rotherfield Hall , Sussex. Rotherfield Hall in Sussex.
The Masterman brothers were the grandsons of William Brodie Gurney (and so a distant relation to prison reformer Elizabeth Fry through him). The Gurney and Masterman families were variously involved with Banking, shorthand, court stenography and with the Fox family of Quakers.
Reading Mathilde Meyer’s memoir H.G. Wells and his Family (1955), about her time as Governess to Well’s two sons Frank and Gip, she makes occasional references to the ‘Floor Game’, which I take to mean Little Wars (1913).
Mathilde Meyer mentions the names of three visitors to Wells country home at Easton Glebe, Dunmow, Essex who took part in the “Floor Game”:
“On wet days, however, The Floor Game, was till the most popular amusement of all. Not only Gip and Frank, but also such friends of their father as the Politician the Rt Hon C.F.G. Masterman, Mr Harold Hobson and Mr. E.S.P. Haynes could be seen stretched out upon the schoolroom floor at weekends.”
Who are these people?
1. Politician, the Rt Hon C.F.G. Masterman
1. Charles Frederick Gurney Masterman MP, Privy Council, (1873 – 1927) was a British radical Liberal Party politician, intellectual and man of letters. He worked closely with such Liberal leaders as Lloyd George and Churchill in designing social welfare projects, including the National Insurance Act 1911. Masterman wrote ‘State of The Nation’ books such as “The Condition of England” 1909
From The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble (2000)
His postwar political career as a Liberal was a difficult and disappointing one and he died relatively young at 54 years old. In a similar way, the former Liberal Churchill had a long period in the political wilderness in the 1920s and 30s.
Wells, Masterman and Wartime Propaganda BureauWW1
In Masterman we have another link between early Wargamers H.G. Wells and Winston Churchill.
“During the First World War Masterman played a central role in the main British government propaganda agency, designed to counter the German Propaganda Agency and promote British interests in neutral countries like America. Masterman served as head of the British War Propaganda Bureau (WPB), known as “Wellington House.” (Wikipedia entry WPB)
Masterman’s War Propaganda Bureau enlisted eminent writers such as John Buchan, H.G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle as well as painters such as Francis Dodd and Paul Nash.
Until its abolition in 1917 to become the Ministry of Information headed by John Buchan, the WPB department published 300 books and pamphlets in 21 languages. It distributed over 4,000 propaganda photographs every week and circulated maps, cartoons and lantern slides to the media.
Masterman also commissioned films about the war such as The Battle of the Somme, which appeared in August 1916. (Adapted from Wikipedia source: Charles Masterman)
Wellington House was home of the War Propaganda Bureau on Buckingham Gate (the building has now been demolished).
The War Propaganda Bureau began its secret propaganda campaign on 2 September 1914 when Masterman invited 25 leading British authors to Wellington House to discuss ways of best promoting Britain’s interests during the war.
Those who attended included (then) well known authors such as William Archer, Hall Caine, Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Masefield, G.K. Chesterton, Henry Newbolt, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy … G.M. Trevelyan, H.G. Wells [and in the subsequent ‘Author’s Declaration’ several popular women authors].
Rudyard Kipling had been invited to the meeting but was unable to attend.
In view of its propaganda role, all the writers who attended on 2 September 1914 agreed to maintain the utmost secrecy. It was not until 1935 that the activities of the War Propaganda Bureau became public knowledge.
Some of these writers and their author friends agreed to write pamphlets and books that would promote the government’s point of view.
The War Propaganda Bureau went on to publish over 1,160 such pamphlets during the war. (Wikipedia entry WPB)
In 1917 the Department of Information partly took over this role under John Buchan before Lord Beaverbrook took charge of propaganda in 1918.
For a good book on British Naval intelligence and propaganda at home, America and in the more forgotten theatres of WW1 – see Codebreakers by James Willie and Michael McKinley (Ebury, 2015). Author A.E.W. Mason from the Authors Declaration (below) crops up in the book as an ‘interesting’ figure:
Two of those involved in the development of Little Wars signed the ‘Author’s Declaration of Support’ for Britain’s entry into the Great War – G.K. Chesterton and Jerome K. Jerome. It makes the final ‘pacific’ chapter ‘warning’ by Wells in Little Wars about the danger or blunder of Great Wars all the more poignant.
