Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Hi, I'm alive and not a 'Bot.

Well, Facebook is sucking the life out of my spare time, and I'm sure someone said that it would, so in an effort to stop Fac-e-book taking over my life and the world around me, I have a new project. Ok, its kind of 2 projects, Star Wars X wing which filled the void of not wargaming my WW2 US and Germans, and potentially playing my Moderns, and the other is a Night Stalkers Kings of War army.

Why Kings of War? Well why not, and the Night Stalkers are just so SICK when it comes to modelling the figures, there's not that much out there at present, but there is so much inspiration. I like the ability to theme the army the way you want, so long as dread Cthulu gets a lookin, but I think I'm going to try and steer the theme towards C S Lewis, and the White Witch , Jadis and her minions.

C S Lewis may be a blind alley of sorts but Cthulu is definately a strong possibility.

Lots of modelling to ensue, and hopefully a dose of WW2 completion and closure for some of the units I have had sitting around.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

sorry for the lack of posts


Yep, I'm still here, and have done some big Gyros Teller games this year - at Salute and at Bovingdon, in 6mm.

They will be put on the blog, lots of pics, more of some of my modern 20mm and some of the other stuff that has been done - WW2 US 20mm and some german stuff.

Personally speaking, I've been doing a lot of Sci Fi gaming - Firestorm Armada, and Planetfall from Spartan Games. If only because it's the only game in town with my shift patterns.

Also, a little bit more has been found on Colour Sergeant Major William Smith

Thanks for your patience


Saturday, 12 March 2016

Colour Sergeant Major William Smith - a portrait of a Soldier

News of my enquiries into CSM William Smith started to percolate to his descendants - Peter and Elaine , and a couple of very important photographs made their way over to me via the internet. Also, the set of medals were made available to see, so confirmation with examination of the medals confirmed what I had found from records. I am very grateful for their generosity and trust with such precious items.

I also had a look at the Welsh National Archive, specifically the Newspaper microfilm's, and this added further information to what was now known.

The Medals are shown below, with the number of 1156, William's regimental number. Medals can be cast by the thousand, but each is individualised with the soldiers regimental number stamped on the rim of the medal.

 Front view

Rear view

I was able to find the medal roll of the 3rd Battalion, Welch Regiment which had the same regimental number - as stamped on the rim, for the South African Campaign.

And after looking at the archive newspaper records found a photo of the Welch Regiment, parading after their return to Wales. This is almost certainly the 1st Battalion, and not the 3rd Battalion.

Whilst digging into the archives I also came across the following article. This is the Victorian equivalent of a Twitter feed, literally everything would be put through the newspaper, or sought from it, being a vital part of society. 

Evening Express, 5th August 1903

I knew that CSM William Smith had been given the GCM, after all he had it in his medal clasp, and wore it as part of his uniform. This was a significant and valued award to a soldier in Victorian/Edwardian Britain, a capable and trusted soldier who could be depended upon to maintain the ethos of the Army, but specifically and more importantly, that of the Regiment.

Finally, we have the most enigmatic of all the things so far discovered about CSM William Smith. These are 2 photo's of him with a large black crow. Also, the inscription on the back of a postcard, which I believe is a photocard of one of the photo's but can't confirm. Anyway, it identifies the photographer and the subject of the photo's. However, it also makes a clear distinction with reference to William. He had recently died. 

At the moment I have yet to look into identifying the buildings behind William, the photographer, or the other people in the photo with him, the date of the photo, the possible newspaper article reporting his death, or the significance of the crow. Now that is a real mystery, better than any book you could buy or read.

Regimental records are held at Kew - the National Archives, but not all, and a  lot of stuff was blown up by the Germans during WW2, in an effort to frustrate genealogical research, er, not really, but that is the effect. The records need to be tied to WO record series, and not all are in existance. 

When I found out about my fathers lookings, and frustrations with Kew, I had an idea that the Victorians being great colonial administrators, would be excellent record keepers. In fact, they would be positively anal regarding medals and entitlements. The key to finding out about him would be through the medal rolls, once his regimental number was confirmed, and not through the service records, which were missing. So it proved.

Thanks again to Peter and Elaine Harries, and to Mike Smith - you know who you are!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Mythical Earth - Miniature Figurines and Middle Earth

Mythical Earth was an unofficial range of Lord of the Rings figures that helped kickstart fantasy wargaming and fantasy role playing. JRR Tolkien and his estate were always very jealous of minding the interests of Middle Earth. Rights to produce figures as well as the rights to produce media such as films were firmly under lock and key, away from grubby commercialism and the misrepresentation of Tolkien's intellectual property. Well, eventually they gave in, and the rest is history.

