History


[Kinda Book Review] The Wars of the Jews by Flavius Josephus

This is a book I had on my list for a very long time, and I listened to it as a free Audiobook from Librevox.org. For those who do not know, Josephus was a Jew who chronicled the world during and around the Flavian Dynasty (Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian). First captured by Vespasian, he was freed and served him during the campaign. So this book is a report by someone who party to the events described therein, not someone far removed from them. Josephus began as a rebel general who fought against Vespasian in Galilee before being captured, enslaved, and then freed by him. So we deal with someone who was there, dealt with the situation and had first-hand knowledge. A few times in the narrative, he is sent to speak with the Jews to ask them to surrender to Titus. There are seven books with the narrative beginning around 200BC, through the period of the rise of Christianity, to the naming of Vespasian as commander of the army to punish the rebels by Nero, to the Year of the Four Emperors, to Titus' destruction

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'Rampant Dragons', New Zealand armour in WW2

While away on a brief break between school terms, I made the obligatory visits to the local bookstores, and found this.I have known Jeff for several decades, but our contact has been sporadic at best, and I was unaware that he had published this book, the first edition coming out in 2012. This is the story of New Zealand armoured units in World War 2. The physical production values are very high - this is a very high quality piece of production, a beautiful book. That quality is very appropriate because Jeff's work tells an important story in New Zealand's military history.This is not the story of armoured divisions battling it out on the steppes, or the plains of northern France. This is the story of New Zealand men adapting to armoured warfare. Their story begins in the early days of New Zealand, spans a brief sojourn in the Pacific, and then into the middle east, before seeing them tackle terrain which all too often did not favour tanks as they fought in support of the New Zealand Division infantry battlin

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The dust is settling.. With Talon and Claw reflections and a QRS!

The book reached its first customer on August 16th and now seems to have arrived in most corners of the globe. It was a massive relief to finish this project which had been all consuming for over eighteen months.The final decision to print is always a bit like betting £50,000 on red. You know there is a risk that something will not be right but having checked and checked, you can't find it. It was just a relief in the end actually to say, it's done, let's print!Now that the dust has settled and the reactions are coming in, I am delighted to say that the words of approval and appreciation have been by far in the majority. I know book releases, particularly those involving rules, go through phases. Phase one is the visual acceptance, phase two is the feedback on things that can't be found, are unclear, or occasionally highlighting mistakes. Phase three is when players start to play and the questions or disagreements on concept or interpretation appear. Phase four is rejection or acceptance for gaming. In other

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Fate, Fortune or Faithlessness? Camaret Bay 18th June 1694: Part 5

Orders of Battle The full English order of battle is as follows:1 battalion of converged grenadiers (all musket), 2 battalions of Marines (all musket), 1 battalion of Guards, 11 battalions of Foot (pike and musket with the possibility that 3-4 could be all musket armed).Here are the battalions which participated in the expedition:1st Foot GuardsJohn Cutts’ RegimentRichard Coote’s RegimentSamuel Venner’s RegimentMarquis de Rada’s RegimentSir David Colyear’s RegimentThomas Erle’s Regiment (one of two)Henry Rowe’s RegimentFerdinando Hasting’s RegimentWilliam Stueart’s RegimentThe French order of battle around Camaret Bay could look as follows:1 battalion of Marines (all musket), 4 battalions of infantry (pike and musket), 3 regiments of Horse, 1 regiment of Dragoons, 1 battalion of Militia. 3-5 field guns in various positions. At least half of the infantry could be in hard cover or entrenchments.Skirmish gaming possibilitiesCamaret offers magnificent scope for skirmish gaming high adventure. I of cours

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National Museum of Ireland: 17th/18th Century exhibits

A little lead in on the late Elizabethan period with this musketeer and then the display moves on to coverthe 17th/18th century exhibits.  The section begins with a ' How would you invade Ireland?'  map with some notations on it.We them go into the period of the Confederate Wars and the Cromwellian occupation. The mannequins were particularly good.I was very taken by the simplicity of the Jacobite grenadier's uniform, particularly the very plain willie-winkie stocking cap which appears to be very practical. I think the grenadier represents a soldier at the first siege of Limerick. The colours seem to be those associated with John Bellew'a Regiment.The decorative sword is that given by King William to the ancestor of David Archer! (previously featured in an article written for Wargames Illustrtated).The secrete and swrod are of 1682 vintage. The plug bayonet is of the same vintage.The Wild Geese theme post 1714 was very strong and their was an excellent video on the battle of Fontenoy. Remember Fonte

