Last 15 posts from Musings on Wargaming and Life

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 2

Posted on April 28th, 2017 under , . Posted by

We sailed from Plymouth early on Tuesday 28th April and met up with HMS Alliance, an ‘A’ class submarine which had just completed a large refit and was ‘working up’ ready to join the fleet, we acted as hunter and no doubt target for her for several hours in some blustery weather. We managed some speed trials off Cornwall and then headed south for the Orient.

Me on the left with ‘Jacko’ Jackson.

A day later we traversed the Bay of Biscay, and despite all I had heard about this particular stretch of ocean every time I crossed it was calm and forgiving, however the first cases of sea sickness had already presented themselves to the sickbay, it was something I never suffered from. The Doc also took this opportunity to serve up mass inoculations to everyone, a JABEX as it was known. On the Thursday we were asked to pile on the speed and go look at some Russians who were in the area but to the south of us.

Only just three days out and sunburn was becoming noticeable amongst the sun seekers, during off duty periods those who could would find a spot on the upper deck and lay there with ‘burn me’ attitudes. Some even had their own secret concoctions to brown quicker, like vinegar and cooking fat etc. I stuck with Ambre Solaire, very posh.

Thursday night and we anchored off Cape Trafalgar exactly where the battle had taken place, I was excited as the next day we would be in Gibraltar, my first real foreign run ashore. Sure enough I spied the famous rock from several miles out at sea, on arrival we became Guard Ship, ready at a moments notice to repel any Spanish attempts at taking the Rock, I just wanted to get ashore. Having completed the Middle Watch (2359 – 0400) the night before my watch had the afternoon off, so all foofed up we headed ashore, past some seamen painting the hull, these hurled insults at as of course but as we Radio Ops on most occasions still stood watches in ports without communications centres while they went ashore we didn’t take much notice.

As I said Gibraltar was my first foreign ‘run ashore’. The place was covered in pubs and bars, most with a history and pedigree going back decades, the main showplace in 1970 was Sugar’s, run by a gay man and which was the usual starting place for a night on the town, a whale’s penis was rumoured to hang above the bar, but the indeterminate piece of leather could have been anything. Sure enough Sugar was larger than life and twirled and sashayed around the bar the star of his own show. Then it was off up the main drag, favourites were the Tartan Bar, the Angry Friar, Pickwicks and the London Bar, the latter was one of my favourites, a real sense of Naval tradition here with many pictures and charts on the walls. I recall we had a fashion moment when ‘Lil’ New, ‘Lofty’ Gedling, ‘Plum’ Humphries and I all bought bandannas and wore them around our necks. Lil and Plum were Buntings, tactical radio operators who dealt with signals and fleet manoeuvres, Lofty and I were Sparkers, real radio operators, Lofty was one of the oldest in the mess, 6’ tall and a character, Lofty enjoyed his runs ashore. Our only sight seeing was a trip on the cable car to the top of the Rock and a walk through some of the tunnels built for defence facing Spain, we of course saw the famous Rock Apes. Many years later I would walk through the Rock from one side to the other.

While in Gib we received tropical measures for spirits, which basically meant a double for the same price as a single, but it was also cheaper than back in Blighty, everyone drank JC’s in Gib, it was supposed to be a John Collins cocktail but I cannot vouch for how accurate they were but they were drank on an industrial scale, each bar had gallons of the sugary mix ready to pour into your gin or vodka, as I said I cannot swear as to which spirit was actually in there.

We were to sail at 1030 on the 5th May, our next stop was St. Helena, Napoleon’s prison island, normally only one ship a year goes near the place but ‘Bungy’ Williams, one of our storemen in the next mess to us was a native of St. Helena and had not been home since he left, so we were going to call in and let him visit his family.

Shoot out in Carefree

Posted on April 26th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

 Dead Man’s Hand at the club last night, I wasn’t sure how many players we would have, I half expected four but in the end it was only Simon and I. I thought I would just take the stuff along and wing it once there, I had a vague idea for a shoot …

Not Again

Posted on April 25th, 2017 under . Posted by

Thought I was in for another terrible morning serving the great British public, three customers before 0910 hrs, but it has now tailed off and I am back to the trickle. Also as the missus is back I have the afternoon off, I would have had the whole day…

What’s going on

Posted on April 24th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

Just turned 9.30 and I have had at least ten people in so far, so many in fact I have not even had a chance to look at my emails or check out more Salute photos from some of my favourite blogs, I do hope this does not continue, I have maps to draw.I ha…

