New books from the History of Wargaming Project

Today’s post included a thick-ish padded envelope containing two books from John Curry of the ‘History of Wargaming’ Project. Both were eagerly awaited by me … and a quick glance through them indicates that I will not be disappointed when I get around to reading them.

The first book is THE BRITISH KRIEGSSPIEL (1872): INCLUDING RUSI’S POLEMOS (1888) EARLY WARGAMES VOLUME 2 (ISBN 978 1 291 53126 8) and it was edited by John Curry.

This book is 170 pages long and is split into the following chapters:

  • Foreword by Doctor Peter Perla
  • Introduction by John Curry
  • Map Manoeuvres: An Introduction to Kriegsspiel (1839)
  • The Rules for Kriegsspiel by Captain Baring (1872)
  • The German Game of War (1878)
  • Aids to Kriegsspiel (1897)
  • The Dangers of Kriegsspiel and Political Officers (1899)
  • War-Game Maps (1888)
  • Bellum, an English Kriegsspiel Variant (1909)
  • Kriegsspiel and the Teaching of Military History (1890)
  • The Game of Polemos (1888)
  • Lieutenant Henry Chamberlain’s RN New Game of Invasion (1888)
  • Appendix 1: The Kriegsspiel Charts for Captain Baring’s 1872 Game
  • Appendix 2: The New Game of Aldershot, a War Game Mystery
  • Appendix 3: The Game of War (1858)
  • Kriegsspiel Bibliography

I had a role in producing this book as I contributed much of the material for the chapter about POLEMOS, including word-processing and checking the text for the rules.

The second book is PHIL DUNN’S FURY AT SEA: RAPID NAVAL WARGAMING INCLUDING PADDY GRIFFITH’S ONE-EYED NAPOLEONIC NAVAL RULES (ISBN 978 1 291 51026 3) and is also edited by John Curry.

This book is 107 pages long and is split into the following chapters:

  • Foreword by John Curry
  • Wargaming Memories
  • Phil Dunn’s World War Game
  • Over Open Sights
  • The Battle of Yellow Sea Scenario
  • Tabletop Jutland 1915
  • An American ‘Jutland’
  • The Battles of Leyte Gulf
  • Sandhurst’s One-Eyed Napoleonic Naval Rules
  • Conclusion: Dodgy Dice and Shooting
  • Appendix Review of Phil Dunn’s Sea Battle Games: Naval Wargaming 1650 – 1945 Revised Edition
  • Bibliography of Naval Wargaming Books

I am looking forward to reading both these books over the next few weeks … and I am sure that they will prove to be popular with all those wargamers who have an interest in either or both the history of wargaming and naval wargaming.


A parcel from Australia

One of the people that I met at the very first Conference of Wargamers (COW) that Paddy Griffith organised was Greg MaCauley. Although he moved to Australia not long afterwards, we have remained in contact over recent years thanks to the invention of emails and the Internet.

A week or so before I went on my recent cruise Greg sent me an email informing me that he was sending me ‘a few’ Britains 54mm-scale figures to add to my growing collection. Thanks to the vagaries of the postal system, the Post Office tried to deliver Greg’s parcel on the day after I left for my cruise, and I was not able to pick it up until yesterday. This is what it contained:

If this is ‘a few’, I would hate to think what ‘a lot’ would look like!

Greg’s gift (for which much thanks must be publicly recorded!) will enable me to field an even bigger Funny Little Wars army than I previously had, and gives me a considerable amphibious capability. All I need now is some suitable model boats to make that capability a reality!


COW acquisitions

Although there are no trade stands or an official ‘bring and buy’ at COW (the Conference of Wargamers) attendees do bring stuff to the conference to sell, give away, or swop. This year I did rather well and acquired quite a few items.

