“Milito” for early 18th century

Last Christmas I received from my daughter the gift of the card-based “ancient warfare” game of “Milito”.

Although I have yet to play this against another person, and with some details of the rules not yet fixed in my head, I have played it a couple of times solo and made an adaptation for the early 18th century.

Yesterday I played the first game in the 18th century version. This was a game from my long-neglected six nation campaign started in 2001, representing 1701.

It is 16th september 1702 (you see – very long neglected!). The English have moved eight units into the Palatinate from the Netherlands. The French have reinforced their five units in the Palatinate with a further five units from Picardy.

Despite being outnumbered 8:10 the English managed to win the game with six units remaining against the French four. the French retreated to Picardy leaving the English in control of the Palatinate. How the battle progressed using text-based playing cards would be a boring narrative.

In the above map, although not historic terminology, you may think of I as a battalion, III as a regiment/brigade, V as a division and X as a corps. Roman numerals indicate the number of “units” in each area. There are campaign rules regarding consolidation and separation of unit groups.

Eighty years on. 29th February 1940.

1940, like 2020, was a leap year, so my narrative is not disrupted by the randomness of the calendar.


The Finns began a fighting retreat as the Red Army continued its offensive towards Viipuri.  The Soviets captured Teikari Island.

U-20 sank the Italian SS Maria Rosa in the English Channel.

The German ships Heidelberg and Troja sailed from Aruba in the Dutch Caribbean after dark to evade Allied naval vessels.  Troja was intercepted 10 miles out by the British cruiser HMS Despatch.  The crew set fire to the ship to prevent its capture.

Hitler issued a directive to all Nazi officials who were to meet the U.S. envoy Sumner Welles. The official line was that Britain and France had started the war to destroy Germany, so Germany had no choice but to continue fighting.

In France, a price freeze was put in place, along with rationing of food and petrol.  Germans (who have had food rationing since last year) were encouraged to plant vegetables rather than flowers in their gardens.

The British released nine German prisoners taken from the Asamu Maru to Japanese authorities.

In Uruguay the wreck of the Graf Spee was sold for scrap.

Game day 182. Japan

A submarine group was sent from Japan to the East China Sea to shadow the U.S. convoy, with orders not to attack.

In Kwangtung six armoured battalions, with the support of six fighter squadrons, attacked three Chinese infantry battalions.  The Chinese were wiped out, and the Japanese suffered losses of one squadron and one armoured battalion.

Eighty years on. 28th February 1940


The Finns attacked East Lemetti, allowing about 2750 Soviet troops including sick and wounded to escape on foot but many were then hunted down and annihilated.

Although officially non-belligerent, about 8000 Swedes, 1000 Danes and 900 Norwegians volunteered for service in Finland.  The French and British promised to send troops to Finland but requested the Finnish government to make a formal appeal for assistance.  In Germany Dr. Goebbels warned Sweden against giving aid to Finland.

The British battleship HMS Duke of York was launched.

The Land Transfers Regulations were published, dividing the Palestinian Mandate into zones of varying land restrictions.  The regulations restricted the registry of land by Jews.

In China, communist troops captured Anding in Shen-si province from the Japanese.

Game day 181. Britain

The escorted convoy continued to sail towards Britain.  More warships sailed to rendezvous with the convoy.

In the Indian ocean another unescorted convoy continued towards Australia.

Eighty years on. 27th February 1940


The Red Army continued its offensive towards Viipuri in a pincer movement including an assault across frozen Viipuri Bay.

The Finnish government begged its Scandinavian neighbours for help, but Norway and Sweden reaffirmed their neutrality in fear of Soviet reprisals.  300 Finnish children were evacuated to Stockholm, Sweden.

Although Norway and Sweden refused to allow British and French troops to cross through their territory to aid Finland, the first British volunteers left for Finland.

Game day 180. Germany

A fighter sortie with one squadron towards Paris was engaged by fighters of the RAF.  The German squadron was lost.

The U-Boat pack off Scotland moved south-west towards the coast of Ireland. 

In the South Atlantic the two surface raiders continued north-west along the Brazilian coast.

