Sunday 30 December 2012

Book of the Month

The Vanished Army by Tim Carew, initially published back in 1964. This covers the British Expeditionary Force to France and Belgium in 1914, and is a marvelous portrait of the end of the old regular army told in a very readable fashion from stories of the ordinary privates called back from reserve to those of the people at the top. It covers the period from a pre-war overview of the army, through mobilisation and deployment in France, ending in November 1914. Thoroughly reccommended if you can get hold of a copy.

Plans, Projects and Resolutions

I've been running this blog for just over a year now, and decided that it is time I put some organisation into it, rather than let it run in the desultory way it has been doing. Looking at the posts it has been a bit of a mish-mash, and needs a tidy up, so I'm thinking, over the next few months, of re-organizing the way it works. This will take the form of setting up new pages for the various projects in hand, and possibly bringing the Grand Duchy of Humperstein blog back to the fold, rather than seperate as it is at the moment. This is because the 28mm figures used will be the same figures I shall use in the larger actions of my Heptarchy actions, though I still intend to keep the 54mm units going for that project. Also, I have a half formed idea for an 18th century 'Welsh Wars of Independence' using 30mm figures from people like Minden, Fife and Drum and Tradition. Unfortunately I succumbed to temptation and a battalion of Fife and Drum Americans in hunting shirts are sitting at the back of the Metal Mountain waiting to be transformed into a Welsh 'woodsmans battalion'when I can get round to it.

As far as I can see, apart from the 30mm stuff, I have enough figures to make up two armies, one is based on the Foundry British Crimean army, while the second is a disparate collection of troops varying from Napoleonic Brunswickers through Spanish Carlist wars, American/Mexican wars and Italian Unification forces. These will be allocated to the various countries that need them, and I'm currently working on an Order of Battle for them in order to sort out a painting roster. Perhaps by the middle of the year I can have a battle?

One resolution is to change as much of the unpainted stock into finished units this year, and while most of the smaller figures will go away to be painted I shall try to get more of my own done. The figures won't be as good, but they will be my own work! I shall have to do some reorganisation of the garden shed to allow more room, but the railway will just have to be moved over, and the garage will have to become more of a workshop (machine tools, even small modelwork ones, take up room and create dust).

Another project I hope to accomplish involves our second bedroom. Previously occupied by our daughter, who is now ensconced in her own billet, this room is going to have a sofa-bed in it, as well as our bookcases and my 'study'. If I can, I want to make a small hinged game surface that I can put over the drop-leaf table that is there at present. The table is too small to support a game itself, but will take a larger surface overlaid.I'm hoping to make something about 6foot by 4foot using 2foot by 4foot pieces of ply.

I've been looking at the blog reading list of those I follow, and find it totals 93! These are not all military, as it covers model railways and woodworking as well, but still a lot. A quick check shows that I only follow about a dozen religiously, and some have not posted for months anyway (one has a last post 3 years ago). I usually check the dashboard for updates daily in order to keep up to date, though I don't always have time to drop a comment. Many thanks for those of you who have given me inspiration and encouragement over the last few months, hopefully you'll find my scribblings more interesting in the coming year.

A happy, healthy and prosperous 2013 to you all..

Thursday 20 December 2012

Happy Xmas to me!

A short pre-seasonal showing of a few items I treated myself to over the last few days. First up is a game I picked up for £2.50 at our local Hospice Charity shop while I was doing some relief cover for the sick manager. An old game I vaguely remember, though I never owned one. I really bought it for the board which will probably find some way of being used in my plans for the Heptarchy games.

Second is some poor photos of some figures from the Discworld stories of Terry Pratchett. While the website quoted them as 30mm, when they arrived I found them to be more of a 35mm average, with Death coming out at 45mm. This one will certainly find his way into my painting schedule, as he should be present, on a suitable basing, on every wargame table! I also have Otto Chreik, the Vampire photographer, Mustrum Ridcully, Lord Downey, the three flying Witches, and of course, the Patrician himself, Lord Vetinari. You can find full details of these and the others in the range, at

Well, I'm busy working on my resolutions for next years projects. How about you? Will they all get done, or even started?

