China’s Wars

Besides the large quantity of Hexon II hexes he passed on to me on Sunday, David Crook also gave me a book … CHINA’S WARS: ROUSING THE DRAGON 1894-1949 by Philip Jowett.

This book was published by Osprey in 2013 (ISBN 978 1 78200 407 3) and is divided into the following sections:

  • The Sleeping Dragon
  • Chapter 1: Brutal Awakening 1894-1911
  • Chapter 2: Revolution 1911-20
  • Chapter 3: High Warlordism 1920-28
  • Chapter 4: Undeclared Conflict 1928-37
  • Chapter 5: Full-Scale War 1937-41
  • Chapter 6: World War in the East 1941-45
  • Chapter 7: Red Victory 1946-49
  • Bibliography
  • Index

I have yet to read this book, but looking through it reminded me that the first ever article I wrote for the old WARGAMER’S NEWSLETTER was about a solo battle I fought between Chinese and Japanese forces. It also struck me that the fighting that took place during the inter-war period is an ideal setting for a mini-campaign … or even a series of mini-campaigns.

Something else for me to think about over the coming weeks and months!

My latest book acquisition

Some time ago – and well before I took part in a re-fight of the Battle of Warsaw last May – pre-ordered a copy of ARMIES OF THE RUSSO-POLISH WAR 1919-21. The book was published very recently, and my copy arrived in the post this afternoon.

The book was been written by Dr Nigel Thomas and illustrated by Adam Hook, and it is No.497 in Osprey’s Men-at-Arms series (ISBN 978 1 4728 0106 7). As one has come to expect from titles in this series, it sets the war in context, it describes the military organisations of the states involved in the fighting, it gives a brief history of the war, and it describes the uniforms worn by the forces involved in the fighting. It also contains eight pages of colour plates that illustrate the uniforms that were worn during the war.

All-in-all this looks like being a very useful addition to my bookshelves.

My Hungarian World War II army … and other ‘finds’

Inside a file box that I found in one of the crates that was in the shed was a small Hungarian World War II army.

I created this army at a time when I was considering using Frank Chadwick’s COMMAND DECISION rules, and they represent a Hungarian Infantry Regiment with some supporting artillery. In the end I never used the rules, and the figures went into storage … although I have vague memories of having lent them to another wargamer for a time.

The figures were originally Spanish Civil War infantry that were sculpted by the late Dave Allsop. I modified some of them so that I could field heavy machine guns, machine gun crews, and gunners . I also scratch-built a field gun and a light anti-tank gun, which I used as masters from which I was able to create a silicon rubber mould.

The bases are looking a little ‘sad’, but I think that it will be possible to rebase the figures so that I can use them for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.

I have also made some other ‘finds’ during the great sort out. These include a number of 1960s/1970s-era pre-assembled and painted model British military vehicles manufactured and sold by Denzil Skinner …

… and a complete hard plastic 1920s/1930s-era wargames army created with figures from Fijumi, trucks from an unknown model railways supplier, artillery tractors scratch-built from Airfix US half-tracks, light tanks scratch-built from various bit and pieces, and artillery scratch-built from Airfix Napoleonic field guns and a Napoleonic board game.

The Battle of Warsaw, 1920: Some photographs

Unfortunately I was only able to take photographs of the tabletop at the end of the battle, but I hope that the following images will give regular blog readers a flavour of the wargame.

The Soviet XVI Army (commanded by Alan Buddles) pushing towards Warsaw’s main line of defences.

Polish armour and artillery.

The only Soviet breakthrough was achieved by units from Soviet III Army. The Soviet cavalry seen at the top right of the photograph were the only Soviet troops to penetrate the Polish defences around Warsaw … but they were too little, too late.

Soviet XVI Army’s traction engine-drawn heavy siege artillery. Their arrival on the battlefield was delayed due to the action of Polish partisans … or was it due to Soviet inefficiency or reactionary sabotage. No doubt a post-battle interrogation of the artillery’s commander will arrive at the truth. 

Polish aircraft played a vital role in the gathering of information about the location of the Soviet forces.

Polish armour, infantry, and artillery in action.

The Battle of Warsaw, 1920

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a part in a wargame about the the Battle of Warsaw, 1920, and it was the first wargame I have fought in quite some time!

The wargame was one of the regular ones organised by the Jockey’s Field Irregulars. The Irregulars are a group of wargamers who meet once a month in central London, and the total membership is probably somewhere in the thirties. Some ‘members’ go to every session whilst others (like me) go as and when they can. The average turn-out per session is between ten and fifteen, and yesterday there were just ten of us.

The wargame was set up by Ian Drury, with the assistance of Richard Brooks (whose OP14 rules were being used) and Alex Kleanthous (who provided the venue and who helped set out the large gridded battlefield). I volunteered to take on the role of the Russian commander, Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky, and I was very ably supported by three subordinate commanders:

  • Nick Drage (Commanding part of IV Army and XV Army)
  • Chris Ager (Commanding III Army)
  • Alan Buddles (Commanding XVI Army)

The Poles were under the command of John Bassett, and his capitalist underlings were Phil Steele, Alex Kleanthous, and Nigel Drury.

From my point of view it was a great game. I sat in my HQ in ‘Moscow’ (in actual fact a rather pleasant office … once we managed to get the air conditioning to work!) with my maps and a signal pad, sending orders to my subordinates. They commanded their troops on the tabletop … and I am very pleased to state that they were very diligent in keeping me as up-to-date with the situation around Warsaw as the primitive communications allowed. (Written messages were passed to and fro via the umpire and often took many hours of gameplay to arrive.)

The end result was close … but it was obvious that the Russians were about to be pushed back, even though they had managed to reach Warsaw’s outer defences in one sector. What was particularly pleasing was the fact that what I had plotted on my maps was not too far from the situation I saw on the tabletop when the wargame ended.

The participants. From left to right: Alex Kleanthous, Phil Steele, Richard Brooks (Umpire), Nigel Drury, Nick Drage, Chris Ager, Ian Drury (Umpire), and Alan Buddles (who is almost completely obscured). Missing are John Bassett and me.

My thanks go to Ian Drury for organising this wargame, to Alex Kleanthous for providing the venue, to Richard Brooks for writing such an excellent set of rules, and to all the other participants. It was an excellent day … and I am already looking forward to the next one that I can go to.

Some more Blandford colour series books

Whilst writing my earlier blog entry, I looked along my bookshelves and noticed several other non-uniform books from the Blandford colour series. These included:


Over the years these have all proved to be very useful and they – along with my Ian Allen and Osprey books – form the very important core of my collection of reference books.

An interesting new book

Despite the current bad weather, Amazon managed to deliver a copy of the newly published HITLER’S BLITZKRIEG ENEMIES 1940: DENMARK, NORWAY, NETHERLANDS, & BELGIUM this morning.

The book was written by Nigel Thomas, illustrated by Johnny Shumate, and published by Osprey as part of their MEN-AT-ARMS series (No.493) (ISBN 978 1 78200 596 4).

Because the armies of the countries featured in this book were overwhelmed by the invading Germans, their histories, units, formations, and uniforms are little-known to most people with an interest in the Second World War. This book goes some way to filling that gap, and I am looking forward to reading it in detail later this week.