Sunday, 11 November 2018

They Shall Not Grow Old

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Today is an important day to remember the sacrifices of past generations, so I wanted to pay my respects.

I have heard a lot of noise from students about this glorifying war and some religous extremists, but I think it worth bearing in mind that for most of us it is a simple recognistion of the huge sacrifice made by generations of our families, people who are still our close relatives. Regardless of race, politics or religion.
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The Cenotaph in Oakenshaw near my house
Unusually my Village until recently had no remembrance cenataph. Most villages have something, the Harald Club, just in between my village and the next has a statue for all their members who died in the World Wars, the next Village on has the same in their park and in the other direction there is  a memorial garden with a cenotaph. I am really not sure why we dont have one. Clearly many young men from the area fought in both World Wars. My Grandfather's and Great Uncles amongst them.

In 2014 the Royal British Legion laid a stone with a plaque on our Village Green and renamed the green as the remembrance field. This seemed a good place to pay my respects. I am not religious so a church service didnt appeal to me. So I put on my best coat and pinned my poppy to my chest and walked up. Fittingly enough it was raining.

I was the only person there (I guess anyone else who was bothered was probably in one of our 3 churches) and at 11am I stood in respectful silence. There were some very nice home made poppies from the local schools and a proper wreath from the Royal British Legion.

The picture below is probably the one that most makes me think about the impact locally. I have been associated with my Local Rugby League team for nearly 30 years, playing, coaching and managing. This picture is the team that won the Halifax cup in 1915. My local team. The three cameo pictures being members of the team who had volunteered and were not able to play.

This is just before the famous call up of volunteers from Kitchener and the local "Pals" battalions that were slaughtered on the first day of the Somme. Bradford had two battalions so nearly 2 thousand men from a small City, they took 50% casualties on the first day of the Somme, every house in the City knew someone who had died, in some cases multiple members of the same family. This was true all over the Country and I have to wonder how many of this team were able to play again when the war was ended.

 We will be giving another 2 minutes silence this afteroon as I take the under 7's I coach to the England VS New Zealand final test this afternoon (Yes there was another test this weekend not just the Twickenham one) and I hope that people can put aside their politics to pay their respects to the generations of young men from our local towns who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.

Lest we forget.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Elizabethan Ireland Update

So with last week off I decided to nudge the Elizabethan Ireland Project along. I was picking more Irish up at Fiasco and had only painted a dozen or so of what I had so Irish it needed to be.

This next shot is a goup of the Irish blasted out and sent over to the basing department. This should give me a couple of units actually finished now for both sides so photos shoot of finished units on the way. One thing that does confuse me however. Crusader do Medeival Irish (more of them later) and Dark age Irish. In the Dark age these all have breeches and bare chests but for Medeival and Renaissance they are tunics and no breeches. Seems a bit odd randomly swapping clothing one half of your body for a few hundred years to randomly clothing the other half for a few hundred more. I imagine some clever soul out there knows what was really going on.

Looking at the below the Gallowglass are all the old Claymore Castings range as is the kneeling bowman in the middle and the javelineer on the far right. The rest are Crusader with the figure front left being from the Dark Age range, with a minor conversion for his helmet, and the rest from the medieval range. More detail on these once they are back from the basing department.

My haul from Fiasco was almost excluseively for Elizabethan Ireland. Six packs of Perry Irish (they are lovely) a pack of Graven Images Englsih Pike and a pack of Hoka Hey Elizabethan Demi lancers. All cleaned up for priming same day before tea!

As a bonus as I was getting stuck into the Irish this pack of Elizabethan Pike from Ebay arrived, these Foundry swashbucklers are a really good fit for the Graven Images being tall and chunky with lots of character.
In short order I was able to paint a few of the Gallowglass and Kern, these really are fantastic figures as we have come to expect from Perry.  The middle figure is unashamedly based on the Queens Gallowglass in the Osprey.
I have decided to do this post as I go along dropping pictures of figures in as and when I finish a few, hope thats not too bitty for folk.

With some of these Kern I am making the Saffron a bit darker, as much to give the overall effect a bit more variation as anything. The one on the left is the shade I have used most (although I have some  less yellow and some lighter) the other three are the darker colour I will use quite a bit off for the Perrys figures. Excuse the poor photography above, still experimenting.

I think the genius of the Perrys really comes out with these figures, the glib haircut is brilliant and the folds of the tunic look fantastic, I think this darker saffron works well with all those pleats.

I have not been neglecting the English either. the below picture shows the last three pike to finish a twelve man unit nd the first of the next unit. Three are the Graven images figures I have favoured so far and the last one is a Foundry Swashbuckler which I think fits in quite well, the first figure with a blue jacket is the start of my second unit, undecided on this colour scheme so far. Second from the left with the combed Burgonet helmet is a head swap, more of this later but I dont think you can tell. Lots more of these to come.
The Demi-lancer is from Hoka Hey's Elizabethan range, to be honest I am not a massive fan of the range but this figure is actually very nice. I wasnt sold on the Hoka Hey horses so I used a redoubt horse in this case. Recognise the riders head?
As there is only one Demi lancer and I didnt want them all to look the same I did a head swap with the next one, yes his head ended up on the earlier pikeman. I think this works really well. For the horse I went with a Perry Wars of The Roses plastic horse, the tack looks about right to me and the figure sits on it quite well when I trim off the saddle sides. A bonus here is that its easy to order more of these lovely horses as they are available seperately at only £3 for 4.

