Some interesting things were delivered whilst we were away

Some time ago I ordered a book and a game online, and expected them to be delivered after Sue and I returned from our cruise. Both products were released earlier than I expected, and as a result the book was waiting for me when we got home, and the game was at the local post office distribution office awaiting collection.

The book was one of Osprey’s latest publications, IMPERIAL CHINESE ARMIES 1840-1911.

It was written by Philip S Jowett and illustrated by Gerry Embleton and is No.505 in the ‘Men-at-Arms’ series (ISBN 978 1 4728 1427 2). It is divided into a number of chapters with the following titles:

  • Introduction
  • Conflicts with external enemies
  • The Armies
  • Character of the Imperial Army
  • Weapons
  • Uniforms & Equipment

This book fills a niche in my collection and will hopefully spur me to sorting out the small collection of Chinese figures that i have in my collection of 15mm-scale wargames figures.

The game was AIRFIX BATTLES by Modiphius.

(This image is taken from their website. © Modiphius)

I bought this game for a number of reasons, including:

  • Nostalgia: Like so many wargamers of my generation, my first ‘proper’ wargames were fought using Airfix figures and tanks, and buying this game seemed to be the obvious thing to do.
  • Interest in the period: I grew up with stories about the Second World War, and it has always been one of my wargaming areas of interest. For this reason I seem – over the years – to have collected quite a few sets of rules etc. and if for no other reason than that, I wanted a copy of this game.
  • Interesting design features: I have met one of the designers at COW (Wargame Development‘s annual Conference of Wargamers) and he has promised to demonstrate the game at this year’s conference. As I know that he designs games with interesting features and mechanisms, it struck me that having a look at the game before the conference might be a good idea.

I have yet to take the components out of the box and to use them … but rest assured that when I do, I will write a blog entry about my play-test.


Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 163

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered on Saturday morning whilst we were away, and I have only just manged to get around to reading it.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890): ‘Ruffian Dick’ in India by David Howell
  • Second Sikh War, 1848-1849: Tipperary Tactic in the Punjab by Harold E Raugh, Jr.
  • The Sad Case of Edward Bouverie Pusey: A damaged career partially restored by John Sly
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS

I enjoyed reading all three articles, and cannot pick any particular one as being better than the rest.

A book that I have been looking for for some time … and now I have it!

During a recent post-Christmas visit to Rochester, Kent, I managed to spend some time in Baggins Book Bazaar. It claims to be England’s largest second-hand and rare bookshop, and although I cannot verify that claim, it certainly does have a lot of stock spread over a large floor area.

Whilst looking through the military book section I came across a hardback copy of a book that I have wanted for a long time, but had never been able to buy … MILITARY UNIFORMS OF BRITAIN AND THE EMPIRE: BRITAIN, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, AMERICAN COLONIAL, INDIA, NEW ZEALAND, AFRICA by Major R Money Barnes. It was published in 1960 by Seeley Services, and contains numerous colour plates and black-and-white illustrations.

At one time I did own a paperback copy of this book, but over the years regular use took its toll and eventually the binding gave way. Now that I have a hardback version, I expect to get as much if not more use out of my new acquisition.

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 162

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered on Christmas Eve, and I have just got around to reading it.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • An English Adventurer and the Clash of Empires in Abyssinia by Dr Frank Jastrzembski
  • For the Empire or the Company?: Cecil Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson and the Matabele War by David Snape
  • Soldiering and the Scouts: The Military Men who influenced Baden-Powell by Geoffrey A Pocock
  • Two Victorian Soldiers by Howard Browne
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS

The content of this particular issue was of especial interest to me, and I particularly enjoyed David Snape’s article For the Empire or the Company?. I lived in and around Bishop’s Stortford for three years in my twenties, and Cecil Rhodes featured quite highly in the history of the local area. As a result I have always had an interest in the at sometimes rather odd story of his life and times.

The Attack on Morobad

I have finally managed to fight my version of ‘The Attack on Morobad’, and here is the battle report.