Pauline Baynes' cover art for the combined volume of Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings

Miniature Figurines, a go getting company of industry bad boys, in 1972  just went off and did their own thing. Everyone knew what the range was all about, surprisingly the lawyers never appeared knocking on the door. For a range of figures, it's fairly comprehensive, covering nearly everything except Gollum and Galadriel for instance.

                                                  Elf on a horse,      

The figures are classic Minifigs, detail is implied rather than gouged out, and the poses are a little stiff, bearing in mind the moulding process. The design process for the figures draws heavily on the artwork of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, specifically the illustrator Pauline Baynes. The horses are indicative of this period of Minifigs, graceful and delicate, just like Baynes pictures.

Illustration taken from Once Upon a Time Blogspot

Pauline Baynes also illustrated the Chronicles of Narnia. Both writers were at Oxford, Baynes worked with Tolkien and then with Lewis, becoming friendly with both authors. Her work with Tolkien was felt by some to have captured the essence of what Middle Earth was all about, the words descriptors for her artwork. Tolkien did not consider her for an illustrated Lord of the Rings edition though, writing that she would have been unable to rise up to his noble and awe inspiring work. What an self improtant arse.

The Narnian Army, Giant Bombrdom and Centaurs, Illustration from

                        Painted models from

The Minifigs giant bears a remarkable resemblance to the Baynes representation of a giant, as do many of the figures, such as the Centaur and Pan. I have to think it is more than reasonable to look at the artwork and see parallels in the figures, but I believe there is more connection than that. The Mythical Earth range goes up to 60, then next goes to 100 and 101, for the Centaur and Pan. I think this was an unfinished project, and that the last 2 figures were seen to be outside the Middle Earth canon, and which were I feel, the start of a range of Narnian figures. The Giant can also be considered to be crossing between both genres. Giants feature heavily in Narnia. The only instance of Giants featuring in Lord of the Rings, is when the Fellowship are forced off the mountain to take the route through Moria. I hope I have not put a target on my back for this remark!

from The Silver Chair,

Where are the figures now? Two of the figures have turned up on the Minifigs site care of Caliver Books, along with the beautiful and exotic range of figures in Valley of the Four Winds. The ranges were sold for licence by Minifigs to the USA for strictly sale in the US. The original moulds did not go, but masters for production did. However, the moulds were made using silicone, instead of vulcanised rubber, and consequently, the figures produced are between slightly and noticeably smaller than the original UK figures!! Some of the metal used is different as well, as it has a high pewter/tin content for a slightly lighter figure. With the advance of e-commerce, restrictions on sale to specific geographic regions were effectively unenforceable. There are relatively a lot of US produced figures around as generally, Minifigs tanked and US traders baled out of them, disposing of stock.

Original advert  October 1974, from deartonyblair.blogspot

Minifigs advert, not dated, from deartonyblair.blogspot

The original master moulds are somewhere in the Minifigs stash, held by Caliver, and indications are that Valley of the Four Winds UK produced figures are being collected to produce fresh masters for new production, leading some people to dispose of collections before they are made worthless. No such moves have been noted for the Mythical Earth range, but the figures are generally available over time, as collections surface and are traded out. 

Useful and interesting sites

interesting analogue history of miniature figures in the uk

Friday, 22 January 2016

Teeth of the Hydra - Untune the string, and see what discord follows.

The alternative history of Teeth of the Hydra, is hopefully more than just missing a taxi when you cross the road.


If you believe the idea that the universe has an infinite number of possibilities, then Teeth of the Hydra has already happened, and the consequences are playing out as I write this, realising their potentiality in the Multiverse. Somewhere in a South Atlantic, the turbines on the Sea Kings are starting to whine, as the Commando's do final check before load up.


Teeth of the Hydra is my excuse for a geo-politico romp around the globe, armed with the nascent 'Thatcher Doctrine', a revitalised post Falkland Great Britain takes the place in the world Lord Palmerston would have wished for it. 


This series of post's - I hope there will be more, have the Senior Service leading the way. The Commando Brigade, has become the Naval Division, still with a Dutch component, one of the two brigades acting as strategic reserve, the other with its three Commando's committed to Artic, Jungle and Special Operations. This allows for a more integrated command and homogenous force compliment, than the addition of 5 Brigade to the Commando's and Para's did in the Falklands. However, I see the Commando's operating with the Gurkha's or Para's as a regular force deployment.


One of the most fascinating things of the Falklands, was the impact of STUFT on the logistics and support operations of the armed forces. STUFT is the Navy acronym of  Ships Taken Up From Trade. The Atlantic Causeway and Conveyor, show what can be done in 8 days in a Naval Dockyard with a clear plan and determination.