View From The Window

Posted on April 23rd, 2017 under , . Posted by

The last day of home alone, the washing’s done, the ironing is done a bit of a food shop today and we are ready for Mrs A’s arrival tomorrow, then it is a short week before we head off into the wilds of Scotland just in case the wall is rebuilt and I t…

Good stuff on the box

Posted on April 20th, 2017 under , . Posted by

I am having a surprisingly good time with what is on offer at the moment after months of dire programming, as you know I have programmed myself over several years to have something in the background, not music, never music, while I potter about with th…


Posted on April 17th, 2017 under , . Posted by

I closed the PO on Thursday and I was off, my one regular Saturday customer was informed we would be shut so no damage there, I am hoping the PO will not notice the drop in their profits amongst the Easter celebrations. I went First Class of course to …

Never say Never

Posted on April 13th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

My Wild West mat turned up the other day and I am pleased with it, nothing startling but nicer than the one I am using. I took a couple of photos but the light was not good so I have simply plonked the advert from Deep Cut Studios. I could have gone fo…

Thunderbolts fizzle out

Posted on April 12th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

Once again a fight against Ryan’s Seleucids, this time with an elephant, this beast is very powerful in War and Conquest, I hesitate to say too powerful as I have only come across one twice before in my many games. The first time it was no problem and …

A good mornings work.

Posted on April 10th, 2017 under , . Posted by

Once I had finished my breakfast yesterday I decided to finish off a couple of projects before catching some rays with a beer and a book. My new Roman addition to the Patricians is Quinta Macedonica a border Legion which went on to serve in the Byzanti…

View From The WIndow

Posted on April 9th, 2017 under . Posted by

Lovely day yesterday and it looks like being another, the sun is shining, still a bit cool though, and there is a morning mist way in the distance so I can see myself sitting in the garden with a cold beer at some point today. There has been a lot of i…

Good Read

Posted on April 8th, 2017 under . Posted by

I am well known for always having a book at hand, while travelling offshore in the chopper, taking the boys to their clubs, on the train or wherever. I have been fairly lax though for the last six months or so, not that I have not been reading books, but they were all associated with my new late Roman army, so more research than pleasure, albeit I enjoyed them. Getting the new iPad mini hasn’t helped either as I tend to pick it up rather than a book, although I am weaning myself off this constant checking for what turns out to be nothing, no emails, no posts most of the time.

I do read the Spectator on it though, they send me a paper copy but I don’t really pick that up, the Spectator is important because it has a book review in it, something which always tweaks my interest and the buying of books usually follows, the Sunday Times was bad for this until it dumbed down and I gave up on it. My first buy then has been ‘Praetorian’ by Guy De La Bedoyere, it keeps me in my Roman bubble and it covers the famous or infamous military unit from beginning to end, this no doubt will be the first of many.

While out shopping the other week I also noticed several books on Russia, an interest of mine, especially the period between the Revolution and the fall of Communism, I duly noted the titles and on getting home ordered up ‘Praetorian’ and ‘Last of the Czars’. I also bought one book in the store, ‘Blitzkrieg’, supposedly a new take on the Battle for France, I am really enjoying it but it is far from a new take with nothing new revealed yet.

My fourth book in the ready use locker is one for which I drew the maps and was given by the author as payment for making some corrections once the project was finished, ‘The Mongol Invasions’. The original stuff I was given was pretty bad and although the finished articles look good they need some tweaks, but it is too late now.

I do always feel a little guilty buying books online, but you can get new books for as much as 50% off and it is really difficult to pass that by. I have bought many books at the usual £20 – £25 mark as the contents intrigued me and found them to be rubbish. I also do not go into the local Waterstones now as much as I used to as I find that my military and historical interests must be frowned on at HQ as their selection diminishes with each visit while the section on Angels gathers more shelves.

Get off my land

Posted on April 6th, 2017 under , , . Posted by

As you know I was away gaming in Yorkshire not so long ago and I liked the scatter terrain used by Michael and Simon, a bit of thought had went into it and with that, along with finishing the villa, I decided to up my game. I ‘tidied’ up my terrai…

Banzai, err, Doner und Blitzen

Posted on April 5th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

I had a great evening at the club last night, which was required after two days in the PO and another two and a half weeks to go. We were doing Dystopian Wars which had been put off the week before as the second edition rulebook had not turned up at Si…

HMS Tartar 4th Commision 1970 1

Posted on April 4th, 2017 under , . Posted by

(I have a plan this year to go back to my youth and travel back to one of the defining times in my life, my trip to the far east in HMS Tartar during her fourth commission, I want to try and write it as it unfolded for me, or as near as I can.) I joine…