Tuesday, 20 November 2012

80-PR R.M.L Warrnambool

Memories of the old days mucking around with (big) guns with the HRSA ... This battery is located at Flagstaff Hill, Warrnambool, in Australia.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

A 'Waterloo Man' at the world's end

On a recent trip to Tasmania I had the opportunity to visit an old friend who I first met in 1992 – Barracks Sargent Philip Maher, c. 1791–1847 CE.

Maher awaits Gabriel's Trumpet at the original burial ground in Ross, a garrison town in the midlands of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). The military presence had an important impact in the early days of Ross with a number of the early buildings around the town having military origins and several streets are named after battles of the Napoleonic wars. Some of the soldiers stationed at Ross were veterans of these campaigns.

Among them is Philip Maher of the 51 Regiment of Foot, The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Maher ended his days in Ross as the Barracks Sargent but his headstone records his military service noting him as being a Waterloo Man and a veteran of the Peninsular Campaign.

There is a very good image of the text on the headstone here

The old burial ground at Ross is a very atmospheric spot on a quiet day – the graves sit on a stoney hilltop in a quiet valley in central Tasmania. The only sound is the grass swishing in the wind as one sits in quiet reflection.

A good photo gallery for the burial ground can be found here

Since my last visit the inscription seems to deteriorated considerably but is still legible. 


To The Memory


Philip Maher

Who departed this life

On 31st March AD 1847
and served as Quarter master
Sargent in the 51 KOLI
During a long campaign on the
Peninsular and Waterloo
and Late Barrack Sargent
At Ross
AGED 56 Years

Its my intention to follow up what history I can of Maher given little is currently provided in the guidebooks at Ross. An initial search of the newspapers of the time has Maher forwarding a donation to St Joseph’s Church - the oldest Catholic Church in Hobart. A letter from Maher printed in the Colonial Times of Hobart, records this donation from the men of the Regiment towards the construction of St. Josephs - possibly assisting with the construction of the 60 foot tower of the church which was completed in 1843.

Colonial Times, Hobart, 22 March 1842, page 3
More to come ...

Friday, 19 October 2012


With the impending addition of 'ploughland' to the DBA terrain options for arable landscapes, there have been some excellent pieces of terrain being created. Some inspirational ploughland terrain created by Timurilank which can been seen at his Eighteenth Century Sojourn blog - have a look!

In the same spirit I will provide some before and after (when they're done) shots. Currently I'm using these pieces cut from a larger terrain mat I was working on a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Rupert routed in Wick Field, 12 Oct 1642

This year I'm repeating the ECW early war campaign I tested last year with the aim of fighting the battled on the actual days. Tonight it was Powick Bridge.

This year I tinkered a little more with the terrain to ensure Colonel Sandys' cavalry regiment had to fight its way down the lane leading Wick Field under fire from Rupert's dragoons behind the hedgerows, while providing some opportunity for Wick Field to come into play a bit more.

Deployment: with the Parliamentary force in the foreground
Rupert, deployed his dragoons in the wood along the lane, while his shot and main force of cavaliers remained in Wick Field. Parliament moved first and was obliged to move down the lane a full movement allowance in this turn.
Position about three turns into the game viewed from Royalist position.
All through the game Rupert's force suffered command issues (no Pips!) giving Parliament the initiative. This allowed Sandys' Regiment to charge down the lane while their dragoons cleared the woods - destroying Rupert's dragoons in the process.

A melee raged back and forth at the entrance to Wick Field but neither side could gain advantage.
Final dispositions on 12th October 1642

The break down in command among the Royalist forces (due to a lack of pips) resulted in teh second loss with Rupert's commanded shot getting caught out in the field on their left - having incautiously ventured out from the safety of the hedgerows - and was ridden down by cavalry and shot on Parliament's right. Rupert, sensing the day was lost, withdrew to Worcester to count the cost.

The Royalists lost one unit of shot and one of dragoons - Parliament had no losses. Replacements were rolled for by the Royalists (4, 5 or 6 on a D6 meaning a unit was replaced before the next battle) with the shot unable to be replaced but the dragoons were successfully reinforced. This will leave the king with only 11 elements at the next battle.

On to Edgehill!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Grumpy Portuguese Colonials

My Grumpy Miniatures Colonial Portuguese DBA-RRR army is largely complete, at last! The list is based on a foot general with options of up to 11 shot, 3 blades, and 2 skirmishers currently. I've tried to give them a fairly ragged look and selected figures that reflect the volley and charge tactics common to the Portuguese.

