A Grand Day Out?

Last Thursday we set of to the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham for the Caravan and Motorhome show, to look at up to 2000 camping options that we had no hope of buying.

I was interested in finding options for awning heating for the cooler months and mobile water heaters to help my wife to wash her horse.

After 45 minutes of stop-go on the A34 dual carriageway following an accident ahead, which had also fed back to the M4 motorway East and West, we finally made some progress. Just before entering the M40 motorway, we were halted again in traffic, when we noticed copious amounts of steam from under our bonnet (U.S hood). The radiator had boiled. This probably explained why the car heating was not working and we had been wiping condensation from the windscreen in the traffic queue.

We were now the traffic obstruction. Fortunately, a Highways Agency (aka “Traffic Womble”) vehicle arrived and escorted us to a safe haven about half a mile away.

We tried the AA (Automobile Association) ‘phone application and sent our position using the What3Words application. The AA app. said we needed to telephone. I called, and the recorded voice asked me to download and use the ‘phone app!

Eventually we made contact with someone, apparently in India, who sent me (to my “dumb ‘phone”) the link for the AA app and the What3Words App. 1. unusable on that ‘phone and 2. already used on my other ‘phone.

After a lot of argy-bargy I convinced him that we had actually broken down and where we were (On the A41, 200 m north of Junction 9 of the M40). Three times he tried to find us near the M42 and/or on the southbound carriageway, still insisting we should use the What3Words app., which location we had already sent.

So, we were told that a recovery truck would be with us in 90 minutes and advised of the registration number. Like I would see the licence plate before I spotted a large yellow vehicle with flashing orange lights.

30 minutes later a van (with the correct registration) arrived. One look and he said: “You’ve blown your head gasket and maybe the radiator. This will need recovery.” Then we discovered that we were not covered for vehicle recovery on our policy. Thus, an upgrade was needed (£75). In addition, we would need to pay the cost of today’s recovery (£156). With no choice I paid. we elected to have the car delivered to our usual local garage.

And so, we were escorted to a Tesco car park some 5 miles away, with the engine nearing bursting point with no cooling system. an hour later we were loaded up on a contracted recovery truck and two hours later we were back home.

Our garage gave us a ballpark estimate of £1000 – £3000 for repair. The car is valued in running order at £1250, although it is worth far more to us. But in the last 8 years we have spent more on servicing and repairs than we paid for it, so maybe it was goodbye.

Instead of looking enviously at caravans that we knew we could not afford we ended up looking at a car repair bill that we could afford but was not worth it. The next three days were spent searching for a new car and we have now agreed to replace our old Mitsubishi Shogun with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. We need something that will tow a caravan on or off-road or a harrow in a field, with enough space for the dog and to load bales of horse feed and bedding.

I have managed to negotiate enough for the old car (including a £150 tank of diesel) to pay for a towbar to be installed on the replacement. But the purchase has used up most of my recent inheritance from my late mother which I was hoping to spend on refurbishing one of our bedrooms this winter.

And we never even peeked into a shiny new caravan.

Crete deployment part 2

Finally I return to the Crete campaign. I am thinking that this would make an excellent multi-player game, but in the past I have found that these things begin to peter out and the umpire is left with too many problems, thus it will continue as a slow solo project.

Anyway, back to the campaign. I have deployed the allied contingents in the Georgeopolis/Retimo sector and worked out the German reconnaissance evaluation, as shown below.

Retimo/Georgeopolis allied dispositions
Retimo/Georgeopolis sector German reconnaissance.

Next – The Suda Sector.

Unfortunate interventions

Apologies to my readers for the lack of progress on the Crete campaign.

I have been suffering from extreme lethargy since starting a new course of medication prescribed by my GP. I have to take it before going to bed because it can cause drowsiness, but I am finding that I need to sleep during the day too. Fortunately, I am retired, so it’s not a major issue.

I have also been engrossed in my waking hours by the events in Ukraine and the chaos in British politics. In the case of the latter, there has been a vague reason given by the Leader of the House why the Prime Minister was not available to answer an Urgent Question from the Leader of the Opposition. I suspect she may have been at Buckingham Palace to ask the King to appoint a new Prime Minister.

At this point I must apologise to non-UK readers who will have little idea of the protocol of the British Parliament and its interaction with the Monarchy. I will not even try to explain, because I only have a layman’s understanding of the ins and outs of the way it works.

Suffice it to say that after only 38 days in office the Prime Minister sacked her Chancellor (Finance Minister) and replaced him with one who has overturned the entire policy upon which she was chosen to replace the discredited former Prime Minister. For foreigners, she was not elected by the people, but by about 150,000 members of her party after a series of “run-off” elections by Members of Parliament from her own party.

