Eighty years on. 31st October 1939


In Italy Mussolini had a cabinet reshuffle, replacing pro-Nazis with more neutral members.

The Royal Navy started a world-wide hunt for the battleships Admiral Graf Spee and Deutschland

Game day 61. Germany

The hunt for the Graf Spee and Deutschland (referred to above) having been already resolved in the Kriegsmarine’s favour, and the British having retreated northwards, the flotilla in the South Atlantic sailed to the south-east in search of more prey.

In the North Atlantic, the 1st Battleship Flotilla sailed north, and located the British carrier flotilla to their north-north-west.  They steamed north and engaged.  All three British carriers were sunk, with the additional loss of 2nd Fighter Group.  The Germans lost one battleship.

The submarines in the North Atlantic moved off to the north-west. It appeared that Germany was winning the naval war.

In Germany 2nd Armoured Corps moved north-west to take position north of 4th Infantry Corps.  1st Armoured Corps moved west from their position north of Berlin.

Background image © Milton Bradley Games

Twenty-five years on. Our silver wedding anniversary

With apologies to followers of my “Eighty years on” blog posts.

Twenty-five years ago we got married on the cheap. Our honeymoon was a single night in the Castle Inn in what hd been voted “Britain’s Prettiest Village”: Castle Combe in Wiltshire. It was only about 50 miles from home, but was enough.

When we reached the prettiest village we opened the doors of the (borrowed from a colleague) Mercedes and proceeded to chase up and down the street, in and out of gardens, the escaped balloons with which our so-called “friends” had filled the car.

Arriving at our room we found that not only was a (pre-ordered) bottle of champagne waiting in the ice bucket, but the luxurious bathroom was well supplied with rubber ducks in addition to the normal expectations.

Next morning we got up early and were first to arrive for breakfast. It proved to be somewhat of a challenge after the previous day’s celebrations and the evening champagne:

We chose the “full English” breakfast (i.e. fried food). Question 1. “How would you like your eggs; fried, poached or scrambled?” Question 2. “Sausages: pork or beef?” Question 3: “Bacon: smoked or unsmoked, back or streaky?” Question 4: “mushrooms, tomato, beans, black pudding?” Question 4: “Toast? 4a: “Brown or white?” 4b: “Wholemeal, granary or plain?” Question 5. “Butter or spread with the toast?” Question 6: “Marmalade or jam?” I avoided the expected 6a “What flavour jam?” by selecting marmalade.

Then we got into stage two. “Tea or coffee?” I foolishly chose tea. You can guess where we went from there…

I may have temporarily confused our waiter by asking for un-grilled tomato, which was not on the (unwritten) selection list, but in the end he won the eight o’clock guest challenge. But I have played adventure games with fewer choices at each node.

After breakfast we drove back home, where we had left about a dozen people occupying what was now “our” home. Arriving home we realised that I had forgotten to tell anyone that my old pop-up toaster no longer popped, and thus we found the lawn covered in burnt bread “for the birds”. And nobody had bought us the almost obligatory toaster as a wedding gift.

As an aside to the wedding story, I was privileged to announce that my bride’s supporter for the day had discovered that she was expecting a baby, and we later found that another baby had been conceived in the house while we were away. Someone clearly had more energy that night than we had ourselves!

Fast forward 25 years. I booked a couple of nights at the same hotel that we had stayed in back in 1994. Once again we arrived in the dark. We unloaded the bags and I set off for the car park in the now partnership hotel a few hundred yards away. Returning to the hotel Chrissy and the bags had vanished. A helpful young man guided me to our room. I began to wish that I had brought a bag of breadcrumbs for a trail to find my way back! And here is the route from the bar/reception area to our room…

We were back to the adventure game mode!

I had booked the room with the “romantic” four-poster bed, but Chrissy told me that we had been given a complimentary upgrade. This room had a bed nine feet wide! I quickly browsed Google Earth to find the best route to my wife’s side of the bed. We later found that the disadvantage was that the duvet was only eight feet wide, so we could spend a couple of nights (as usual) in silent argument about territorial boundaries.

