Thursday, 30 April 2009

Bish Iwaszko

The following three posts comprise a series of articles in Miniature Warfare from 1971 by Bish Iwaszko. A leading light of the London Wargames Section, he was the author of their Modern Rules (essentially late WW11 and post war). These were notable for using a logarithmic ground scale (no, I have no idea what this means either).

Bish Iwaszko is on a par with John Sandars for the quality of his modelling, particularly when you realise what was available in the early 1970s. These articles are profusely illustrated with photos of all kinds of intersting kit and give an idea of the quality of his work. They do however seem to stop a bit abruptly: I have checked later issues of the magazine but this seems to be where it finishes.

Iwaszko was also the proprietor of Miltra, a military training aids company, which produced a range of 1/72 figures, originally for museums, then made available to wargamers and modellers at the end of the 1970s. These were popular with modellers and dioramists as they were mainly in relaxed poses, and were customisable with separate weapons and equipment.

I have posted some information on the Miltra figures ranges over on
The Old Metal Detector.

Invasion WW11: St Vaast - Miniature Warfare articles by Bish Iwaszko, #1

Invasion WW11: St Vaast - Miniature Warfare articles by Bish Iwaszko, #2

Invasion WW11: St Vaast - Miniature Warfare articles by Bish Iwaszko, #3

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Something in the air...

Something a little different and looking for some help in identifying this aircraft. It's a Skybirds type wood and metal kit, I imagine from the 30s or 40s, and I think of a Great war scout type aircraft. I've looked through a Skybirds list and haven't found anything I think it could be. Can any kind reader identify the type of aircraft for me? And perhaps suggest who may have manufactured it?

A quick google on aircraft serial numbers suggests that 609 (the number on the rudder) was in a block allocated to the army and used between 1912 and November 1914, initially for prototypes, but later used for normal orders.

Bad form to answer my own question - I have now googled a bit harder and found that 609 was the serial number for the SE 2, and I can confirm this is a model of that aircraft.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Captain Sachs, an early pioneer

The recent post of "harmless cannons" from the Gamages' 1914 catalogue, firing amorces (caps) and rubber shells, reminded me of the days of Little Wars when guns like these were fired at serried ranks of Britains' soldiers.

Captain J.C. Sachs was a member of the British Society of Collectors of Model Soldiers (later the BMSS), who championed wargaming within that august body in the 1930s. Captain Sachs devised detailed rules, including those for tanks and machine gun fire, which were published in instalments in the Society's Bulletin. Another member, W R Gordon, had a special room set aside in his house for wargaming, and made it available for the Society's wargaming competition.

Reporting this offer the Bulletin noted that in his room "The scenery is excellent, every possible obstacle and effect, he has all kinds of armies, guns, transport, planes and everything the heart of a War Game player can dream about." A number of people took up this offer and soon a series of games took place, organised as a competition in a number of rounds, until the overall champion should emerge.

This activity was suspended with the advent of the war, although Captain Sachs reported in 1945 to the Society that his War Game had been largely played by ARP Wardens in Bushey during the war years. The War Game competition, which had been held up for six years, ("so rudely interrupted by the late Paperhanger and Brush Artist in 1939", reported the Bulletin), took up where it had let off. Captain Sachs was elected President of the Society for 1948, and at the end of his term was elected their first Life Vice President.

This account has mainly been taken from Multum in Parvo, by Paul H Vickers, the British Model Soldier Society 1935-1995, published in limited edition in 1995, as is the picture of Captain Sachs, above.

Jack Scruby published a shortened version of Captain Sachs' rules in the War Game Digest in Fall 1971. To avoid confusion, this was in a section he called Table Top Talk...

This article is reproduced below

Friday, 24 April 2009

Sandars of the Desert part 1

This example of a"big game" approach featured in Airfix Magazine Annual 7, published in 1977. The game was played on the floor, over an area 12 foot by 12 foot, with terrain built up from books etc covered by sheets.

As blogger allows a maximum of 5 pictures per post, I have split this article between 2 posts.

Sandars of the Desert part II

Thursday, 23 April 2009

More from Gamages - torpedo boats and harmless cannons

The Age of Battle

Since posting about the game "Battle" last week, I have tried without success to see if I could date the patent number it cites. However, I did obtain from Abebooks a copy of Yesterday's Shopping, a facsimile version of Gamages General Catalogue of 1914 (Gamages were listed on the game leaflet as its retailer). Sure enough, on page 191, the last page of the catalogues, there is an entry for this "exciting war game". As this is in a section called the Latest Table games, it seems reasonable to expect the game to be dated to around 1912 or 1913.

