Thursday 30 June 2011


Thought I'd quickly post this picture. I bought these haystacks at Broadside and quickly painted them up a couple of days ago. The models are resin and although they are supposedly 15mm scale they could easily be used for 28mm wargaming as well. Made by Mainly Military resin Scenics and sold by the Plastic Soldier Company.

The paint job couldn't have been simpler. I cleaned both models with acetone (acetone based nail varnish remover will do) then undercoated them with GW white primer. Each model was then just washed with Vallejo dark Flesh in wash and then drybrushed with bright yellow for highlight. Then I painted the ground dark brown with some simple highlighting. I decided not to add static grass as I thought it looked better like this.

I finished off with the usual GW Purity Seal satin varnish and then two coats of Testors Dullcoat to give them a Matt finish.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Tanks in Camera by David Fletcher

I bought my copy of Tanks in Camera: The Western Desert, 1940-43 by David Fletcher at Broadside a few weeks ago. I paid the princely sum of £5.00 for it and not only was it a bargain it has also been a very enjoyable and fascinating book to read.

Drawing on photographic archives of the Tank Museum, this book covers the three years of almost continuous tank warfare in the western desert of North Africa. Each chapter is prefaced by an overall description of the tactical situation and individual battles that marked each phase of the war. These sections alone make this a good overview of the desert campaign.

I particularly enjoyed these chapter overviews, which are written in David Fletchers uniquely straightforward and witty style. He has the ability to cut through the facts and figures and get to heart of the matter from the point of view of the troops that fought in these hot and dangerous machines.

This preface is then followed by a selection of illustrative pictures that have largely not been seen elsewhere. Most of the pictures are by allied servicemen (although officially they were banned from taking pictures many still did) with just a handful of 'official' pictures thrown in. Consequently some of the pictures are not technically perfect and some have clear signs of age or even scribbled notes by the photographer on them. But this make the selection of ohotos more interesting because they are not posed publicity shots or war photographer pictures. These were taken by real soldiers and get behind the mask of officialdom in a way that other pictures do not.

Hardcover: 186 pages
Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd (Feb 1998)
Language English

Monday 27 June 2011

Rampage 2011

Sunday afternoon I went to the Ilford Wargames Group annual show, Rampage. As in previous years it was held in a school hall in Dagenham and as in previous years it was very hot inside. This is a small show with just  ten traders and a dozen or so display games. There was also a well attended 2 day Tournament in another hall. First the pictures...

My one small complaint is in fact an old moan I have made before, namely poor labeling of the display games. Only a handful of the tables had any title/information available to the casual viewer and some of the groups (thankfully just a handful - naming no names) seemed so intent on their games they ignored visitors. This made identifying the games in my pictures a little tricky, so if any are mislabeled please let me know and I'll amend my captions.

Mrs BigLee
Mrs BigLee came along with me and this was her first wargames show in 19 years of marriage! She was a good sport though and let me wander around the hall several times and take my time taking pictures and spending money. I came back with my usual bag of loot including a dozen bottles of paint to replenish my dwindling stocks. I also bought a copy of the first Art of War book produced by Battlefront which I have been looking for for some time.

Although it was only a small show I still enjoyed it, mainly because its my 'local' show, being just five minutes from home. The highlight of the show was the amazing trench warfare table created and presented by Whitstable & Hern Bay Wargames Club. the game, Crush the Kaiser featured two opposing sections of trench lines including support trenches. The detailing of this entirely club built table was fascinating and very interesting to look at.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Big Picture : Tankfest Weekend

This weekend is Bovington Tank Museums annual event Tankfest. This picture of an M4 Sherman (76mm) was taken at last years event. It was a damn hot weekend but the vehicles on display were truely awesome. Although I couldn't make this years event I'm hoping to attend again next year.

Friday 24 June 2011

I was going to post some pictures of my latest painting project here today but things got a little behind schedule (ie a LOT behind schedule). I have several items on my painting table all at various stages of incompleteness and with a full weekend of activities before me. So in lieu of a list of excuses here's a picture I found some time ago that made me laugh.