The Grumpy sculpts are good in general (perhaps lacking a little variation) but my main complaint is a lack of definition in the bodies especially where bandoleers, baldrics and other straps and belts intersect over a padded jack - it proved hard to paint (at least when using my rather impatient style of painting!).

The next challenge is the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) - again using Grumpy Miniatures. However, for the Dutch I have selected figures among the Grumpy range that suggest a well-supplied, more ordered look with most wearing morions. I'm not sure if such a clear variation is historically accurate, but it suits my ideas of how these competing colonial forces should look. After the VOC, its on to Indonesian/Malay armies to give these guys someone to fight (apart from each other).

I'm still battling with finding a suitable artillery piece for both Portuguese and VOC armies - I'd like to use some naval ordnance either in hastily constructed fortifications or being hauled using some makeshift method. Not east to find in 15mm.

Camps and BUAs are still very much in the conceptual stage.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

AE2 'up the Narrows', 24-29 April 1915

Aboard Britain’s greatest dreadnought battleship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, around midnight on the evening of the 25th April 1915, General Sir Ian Hamilton, the commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF), was shaken awake and called to receive a chilling wire from from Lieutenant-General Sir William Birdwood, the Anzac Corps commander.

Birdwood noted that the ANZACs had failed to take their objectives on the first day of the landing and the setbacks and confusion of the first day’s fighting at ANZAC Cove led his generals to recommended evacuation. Birdwood was not convinced and passed the advice on to let Hamilton to decide the fate of the landing. Having just received word that the Australian submarine AE2 had fought its way up through the Narrows over the course of the day, Hamilton answered:

… there is nothing for it but to dig yourselves right in and stick it out. It would take at least two days to re-embark you as Admiral Thursby will explain to you. Meanwhile, the Australian submarine has got up through the Narrows and has torpedoed a gun boat … you have got through the difficult business, now you have only to dig, dig, dig, until you are safe.

Hamilton, quoted by Rhodes James, Gallipoli, London, 1999, p.130 (reproduced at http://www.anzacsite.gov.au/5environment/submarines/ae2.html)

On route to take part in the Dardanelles campaign, the AE2 is making her own way into Aden after being towed across the Indian Ocean by the HMAS Berrima (background) Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41311545@N05/4517626721/
See this link for a great animation of the AE2's passage of the Dardanelles on 24-29 April 1915.
Painting of the AE2 under fire in the Narrows on the morning of 25 April 1915 Source: http://www1.webng.com/InteractiveLearning/K_13/British_and_Australian_submarine.htm
And lets not forget the great deeds on land:
Charles Dixon, The landing at Anzac, 1915
From It was just breaking dawn, The landings at North Beach, 25 APRIL 1915 (reproduced at: http://www.anzacsite.gov.au/1landing/nbeach1.html):
As dawn approached on 25 April, the crew of the Ribble watched anxiously as the first boatloads of Australians–men of the 9th, 10th and 11th Battalions–brought close inshore by battleships, headed for the hazy coastline ahead. The ship's captain, Commander Wilkinson, called out: 
Lights out, men, and stop talking. We're going in now. 
[C E W Bean, The Story of Anzac, Sydney, 1921, Vol I, p.249] 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Parliament routed at Turnham Green!

Much alarm has struck the people of London with the news that the parliamentary army under Lord Essex that marched out from Chelsea Field to meet the King's army this very morning, has met with terrible defeat in a battle at Turnham Green in Middlesex. Early accounts of the battle suggest great loss of life among the Parliamentarian force, the remnants of which are currently flooding back into London.

Historically, the stand-off between the two armies at Turnham Green was at best a stalemate for Charles, and probably is better characterised as a defeat. After avoiding an engagement at Turnham Green:
Charles (once more contrary to Rupert's advice) retreated back up the Thames Valley towards Oxford (losing the possible chance for a flanking movement through loyal Kent), where Charles set up his headquarters for the rest of the war. Never again during the Civil War would the Royalists come as close to capturing London and without London they could not win the war. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Turnham_Green)
However, in this last battle of this 1642 DBA-RRR campaign, Rupert's initiative and determination to press home his successes in the Thames Valley effected quite a different outcome. The battle opens with the two armies arrayed in the common form in the 17th century – foot to the centre and cavalry on the flanks – in the open space formed by Turnham Green, Acton Green and Chiswick common field.

