Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Forthcoming Somme Square Bashing Game

This coming weekend, I am organising a Square Bashing game centred on the British attack on the Somme in 1916. I have been thinking about this for a while and wanted to refight the attack on Thiepval by the 36th Ulster Division on the 1st of July. It proved a little difficult to track down the German defenders OOB and when I did it seemed like there was a handful of German battalions defending. In Square Bashing terms this would only be about three units. 

The game needed to give the German defenders a decent chance, so I expanded the area of the scenario to include Serre, through Beaumont Hamel to Thiepval. This would then include the attacks carried out by some of the northern British Pals battalions, the Newfoundland Regiment and the Ulster Div, amongst others. 

(Map from

This isn't the usual size for SB game, but it makes for an interesting scenario. Square Bashing is based on a gridded table of 8 by 6 one foot squares, so I put together the following map for the game:

It's a very reduced version of the front line between Serre and Thiepval, but includes some of the main terrain features, including the copses that the Pals started in and Thiepval Woods from were the 36th Ulster Division attacked. I have also included the Hawthorne Crater caused by the mine which was detonated at 7:20am. This, along with the fortified villages behind the German front lines, is an objective. The villages will be defined as held if there are no German defenders in either square and at least one British base in there. To win, the British forces must hold at least three of these by the game's end. Any other result is a British loss.

The armies are based on the appropriate armies from the Square Bashing Armies Book, Number 15, British Mid-War Western Front 1915-17 and Number 22, German Army 1915-16, with a few modifications, namely dropping the artillery elements.

The British attackers consist of:

1 x HQ (Free)
10 x Regular Infantry (400 Points)
3 x Professional Infantry (165 Points)
4 x MGs (80 Points)
Total = 645 Points

The German defenders have the following:

1 x HQ (Free)
6 x Regular Infantry (240 Points)
2 x Professional Infantry (110 Points)
5 x MGs (100 Points)
Total = 450 points

I think the British attackers will have a difficult time of breaking the German lines, just as they did 100 years ago, but which ever way it goes it should prove to be an interesting contest. I will post a full AAR when we have finished the game, but please feel free to use the map and OOBs for your own use.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 24 June 2016

German Big Men and Signallers

I can only apologise for the fits and starts of updating this blog over the last few weeks. I have been very busy with one thing and another, every night seemed to have an event to attend or things to be done other than painting... However, I did manage to churn out some more German 15mm figures. These came from QRF, same as the British signallers that I painted a while ago. 

The German equivalents are equally lovely figures, great thought has gone into the poses and the detailing is very good:

Along with the signallers the pack contained runners and sentries. However, I used these as NCO Big Men.

The bases were given the label treatment:

So another small batch of figures marches off the painting table and into their boxes. I will try to get more figures painted over the coming weeks when my partner is away working in Greece, but until then my social diary is pretty full... 

Today is the 100th anniversary of U Day, the opening of the week long British and French artillery bombardment on the Somme. This is the real 'First Day of the Somme' and was the prelude to the infantry attack on the 1st of July. At this stage in the war the artillery tactics were not as fine tuned as it was in 1917 and was dependent of the destruction of the German trenches.

Many of the shells were dud, due to inconsistencies in manufacture and the Germans sheltered in deep underground dugouts, unbeknownst to the Allies. This led to the disaster that was the 1st of July, but lessons were quickly learned and put in place later in the campaign.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

More British Big Men and Signallers

Another busy week has seen me only complete a few more figures for the Through the Mud and the Blood 15mm project. The first lot are from Peter Pig and come from their 'British Sportsmen' pack. I wanted to use these chaps as NCOs and thought that the fact they are all carrying sports equipment would set them out from the other figures. Some have cricket bats, others footballs and rugby balls.

Again, these were all given the base label treatment. They are all Status 1 Big Men being Corporals and Sergeants.

I also added another four Big Men. These ones came from QRF and their ever expanding First World War ranges. I have to be honest and find the QRF figures a bit hit and miss, however, I took the plunge and ordered a pack. I was happy to be wrong, these are excellent miniatures, nice sculpts, good proportions and interesting poses. The pack included signallers along with runners. The latter I used as more low level Big Men.

Again, these were based on larger bases and given labels for their status level.

The other four figures in the pack were the aforementioned signallers. These are excellent and fill a gap that exists in the Peter Pig ranges. There are two using telephones and two with homing pigeon baskets. These will make excellent additions to the British forces and an interesting addition for specific scenarios.