The above picture shows what you can not do. Amongst many things, the ships needed close in protection,  but perhaps more importantly, a robust fire main and emergency power system. Part of the difference in cost with a Navy ship, compared to a Merchant ship for example, is the water mains - being able to draw on salt water for hoses, which can ruin a mains system. Duplication and redundancy built into the spec, means cost.


Close in protection could have been provided by Phalanx systems, available as surplus from the US Army in Europe, as well as chaff projectors for terminal defence against missiles. A number of ships received 20mm Oerlikons. The 20mm are too large and slow to do anything other than scare the bejessus out of trawlers and their like.


Two of the ships to sail, ex Soviet container ships able to handle heavy military equipment, were equipped with armoured cables for power line protection and a damage control centre built as standard specification. These were the MV Laertes and MV Lycaon, built at the Kherson yard in the USSR.


One of the problems with regard to Stuft at the time of the Falklands was, for the MOD, the legal definition apparently. Armed Merchant Men or not however, this does not preclude you from being a target. 


Designs for container ships that could be used are not that difficult to adapt to the dual demands of merchant marine requirements and that of the navy. The main requirements are for good seaway and seakeeping, space and structure for helicopter operations  and the efficient operation of the stores in the container spaces. And built in resilience and redundancy. These are key points raised in the Falklands aftermath analysis.


Its not that I have a fascination with Stuft, to the detriment of other, clearly defined units of force. They are  a cheap alternative for naval platforms to project force, a makeshift though effective unit. They are not able to operate in an environment where they would face up enemy fleet units. They are really over the horizon force projectors. They are there, until the regular, RN equivalents, are built and in service. Or not.

            A Sea Harrier takes off from HMS HERMES, crowded with helicopters and weapons stores, during the Falklands War,

 A clear focus on strategy, and the wherewithal to do it, with efficiency savings, would mean that a 2 brigade Naval Division is within reach, as well as the infrastructure to support it. It also allows for a more active foreign policy that is more than words and good intentions. I would see this supporting Commonwealth and UK policy, the 'Thatcher Doctrine' . Intervention against anti British forces in Africa, following on from action in the Falklands, where, in Teeth of the Hydra, the Soviets flew reconnaissance out of Angola for the Argentines ( as did the US satellites for the Brits, but what is 
the point of having a special relationship, if you can't use it)

                                           Everylittle action.wordpress

The 'Thatcher Doctrine' sees Britain involved with medical, emergency and infrastructure support for former colonies of Great Britain, now part of the Commonwealth, as well as police activities against post colonial insurgency, again lead by the Commonwealth. There is also a part of this that is receptive to appeals from the UN, but is essentially distrustful of such an organisation. The spearhead for this are the Commonwealth Overseas Service Volunteer's. National Service, certainly not, but everyone under 25 has to do 18 months, or join the armed forces. 

                   Navy News

COSV allows entitlement to benefits and housing. This is the core of the Doctrine, public service, for the greater good is its own reward, but is recognised by the government with access to welfare payments, training, free higher education and housing. 


This is enough of the 'politics', the echo box that holds our string. I think I can see it happening, a soak for the unemployment that the industrial realignment brought. an ideal to be harnessed to the energy of youth. Could it have avoided a racist, colonial smell? Could it promote British values, a small c conservative nature, with a small l liberal morality, without becoming neo fascist. What it can do is provide the basis of wargaming the British Army of the 1980's. 

Cheers and thanks for looking. I have written the attribution of the photo's to the right of the photo. Some of the photo's have more than one source., I have merely plundered the image from the interweb thingy. Thanks and acknowledgement to the listed source.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

WW2 German bits and pieces

A general push in the painting department has seen these bits come along with others and help with motivation on generally doing all sorts of stuff. To be honest, I sometimes look at some peoples painting and think why I bother, but these little bits finish up quite nicely, and help gee things along, as well as helping to encourage as they are quickly finished.

Sgts Mess Goulash Kanone, with pneumatic tyres, though it can have wooden spoked wheels. I did a little scratch build pot for the mobile kitchen. A nice piece for just general 'feel' on a table.

An SHQ pak 41/43 88mm A/T Gun. I got this when I went to order/get the M8 turrets, though I had originally intended to get a late war 'Barn Door' 88mm on the cruciform carriage, and Pete didn't have any cast up. Its huge, and I did a bit of fiddling to it, adding a pick and its straps to the gun shield. The 4 figures in the lower picture are SHQ gunners I have included for scale purposes.

