Monday, 20 August 2012

Seven Years War Project No.1

I've been considering this for a long while and I think things are getting closer to fruition, in other words the commencement of a new period.  As usual I do a lot of planning and reading (for years sometimes) before ordering figures and getting started - mainly because I'm not that motivated when it comes to painting.  However, the SYW has been floating around in my mind, particularly since I read (and am currently re-reading) Franz Szabo's The Seven Years War in Europe (published by Longman, 2007).
I'd really recommend this book, well, for a number of reasons, although mainly it's because it's fairly recently published and has drawn on a lot of original sources in German: Szabo being a Canadian of Austrian extraction.  This latter point is of note because he is no apologist for Frederick the 'Great' and in fact sticks the boot in with gusto (occasional comparisons with the approach to foreign policy shared by Prussia and the Third Reich do not seem out of place in fact).

Some critics (for example on the TMP 18th century forums) ascribe this to Szabo's Austrian roots and desire to promote Austrian successes, but the account I think is more accurate and more critical than previous historians and times have allowed, where the supposed greatness of Frederick and his military 'genius' have been exaggerated either for political reasons or simply because a full and objective review of the primary sources was not previously available to scholars.

The Szabo book just covers Europe (as though that's not enough to be getting on with) but I was interested in what was happening elsewhere, so I also got Daniel Baugh's book, The Global Seven Years War (also Longman, 2011).
I've not read it yet although it looks interesting (and we get two extra years thrown in!).  I'm hoping it will cover some of the more interesting actions in the colonies (and not just North America) and I think there'll be a lot on naval engagements too.

Finally, I should add that not content with reading about the Seven Years War, I thought I needed a bit of background reading and in fact today received this nice hard-back copy of Reed Brown's The War of the Austrian Succession (St Martin's Press, 1993), from a second hand bookshop in America (via Abe Books), and hence the prompt to post something about it all.
There are more recent books on the WAS (1740-1748) but Szabo recommends the Reed Brown book in a footnote early on in his tome and then mentions in passing that, oh yes, there's also something in the Longman's Modern Wars in Perspective series by Anderson (damned by faint praise).  So yes, plenty of inches to wade through.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Claymore 2012

We manged to get to the SESWC's show Claymore 2012 last week - when I say "managed" I actually mean "arranged 3 months ago that we would absolutely definitely be there" - but I digress, and good fun it was too.
Hamilton's (14th) Dragoons, Prestonpans 1745
I thought that overall the games that were on were better this year than last and certainly there seemed to be more trade stands. I didn't take any photos of the game in the foreground (below) but it was lively RCW action in Latvia by the Falkirk and District Wargames Club (very nice pictures here in fact).  I always find the RCW interesting particularly as my grandfather was sent there (Murmansk?) as a British 'military advisor' instructing the Whites on how to use Whippet tanks...
I particularly liked the Russian Front (Operation Kutusov, August 1943) public participation game in the main hall (see below).
Here, a member of the public advances through the cornfields to his or her doom.
You can't really see but the Russians were up against an 88mm, two PaK40s, two Pak38s and a Panther at the far end.
I don't think the Russian attackers ever got very far!  The terrain was entirely of the 'fake fur' variety and I did ask someone how many teddy bears had died to cover the table.
There was also an interesting refight of the Jacobite victory at Prestonpans in 1745 run by the very friendly Angus Wargames Club using Rank and File rules.
I was intrigued to see the railway running through the middle of it (the East Coast Main Line, I thought, sure not?) which actually turned out to be a wooden trackway (apparently the world's first!) used by horse-drawn wagons to take coal from the coastal town of Cockenzie inland to the town of Tranent (there's still a coal-fired power station at Cockenzie).
Apparently the Government forces kept running away when charged by the Jacobites as most of their troops were ranked as 'green', so on the second attempt the troop classes were decided by the die and they fared a bit better thereafter.  I should also add that I was very kindly given a spare copy of their own Quick Reference Sheet for the rules and an Army Sheet to get me up to speed.  Figures were by Front Rank, I think.  Also of note was the Battle of Otterburn using Claymore Castings below.

Very nice figures and the terrain wasn't bad either.

So overall, an enjoyable show and there were a lot more games on than I took pictures of.  The venue at Telford College is pretty good and it's rewarding to get some basic canteen food down you at least once a year!  Note that as usual I didn't buy anything (I'm no good at the impulse buying thing) but I did get a few ideas to consider and act on at some point or another.