Friday 7 December 2012

Christmas Greetings

Tomorrow (Saturday the 8th) is Christmas Day here chez Jopson. It has come early because our daughter and her fiance are off to spend the next two weeks in Thailand, so MrsJ decided that gifts should be dished out early, especially as one or two are special requests for use on the trip! What she neglected to tell me was that she would be working away from home today and staying out overnight, so yours truly has been left with the job of preparing Beef Wellington (we're not traditional 'poultry christmas dinner' people) and the trimmings. I see a busy morning ahead with one of Delia's tomes propped open on the worktop.

So, I take this opportunity to wish you all the compliments of the season, may you all receive the troops and artifacts you desire, and may next year see you going from strength to strength. I look forward to following your exploits and letting you know what is happening in this neck of the woods. One of my resolutions is to become more focussed and organised. MrsJ says she will believe that when she sees it happen!

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Leibster Award

It appears that I have been nominated for one of the latest crop of Liebster Awards. Many thanks to
Mosstrooper at and Tradgardmastre at .I feel quite honoured that people think my inane and illogical ramblings merit attention, but grateful that they are read. I believe I have to nominate my five blogs now? Difficult. according to my counter I currently have 75 blogs on 'watch', not all wargaming, some are model railways. Some seem to be slightly defunct as there have been no entries for some time.

So, taking these into account, and trying not to repeat those that already have the award, or too many followers to match the criteria, my five.

Army Red/White and Others. the 54mm blog that got me back into this at the start, so it's all his fault.

The Kingdom of Wittenberg. the one I always go to immediately, and one of the ones i'd like to emulate eventually.

I like the things I like. http://ilikethingsilike.blogspot who does amusing things with basic plastic figures and old postcards (not neccessarily at the same time)

Classic Wargaming. that does what it says on the tin.

The Airfix Civil War Project. http://airfixcwproject.blogspot which is a fairly new blog but brimful of nostalgia for those of us who had these figures originally.

I could have listed a lot more, and probably spend far too long browsing than I should. I feel a resolution for next year coming on!

Monday 26 November 2012

Book of the Month x2

Two books from my shelves this time, as I couldnt decide which to feature first.

The Law Marches West, Sir Cecil E Denny, an Inspector in the original NWMP, was originally published in 1939 and reprinted in 2000. It is the story of how the RCMP (Mounties) made their epic march to the North West in 1874 and their subsequent feat of bringing law and order to this wild region. It is a tale of "guts and rugged determination....littered with blizzards and bootlegging, horse rustling and gold-digging...full of the romance of pioneering history. A very interesting read, I can see that it could lead to a number of scenarios involving the law, indians, settlers and roughnecks that could be slightly different to the 'Wild West' norm.

Broadsides and Boarders, Marvin H Albert. published back in 1958, is the story of the romantic era of warfare under sail told through the stories of some of the Great Captains, including Nelson, Drake, Suffren, John Paul Jones, Monck and De Ruyter. I first read this just after the publication time and, being a youngster, discovered that other countries had their naval heroes too, just as respected and loved as our own. Well worth searching out if you can find it. (My copy was priced at 21/- reduced to 4/11)

 I'm trying not to critique any books I put up, as I find that not everyone has the same taste, and that books I've enjoyed over the years may not suit you. I can only reccomend something that takes my fancy. Please feel free to comment on the choice or remarks.

