Some progress in the eighteenth century.

Some years ago I started a project to recreate the great battles of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1:300/6mm with a figure ratio of 1:10.
After foolishly painting up several British, Dutch, Irish, Scottish and Danish units but very few French I have abandoned the project in favour of more “bathtubbed”, (reduced scale)representations.

I am using Irregular Miniatures 18th century models with one block of 6×3 infantry as a “battalion”, one block of 4×1 cavalry as a “squadron” and 1 base of cannon+3 gunners as a “battery”
In the reduced version, each block will represent far more men.
My provisional order of battle for Blenheim (Hoechstaedt) is:
Franco-Bavarians: 16 infantry, 29 cavalry, 3 guns.
Allies: 13 infantry, 36 cavalry, 2 guns.

Rather than try to represent every unit I have decided at this scale on a generic national appearance, which will help when fighting other battles.
Some examples:
English troops have red coats, blue cuffs, vest and breeches and white stockings. Irish contingents have yellow cuffs, vests, breeches and stockings. Hanoverians have green facings.
Dutch have grey coats, red cuffs, blue vest and breeches and red stockings.
French have off-white coats, red cuffs, vest and breeches and white stockings.
Bavarians have pale blue coats, vests and breeches with white cuffs and stockings.

German principalities all wear blue coats and generally white facings, vests and breeches for simplicity.

Likewise any flags represent the nation rather than the regiment. All English regiments carry the St. George red cross on a white field. Scots carry the St. Andrew saltire (white on blue). The French have a white St, denis cross on a pale blue field. The Austrians carry the imperial eagle on a white field, etc. Flag/command units are based separately and can be allocated as needed.

An example of a mixed brigade with English, Hanoverian and “German” infantry supported by English horse and dragoons (differentiated by their hat lace)

Eighty years on. 31st May 1940


After two days of heavy German bombing at Dunkirk early morning mist and cloudy weather restricted Luftwaffe activity and the Admiralty returned the modern destroyers to the Dunkirk operation.  Despite the weather, the French destroyer Leopard and the British destroyers HMS Express, Icarus, Keith and Winchelsea were damaged by German bombing.  The evacuation continued at full pace, embarking over 68,000 allied troops including General Lord Gort, commander of the BEF, who only left after direct orders to do so.  Gort handed command to Major-General Harold Alexander with instructions to leave himself when the BEF was reduced to brigade strength.

In addition to the British small craft 39 Dutch coasters that had escaped the German occupation assisted the evacuation, saving a total of 22,698 men during the whole operation.

The French destroyers Sirocco and Cyclone were torpedoed by German Schnellboote.  Sirocco was then sunk by German bombing with 180 crew and 700 men of the 92nd French Infantry Regiment on board Sirocco went down flying the 92nd Regiment’s colours.

South-east of Lowestoft the Sloop HMS Weston sank U-13 with depth charges, capturing the 26 crew.

West of the Channel islands U-101 attacked convoy HG-31F and sank the British SS Orangemoor carrying iron ore.  U-101 was attacked for eight hours with depth charges by the convoy escorts, but escaped.

Winston Churchill flew to Paris for a meeting of the Anglo-French Supreme War Council.  Reynaud argued with Churchill over the disparity in numbers between the British and French troops being evacuated at Dunkirk.  Orders were issued for parity in numbers, but some French units were unable to disengage to achieve this aim.

The Germans finally captured Lille after a heroic defence by the French army.

President Roosevelt sent a written message to Congress asking for an additional $1.3 billion to accelerate military production and training.  He also requested that Congress pass a law before it adjourned granting the president authority to “call into active service such portion of the National Guard as may deemed necessary to maintain our position of neutrality and to safeguard the national defense, this to include authority to call into active service the necessary Reserve personnel.”

Japan launched a major bombing campaign over south-east China, particularly Chungking.

In Britain, road signs began to be removed to confuse potential invaders.  (Author’s note.  This apparently assumed that Germans could not read maps, and ultimately caused as many problems for British forces as it might have done for the Germans.)

