Life (and death) disruption. My mother.

I started February with several plans. Some began to come to fruition, but everything was thrown into chaos by the long-time anticipated but unexpected death of my mother on 23rd February.

Apparently (in a nursing home), after sleeping in late, she tried to use the bathroom and pulled the emergency help cord.

The manager of the home managed to get her into a wheelchair and thus back to her bed, while staff called 999 (UK emergency service number).

Paramedics gave her oxygen and were trying to apply heart monitoring when she said: “I’m going now.” They tried to reassure her, but she said: “No, I’m going”, and died.

This is typical of my mother as I remember her. Straightforward, not wishing to cause a fuss or be a burden.

She had a hard life. Soon after her 11th birthday in August 1939 she was asked by her mother at bedtime to pray there would not be a war. She thought a war might be exciting and prayed that there would be a war. Next day Neville Chamberlain came on the radio…

Imagine the burden of an 11 year old child with that guilt, unable to confide to anyone that she had asked for the Second World War!

After the war she continued with her secretarial job and was wooed by my father, a widower with a young son.

They married on Boxing Day 1952 and moved to Poole. Apparently my father carried my mother over the threshold of their new home and placed her into a pool of water. The pipes had burst after a freeze.

The house today (Google streetview)

I was born in May 1954 and my sister in 1959. When I was born, rationing was still in place and times were hard. Even after rationing and when my sister was a baby my mother used to walk the 5 miles into town with both of us in/on the pram, walk the length of the High Street comparing prices and then return buying the cheapest items from her shopping list. If she had saved 3d (just over 1p or exactly £1/80) she would buy herself a Milky Way or Bounty Bar chocolate as a treat. Then push us all home.

Returning home she would record the spend in her notebook. I have seen the book but I think it no longer exists.

Possibly following in her father’s footsteps as a market gardener, she also grew most of our vegetables in the back garden, Parts of which could at times be almost swamp-like. I remember potatoes, cabbages, brussels sprouts, rhubarb, cauliflower, peas, beans and many other staples cultivated by my mum. At the time it seemed normal and we thought nothing of it.

The garden today (Google Earth)

My father died in April 1975 of peritonitis after wrong administration of drugs following a fall caused by his rheumatoid arthritis in April 1975. He lived long enough to meet my son, born in December 1974. My mother spent almost exactly half her life as a widow.

Mum eked out her pension by getting a part-time job in the local library and also by becoming a well-loved and respected “Dinner Lady” at our local primary school. I think she did this job for around 20 years.

When I was first divorced we moved back in with Mum, who looked after my young son (who started at the above school), and my younger daughter while I was at work until the kids went to live with their mother.

Mum was a lady of old-fashioned principles. She always believed in the concept that as a mother your first duty was to your children, and that it was a terrible thing that women had to work for money rather than look after their families. But she managed to do both.

She hated dogs, and raised a fuss in the local newspaper about inconsiderate dog-owners and excrement left in the park, but seemed immediately attracted to our own dog, on whom she lavished much praise. Of course he deserved it because he is my dog and thus perfect!🙂

Eventually she ended up in what, to quote the late Terry Wogan, was “a home for the bewildered”. She had mild dementia and could be cantankerous. When I last visited her, on her 93rd birthday, with plans to take her out for a cream tea to one of her favourite local garden venues, she eventually reluctantly got dressed, too late, and the best we could do was to push her in a wheelchair around Poole Park (a lovely place nonetheless) and buy her an ice cream.

My mum. Stoical, resourceful, frugal, steadfast, loving. But above all, MY Mum.

Walks with my dog. 10 Feb 2022

Feeling the need to get out of the house and take some exercise I loaded Sparky into the car and set off for our old stomping ground, Paices Hill Country Park and Fishing Lakes.

Finding it inexplicably barricaded we continued until we reached Silchester, where there is a car park and a sports ground.

The sports area is well laid out, mainly for cricket, but today’s idea was for me to move about a bit rather than just lob a ball for Sparky to bring back, so we turned our back on this.

We headed into the trees, behind which are a couple of football pitches marked out, and after a couple of games with the ball, we headed further into the woods.

Soon we came upon an open area for more ball play, followed by the pond, beside which was a fallen tree, ideal for some exercise in “Dogger Jillity”.

