Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Naumarkisches Dragoons - finished

Just in the nick of time for Vintage Leipzig here are the completed 6th Naumarkisches Dragoons. The figure used is PN.81 Prussian Dragoon (mounted) charging. All the castings are reproductions figures (but nice ones) and the trumpeter is a conversion from the same figure.

I didn’t have a unit of Dragoons in my original 1970s Prussian army but always wanted one having been inspired by the illustration of a trooper of the 1st Koningin Dragoons in my Blandford Uniforms of Waterloo. I went with the Naumarkisches regiment simply because this is the uniform described in the Hinton Hunt painting instructions.

I’ve actually accumulated quite a force of Prussian cavalry now when these are added to the Cuirassiers and Uhlans. All three regiments will shortly be seeing action in Blucher’s Army of Silesia in the forthcoming Leipzig game.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

All buttoned up

An unexpected burst of painting activity saw me complete my Prussian dragoons this week. I even managed to paint all the buttons in one hour which is a personal best. I think the secret may be painting five figures at one time (rather than my normal two or three with cavalry) as I was less critical of my work – I often revisit a figure unnecessarily because of some perceived minor blemish that will never be noticed on the tabletop.

I also took the time to clear up my painting desk which had been cluttered all year with too many things on the go. My new regime will be to paint only 6 infantry, 3 cavalry or a gun and crew at any one time. I’ll allow myself to have the next batch undercoated and ready but apart from that everything else will be cleared out of sight. This way I can switch between units and projects as much as I like but only after a batch has been completed.

I just need to get these figures varnished and based and then they will join the other half of the regiment to make a full 12 figure unit.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Dragoon update

Those five Prussian Dragoons are still on my painting desk and I’m gently easing them towards completion. I’ve noticed that I’m slowing down as I approach the point where I will have to add all those white buttons. However I still hope to have them ready in time for the Leipzig game.

It’s over ten years since I started this project (and nearly ten years since I started this blog) and I have to confess that I am running out of steam a bit now. A roll call reveals that I have 23 units of infantry (including my skirmish units), 11 of cavalry and 9 artillery batteries and that’s more than enough figures for one-on-one or solo games. The balance is a little off with the French being outnumbered but this can always be rectified by some unorthodox alliances.

I still have a fair few units that I want to paint including more Old Guard infantry, Brunswick infantry, Eclaireurs, and of course more Prussians but strictly speaking I don’t actually need them in order to play a decent game. It all comes down to painting time I guess!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Planning Vintage Leipzig

When Roy and I were sorting out the details of Vintage Waterloo we had the luxury of playing a test game which was very valuable particularly in terms of working out deployment. We won’t be having the same opportunity for Vintage Leipzig so I’ve been trying to give as much thought as possible to the way we should run the game.

Waterloo was a relatively easy battle to game as it was fought on a single day over a quite small area. Leipzig presents more of a challenge as it was fought over several days across a large area with vast forces. Clearly we won’t be able to accurately portray either the terrain or all the troops involved in the real battle in one day’s play so it will be necessary to scale everything down while trying to retain the flavour of the epic struggle fought out in October 1813.

Roy has two tables in his wargame room the larger of these is 12’ x 5’ and the smaller is 8’ x 4’. The plan is to utilize both of these with the large table representing the area south of Leipzig and the smaller one the area to the north. The suburbs of Leipzig will be represented on both tables and there will be three villages spaced out along the tables to act as victory locations. The rest of the terrain will be relatively open and flat to allow space to deploy the 2,800+ figures we will be using in the game.

The southern table - 12' x 5' - showing deployment areas

Victory Conditions - at the end of play victory will be determined as follows:

French Decisive Victory – if all of Leipzig and all villages are in French hands
French Substantial Victory – if all of Leipzig and 2 villages are in French hands
French Marginal Victory – if part of Leipzig and 2 villages are in French hands
Allied Decisive Victory – if all of Leipzig and 2 villages are in allied hands
Allied Substantial Victory – if part of Leipzig and 2 villages are in allied hands
Allied Marginal Victory – if all villages are in allied hands

The northern table - 8' x 4' - showing deployment areas

The order of battle has been scaled down to provide four commands to each side giving us a total of eight players which is as many as we can comfortably accommodate. I’m hoping the game will provide some interesting challenges to both sides in particular the fight for the northern table where the allies will outnumber the French but the difference in troop quality should balance things out.

French OOB

Allied OOB

Reserves are kept off table and can be deployed at any point on the owning army’s base line from the start of turn two. Troops will not be allowed to switch between tables so deciding when and how to use reserves will require some careful thought.

One valid criticism of my rules Muskets and Marshals is that Old Guard units rated as A+ are fairly indestructible in melee (although they can be shot just as easily as lowly Landwehr). So for this game Old Guard units will be rated A and Young/Middle Guard will be rated B which can be justified by the drop in quality of units following the campaign of 1812.

In total there will be at least 95 units of infantry, 35 of cavalry and 39 artillery batteries in play in this game and whatever happens it should look quite spectacular. There will of course be copious photos posted here following the game.

Oh, and I forgot to mention there will be a RHA rocket battery…

Saturday, 24 September 2016

PN81 Dragoon Trumpeter

Just to prove its not only Boers I’ve been painting over the last couple of weeks here is the completed trumpeter conversion for my 6th Naumarkisches Dragoons. He looks a bit more glossy than usual as the varnish was still wet when I snapped this photo.