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Fate, Fortune or Faithlessness? Camaret Bay 18th June, 1694: Part 4

A map drawn up to wargame the actionWargaming Camaret BayIt does sound unmistakably like D-Day. It took place around 200 miles from and almost exactly 250 years to the day before Operation Overlord as, although the date is now noted at June 18th the old style calendar marks it as June 6th or 7th in most sources. The action can be fought in various ways; as a large scale battle, as a skirmish or even as a naval action with the troops playing no real part.All England wall of firepowerLarger scale gameAlthough Tollemache had as many as 10,000 men in fifteen battalions, his spearhead was apparently a battalion of converged grenadiers supported by 900 pike and shot armed infantry behind. This landing force can be contained in four to six large boat models each representing a cluster of well-boats. In each, half a battalion of infantry could be transported. Reinforcements can be fed in using the same principle from the fleet sitting at the table edge or off table. The Allied attack will continue as long as some uni

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Fate, Fortune or Faithlessness? Camaret Bay June 18th, 1694. Part 3

Possibly Lord Carmarthen running the GulletConsequence of perfidyWhen the Allied fleet arrived in Camaret Bay it immediately came under fire from the forts around Camaret village and those at Bertheaume Bay on the northern shore opposite. The plan was for men o’ war to run the narrow channel called the ‘Gullet’ between the two headlands and sail into the anchorage at Brest. This gap was exactly one mile wide meaning that any ship attempting to force passage would be subject to a hail of fire from multiple compass points. A private yacht captained by the thrill seeker Lord Carmarthen ran the gauntlet to prove the point and came out to report the defences were far more formidable than expected. This daredevil failed to spot all of Vauban’s numerous positions and the thousands of troops massed behind both Brest and Camaret Bay awaiting any landing should the batteries fail to halt the fleet. Bombardment by at least eight large ships of the line from the English and Dutch fleets made little impression.It was agre

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The National Museum of Ireland - a lovely wee surprise

The parade ground square at Collins Barracks which is an old British Army facility from the late 18th/early 19th century.I squeezed this in whilst speaking at a conference in Dublin. What a wonderful find it was. In this first post I thought I would trail the variety of fantastic and interesting militaria contained in a very substantial and well laid out national museum. I visited the Collins Barracks site on Benburb Street.Pikeman from the Confederate Wars periodThe displays were well set out and the information useful and engaging. The staff were also very helpful. There may be other displays in the other sites but this one begins the military history in the 16th Century so I didn't see anything about the earlier centuries.Jacobite Grenadier at Limerick. More of him laterThe 17th and 18th century exhibits were the most interesting to me and some of the best.The ACW section was also quite significant. Irish military history is long and rich but because Irish soliders were inviariably fighting as a contingent

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18 mm ACW Confederate Generals

I've recently finished John Keegan's 2010 History of the American Civil War (ACW) which I picked up from one of my local charity shops. I thoroughly enjoyed his approach once I'd got used to his somewhat tortured prose style. When I'd finished the book I felt I had a good grip on how the war was fought and it's unique characteristics. The only thing I found confusing was the geography but I

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Fate, Fortune or Faithlessness? Camaret Bay 18th June, 1694 Part 2

The Mission – Destroy Brest!D-Day 300 years before it happened. Camaret Bay was an exptremely ambitious planThe raid was a large scale affair for an action of its type. It was months in the planning with the objective of wreaking havoc on a key strategic anchorage for the French fleet at the port of Brest in western Brittany. Naval bombardments of French ports had been undertaken before, one such being that prosecuted against St Malo shortly before the Camaret expedition. The difference with Brest was that the English planned to put around 8,000 infantry ashore and gain a foothold in order to do some real damage. Tollemache would lead the army attack which was to be transported by Admiral Charles, Lord Berkeley. The fleet was substantial, comprising 38 English and 21 Dutch vessels including fire and hospital ships. Troops began assembling in Plymouth from mid-May 1694.Former enemies sailed together to support the English landing. 69 English and Dutch ships were involved.Transportation was delayed through adve