The country is in a political mess and I expect the Prime Minister to resign within days, if not hours. If so, she will beat the previous record of shortest tenure, set by George Canning at 119 days.

Sorry that this has become a post about politics when it started out as an apology for my inaction. Now I can only apologise about my country, that used to be the governor of 1/3 of the globe. Now I suspect the current Government could not organise a drinks party in a production facility for alcoholic beverages. Neither could their opponents.

A British Citizen

Today I received my new, blue, British passport, restoring me to the status of a person with recognised “photo-ID”.

But the first words in the passport are: “Her Britannic Majesty’s”…

I applied for a new passport, after two years of being unable to provide a valid photo-ID and thus an “unperson”, some weeks after her Majesty’s death. I would have hoped that by now the Home Office might have updated their processes and that, after two weeks of non-citizenship, I might have been one of the first to receive a passport in the name of his Majesty, King Charles III.

Sadly, instead I am one of the last to be issued what is a de facto invalid document.

I used to be an unperson

For the last two years I have been unable to provide any valid official photographic identity. Recently I have re-applied for a new UK passport, my old one having expired in 2020.

Today I received my new UK passport which is already out of date. Despite my application having been submitted after the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, my passport is issued in the name of Her Secretary of State. They used to be issued in the name of the sovereign when I first applied for one.

So, should I apply for a new, valid, passport authorised by His Majesty’s Secretary of State, or will one of the final ones from the former regime be more valuable? Personally, I would prefer one in the name of the new King, but since the monarch is now only mentioned en passant I don’t suppose it matters.

Crete 1941. Heraklion German view

Here is the German view of the Allied forces in the Heraklion sector, compared with the actual situation:

The German view
The reality

For the German view I used dice to determine if the units appeared to be in the actual location, and if not, how far away and in which direction they were reported. No doubt we shall see how this affects their deployment.

Next, I will move to the Georgeopolis/Retimo sector.

Crete 1941. Deployment: Heraklion

I have made a start with the deployment of allied troops on Crete. I am working one sector at a time as defined in the Avalon Hill board game, starting at the east end of the island with Heraklion.

Just like the high command in 1941 I have little idea what to expect or how to deploy against it, so I have made a tentative stab at it, trying to guard the airfield and the road bridges. Here is the result:

Allied deployment around Heraklion

White on red indicates British units, Black on red are ANZACs and black on pink are Greeks. The font sizes represent the strengths of each unit. Using Microsoft Excel as the management tool, the statistics for each unit can be displayed as a comment when the cursor is passed over the cell. I use Excel as the preferred tool because I can move units using copy-paste or drag and drop, each unit’s statistics are easily visible and I can show the unit locations in tabular form. In addition, routine tasks can be automated using Visual Basic “macros”.

The units deployed in the Heraklion sector are: HQ 14 Bde, 2nd Leics, 2nd Yorks & Lancs., 2nd Black Watch, 2nd Med Arty. (Inf) [note 1], 234 Rgt RA, 2/4th Australians, 7th AA Bn RA, 3rd Greeks, 7th Greeks, Heraklion Garrison.

My next task is to prepare the German view of the sector based on information from reconnaissance flights and spies.

Meanwhile, for background information, I am reading Anthony Beevor’s book on Crete and listening to an appallingly over-simplified and inaccurate American audio-book that claims to tell me everything I need to know about the battle. Thus far I have learned that the Allied soldiers never “groused” and that the Matilda 1 had a 40mm gun. The reader’s pronunciation of even the most basic German words leaves much to be desired [note 2]. Starting with “Aydolf Hitler” and “looftwaff” he moves on to more complex words like “Gebirgsjaeger”, which he renders as something like “jibber-jabber”. This book will receive a very low rating. I don’t believe I could learn everything in 80 minutes, even at his speed of delivery.

1. Several artillery regiments that had left their guns in Greece were redeployed as what was colloquially known as “Infantillery”.

2. When I started to learn German at school my teacher prepared us for German complex nouns by writing on the blackboard (showing my age) “Aliceinwonderland”. He said: “That’s not hard, is it? You can read long German words in the same way. Just imagine the spaces.” A useful and remembered lesson when learning any foreign tongue.

2a. Incidentally the longest German noun that I remember is “der “Donaudampfschifffahrtskompaniekapitaensjackenknopf”, meaning “the Danube Steam Ship Travel Company Captain’s jacket button.” There is probably a word for the thread that holds it on and another for the seamstress who sewed it, but we are heading into the realms of “The noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Charactacus”

OK – You win

Hello folks,

Having received several comments on the lines of : “we will miss you”, and looking back at the archive, I have decided NOT to close this blog.

But I MUST be more active on it.

Expect to find some posts in the near future about the invasion of Crete in 1941. If you do not see anything, feel free to nag me at paul.wisken@btinternet.com.

Your virtual friend. Paul