With the end of the campaigning season approaching, the fields of Middlesex were wet and Charles' army, under the commend of the Earl of Forth, stood amongst the enclosures near Sutton court, with boggy ground to its rear. Essex drew up his army between the Great West Road and Chiswick Village, his troops taking what cover they could from the enclosures around Home Field.
The Royalists (foreground) deploy on Turnham Green
For some time the armies stood firm in the still morning air, eyeing off the deployment of their foes. The Parliamentarian force was content to sit in its defensive posture with its commanders satisfied with blocking the King's advance on London. Charles, however, saw the opportunity to strike a decisive blow against Parliament paving the way for an advance among the loyal Kentishmen to London's south. Buoyed by Rupert's victory at Brentford the day before, the King's ordered his commanders to press forward. The calm was shattered by the barking of orders by sergeants and the roll of drums as the Royalist line advanced onto Turnham Green.
As the foot advanced in the centre, the Royalist cavaliers swept out along the road to London threatening the lesser force of cavalry on the Parliamentarian right flank. Seeking to seize back some of the initiative, Essex ordered a general advance out of his defensive positions onto the Green. Essex's cavalry formed a line to meet the advancing cavaliers and his shot, which outnumbered their Royalist opponents, wheeled menacingly towards the Royalist right. Rupert ordered his dragoons out wide to reduce the risk of the artillery at Chiswick House being flanked.

Essex and his heavy cavalry rode furiously to stiffen the resolve of his cavalry as the cavaliers formed a line of battle that would soon overlap the parliamentary right flank. The drumming of hooves mixed with a thunderous cannonade as both Essex's and Charles' foot marched within range of their opposing guns. Charles ordered his foot to wheel to meet Essex's shot on his right and close to musket range.
 The resolute charge by Charles' cavaliers broke and scattered the cavalry on the Essex's extreme right and pushed back the others leaving the commander's Lifegaurd of heavy cavalry surrounded and hard pressed. Essex ordered his Lifegaurd to withdraw fearing they would be surrounded. Meanwhile the Royalist foot in the centre was kept from closing by the furious cannonade. Charles ordered his heavy cavalry into the centre with orders to silence the Parliamentarian guns.

With his right flank collapsing Essex ordered his foot to push hard on the left. Parliament's shot advanced into musket range engaging the Royalist foot and artillery outside Chiswick House hoping to turn the tide with their greater numbers. Musketry clattered as both lines gave fire. Smoke bit at the eyes of the musketeers and lead tore at flesh. Despte their resolute advance Essex's foot faltered with an entire regiment decimated in the centre of their line. The Royalist dragoons rode in at bit at the heels of the Parliamentarians as they fell back in disorder.

The cavaliers on the King's left flank continued to press hard seeking to surround and destroy Essex's Lifegaurd. But this was not without cost as Parliament's heavy cavalry stood firm and shattered a charge to their front, decimating a cavalry regiment. With the initiative firmly with the King, the collapse in command among Essex's forces left the artillery in the centre at the mercy of the King's heavy cavalry as the heavy foot fell to the push of pike. Amidst the chaos in the Parliamentarian ranks, Essex's Lifegaurd were surrounded by a final charge of the King's cavaliers. Despite repeated countercharges with their pistols spewing fire and lead, they were annihilated (note the 6-6 close combat roll!). Essex, now commanding the last regiment of calvary on the field, held his ground protecting the flank of the Parliamentarian foot from utter destruction as it fell back in disorder and finally routed from the field.
 Charle's army had decisively defeated Essex (1:4 elements lost) and with the campaigning season almost at an end, decided to march his army south with the aim of overwintering among rich countryside of Kent to reinforce and reequip his troops for the final push on London in the Spring of 1643.

Here ends this DBA-RRR 1642 mini-campaign. While the outcome at Turnham Green would suggest a decisive Royalist victory, the victory conditions should be consulted to reassure the reader of this result.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

SMS Emden vs. HMS Sydney ... 09:30 hrs, 9 November 1914

Reports indicate that HMS Sydney has limped back into Australian territorial waters several days after intercepting the Kaiser's light cruiser SMS Emden, which had recently attacked the Eastern Telegraph Company's station at Direction Island, in the eastern Indian Ocean.

Artists impression of the engagement between the SMS Emden and HMS Sydney
(source: http://www.greatwardifferent.com/Great_War/Naval/Emden_01.htm)

HMS Sydney, a Town Class (Chatham sub-class) light cruiser, engaged the Emden, commanded by  Captain von Müller, at 09:30 hours on 9 November. Von Müller's lookouts spotted the Sydney as she approached from the east and the Australian light cruiser closed for action. The first few salvos from the Sydney knocked out one of the Emden's main guns and inflicted moderate damage.