Note: Special rules for this battle:

  • If a section of wall or a tower receives three direct hits from artillery fire, it is deemed to have been demolished.
  • If two sections of wall are demolished, the Hauserians must take a morale test. If they fail, the Sultan will surrender.
  • The morale test is repeated every time a further section of wall is demolished.
  • If an enemy unit manages to enter the city of Morobad, the Hauserians must take a further morale test. If they fail, the Sultan will surrender.

The forces involved
The British sent an Infantry Brigade to attack the Hauserian capital, Morobad.

The Brigade consisted of:

  • 1st Battalion, The Cambridgeshire Light Infantry Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Essex Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, The Mackay Highlanders
  • A & B Field Batteries, the Regiment of Royal Artillery
  • Machine Gun Battery, The Loyal Kent Regiment

The outnumbered Hauserian defenders were all riflemen armed with slightly obsolete single-shot rifles.

The terrain
The approach to Morobad was across a flat plain that was dotted with clumps of palm trees.

As can be seen, Morobad was surrounded by a considerable wall that the British artillery would have to breach if they were to be able to capture the city.

The battle

Turn 1
The Hauserian defenders were already manning the Great Wall of Morobad …

… as the British approached.

Turn 2
The British force advanced …

Turn 3
… until the artillery was in range of the Great Wall of Morobad.

Turn 4
The fighting began when the two Field Batteries of the Regiment of Royal Artillery opened fire on the Great Wall of Morobad …

… and caused some damage to the corner tower and inflicted a casualty on the defenders. Under cover of the artillery fire, the British infantry continued to advance on the flanks whist those in the centre began to form up into an assault column.

In spite of this growing threat, the Hauserians stayed behind their defences and patiently waited.

Turn 5
The British artillery failed to hit anything of significance with its second salvo …

… and the Mackay Highlanders and the Machine Gun Battery continued to move forward on the British right flank.

Turn 6
The third salvo of British artillery fire hit a section of city’s wall twice, and although no casualties were inflicted, this gave the Hauserians some cause for concern.

Whilst this was happening the Mackay Highlanders and the Machine Gun Battery deployed into line to meet any potential threat from within the city.

Turn 7
A further salvo of British artillery fire hit the same section of city wall for a third time, inflicting a casualty and causing the wall to collapse. It also hit the city’s gateway and caused a further casualty on the defenders.

Stung by this some the Hauserian defenders rushed forward to attack the oncoming British …

… who countered by moving the Royal Essex Regiment forward. Such was the ferocity of the Hauserian attack that the Royal Essex Regiment suffered three casualties!

Turn 8
Because the presence of the foremost Hauserian troops masked the city’s gateway from further artillery fire, the British artillery fired at the corner tower …

… which they hit once, causing further casualties on the defenders.

(The British artillery batteries did not want to risk hitting their own troops if they fired at the Hauserian infantry!)

The infantry melee continued, with the initiative first going to the Hauserians, …

… who wiped out a company of the Royal Essex Regiment, …

… and then to the Cambridgeshire Light Infantry, who attacked one of the Hauserian infantry units from the rear …

… inflicting two casualties on the Hauserians in the process.

The Royal Essex Regiment managed to gain some degree of revenge on the Hauserians when they forced the main attackers to fall back.

Turn 9
The deadly accurate British artillery fire hit the corner tower yet again …

… causing it to collapse and killing all the defenders who were on it.

The initiative in the infantry melee was now firmly in British hands. The Royal Essex Regiment pressed forward, …

… causing further casualties on the Hauserians and forcing them to retreat.

The Cambridgeshire Light Infantry Regiment likewise pressed home their advantage …

… and also inflicted casualties that forced some more of the Hauserians to fall back.

The Hauserians were now faced with an almost total collapse of their morale, and failed to counter-attack the British.

Turn 10
Faced with almost inevitable defeat, the Sultan of Hauser considered surrendering the city of Morobad to the British … but he didn’t.

The British artillery now switched their fire to the walls facing the Mackay Highlanders … and two lucky shots hit adjoining sections of wall, causing casualties on the defenders.

The Hauserians who were outside the walls of the city now withdrew back through the city gateway …

… whilst the British reorganised themselves prior to making their next move.