I'm not entirely sure I agree with the sentiment but I recognize some of the people in the picture from my group.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Karl - Birth of Mystery

Once again I bow before the talent of my friends. This time my good friend, fellow blogger and member of the Dagenham Dungeon Delvers, Derek has written and published a book based on one of his D&D characters. Its the first of a trilogy with Part 2 already nearly finished and part 3 well into development. Here's what Derek has to say about the book:

"Karl Axilion was the first character I played in a fantasy RPG. He needed a back story as he joined into an existing campaign. Then many years later when a new campaign started a new GM (who was a player in that old game) suggested I dust off Karl, revamp the story and use him in the new setting. So I did. I took the character, re-worked the story a bit and introduced him into that campaign, into a whole new specially created world.

This story is again a piece of the original, a piece of the new and a whole lot more besides. It is not a blow by blow account of the game. This is the first part of a trilogy, and is completely removed from the games, just borrowing favourite characters and using them for my own devices. Book two is almost complete and the third is well plotted out to conclusion."

How cool is that! I've already ordered my copy and look forward to discovering a little more about a character I adventured with and thought I knew fairly well. More details can be found on Dereks blog, JK's Fantasy World and pre-orders for this book can be placed via the Hundred Publishing Website.

The Lament of Drol Belegost

I have been looking through some of my old notes for the D&D campaign I ran a few years ago and came across this piece of Dwarven poetry. It was supposed to be central to a third campaign arc and reading it again makes me wish we had been able to finish the story I was planning.

I developed this verse from something I found on the internet (sorry, can't remember where from now) which i think was itself derived from an Inuit poem. The name was actually inspired by Tolkein and was one of two Dwarven cities in the Ered Luin in the First Age. Belegost in Sindarin means 'mighty or great fortress'. In the context of the poem it represented the great and mighty past of the dwarves of my world, Euda, and spoke of their gradual decline.

The Lament of Drol Belegost

Bitter cold and Snowfell Sun,
Where the white fox and the Caribou run.
Ilbana’s light makes nights like days
And sets northern skies ablaze.

Thin Elven wine is not for me,
For I have lived when dragons roamed free.
The Ice Hold is where we stay,
And sing of glories from a latter day.

Time rolls on in the halls below
Hammer strikes, metals glow.
Where we dream of past and better things
And anvils sing to summon kings.

I can't claim this as an original work (and no copywright infringement is intended if portions are borrowed - not even sure where I got the original from) as the basic outline comes from something I found trawling the internet for ideas. What I did do was adapt and change some of it to fit into the world setting and campaign requirements of my game. The resulting 'collaboration' is rather pleasing I think.

A lot of what I wrote for my campaign wasn't entirely original, leaning heavily on mythology and stories from the wild corners of our globe and from literature. As a GM I was never above using someone elses good idea and developing it into something else for my campaign. What I enjoyed was finding original ways to link ideas together into a narrative whole that looked like it had been purpose written.

I like to think that my attempt to bring a little more depth to my world made it a more realistic experience for my players. Created worlds can easily be little more than a blank canvas, but real worlds are more complex and rich. Whether my players appreciated the effort I put in is hard to say, but I hope they enjoyed it. And maybe one day we'll get a chance to find out why Belegost was so glum.

Monday 20 June 2011

Wargames Illustrated 285

I received my copy of Wargames Illustrated 285 on Friday and although I haven't read it all yet (still busy decorating like a man possessed) I did get a chance to dip into it. I particularly enjoyed the review of Salute 2011 although it did leave me wishing I'd been able to attend the show.

There's a distinctly Napoleonic theme to this months issue with several articles looking at The French invasion of Russia in 1812. One things that stood out was a reproduction of the Carte Figurative by Charles Joseph Minard (available in the Public Domain and reproduced below) which displays a wide variety of information about the advance of Napoleon's army into Russia and its subsequent retreat 1812-1813.

This is an excellent graphical display of information that brutally and clearly shows the diminishing size of the French Army during this ill fated attempt to tame the Russian Bear. The numbers of men present are represented by the widths of the colored zones. The brown represents the men who entered Russia in their progress to Moscow, and the black those who leave it via the long frozen retreat.

