Researching early Boy Scouts as part of my Wide Games gaming project, I came across these two original photographs for sale at a very reasonable price.
They are WW1 era c. 1915, Surrey based, possibly in the Ewell area (from a brief description in a photographic album) and the seller said they illustrate Scout drill and protecting a road (?!?) from a WW1 era album.
They appear to be guarding H S Philpots Tea Rooms (?)
Whilst Scouts did valuable work for the war effort in WW1 and WW2, this young bunch of determined boys with staves might not stop the whole German Army.
What I liked about them was the mixture of home made uniforms, floppy brim hats and some of their lively expressions.
Their Scoutmaster and some of the Scouts reappear I think in other photos in my collection, the Scoutmaster in fetching light or white cape.
These are a few of the photographs of early Scouting in its first decade* that I have collected as uniform research for the Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop project (* Scouting for Boys was first published in sections in 1908). https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com
These were Christmas gifts, these “Made of Wood” craft products from a local craft store – in the varied shapes of a lighthouse, wooden pine trees and Christmas decoration houses.
The label suggests that they are made from a very fast growing timber called the Paulownia tree, widely farmed and forested in China / East Asia and now across America as the ‘new balsa’ because of its lightness and valued for its attractive grain.
A light green wash or woodstain should bring out best features of these toy like pine trees.
There are some fantastic wooden buildings in this St Nazaire raid game that give an idea of how to make your own or use wooden buildings like these:
Insertion points for different units of the raiding forces were chosen by dice throw from 5 possible routes (see map below) before the game started.
The desert commando forces and two desert jeep trucks Ragtag and Bobtail enter the area from the old airstrip (insertion point 4). The Yestershire Infantry to appear along the rail bridge in foreground (insertion point 5).
Briefing Map, Raid Aims and named personnel set out here:
What the Allied raiding forces do not know is how many NAK forces are stationed in the Station Halt building or that on Turn 7 (decided by 2d6) these troops are on standby, ready to be replaced by fresh incoming troops by train. They also do not know that Meyer, an ADC or adjutant to General Von Rimmel is visiting the Special Operations Section (tented area) for a status report.
What the NAKforces do not know is that they are about to be rudely awakened early one morning by a Commando raid. Only a few sentries and gun teams are posted, a few Aircrew busy at work …
First contact Turn 1
Allied elements appear on the board as darkness fades and dawn breaks in the North African desert.
“As the sun rose beyond on the desert hills, Schutzen Wache on sentry duty spotted a flurry of faded khaki rushing across the railway tracks along the bridge … he raised his rifle and fired some warning shots into the air. Achtung! Alarm! Alarm!”
Whilst the Commandos rapidly and silently capture two Aircrew / Groundcrew without alarm being raised, the sentry Sch. Wache by the Railway bridge does raise the alarm on seeing the Yestershire rifles crossing (d6 thrown to decide if alarm raised) with several rapid shots in the air.
The railway bridge proved a narrow pinchpoint for deploying Yestershire troops – a bunched target.
Private Hunt lobbed a grenade at the sentry but missed, as did the rifle fire of Mulvaney, Mahoney and Sgt Brittle.
Clumped together by the bridge, Privates Mahoney, Hunt and Sgt Brittle were all quickly caught in the LMG fire of the Halftrack (which is part trackless and under repair). Some of the first unlucky casualties of this desert raid.
The Desert Commandos rush the airfield to silence the air crew and armoured car.
Very quickly the Commando rifle fire and the LMGs on Ragtag and Bobtail, the two desert “jeep trucks” silences the two crew of the Armoured Car.
The PAK gun crew on cemetery ridge managed to knock out Ragtag killing its two crew Ptes. Marrion and Foster. Fortunately the demolition charges and explosives did not explode close to Bobtail, the other Jeep Truck.
First major disaster – Ragtag the Jeep Truck is hit by the Antitank Gun and its crew killed.
The NordAfrika Korps garrison was inside the station halt, awaiting relief by train (2d6 thrown to check: train will arrive with replacement troops on Turn 7). They rapidly deployed to the roof, their fire brings down Commando Private Hemingway who is heading down the flank of the station building.
Meyer, the visiting ADC / Adjutant to General Von Rimmel and air crew sheltered inside the barricaded station halt. A small group of NAK troops led by Haupt. (Captain) Fuchs set out to defend the airstrip.
The PAK gun engaged Bobtail the second Jeep Truck and knocked it out for two moves.
Private Grant of the Yestershires guns down the Half Track crewman, although sinister grey uniformed Klang takes over the LMG on the Half-track.
The view from the other Antitank gun dug in on the Hills above the railway halt
From this hill, the Antitank gun engages a group of Commandos at maximum range and kills Private Young and Scruby.
Gefreiter Weigmann was shot by Commando raid leader “Popsy”
Allied and NAK Casualties from melee and rifle fire from the station building roof.
The PAK gun engages the Yestershire HMG crew and wipes it out, killing the crew (Curry, Stonefeather, Blease).