I obtained two books published as part of the ‘History of Wargaming‘ Project from John Curry. They were MORE WARGAMING PIONEERS: ANCIENT AND WORLD WAR II BATTLE AND SKIRMISH RULES BY TONY BATH, LIONEL TARR AND MICHAEL KORNS: EARLY WARGAMES VOL. 4 (ISBN 978 1 291 19817 1) and DONALD FEATHERSTONE’S WARGAMING COMMANDO OPERATIONS AND REFLECTIONS ON WARGAMING: LOST TALES VOLUME 2 (ISBN 978 1 291 39891 5).


MORE WARGAMING PIONEERS: ANCIENT AND WORLD WAR II BATTLE AND SKIRMISH RULES BY TONY BATH, LIONEL TARR AND MICHAEL KORNS: EARLY WARGAMES VOL. 4

This book is split into a foreword, three main sections, and an appendix:

  • Foreword
  • Lionel Tarr’s Modern Wargaming Rules for 1939-1945
    • INTRODUCTION
    • ANALYSIS OF THE LIONEL TARR GAME
    • RETASOL TARR’S SOLO WARGAMING CAMPAIGN
    • WARGAMING STALINGRAD
    • THE LIONEL TARR PERISCOPE
    • THE SPACE SIZE CONTINUUM BY CARL REAVLEY
    • THE BATTLE OF HOMARD 1956, AN EARLY EXAMPLE OF A BATTLE REPORT BY CARL REAVLEY
    • THE BATTLE OF WAL, A SECOND EXAMPLE OF AN EARLY BATTLE REPORT BY CARL REAVLEY
  • War Games of the Middle Ages and Ancient Times by Tony Bath
  • Modern War in Miniature (1966)
    • PART ONE: INTRODUCTION
    • PART TWO: THE RULES FOR THE PERIOD 1939 TO 1945
    • EQUIPMENT
    • SIMULATION CHARTS
  • Appendix: An early Portuguese Wargamer – Backyard Wars of the 1920s


DONALD FEATHERSTONE’S WARGAMING COMMANDO OPERATIONS AND REFLECTIONS ON WARGAMING: LOST TALES VOLUME 2

This book is split into a foreword, an introduction, three parts, a list of the books written by Donald Featherstone, and an appendix.

  • Foreword by Stuart Asquith
  • Introduction by John Curry
  • Part 1: Introduction to the British Commandos
    • THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE
    • CHAPTER 1: AN OVERVIEW OF THE HISTORY OF THE COMMANDOS
    • CHAPTER 2: TRAINING THE COMMANDOS
    • CHAPTER 3: EQUIPMENT
    • CHAPTER 4: OPERATION CAULDRON (1942)
    • CHAPTER 5: THE ASSAULT ON FLUSHING (1944)
    • CHAPTER 6: BRITISH LESSONS FROM COMMANDO OPERATIONS
  • Part 2: Rules and Scenarios for Commando Operations
    • CHAPTER 7: MEMORIES OF AN EARLY COMMANDO WARGAME
    • CHAPTER 8: THE FIRST MEGA GAME
    • CHAPTER 9: THE CLASSIC COMMANDO SCENARIO: THE RAID ON ST NAZAIRE
    • CHAPTER 10: FIBUA RULES
    • CHAPTER 11: WORLD WAR II WARFARE RULES
  • Part 3: Reflections
    • CHAPTER 12: DONALD FEATHERSTONE ON WAR (1939-45)
    • CHAPTER 13: DONALD FEATHERSTONE’S YEAR (1962)
    • CHAPTER 14: DONALD FEATHERSTONE ON WARGAMING (1927-2010)
    • CHAPTER 15: DONALD FEATHERSTONE ON VISITING BATTLEFIELDS
    • CHAPTER 16: DONALD FEATHERSTONE IN THE MEDIA
    • CHAPTER 17: DONALD FEATHERSTONE ON THE LATE PADDY GRIFFITH
    • CHAPTER 18: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A WARGAMER
  • Wargaming and Military History Books by Donald Featherstone
  • Appendix

I also acquired some Minitanks from Tim Gow and John Armatys with the intention that they will form part of the forces that will be fielded in my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War Campaign project.

