08 August 2017

The Country Found Them Ready*

MORE silence, for which I apologise. I've always found that my hobby output diminishes in the summer months, even more so since I took over an allotment last autumn! As such, I've spent much of the last few months weeding, harvesting and pickling, leaving little time for other pursuits. However it's not all been about vegetables and whilst celebrating the Eucharist at church two Sundays back it was pointed out that our lay reader's father had fought at Passchendaele (of which that weekened marked the centenary of the start of the three-month battle), which naturally set me to thinking about the First World War; as I'm sure so many of us have over the last few years. Returning home I unearthed some of the early war BEF I had bought from those wonderful bods over at Kallistra back in late 2014 with a view to researching, painting and gaming the first four months of the conflict in the West. As usual this plan quickly fell by the wayside, but not before I had read the late and lamented Richard Holmes' excellent 'Riding the Retreat' and got a handful of miniatures painted. With the hundredth anniversary of the Armistice not too far distant I have decided to revive the project and attempt to get some games played in the interim. 

One of the factors that put me off in the first place was the lack of rules for the early part of the war and I knew that this was something I would have to remedy if I were to succeed in my second attempt. After some deep internet trawling I decided I would use 'If the Lord Spares Us', published by TooFatLardies back in 2005. These are actually written specifically for the Middle East theatre, but it was pointed out that they work just as well for the 'war of movement' in the West before the Race to the Sea saw the onset of trench warfare. As a friendly member of the 'TooFatLardies Wargames Rules' Yahoo! Group pointed out, 'basically we've agreed how to treat the various terrain types and agreed appropriate troop ratings and played as written.' I would add to that that some specific National Characteristic Cards need to be created too, but as is suggested very little overall changes need to be made. The rules are at brigade-level, with, for the Brits at least, eighteen bases representing a battalion (sixteen infantry, one MG and one HQ - each infantry base representing a platoon). Suggested basing is two miniature to a base, which appeals to me as being manageable in terms of painting etcetera. 

So I have accordingly re-based those painted miniatures I had abandoned almost three years ago and started in on the leftover pile of unpainted Tommies. Furthermore I have ordered a pack each of 'British Early War Cavalry with Lance' and 'British Early War Command' from Kallistra and several more books: 'Death of an Army' by Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley** and 'Mons: the Retreat to Victory' by John Terraine. Oh, and I've redone my terrain boards to reflect the fields of Flanders (seeing as that's where all my projects are currently set!). 

I leave you with a picture of an almost complete BEF infantry battalion (minus one company and a HQ stand) and some close-ups:


*From the 1914 song 'Keep the Home Fires Burning'.
**Many years ago I actually met Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley's sister-in-law through a job I had, where she recommended I read 'The Edge of the Sword', in which the General recounts his experiences as a front-line officer and then POW during the Korean War.