Continuing around the pond we found that someone had been at work cutting trees to make a wildlife habitat, and then, thanks to a very dry January we were able to circumnavigate the pond and find our way back to the car park, avoiding the impenetrable gorse.

I let Sparky lead the way, generally following his nose, but not this way…

And so we returned to the car park, where Sparky paused to pick up some “pee-mails” before returning to the car.

Exiting the car park with a large 4×4 was a little worrying, thanks to a local vandal with a sense of humour…

“Est-il heureux”. The rules

Here are the rules, basically as used in the Corunna game. They are not exactly the same, because while consolidating them for publication I made some tweaks.

I make them freely available to the wargaming community, but would ask that I am credited in any distributed copy.

If any anomalies, contradictions or other faults are found, feedback is appreciated. And yes, I know I got the datestamp wrong!

Corunna Bathtubbed – the fourth and final hour.

5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Step 1. Artillery Fire

Blue artillery against formed Red infantry at 3 squares. Needs red, rolls 4 reds, and 3 are saved. Red suffers a third hit and loses a battalion. Morale (now yellow zone) rolls red and is OK.

Red artillery has targets of skirmishers at 1 and 2 squares (normally need red to hit, but skirmishers adjust this to yellow), skirmishers at 4 squares (yellow adjusted to green), formed troops at 5 (yellow hits) and artillery at 6 (yellow hits). 4 dice roll 3 yellows and a green. The nearest targets are hit first, so the closest skirmishers take 3 hits, removing 3 bases (a battalion and a half). The distant skirmishers also lose half a battalion. Both surviving units roll for morale, and are both in the red morale zone with only 1 base each. Both roll yellow and retreat 2 squares. The furthest unit runs back through two friendly units to the rear.

Step 2. Skirmishers and scouts move.

Red moves up two battalions on the right flank. The skirmishers in contact with the cavalry remain where they are. Blue advances one battalion from the stream on their right centre and a second battalion enters Piedrolonga and takes up defensive positions.

Step 3. Skirmishers fire.

Red vs Blue dragoons. Two battalions fire. The first scores one hit and after a morale check the dragoons retire one square. The second unit misses. One Red battalion fires at Blue’s light cavalry, scoring one hit. The cavalry also retire one square, directly away from the firing.

One Blue company fires at formed Red infantry, and hits. Red’s morale check is OK.

One Blue battalion fires at Red’s artillery and misses. 

Step 4. Volley fire.

Red firing at Blue’s artillery at long range and scores one hit. Morale is OK. One Red battalion and one Blue battalion (disordered) trade volleys at range 2 squares. Red shoots first, rolling red and missing. Blue replies and hits with green (disordered troops adjust die result). 

Step 5. Close order units move.

Red’s brigade that retreated earlier advances again, enthusiastically overshooting their best position and descending into the valley. Blue orders three charges on the right flank. Red takes a hit and retires one square.

Blue’s infantry in Piedralonga fire at the nearest Red Infantry. No hits.

Step 6. Deployed cavalry move.

Blue advances his cavalry on the right flank.

Step 7. Skirmishers move.

Some minor re-aligning of bases.

Step 8. Formation changes and rally.

All disordered units recover. Units facing the rear face about. The Blue cavalry on the right flank change to march column to cross the bridge. Three Blue infantry battalions launch skirmishers into the stream in the centre.

Step 9. Charge!

No charges are ordered.

Step 10. Volley fire.

Red infantry against Blue artillery at long range scores 1 hit. Blue loses a battery and checks morale. Retreat two squares, but the second square is woods at the edge of the table, so the second battery is also removed.

Blue vs Red infantry trade volleys at long range between Piedrolonga and Eiris. Blue shoots first and misses. Red replies with one hit. Blue retreats in disorder into the stream.

Another trading of volleys at long range has no effect.

Against Piedrolonga village: Red shoots first and scores 1 hit. Blue abandons the village and retreats in disorder.

Step 11. Hand to hand.

There is no close combat

Step 12. March columns move.

A Blue brigade crosses the bridge, followed by a cavalry brigade.