I also bought some 15mm-scale Napoleonic infantry and cavalry … because they took my fancy!

This is a pathetic reason to buy some figures … but having done so I am now awaiting Richard Brook’s soon-to-be-made-available Napoleonic wargames rules. These are designed to be used with 15mm-scale figures … so it might not be such a stupid purchase after all.


Operation Sealion

Back in 1974 Paddy Griffith ran a wargame at Sandhurst about Operation Sealion. The whole thing was sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, and the German team included General Adolf Galland (Luftwaffe), Admiral Friedrich Ruge (Kriegsmarine) and General Heinrich Trettner (Wehrmacht). Some years ago John Curry followed Paddy‘s example and ran a second wargame about Operation Sealion, and I was asked to be the Naval Umpire.

As part of my brief I prepared a number of documents for both sides, and I re-discovered them today. As I thought that they might be of interest to other wargamers I have made them available as downloadable PDFs.




And the winner is …

Yesterday’s blog entry may have given the wrong impression that I was upset that I was not eligible to be ‘nominated’ for the latest award … but that was not what I was trying to say.

My niggle was that the rules made it impossible for me to nominate any of the excellent blogs that I follow (it is over eighty, by the way) … although trying to choose just five would have been a Herculean task and I would have ended up offending someone. During the process of thinking about blogs, the Internet, and wargaming I also began to think about the wargaming websites that I still visit on a regular basis … and decided to ‘nominate’ them for an ‘award’ instead.

Funnily enough this was a far easier task than trying to select five blogs … and here they are, in no particular order except for the first, which is still – in my opinion – far and away the most inspiring wargaming website ever:

Major General Tremorden Rederring’s Colonial-era Wargames Page

Although the original website is no longer available, it has been preserved on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

The Universal General

Rudi Geuden’s website is currently moribund, but I still love re-visiting it, especially the pages dedicated to his Afriborian Campaign.

Bob Mackenzie’s Web Page

Bob Mackenzie regularly updates his website, and his extremely well illustrated battle reports always have me itching to get my World War II figures and tanks out onto the tabletop.

(Photograph © Bob Mackenzie)

Beautiful models on achievable but realistic terrain. What more could one ask for?

Chris Kemp’s Not Quite Mechanised

I first met Chris Kemp at the gathering organised by Paddy Griffith that led to the formation of Wargame Developments and COW (Conference of Wargamers). At the first meeting he put on a wargame using 1:300th-scale model tanks that opened my eyes to the prospect of a number of models representing a unit that fought as one and not a group of individual figures or tanks lumped together.

From these early glimmerings he developed NOT QUITE MECHANISED (NQM), a set of wargames rules for fighting battles from 1930 until 1980. These were the forerunner of MEGABLITZ and Chris is still using and developing them today … as a visit to his blog shows.

Chris has an interesting attitude to modelling that can probably be summed up as being ‘it is good enough’. He is a good modeller – and even better cartoonist – but he would rather wargame than spend hours making sure that every vehicle he uses is exactly correct and each soldier is perfectly painted. He has an exuberant attitude to wargaming … and one that I wish I could emulate at times!


Memphis Mangler IV: A report

Preamble
‘Memphis Mangler IV’ took place yesterday in the Defence Capability Centre, Defence Academy, Shrivenham. It was organised by Jim Wallman (a founder member of Wargame Developments and Megagame Makers) and Tim Price (who joined Wargame Developments just a few months after it was founded). Like me, Jim and Tim (along with Andy Grainger, who was also present yesterday) took part in the original ‘Memphis Mangler’ wargame that was set up and run by the late Paddy Griffith at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in 1981.

The wargame was conducted in a set of rooms near the entrance to the Centre thus:

Each participant was allocated to one of the two ‘player’ teams (The ‘Free World’ team or the ‘National Liberation Forces’ team) or to the ‘Control’ (or umpire) Team.

The player team structures looked like this:

Briefing
The wargame began at approximately 10.30am with a briefing in Armstrong Lecture Theatre.