The Slate.com blog post authors state that “H.G. Wells satirized his own wartime career in Mr. Britling Sees It Through (1916), and by 1918 had withdrawn from propaganda work altogether.”
Another one for the Wells book list for this year … available in Project Gutenberg or Librivox.
Another unusual and even more direct or active link to the development of Little Wars occurred to me this week – read about this in my next blog post.
2. Mr Harold Hobson
At first a mystery – this is not the theatre critic Sir Harold Hobson (1904 – 1992).
Harold Hobson (1891–1974), David ‘Bunny’ Garnett’s friend, and a temporary lover of D.H. Lawrence ‘s wife Frieda, lived at 3 Gayton Crescent, at the end of Gayton Road [in what literary tour guide Catherine Brown calls Hampstead the “Montmartre” of London, where many famous artists and writers including H.G. Wells lived in Edwardian times https://catherinebrown.org/lawrences-hampstead-a-walking-tour/
Before WW1, “Bunny roamed the countryside with his ‘Neo-Pagan’ friends: Rupert Brooke, the Olivier sisters, Harold Hobson, Godwin Baynes and Dudley Ward, all of them swimming naked in lakes and rivers, worshipping nature and sleeping out under the stars.” (Source: Amazon review of Garnett biography).
Harold Hobson later married Coralie Jeyes von Werner or “Coralie von Werner Hobson” (1891 – 1946). Largely forgotten today, Coralie wrote novels, short stories and plays; from 1928 she published under the pseudonym “Sarah Salt”. She wrote her first novel ‘The Revolt of Youth’ in 1909.
They had two children: Sarah Elizabeth Hobson and Timothy John Hobson (Source: “Who’s who in Commerce and Industry”, Volume 6, 1948, p.705).
Harold Hobson was the son of New York-born writer Florence Edgar Hobson and noted journalist and social economist John Atkinson Hobson; Harold, an engineering graduate from King’s College, was tall, male, articulate, extroverted.
As a youth he belonged to a group that advocated freedom and spontaneity, was anti-intellectual and was called the Neo-Pagans by Virginia Woolf; the often changing members included Godwin Baynes, Rupert Brooke, Ka Cox, Gwen Darwin (later Raverat), Frances Darwin (later Cornford), David ‘Bunny’ Garnett, the Olivier sisters Margery, Bryn, Daphne and Noel, Jacques Raverat and Gerald Shove.
Hobson and David Garnett, his best friend went on a hike in the Alps in August 1912 with D. H. Lawrence and his companion Frieda Richthofen.
According to Helga Kaschl “Lawrence valued him – at least initially – for his uncompromising honesty; however, they soon parted ways after Harold and Frieda indulged in their passion in a haystack.”
D. H. Lawrence processed this “episode” in “Mr. Noon” and described Stanley (= Harold) as handsome, with big, dark eyes, an attractive, gaunt face, of casual elegance, who looked at Johanna (= Frieda) languidly. (Mr. Noon, p. 376)
Harold Hobson became a Consulting engineer at Merz & McLellan from 1919 to 1925, was involved in setting up the electricity grid in Great Britain and was then successfully employed in leading positions within the electricity industry.
Harold Hobson, Supply Engineer; Commercial Manager 1932–35; General Manager from 1935; Central Electricity Board Chairman 1944–46..
Harold Hobson’s fatherJohn Atkinson Hobson was close to the Fabians and influenced Margaret Cole with his ideas. Hobson senior was one of the liberal intellectuals who switched to the Labour Party after the First World War. Hobson senior worked for The Nation newspaper and became a friend of Leonard Woolf, who also started working for the newspaper in 1922. Hobson’ father published the essay “Notes on Law and Order” in 1926 and “From Capitalism to Socialism” in 1932 in the Hogarth Press. Leonard Woolf valued him as Britain’s leading theoretician of anti-colonialism.
Edward Taylor Scott, married to Harold Hobson’s sister Mabel, was the editor of the Manchester Guardian.
Here we have clear links to The Fabian Society, Liberal thinkers – all overlap with H.G. Wells, who knew D.H. Lawrence, putting Wells on the edge of the Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists, who later settled at Charleston House. Frank Palmer the publisher of Wells Little Wars and Floor Games also had his office in ‘Bloomsbury’.
Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog – a wash and brush up for the new 54mm BMC Plastic Army Women figures, prior to the FEMbruary believable female figure painting challenge (started by Alex at Lead Balloony)