Then and now. 21st March

21st March 1941. After 15 weeks siege the Italian garrison of the Libyan desert stronghold of Jarabub surrendered. The picture shows victorious Australian troops surveying the dead.

Sixty years later, pictures from New South Wales show disastrous floods with entire houses floating away; Italy faces a new national lock-down because of a global pandemic and Britons, rather than fighting together, are attacking their own police forces to protest about strict government regulations.

The new bill before Parliament that the rioters decry merely intends to give the police greater powers to deal with gatherings which would potentially spread deaths in this country.

The powers granted to the government and the police in 1941 went much further and were geared more towards causing death and disruption elsewhere.

“Wake up Britain.” as Lady Astor might have said.

Donald Featherstone remembered – Part 2

Well, the “Platteville Valley” game for Don’s Birthday was a success, but the battle report is a failure. During the game I took dozens of photographs, none of which can be found in my camera or the SD card I thought I was recording to.

And so the best I can do is to republish the map with a brief description of the action.

The map from “War Games” adjusted for a 6ft x 4ft board

The Confederates won the die roll for first move. This meant that they fired second after the movement of both sides was complete. In the game post mortem we decided it would have been fairer to dice for the play sequence each turn.

Anyway, both sides were constrained to bringing on the advance guard of 2 infantry units along the road from the north or south. This was duly done before the game started and we commenced from game turn two. The Confederates moved one unit further up the Lower Pike Road and the other swung left towards Green Ridge. On the Union side one unit rushed for Bull Bridge (one of the two objectives in the game), while the second moved towards Mole Hill.

In turn three the main forces arrived along the respective baselines. Four more infantry units, two cavalry units and two guns per side. On the Confederate right wing one infantry units made for the wheat field, one for Green Ridge to support the advanced guard, followed by the artillery piece and the cavalry. On the left the infantry made for the churchyard and the village while the gun headed for the western end of Green Ridge. The cavalry remained in reserve.

On the Union right one regiment made for the Ploughed Field and the second for the gap between that field and Bull Creek. The gun halted to break down the fence and follow the infantry into Ploughed Field while the cavalry swung round the edge and made for Platts Wood. On the left flank Rabbit Ridge was occupied and the gun unlimbered at Bull Bridge.

In the following turns half the Confederate cavalry moved into Platts Wood where (deep joy for he who moves the models) a cavalry melee ensued in the woods. Neither side dismounted their cavalry at any time during the battle.

On the east flank the Confederates took a pasting from the Union infantry and gun at the bridge and fell back. On the other hand their artillery practically wiped out an enemy infantry unit on Mole Hill. The Churchyard was occupied by, but the stone wall provided little protection from Union musketry. Despite high casualties, both sides continued to roll high for morale and stood their ground almost to the last man until the second Union cavalry unit surprised a Confederate infantry unit between Bull Creek and Church Hill. After the melee, having lost one man the cavalry fled from the field! The Confederates also fell back from this melee.

The game ended after turn eight with the Union Cavalry in control of Platts Wood, the Confederates holding the church (now under artillery attack) and the two houses – the second game objective , with the rest of their infantry in cover behind Green Ridge. The Union controlled, but never crossed, Bull Bridge.

I declared it an honourable draw. Both sides had lost most of an infantry regiment and all of one cavalry unit. The Confederates also lost a gun crew, but not the gun itself.

All in all a good game which played quite well over Discord with just a couple of technical hiccups. It took about 4.5 hours to play through with me moving all the figures (individually based), rolling the dice and occasionally adjusting the camera angle.

Donald Featherstone remembered

It’s been a while since I posted, and here’s why.

Tomorrow, 20th March 2021, would be Donald Featherstone’s 103rd birthday.

In past years a group of up to a dozen wargamers have gathered for a weekend’s gaming and a dinner in his memory. Last year’s game was postponed to this year, and is again postponed this year.

About a month ago I contacted “the gang” with an off the wall proposal to play one of the games from Donald’s book “War Games” using an on-line platform. I sort of hoped that someone else would say: “Yep, I’ve got the toys and an account for xyz software.”

Instead I got the response: “Great idea”.

Thus I have spent the last month sourcing models in a scale that I don’t normally play and painting toy soldiers extracted from board games, and learning new software systems. Today I finished the process by making four plasticine hills for the battlefield.

Tomorrow we play. I hope Don would be happy with my tribute battlefield, using the same buildings and many of the same old plastic trees.

And below is a detailed comparison of the first draft.

Battle report to follow.