Project fatigue

During a conversation yesterday my wife asked me how much longer I thought that it would take me to complete my current project of renovating, varnishing, and basing my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic figures. When I replied that I expected to be finished in a couple of months, she commented that I seemed to have been working on it for ages, and wasn’t I getting a bit bored. The truth of the matter is that she is right. I am getting a bit bored … and probably do need to take a break in the near future.

Looking back at my blog entries, I found that the project had its beginnings back in February 2014 (over two and a half years ago!) but that I didn’t begin doing any serious work on it until a year later. Since then I have renovated, varnished, and based over 700 figures … and I probably have another 200 to do. I would like to finish the remaining French infantry before I take a break, and that is the goal I have now set myself.

Once I have done achieved that goal I would like to do switch my attention to my PORTABLE WARGAME book, a project that I seem to have been ignoring of late. I might also be able to spend some time thinking about the BARBAROSSA campaign I want to tackle once the Napoleonic project is finished, and about which I still have to make some crucial decisions. I can then return to my Napoleonic project with renewed vigour … I hope!

That’s my plan … and it will be interesting to see if I can stick to it.

Invasion literature

In a recent blog entry I wrote about the book IF IT HAD HAPPENED OTHERWISE. In reply to one comment I mentioned that I had several examples of late nineteenth/early twentieth century ‘invasion literature’ on my Kindle, and as I thought that some of my regular blog readers would like some information about these stories.

My collection includes the following:

  • THE BATTLE OF DORKING (1871) by George Tomkyns Chesney. This story describes the successful invasion of England by an unnamed – but German-speaking – enemy and the aftermath of the war.
  • THE GREAT WAR IN ENGLAND IN 1897 (1894) by William Le Quex. In this book Britain is taken by surprise and invaded by France and Russia. The invasion is at first successful, and reaches London, but eventually the British – with the aid of the Germans who come to their aid – utterly defeat the invaders. The end result is the degradation of the French and Russians, who lose territory in Europe, North Africa, and Central Asia to the victors.
  • THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS (1903) by Erskine Childers. Although this is more a spy story and not about an actual invasion, it does describe the preparations for a ‘sudden descent’ invasion by Germany on England’s East Coast.
  • THE INVASION OF 1910 (1906) by William Le Queux and H W Wilson. Although it was written only twelve years after his earlier book, the enemy has changed and it is the Germans who mount an invasion on the East Coast of England. Despite attempts to stop their advance – which culminates with a battle near Royston on the border of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire – the unprepared British are pushed back and the Germans are able to reach London. The repressive measures they use to try to maintain peace in the capital, coupled with resistance by the so-called ‘League of Defenders’, culminates in a popular uprising. The newly re-organised and enlarge British Army, which has been raised in the unoccupied part of Britain, advances on London and the Germans are forced to retreat.
  • WHEN WILLIAM CAME: A STORY OF LONDON UNDER THE HOHENZOLLERNS (1913) by Saki (the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro). This story is narrated by someone who was abroad at the time of a successful German invasion, and who has returned home. In a number of interesting vignettes (including being fined by a policeman for walking on the grass in Hyde Park), it describes how British society has had to accept Germanic laws and practices, and with it a gradually integration into the German Empire. The latter includes compulsory military service, something that was actually being hotly discussed in Britain when the book was written.

I first read some of these stories in the mid to late 1970s when they were included in two anthologies that were edited by Michael Moorcock. These were BEFORE ARMAGEDDON: AN ANTHOLOGY OF VICTORIAN AND EDWARDIAN IMAGINATIVE FICTION PUBLISHED BEFORE 1914 (1975) and ENGLAND INVADED (1977).

I may have been busy this week but …

… I have managed to renovate a very small batch of Imperial French Infantry to add to my collection.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 29th October 1936

Russian tanks and aircraft appeared in the front-line for the first time.

A Polikarpov I-15 biplane fighter. This was one of two types of fighter aircraft supplied to the Spanish Republicans by the Soviet government.

German and Italian bombers began a series of raids on Madrid in the hope of destroying civilian resistance.

Nugget 294

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the journal to me on Wednesday so that I can take it to the printer. I hope to do that by Saturday morning at the latest so that I can collect it and post it out to members of Wargame Developments early next week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2016-2017 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

If it had happened otherwise

Many years ago – whilst I was still at school – I came across a copy of IF IT HAD HAPPENED OTHERWISE in the school library. It was a collection of alternative or counter-factual history essays written by a number of leading historians, and it was published in 1931. It was my first proper introduction to the genre, and I have had an avid interest in alternative or counter-factual history ever since.

The original book contained the following essays:

  • If Drouet’s Cart Had Stuck by Hilaire Belloc
  • If Don John of Austria Had Married Mary Queen of Scots by G K Chesterton
  • If Lee Had NOT Won the Battle of Gettysburg by Winston Churchill
  • If Napoleon Had Escaped to America by H A L Fisher
  • If the Moors in Spain Had Won by Philip Guedalla
  • If the General Strike Had Succeeded by Ronald Knox
  • If the Emperor Frederick Had Not Had Cancer by Emil Ludwig
  • If Louis XVI Had Had an Atom of Firmness by André Maurois
  • If Byron Had Become King of Greece by Harold Nicolson
  • If It Had Been Discovered in 1930 that Bacon Really Did Write Shakespeare by J C Squire
  • If Booth Had Missed Lincoln by Milton Waldman

I understand that an American edition of the book entitled IF: OR, HISTORY REWRITTEN was also published in 1931. It did not include the essay about the General Strike but did include three additional essays:

  • If the Dutch Had Kept Nieuw Amsterdam by Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • If: A Jacobite Fantasy by Charles Petrie
  • If Napoleon Had Won the Battle of Waterloo by G M Trevelyan

I bought a paperback re-print of the original book some years ago, and during a recent sort out I found it again. On re-reading it I was struck by how much I still enjoyed Churchill’s and Fisher’s contributions, and that they could easily form the basis for future wargame campaigns.

Toy Soldier Collector October/November 2016 Issue 72

Although I do manage to fight the occasional wargame with my collection of 54mm figures, I am not what one could really describe as being a collector. That said, I sometimes have a look through the magazines that are aimed at collectors to see if there is anything that might be of interest. I saw this issue of TOY SOLDIER COLLECTOR on sale in a local branch of WHSmith, skimmed through it, saw several items of interest, and bought a copy.

Besides a very interesting article about the toy soldiers manufactured by Britains during the interwar period, the article that did catch my eye was one by Mike Blake entitled PLAYING WITH TOY SOLDIERS. This is the first in a series of articles that are going to be published about 54mm wargaming, and this article covers the history of the hobby.

It begins with Robert Louis Stevenson and the wargames he fought and wrote about, and then moves on to H G Wells and LITTLE WARS. It briefly covers Donald Featherstone, the WARGAMER’S NEWSLETTER, and the first National Wargames Championship before looking in more detail at the work done by the late Steve Curtis, Ian Colwill, and the author of the article that led to the writing of the famous WESTERN GUNFIGHT RULES. The final part of this article describes the work done by the Skirmish Wargames Group, whose games can be seen at many shows across the UK. Photographs of some of the Group’s games are used to illustrate the article.

The article ends with a promise that the next issue will ‘look at the basic concepts of wargames rules, how it is possible to simulate warfare on the table top, and some specific challenges and delights of gaming in the large scale.’

I look forward to reading it.