Well I never!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

What Harry Pearson really meant to say about the first wargames figures

Idle googling of "Vintage Wargaming" turned up this interesting version of Harry Pearson's article for this site on Groves and Benoy figures . It is from and is reproduced here as a tribute to the spirit of Nigel Molesworth and his grate friend Peason. I particularly like the idea of midget battles, heap mules and the importance to the Peninsular Campaign of a Spanish char.

Vintage Wargaming: Harry Pearson on the at the start wargames figures

Groves And BenoyGroves and Benoy’s circumstances of one-inch Peninsular War figures can legitimately assertion to be the blue ribbon wargames figures at all times made. Designed almost 1947 via exemplary maker L Groves of Olton close to Birmingham and Brigadier James Francis Benoy (who had served as Quartermaster-General of the BEF in France in 1940 and later served in the done level in the Far East) the models were designed to be slotted into exclusively made copper bases to contention multiple believe stands specifically fact of midget battles. In complete it seems that at least same many thousand figures were made.

The infantry (standing anent 27mm high) and horses are mounted on sheer copper bases with clipped edges (similar in form to those of Stadden); rifles and horse reins are soldered on. All arms were manufactured as adeptly as wagons, heap mules, character figures (including Wellington) and equivalent a Spanish char. They are intelligible in look but with a charming “toy soldier” look that more than compensates fact of any deficiency in the modelmaking - a photo can be start on epoch 34 of John Garratt’s “Model Soldiers fact of the Connoisseur”. The just figures I care for in my aggregation came via eBay from a lady whose late-husband had bought them from a stallholder in Portobello Market in the 1960s.

It is unclear whether the figures were at all times commercially about in the accepted have or were made purely fact of Brigadier Benoy. mostly The make ready consists of six British riflemen, eight horses (but no riders) and four degree dashing cannons each with its manipulate discrepancy painted on the side in silver. Wade was to begin with based in Dublin, but he later moved to England and ran a plaything soldier secrete away in Brighton. Brigadier Benoy died in 1972, but anon previously to to that an Irish believe gatherer and barter, Shamus O.D Wade, had bought his complete aggregation of 2,000+ figures.

Wade kept a shard of the aggregation but clearly sold the buttress on to a gatherer in North America, Allan Robinson-Sager of Toronto in the old-time 1970s.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Examination for General - the answers!

Neil Cogswell

If readers will refer to the November 1969 number of the Newsletter the objective of the exercise will be revealed.

Five generals replied to the invitation:

M. Gibbs-Harris of Cardiff (MG.H)

K. Robinson of Winchester (KJR)

Alister Sharman of London (A.JS)

Christian C. Strachan of Copenhagen (C.C.S)

P.M Street of Southport (P.M.S)

I believe that the standard was high by comparison with 18th century, and cer­tainly my own standards. Here is a brief analysis of the replies.

1(i) The soft knoll found great favour as an artillery site and infantry were station­ed behind it. Such artillery would certainly be blown away by the superior enemy and the infantry would suffer little better. Only K.R. recognised the ford between the villages - what other reason could the Northern village have to exist. M.G-H whose reply I preferred kept his army well in hand out of harm’s way south of the villages to attack the enemy when he was half across.
ii) Many ingenious solutions here but I preferred P.M.S. who fortified the high ground either side of 'H’

2(i) Some blood and thunder here as M.G-H attempted to escalade 'A’ by a coup de main and then march on 'S'. The most comprehensive solution was K.R. who attempted the ford, a bridge opposite the knoll, and still remembered to contain the garrison of 'A'.
(ii) Fortifying the villages (C.C.S., A.S., K.R.) seemed the best solution with the bridge, (and ford K.R.) between. Fortifications on the knoll are commanded by the next hill and that hill by the one after.

3(i) The heights south of 'A' found favour but they are too far back to deny the enemy the villages - which he could hold defensively and turn one flank with the rest of his force. Incidentally the higher of these hills is distinctly convex and those who placed artillery on the top would leave a lot of dead ground in front. There were some attempts at ambushes C.C.S. and M.G-H from the woods but these would not succeed against an alert enemy. I preferred K.R's fluid position behind the villages.
(ii) The three hill line North-West of 'F' was generally favoured. K.B. preferred a more forward position behind the wood and village 'F’ and superbly supported his right wing with an enfilade battery from the North bank of the river.
(iii) A variety of tight defensive positions but I believe the P. M.S. was very right in thinking discretion the better part of valour against such odds. He retired on 'D’ and sought opportunities to interfere with the enemy's convoys and await reinforcements.

