Home casting figures – functional repairs and old toy soldier DNA

Useful tools of the repair trade – pin vice and file – to repair a miscast musket.

Miscastings or half castings that are not too bad do not always go straight back in the ladle.

To avoid fumes and mess, I restrict my casting to days outside in warmer weather with no threat of rain; hot metal and moisture make an explosive mix.

As a result casting days (or days when I have time and feel like casting) are infrequent enough that I save the 90+ % figures that are ‘nearly all there’. I can then do some simple repairs on missing musket tips and other fiddly bits. Even missing heads can be swapped …

“Where’s your head at?” Missing a head, why not try swopping one with a Pound Store figure?

Such repairs that I make are usually fairly simple ones, such as drilling out a miscast musket to insert a short piece of wire.

Second casting session a few days ago – a few missing musket tips, heads and bows to repair.

On the repair tray where missing musket tips are replaced, heads swapped and bows repaired …

The perfect casting, the half cast musket and a masking tape, wire and glue repair.

Old Toy Soldier DNA

You might notice from photos that I often drill, file and repair over sheets of white A4 paper, which I have folded into four and unfolded again to make a cross shaped crease.

This is because I keep the metal filings, drilling ‘swarf’ and trimmings from old Hollowcast figure repair, roughing up the base when rebasing or cleaning up home castings.

From time to time during repairs, I carefully slightly fold the crease-crossed A4 page and slide the metal filings and trimmings into a small lidded pot.

Why do I keep this toy soldier ‘magic dust’ mixed together in a small pot of this “old toy soldier DNA“?

It not only keeps the workbench of my roll-top desk clean but it also means that I can then add a minute pinch of this unique and special mixture from time to time to the casting ladle when home casting.

Each new shiny casting might then have inside it a tiny nano-percentage of an old Britain’s hollowcast casting or old flat tin figure.

Each shiny new casting then might have a small part of all the accumulated bravery, courage and adventure from the countless battles that the old damaged hollowcast veterans (from various makers and owners) have been through over the last hundred years or more.

Reinforcements for Tradgardland, Lurland or Afrika?

A small number of these unpainted Schneider castings of pith helmeted Colonial figures and fierce Natives will soon be heading towards Alan Gruber at the Duchy of Tradgardland blog as reinforcements for his interesting Lurland and Ost Afrika campaigns.

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/search/label/Afrika

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/search/label/Lurland

Alan has sent me some interesting spare figures and heads to keep me busy throughout Lockdown, so this is a small thin flat thank you heading to the Duchy of Tradgardland Post Office.

Fight well my tiny men, you have the brave DNA of old toy soldiers in you!

Previously on Man of TIN …

Here is one of the first blog posts that I wrote back in 2016 “type casting”. My WordPress avatar / host page @26soldiersoftin is still named after these famous “26 soldiers of Lead” of Gutenberg (or whoever first said this quote).

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/typecasting/

We finish with a fine picture of a dapper, almost Duke of Edinburgh looking Donald Featherstone, casting away on the kitchen stove in his cheerily enthusiastic 1960s book Tackle Model Soldiers This Way.

“In the author’s house, everyone slaves over a hot stove”. Note the plate drying rack and safety equipment of a shirt and tie. An inspiration to us all!

Inspired?

If you want to have a go at casting, these companies sell new moulds and casting equipment:

Prince August (Ireland / UK/ EU) do some great starter sets at their website

https://shop.princeaugust.ie

or their official eBay shop mouldsandminis https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/mouldsandminiatures?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

Berlinner Zinnfiguren (Germany / EU) https://www.zinnfigur.com/en/Casting/

In America, Rich at Dunken has now acquired several old manufacturers’ collections of moulds https://www.dunken.com

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 17/18 April 2021.

Hing Fat 54mm Plastic WW2 Russian Infantry samples painted

Shiny toy soldier style painted Hing Fat 54mm Russians on the painting table awaiting the gloss varnish of victory …

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog – some more interesting Hing Fat 54mm plastic sample figures gifted to me by Peter Evans. (Thanks Peter.)

