Wednesday 30 August 2023

Painting progress and yet another castle

I still seem to be busy being away almost every weekend at the moment. But in between I am managing some reasonable painting time 😀
In our last Dark age battle I realised I didn’t have any suitable markers to show the units which were disrupted, so I quickly made a few using some unwanted plastic bits and pieces. Nothing fancy but they will do.
I also had some late German mortars which needed finishing off, the same camo as my other Germans
Finally I have also completed my first unit of French dragoons. Red facings which means they can be several different regiments and I haven’t painted the Regiment Nos. on their saddle bags. They are Perry figures, easy to put together and pretty easy to paint, which is lucky as I have another regiment to do as well. I am straight on to painting the next French Infantry.

A couple of weeks ago we had another weekend in Scotland from the ‘blogs’ perspective the most interesting visit was to Thirlestone Castle.
Started around 1590 the original square tower has been extended into a very significant/monumental castle. It is still lived in and hosts a significant collection of antiques etc….
A number of interesting artefacts , a painting by a French prisoner of war housed at the castle during the Napoleonic wars
The original Ducal Order issued to the castles owner
The castle has been in the Maitland family for many years a number of whom have had military careers. 
The castle also houses a small toy museum two items caught my eye, the above I believe are very early wargame figures designed to be cut out
Ignoring the horrible doll figure these books caught my eye as well.
A final shot of the rear of the castle.
This weekend we were at a music festival on the Solway coast.

A couple of games over the next two days and then hopefully a trip to Border Reivers wargame show.


Tuesday 22 August 2023

Battle of Mount Badon 445 AD

Having recently completed some extra Dark age figures I thought it would be nice to get them on the table. In Wargames Soldiers and Strategy 121 they had a number of scenarios linked to the ‘Real’ King Arthur. One of those around the Battle for Mount Bardon. The battle took place around 445AD between the Romano-British under Ambrosius Aurelianus, Amalric of the Dobunni and Arthur a British warlord. These face a Saxon force under Aella, Bretwalda of the south Saxons. Our battle is broadly based on the scenario in the magazine adapted for my collection. 

The ‘ British’ hold the high ground but only with a small force, the Saxons hold the Ford with some light cavalry. One unit of Saxons reserves will arrive on a D6 along Fosse Way, Arthur with his flanking cavalry force will also arrive on a D6 or when the light cavalry are driven off by infantry. The objectives for both sides are to hold the high ground and the Ford.
Here come the Saxons
The Romano-British 
Both sides edge towards each other
Arthur and the British cavalry arrive on turn 2 and immediately charge across the Ford but are held
The Saxon heavy infantry lead the way forward taking occasional wounds from British archers
The two armies clash, the Saxons charge up the hill hoping to turn the British flank
The Saxon reserves arrive along the road
Infantry in the front line gets stuck in…….
The leading Saxons have pushed the front line out of the way only to be met by the British second line
The British cavalry have now broken through at the Ford and Arthur has come across
Brutal combat on both sides but the Saxons are getting the upper hand, in the background the British wounded can be seen streaming away from the battle
After some tough fighting the Saxons break the British although all their remaining units are wounded 

A fun battle and nice to get the Dark Age figures out for a battle. Not a historical outcome as the British won the battle back in 445AD ensuring a peace last for several decades.

As if I haven’t been away enough we were back in Scotland a few weeks ago near Melrose and I visited the near by Trimontium Roman fort. An interesting site and very extensive although very little can actually be seen on the ground.
The site has been well documented
Some reasonable information boards
Can you spot the small amphitheatre ? the dip in the ground behind me
We also visited Smailholm Tower, famous mainly for its prominent position and its links to Walter Scott
Melrose also has an excellent (small) museum about the local Roman fort
Some excellent Roman military artefacts, some local and some brought in from Germany
A good collection
Shield bosses 

That’s it for now, not surprisingly I’m feeling the need to paint up some late Romans so I might dig some out and get them onto the painting queue.


