Monday, 18 November 2019

To Stuart – A fond Farewell

Stuart Asquith's funeral is on Tuesday 19th November.  There have been many kind words spoken and written about his contributions to the hobby.  Up till now I have held off making my own because I had hoped to do them following the funeral which is being held in Cheltenham.  I had planned to take Jack or ‘Uncle Jack’ as he was known to Stuart’s children, with me but the dreaded cancer has decided to make a return and I have to have more chemo on the 19th so I can no longer attend.

So I thought I would share my thoughts and memories.  I first met Stuart at the Harrow Model Shop when it was on St Anne’s Road.  I had visited the shop before to buy Jacklex figures but this time I was going to purchase some Hinchcliffe ECW figures.  It was Saturday 31st March 1973.  It is hard to credit that it was so long ago.  I remember it because it was the day when Red Rum won his first Grand National and I won the sweepstake at work!   Stuart was so easy to talk to and gave me some useful advice on figures, the ECW and the size of ‘army’ to go for – 4 of foot, 2 of horse and a gun was the legend!  I walked out of the model shop with brown paper bags full of figures.  Not sure I paid the right amount.

After that I would go his house over at Rayners Lane, he would pick me up and drop me back at the station and we would wargame on his dinning room table, Stuart with pipe in hand.  I became an unofficial member of Stuart’s Rayners Lane Wargame Group, and he would regularly host games involving two or three players.  Stuart introduced me to Bob Black who I still wargame with and later to Jack himself. 

We used the bayonet rules for the ECW and worked our way through various armies and periods, swapping armies back and forth; SYW, Ancients, Napoleonic’s, ECW always adding a unit here and there.  On a memorable occasion we travelled up to Doncaster to stay with Stuart’s old wargame adversary and friend Terry Wise and I can boast that I shared a bed with Stuart! 

He was also great friends with Ted Herbert (when did wargamers stop wearing ties?)

I also know that he regularly met and spoke fondly of Charles Grant, unfortunately one of the wargame legend’s I didn’t meet.

Stuart’s writing was always important to him and I always felt he was trying to give something back to the hobby that he loved.  His army organisation, for whatever period were thought out and often recorded.  He, unlike me, knew when to finish his ‘army’ and move on to another period.

In December 1978 Stuart stepped into the breach to act as my best man, after my friend came down with flu the day before. 

Ahh, the days when I had hair!
 Eventually, Stuart and Beryl decided to move from London to North Leach in Gloucestershire.  He called me before he left and said did I want some 54mm figures.  Two Zafira car loads later my loft was groaning under the weight!

Jack and I went to visit Stuart and Beryl a couple of times and often spoke on the phone and then for whatever the reason we seemed to lose touch.  When Stuart heard about my cancer I got an amazing letter from him and we communicated again through snail mail and by phone.  In September with Bob and Jack on board I drove down to North Leach to meet Stuart and Beryl .  I was able to return lots of the 54mm figures to him. He had been unwell during the course of the previous year and having not seen him for some years I was surprised.  However, once we got upstairs and started opening draws and looking at figures the old Stuart was back.  His enthusiasm for the various periods and ranges he had collected was wonderful to behold and as always, he and Beryl were wonderful hosts. 

I had thought it would be the last time we would meet up largely because of my cancer, but little did I know.  Jack has joked that he would be waiting for me at the pearly gates, now hopefully it will be Stuart and we can resume our wargames were we left off so many years ago.

Many thanks Stuart for opening the world of wargaming to me

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Egyptians and Assyrians a first try!

Took my Assyrians over to Bob’s to take on his Egyptians this week.  To be honest it didn’t go well.  We both struggled to remember how the rules worked and really got bogged down trying to work out the morale outcome between the Assyrian and Egyptian chariots.  Firing was simple and I had drawn up an OOB sheet which Bob copied across to his army which made unit and class identification easy.   But in the end we were forced to abandon the game and resolve that we need to try some small scale actions solely to work things out.  

I used these rules virtually every Sunday for a game and for the life of me I couldn’t remember how to work things out, only that it never seemed this difficult!  Anyway, I took a few pictures and we are determined that both armies deserve another proper outing!

Bob’s army needs some work on the bases as they were rapidly stuck on anything that came to hand including some of the original beer mats!  So we are going to have a base painting session to draw them altogether and give some cohesion. The Egyptians were aided by Hittites and an array of other troops! Many of the Hinchcliffe Hittites came via Stuart Asquith many, many moons ago.

The palm trees in these pictures are all off ebay.  You can get some fantastic bargains and great looking trees.  15 trees for £7.00 or a different variety 12 for £6.00.  Highly recommended.  They come in different sizes and all sizes are ideal for 25/28mm.  The small to mid range work for 20mm. They mix well together and can cover biblical to the present day and from Portugal in the west to the middle east and beyond. 


Friday, 11 October 2019

My First Army - Hinchcliffe 25mm Assyrians

I wonder how many others still have the first army they ever finished.  In my loft I found my Hinchliffe Assyrians (and a few Lammings and Garrison figures) that I painted over 45 years ago. I used the Airfix Guide to Ancient Wargaming for my Army List (1100 odd points) and played with the 5th Edition WRG rules.  Many a Sunday was spent wargaming with my old friend Chensie Chen who has an Achmaenid Persian army mostly made up of Hinchcliffe figures.  Although he hasn't wargamed for many many years, he still has them.  Trying to get some pictures of his army for another bit of nostalgia!