More photographs and the full range shown at:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/04/14/54mm-hing-fat-ww2-russian-sample-figures/

Peter currently sells these ‘Made in China’ Hing Fat figures through his eBay seller site figsculpt https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/figsculpt

Size comparison with my repaired childhood Airfix 1:32 (2021, currently unavailable)

Previously on Hing Fat samples posts: WW2 French

Next sample trio: probably WW2 Italians?

Meanwhile on a tinier Russian Front …

What, no Soviet women in these 54mm figures? Annie Norman of Bad Squiddo Games is producing a new range of 28mm Soviet women of WW2 on Kickstarter and then via her web shop. I don’t collect or play with 28mm figures at the moment but I have bought several vignette packs of her interesting female figures like her Land Girls. https://badsquiddogames.com

Blog Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN 15 April 2021

April – First Casting sessions 2021

Today’s Castings ready for trimming and filing …

Today’s casting session outdoors in the garden sunshine worked much better than one last week late afternoon with a chill in the wind.

These are mostly 45mm – 50mm Flats from old metal Schneider moulds.

The metal Schneider type home casting moulds do not work so well or the metal run so well if they lose too much heat between each cast.

Last week’s casting session – colder weather – and some scenics

I am keeping some of the miscast ones to see if I can repair muskets or rifles and swap missing heads with …

Pound Store Plastic figures.

Schneider mould 69 – colonials and highlander

Schneider mould 56 – settler and natives

Schneider mould 70 – charging colonial officer and bayoneting soldier

Schneider mould 80 – peaked cap kneeling and standing firing

Mixed in amongst last week’s castings you can see some flat scenics, which did not cast fully – low brick or stone wall, wall and hedge section – and a successful churn. Five bar gates are as tricky as cannon wheels!

I was also testing out an old silicon home cast / home made moulds that I bought a while ago for a Britain’s American infantryman in 54mm. The 50mm little Indian infantryman is an attractive figure, again randomly acquired.

Now for a trim and tidy up …

Meanwhile back at the Flat 2D ranch …

Alan Duchy of Tradgardland blog has been doing some unusual small Flats skirmishes of late such as these:

https://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2021/04/lurland-skirmish.html

https://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2021/03/forgotten-sons-of-semi-flat-homecast.html

https://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2021/03/afrika-palms-and-portuguese.html

Spot the same Schneider figures I cast this afternoon! Reinforcements?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 14 April 2021

Neglected and Forgotten figures? Parazuellian Women’s Revolutionary Army pipe and drum band

My entry for the March 2021 Neglected and Forgotten painting challenge by Ann Wycoff but a bit late for March 4th, International Marching Day #March4th

This interesting rusty old female figure (below) was amongst an unexpected gift of some spare battered metal band figures from Alan (Duchy of Tradgardland) Gruber. Thanks, Alan.

It gave me an idea, after watching the Morecambe and Wise comedy film The Magnificent Two, 1967. This is set in the fictional 1960s South American ImagiNation of Parazuellia (think Mexico with a dash of Castro’s Cuba).

I have written more about the film’s fictional uniforms here: https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/03/05/fembruary-bmc-plastic-army-women-as-the-revolutionary-womans-army-of-parazuellia/

So the Neglected and Forgotten figures?

At first she was going to be a Parazuellian Revolutionary female piper until promoted …

The female figure was marked by its maker ‘G B’ on the base, wearing what looked like 1980s British Army female uniform, possibly a band figure based on the double arm stubs.

Here are the other battered band figures along with some spare and useful heads from Alan Gruber, which were of no immediate use to his small scale infantry skirmish games. A real mixed bag …

A useful selection of heads including two useful Gurkha ones and a mixture of band figures. Many are still queueing along on the painting table.

There were several royal marine type drummers and buglers but also some headless drummers and two with pillbox hats with a feminine look.

Gurkha heads in place, new arms added with wire and masking tape … Airfix Multipose hats and Warbases MDF tuppenny bases

What emerged was a female Parazuellian Womens’ Revolutionary Army pipe and drum band, sporting their battle bowler British type Mark II helmets at a jaunty angle, as in the film screenshot below:

Isobel Black (L) and Margit Saad (R) wearing their steel helmets in he Magnificent Two

As you can see, the helmet roundels are a red star on a white circle with green surrounding line.