Thus ended the ninth month of the war with the Germans in the ascendant, the French on their knees, the British with their backs to the wall, the Americans creeping out of isolation, the Italians preparing to get involved for easy pickings and the Japanese securing their hold on captured territory.

Game Day 274. Japan

Away from the conflict in Europe, Japan was still concentrating on beating the Chinese and maintaining its hold on its south-east Asian captured territory.

In the south the newly arrived six armoured battalions joined three infantry battalions in attacking the five Chinese armoured battalions at DI47.  Three Chinese battalions were destroyed, but the Japanese lost one infantry and two armoured battalions.  The Chinese held firm.

In the north ten Japanese infantry battalions attacked three Chinese infantry battalions at DK37.  The Chinese lost one battalion and withdrew to the south.  Their position was taken by the Japanese.

In accordance with the historical narrative, six bomber squadrons were deployed to Manchukuo (DR43) to attack Chinese forces.

Credits:   Historical information:, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994).  Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.  Additional “Dunkirk” information from BBC documentary broadcast.

Eighty years on. 30th May 1940


The British Admiralty ordered all modern H, I, and J class destroyers out of Dunkirk due to yesterday’s intensive German bombing, leaving only eighteen old destroyers to continue the evacuation.  Despite this, over 24,000 Allied troops embarked from Dunkirk harbour almost 30,000 from the beaches, including the first French soldiers to be evacuated.  Small craft from Britain ferried troops out to waiting warships or even back to England.

Although Luftwaffe attacks were reduced by poor weather, the destroyers HMS Anthony and Sabre, the minesweeper HMS Kellet, the armed boarding vessel HMS King Orry and the steamers St. Julien and Normannia were damaged by German bombs.  The French destroyer Bourrasque hit a mine and was then sunk by German artillery off Ostend.

After capturing Narvik, allied forces begin pushing General Dietl’s mountain troops and sailors back to the Swedish border, only eighteen miles east.  Dietl, isolated in Narvik since 10th April, had been sporadically resupplied and reinforced by airdrops.  However, his only real hope of support was 2nd Gebirgsjäger Division which had been marching north from Trondheim since 4th May.  Hitler will not permit Dietl to surrender or to cross into Sweden to be interned, ordering him to fight on.

As part of Operation Fish (the shipment to Canada of British gold and negotiable securities for storage in the Bank of Canada vault in Ottawa) the battleship HMS Revenge carrying £40 million in gold and the troopships Antonia and Duchess of Richmond with £10 million each sailed from Britain.

U-101 sank the British SS Stanhall carrying sugar and onions north of Quessant.   U-100 and U-123 were commissioned.

Mussolini advised Hitler that Italy would enter the war on 5th June.

Game Day 273.  Great Britain, the Empire and Dominions.

Three cargo ships carrying nine resource points from Egypt reached Southampton.  The battleship heading for Singapore sailed from Gibraltar while troop convoy of Australians continued across the Indian Ocean.

Six infantry battalions were landed at Narvik to attack the three German battalions defending the town.  Each side lost one battalion in the battle.

In France the BEF (five infantry and five armoured battalions), supported by four RAF fighter squadrons, attacked three armoured and five infantry battalions at AW29.  The Germans lost 4 infantry and two armoured battalions to the British two infantry battalions.  The Germans fell back but the British did not follow up as they would have been surrounded on three sides.

Four Infantry battalions were shipped from Portsmouth to Le Havre to reinforce the BEF.

Credits:   Historical information:, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994).  Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.

Eighty years on. 29th May 1940


Over 33,000 British troops were evacuated from Dunkirk harbour and nearly 14,000 from the beaches. As the weather cleared, the Luftwaffe strafed and bombed the ships and the waiting soldiers.  Despite Göring’s promise, it became clear that the Luftwaffe was unable to prevent the evacuation going ahead because of both RAF patrols and anti-aircraft fire from Royal Navy ships.

The British destroyer HMS Wakeful was torpedoed by the German torpedo boat S-30 north of Nieuport and sank immediately.  Over 700 crew and rescued soldiers were killed.  HMS Grafton was torpedoed by U-62 with few losses.  HMS Comfort was mistaken for another torpedo boat and rammed by HMS Lydd.