Alas, von Müller consistently out-maneuvered the Sydney allowing the Emden's gunners to rake the Sydney's stern on two occasions with very accurate fire disabling two of Sydney's 13" guns and causing significant structural damage crippling the light cruiser. Great advantage was gained form the very fast rate of fire maintained by the Emden's main armaments.

Retaining the initiative, von Müller's gunners scored a critical hit on the Sydney causing her to list badly affecting gunnery and speed at which point her Captain ordered a withdrawal from the engagement with the intention of steaming to His Majesty's naval base at Rabul to undertake repairs.

Indications are that the Emden returned to Direction Island to recover a shore party which has destroyed the telegraph station. The Emden is believed to be now heading towards the north-west Indian ocean. No reports are available yet on the loss of life and property on Direction Island.
HMS Sydney (left) limps away from her engagement with the
SMS Emden at around 11:00 hours on 9 November 1914

HMS Sydney, a 5,400 ton Town Class light cruiser
(1:2400 scale by Panzerschiffe)

SMS Emden, a 3,364 ton light cruiser of the Imperial German Navy
(1:2400 scale by Panzerschiffe)
Final score cards after the encounter show HMS Sydney having taken six hits of structural damage, lost two of her main guns and received a critical hit causing her to list badly. The SMS Emden took two hits of structural damage early in the encounter losing two of her main guns on her starboard side.
Engagement fought using Grand Fleet, Second Edition
by Majestic Twelve Games  (http://www.mj12games.com/)
This was my first attempt at using the Grand Fleet rules and I have to say I found it to be quite an easy system to pick up. The successive die rolling to hit, then to penetrate armour, and finally to assess damage could get a little repetitive in big engagements. But, for my first foray into naval wargaming, I certainly enjoyed it.  The strategy I used in this game was to keep the Emden at medium range from the Sydney (usually 3 nautical miles) avoiding any die roll benefits to both sets of gunners from short range fire. At this range the Emden's gunners out-shot those of the Sydney due to the benefits they had of having a rate of fire modifier (+3 to hit) three-times greater than the gunners of the Sydney (+1 to hit) and presented a difficult target by staying astern of the Sydney and by virtue of being a very small vessel (HMS Sydney is classified only as small) providing a -1 to hit for the British gunners..

I'll certainly re-fight this encounter in the near future (on a larger board this time). For my next project (in between Russian 1812 army for DBN and Dutch/VOC and Prtuguese armies - phew!) I have on the painting table all the ships required for the Battle of the Falkland Islands (9 December 1914) that took place a month after the Emden was sunk by the Sydney. Also, I'm searching for a playing mat to suit naval battles - I may end up making my own.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Work on the Dutch–Portuguese war (1602–1663) begins

My last Colonial project (Egypt 1882) is languishing, but out of the blue has come something new! I've been looking at the Grumpy Miniatures Colonial Portuguese for some time. I really like the stripped-down look of these Europeans fighting at the ends of the earth (if you have a Eurocentric worldview). So finally I've realised I can indulge my growing passion for the 80- and 30-years wars with a bit of a local flavour (being an antipodean).

The Dutch-Portuguese war largely consisted of the Dutch looking to take over Portuguese possessions in Americas, Africa, India and the Far East. Given the Dutch armies seem to be better-equipt versions of the Portuguese (although the Dutch seem to have pike where the Portuguese do not), I can use the same figures and supplement both armies with suitable 'native' allies / slaves. Seeing Botswanafury's great Dutch Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie on Fanaticus recently has only strengthened my resolve.

So, [drumroll please] here are the humble beginnings of my Colonial Portuguese army for DBA-RRR.
Colonial Portuguese general and skirmishers (powder pot throwers) for my DBA-RRR army

I have gone to town with the basing a bit drawing on anything I had to hand that gave it a bit more of a lush, Far East feeling long grass needs a trim). In fact, the whole project challenges my Eurocentric approach to collecting wargaming armies so I need to work out how to do tropical bases and terrain. Ahhh ... new horizons.

PS: Thinking back now, I realise the seeds of this project were sown when I was involved in a pike and musket display for the arrival of the replica of the Batavia when it came to Sydney.
The Pike and Musket Society in action at the Batavia exhibition (source)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Battle of Brentford, 12 November 1642

After Edgehill, Prince Rupert swept down the Thames Valley with the aim of taking the capital – the prospect of which caused a “great stir“ among the Londoners who were making hasty efforts to fortify the city's edge. Rupert's advance was halted by his failure to take Windsor, and the King courted the idea of negotiating a peace before the winter brought his campaign to a halt. This lull also allowed Essex to steal the march on Charles and reach London well ahead of the Royalist advance. Possibly seeking nothing more than a temporary lull in the fighting to reform and re-equip their forces, both houses of Parliament rode out to meet with their King at Colnbrook on 11 November allegedly to entreat for peace. Little came of these talks.