From left to right. A Sgts Mess Flak 37 37mm, Grubby Tanks IG18 75mm and an Amercom diecast towed Pak 40 75mm. The Flak 37 was actually labelled as a Maxon quad 50 cal, which I got from them at Bovington - part of the voucher myself and Nick received from Wargames South for the display game we put on. Bit of a shock when I opened the pack, then a challenge to research and make it, as I had no plans. The IG 18 75mm is a must have for my WW2 Germans, a really nice and useful piece of equipment. The Amercom diecast really looks like a Pak38 50mm, not its larger cousin the Pak40 75mm, but that's what it said on the side of the box. It really is a bit too small to be convincing.

The Cavalry are coming

PSC have some really nice, simple and easy to make models in 20mm 1/72 scale, that for the price knock the spots off a lot of other manufacturers, especially of the M5A1 Stuart Light Tank. I had 3 I got earlier, and picked up another 3, with the aim to convert 2 into M8 HMC's. I would use the turret of a M8 Scott HMC from SHQ models, and kitbash it in, something to while away the weekends, as well as being so much lighter than the SHQ model (the only reason for doing this, as there is nothing wrong with their model, except it is metal!!)

The end result is a Light Tank troop, and a pair of Assault Guns for my US Cavalry Group. The newly completed additions.

                                     The whole group, including the previous 3 M5 Stuarts

The only thing that really needs attention now is that I have a lack of M8 Greyhounds and M20 utility cars for the core of the Cavalry group. Also some jeeps, trailers and dismounted personnel are needed to flesh out the Group.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Colour Sergeant Major William Smith - The Welch Regiment

Colour Sergeant William Smith was my great grandfather. 

I have used the old spelling of Welch, as opposed to Welsh.

Born 4th May 1866, died 23 April 1927.

He joined the 41st (Welch) Regiment of Foot when he turned 18. He is recorded as having served in India, Egypt and the South African Wars 1899 to 1902. He is recorded as being a Sergeant in 1894, a Colour Sergeant in 1899, and a Sergeant Instructor in 1903.

A photo of NCO's of The Welch Regiment. Unfortunately I can't date the photo, or the location where it was taken. It is after 1903, when a notice in the Evening News mentions a Colour Sergeant Smith of the Welch Regiment receiving a GCM medal in August 1903. At his funeral on 27th April 1927, a firing party of the 6th Battalion, The Welch Regiment were in attendance. These were formed from the 3rd Glamorgan Rifle Volunteers in the Territorial Army reforms of 1908. It was noted that he had served in the Army for 32 years.

In July 1881, the Regiment was reorganised under the Childers Reforms, an extension of the earlier Cardwell reforms. These reforms set up the Regimental system of 2 Regular Battalion Regiments (from the 41st and the 69th, becoming the 1st and 2nd Battalions respectively) with 2 Volunteer Battalions (South Wales Rifle Volunteer Corps - known as the Glamorgan Rifle Volunteers) tied in to their newly built headquarters depot - Maindy Barracks -  Cardiff, in their Regimental district. However, the Welsh Regiment received an extra regular cadre battalion (Special Reserve) formed from reservists and volunteers from the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry Militia with a regular Officer and NCO cadre, and a further 2 Volunteer Battalions to make 4. There were other depots and training sites - for instance the ubiquitous 'Drill Halls', throughout South Wales situated around the home locations of the Volunteer Battalions and Companies of the Welsh Regiment. I have not detailed the 69th Regiment, the 'South Lincolnshire Regiment', which was to become the 41st's brother battalion in the new Welsh Regiment, though they did on occasion meet in passing, as the general policy that brought about the formation of the 2 Battalion Regiments was that one remained at home for defence of the United Kingdom, as the other served overseas as required.

Kildonan Castle - Union Castle Mail SS

In November 1899 the 2nd Boer War broke out with the 1st Battalion stationed at Aldershot. The 1st Battalion and 3rd Battalion Special Reserve and were sent to the Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, on the Kildonan Castle to take part in the Boer War. They fought in the relief of Kimberley, the battle of Paardeberg (Bloody Sunday) February 1900, Driefontein in March 1900 and Diamond Hill June 1900. The Regiment were given Battle Honours for the relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, and the South Africa theatre. They were to stay as garrison troops till 1904.

In the Medal roll for the Welch Regiment, for the 2nd Boer War, Colour Sergeant William Smith is recorded as having served in theatre with the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion. This was a composite battalion made from the Reserves and from the Volunteer Companies attached to the 41st Welch Regiment. 