I may write more about this issue once I have had a chance to read more but as always there seems to be plenty to keep me happy and occupied over the coming days.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Fathers Day

My kids know me well. They made this brilliant card and bought me a copy of the classic film The Battle of Britain starring Michael Cane, Kenneth More, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plumber, Ralph Richardson and Susannah York to name but a few.

They may drive me round the bend sometimes (its in their job description apparently) but my kids do know what makes me tick!

Big Picture : Toy Museum

This Big Picture was taken at the Toy Museum at Stansted Mountfitchet. As well as the obvious huge collection of Toys the museum also includes several costumes from popular films like Star Wars. This is a relatively small museum but packed with so much stuff you can easily loose a few hours inside. And I defy anyone over 30 not to have an "I had one of those" moments!

Friday 17 June 2011

New Forest Military History

I've spent the past week working in the Esso Refinery at Fawley in Hampshire while staying near Ringwood. My morning commute has taken me through the heart of the New Forest - not a bad way to start the day. For obvious reasons the areas natural history is well known, but over the last few days I have discovered a little about the areas Military History as well.

I tried to visit the site of Beaulieu Airbase but that morning the rain was hammering down. I found a small plaque which I suspect games some details of the site and I thought to myself "shall I get out while its raining like this?". My Id replied "Wot? Yer avin a giraffe mate!" [For those that can't speak cockney like this translates as "You're joking aren't you".

Beaulieu  Airfield was built in 1942 and was initially used mainly as a base for anti-submarine patrol work. In February 1944 the airfield transferred to 2nd Tactical Air Force for preparation for D-Day. Another change in command in March 1944 saw the arrival of the 9th US Air Force who stayed until the end of August. Following the departure of USAAF, in December 1944 the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment (AFEE) arrived. The last air units were transferred out in 1950 and the site was put under Care and Maintenance. Beaulieu remained inactive until November 1959 when it was finally handed back to the Forestry Commission.

Another location I visited was Lepe Country Park on the coast facing the Solent and the Isle of Wight. Today at Lepe you can still see plenty of evidence of wartime activity. Lepe played three important roles in the D-Day landing, as a major departure point for troops, vehicles and supplies; as a construction site for part of the prefabricated floating Mulberry Harbor; and as the mainline base for the P.L.U.T.O pipeline. There is a small memorial by the car park and when I visited poppy wreaths were still in place from the D-Day services the week earlier.

The following list (lifted from this website) shows just how much still remains to be seen along this small stretch of coastline:

  • The Concrete Road was built to take troops, supplies and materials from Stanswood Lane to the construction and embarkation sites on the beach. The concrete blocks it was made from were brought in by horse and cart.
  • Concrete Floors are all that remain of the site buildings used by construction workers and the military. They are dotted about in the Country Park area.
  • Water Tower Base used for water purification, required because so little fresh water is available on site.
  • Construction Platforms where the caissons were constructed. Today, although parts are storm damaged, the platforms run for 374 metres and are 11m wide and 1.3m high. The platforms were large enough to construct all six caissons simultaneously, reflecting the urgency of the work.
  • Beach Hardening Mats which resemble huge bars of chocolate, were held in place by a series of iron hooks. They were laid out to strengthen the beach enough to take the weight of the tanks and other vehicles being driven onto landing craft.
  • Dolphins forming part of the pier head used to load ships departing for Normandy.
  • Bollards used to tie up the ships that were being loaded for the invasion.
  • Concrete Slipways run from the rolling track walls to the sea. These were used to launch the caissons at high tide.
  • Winching Gear Bases used to winch the caissons for launching.
  • Trigger Release Gear Site used to house the trigger release gear which held the caissons in position until they were ready to be launched.
  • Rolling-track Walls that run either side of the construction platforms, carried the timber rails used to move the caissons. Each caisson was carried on eighteen 2m carriages that rolled along the rails on 75mm steel balls. The completed caissons were winched along the walls to the launching area.

There are plenty more wartime sites in the area and I hope to visit more on future trips to the area.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Broadside 2011 - Show Report & Pictures

Last Sunday Posties Rejects visited Broadside, a new Wargames show in Kent run by the Milton Hundred Wargames Club. The club is relatively new (only starting in 2009) but clearly have grand ambitions. The show itself was held in two halls inside the Swallows Leisure Centre in Sittingbourne. The venue had a lot to recommend it including plentiful car parking close by, an on site café and lots of room to expand the show in the future.