4. Only P. M.S. and K.R. threw everything (except a rearguard) against one enemy column and I preferred P.M.S's selection of 'B' as the target to K.R's selection of "E’, since the latter can be reinforced by two columns while the former by one only. The danger of splitting the force into two medium and one large is that the larger one (lay not be large enough.

5(i) Two generals, who shall be nameless, omitted any scouting and could have ended upin an ambush. M.G-H moved on 'A’ from the East - an excellent stratagem since the 350foot hill S.E. of 'A' is very advantageous to him - such an approach made the answersto J(i) look pretty sick and it holds the possibility of achieving the objective with-out fighting a battle.
(ii) No one put any pickets on the hills south-west of 'L' which are 100 ft. higher than 'L' but there were some impressive redoubts along the ridge north of 'L'.

6 Three favoured the eastern route through the marsh - a nasty march by night. C.C.S. left his camp fires burning which would be a useful direction finding ploy as well as confusing the enemy. K.R. offered the splendid choice of marching to the ford at the twin villages and crossing to the north bank — a longish march with the danger of an ambush at 'L’ he also offered an alternative (if the north bank was blockaded) of the relatively easy march along the watershed North from 'G’ and the dash at dawn - favoured he hoped by a sortie from an alert garrison. P.M.S. also marched along the watershed but delayed his march until daylight. I think he would be caught by cavalry in the last two miles.

7 (i) and (ii). Three generals split up their force into fragments but K.R. and C.C.S. relied on pickets with a central main body. C.C.S. was thoughtful enough to allow his troops some rest - he bivouacked during the day - and gave full alert during the night. C.C.S. also used a cunning stratagem of a false camp with fires burning at night to guard part of the perimeter - a trick that might serve a turn but would not do for very long.

8. Some fought in front of the defile at 'L' - a risky performance, others held the line of hills - another risky business if the enemy does anything but a frontal attack. K.R. passed the defile held the 'KL' line lightly with a central reserve at 'F’ to await eventualities.

9. There was a considerable wastage of good troops in a succession of frontal attacks. K.5. and A.S. tried to turn the position from the North, but I liked C.C.S's choice of expending treasure rather than soldiers and as he put it "gaining access to A" and then turning the position - it would be well worth trying.

10. I had no intention of comparing peoples rules but I believe with Don that rules on a postcard is an objective well worth aiming at.

To select a winner is invidious as in war there is so much luck that an apparent blunder could possibly be a potential brilliancy - but I hand the Marshal's baton (metaphorically) to:-

K. Robinson of Winchester

His selected rules are appended.

Movement (mm) - Line - Column - Road
Infantry – artillery 200 L 250 C 250 R
Cavalry 400 L 400 C 400 R
Infantry charge 250 L 300 C 350 R
Light cavalry charge 1000 L 1000 C 1000 R
Heavy Cavalry Charge 850 L 850 C 850 R

Firing – range (mm) - Short - Medium -Long
Artillery 0-300 S 300-800 M 800-1500 L
Musketry 0-100 S 100-225 M 225-400 L

Artillery 1 average dice per gun
Musketry 1 average dice per 8 men
Musketry 1 average dice per 6 Grenadiers or Light Infantry

Short range - undivided. Divide by 2 for cavalry
Medium range - divide by 2 open order or behind cover
Long range - divide by 3. Deduct 1 for each gunner killed

Firing and moving simultaneous – cannot fire and move


Infantry 1 point
Grenadiers, Guards 1¼ points
Light Cavalry 2 points
Heavy Cavalry 2½ points

Throw 1 die per 10 points. Throw is number of casualties. Winner is side with least casualties. Loser retreats 1 move.

Surrender if outnumbered 3 to 1

Defeated troops become disordered; troops after charge become disordered; deduct 1 from all dice throws.

Troops behind cover add 1 to all dice throws.

All formations at 50% strength must retire from field.

I hope the MINIATURE FIGURINES (who are rewarding the winner) will approve my selection.

I sincerely hope that this will be of interest to more than the first contestants – I was a bit disappointed at the size of the reply. Perhaps the sheer length put some people off!

Neil Cogswell wrote extensively in Wargamer’s Newsletter. Among his other contributions was the well remembered War of Bombar Succession Campaign Series. These articles will appear her in their entirety in due course.