Green, white and red are of course the colours not only of the Parazuellian Revolutionary Army in the film but also Mexico in real life. The Revolutionary red is picked up in the scarves, the green in the khaki or olive drab costumes.

Here is that rusty female figure remade as a Parazuellian general:

This could be a General Carla type figure, leading the Women’s Revolutionary Army.

Three side drummers and a piper, all with the national colours of Revolutionary red, white and green

The side drums are in the national colours of red, white and green.
The piper’s pipe flag is in green and red to match the Revolutionary colours. Red stripes or tartan squares on the piper’s green cloak

Parazuellian female piper

I tried the figures without helmets but they lacked the charm of the ‘battle bowler’.

Two of the drummers already had quite female heads with small pill box hats.

Luckily I had four spare steel helmets from an old Airfix Multipose set of Eighth Army figures.

I used two suitable spare Gurkha heads from the head pile for the two headless drummers. After filing down these pillbox hats in order to fit the helmets, I added some bushy female hair with tissue paper and PVA.

In the same way a piper’s cape was added with tissue paper and PVA, to cover the join of these slightly outsize (man’s?) bagpiper arms.

The officer figure’s arm stubs (originally for playing a musical instrument?) were removed and after drilling through, wire and masking tape arms were added.

The figures were painted to match these BMC Plastic Army Women Parazuellian female troops

As I used dark earth skin tones on the new BMC Plastic Army Women to match or suggest the South American ImagiNation of Parazuellia, I used the same skin tones and shiny toy soldier face style including copper cheek dots. These work better on darker skin than the usual pink cheek dots.

A final coat of gloss acrylic spray varnish toned the mixture of matt and gloss acrylic together in a suitable shiny toy soldier style.

Musical accompaniment?

Music was absorbed into their layers of paint and varnish throughout their creation. Accompanying the painting was some jaunty untraditional pipe and drum music on YouTube, Indian pipe and drum bands – at one point I thought these figures had the look of Indian female troops.

A more South American / Mexican pipe and drum sound can be found with the San Patricios or St Patrick’s Battalion pipe and drums (Mexico City), apparently remembering the Scottish and Irish troops who defected from the USA to fight for Mexico in the US -Mexican War of 1847.

Earworm warning! They can be seen and heard here on a trip to Ireland:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EpTzNdVkTqI

in Mexico City
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qsdNnPHqGug

And St Patrick’s Day in Mexico with more pipers
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=foFyzdkr0os

So a unique set of band figures, made from Forgotten and Neglected figures and inspired by a parade (sadly without drums or pipes) in the closing minutes of The Magnificent Two film. Viva Torres!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 27/28 March 2021

The Hex Files – Thing are Getting Strange …

“Things are getting strange, I’m Starting To Worry, This could be a Case for Mulder and Scully …” (Catatonia)

On the distractions or gaming riches of binge watching box sets during Lockdown …

What series or TV programmes distract from or inspire your gaming scenarios?

Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blogposts

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/03/24/the-hex-files-things-are-getting-strange-im-starting-to-worry-this-could-be-a-case-for-mulder-and-scully/

Wo-Manning the OP and Garden Wargames

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog 14th March 2021:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/03/14/wo-manning-the-op-bmc-plastic-army-women-take-over-the-three-man-pound-store-plastic-soldiers-patrol-post/

12 March 1912 – Juliette Daisy Gordon Low forms the Girl Scouts of America

Daisy’s biography and my 54mm pound store plastic soldier rough conversions to Girl Scouts

Celebrate an amazing woman Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon Low (1860-1927) and the Girl Scouts of America that she founded on this day in Savannah, Georgia, 12th March 1912

Crossposted from our ongoing Tabletop Scouting Wide Games (and Snowball Fights) Project blog. This was set up by me (Mark Man of TIN) and Alan (Duchy of Tradgardland) Gruber before the Woking Little Wars Revisited Games Day 54mm last March 2020:

https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com/2021/03/12/12-march-usa-girl-scouts-founded-by-juliette-daisy-gordon-low-1912/

Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN, March 12th 2021.