On the downside the lighting in the main sports hall was terrible with everyone looking like they had Jaundice. It was also hot, damned hot. The swimming pool was right next door and consequently the sports hall had close to 100% humidity with no external ventilation. A lot of words have been spoken about unwashed gamers at shows, but with conditions like these the unmistakable convention-odour was inevitable.

There was a good selection traders at the show with a reasonable selection of goods available to purchase. I say reasonable because some stalls held limited stock of key ranges (meaning FOW in my case). Having said that there were lots of new products available including the latest offerings from The Plastic Soldier Company and Battlefront amongst others.

The Angry Lurker has already mentioned one of my purchases of the day, a dice bag with a Balkan Cross embroidered on it. He was less than flattering about my choice and even suggested I was a little ‘touched’ in the head. I would like to say here and now I refute that accusation. My dice are very happy in their new home and have whispered to me that they will show their appreciation by rolling high for me next time I use them.

Considering this was a brand new show – with no reputation to precede or recommend it – I though there was a very good selection of Demo and Participation games on offer. I particularly enjoyed the British Model Soldier Societies Ancients battle of opposing chariot armies.

I came home with a respectable amount of Loot from this show. I bought two books from the ever reliable Lanchester Books. Most of the volumes on sale are in excellent (if not mint) condition and at very reasonable prices. My best purchase has to be Tanks in Camera by David Fletcher (Librarian at the Tank Museum). I’ll review this properly in due course but its packed full of interesting pictures that illustrate the build up and duration of the Desert War in North Africa.

Also purchased were several 15mm resin buildings for my Normandy games table. Best of the lot is a small Norman Church which cost just £12 and will I think will look spectacular when painted and placed on the battlefield. I also picked up some cheap tins of GW Satin varnish and of course the aforementioned dice bag. All in all not a bad little haul of goodies from such a small show.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

WWII B17 Crashes outside Chicago

Just read the terrible news that one of the handful of still flying B-17 Flying Fortress has crashed and burned in the United States. The BBC report that the crew and other passengers escaped safely but the loss of the aircraft is a disaster.
According the the BBC
"An American B-17 Flying Fortress bomber used for exhibition flights has caught fire and crashed in a field outside Chicago.

The vintage plane took off from Aurora Municipal Airport and crashed about 20 minutes later in nearby Oswego County, Illinois. All seven people on board the plane escaped uninjured."

Monday 13 June 2011

Have Tools Will Travel

This week I'm away from home on business. This is the first of probably several trips to Southampton as part of my new job. This particular trip is only scheduled to last fours days but that would be four days away from my models and paints (oh and my Wife and Children too of course). This I can't allow! So I've made myself a 'travel kit' to enable me to get some modeling work done while I'm away (and I've set up a Skype account so I can use my web cam to speak with the family).

A while ago I bought a cloth Tool Roll full of cheap brushes from a local stationers. The brushes have seen active service for dry brushing, varnish and gluing while the roll is now filled with an assortment of what I consider essential tools and materials.
  • A selection of small diamond files
  • Mini Clamps
  • Brushes for cleaning
  • Tweezers (Metal and plastic)
  • Pencil (for marking joints etc)
  • Craft Knife (with retractable blade)
  • Sculpting Tools
  • Epoxy Putty
  • Epoxy Resin Glue
  • Superglue
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Bluetac
  • Wooden Sticks for mixing glue
  • Leather work sheet (Shammy leather)
Any suggestions of addition items you might consider essential for a modelers 'travel toolkit'?

I'll be working on two versions of the Panzer VI Tiger while I'm away. One is a Peter Pig model given to me by The Angry Lurker  and the other is a Battlefront model from the Wittman box set (GBX16). Both models look like they require a significant amount of cleaning and build time so they should keep me busy for the next few nights while I'm away.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Big Picture : Circus Minimus

This was the Ben Hur inspired participation game Circus Minimus run by the Reading Wargames Club at Salute 2006. The game was fast paced and easy to play. When I saw the game in action it was surrounded by a crowd of players of different ages, all clearly enjoying themselves.

