Little Wars … on my iPhone

Whilst idly looking at what books were available to download to my iPhone, I began searching for the works of H G Wells. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that an audio book version of his famous LITTLE WARS was available … for the princely sum of £0.59!

Needless to say, I bought it, and with a bit of luck I hope to listen to it over the next few days.

Now if only I could persuade John Curry to make audio book versions of everything in he is publishing as part of his HISTORY OF WARGAMING project …


The latest draft of my Interbellum rules is now available

After a few struggles and diversions along the way, I have finally managed to complete the latest draft of my INTERBELLUM rules, and they are available in PDF format as a download from my Interbellum website.

Please note that the rules are password protected; the password is ‘interbellum’.

The rules do incorporate some ideas from my previous rules, WHEN EMPIRES CLASH!. In particular there are now rules for the use of Transport Units as well as a whole new section at the end that sets out rules for the use of aircraft over the battlefield. The rules have yet to be play-tested (or even properly proof read!), but I set myself the goal of finishing the draft today … and managed it!


The melding of When Empires Clash! and my Interbellum Rules – Some progress has been made … at last!

I actually managed to spend over an hour this evening working on redrafting my INTERBELLUM rules so that they incorporate some of the elements of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! The main body of the rules has now been finished, and I am working on an appendix that will contain the rules that relate to the use of aircraft.

Axis of War DVD

Yesterday morning I visited the local supermarket and happened to see that they had a DVD on sale entitled AXIS OF WAR – PART ONE – THE FIRST OF AUGUST. The cover showed what looked like a dog fight between biplane fighters taking place above a crowed battlefield. As my current major interest is the interwar period, it looked like it might be something that would interest me. I was not wrong.

The DVD is the first part in a trilogy that has been made by a major Chinese film maker, and it deals with Nanchang uprising of the Chinese Civil War in 1927.

I have not managed to see the whole film, but I was so impressed by the sheer scale of the battle scenes that I have ordered the second part (AXIS OF WAR – PART TWO – MY LONG MARCH) which was scheduled to be released three days ago. If it is half as good as the first DVD, it will be an excellent film to watch.


When Empires Clash! – Some progress has been made!

Despite all the recent ‘alarums and excursions’, I finally managed to spend an hour this evening working on the latest redraft of my Morschauser-inspired INTERBELLUM rules.

They still have some way to go as yet, but at least some further progress has been made. I had hoped to get the redraft completed by now but there is a distinct possibility that I will manage to complete it by Saturday evening. As soon as the redraft is ready I will make it available in PDF format via my Interbellum website.


Virtual Dice

I know that I should be redrafting my INTERBELLUM rules but …

I decided to search through the various iPhone applications (or ‘apps’ as I now have to call them) to see if I could find some that might be some to wargamers, and I found several that simulated the throwing of dice.

After some trial and error I finally chose Virtual Dice by Zach Winkler. This is a free ‘app’ (which was one of its ‘selling’ points!) and the user can chose to roll up to five D6 dice at any one time. Furthermore, the user has the choice of either pressing an on-screen button or shaking the iPhone to get it to throw the dice.

I don’t know if I will use this new ‘app’ whilst gaming … but you never know!


I was right … something did crop up …

I was right; something did crop up to distract me from working on the latest draft of my INTERBELLUM rules … I bought a iPhone!

Now I use information technology quite a lot, but I have never been one for buying the latest gadgets just because they are the latest gadgets. Until now my mobile phone has been just that … a phone that I can use whilst on the move. The fact that it can take photographs has never been that important to me; neither has the fact that it has a radio or can do various other things that I have used. I do text very occasionally, but find that the keys on a standard mobile phone are fiddly to use … and I positively HATE predictive text!

So why did I buy an iPhone?

Because:

  • The satellite navigation system I own and use in my car is so old and so basic that it will not and cannot be updated … and I can buy a sat nav application for the iPhone for less than a new sat nav system will cost me.
  • I am fed up not being able to access my emails whilst I am abroad (and especially on cruise ships) and my iPhone has free mobile Internet and WiFi access.
  • I found that I can actually use the keyboard on the iPhone (it is a standard QWERTY design) far easier and far quicker than my existing mobile phone.

I have spent this morning trying to set the iPhone up and upload the apps that I want to buy. Once that is done, I hope to do some work on the INTERBELLUM rules … but you never know, something else might distract me!


A busy weekend …

I had planned to spend some time this weekend working on the redraft of my INTERBELLUM rules … but as Clausewitz so wisely stated ‘No plan survives first contact with the enemy‘ (or in my case, elderly relatives).