Turn 11
The British artillery continued to bombard the Great Wall of Morobad, …

… and forced some of the defenders to abandon them for fear of suffering further casualties.

The British began a general advance …

… and the Hauserian defenders prepared to meet them.

Turn 12
Yet again the British artillery fired at the Great Wall of Morobad and hit it in two different places.

Further casualties were inflicted on the defenders, who had now begun to assemble in the open area behind the Great Wall.

The British halted, and waited for the Field Batteries to do more damage to the Great Wall before making their final assault.

Turn 13
The British artillery fired at the Great Wall of Morobad for what they hoped would be the last time … and missed their target with both shells!

Although only two sections of the Great Wall had been demolished, the British infantry surged forward and began their assault.

The fighting was intense, and both sides suffered casualties …

… but eventually numbers prevailed, and the British managed to enter Morobad …

… at which point the Sultan surrendered and ordered his troops to lay down their weapons!

The result
The Sultan was allowed to remain on his throne, as long as he accepted British control of Hauser. As one of the conditions of his acceptance was a sizeable annual annuity, the Sultan was only too keen to accept … although some of his subjects were less happy to have the benefits of European civilisation (i.e. a British garrison, regular and efficient tax collection, and Christian missionaries) thrust upon them. Only time will tell if they will remain acquiescent or not.

I fought this battle after a period of three months during which I had done no actual wargaming … and I thoroughly enjoyed getting troops back onto the tabletop! It also allowed me to fulfil a long-held ambition; to re-fight Joseph Morschauser’s ‘The Attack of Morobad’ wargame using my interpretation of his ‘Frontier’ wargame rules.

Preparing for and fighting this battle has revived my interest in both wargaming in general and Colonial wargaming in particular. It has also left me with a modular fortress that I can use in further wargames, so it has been a ‘win-win’ all around for me!

The Attack on Morobad: A brief introduction

As I explained in a blog entry in late November, after a recent hiatus during which I have not fought any wargames, I gained inspiration – and renewed interest – from a photograph of the attack on the Great Wall of Morobad.

This was a wargame fought by Joseph Morschauser using his gridded wargame rules, and dealt with a British attack on the capital of the Sultanate of Hauser, Morobad. Morschauser described the Sultanate as follows:

French Central Sahara borders the Sultanate … on the west, Italian East Somali borders on the east. Anglo-Sudan is north and British East/Central Somali on the S.E. Directly south of course is the Kingdom of Zulu inhabited by (naturally) Zulu types who have always been friendly to the Hauserians. It’s all imaginary but fun.

I have now completed work on my modular fortress, and can reproduce the Great Wall of Morobad … or at least that section that the British force will attack. I already have written a draft of the rules that I am going to use (my own version of Morschauser’s ‘Frontier’ wargame rules), I have plenty of suitable figures to use to represent both the British and the Hauserians, and I now have the terrain; all I need now is a long enough block of time to fight the battle!

Slow but sure progress

I had hoped to have fought my planned Colonial wargame by now … but sorting out the things I want to use has taken me a bit longer than I expected.

Firstly I could not find the particular version of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Frontier’ rules that I wanted to use. I wrote them back in 2013, and thought that they were safely saved in one of the files on my computer. What I found was the version for use with a hexed grid, but not the version for a squared grid. In the end I am having to write them afresh, based on the hex grid version.

Secondly I cannot find the fortifications that I wanted to use to represent the walls of the city that is being attacked. I have searched high and low for them in my wargames/toy room, but I just cannot find them. I have therefore decided to build some new ones from scratch, and I expect that this will take me several days.

Thirdly I cannot find the sand-coloured cloth that I intended to use to cover my tabletop. It is already marked out in a squared grid, with large dots marking the corners of the grid squares. I know that it is somewhere in my wargames/toy room because I saw it during my recent sort out … but I have obviously put it somewhere ‘safe’ and cannot remember where! (Its my age, you know!)

Once all these irritating but minor inconveniences have been overcome, I will be able to fight my wargame. It is now just a case of how long it will take to overcome them, and will I manage it before I lose my temper!