As dusk falls it is clear that Red has held off most of Blue’s attacks. Even where pushed back on their left flank they still outnumber the enemy. Overnight they will pull out and board ship for evacuation.

An interesting game. Some tweaks to the rules will be needed, but on the whole it worked. They did show how terrain can slow planned attacks, and in one case how a unit, if ordered to advance, may easily get out of hand.

The next post will be the rule set.

Corunna bathtubbed – the third hour

4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Situation at 4 p.m.

Note: Throughout this report I have referred to “North to South”. In reality North is approximately the top right corner of the board as seen in the photographs.

Step 1. Artillery Fire

One Blue battery is able to fire at enemy 4 squares away.  4 hits, 2 saved.  Morale is OK.

Step 2. Skirmishers and scouts move.

Blue advances 1 battalion.

Step 3. Skirmishers fire.

North to South.  Red skirmishers vs Blue dragoons.  2 hits, but no casualties are caused from skirmish fire.  Morale is OK.  A second unit fires at the same target and misses.  Red’s third skirmish unit shoots at Blue’s Light cavalry and misses.

Blue has one skirmish unit with a viable target; Red formed infantry at range 1.  One hit is scored.  Red retires one square in good order, opening the way for Blue to progress beyond the stream.

Step 4. Volley fire.

North to South.  Near the village of Eiris in the centre one Blue battalion shoots at the rear of a retiring Red Battalion.  No hits are scored.

The next formed unit able to fire is a single Blue battalion at long range (3 squares) against retreating Red infantry.  They miss, and themselves come under fire from a Red battalion in Piedralonga village.  No hits are suffered.  Finally the brigade attacking Piedralonga from the South fails to score any hits.

Step 5. Close order units move.

Red’s brigade that retreated earlier advances again, enthusiastically overshooting their best position and descending into the valley.  Blue orders three charges on the right flank.

Step 6.  Deployed cavalry move.

No units are able to move, including those with enemy skirmishers to the front because of the bad ground.

Step 7.  Skirmishers move.

Three Blue units exit from the stream and move up the hill, one unit following up on Red’s retreating artillery.

Step 8. Formation changes and rally.

From North to South:  two more Red battalions deploy as skirmishers and advance through the stream and woods;  one Red and five Blue battalions rally from disorder; a Blue artillery battery rallies behind the hills to the West; the Red artillery also rallies to face advancing skirmishers; one Blue battalion reforms to close order from skirmish (the remaining two battalions, facing artillery, remain in loose order for cover); a further Blue brigade sends a battalion of skirmishers across the stream and two Blue battalions form march column to move across the bridge.

Step 9. Charge!

Two Blue battalions on the hills between Piedralonga and Eiris charge the enemy.  One fails to make contact and thus becomes disordered.  Three Blue battalions storm the village of Piedralonga.

Step 10.  Volley fire.

The Red battalion defending Elviña shoots diagonally at the advancing Blue battalions, scoring 1 hit, not saved.  The Blue brigade falls back two squares in good order, pushing back another formed brigade behind them.   A Red and Blue battalion face each other at two squares range.  The Blue battalion is disordered.  Red shoots first and misses.  Blue also misses.  South of Elviña a British brigade shoots at the enemy artillery at long range and misses.

Step 11. Hand to hand.

The first combat is between one attacking Blue battalion and two defending Red battalions on equal ground.  Blue 1 die + 1 (attacking) = 2 dice.  Red 2 dice + 1 (higher morale) = 3 dice.  Blue fails to hit.  Red scores 3 hits and Blue is eliminated.  Red is disordered.

Next is the attack on Piedralonga.  Blue attacks with 3 Battalions + 1 die (attacking) + 1 die (higher morale) + 1 die (more ranks).  Red defends with 1 die + 1 (defences).  6 dice vs 2.  Blue scores 2 hits and Red scores 1 hit.  Both are disordered.  Morale checks.  Blue is unaffected, Red rolls yellow, upgraded for defences, and tries to retreat.  The route is blocked by disordered Blue infantry and a second fight occurs.

Gaming note.  As both sides roll 1 die less 1 die for disorder, no dice are rolled.  I decided that each side takes 1 hit, thus Red is eliminated.

Step 12. March columns move.

Only one column is formed, and it moves just one square towards the bridge, automatically ending the move facing its intended direction.