Charles ordered his force to march on London. But, Essex had left troops at strategic locations on the westward approach to London. Two regiments of Parliamentary foot held fortified positions at the village of Brentford – a strategic river crossing. Charles ordered Prince Rupert to take Brentford and a brigade of three royalist regiments were resupplied with ball, powder and match and ordered to attack. Rupert's cavalry and dragoons advanced to the outskirts of the village under cover of a thick early morning mist on the 12 November. The initial Royalist attack was repulsed by regiment of Parliamentarian foot around the house of Sir Richard Wynne, but Rupert ordered in a regiment of Welsh foot to press forward the attack. It is at this point we take up the penultimate encounter in this ECW mini campaign.

Note: I've since discovered from more reading that I have not replicated the Parliamentarian deployment or the scope of the battlefield as well as I could have. The action was fought more over the bridge on the side labelled as New Braynforde on the map below with the Parliamentarian foot falling back to a barricade on the bridge after the first skirmish at Sir Richard Wynne's house, and subsequently falling back to a second barricade across the road through New Brentford (behind their first position).

Moses Glover's 1635 map of Brentford (source)
Accounts suggest Prince Rupert commanded about 4,600 men at Brentford – cavalry, dragoons and a Welsh regiment of foot. For Parliament, under the infamous Leveller John Lilburne, were two regiments of Parliamentary foot – one command by Denzil Holles and the other of Lord Brooke – which were barricaded inside Brentford. In order to add to the playability of this scenario, I gave Parliament 3 elements of foot (2 shot, 1 pike) and the Royalists five elements (3 cavalry, 1 dragoon, 1 shot, 1 pike). Lilburne could deploy two elements within Brentford and one over the river. Rupert's force could deploy within 600 paces of his starting edge

Victory conditions / replacements:

Victory is awarded to the first commander who destroys two of their opponent's elements. For the Royalists any losses cannot be replaced at Turnham Green (the final battle of this campaign). All Parliamentarian losses are automatically replaced at Turnham Green reflecting the influx of foot received when the London Trained Bands were mustered.

If the Royalists win at Brentford they can set up the terrain for Turnham Green representing the fact that the parliament forces fell back in some disarry and not buying enough time for Parliament to pick a good position at Turnham. If Parliament win at Brentford then they can set up Turnhams terrain as they see fit as they bought themselves enough time to prepare. Thanks to 'Cromwell' of Fanaticus for help with fine tuning these victory conditions (and for developing the whole concept of this campaign).

The Battle:
Prince Rupert's force (foreground) deployed on the outskirts of Brentford

Royalist troops (foreground) make their first contact with the parliamentarians defending the village of Brentford
The small action at Brentford opened with Rupert's Welsh foot pushing forward into Brentford under cover of the morning mist. On Rupert's left his dragoons advanced among the enclosures and opened the battle with a volley of musket balls clattering against the hastily constructed defences across the mains street.   Hearing the thunder of musketry, the Parlimentary foot who were holding a defensive position on the bridge, advanced to support Brooke.

Rupert keenly aware that storming Brentford would be costly, ordered half of his cavaliers to sweep right of village to cut off the Parliamentarian line of retreat. Despite the steady advance of the Welshmen into the village, Lord Brooke's foot only gradually back into the town centre. Rupert sought to break the deadlock with a sudden charge of his remaining cavaliers down the main street - hurdling the Parliamentary barricades. Meanwhile, his dragoons flanked the village on the left.

Parliament's foot wheeled to face the cavaliers charging along the river bank on the parliamentary left while Brooke's foot gradually fell back to avoid being taken in the rear by Rupert's dragoons! Brooke rode furiously between his hard pressed centre and flanks as Rupert's trap was sprung. Despite their  dogged efforts to give the cavaliers hot stuff on the left, the encirclement finally started to take its toll with Brooke's shot in the centre being overrun and the Dragoons pressing home on his right.
Rupert's victory was complete when his cavaliers encircled the Parliamentarians cutting them down and capturing their commander in the process. Lord Brooke was equally hard pressed with the royalist dragoons pinning them against the river on the other side of the village. The foul breath of the musketry mingled with the misty morning air as as lord Brooke's men fled across the bridge into New Brentford, paving the way for the King's army to advance on London. On to Turnham Green!

The Battle of Brentford was a Royalist victory (0:2) with two Parliamentarian regiments of foot destroyed.