Sunday 4 November 2012

On The Desk Today

It's pouring with rain outside, I'm suffering from bunged up nose, runny eyes and throaty cough, so don't feel like doing anything excertive. Just thought I'd post a picture of my painting desk as it is this morning.
This holds two 54mm FLW regiments, one cavalry one infantry, a batch of based mounted commanders from the Great Wars Crimean range who will be the General Staff for my 28mm Grand Duchy of Humperstein army, a batch of Foundry ACW artillerymen in shirtsleeves who will end up as Engineers for same, and an assortment of civilians from various makes to act as politicians and bystanders. I haven't painted anything this small for years, so it will be interesting to see how I get on. I'm not a fan of 'black lining' (my hand shakes too much) and I prefer gloss finish. Pictures eventually.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Book(let) of the Month

While very little is happening on the figure front (just finishing of Mr Llanfanihangel Penbeddw, President of the Republic of Wales) I thought I'd drop a picture and small description of this small booklet from my shelves.

The Great War Game, published by Britain's to support their range of soldiers. According to James Opie's book 'The Great Book of Britain's' it was put out in 1909, which I believe predates 'Little Wars' by a few years. My copy is a reprint put out in the early 1990s.

The cover is as illustrated, with portraits of 'warlords past and present' showing Wellington, Napoleon, Lord Roberts, Lord Kitchener' Von Moltke and the Kaiser. An interesting selection. The title page suggests that it is for 'boys of all ages from 5 to 75 years, the 16 pages of close type include chapters on the Battlefield, the Army, Moving of troops, Time, Ammunition and methods of firing, Killed and wounded, Recruits, Prisoners, Tactics and War correspondents, ending with a description of a battle between the French (Napoleon) and the Russians (Czar), showing that Napoleonic warfare was to the forefront even then even if the troops were of the wrong era.

I was interested in the army make-up, where one corps is made up of two infantry and one cavalry brigades, each brigade of two or three regiments, each regiment of three or four companies (infantry) or three or four squadrons (cavalry) all of ten to twenty men each. To my maths this makes a regiment of between 30 to 80 men, a lot to move around though trays of 12" by 6" are suggested. Although this is impractical today at 54mm it might be feasible in the smaller scales?

My sister and I have nearly sorted my late mother's estate, normal service should be resumed within a couple of months.

Saturday 29 September 2012

Back to normal

Well we've returned from our sojourn in Wales, which lived up to its reputation, as we had three days of the wettest rain for a long time. Sounded like the jungle drums on the caravan roof. MrsJ had expressed a desire to go up Snowdon even though she has a fear of heights. Because of the weather we went by the rack railway. A one hour trip, with 30 minutes at the top before another hour down. Our train was cancelled as we were the only two waiting for it, so we took the free coffee and waited for the next one.

This is MrsJ just outside the summit visitors centre. I couldn't persuade her the last few 30 feet to the top as 'there's no hand rail'. The trip up was memorable, squashed in like sardines and the view shrouded by mist, apart from a few stretches that showed what a good day could have been like.

This was the view from the summit. Believe it or not you're supposed to be able to see other countries from here. All we got was in impenetrable grey blanket.

We came home a couple of days early, so I was able to put finishing touches to my little gaming model of HMS Hotspur, matching the recent HMS Glatton.

She still needs boats (yes, and some bunting), but a couple more of these and I can have a small skirmish.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Book of the month

My wife and I are about to depart for two weeks in Wild Wales, half near Aberystwyth and half near Cardigan, taking the caravan and plenty of reading. Romantic bodice rippers for her, nice sedate murder mysteries for me. Just time to show you this book from my shelves.

Published originally in 1964, I obviously obtained my copy second-hand as it has a dealers sticker and pencilled price (£10) in it. It deals with a lesser aspect of military campaigns, namely the activities and expolits of War Correspondents.
Starting with William Russell and the Crimean War, the various chapters cover the American Civil War, The Franco-Prussian War, the Russo-Turkish War, and various fracas in Oxus, Abyssinia, Ashanti, Zululand, the Sudan, Cuba, Greece, the Boer War, and Russo-Japanese War, ending on the eve of the '14-18 do.
Definitely worth reading, and perhaps a few journalists might appear in your game plans? 