At the end of the third game turn (5 p.m.) Blue is making progress on the right flank, but on the right all attacks have been driven back.  On the extreme left cavalry face skirmishers but cannot attack due to the nature of the ground.  There is one more hour until dusk.

Situaltion at 5 p.m.

The rules are holding up, showing that the attacker (Blue) has the tricky decision of making piecemeal attacks at low odds or waiting to reform after crossing the stream in the valley while taking fire from the enemy.  It is lousy ground for cavalry, as was the case on the day.

Corunna bathtubbed – the second hour.

3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

First an apology for any confusion in my previous post. The dice I was using were not the dice I described for the game. I tried to remember that yellow meant red and vice-versa, but forgot at least once. The dice have now been corrected. On with the battle.

The situation at 3 p.m.

Step 1. Artillery fire.

Blue and Red each have 1 battery able to fire. Blue at 4 squares range misses. Red with targets at 2, 3 or 4 squares misses with a green (hit at 7-9 squares).

Step 2. Skirmishers move

A dangerous step for Blue, bringing many of the skirmish troops into close range of the enemy. Both sides manage some cautious advances.

Step 3. skirmish infantry fire.

This is the same as formed infantry fire, except that no casualties are inflicted. However, hits will cause the enemy to check morale.

From North to South: Red. 2 dice vs cavalry at 3 squares. Green hits. Both missed. Red. 2 dice vs cavalry at 2 squares. Yellow hits. Both missed. Blue. 2 dice vs artillery at 1 square. Red hits. 1 hit. Morale is in the yellow zone. Roll yellow is a 2 move retreat in good order. Blue. 2 dice vs infantry at 1 square. 1 hit. Same as above, but in the second square are formed infantry, pushed back in good order. Blue. 2 dice vs infantry at 2 squares. Missed. Blue. 2 dice vs infantry at 1 square in village. Missed.

Step 4. Close order infantry volley fire.

North to South. Red unit in the village of Elviña may fire 1 square diagonally. Red is a hit, not saved. The 3rd hit on this brigade, so 1 battalion was removed. Red battalion in the village of Piedralonga vs skirmishers (considered to be in cover). 1 die rolls red, ignored for cover.

Step 5. Deployed foot troops move.

North to South. On the Blue side only one reserve brigade can move, and they wait for developments. On the Red side a similar situation exists.

Step 6. deployed cavalry move.

None of Blue’s cavalry have a valid move. Red has no cavalry.

Step 7. Skirmishers move.

On the Red right flank (North) all three battalions advance through the difficult stream terrain (North flank). In the Blue ranks several units do not advance, preferring to wait and fire. (Note that Skirmishers can fire diagonally).

Step 8. Formation changes.

Only two Blue skirmish units have yet left the stream terrain to reform into close order. Three Blue battalions move into skirmish mode to cross the main stream. The unit that just crossed the bridge reforms into attack column to assault the Red-held village (Piedralonga).

Step 9. Charge

Nobody has been ordered to charge.

Step 10. Close order volley fire.

Red firing from the village of Elviña, diagonally. Red is 1 hit at range 1. Saved, but a morale check on Blue. Three blocks is in the yellow zone. Roll of red is OK. Blue single battalion volley at range 2 scores 1 hit, not saved. Red morale is in the red zone and rolls green, so moves 1 square back.

The brigade attacking Piedralonga on the right flank fires at range 1. Two dice roll reds, against troops in cover are misses.

Step 11. Hand to hand combat.

Nobody has charged an enemy, so there is no close combat, even between enemy units in adjacent squares.

Step 12. March Columns move.

There are none.

Situation at 4 p.m.

At the end of the second hour Blue has made some progress across the stream in the valley but no real damage has been done to Red’s holding position.

Corunna Bathtubbed – the battle begins

Using my own rules “EIH for squares”, being an adaptation of the rules developed for freeform play by a Pensionnaire des Invalides (recreated).

The start of the battle, from the South. Blue (French) to the left, Red (British) to the right.

“Est-il Heureux” divides each game turn (approximately one hour of real time) into 12 segments. I will describe them as they occur during the game.

The dice used have one green, two yellow and three red faces.