Re-enactment remeniscences

I have spent over forty years dressing up in odd clothes and pretending to be a soldier from the past. Here are a few memories triggered by watching an old video recording.

Blindheim 2004 (300th anniversary)

Watching the Austrian artillery using “semi-original” (cast in 1860) guns. Their loading method was:
Dry swab
Loose powder loaded from scoop

No wet swab, no wad, priming loose from flask.

I was watching an accident waiting to happen. I tried to talk to their officer (in German) but he was not interested. I was a mere Englishman who knew nothing. He could not know that I had previously been trained for and been in action as a gunner from 60 years ago historically.

I called a meeting of the commanders of all the multinational participating groups, who had never before met in person. We had groups ranging over 100 years of history from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, USA and Britain. After my suggestion that we should have a group drill session to establish (at the very least) hand-to hand combat rules, which turned out to be (to our surprise) standard English Civil War re-enactment pike press methods, some Dutch guy suggested that I should run the allied army. Promotion from Corporal to Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe within 10 minutes!

My army included two Norwegian drummers, two Americans as British grenadiers (with working grenades), half a dozen Dutch Guards, half a dozen “Scottish” infantry from England, three English mounted dragoons and about thirty Italian infantry and a couple of cannon. Not a massive force, but I guess that the Duke of Marlborough could not have been more linguistically challenged.

Some of the Italians were using plug bayonets with Brown Bess carbines, albeit somewhat unhistorical). In the first engagement one had a misfire, then after beating off his helpful friends, stuffed the bayonet into his still loaded carbine and advanced. He was now carrying the equivalent of a WW2 PIAT waiting to be discharged

After the battle I called another meeting to (re)discuss safety. By the end we all decided that “any foreign re-enactor should be considered as inherently dangerous until proved otherwise.”, by which tenet we fought the remainder of the Marlburian Wars in Europe in a gentlemanly style without any injuries. “Foreign” clearly included the British contingent in the eyes of our new friends.

I established at that battle an excellent relationship with my “French” counterpart Didier – a Breton who refused to admit to being French. We commanded the opposing multinational armies at each of the “Big Four” Marlburian battles (Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenaarde and Malplaquet), as well as at several other smaller engagements. At Almansa, by a quirk of history, I played the Frenchman running an Anglo-Portuguese army. He played the Englishman running a Franco-Spanish army.

Two lasting personal memories from re-enacting the wars of 1701-1714 were:
At Almansa II when two Italians came to my tent immediately after de-bussing from Italy. “Paul. We are so glad you are here. We thought we might have to fight under our own officer.”
At Oudenaarde where having allowed the Russian contingent(?) to carry their dead officer* from the field in time to pack up and get the ‘plane back to St. Petersburg from Brussels, my Dutch pal Bobby came to me, resplendent on my horse. “Sir, now that our wing commander is dead, what shall we do for the rest of the afternoon?” Me: “Ah – yes, um. You’re in charge now. Hold on, there will be a plan along in a minute.”

I last saw Bobby in charge of an inordinate number of cannon at Waterloo in 2015. I was a supernumery staff officer with lots of off-field duties and a mere spectator on the field. But that’s another story.

*Another personal story. Boris, our Russian contingent commander, came to me after the main briefing. He asked: “Do you think the Dutch, English and Norwegians will accept me as a commander?” I replied: “They voted you in. You are in charge. Welcome to my world.”

Eighty years on. 26th February 1940


The Red Army renewed its offensive towards Viipuri.  The Finnish 23rd Division counterattacked with eight Vickers Mark E light tanks in the only Finnish tank attack of the war.  All 8 Finnish tanks broke down or are destroyed.

The passenger liner RMS Queen Elizabeth left Clydebank on a secret maiden voyage to New York for her final fitting. The British generated false intelligence to make the Germans believe that the ship’s destination was Southampton.

In Rome, U.S. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles had his first day of meetings with European leaders during his fact-finding mission.

The British war office announced that northern Scotland will be out of bounds from 11th March.

Anti-Aircraft guns drove German reconnaissance aircraft away from the city of Paris.

Game day 179. USA

The escorted convoy with supplies for China (five merchants with 15 industrial points and six warships) continued westwards from the Carolines towards the north of the Philippines.