Jim Wallman (on the left) and Tim Price (on the right) conduct the pre-game briefing in the Armstrong Lecture Theatre.

This enabled the various participants to meet the other members of their teams and for the game’s structure to be explained to the participants.

Planning
Once the briefing was over, each team went to its allotted room, where they began to plan for the forthcoming operation. The ‘Free World’ team or side (henceforth referred to as the FW) was by far the larger of the two, and each player had a specific task within their team. Their brief was to conduct a sweep of some villages near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in order to gather intelligence and to reinforce the concept that the FW controlled the area.

The Free World team planning for the forthcoming operation. What is of particular interest is that each player or sub-team seems to be very intent on their part of the planning process.

The ‘National Liberation Forces’ team (henceforth referred to as the NLF) was a much smaller team, but they controlled a significantly larger force, whose brief was to inflict as many casualties upon any FW troops that entered the area and to reassert control of the border area near the DMZ.

What was noticeable about the NLF team was how much time they spent together talking and planning their response to any FW incursions into their area of operations.

The Map Room
Whilst the players were planning what they were going to do the Control team or umpires (of which I was one) ensured that the Map Room was set up ready for the game to start.

The room was organised so that each pair of large-scale sections of the map of the operational area were placed opposite each other on tables that were divided in two by screens.

The outer side of the room was where the FW players would sit by the appropriate map section when their troops were deployed into the operational area whilst the inner side of the room was allocated to the NLF players. This arrangement was chosen in order to minimise the possibility of opposing player seeing what their immediate opponents were doing … and what was happening on other parts of the battlefield! This tried and tested system seemed to work quite well on the day although it did mean that at times the Control team were running about like mad things when combats were breaking out all over the operational area.

It is worth noting that once deployed players were only allowed to communicate with their superiors or to ask for air/artillery support using hand-held radios … which were not always very reliable!

Let Battle Commence …
Once the planning stage was complete (and lunch had been eaten) ‘Memphis Mangler IV’ started at 1.00pm. The FW had requested that a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (or LRRPs, pronounced ‘lurps’), be infiltrated into the area they proposed to use as a Landing Zone (LZ) during the night before the sweep was to begin. The LRRPs duly did as requested … and ran into the tail of what they estimated to be a battalion of regular troops from the NVA (North Vietnamese Army). Despite receiving this intelligence, the operation commenced as planned at 0800 (game time) when ‘A’ Company of the FW/US force landed on the LZ … and immediately came under heavy fire from AA artillery fire, small arms, and mortars.

‘A’ Company did its best to push forward from the LZ in order to clear the way for the follow-up waves of FW troops. Artillery and air support were used to pulverise a nearby wood from which the NLF fire had come … but an unfortunate mistake by the FW player did cause a ‘blue-on-blue’ or ‘friendly fire’ incident when troops he had moved onto the infamous Hill 51 were hit by an airstrike that had been ordered to attack Hill 51. The subsequent CASEVAC (Casualty Evacuation) by helicopter took a long time coming, and was an indicator of future events. Likewise the fact that the LZ was kept under intermittent mortar fire by the NLF forces should have indicated that the NLF forces were much stronger (and better trained and organised) than anticipated.

Having secured the LZ and the surrounding area, ‘B’ Company and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Company arrived and immediately struck out towards their objectives. Within a very short time they were heavily embroiled in firefights with NLF forces, and the number FW casualties seemed to reaching serious levels.

The commander of ‘B’ Company, US Army (Guy Farrish) looks suitable bemused with the situation whilst John Curry (one of the NLF team) discusses the situation with Tim Gow (my fellow Table Controller/Umpire).

The ARVN did manage to reach their objective and were able secure a large part of it. They were able to capture several prisoners and conducted some very useful interrogations that yielded some possibly useful intelligence.

Jim Wallman (with his back to the camera) listens to the ARVN company commander (David Winch) whilst two of the NFL team (Allan Rowell and Peter Antill) patiently wait to hear the results of their attacks upon the ARVN troops.