Turn 1

1. Artillery fire.

Firing is directly ahead only. Two of the three Blue batteries have their potential targets obscured by friendly infantry. The third fires at Red infantry on the hill to their front, four squares away.

With two bases the unit is in the “Red” morale sector and rolls two dice per base, four in all. Four yellows are rolled.

Yellow is a hit at range four to six squares, so four hits are recorded. Red army re-rolls all the dice and also rolls four reds, so all the hits are saved and no casualties marked.

However, hits were scored, so Red must test his unit morale. One die is rolled. Red’s unit has four bases and thus is in the green morale zone. Only a roll of green will have any effect. A red is rolled.

Red’s artillery has a target of infantry three squares away. With two bases four dice are rolled, scoring two yellows and two reds for two hits at range three. (Red is a hit at one to three squares.) Blue rolls these two and scores a yellow and a green. No hits are saved and two casualties are marked. Morale is as before. One die rolls red and no effect.

2. Skirmish infantry and cavalry scouts move.

Currently neither side has skirmishers deployed. This can only be carried out in step 8.

3. Skirmish infantry fire.

No action.

4. Close order volley fire.

This is similar to artillery fire. One die is rolled for each base in the front rank of the formation. The hit ranges are: red = one square, yellow = two squares and green = three squares.

Starting from Blue’s left flank in the North:

Two infantry units are facing at one square range. Roll for first fire. Green beats yellow beats red. Both roll red so fire is simultaneous. Blue rolls two yellows and scores no hits. Red rolls a red and a yellow for one hit. Blue fails to save and marks a casualty. Morale is OK.

A Blue infantry unit of two bases faces a Red unit of one base in a village. Fire is simultaneous. Blue, shooting at a target in cover, downgrades his die roll by one colour step. Two reds are rolled, and thus ignored. Red replies with only one base firing. (Only one base may occupy a village). One die rolls red for a hit at range one square. The hit is saved. Blue’s unit has two bases, so morale is in the medium (yellow) zone. Blue rolls yellow. His unit faces about and retreats two squares in good order. In the second square is a gun battery. The infantry pass through the battery and retire one further square, ending with their backs to the enemy, disordered.

A Blue infantry unit fires at enemy artillery at range three squares, needing green to hit. Two yellows means no hits.

Nobody else is in musket range.

5. Deployed close order infantry and artillery move.

Movement is directly ahead only, without changing formation. Units that could contact the enemy if ordered to move are not moved, but given a “charge” marker.

Infantry in good open ground move one square on red, two squares on yellow and three squares on green. Streams, woods and villages are impassable to close order infantry.

Selecting units from North to South:

On Red’s right flank are three units. The first rolls green and can move three squares in open ground. However after two squares it reaches a wood and a stream, so must halt. The second unit is straddling a stream, and approaching a bend that needs to be crossed. No move is possible. The third unit also faces a stream bend and cannot move.

Next are two opposing units facing off in adjacent squares. Red decides to hold position on the hill and Blue orders a charge. Blue has another unit behind which is held in reserve on their own hill.

The next unit is Red, ordered to stand on the hill.

Then a Blue unit with a stream to its front.

The next Blue unit rolls red and can only move one square in open ground.

The next rolls yellow, moves one square forward and is halted by the stream, and the next advances one square with a roll of red.

A Red and a Blue unit each have a village to their front. Formed infantry can’t enter a village.

The final Blue unit, on their right flank can only move up to the stream.

6. Deployed Cavalry move.

As for infantry, except the move distances are: red one square, yellow two or three squares, green four or five squares. Once again formed cavalry are not permitted in villages, streams or woods.

All three Blue cavalry units advance, but not far, rolling red, green and yellow respectively.

7. Skirmishers and scouts move.

No action as before.

8. Formation changes.

Possible formation changes are: facing change; form line, march column, attack column or square from current formation; double or halve the frontage; limber or unlimber artillery; rally from retreat or rout; deploy or bring in scouts and skirmishers.

Again, from North to South:

The right-most Red unit deploys one base (battalion) into two skirmish bases in the square to its front (a wood and stream).

The next brigade (in this battle, bases are battalions and units are brigades) also splits one battalion into skirmish formation in the stream curve ahead, as does the third brigade.