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Fate, Fortune or Faithlessness? Camaret Bay 18th June, 1694 Part 1

This piece was first run in Wargames Illustrated in 2016. I thought it a solid multi-parter to run on the blog whilst I am holidaying.Contemporaneous notorietyThe disastrous attack at Camaret Bay on June 18th1694 was a very English tragedy. From a distance of 322 years it is easy to understand that a relatively minor operation which went badly wrong and resulted in the death of a largely forgotten general is of little if any significance. Although few may have been aware of the Battle of Camaret Bay or Thomas Tollemache before reading this piece it is likely that most if not all readers have heard of John Churchill and more than a few of King James II and Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, Seignur de Vauban, Marshal of France. Each is linked directly or indirectly to a disastrous military adventure which in its own way will have shaped subsequent momentous historical events.Tollemache by Sir Godfrey Kneller.If we hopped into the DeLorean and set the dial to April 1694 the names of our protagonists would be as ub

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Book Shop Launched

If you look above this post, on the blog itself not the RSS feed, you'll see that the menu bar has a new item entitled Bookshop. My intention is to feature my commercial books and publishing projects.  At the moment there are just two entries: the Poleaxed Sourcebooks for the War of the Roses and the Hobilar Archive CD. I was co-author for the Sourcebooks providing the background historical

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Tocht naar Chatham 1667 - The 28mm bit begins

The first unit of Dutch Marines - uniform colours from colonial naval infantry of the same period.Having co written Donnybrook and produced an as yet unpublished extension for Beneath the Lily Banners dealing with small unit actions it was always the plan to deal with some of the 1667 Medway fighting in 28mm.Other units will have different flagsThere appears to be no concensus regarding the long sleeve/elbow length cuff debate nor, the apostles/bullet bag debate. As an example consult the following works covering the period 1660 - 1691 and you will see long sleeves and bullet bags as early as 1667 with short sleeves and almost elbow length cuffs as late as 1691! -  Wars and soldiers in the early reign of Louis XIV (Mugnai - Helion), Charles XI's War (van Essen: Helion), Battle of Aughrim 1691(McNally:Helion).A mob of sturdy English Yeomanry - probably called peasants anywhere else!By way of explaining my choice to use Warfare's earlier period ie 1680+ Military Civilians for the combatants this goes part

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Garrison Point Fort in 1/2400 completion

The finished piece is about 100mm square.I finally got a chance to build Sheerness today. It's not often you get to type that! Took about 90 minutes to finish the first major piece of terrain for the 1/2400 part of the Tocht naar Chatham (Medway Raid 1667) project.Here is how it all started.I used some of the simpler country style buildings from Brigade Models lovely range to to this. These required a minimum of preparation to slot in to the final corner of the piece. I decided not to make Sheerness look too big as it was described as a cluster of workers dwellings at the time.Floating in the sea - just to provide a perspective with some 1/2400 Tumbling Dice yachts.I had not real game plan to fit the civilian dwellings and just used the most appropriate for size and look. I managed a couple of  setting mock ups just to get a feel for how it will fit when I finally build the custom terrain. I will probably give the fort the firepower of a 4th or 5th rate ship with an as yet to be decided defensive value.T

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Dutch Fleet update and Medway 1667 mini campaign

To say I have been totally absorbed by my new obsession for 1/2400 scale 1650-1720 period ships would be the understatement of my hobby life time. Not since my Ost Front Microtanks phase of the late 1990s have I been this driven to finding information and being productive on an industrial scale.2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th rates plus Fireship and Heoker - a cross section of my growing Dutch Fleet for the Medway fight of 1667I am already working on a mini-campaign covering the spectacular 1667 Tocht naar Chatham (The journey to Chatham). This has been inspired by the campaign itself, Mark Backhouse's spectacular 2mm scale Siege of Portsmouth and Tumbling Dice's ship models.2nd Rate (80-90 guns) - the largest ships in the Dutch Admiralties - this one is De Ruyter's flagship De Zeven ProvincienThe campaign will be a combination of scales: 1/2400 Tumbling Dice models for the ships, 2mm Irregular Miniatures for the board movement of troops, Brigade Models 2mm buildings which actually seem to suit the 1/2400 ships better tha

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