Sat together I think they work, I am planning a further head swap for my third, a different helmet again. for the fourth I may use the original head but cut it off and re-adjust it so it still looks a bit different. I know a lot of effort a small reward but I really dont like using the same figure over and over.  I have 5 of this figure so will need a sixth Demi lancer and might get one of the Redoubt figures to fill the gap, they should be chunky enough to work alongside this figure.
As the basing departmrent is home tonight I have decided to get a few more Irish done for her to take back to sunny York. I love these three, loads of character, I am really happy with how they have come out. The Kern with an axe is from the Kern with double handed weapons pack, these will form the basis of a unit of Bonaught, slightly more proffesional Kern.
Two more Gallowglass and another Foundry Pikeman, the one in the middle I wasnt too sure about but now hes done I really like him. The helmet is 15th century specific but is nice for all that and the layers of clothing do look great once finished.

So going home with the basing department are 15 Irish foot and one light cavalryman. I have not talked about the Irish horse yet on purpose as I am not happy with them yet, more on that later.

We also have 5 English Pike and Two Demilancers. I wonder if the basing department will be bringing me anything finished back?
And the answer is NO! Nothing!

Oh well, she has been putting the hours in so nothing ready for a week or two, when they are it will add best part of 40 figures to my Elizabethan Ireland project at which point I will a photographic review of the collection so far.

In the mean time I am keeping myself enthused for this project with Elizabeths Irish Wars by Cyril Falls and really enjoying it. I have to say it makes me wonder which part of the Elizabethan period to go for although I think the troops may not look massively different except at the begining the English have more longbows and the Irish less firearms perhaps.

Anyway I will keep you posted, we have a Lilly Banners Great Northern War game coming soon so after action report at the weekend.

See you then.

Friday, 2 November 2018

The Island Fortress of Suomenlinna

Last of my Wargamers visits to Baltic Cities and we are in Helsinki.

By coincidence I had been reading the latest Kydd novel by Julian Stockwin and in it our intrepid Frigate Captain is at the seige of Suemellini, although it was called Sveaborg in the Napoleonic Wars. It was made a UNESCO world heritage centre in 1990 and it was interesting in particular to be able to go see it a few days after finishing reading the book.

Helsinki itself was lovely and a bit smaller than some of the other capitals we had visited.

Oddly enough in the harbour there were two Japanese war ships visiting, which seems an odd place for Japan to visit!

The Cathedral is very reminisent of St Petersburg. I also got a few snaps of some of the other buildings to give an architecural flavour for any gamers interested in replicating the buildings.

I liked the look of the sailing boat as we travelled across the harbour, no other reason to include it really!
As you turn in towards the harbour mouth you are greeted by this beauty. I am asuming that the lovely small submarine is of World War 2 vintage.
The main island is filled with fortified walls this is the entrance to the little dock area and gives you a flavour of what the fortifications are like.
You can see from the map below that the fortress is made up on 4 linked islands which give a full field of fire against any ship trying to enter Helsinki harbour.
This first lot of guns have the look of seige weapons from around the mid Victorian era, no plaques or signs just a row of rather large guns.
This shot gives you an idea of the thickness of the battlement and also the field of fire the guns would have over the narrow passage between islands.
Another row of unmarked gun barells this lot I would suggest being from around the Napoleonic period. The fortress saw action in the War with Russia but surrendered without much of fight much to the disgust of the Garrison who had barely seen action. The commander later being accused of treason.
Here is a nice little 18th century gun on a field carriage.
Again no signs of plaques just a very nice wee gun.
A view over the outer sea facing works showing a number of emplaced guns from later Victorian eras and ammunition bunkers.

There is a whole row of these monster guns in their original placings, mid victorian I guess (as still nothing in the way of signs to help) and all rifled spaced about 30 feet apart all along the Baltic facing side of the island.
The finance department joined in the picture to give an idea of the size and scale of these big guns.

Its a beautful walk along the coast and the island as well as a museum is now a nature reserve.
There is a msall customes house in the middle of the island and it has been turned into an exhibition of the Customer department during the civil war. Most officials joined the White cause but some fought with the red guards, this mannequin shows the uniform and weapon of a red guard with other paraphenalia. This section had a host of writtien material for the interested visitor.
The below icture shows a customers official with White guards and  German FreiKorps trooper.
A random collection of weapons and armbands from the civil war.
The sign below is at the entrance to the exhibit which was a nice step away from the rest of the island.

The island has its own dry dock and I thought I might get a couple of snaps because I thought it was interesting. You can see all the cranes and other harbour gear in the background. This area features in the Kydd story, its where the Swedish archipelego fleet was stored during the winter when Helsinki was frozen in. Apparantly a brave Swede blew the lot up when it was surrendered untouched to the Russians.

These little howitzers are intersting little guns, they have the look of Crimean or ACW era cannon.

Lastly as we sailed back into Helsinki itself there is the Upsenski Orthodox Cathedral, quite a dour intimidating building with again a different flavour to some of the other cities we had visited.
Helsinki was a lovely day out and the Island fortress particularly interesting. Given the time before the ship sailed again we only saw one of the four linked islands so I dont really know what else I missed but if you get to Helsinki make time to visit especially on a nice day, its a beautiful spot.

For more detail (and arial photos that give a better impression than my poor efforts) go to lots of detail.

Thats the last of the Baltic Cities, we did visit Rostok too but not much to share with the Wargaming community really. Back to lead and dice in the next Posts.