I made no attempt to find the correct uniform details for this figure and painted him in exactly the same way as the troopers. I have a suspicion that particularly in the late Prussian army special uniforms for musicians may have been a luxury hard to come by – that’s my excuse anyway.

I have another five troopers to paint to complete the unit which I want to do in time for Vintage Leipzig. This will mean that the Boers (who you can see sneaking into the photo) will have to go on hold for a week or two.

Friday, 16 September 2016

George Edward Spencer

George Edward Spencer was a clerk working for the Great Eastern Railway when on 3rd September 1914 he and a couple of his mates from the office answered Kitchener’s call for volunteers and joined the 2/3rd Battalion of the London Regiment (Territorial Force). George was nineteen years old but his Medical Inspection Report stated his apparent age as “21 years and 2 months”, height 5’ 8.5”, girth when fully expanded 39 inches, vision “good”.

The 2/3rd Battalion embarked from Southampton in December 1914 to sail to Malta where George disembarked on 1st January 1915. He remained in Malta until April 1915 when he sailed for Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The battalion later moved to Port Said at the mouth of the Suez Canal and from there on 18th October to Cape Helles on the Gallipoli peninsula. George was in hospital in Egypt at this time and rejoined his unit at Mudros on the Greek island of Lemos on 13th December. Mudros was the base of operations for the campaign in Gallipoli but it is unclear if he ever set foot on the peninsula himself as the evacuation of troops was already in motion. On 18th January 1916 George was promoted to Lance Corporal.

George's Certificate of Medical Examination

With the close of the Gallipoli campaign in early 1916 many of the British units were sent to France and George arrived there on 17th April. The Territorial force was undergoing reorganisation at this time in preparation for the forthcoming Somme offensive and in May 1916 the 2/3rd battalion was disbanded. George was transferred to the 1/3rd battalion London Regiment on 23rd May 1916. The battalion formed part of 167th Brigade, 56th (1st London) Division.

Against the advice of his own Generals, Sir Douglas Haig ordered the 56th Division along with 46th Division to attack the Gommecourt salient on the first day of the battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916. The action was a diversion to draw enemy reserves away from the main attack further along the line. Haig and his staff appeared not to realise that Gommecourt was probably the most heavily defended point on the entire Western Front.

View from the British front line at Gommecourt

The 1/3rd battalion did not take part in the direct assault on Gommecourt but were tasked with constructing a communication trench from the British front line across no-man’s land to the German front-line trench. This trench would be necessary in order to bring up reserves and supplies safely once Gommecourt had been captured. However, the advance stalled although the 1/3rd were still ordered to commence digging at 8.00am. By 10.10am the attempt was abandoned after receiving heavy casualties from enemy shellfire.

Extract from 1/3rd London's war diary for 1st July 1916

There is no direct documentary evidence in his records that George was involved in the action but it seems highly likely as all leave was normally cancelled in advance of a “big push”. If he did take part one can only imagine his experience of trying to dig a trench across a battlefield under shellfire whilst approximately one fifth of his comrades were killed or injured around him.

On 9th September 1916 George was transferred from the 1/3rd London’s to the 1/23rd London’s joining them at Lahoussoye. By 14th September they had moved forward to High Wood in preparation for their participation in the advance towards Flers-Courcelette due to start the next day. A subsidiary attack of the Somme offensive the Battle of Flers-Courcelette was notable for the introduction of tanks. The attack was launched across a 12 km front from Rawlinson’s Fourth Army salient on 15th September.

The 1/23rd Londons were part of 142nd London Brigade, 47th London Divison. They appear to have taken no part in the opening day of the battle on 15th September but the war diary entry for 16th September shows that they were heavily engaged that day. At 8.55am the battalion moved out over a crest to their front and as they passed to the east of High Wood they were subjected to a heavy artillery barrage, possibly from their own guns. Further on they encountered very heavy machine gun fire from the area of a sunken road. At 2.00am on 17th September the battalion handed over its position to the 6th London’s. The War Diary states that during the period from 16/09/16 to 19/09/16 the 1/23rd London’s lost 16 Officers and 565 other ranks.

Extract from 1/23rd London's war diary for 16th September 1916

At some point during 16th September 1916 George Spencer was killed in action, he was just 21 years old. He has no known grave. His name appears on the Thiepval Memorial in France on Pier and Face 9D 9C 13C & 12C and also on the Great Eastern Railway war memorial in Liverpool Street Station, London.

On 20th November 1916 an entry was made on his service record simply noting him as “missing”. On 7th August 1917 his record was again noted this time with “Regarded for official purposes as DIED on or since 16.9.16”. His length of service is recorded as “2 years and 14 days”.

George Edward Spencer was my great uncle. I only found out about his existence relatively recently as he was never spoken of within the family. The information here has been pieced together from records held at the PRO and other sources on the internet.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Prussian Jagers

Or Jaegers if you prefer, however I like to use the spelling in the Hinton Hunt catalogue which also menacingly describes these figures as ‘Jackbooted Riflemen’.

In my original Prussian army I had 20 Jagers in the advancing pose but my new unit has representatives of every figure type comprised as follows:

PN.24 Jager Officer, quick marching x 2
PN.25 Jager Bugler, quick marching x 1
PN.26 Jager, quick marching x 3
PN.27 Jager, advancing x 4
PN.28 Jager, firing x 8
PN.29 Jager, kneeling firing x 6

The Prussian Jagers were considered a crack formation and although they normally fought parcelled out in small detachments my own force will now have the option to fight as a single battalion in the forthcoming Vintage Leipzig game.