Friday 10 June 2011

Painting on a different scale

I've tried to dodge my responsibilities for a while now but I have to admit defeat. I hate doing D.I.Y. (because I'm rubbish at it) but I'm going to have to bite the bullet. We have just bought my youngest daughter a new bed and this means reorganizing and redecorating her room. Fortunately it just needs to be painted and shouldn't take more than a day or two. So this weekend I'll be wielding a paintbrush of a different caliber to my normal weapon of choice.

I've also spent a couple of days sorting through various store cupboards in the house gathering together decorating equipment in advance of the job itself. This has revealed several interesting a long forgotten items that will eventually find a use on the games table.

One item - a tin of expanding foam insulation - looks promising, but I can't see an obvious use for it yet. The can contains 500ml of the foam which expands to three times its size when it comes into contact with the air. The foam sets in about 20 minutes and is fully cured after 2-4 hours when it can be cut, painted and even plastered. This might make a good material for making cheap hills from but I'm not sure yet. Any ideas folks?

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Link to the Past

Sergey Larenkov is a very talented photographer. If you've not seen his work I strongly urge you to visit his Blog page where he has an amazing selection of photos that merge Black and White pictures from WWII with modern photo's taken from the same spot. Most of his work is understandably related to the Eastern Front and he has produced some amazing pictures from the Siege of Leningrad. His latest offerings however are of Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Many of his pictures are very evocative and thought provoking. Some of his most powerful composite images juxtapose modern shoppers in streets that were once filled with rubble or past the bodies of fallen soldiers. Others show tanks standing in silent streets where modern cars now speed by. When you look through his pictures it really does feel like the ghosts of the past are closer than we realise. If you are interesting in WWII - or even if you're not - I think you'll find his work facinating to look at.

Monday 6 June 2011

Round the Old Campfire

It was another quiet weekend, in an ocean of quiet weekends. I've had a stinker of a head cold and spent most of Saturday afternoon asleep. What a wimp! Considering I have only just finished a five week course of Antibiotics for my Gammy Leg I'm amazed I was able to catch anything.

Fortunately the cold kicked in after the Dagenham Dungeon Delvers bi-weekly D&D game on Friday. Last game we defeated a Mind Flayer and his minions only to have one of our party killed in the last moments of combat. Now down to four PC's, and unable to return back to the Dwarven city we had passed through earlier, we decide to press on towards our real objective. Extricating ourselves from the Dwarven fungi mines we were exploring, we continue along the trade tunnels towards Faltikan. Then - almost as if the gods knew we were one adventurer short of a full team - a lone Elven Ranger steps from the shadows and offers his services.

I was tempted to make him interview for the position but we eventually settled for a little chat and he was in. Long story short we got into some inevitable bother and the Rangers archery skills were put to the test properly. The group were divided by a rockfall and had to follow separate routes to a surface rendezvous. The smaller party had to sneak past a group of noisy and very dangerous Ogres. The real problem was getting by the guard at the tunnel exit onto the surface. Fortunately the other half of the party arrived on the surface nearby and were able to join in the fight at the cave entrance.

Victory achieved the group soon retired a short distance and set up camp on the edge of a nasty looking swamp. The adventurers camp has become a staple of our games with night watches being set and fires lit. Of course we were attacked during the night by more ogres who stupidly sought to avenge themselves upon us. Needless to say our PC's were very soon tucked up safe in their bedrolls having sent the night stalkers running.

Sunday 5 June 2011

Big Picture : Battle on the Irrawaddy

This picture was taken at SELWG in 2009. This was a demo game put on by Deal Wargames Club titled Crossing the Irrawaddy. The game used the Rapid Fire 2 rules. The figures were predominantly Stonewall and Britannia.

Friday 3 June 2011

A Fine Night for Tanks

I've just finished reading A Fine Night For Tanks : The Road to Falaise by Ken Tout. Ken Tout is a former tank soldier and author of several best-selling books about tank warfare and a few years ago he appeared in the BBC series War Walks.