Along with the 1st Yorkshire and 1st Essex the Welsh Regiment was put into the 18th Brigade under Major General T E Stephenson, the 2nd Warwick joining later.  The 18th Brigade took the place of the 12th in the VIth Division, and bore a most distinguished part in the events which turned the tide of fortune.  The work of the VIth Division is sketched under the East Kent Regiment, and that of the brigade under the Yorkshire Regiment.

From the despatch of Lieutenant General Kelly-Kenny of 20th February, relating to the attack on Cronje at Paardeberg:
 "I will take an opportunity of bringing to notice the special acts of devotion to duty on the part of individuals; I confine myself at present to representing the fine spirit and gallantry of all the troops engaged; I feel bound, however, to bring to your lordship's notice now the very gallant conduct of the 1st Battalion Welsh Regiment, who were on our right flank: a portion of the battalion charged right up to the Boer laager with the bayonet in the finest possible manner, losing heavily in their gallant attempt to capture it". 

At Paardeberg the Welsh had 1 officer killed and 5 wounded, 15 men killed and 57 wounded.
On 6th March at Poplars Grove, or Osfontein, the Welsh were again engaged; and on the 10th at Driefontein, or Abraham's Kraal, they had a post of honour.  In his telegraphic despatch of 11th March Lord Roberts says, "The brunt of the fight fell on Kelly-Kenny's division, two battalions of which—the Welsh and the Essex—turned the Boers out of two strong positions at the point of the bayonet".  Various correspondents referred in terms of highest praise to the work of the Welsh.  The Press Association correspondent, in an admirable account wired from the field, after referring several times to the way in which the battalion advanced in face of a heavy fire,—both gun and rifle,— said, "Just before dusk the Welsh Regiment gallantly rushed the position at the point of the bayonet, taking a kopje and clearing a considerable portion of the ridge.  The scene was witnessed by Lord Roberts through a telescope".  The battalion lost Captain Lomax, Lieutenant Wimberley, and 29 men killed, 5 officers and over 100 men wounded.
Six officers and 4 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Roberts' despatch of 31st March 1900.
The battalion was engaged at Leeuwkop, south-east of Bloemfontein, on 22nd April, when they lost Captain Prothero and 1 man killed, and 1 officer and 7 men wounded.
In the advance from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, and thence to the Koomati Valley, the battalion was in the engagements outside Johannesburg and Pretoria, and in the battles at Diamond Hill and Belfast, but had no serious losses.  They were stationed at Godwaan from 4th September till 12th October, and were then sent to Barberton, where they remained till 22nd November, when they were sent to occupy various stations in the Koomati Valley—Krokodile Poort, Nelspruit, Alkmaar, Elandshoek, and Godwaan.  While stationed in this most unhealthy district the battalion was decimated by fever.  In May 1901 the battalion was taken to Johannesburg, remaining there as part of the garrison till March 1902, when they were sent to hold a line of blockhouses from Horn's Nek to Hekpoort west of Pretoria, and they were on this duty when peace was declared.
The battalion furnished a maxim gun detachment with the 1st Mounted Infantry under Colonel Alderson, and a company of Mounted Infantry in Colonel De Lisle's battalion.
In Lord Roberts' final despatch 12 officers and 20 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.
In a train incident at Alkmaar on 20th May 1901 a lieutenant, a non-commissioned officer, and a private gained mention for great gallantry; and in Lord Kitchener's final despatch 4 officers and 4 non-commissioned officers were mentioned.
Officers of the 1st Battalion, Welsh Regiment, South Africa
They left in July 1904 to return to barracks in Gravesend. Kent. It was later, in 1909, that the 1st Battalion was sent to Egypt and Sudan. In February 1914 they were sent to India until the outbreak of WW1, where they were ordered back to the UK, heading off to France in January 1915.

Queens South Africa Medal - 1 bar - Cape Colony
Good Conduct - Long Service Medal
Kings South Africa Medal - 2 bars - South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902
Good Conduct - Long Service Medal - Volunteer Forces, small medal and clasp

Thanks to
Peter and Elaine Harries - Kildonan Castle picture Boer War extract and photo
Welsh Regiment Museum

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Teeth of the Hydra - Whisky Kilo and Whisky Alpha

After picking up an Amercom IFOR Sea King, I got another 2 from Ebay. 2 of the Sea Kings have been converted to 1980's HC4's now, the other is awaiting space in the paint shop

 Scale comparison 

 Whisky Kilo

 Whisky Alpha

Commandos on the ground, ready to roll

Things are starting to take shape with my Royal Marine task force, and looking forward to the 3rd Sea King, and a further 2 helicopters - Lynx with Tow who are about to make an appearance as well.