I have yet to paint any large amount of normal infantry, and the big pile of Plastic Soldier Company Figures still awaits me. But as we're moving house soon it may be a while off before I bite off such a big chunk of painting.

OK, that's all I have for now. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

German 15mm NCOs

This last week was a busy one, so I haven't really had a chance to sit down and paint anything at any great length. So all I have to show for it are some more German Big Men in 15mm. These are the NCOs that will lead the sections and they come from the Peter Pig pack of German infantry in light kit.

As with the other Big Men, these figures are all mounted on 20mm radius bases with their names and statuses on the base. These ones are mainly Status 1 and 2, being corporals and sergeants. The one different one being a Leutnant of Status 3.

As I said, these eight figures are all I have painted recently. I am slipping! 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Big (15mm) Men

Through the Mud and the Blood needs 'Big Men' to lead the rankers into action, otherwise they become inactive during rounds and will only defend themselves. The Big Men range from Corporals all the way up to high ranking officers and each has an status level, usually in tune with their rank. I needed a few officers, but Peter Pig only supply one of each in the normal infantry packs, so I asked if two special packs each of eight German and eight British officer figures could be made up. PP promptly replied, I even had a phonecall from Nigel to confirm what I wanted on Friday morning and by Saturday morning they had arrived! That's what I call great customer service!

The Big Men were all mounted on slightly larger bases than the other soldiers, with a 20mm diameter. This allowed me to add their names and status on the base, using my old labels that I made to fit in with Sidney Roundwood's excellent card sets. You can download and print off my labels HERE. They are 19mm in diameter when printed at 100%.

The German Big Men were completed in the same way as the British above. I decided to use the higher ranking officer labels for these figures. The Corporals and Sergeants will be similar to the rank and file, as they would have been.

Again, the larger size of the base really makes the Big men stand out during a game and means we won't be checking under the base of every figure trying to find them!

I am still selling my collection of British 20mm First World War figures, to partly fund this project but also clear out some space. You can find them on EBay HERE. I am asking a bit for them but there is everything you need for a quickly usable force, including two tanks!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

German Support Troops For Through the Mud and Blood

15mm figures can be painted reasonably quickly, especially if you're only dealing with a handful at a time. Which means that my 15mm Through the Mud and the Blood project is progressing at a reasonable rate. The next figures that passed my painting table were some German support troops. They all come from Peter Pig and the first lot are carrying supplies and barbed wire. These will work very well for unarmed troops in trench raid scenarios:

The second batch of figures are three flammenwerfer teams. These ones also come with a supporting rifleman, who will be added into the bigger mix of infantry figures. Three of these teams is more than enough for any game of TtMatB, so this has turned out reasonably cheaply for me!

That's the painted figures for this post, I have some British and German Big Men on the painting table at the moment, so they will be along shortly. I find doing things in short bursts gets a lot done over the week!

Today also saw me at the Sheffield Hallam First World War study day. I was surprised to see a piece of Mark IV tank on one of the stalls, even more surprised as I had not seen it since it was dug out of the ground at Bourlon Wood when I was involved with filming for 'Finding the Fallen'!

It was a good study day all in all, ending with a screening of the remastered version of The Battle of the Somme. It was great to see it properly on a large screen!

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

German Artillery From The Tank Expansion

The Tank! Expansion of The Great War board game also comes with two German field guns, they have been added to the rules so you can use them on the board now rather than just as off-board artillery. These were the last things to paint from my box, so paint them I did.

As there was only two it was a quick and easy job, as always with Plastic Soldier Company, they went together really well and easily. Rather than have the crew individually based, I glued them all to a 30mm x 40mm base, this saves having them fall about mid game...

They are painted in the German three tone camo scheme, with the black lining typical of the First World War. The easiest way to achieve this was to paint the guns black and then add the colours over the top in blocks.As there was only two to do, it wasn't such a time consuming job.

I am happy with how they have turned out.

With the Somme commemoration just around the corner, I have also designed some t-shirts and mugs to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle. They are for sale at Red Bubble, follow the links below for the various designs:

There's also a few archaeology and history t-shirts in my portfolio, so be sure to have a look. 

And finally, today (and yesterday) is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. Over eight thousand men were killed in the biggest naval engagement of the First World War.

Remember them.