Saturday 8 September 2012

HMS Glatton

You first saw her in embryo back in July, now after various distractions HMS Glatton is finished in all her glory. Although the overall impression is good I'm not too happy with the finish, and the painting could have been neater. I think the model does capture the character of those old ironclads, and now she needs an opponent. HMS Hotspur will be on the slips shortly.

There should be more davits and boats scattered about, but I thought they might get damaged in use, so ignored them. I may put a bit more 'clutter' on the foredeck eventually, as it looks a bit bare as it stands.

Sunday 2 September 2012

Recent Abscence

I have not been putting anything up here lately. This is because my elderly mother had a nasty fall some weeks ago and I've been shuttling back and forth between Ipswich and Boston (some 200 mile round trip) to visit in hospital. All seemed to be going well and we were looking forward to having her home, when she contracted shingles, which suddenly developed into some long named meningitis. A massive stroke followed, and the doctors put her on very strong medication, but after a week of unconsciousness and a hard fight (she was a stubborn old lady, in her way) she passed away.
It is the end of an era for me, the last member of her generation of the family. It was very strange entering her house without her there. I shall miss her.
Now it only remains to get her affairs sorted and eventually get back to normal. Reports will resume soon.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

New Yeomanry Uniform Book

I have just received my copy of the new Yeomanry Uniform book from D.P.& G., the last in a four volume set. This one from 1901 to 1914. A review has been sent to the Funny Little Wars yahoo group, but here are a few photos to whet the appetite.
Plenty of scope for new units here.

Thursday 12 July 2012

The Naval Side

As things are a bit quiet at the moment on the troops painting front while I have other concerns I thought I'd put up a picture of an ongoing project. This is a small coast defence ironclad based on HMS Glatton. She is about 4inches long and has a single forward turret. I took the drawing from Oscar Parkes "British Battleships" just tracing it straight off the page. There's just a little more detailing to be done and a Victorian paint job. My intention is to have half a dozen or so of these little vessels for use on the grass with very simple rules, which I'm working on now and again. Once she's finished it may be the turn of HMS Hotspur, fixed turret but moveable gun.

One now for 'Chasseur' - I've managed, after a long search, to get hold of a copy of 'The Black Battlefleet' by Admiral Ballard. A detailed look at all the Royal Navies capital ships from Warrior to the 'Alexandra' of the 1880s. Originally published as a series of articles in The Mariners Mirror in the 1920's, my edition is from1980.

As well as giving details and many photos of the ships, the book has pictures of life aboard, and also includes large sail plans of some of the ships, including sizes of masts and yards. Also included are tables of armament and armour, and machinery data. The latter includes the avarage speed of the ship so any gamer could build any differences into his rules.
It was quite an expense, but will be worth every penny eventually. Strangely enough my copy came from Canada.

Friday 6 July 2012

New Greens

Real life has been getting in the way of hobbies this month, and July is looking to be equaly as hectic, my elderly mother (94years and going strong) was rushed to hospital a couple of weeks ago after a fall. This is the second time in six weeks. As she is still there and the docs can't seem to find out what the problem is - latest opinion seems to be a thyroid problem - she's likely to be there a while. This means a round trip to visit of 200 miles on a regular basis, so other things get put on hold.

In the meantime here are pictures of my current ongoing project. I was slightly disatisfied with the fact that current figures don't seem to provide quite the style of troops I wanted for my volunteer units, so I've started to commission a small range for myself. Here are the greens for the first.
They utilise the same body, but I have currently two heads, one with a pom-pom and one with a plume, and arms for advance arms or slope arms. The plan is to have a further selection of heads (fusilier busby and rifles cap for example) and more arm positions, plus an officer figure to complete a unit . With judicious mix'n'match these will give me a considerable number of different figures (I did calculate that, using the various parts of the pack, water bottle and blanket roll this one body would give me 16 different figures ) Perhaps later another body pose perhaps walking. Then I can replace my langley armies with these over time. The greens have gone to the mould maker at the moment.