FEMBruary female figure painting challenge, 54mm BMC Plastic Army Women figures and Morecambe And Wise’s The Magnificent Two

54mm BMC Plastic Army Women figures as the Women’s Revolutionary Army of Parazuellia

My final entry for the FEMBruary female figure painting challenge are these fine new plastic 54mm BMC Plastic Army Women figures. They reminded me of the Revolutionary female figures in a favourite Morecambe and Wise film from childhood, The Magnificent Two (1967).

Isobel Black in The Magnificent Two

Read more from these two posts from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/03/05/the-magnificent-two-1967-imaginations-uniforms-the-womens-revolutionary-army-of-parazuellia/
Gloss shiny toy soldier paint and varnish finish for these figures

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/03/05/fembruary-bmc-plastic-army-women-as-the-revolutionary-womans-army-of-parazuellia/

Blog cross-posted by Mark Man of TIN, 5 March 2021

The real Hook’s Farm on old maps

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,

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/27/the-battles-of-hooks-farm-and-st-martins-hill-h-g-wells-experiment-in-autobiography-and-little-wars/

“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).”

https://thehistoryofchattertonvillage.wordpress.com/bromley-common-in-the-early-1800s/

I have looked through more maps of the real Hook’s Farm in Bromley. Firely Church still eludes me.

Close up shows the Hook’s Farm terrain, ridges and higher ground more clearly – 1857.

This 1857 map is from the Longbourne Collection, Bromley Borough Local History Society

https://www.bblhs.org.uk/longbourne-2#&gid=1270181636&pid=1

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.

Norman Park the site of Hook’s Farm has a Google Street View panorama

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.

Screen shot of a Google Street View panorama showing a spire – Firely Church?

Norman Park also has a Wikipedia entry

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Park,_Bromley

and a photograph by Mike Quinn of a modern wooden bridge over the Ravensbourne stream, surely a contested military objective?

see also https://www.geograph.org.uk/stuff/list.php?title=The+River+Ravensbourne+in+Norman+Park+&gridref=TQ4167

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 website https://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.

https://maps.nls.uk/view/102343480#zoom=6&lat=8025&lon=1801&layers=BT

The Battle of Hook’s Farm – where geography meets ImagiNations?

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 28 February 2021

The Battles of Hook’s Farm and St Martins Hill – H. G. Wells’ Experiment in Autobiography and Little Wars

H G Wells (1866-1946) in his lengthy Experiment in Autobiography (1934) mentions Little Wars (1913) only once:

https://gutenberg.ca/ebooks/wellshg-autobiography/wellshg-autobiography-00-h-dir/wellshg-autobiography-00-h.html#Page_76

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.

https://bromleytownparks.wordpress.com

“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.”

St Martins Hill in Bromley – image source: Bromleytownparks.wordpress.com – Who walking there today could imagine the epic battles that once were waged there in HGW’s young head?

“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.

[76] ”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.

I am also sensing some thing a little bit similar to the Brontes’ warlike ImagiNations juvenile fiction in their Little Books – explored in my blog page / posts here https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/gaming-the-bronte-family-imaginations-of-glasstown-angria-gondal-and-gaaldine/

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 …

STS Little Britons & BP’s Cloak of Romance reading list for imaginative Scouting Wide Games

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.

https://archive.org/details/littlewarsgamefo00well/page/62/mode/2up.

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?)

Sadly Martin’s Hill now has its own war memorial, proving the point of Wells’ last chapter in Little Wars about the perils of the Great Wars that occurred merely one year later and a quarter of a century later https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1116976

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).”

https://thehistoryofchattertonvillage.wordpress.com/bromley-common-in-the-early-1800s/

The Wells family of Southborough Lodge – any relation I wonder to H.G. Wells? He came from a large family, as did his his father Joseph Wells.

Firely (Church) does not seem to exist but there is the exotically named Farwig!

Free historic maps can be found at the Bromley Local History Society https://www.bblhs.org.uk/maps

https://www.bblhs.org.uk/bromley-common#&gid=1189361799&pid=6

One to explore on the old maps for future gaming scenarios and wide games maps.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, February / March 2021