In return, 2/Lt Hyde shoots with his pistol at Sch. Richter on the roof.
Lt. Bath, Cpl Ridley and RE Appleby recrew the Yestershire HMG.
LCpl Mitton is hit by fire from the rooftop NAK troops.
The fight around the oil tanks. Success for the NordAfrika Korps? Maitland may be gone but his time fuse remains!
Three Commandos (Ptes. Steinbeck, Gammage, Dickinson) felled by grenade from above as they try to break in to the Station Halt.
Demolition expert Pte Maitland is shot before he can lay any further charges.
In a deadly melee phase Pte Grant, Pte Faulkner and Capt Young and NAK Sch. Junge and Schroeder are killed.
Jeep Truck Bobtail is back in action, heading down the railway track towards the station. Its LMG hit Sch. Vogel on the station roof.
The Yestershire HMG crew brought down the troublesome PAK crew Sch. Beck and Roth at last.
Train arrives with NAK reinforcements
Bobtail the Jeep Truck turns sharply and retreats down the track away from the train and all its reinforcements.
NordAfrika Korps – Reinforcements detrain in Turn 8
Meanwhile Sch. (Pte) Huber in melee and with rifle fire brings down Commando after Commando including the raid leader “Popsy” before Huber himself is brought down.
With Raid leader “Popsy” dead and Allied numbers dwindling in the face of fresh NAK reinforcements, it is clearly time to leave. Hopefully soon explosive charges will wreck the area.
Abandoning the heavy HMG, RE Pte Appleby, Corporal Ridley and 2/Lt Bath head to the bridge to hitch a ride out of the area on the Jeep Truck Bobtail, along with Ptes. Wallingford and Mulvaney.
Before they climb on board Bobtail the Jeep Truck, it is hit at long range by the NAK Antitank gun on the hill. Bobtail is destroyed, its gunner and driver Ptes. Gough and Smith are killed. Disaster – but at least their remaining mines and explosives do not explode, injuring the remaining Allied troops.
Elsewhere across the airfield, Commando radioman ‘Sparky’ Sissons calls for the far off retrieval teams to meet him at the pre-arranged desert rendezvous point. He quickly leaves with Ptes. Shepperd and Learoyd. Their two captured enemy Aircrew held for interrogation are tied up and gagged but left behind, alive.
As the last of the Yestershires and the Commandos disappear off on foot the way they came …
Boom! The first of the oil tanks goes up in flames.
Private Maitland is avenged.
At this point the Allied survivors melt away into the desert on foot. The explosion of the first tank sends the surviving NordAfrika Korps troops diving to the ground to avoid the flames and showers of stones and metal debris as one after another oil tanks explodes, damaging the track and the engine of the train.
The old biplane is toppled over, made further unserviceable. Warehouses and stores are damaged.
Despite the heavy losses, this first desert Commando raid achieved suitable disruption.
Boom! The retreating Allies see more smoke and hear several more explosions as they head quickly off into the desert heat as the sun gets higher in the sky. Time to find their rendezvous points.
Boom! The Yestershires have their packs of supplies, water and ammunition handy. The small commando group are not personally so well supplied until they reach prearranged supply dumps.
They will hopefully regroup and head home to base to be debriefed. However the Commandos failed to bring any prisoners back for interrogation or to discover the activities of the NAK Special Duties Unit. What was going on in the tent for example? What was Meyer, the ADC to General Rimmel, inspecting?
(Above) Allied Survivors of the Raid on Wadi Yu Min – a few Commandos and some Yestershire Regiment escape into the desert. Yestershire Regiment 2/Sub Lieutenant ‘Tubby’ Bath RNVR , Corporal Ridley, Privates Mulvaney, Wallingford and Shepperd. Commando Radioman Signaller ‘Sparky’ Sissons, Pte Learoyd and Mine detecting RE Private Appleby
Playing solo, this game / scenario worked well enough.
The cluttered terrain amongst the oil tanks and aeroplane made shooting difficult for both sides.
The Commandos and Yestershire Regiment suffered consistently from a series of poor dice rolls throughout on Melee and Firing. No Featherstone Savings Throws in this game. They were given no extra modifiers in Melee or Firing for being Commando troops, opposing tough NordAfrika Korps troops.
Despite the first NAK Armoured Car crew being quickly knocked out, the two anti tank guns on the hill and the half-track LMG quickly did damage to the commando transport and troop numbers. Lots of lucky dice throws. Dealing with these high up entrenched gun positions created many problems for the raiders.
Naming characters does positively change the way you view this game and would be even more effective with a smaller number of troops. Playing both sides with a larger number of characters, it is harder to become attached or show favouritism to any one particular figure.
The element of silent surprise at the beginning needs to be worked on and developed.
In future raids I would include more explosives trained troops, as well as assign rifles and SMGs to those typical ‘useless’ Airfix non-combatant figures without firepower such as the grenade throwers, knife men, observers with only binoculars and gun crew etc.
