An item on the local TV news today covered a special tribute from a 70 year old son to his dad on his 100th birthday.
Apparently Dad was entitled to 6 medals for his service in WW2 but declined them at the end of the war because he did not want to be reminded of his wartime experiences, the friends he had lost and the sights he had seen.
For his 100th birthday, the son had the “missing” medals minted and awarded to his dad as a special tribute.
How bloody insensitive can you get?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is real and possibly forever. Resurrecting bad memories after 70 years is not likely to help.
We hear a lot of discussion about wargaming becoming a “grey” hobby, with the proponents generally ageing and no youngsters coming on board
This week I (a 65 year old retired gentleman) have played a board wargame of the Battle of Britain with a 23 year old and a table-top 1941 naval battle with an 11(?) year old. Both want to play again.
Ben is looking forward to the follow-up Indian Mutiny game at th3 Wargames Holiday Centre in October with the “Featherstone” crowd.
Luke has asked me to put together a “massive tank battle”. I have decided to use my redundant “Memoir ‘44” tanks (even if the scale and dimensions are a bit “iffy”) for a Western Desert battle in 1942. I will ask Luke to bring his mate for a 30 tanks a side game.
But first I have a load of painting to deal with…
And during both games I heard a lot of references to semi-equivalent computer games beyond my knowledge and comprehension, from which both opponents had gained much of their historical knowledge.
Today I fought the opening stages of the Battle of Matapan 1941 with my young neighbour Luke.
This was his introduction to naval gaming, at his request. He is hoping to join the Royal Navy when old enough.
The scenario was the opening stags of the battle of Matapan. At 09:00 the Italian flotilla of 3 cruisers (Bolzano, Trento and Trieste), with three destroyers (Ascari, Carabiniere and Corazziere) were pursued by the British cruisers Gloucester, Perth, Ajax and Orion with the destroyers Hereward, Hasty and Ilex.
After one turn it was clear that the Italian cruisers would outpace their British counterparts and no battle would ensue so I obligingly turned them to fight. I ran down the line of British cruisers, expecting to lose, but I knew that on turn 10 (2 hours in) if I could hold out that long, the battleship Vittorio Veneto would arrive and save us.
As it happened, after the two flotillas circled each other for an hour and a half the Italians had rolled the better combat dice and by turn 8 (10:50 am) the British were down to one destroyer while the Italians still had the cruiser Trento (severely damaged) and two destroyers.
At this point Luke conceded defeat. He then spent another hour playing with my toy ships before asking if we can play a major tank battle next time.
I am thinking that with the toys in my collection, Arras 1940 is probably the most likely. That might be an eye-opener for a young lad of about 10, who is expecting Tigers vs T34s.
Game 1 for this week has been played. This was the PSC/Richard Borg “Battle of Britain”. We played the first scenario “Kanalkampf”. The game only has four turns and the designers say that it should take 1-2 hours for experienced players. Well, we were “straight out of the box” players and it took almost four hours. This is in no way a criticism. The game mechanisms are simple, once you know what you are doing.
There are a huge amount of game cards and tokens to manipulate, so apart from the game board (about 70x50cm), or the larger game mat that we used (106 x 86cm), you have to find room for eight control mats about 35 x 17cm each, half a dozen piles of counters and somewhere to roll the dice. A table about half the size of Canada will suffice!
As for the game mechanisms, they are very much in the Richard Borg style, as in “card driven options, then chuck x number of dice and what you roll is what you score”. Each side has cubic dice with 3 of their own symbol, 1 enemy symbol and 2 blanks.
The German player has 7 “Flights”, each of initially 6 squadrons. Each is dealt a mission card (from a hand of 10) to bomb an airfield, a radar station or a city. It is impossible to cross the English coast without being detected by radar, unless you have destroyed the radar station. If detected the British player may choose to intercept with an entire flight (he has 12 flights of 3 squadrons) or to wait and “dogfight”. But he can only make 5 attacks each turn, so someone will usually get through, only to be attacked again next turn.
I started by concentrating on the two radar stations in my hand of cards, but was intercepted (Total defending flight value vs total attacking flight value) and only destroyed one of them. Those flights that got through (I only had 5 achievable targets*) were attacked by dog fights where you play off one squadron at a time until one side has nobody left. In both forms of combat you have a 1/2 chance of damaging the enemy, a 1/3 chance of no effect and a 1/6 chance of “friendly fire” adding to the enemy’s roll.
*When you have only 1 flight in Norway and 6 in France, and 5 of your 10 possible missions are Newcastle, Glasgow, Middlesborough, Preston and Creswell radar (N. of Newcastle) there is not a lot you can do about it!
I managed to knock out the Worth radar station in Dorset, and one airfield, but the first thing the British player can do next turn is repair them or replace lost aircraft. German aircraft are out for good. New aircraft and new missions are available, but downed Germans count for the British final score.
Anyway, after the four turns I had with my seven flights achieved three mission successes and two aborted missions. The game ended with one radar station out, one city (Newcastle) damaged and one fighter ace to my credit. My British opponent counted three fighter aces, two aborted missions and innumerable downed German squadrons. The score was; Germans 15, British “too many to count”.
I nearly obliterated Nottingham but when I got there he had shot down all my Heinkels and Dorniers and left me with 4 squadrons of ME109s with no bombing ability!
I’ll hammer him next time! Iron crosses all round in place of this foray’s wooden ones. This is a game to play again when I get the chance.
This week I am committed to two games, and have a third to play if I can get the models prepared.
Game 1. Tuesday. My wife’s godson Benjamin will help me play the PSC/Richard Borg game: Battle of Britain. I have had the Kickstarter version of the game for over a year but only unpacked it today. It needs a table the size of Africa for the set-up, which may be an issue (especially if you have the Kickstarter game map and if the Memsahib has confiscated the best table for making a dress).
Ho, hum and back to reality. The game map is set up on the second best table. Spare tables for all the record sheets and cards have been extracted from the caravan and we are ready to go,
As for game 2 on Wednesday. This will be the first action of the Battle of Matapan (1941). This is the result of a request from a young neighbour who I encountered playing with large WW2 tanks and aircraft. He has seen my toys and asked to play a naval game. We will play the opening stage of the Battle of Matapan, 1941, and see how if goes.
Young Luke tells me that he wants to join the Royal Navy when he is old enough, so we shall see how well he will fare if he ever reaches the level of Admiral…
And when these are over I have to reset the table for a Market Garden PBEM game north of Oosterbeek in September 1944.
I have had a major clear out and tidy up of the Shedquarters, because tomorrow a group of young local lads will be visiting the Shedquarters to try their hand at a wargame for the first time. I am chucking one of them in at the deep end, as he has one company of Polish paratroopers with a 20mm AT gun against three companies of PanzerGrenadiers, one company of recruits and three batteries of medium/heavy artillery.
But they are hiding in the ruins of what used to be Arnhem. some pictures follow:
But still somehow this all looks too neat and tidy. I have to leave room to place the troop bases, but I would sill prefer a more “organic” look, especially after the destruction. The “aerial” shots make it look like the bulldozers have been in and it’s at least a month after the battle.