Gaming note. I have replaced occupation markers with national flags (of the period where I can find them). This has released the pennant symbol for use depicting naval forces once again.

Kwamgtung is shown with two national flags adjacent, showing a country under no overall domination.

Eighty years on. 25th February 1940


The British submarine HMS Narwhal sighted U-63 on the surface.  The U-boat dived, but the destroyers HMS Escapade, HMS Escort, HMS Inglefield and HMS Imogen forced her back to the surface with depth charges. U-63 was scuttled east of Wick, Scotland.

No. 110 Army Co-operation (Auxiliary) Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force arrived in Britain from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Game day 177.  USSR

(To conform to historical incidents) infantry from Leningrad moved southwards towards Turkey.  Six new battalions were raised at Moscow to be sent to garrison Leningrad.

In the north, the soviet infantry heading for the Norwegian border were halted due to concerns about potentially antagonising the Swedes and Norwegians.

Eighty years on. 24th February 1940


Norwegian, Danish and Swedish foreign ministers met in Copenhagen and reasserted their neutrality. They make a joint declaration not to assist Finland and refuse to allow foreign troops access through their territory.  British envoy to Finland Sir George Gordon Vereker indicated that 20,000 allied soldiers would leave for Finland on March 15, if the Finns made a formal request by March 5.

U-63 sank the Swedish MV Santos east of the Orkneys.

The Hawker Typhoon prototype fighter aircraft made its maiden flight.

Hitler made a speech in Munich on the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Nazi Party and declared that Germany must be and would be victorious.  The Manstein Plan was fully adopted by a new OKW directive.

Speaking in his home city of Birmingham in an address broadcast to the United States, Neville Chamberlain outlined Britain’s aims: the independence of the Poles and Czechs.

The Manstein Plan was fully adopted by a new OKW directive.

Game day 177. France

The Algerian infantry battalions arrived at the southern end of the border with Germany.

Eighty years on. 23rd February 1940


The Soviets, fearing the imminent arrival of foreign aid or troops to Finland, scaled back the Summa offensive towards Viipuri and offered peace terms to Finland. The USSR demands the entire Karelian Isthmus (including Viipuri, Finland’s second largest city) and the areas surrounding Lake Ladoga, as well as the islands in the Gulf of Finland and a 30-year lease on the Hanko Peninsula at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland.  In exchange they would evacuate the Petsamo region in the North of Finland.

The Swedish government, following pleas for help from the Finns, announced that Sweden would not intervene, nor allow foreign troops to pass through Swedish territory.   The British and French continued planning to support Finland through Norway and Sweden.

U-53 was sunk by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Gurkha south of the Faroe Islands.

The crews of HMS Exeter and HMS Ajax paraded through London to the Guildhall for a celebration of their victory at the River Plate, hosted by the Lord Mayor.

The Turkish government declared a state of emergency after reports that Soviet troops had crossed the Caucasian border.

Game day 176. China

Now outnumbered by the defenders of Peking, the five Chinese infantry battalions in Kwangtung withdrew to the south to join with the six armoured battalions moving from the west.  Once they had regrouped they could choose to strike north against Peking or south against Shanghai. 

Eighty years on. 22nd February 1940


The Gulf of Finland was frozen solid.  The Soviet 43rd Division attacked with across the ice and captured Lasisaari and Koivisto islands.

Operation Wikinger. Without informing the Luftwaffe, six German destroyers sortied into the North Sea through a narrow lane between minefields, to disrupt scouting of German warships by British fishing boats.  In the moonlight, Heinkel 111s mistook the destroyers for Allied ships and bombed them.  The destroyer Z1 Leberecht Maas was hit by two bombs and sank. Destroyer Z3 Max Schultz struck a mine and sank.

U-50 sank the British tanker SS British Endeavour west of Vigo, Spain.

Twelve people were injured in the West End of London by IRA bomb explosions.

Game day 175. Japan

Two troop ships carrying three infantry battalions sailed from Shanghai to Peking to reinforce the Japanese garrison.  Six armoured battalions set off overland for Peking from Shanghai.  Six fighter squadrons relocated from Japan to Manchukuo.