Anyway, despite the restaurant being fully booked, they had found us a table, a mere 30 minutes before the kitchen closed. We obliged and had a single-course meal, which was excellent, if mine was somewhat less filling than the menu suggested.

Next morning we went for breakfast. No longer the multiple choice examination, but a simple choice of egg preparation. The peripheral breakfast items were well presented, but we think our fried breakfast may have spent too much time under a heat lamp.

With a day to spend and no plan we investigated the local church. Surprisingly interesting, as we discovered the mechanism of the 600-year old clock (still working) and, in one of the stained-glass windows, the arms of the local family Poulet (3 swords, joined at the points, on a black background- and yes, I do know the correct heraldic description), which we recognise as the flag of the Marquess of Winchester’s Regiment of the English Civil War Society. the Marquess of Winchester was named Paulet and owned Basing House in the Englisg Civil War.

Later we set of on a random tour of the area, looking for interesting places. We came close to a monument (too long a story…) in an ancient hill fort with a carved white horse in the hillside. Many years ago we had ridden on horseback around this hill fort and considered, briefly, walking up to it. Then we reconsidered and set off for Avebury.

Avebury is an ancient monument, comprising stone circles. The village of Avebury is largely within the ancient circle. We walked the ring, declined to pay the fee for visiting the manor, museum, etc. during the school holiday/Halloween special attraction period, and bought some Christmas paraphernalia in the National Trust shop.

Moving on we discovered the REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Regiment) museum at MOD Lyneham. Surprisingly Chrissy said it might be interesting. For me it was. I have some new ideas for converted 6mm models for WW2. She beat me on most of the children’s interactive games, including a complex modern vehicle recovery situation involving, a surround video, two joysticks and a soundtrack of shouty oeople.

Returning to the hotel we found that Moonpig had delivered the flowers and the hotel staff had placed them in our room as requested, but also taken the initiative of placing them in a kilner jar. I was amazed to find that the “multi-coloured roses” included some roses with multicolours on a single stem.

Apparently the process to produce these flowers is secret.

We went to the restaurant for dinner and were greeted with two glasses of complimentary champagne. The waiter appeared a little nonplussed as I had previously advised that I avoid alcohol. I was granted a dispensation for one glass. The hotel staff had taken the trouble to acquire my non-alcoholic alternative for the rest of the meal.

Dinner was far more tasty and exquisitely presented than the menu suggested. Although expensive I think it represented value for money. Our second morning’s breakfast proved to be equal to the previous night’s dinner. The muffin, smoked salmon and poached egg with hollandaise sauce was to die for!

After breakfast we checked out and took another walking tour of the village. This is a favourite “English village” for film directors, having been used for, amongst others: “Dr. Doolitle” the “Poirot” TV Series and Spielberg’s “War Horse”. Local regulations prohibit street lighting and visible TV aerials and satellite dishes.

Castle Combe. England as she used to was.

And so that was our mini-break. Sorry to be a bore, but some folks may glean something useful for their own holiday from my ramblings.

Eighty years on. 30th October 1939


“The Lion Has Wings” was released.  The first cinema film about the Second World War.

In the British Parliament a White Paper was published exposing Nazi concentration camps and brutality, particularly towards political dissidents and Jews.

Game day 60. USSR

1st Armoured Corps in Karelia moved north-west.   In Ukraine 2nd Armoured Corps continued its move westwards. 

In Caucasus 5th Infantry Corps occupied Stalingrad, 10th Infantry Corps and 3rd armoured Corps continued to move west.

In the east all units continued generally to the south and east.

Background image © Milton Bradley Games

Eighty years on. 28th October 1939


A Heinkel He111 was shot down over Scotland; the first German aircraft of the war to crash on British soil.  The British Expeditionary Force in France now amounted to nearly 200,000 men with supplies for 6 weeks.

Heinrich Himmler urged German women to dispense with the tradition of marriage and to produce racially pure children.

Joseph Tiso became the first President of Slovakia.