This book looks in detail at Operation Totalize and shows how it was a resounding success. Lots of histories of the Normandy campaign discuss the American breakout in operation Cobra as if it was the only success in the whole campaign. This book shows that without operation Totalize the allies would never have closed the jaws of their pincer, trapping huge numbers of Germans in the Falaise pocket.

On 7 August 1944, the Canadian Army, reinforced with British Army units, sent four armored columns south of Caen. The allies fully appreciated the superb defensive abilities of the Germans facing them combined with the fact that they held the high ground). To answer the question of how to negate the deadly firepower of the Panzer's, self propelled guns and the deadly 88's the allies came up with an innovative plan that neutralised the German defense in depth. The concept of the Night March was developed.

The solution was to launch an unprecedented armored attack at night. Tracer fire would mark the boundaries of the assault lanes, strategic bombers would blast a path to the German rear, pockets of resistance were encircled, and support infantry would be given armoured carriers to get them to their objectives unmolested. This was the allied version of Blitzkrieg and like its German predecessors its success relied on audacity, surprise and overwhelming firepower concentrated in a precise area.

In the inevitable German counter-attack that followed the elite Wittman Tiger Troop was destroyed and the armoured assault of Panzer Meyer was blunted.

I've read several books by Tout before and this is as well researched and detailed as those other works. One of the things I like most about his writing is that he shows that amidst such huge events every mans experience was personal. From some the Night March was marked by confusion, disorientation and noise. For others it was a brutal and terrifying ride in the dark behind enemy lines. And for many of the German defenders this was their first taste of Blitzkrieg turned against them.

Author: Ken Tout
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: History Press (1998)

Thursday 2 June 2011

A very busy week

You can probably tell from the title that this is going to sound like an excuse. And you would be right.

I started a new job this week (basically a promotion/expansion of my old job) and things are a bit hectic to say the least. Between the overtime and just plain tiredness I have just not found time to get much painting done. Hopefully things will settle down soon as I have several projects waiting in the wings. I have been working on a Normandy farmhouse model since the weekend but have made little progress in last few days.

On the plus side I have acquired some new tech (in the form of a new Blackberry phone) to play with. Its ostensibly for my work but of course I'll get to use it for other things as well... Such as writing this blog post. (His means that when I travel for work I can keep an eye on the blog and send updates and picture. No more blank weeks when I'm away from the computer!

OK test post over... Toodle pip!

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Bumper Book Bonanza

Its been a good weekend for new books. My wife and I took the kids to Rochester in Kent on Monday for a browse through the shops and a picnic in the grounds of Rochester Castle. The sun came out and we had a very pleasant afternoon in and around the buildings that Charles Dickens would have known so well. There are a couple of excellent second hand book shops in the high street (there used to be more but alas they have disappeared). I picked up a couple of paperback books in near mint condition for just a few pounds.

Fighting them on the Beaches : The D-Day Landings by Nigel Cawthorne (Index Books 2004) and Masters of Battle by Terry Brighton (Penguin 2008). I'm particularly looking forward to reading the latter book as it will be interesting to see Patton and Monty analysed side by side.

By the way, there is a new game/model shop opened in the high street and I popped in and picked up some paint and a Tamiya weathering stick. The stock is roughly 50% plastic models with the remaining 50% half and half between paint and accessories and wargaming figures (mostly GW). However chatting to the shop assistant revealed this is a new business and they are finding their feet and building up stock based on what customers need. It seems a sensible way forward and I hope they are still thriving next time I go to Rochester.

I also received a book as a gift from my Brother-in-Law Ray which definitely deserves a special mention. Steel Inferno - 1st SS Panzer Corps in Normandy by Michael Reynolds (Spellmount 1997). Only two German Divisions in World War II bore Hitler's name - the 1st SS Panzer Division, Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and the 12th SS Panzer Division, Hitlerjugend. This book describes the tactical battles in Normandy between the young Waffen-SS soldiers of these elite divisions and their British, Canadian, Polish and US opponents.

The best bit though is that not only did Ray buy me the book (a handsome gesture I think you'll agree) but he took it along to the Southend Air Show where he met up with a load of British Veterans that he knows and got it signed by three of them. Ernie Wark (7th Armoured Division), R M Spencer (R/A 21st Army Group), and Bill Yenting (RN).