Due to unforeseen circumstances, on Saturday my wife and I ended up driving to and fro across South East England, first to visit my father who was having problems with his drugs regime and his door keys (the two things are not linked), and then on to my father-in-law who wanted to be taken halfway across Kent to visit someone in hospital. All told we ended up driving over 175 miles along some of the busiest roads in the UK on the first warm weekend of the year; this was not particularly easy or restful!

By the time we got home on Saturday night we were so tired that we just ‘crashed out’. On Sunday we had to do all the chores that we had been unable to do on Saturday, which is why I have made no progress at all with the rules.

With a bit of luck I might be able to spend an hour or so tomorrow morning doing some work on them … but knowing my luck something new will crop up to distract me.


I have been watching …

Yesterday I managed to watch the third of the foreign language DVDs I recently bought, and in many ways it proved to be best of the three.

ASSEMBLY is a Chinese film that deals with an incident during the Chinese Civil War. A group of soldiers were ordered to hold one bank of a river until they were ordered to fall back. That order never came, and the unit held out against overwhelming odds until it was destroyed. Because this ferocious delaying action was not witnessed by anyone other than the attackers, the unit was thought to have run away and deserted to the enemy.

The sole survivor – the unit’s commanding officer, who was wounded and rendered unconscious during the battle – then made it his mission to prove that the men under his command had died where they stood, and had not run away.

What makes this DVD stand out is the quality of the battle scenes. They are ferocious in content, and unlike many war films they are long and seem very realistic. In particular, the makers seem to have taken great pains to get the thing to look ‘right’. The tanks used by the attackers are not originals, but have been mocked up on existing Chinese AFV chassis so that they look convincing except in very close-up shots.

I thoroughly recommend this DVD, especially as it deals with a subject that is not well known to many people in the West.

PS. Make sure that you select the English subtitles option. I forgot to, and after five minutes I had to stop watching it so that I could go back to the beginning of the DVD to do so.


Recent reading matter

I just finished reading Peter Cottrell’s THE IRISH CIVIL WAR 1922-23 (Osprey Publishing: Essential Histories No.70 [2008] ISBN 978 1 84603 270 7), and can thoroughly recommend it to anyone with even the mildest interest in recent Irish history.

I must admit that I only had the scantiest knowledge of the Irish Civil War before I read this book, but now I understand why, when they seemed to have a peace of sorts that stood a chance of bringing an end to a conflict that had been going on since 1913, the Irish Republican movement split asunder and the two main factions began to fight each other. One fact that did surprise me was that more people were killed during the Civil War than had been killed in the ‘Troubles’ that preceded it.

The next book I am going to read is Stephen Prince’s THE BLOCKING OF ZEEBRUGGE: OPERATION Z-O 1918 (Osprey Publishing: Raid No.70 [2010] ISBN 978 1 84603 453 4).

I have been fascinated by the Zeebrugge Raid ever since I saw the model of HMS Vindictive in the Imperial War Museum. I was born not far from the Museum, and spent many an enjoyable visit there when I was very young. I have read many books about the Raid and the operations of the Dover Patrol, and I am looking forward to reading this one.

On a personal note, some years ago whilst I was helping my wife trace her family tree, we were at the National Archives at Kew, looking at the First World War service records of some of her family members. One of them had been killed in 1918, aged just 18, whilst serving in the Royal Navy. She pushed the file over to me and asked ‘What does balloted for the VC mean on this service record?‘ I opened and read the file with growing interest.

It transpired that the young man in question – Sidney Digby – had joined the Royal Navy as soon as he was old enough to do so, and had served on one of the Battle Cruisers that formed part of the Battle Cruiser Squadron in the Grand Fleet. He had a reputation for being a very good boxer both before and during his service in the Navy, and it was natural that he would volunteer to join the group of sailors who were recruited from the various squadrons within the Grand Fleet to take part in the Zeebrugge Raid. His record does not relate what he did during the raid, but it was sufficiently noteworthy for him to be included in the ballot for the award of the Victoria Cross. He gained insufficient votes from amongst the survivors to qualify for this gallantry award, but this is hardly surprising as almost all of the sailors with whom he served were killed at the same time that he was, and therefore his bravery probably went unseen by those who survived.

His remains are buried in St James Cemetery in Dover alongside many of those who died during the raid, and it is noteworthy that Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, who commanded the operation, is buried alongside the men he lead into battle, as is his own son who won the VC during the Second World War.

May they rest in peace.