Friday 1 June 2012

New Units

Just finished two new units for my volunteer forces. The first is a unit of Lincolnshire Yeomanry in their dress uniforms. First formed (in this incarnation, there had been previous yeomanry regiments but disbanded) in 1901and disbanded in 1922, the regiment saw service in Palestine and France during WW1, Most of the members did not own (because of cost) the full dress uniform, and I'm informed that it was unlikely the regiment ever used lances! The figures are based on Langley models items.

The second unit is a bit of a mish-mash. It is an imaginery unit, made up again of various Langley pieces. I had four privates, a standing officer and a mounted officer already, from some years ago, so I ordered enough items to complete the unit to my normal regimental size. Unfortunately it wasn't till I had glued them all together and started painting that I realised I had the wrong head on the new batch.

This unit is rather special, as it is the only one (currently) in the new khaki service dress,the only one without a 'County' designation, and it's the only one where each member is named.. Because of this I have called it 'The Gentleman Pensioners' . It is commanded by Colonel Grant with the officer on foot being Lieutenant Wells. The other members of the group are, in no particular order, Tunstil, Young, Lawford, Wise, Quarrie, Stevenson, Asquith, Featherstone and Perry. All familiar names. Their is one private so far unnamed, and I'm torn between Suren or Stadden, though perhaps I should go with Britain?

I've spent today undercoating figures for another three units, but they will have to wait now, as we are away for the weekend, helping my sister-in-law celebrate the Jubilee at her village in Northamptonshire.

Have a patriotic weekend.

Thursday 31 May 2012

Book of the Month 1

While I was in town with the wife, clothes shopping, I was left in Waterstones to browse (she knows I can spend hours in a decent bookshop) and came out with this one.

It was on the 'new' shelves just inside the door. Not an author I know, but has written a couple of books which I may seek out now.

This is a novel following the exploits of a cavalryman in the Crimean War, starts of as a corporal, goes down to private, up to sergeant and ends the book as an ensign, having fallen foul of his RSM, fancying the RSM's wife, disobeying orders, not thinking much of most of the officers in charge, and generally getting himself involved in all the major battles of the war. Written very much in the 'Sharpe' vein and using, as its basic plot, the (factual) mysterious Staff Officer from the battle of the Alma. I won't give any spoilers, but it is an enjoyable read. Can't see it as a series though, as the wars practcally over by the end of the book. 

Wednesday 23 May 2012

A Whimsical Interlude

I haven't had a lot of time for soldiering lately, retirement seems to keep one busy doing other things, so there's not a lot of progress at the moment. Troops are being painted, but slowly, and I'm trying to get a couple of buildings built. More on that later.
In the meantime, I've been neglecting the 'Steam' part of the blog (and the 'Torpedoes' but I'm working on it.) and while I have a model railway layout in the planning stage the shed bench is taken up by unpainted regiments. I did, however, get to the exhibition in Bury St.Edmunds last saturday, and while my wife says "if you've seen one model railway you've seen them all" I think she'd find this one somewhat refreshing.

I hope you enjoy this slight side-track (!) I know a lot of visitors to the show did.

Friday 11 May 2012

Some 40mm (?) Cavalry

During a ransack of the shed earlier this week while looking for something I came across a small box containing three drop casting moulds and the pictured figures. Now, these must be about 20 years old, and I'd forgotten all about them. I remember commissioning them from a gentleman calling his business 'The London Garrison', when I attended one of the London Toy Soldier Shows, intending them to be the first of a range.
Unfortunately I never followed up, and these two, plus a standing figure in undress with swagger stick, were the only ones I cast up and painted (I notice the varnish is turning a bit yellow with age), and as I say, they were cast into the back of a cupboard.