In Prague fighting broke out between German forces and Czech students parading to remember the 20th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

Game day 58. China

 1st Mongolian Infantry Corps joined the defenders of Peking.  In China 3rd Infantry Corps continued eastwards towards Kwangtung.

Background image © Milton Bradley Games

Note There will be no post for 29th October. I will be busy with my 25th Wedding Anniversary and coincidentally there is nothing to report. I have been unable to find any war-related news for 29th October 1939 and in the game France was inactive on that day.

Eighty years on. 27th October 1939


From the Vatican Pope Pius XII condemned racism, dictators and treaty violations. 

Game day 57. Japan

3rd Infantry Corps in Kwangtung continued north towards Peking.

2nd Fighter Group in Manchuria flew a mission against 1st Mongolian Infantry Corps. Each side lost 1 point.

Background image © Milton Bradley Games

Eighty years on. 26th October 1939


Krakow, Poland.  Hans Frank took up his post as Governor-General of Poland.  All Jewish men between the ages of 14 and 60 were required to work on Government Labour Projects, including building concentration camps for themselves.  Polish citizens were ordered to leave the pavements free for Germans.

In Britain, the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps was created from certain volunteer reserve units.

Game day 56. Britain.

1st Carrier Flotilla launched 2nd Fighter Group in an attack on the enemy submarines in the North Atlantic.  3 submarines were sunk for no loss.  The remaining Submarine withdrew northwards.  1st Battleship Flotilla moved south-east into the Bay of Biscay.  The convoy carrying the Canadians headed for the UK.

Background image © Milton Bradley Games
(Hey! I finally got the © symbol to work in WordPress!)

In the South Atlantic the remains of 2nd Battleship Flotilla, headed for Gibraltar.

Gaming note. I have created a new sea area “North Sea/English Channel” by subdividing the North-East Atlantic, as seen in the picture above.

Eighty years on. 25th October 1939


Leon Trotsky stated “Stalin is afraid of Hitler, and right to be so.”

In Britain the Handley Page Halifax bomber took to the skies for the first time.

Game day 55. Germany

2nd Fighter Group attacked the Royal Navy submarines in the North Sea.  2 submarines were sunk for the loss of 4 squadrons.

2nd Armoured Corps moved south-west.  4th Infantry Corps counter-attacked against the French 2nd Infantry Corps, inflicting 2 damage points for the loss of 3 points.

In the North Atlantic 1st Submarine Flotilla attacked the Royal Navy Carrier Flotilla.  Two carriers were sunk, and the submarines submerged.  1st Battleship Flotilla searched to the north-west.

In the South Atlantic the 2nd Battleship Flotilla located and attacked the 2nd British Battleship Flotilla.  The British lost 5 ships to the German 4.

Background image copyright Milton Bradley Games

Arnhem, 19th September 1944

Gaming information.

This report refers to various unit types. During the narrative I may refer to individual vehicles, guns or aircraft. Each mechanical model represents 3 to 5 real vehicles/guns/aircraft. One base of figures represents a platoon equivalent (30-40 men) at about 1:10 ratio. A wargame company is 3-5 platoons, normally 4.

07:00. It is 15 minutes before dawn. At Arnhem Bridge the 43rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, supported by a company of 1st Somerset Light Infantry, advances into the town of Arnhem. This is not good tank country. The area for about 1km around the north end of the bridge is a smoking mess of ruins. There is no sign of the British or Polish Airborne troops that should have been in possession of the bridge.

Fortunately there is no apparent German presence either.

The Somerset Light Infantry advance cautiously along the rubble-strewn main road, supported by Cromwell tanks of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment.

To the north of Arnhem the remaining airborne troops had been ordered to regroup in the woodland at map square 1430. The company-strength group from 10 Para makes their way along the railway line towards the RV point, occupied by three companies of 2nd Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment.

On the German side, the remaining infantry of 9th SS Panzer Division have orders to move towards map square 1428, the area north of the bridge, and to continue to prevent British Airborne forces from linking up with the newly arrived ground forces. The machine gun platoon of 16th SS Training Battalion makes the greatest progress through the ruins.