I used Featherstone based simple WW2 rules from War Games and its Close Wars appendix but with scaled down firing ranges to suit my hexes:
Available forces for the reconnaissance and demolition mission: see below
LRDG – Briefing: Raid or Mission Aims
a) investigate increased enemy activity at the railway halt and old desert airstrip at the old oil prospecting camp, Wadi-Yu-Min.
b) put out of use any military or transport equipment, railway, bridges as appropriate
c) destroy stores
D) remove any interesting weaponry and documents of interest to Intelligence Officers, including captured service personnel for internment and interrogation.
‘Ragtag’ and ‘Bobtail’, two LRDG (D) modified desert extended jeep type trucks with additional external fuel tanks, stowage and demolition equipment – 2 LRDG (D) man crews with LMG Bren Guns, pistols and rifle plus spotter / spare armed with pistol.
Being more small truck than jeep, several commandos can be carried by each ‘jeep truck’.
Note: Numbers with names are not their ages!
Ragtag’s crew of 2 – driver and LMG gunner Desert Commando Privates Foster (35) and Marrion (34) and Spotter Pte Sheppard (32)
Bobtail’s crew of 2 – driver and LMG gunner Desert Commando Privates Gough (36) and Smith (37)
Desert Commando Section 1 LRDG – D
Officer Commanding Captain Younger (14) with pistol and commando knife
Photo caption: Three plucky Desert Commandos pictured with HMG Section gunner Privates Curry (38) and Stonefeather (39) and spotter Lance Cpl. Blease (7) and LRDG-D Truck LMG teams.
20 Desert Commandos under two Officers (Hyde and Younger), commanding 9 rifles and 4 SMGs from various regiments and the Royal Angrian Defence Force (West Africa) and technical teams.
Insertion points 1-5 for each team to be advised (chosen by d6).
Recon and Demolition Mission Reminders
Yestershire Regiment to be inserted close by truck and carrier, (off table) arriving into the area on foot. They will be carrying water, rations and ammunition in their packs.
Commando teams will be carrying no packs. Ragtag, Bobtail and the truck logistics teams carry extra explosives and detonators. They have also established several caches of survival supplies nearby with map refs to ensure that commando teams can escape on foot as needed.
A radioman signaller is present to keep links back to base teams for rescue and retrieval at prearranged points in the surrounding desert.
Reminders: Civilian casualties are to be avoided or minimised.
Local people may be present along with unarmed railway staff.
No blame for the raid should attributable to the local population by the enemy. Where possible, ‘Dummy’ maps and equipment to be deliberately left behind.
Enemy prisoners and technicians are to be disarmed, taken captive where possible and escorted back to base for interrogation.
John Curry noted in the reprint edition of Donald Featherstone’s Advanced Wargames that the list of names in the ‘Personalised Wargaming’ chapter included the names of various 1960s wargame opponents, illustrators and figure manufacturers – Russell Gammage of Rose Miniatures, Neville (Minifigs) Dickinson, Illustrator R.J. Marrion, Jack Scruby, Brigadier Peter Young, Roy Belmont-Maitland (Tradition) etc.
You also get a possible glimpse of Featherstone’s bookshelf of rugged literary tastes. Several others appear to be novelists or writers – Chandler, Faulkner, Hemingway. Others include ‘The Soldiers Three’ or ‘Three Musketeers’ characters in Rudyard Kipling’s tales of army life in India during the Raj, one of Featherstone’s colonial gamingn interests, Kipling’s alter ego Ortheris, Learoyd and Mulvaney.
After introducing Learoyd and Mulvaney, when asked who the third musketeer was, Kipling reputedly said Ortheris (‘the Author is’).
Other bloggers who commented on my Personalised Wargaming blog post created their character names lists using the names of actors, politicians and war leaders (“See here, Private Johnson!” – insert name of …), film characters and ingeniously, villains from acquaintances (with names scrambled).
The ‘Saints’ Southampton FC teams of the mid to late 1950s to early 60s would be another such useful or appropriate Donald Featherstone inspired list of names to collate and choose from, as he was their team physiotherapist and wrote several books on sports, work and dance injuries.
“Reading fed the children’s imagination. Their creativity soared after their father presented Branwell with a set of toy soldiers in June 1826. They gave the soldiers names and developed their characters, which they called the “Twelves”. This led to the creation of an imaginary world: the African kingdom of “Angria” which was illustrated with maps and watercolour renderings. The children devised plots about the inhabitants of Angria and its capital city, “Glass Town”, later called Verdopolis.”
“The fantasy worlds and kingdoms gradually, acquired the characteristics of the real world — sovereigns, armies, heroes, outlaws, fugitives, inns, schools and publishers. The characters and lands created by the children had newspapers, magazines and chronicles which were written in extremely tiny books, with writing so small it was difficult to read without a magnifying glass. These creations and writings were an apprenticeship for their later, literary talents.”
“Around 1831, when Anne was eleven, she and Emily broke away from Charlotte and Branwell to create and develop their own fantasy world, “Gondal“. Anne was particularly close to Emily especially after Charlotte’s departure for Roe Head School, in January 1831.”