On the Blue side the left-most unit of Dragoons must split into scouting troops to cross the stream. (Game note. At this point I realised that I am desperately short of loose-order bases, with none for the heavy cavalry. I halted the dragoons until the light cavalry had successfully crossed the stream.)

The light cavalry, unwilling to cross the stream directly adjacent to the enemy, faced left to make a slower but safer crossing.

Along the line, more Blue units began to deploy troops to cross the stream.

Both Blue and Red deployed one battalion into a village, shown in square formation to demonstrate all-round defence.

On Blue’s left, one brigade formed march column to cross the bridge while their neighbouring brigade began to cross the stream in skirmish order.

One Red brigade, with an empty square to the left, deployed the rear battalion to extend the firing line, effectively creating a sub-unit in a separate square.

The Blue unit that retreated in disorder reforms into line.

9. Charge!

Only one unit is marked to charge. Four Blue bases (battalions) assault uphill against two red battalions. Normally two dice are rolled for movement and the more useful is used, but as the units are in adjacent squares it was not necessary.

The opposing units are moved to the front of their squares, touching.

10. Close order infantry volley fire.

A repeat of step 4.

Again, running from North to South.

Units in actual contact following a charge may not fire in this step.

A Red battalion in town fires at the artillery at three squares distance, needing green. Green is rolled. The save is failed. One casualty is marked and a check on morale made. With two bases, the artillery is in the yellow zone and rolls yellow. Two squares retreat through formed infantry. The infantry and artillery are thus both disordered.

A Blue brigade fires over its skirmishers in the stream at Red artillery at range three with four dice, needing greens. No hits.

A Red and Blue brigade fire at each other at range three. Blue shoots first. Two dice roll one green. Red saves it, but checks morale. Two battalions in the square means it is in the yellow morale zone. A red is rolled for no effect.

Red shoots back and misses.

In the next duel Red shoots first with one battalion at range two squares. No hit scored. Blue replies and scores one hit which is saved. Red is only one battalion strong (the extension of the line in the previous manoeuvre), and is now in the red morale zone. Rolling yellow the battalion must retreat two squares in good order with its back to the enemy.

The next exchange of fire is between one Red battalion in a village and two Blue battalions on a hill at range three squares. Red wins the speed race and fails to hit. Blue would score one hit with a green die roll, but the target is in cover. Blue actually had no chance to make any hits at that range against a village.

11. Hand to hand combat

One die is rolled for each base in contact (i.e. the front one or two bases in the square)

One extra die is rolled (in this case) for an attacker charging, more ranks of blocks than the enemy, uphill of the enemy, higher morale.

So Blue has 2 (contact) + 1 (charging) + 1 (more ranks) +1 (higher morale) = five dice and Red has 2 (contact) + 1 (uphill) = three dice.

Blue rolls three reds, a yellow and a green. Red rolls one red and two yellows. All red dice are hits. There are no saving rolls.

Red suffers three casualties, which removes one base. Blue suffers one casualty, bringing the brigade’s total to two.

Morale is checked. Red with one remaining base is in the red zone. Rolling yellow must retreat two squares. Blue is still in the Green zone, so rolling yellow has no effect. Both sides are disordered by the mêlée.

12. March Columns move.

There is only one brigade in March Column formation: the Blue unit formed to cross the bridge. Crossing a bridge one die is rolled for movement. Red result is just one square advanced.

Thus the battlefield after one hour of fighting looks like this. Blue has made some advances but is largely disordered trying to cross the streams. Casualties are five Blue elements to one Red, but Red has lost an entire battalion. Both sides have brigades or battalions in retreat.

After one hour of fighting. Can Red hold?

To be continued – with less detail for the next turns.

Gaming notes.

This turn of one hour battle time has taken me about two hours to play and document, while refreshing my mind with the rules and adapting them to a squared terrain board. Previous experience is that a game turn of one nominal hour can be played in twenty to thirty minutes, or less when the rules are memorised.

I hope this has given an idea of how the game is played. Unfortunately I do not yet have an update playsheet to share as I am gradually adapting the rules for the grid system.

I think Herr von Reisswitz would approve, and could possibly develop this into some form of “Kriegspiel” as he might call it.