The problem is, I don't know what to do with them now I've found them. I'm not even sure they are 40mm, though they are larger than 30mm and smaller than 54mm. I don't want to start a fourth scale collection, as economically it's unfeasable, so what can I do. Suggestions, on a (theoretical) postcard, please.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Another New Blog

As promised, I have begun a new blog to cover my smaller scale doings. This is at  It's only a beginning, there's a lot of work still to do, but I hope you will take a look, post comments, and enjoy its whimsicality.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Retirement Arrives

Well, it's here at last. As from 4.30 this afternnon I am officially retired and my time is all my own. According to my wife I can now call myself as a 'househusband' as I can do the housework while she continues in her job!

I've had a quick look at the current projects and see I have some way to go. My 54mm toy soldier 'Heptarchy' project has about 50% of figures ready, the 28mm Grand Duchy of Humperstein project has half the troops and I'm researching a suitable oponent (this project has a considerable background, and may be the subject of a seperate blog), while the 30mm 18th century project is hardly off the ground. All of them need an infrastructure. There's also the numerous ship models (wargame and static display) and general woodwork I want to do.

Plenty to keep me out of the pub. In the meantime, here are a few more photos from the Musee Des Blindes in Saumur, apologies for the lack of captions.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Musee Des Blindes, France

I promised some photos from my recent visit to the French Musee Des Blindes (Tank Museum) at Saumur in the Loire Valley, here are a few of the 80 odd that I took. First a brief tale of the museum itself. Please excuse any poor facts, but I'm translating the french guidebook, as the english version is reprinting. thankfully the museum signage has english translations.

The museum is very close to the French Army Cavalry School, and the basis of the collection was started by a Colonel Aubry and built on by the Mistere de la Defense from 1965. It now houses some 850 vehicles with 250 operational, often taking part in local and national commemorations. there is a website -

The museum extends over 10 large rooms, and these are
1914-18 war
Campaign of France 1940
German Room WW2
Room of Heroes - (Rommel, Patton, Kuthozov, Monty, Leclerc, and of course De Gaulle)
Room of Curiosities (including a 'training tank' with road wheels)
Allies of WW2
French post war room (including Indochina)
Room of engines
Modern Room

All in all a good three hours viewing, an enthusiast could be there all day. It is very underused, with only 7 visitors during our stay (including the three of us) and this on an Easter saturday.

The foyer, with a life size paper soldier on the wall. Unfortunately they've missed an opportunity here, as we didn't find any on sale.

Schneider CA61 from WW1.

A view of about half the German WW2 room

Voiture Pliable. Designed for airborne use, a very light 4 man vehicle that folds up into a packing case. and can be set up in 'several minutes'.

Part of the Warsaw Pact room

View of the WW2 Allies room.

AMX 30B - If I've got this right this vehicle is the only one of its kind. Developed by the French during the Iraq war for mine clearance, it is radio controlled.

I only regret that I couldnt get a picture of the anti-tank Vespa. A scooter fitted with a 75mm canon. You don't see many of those on model battlefields!

So that is just a taster. I hope you agree that it is well worth a visit. The Chateaux and wines of the area are great as well.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

A Little Teaser

Well, I'm fully (?) recovered from recent ailments, 14 working days left to retirement, and just back from ten days caravanning in the Loire Valley, where a number of us (three caravans in convoy, I bet the local road users loved us) indulged in a bout of wine-tasting and purchase, museum visiting, and Chateau ogling.

During the second we visited the Musee Des Blindes at Saumur, the French museum of armoured vehicles. I'm not well up on tanks, but the museum has approximately 800 assorted vehicles, from WW1 to date, covering all nations. I took so many photos the battery in the camera died. Eventually, after I've weeded out the rubbish, out of focus, and camera shake ones; and identified the rest (I did make a list as I went round), I will post the best. So keep an eye out.

In the meantime, here is a photo from another visit, this time to the Chateau du Clos Luce, final home of Leonardo Da Vinci (no, I didn't know he died and was buried in France either). This is of one of his inventions, models and replicas of quite a few are on show.

and his tank. I can see how this wouldn't catch on, as it seemed to be worked by four (big strong) fellows turning handles while the artillerists (?) worked the guns in very cramped conditions.