The destroyer HMS Grenade was hit by three bombs (one going down her funnel) at the east mole at Dunkirk.  Alongside Grenade, the destroyer HMS Jaguar was badly damaged by a bomb. The minesweeper HMS Waverley, carrying around 600 troops just rescued from the beaches, was also bombed and sank with about 350 men lost.

The Germans captured Lille, Ostend and Ypres.

U-37 sank the French steamer Marie José and the British oil tanker Telena  off Cape Finisterre.

The Swedish Home Guard was created.

Game day 272.  Germany

In the North Atlantic the two German warships pursued and sank the last remaining ship from the supply convoy heading for Britain.

In Norway the three battalions at Narvik dug in and waited for the expected British attack.

On the western front a breakthrough was needed, but the enemy had strong forces available.  An all-out assault was made on the five French armoured battalions on the Belgian border at AW29 using six armoured and six infantry battalions.  The French were eliminated for the loss of one armoured and one infantry battalion.

Four fighter and six bomber squadrons attacked the twelve battalions of the BEF behind the French armour.  The British lost one infantry and one armoured battalion, but the Luftwaffe lost 2 fighter and one bomber squadrons.

Further south three infantry battalions supported by three fighter squadrons attacked three defending infantry battalions.  Here the French lost 2 battalions and retreated.  There were no German casualties.

Reinforcements continued to move westwards through Germany.

Credits:   Historical information:, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994).  Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.

Eighty years on. 28th May 1940


At Narvik British, French, Polish and Norwegian forces attacked across the Rombaksfjord from Oyord in landing craft and by land from the East and West. Naval bombardment of German positions began at midnight, aided by the broad daylight at this latitude.  The French Foreign Legion came ashore with five French light tanks at 12.15 AM.  The Luftwaffe arrived at 4.30 AM, forcing the Allied fleet to withdraw and damaging the command vessel cruiser Cairo with two bombs.  Narvik was in Allied hands by midday after several hours of back and forth hand-to-hand fighting.

Just after midnight, King Leopold III as Commander-in-Chief accepted Hitler’s terms and surrendered the Belgian Army.  He consulted neither the allies nor the Belgian government.

While heavy fighting raged around the perimeter of Dunkirk, nearly 12,000 allied troops were evacuated from Dunkirk harbour and almost another 6,000 from the beaches.  A flotilla of British fishing boats and small pleasure craft arrived to assist in the rescue.  The small boats were used to get into shallow water and ferry men out to the larger warships for the journey to England.

At Lille 40,000 French soldiers of the First Army were surrounded by seven German divisions including three armoured divisions.

Near Abbeville, the French Char B1 Bis tank ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ remained functional after suffering ninety hits in two hours.

U-37 sank the French liner SS Brazza West of Cape Finisterre.  German submarine U-121 was commissioned.

Game day 271.  USA

The convoy loaded with supplies for China continued en route between the Hawaiian and Caroline Islands.

Credits:   Historical information:, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994).  Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.

Eighty years on. 27th May 1940


British and French units fell back towards the coast at Dunkirk, pressured by Panzer divisions now released from Hitler’s stop order and bombed by Luftwaffe at Poperinge.  Four British divisions under General Alan Brook held the Ypres-Comines canal.  The first 7,500 British troops were evacuated from Dunkirk harbour.  The Germans advanced within four miles, bringing Dunkirk within artillery range.

The British withdrawal left the Belgian right flank exposed and allowed Reichenau’s 6th Army to advance through the gap.  King Leopold III of the Belgians appealed to the Germans for peace terms. Hitler demanded unconditional surrender.

3rd SS Panzer Totenkopf Division troops under Hauptsturmführer Fritz Knöchlein shot 97 British prisoners of war from the Royal Norfolk Regimentin the French village of Le Paradis, leaving only two survivors.

150 miles West of Cape Finisterre, Spain, U-37 sank the British SS Sheaf Mead  and scuttled the Argentinian SS Uruguay.

The Allies took Narvik.  The Germans took Calais.

Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover made a radio speech titled “We Have No Good Reason to be Discouraged or Fearful,” arguing in favour of a strong national defence program. “We want a sign of ‘Keep Off the Grass’ with a fierce dog plainly in sight.” he said.

In Britain Field Marshal Sir John Greer Dill took over from Field Marshal William Edmund Ironside as Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

Also in Britain the butter ration was reduced to four ounces per person per week (about half a cup).

Game day 270.  Italy

Following Mussolini’s order to Invade France on 5th June, Italian troops began moving towards the French border.

Credits:   Historical information:, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994).  Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.

3d printing

Recently I have been experiencing problems with my “Da Vinci” Junior entry-level 3d printer. Last year I bought a new print head With a 0.3mm nozzle instead of 0.4mm. It keeps jamming and has now totally refused to co-operate.

Searching for a replacement I found that Amazon have a reasonable price but no stock. The only stock available was in the USA, and the price before shipping was marginally less than a new entry-level (apparently intended for schools) printer.

So I ordered a replacement head from Amazon for when they become available and as a stop-gap bought a “Labists” mini-printer. I am delighted with the results.

The Labists printer requires more “hands on” work from the operator, but in by view that’s better than not allowing you to make your own decisions. One advantage not mentioned in the handbook is the ability to change spools when one runs out mid-print, with a bit of dextrous juggling.

In the past 24 hours I have made these two models (reduced scale from someone else’s design) based on St Bartholomew’s Cathedral in Pilsen. They are for 3mm and 2mm games.

The buildings they need to sit with are shown beside the new models. Although the larger model is more compatible with the smaller scale houses, the main criterion was the size of base it had to fit on, rather than a strict scale. It could be a smaller church!

Eighty years on. 26th May 1940


The Citadel at Calais was attacked by two hundred German bombers and artillery.  German troops crossed the canals forming the last Allied defensive line.  In the afternoon Brigadier Claude Nicholson surrendered the Citadel.  British losses were 300 killed, 200 wounded evacuated by boat and 3500 taken prisoner.  Thousands more French and Belgian troops were captured.  German losses amounted to 750-800 killed or wounded.

At Dunkirk General Lord Gort received a telegram from the War Office authorizing the British Expeditionary Force withdrawal to Dunkirk.  RAF Vice-Marshal Keith Park assigned sixteen squadrons of No. 11 Group to protect the port.  The BEF’s retreat from Lille left a gap in the Allied lines exposing the French left flank and the Belgian right flank to the Walther von Reichenau’s 6th Army.  The Belgians fell back to the River Leie.  The French 1st Army is practically encircled.

U-13 and U-48 left Kiel to join the growing fleet attacking Allied shipping around the British Isles.

In Britain, park railings and bandstands began to be taken away to be melted down for their iron.

Game day 269. Norway

With the imminent expected landing of British troops the three remaining Norwegian battalions refrained from attacking the same enemy strength in defensive positions.

Credits:   Historical information:, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994).  Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.

Eighty years on. 25th May 1940


With 1st Panzer Division only ten miles from Dunkirk, and 2nd and 6th Panzer Divisions ready to race up the coast, Hitler maintained his orders to hold them in their current positions.   British, French and Belgian forces continue to fall back towards the Channel coast in an orderly retreat, covering each other’s flanks, under pressure by Bock’s Army Group B from the North and West.  The British Expeditionary Force used the respite to reinforce defences around Dunkirk, including the many canal crossings.

Despite Guderian’s orders to leave Calais to the Luftwaffe, 10th Panzer Division continued to attack. British and French defenders fell back but still held the city and harbour, where small fishing and pleasure boats began evacuating the wounded.

In the evening, General Lord Gort decided to withdraw the BEF to Dunkirk, following assurances from War Minister Anthony Eden on 23rd May that naval and air forces would be available for an evacuation by sea.   The first British Member of Parliament to be killed in World War II, Richard Porritt, aged 29, was  killed in action in Seclin, near Liile.

Sir John Dill replaced Edmund Ironside as Chief of the General Staff.

The British cruiser HMS Curlew was sunk in Ofotfjord by a German air attack.

Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, 33 year-old son of German Crown Prince Wilhelm, died in a field hospital from wounds sustained in action in France.