Monday 21 August 2023

Holiday Tour Part 4 : Ligny and Waterloo

Even If you aren’t, I’ll be glad to get this 4th and fInal post of our holiday recorded on the blog. We travelled in the last couple of days SW from Maastricht. Along the River Meuse. Our first stop was at the Citadel at Huy. One of several huge forts along the Meuse the hill it is located on has been fortified since around 900 AD and possibly before then. Rebuilt and destroyed several times the current fort was constructed around 1818 when this part of Belgium was Dutch.
It has an imposing position and a currently broken cable car, although it has a lot of steps to get to the top when we looked back at the cable car my son was glad it wasn’t working !
The forts main function other than strategic defence seems to have been as a prison
Of which there is much evidence
And lots in interesting information in the museums. Strange yo and this does vary across Belgium none of the exhibits or info was in English ! And due to the thickness of the walls google translate wouldn’t work, we enjoyed it all the same as well as a lovely lunch down in the town square.

Our next stop was Ligny, it being a Monday we knew the museum wouldn’t be open but we parked up outside as it is a good spot to park when walking around the village. Just as the kettle was boiling a gentleman knocked on the window, I thought he was going to tell us to move on as the museum was closed…..instead he explained he was the owner of the museum and would love to open it just for us 😀😀😀 this lovely bit of luck easily made up for the parking ticket I got in Maastricht the day before.
It is relatively small museum but has a host of interesting artefacts, some from the battlefield others collected elsewhere, far too many to show photos of.
Some interesting bills of payment for putting up the French army the night before the battle
The obligatory Shako
I snapped this one having just painted them, one wonders what takes this brass plate could tell ?
I will be honest I had to do some reading before we visited Ligny not knowing the battle that well. Several sites can be seen in the village, although I understand the ferocity of the fighting was such that much of the village burned down.
One of the two surviving farms in the village so characteristic of this part of Belgium.
With a nice plaque outside. Sadly the buildings are in a poor states of repair and won’t last for ever unless there is some sort of investment
The church is a prominent feature, I’m not sure if or how much this was damaged during the fighting
After the short walk about the village we jumped in the van and toured the wider battle field, the village of Fleurus with the well visited Battle Plaque and the remains of the windmill used by Napoleon as his st during the battle.
We then went to Saint-Amand
A view looking SE from the higher ground of the Prussian Army
Couldn’t resist snapping this picture as you drive back into Ligny 
Other visiting be aware the museum is also a micro brewery and as the owner has been so kind to open it we felt obliged to purchase several bottles of Ligny Blonde to wash our evening meal down….yum
Our final morning and we headed to Waterloo, although I have been a couple of times before we had two main objectives the museum is been completely rebuilt and upgraded and Hougoumont has now been opened to visitors which was the case on our last visit. As befits such a battle they have an excellent diorama of the battle.
The museum has some interesting stuff although I actually found the little Ligny museum more interesting
A lot of the new museum has been given over to this large life size displays of uniforms. Depicting many of the soldiers which were present. The vast majority of this is modern reproductions. We were also slightly disappointed that the museum has chosen to lean very heavily on technology again nothing is in English and the only way to access is via various apps etc which you have to download…..these actually didn’t work very well.
However, I just couldn’t get bored of visiting Waterloo
We wandered down to Hougoumont, they have spent a lot of money cleaning it up
Some parts are still occupied
But you can get a real feel for the place, the chapel above was the only part of the Chateau to survive the fires of the battle.
The barns are of course very characteristic
As is the surrounding wall, looking from a French point of view 
Finally then a wider view from the Lion Mount across perhaps the most famous battlefield ? Well certainly in Europe.

So there we have it a wonderful week of military history for us both, sharing many memories and learning a lot too. The highlight for both of us was Eban-Emael. Where next, well a trip to the Ardennes seems a likely option. Anybody else visiting after any advice please give me a shout although I can only give you my own biased view.

Thanks as always Matt