Two of the 75mm anti-tank guns of 1st Artillery Battalion, 10th SS Panzer Division, are able to see and fire on the enemy.

The first gun fires at the Cromwell. The second gun fires at the infantry. Neither gun scores a kill.

The time is now 07:13.

Reacting to the enemy fire, the Somersets attack the enemy guns, supported by the fire from the tanks.

The Germans are disordered by the tank fire, and when attacked by the infantry they fall back, abandoning their guns.

10th Battalion Parachute Regiment links up with 2nd Battalion South Staffordshires.

9th SS Panzer Division continues to move south towards the north end of the bridge.

HQ 1st Artillery Battalion 10th SS Panzer Division calls in howitzer fire against the Somersets. Two 75mm guns and two 105mm guns open fire. Neither battery had any success.

The time is now 07:28

A British resupply drop arrives. 1st Airborne Division have been able to organise this by a radio link from 2nd South Staffordshires via 82nd US Airborne Division in Nijmegen. The aircraft fly in at low level to ensure that the containers are dropped in the designated area. But they fly over a battery of 88mm guns in the south of Arnhem. Taking avoiding action, the supplies are accidentally dropped about 250 yards short of the intended area.

One company of the 2nd South Staffordshires charges forwards into the northern outskirts of Arnhem to retrieve the much-needed supplies. The Machine gun and mortar companies remain in position in the woods.

10th Battalion Parachute Regiment closes up and occupies a large warehouse building.

The Somerset Light Infantry attacks the AA guns that fired on the supply aircraft. Already disordered, the gunners fall back, abandoning the guns.

43rd Reconnaissance Regiment tanks are unable to make any progress through the rubble-strewn streets.

16th SS Training Battalion Machine Gun Platoon opens up at short range on the Somersets in the ruins, but no casualties are inflicted.

One company of 1st Battalion, 9th SS fires at the tanks of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment to no effect. A second company moves forwards into the church.

The company of 2nd Battalion 9th SS advances along the main road.

It is now 07:46

An RAF Spitfire arrives over the battlefield. The pilot has been briefed about the ground situation and will attack only the centre of Arnhem.

(Apologies for the crappy painting of roundels. This is a model from the new Memoir ‘44 expansion pack, hastily painted for the game.)

The company of 1/9SS in the ruins at the road junction dives for cover. The Spitfire flies off, job done. The pilot returns to base, reports a successful mission and enjoys tea and a tot of rum.

Meanwhile, back at the sharp end…

The SLI company attacks the 105mm howitzer company (2 guns) in the ruins to their east, but are beaten back with no substantial casualties.

43rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment are still unable to move through the ruins, but open fire against the enemy company at the crossroads, to no effect.

105mm battery of 10th SS Panzer Division fires over open sights at the Somerset Light Infantry company in the ruins.

The Machine Guns of 16th SS Training Battalion fire at the Somersets company at close (250 yards) range. HQ 1st Bn. 9th SS Panzer Division, with a spotter in the church tower, orders the mortar company to fire at the Somersets, who withdraw in good order to the main road junction.

The rifle company of the 1st Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division advance south towards that road junction.

The company of 2nd Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division attack the South Staffordshires as they are collecting the supply canisters. The attack is beaten back.

It is now 08:02

Behind the stalled 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment two more infantry companies of the Somerset Light Infantry are waiting.

The Somerset Light Infantry company in the city is ordered to move to the west into the ruins beside the river and attempt to outflank the enemy. The first part of the order is achieved. The tanks of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment are still unable to pick a way through the rubble-strewn streets. However, they continue to fire on the infantry they see ahead, but do no damage.

To the north of the town the composite company of 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment and 1st Company, 2nd Battalion South Staffordshires and their 3” mortar company attacks the company from 2nd Battalion 9th SS Panzer Division.

This all-out attack eliminates the enemy company, but leaves all the attackers low on ammunition and unable to attack again without resupply. In the woods there is an unrecovered supply drop sufficient for one company. 10th Parachute Battalion takes over the road previously held by 2nd Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division, but in a defensive mode only.

The Machine Gun Company advances from the railway southwards into the woods towards the warehouses.