Benito Mussolini met with Army Chief of Staff Pietro Badoglio and Air Marshal Italo Balbo in Rome.  He told them that Italy would have to enter the war soon if it wanted a place at the peace conference table when the spoils were divided up.  When Badoglio tactfully tried to explain that Italy was still unprepared for war, pointing out that there were not even enough shirts for all the soldiers, Mussolini snapped back, “History cannot be reckoned by the number of shirts.” He set 5th June as the date for the Italian invasion of France.

U.S. President Roosevelt gave a fireside chat titled “On National Defense”. The president reviewed the grave international situation and then recited many facts and figures to show that America was much better prepared for war than it was at the time he took office in 1933, while assuring the American people that “There is nothing in our present emergency to justify a retreat from any of our social objectives.”

Heinrich Himmler told Adolf Hitler that, thanks to large scale emigration, “the concept of the Jew will disappear from Europe”

Game day 268. France

The six infantry battalions landed at Brest reached Paris (map square AU30).  Six more were landed at St Nazaire from the aborted Narvik expedition.

Six armoured battalions were rushed from Paris to the front to encounter the weakened German armour at AW29.  The Algerian infantry moved north to AW32 to block the way of the enemy infantry, but did not attack without superior numbers.  At AV31 six infantry battalions with the support of four fighter squadrons attacked three armoured battalions.

In the two battles the Germans lost four armoured battalions to the French one.  It appeared that the French would hold the Germans back from Paris.

Credits:   Historical information:, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994).  Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.

Eighty years on. 24th May 1940


The Germans captured the Belgian cities of Ghent and Tournai.  10th Panzer Division attacked Calais but British and French defenders held them off.  Further North, 1st Panzer reached the Aa Canal ten miles from Dunkirk, threatening encirclement of French and British armies in Belgium. Only one BEF battalion defended Dunkirk.  

In agreement with a request from Gerd von Rundstedt, Hitler ordered Paul von Kleist to halt his panzer advance only eighteen miles from Dunkirk, not wanting to risk the tanks getting bogged down in the Flanders marshes, and assured by Göring that the Luftwaffe could prevent any evacuation.  Generals Brauchitsch and Halder protested the order but were told it came from the very top.  Even Guderian, who had bent and ignored orders to get to the coast, had no choice but to comply.

With the BEF trapped in Belgium and the British Isles potentially under threat of invasion, The British War Cabinet decided to bring home their remaining troops in Norway. They informed the French General Béthouart, in command of the attack, who decided to continue with the capture of Narvik anyway before evacuation.

On Empire Day, King George VI addressed his subjects by radio, saying, “The decisive struggle is now upon us … Let no one be mistaken; it is not mere territorial conquest that our enemies are seeking. It is the overthrow, complete and final, of this Empire and of everything for which it stands, and after that the conquest of the world. And if their will prevails they will bring to its accomplishment all the hatred and cruelty which they have already displayed.”

 Assailants working for the Soviet Union attacked Leon Trotsky at his compound in Coyoacán, Mexico. Several bombs were detonated and hundreds of machine gun rounds were fired at the bedroom, causing such extensive damage that the attackers left assuming that Trotsky was dead. However, he and his wife Natalia had taken cover on the floor beside his bed and escaped serious injury.

Two hundred miles West of Brest, France, U-37 sank the Greek SS Kyma carrying 6000 tons of maize and 90 tons of trucks from Argentina to England.

Game day 267.  China

China moved troops eastwards to attack the Japanese all along the border with Kwangtung, with advantageous odds where possible. 

In the north ( map reference DL37) twelve infantry battalions attacked six.    Two Japanese battalions were wiped out but the attacking Chinese lost three.  This left the Chinese outnumbered in the area with nine battalions to the Japanese ten.

Further south (DL45) the outnumbered Chinese armour held off attacking until their supporting infantry arrived.

Further south again (DJ47) six armoured and six infantry battalions attacked six Japanese infantry battalions.  The Japanese lost half their defending force, destroying just one armoured battalion.

Credits:   Historical information:, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994).  Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.