Whilst this was happening, ‘A’ Company searched a nearby village and captured a small store of ammunition, some medical supplies, and lots of propaganda material. They also flushed out what might have been an NLF supporter, but he managed to make a run for it and escaped.

The LZ then came under attack just after a major re-supply mission had taken place … and soon afterwards the codeword ‘Broken Arrow’ was heard over the radio net. This signified that all FW forces were to be withdrawn as soon as possible. Despite problems evacuating the dead and wounded and coming under attack from the NLF forces, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were exfiltrated by helicopter from the LZ or from a nearby open area. The ARVN were left to their own devices, but had already cleared an LZ for themselves and were also recovered. Large quantities of various FW supplies had to be left behind, although attempts were made to render them useless.

Debrief
The game ended at the projected time (4.00pm real time) and the participants went back to the Armstrong Lecture Theatre for a ‘hot wash-up’ or debriefing session.

This began with Jim Wallman, Tim Price, Andy Grainger and I briefly relating how this incarnation of ‘Memphis Mangler’ compared with the original. The team leaders than gave their appraisal of events (which was very interesting, and in the case of the FW, wildly optimistic regarding the numbers of their own casualties and the number they had inflicted) … followed by feedback from the Control team. Tim Gow and I estimated that the FW had lost over fifty combatants (mostly WIA but with quite a few KIA or likely to die as a result of wounds they received) whereas the NLF suffered over one hundred casualties.

My conclusions about ‘Memphis Mangler IV’
In my opinion the whole operation started badly … and just got worse as it progressed. That said the FW forces did their utmost to achieve their mission objectives and can justifiably argue that – despite their casualties – they gave the NLF forces a bloody nose. The ARVN did well, even though their main opposition were local guerrillas and not NVA main force troops.

The NFL can feel confident that they have taught the FW forces a lesson, and will be able to use news of this ‘victory’ in their propaganda broadcasts.

Some overheard comments
As happens in many wargames, the occasional overheard comment can often sum up what happened and how involved wargames can become in what is happening:

Where are those CASEVAC ‘choppers? There are people dying here!’ (An overheard radio broadcast from ‘B’ Company’s 2 i/c. Incidentally, there was a huge amount of First Aid equipment at the LZ – which was only 1Km away – that could have been used to treat the wounded and dying … but they could not get to it because they were under attack from all sides.)

I wish to move a platoon up to the top of Hill 51.’ (‘A’ Company commander to Table Control)
Are you sure you want to move a platoon to the top of Hill 51?’ (Table Control to ‘A’ Company Commander)
Yes. I am sure.’ (Moments after the platoon reache the summit of the hill a flight of fast jets is heard approaching Hill 51. Seconds later they drop their bombs on the hill.)

Who says that wargames can never be realistic?

Conclusion
This was one of the best megagames I have ever taken part in … and was a great memorial to Paddy Griffith. Much of the briefing material was heavily based upon what he researched and wrote over thirty years ago. As a member of the Control team I had a great overview of what was happening … and unlike some occasions when I have been an umpire, I was busy for the entire day.


Memphis Mangler IV

Nearly thirty-one years ago I took part in a large-scale wargame organised by the late Paddy Griffith. There were just over thirty participants, and the wargame was fought out on a large cloth model in one of the lecture theatres at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. The game was set in Vietnam and was called ‘Memphis Mangler’ … and it was the first so-called megagame.

Today I took part in another wargame set in Vietnam … ‘Memphis Mangler IV’. This was organised by Jim Wallman and Tim Price (both whom took also part in that very first megagame) and served both as a reaffirmation of the megagame format and as a memorial to Paddy. I intend to write a lengthier blog entry about the game tomorrow, but I would like to put on record my thanks to Jim Wallman, Tim Price, Keira (Tim’s wife), and all the other participants in today’s game. For a few brief hours the years seemed to roll away … and I felt young again … and it was thanks to all of you.