The 88mm Gun battery personnel were reorganised without their guns to operate as infantry.

The 81mm mortar company of 2nd Battalion 9th SS Panzer Division fires at the Somerset Light Infantry, directed by the HQ spotter in the church tower, but again to no effect.

No other units are able to make progress through the ruins.

The time 08:14

1st Company, 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment advances southwards into the town of Arnhem.

A Squadron, 43rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment manages to move forwards, followed by the HQ squadron.

1st Company, Somerset Light Infantry advances through the ruins.

South of the Rhine, two more companies of the Somerset Light Infantry have arrived.

The mortar company of 1st Battalion 9th SS Panzer Division attacked the Somersets. The Somersets were shaken but not seriously damaged after taking shelter in the ruins. They were then assaulted by three platoons of the 1st/9th SS. The German infantry were pushed back.

16th SS Training Regiment attacked the advancing enemy tanks to no effect.

The time is now 08:29

South Staffordshires mortar company fires at the mortar companies of 1st Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division. The bombardment is followed by an infantry assault, which is repulsed.

The Somerset Light Infantry and the lead squadron of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment attack the disorganised infantry of 9th SS Panzer Division.

The Panzer Grenadiers flee. The tanks push on along the road.

The German 105mm howitzers fire direct at the tanks of the 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment, but no tanks are damaged.

The company of 1st Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division in the church fires at the Somersets, but also does no damage. The commanding officer attempts to move to rally the fleeing company, but is unable to reach them.

The 16th SS machine guns fire at the tanks. The lead tank commander is shot and the others close down, throwing the squadron into confusion.

It is now 08:44

The South Staffordshires mortars on the railway line fire at the fleeing enemy infantry, directed by the officer of the rifle company in the town.

The Somersets then charge the disorganised panzer grenadiers. The company, surrounded, surrenders. One platoon of the Somersets is detached to guard the prisoners.

The South Staffordshires rifle company reorganises after the earlier repulse.

The company of 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment rushes forward to greet the Somerset Light Infantry, but the remaining 9th SS company opens fire from the church, spoiling the fun.

At 08:52 a joint attack on the church is mounted by 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment and the Somersets. The Church is taken and the last German infantry run. The Cromwells of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment meet up with the airborne troops. Of the fourteen battalions dropped into Arnhem, little more than the equivalent of one battalion remains.

Eighty years on. 24th October 1939


Poland’s national gold reserves arrived in Paris.

Game day 54. USSR

2nd Karelian Infantry Corps closed up to the border with Finland.  3rd Infantry Corps moved from Ukraine into Eastern Poland.  1st Fighter Group moved to the Ukraine/Karelia border. 1st Armoured Corps moved from Caucasus into Karelia, and 2nd Armoured Corps moved from Caucasus into Ukraine.

Other units continued to move westwards through Caucasus.

On the eastern front units continued to take up positions against a Japanese threat.

Background image copyright Milton Bradley Games

25 years and counting…

Discussions with the Memsahib regarding our 25th wedding anniversary. We have booked a room at The Castle Inn, Castle Combe, Wiltshire , where we stayed for our wedding night. We were cash-strapped in those days so it was only for the one night.

Anyway, some months back I booked the room and local to home accommodation for Sparky for a couple of nights. Now we have no idea what to do on our anniversary day in Wiltshire. The internet has no ideas apart from walking the village in which we will be staying, or a round of golf.

We are thinking of using our “pack of cards” exploratory method* to see what we find.

Meanwhile, searching for another occasion I found a wonderful dog-friendly hotel, but at a rather exorbitant cost. Maybe we’ll book it for our 50th anniversary in 2044?

*The “pack of cards” exploration method. Take a pack of cards. Deal them one at a time. A number card is the first turn, a picture card is the second turn. Red is left, black is right. Joker means go home (if you can find your way home!).

Sometimes we find interesting and fascinating places that would have remained undiscovered. Sometimes we go round in circles. Sometimes we end up on a dead-end cart track or in the middle of desolate woodland. But that’s what makes it fun.