Harry Pearson on the first wargames figures

Groves And Benoy

Groves and Benoy’s range of one-inch Peninsular War figures can legitimately claim to be the first wargames figures ever made. Designed around 1947 by model maker L Groves of Olton near Birmingham and Brigadier James Francis Benoy (who had served as Quartermaster-General of the BEF in France in 1940 and later served in the same capacity in the Far East) the models were designed to be slotted into specially made copper bases to form multiple figure stands specifically for miniature battles.

In total it seems that at least several thousand figures were made. All arms were manufactured as well as wagons, pack mules, personality figures (including Wellington) and even a Spanish priest.

The infantry (standing about 27mm high) and horses are mounted on thin copper bases with clipped edges (similar in shape to those of Stadden); rifles and horse reins are soldered on. They are simple in style but with a charming “toy soldier” look that more than compensates for any deficiency in the modelmaking - a photo can be found on page 34 of John Garratt’s “Model Soldiers for the Connoisseur”. It is unclear whether the figures were ever commercially available in the accepted sense or were made purely for Brigadier Benoy. The only figures I have in my collection came via eBay from a lady whose late-husband had bought them from a stallholder in Portobello Market in the 1960s. The set consists of six British riflemen, eight horses (but no riders) and four rather splendid cannons each with its weight category painted on the side in white.

Brigadier Benoy died in 1972, but shortly prior to that an Irish figure collector and dealer, Shamus O.D Wade, had bought his entire collection of 2,000+ figures. Wade was originally based in Dublin, but he later moved to England and ran a toy soldier shop in Brighton. Wade kept a part of the collection but apparently sold the rest on to a collector in North America, Allan Robinson-Sager of Toronto in the early 1970s.

Early WAGs

The Fog of War

I am indebted to Mike Taber of Historifigs, purveyor of all things Scruby, for an agreement to posting some material from old Jack Scruby publications, including Table Top Talk and Wargamer's Digest. I currently have access to considerably less of this material that that from Miniature Warfare or from Wargamer's Newsletter, so the site will not be awash with it, but I hope to be able to provide an interesting representative sample.

To start with I have chosen this article from Table Top Talk July 1965, illustrated by a picture from The War Game Digest for Fall 1971.I can't remember ever seeing another article in the wargaming press on this topic...

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Battle - the rules

Battle - the Standard Indoor Game

"Battle, as the newest standard indoor game, will be as much a part of the home as a pack of cards, or a draught board"...."Battle is not a passing craze, and is not intended to catch the public eye for a season, to be dropped."

I have a copy of a game called "Battle", whose sole makers and proprietors were Brooks & Co of Spiceal Street, Birmingham. There are 32 playing pieces, to be used on a chess board, a rule set and a blue advertising leaflet. My set came in a small cigar box. It was priced at 2/6 a set, and if in mahogany, 5s post free. There is no indication of date anywhere, but the cover cites the Patent 376/08. I haven't yet been able to discover if the year of registration can be deduced from this number - could it be 1908? From the types of units covered by the pieces and in the rules (gun battery, shell battery, cavalry) I would suspect id dates from maybe 15 years either side of the Great War. Gamages, who are listed as the retailer, opened in High Holborn in 1878 and closed in 1972. If anyone has any further information about this game, I would be glad to hear from you.

The Dover Amendments

Harry Pearson writes:

The Dover Coven

The Dover Amendments were designed by Charles Grant and “The Dover Coven” to use in conjunction with WRG 3rd Edition. Charles Grant mentions them frequently in his writing, notably in The Ancient Wargame and Ancient Battles for Wargamers, but I am not sure if they were ever published.

The Coven was a large, loose body of likeminded gamers from the Dover area who met at Grant’s house on Sundays. The photo shows (l-r) Rob Waldren, Charles Grant, Chris Spriggett, Peter Sheppard, Ray McGarry (on chair), Andrew Green and Ian Osborn. Other members included Alan Stoneman, David Matthews, Chris Longhurst, Martin Dice, Gregory Perry, Alan Bennett, Alan Angus, Derek Casey, Mark Smith, Nigel Andrews, Stanley and Martin Medrow, Andrew Mummery and Barry Martin. Charles Grant junior does not seem to have been much involved in the ancient games.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

More Morschauser

This article from September 1964 is taken from Jack Scruby's Table Top Talk. In it Joe Morschauser describes his system for the small table top war game, using a board no larger than 4 foot by 4 foot and no more than 40 20mm figures per side. Morschauser doesn't advocate this approach in all circumstances, but as an option where space is limited. Some notes about the system are included, but full rules are not provided. This article postdates Morschauser's book, which was published in 1962.