Bob is rushing to finish his Egpytian Army which was bought a very long time ago and remained only partly painted and we are going to try a game using the WRG rules.  I can't see us getting into Ancients but it would be fun to use them again after such a long time.

So for my enjoyment, hopefully as well as yours, I decided to give my Assyrians a parade!

Light Archers

Light slingers
Garrison Light archers
Nubian Archers (need to go off to Bob's Egyptians!
Assyrian Heavy Archers

Light medium infantry, the list said Javelins but Hinchcliffe made these
Garrisons Officer and standard bearer
Lamming Officer?
Garrison LH Slingers
Assyrians Light Archers

Heavy cavalry

Lamming's Chariot
Heavy Infantry

Heavy War Chariots

If I have mis-remembered the Lamming and Garrison figures bear with me.  It was a long time ago.  I think I was paying 8d (pre-decimalisation) for an infantry figure at the time.  Could be wrong.  6 x four horse war chariots today looks like a crippling sum!

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Jacklex Russo Japanese game the outcome.

As I suggested in my previous post, the additional Japanese forces made the defences look at bit too strong.  We therefore decided that 2 units should form a reserve and I diced for what move they would come on – luckily it turned out to be move 3.  Bob also rearranged the Russian cavalry splitting them and pacing regular and Cossack cavalry on each wing.

Given my defensive position it was down to Bob to take the initiative.  He diced for brigade after brigade of Russian infantry and cavalry and not a single unit moved!  Only 2 moves left until my reserves arrived!  His artillery and machine gunners had a bit more like but fortunately I managed to save every hit.

Move 2 saw the Russian cavalry on the right wing fail to response whilst the infantry suddenly awoke and surged across the field.  On the left the infantry also charged across the battlefield making the Japanese trenches in a 3 command moves.  

This is one of the odd rules in Black Powder.  But we lived with it.  The Russian cavalry on this flank also decided to hang around and not move!  Again the Russian artillery struck, this time hitting one of the Japanese units and forcing them to retire as part of a Break Test and leaving a section of earthworks undefended.  Fortunately, no Russian infantry were close enough to take advantage of this momentary success.

The Japanese troops opened fire even with a First Fire bonus they were very ineffective and to cap things off the Japanese machine gun on the left flank jammed! On the Japanese right flank closing fire and a heavy skirmish with a large Russian unit saw draw after draw in the skirmishes but the Japanese kept witling away and the Russians were eventually forced to take a Break Test which they failed badly and were destroyed.

A similar outcome occurred in the neighbouring earthworks with another Russian unit broken.

It wasn’t all going my way as the machine gun on the right flank also jammed.  I managed to un-jam it with a D6 only for it to immediately jam again on a D1!!

Another Russian unit on the left flank was hit by artillery and forced to take a Break Test forcing it to fall back.  This left 2 Russian Units who in turn charge the earthworks.  This time despite some initial resistance the already weaken Japanese unit was forced to retire and their accompanying machine gunners cut down.

However, all this had taken time and my infantry reserves arrived one regiment went to bolster the earthworks on the left and the other turned its attention to the right and the Russians who had made it over the earthworks.  The Japanese unit forced from the trenches rallied and returned to the front line.  

Things were looking a bit better.  One of the successful Russian regiments was routed in a subsequent melee and the other facing fresh troops decided to voluntarily retire covered by the Russian cavalry.

What I can hear you wonder was happening on the Russian tight flank?  Frankly 
nothing!  After an initial rush across the battlefield they came to a staggering halt and just exchanged fire with the Japanese.  Neither side causing any significant casualties.  The Russian machine guns which had been successful jammed on the same turn and the Russian gunners suddenly gave up on the idea of hitting anything.

Lessons learnt.  Even allowing for 2 Japanese units to come on as Reserves, the Japanese were too strong behind their earthworks.  We should have allowed the Russians to have recycled the units that were destroyed once from the starting line to increase the number their numbers.  With good command rolls they could have made a difference. We need to look at the Rally to Me orders in the Rules to see if whole brigades could be encouraged to move forward rather than hang about.  An attack on the earthworks by the 4 units on the Russian right might have made it awkward given the jammed machine guns and the lack of Japanese troops.  I only 2 units of infantry and 2 of cavalry until the Reserves arrived.  

I re-based the little command group on a round base as the original square base looked a bit cramped.

There is no Russian General so I used the British Mounted Naval Officer who sports a rather fine beard and cut away the lapels on his jacket.  The standard bearer is the Russian lancer and the Cossack has his lance arm bent upwards to have a raised lance.  

Normal Cossacks
Cossacks Jack made with Lance raised my preference

Jack painted most of the Russian Infantry back in the day and all the Japanese infantry, gunners and cavalry in Khaki.  He scratch built the Russian buildings (with the exception of a couple of 15mm resin buildings and the 20mm American Road Side Chapel) using cocktail sticks and foam board.  The earthworks are my handiwork and made from Rendera gabions, DAS air dry modelling clay and coffee stirers.

It was great to see these figures on the table after all these years and to try our first Russo- Japanese engagement.

Better still, these wonderful Jacklex figures are available again.  You can buy all the original ranges and new figures as well as download the ‘catalogue of figures’ from