Friday, 24 January 2020

Battle of Chongzhou: - a mostly Jacklex 20mm game

When I first got my diagnosis of cancer and was given ‘months’ I thought it was time to have a sort out of the figures and down size.  Jack had made me a number of ships over the years which were really great but difficult to sell on line because of their fragility and subsequent packaging.

I contacted gamers who I had been in touch with over time to see if they were interested in the models and more importantly could they physically collect them from my home.  Payment was a voluntary contribution to Cancer Research UK of what they thought the models and figures were worth.

One gamer Richard Wells came up from Kent to collect some ships and other bits and I have stayed in touch with him and his progress towards getting his table sorted out.  I am delighted to say that the models have finally hit the table and Richard has kindly sent me some pictures and a description of his game which he has agreed that I can post on my blog.

So I give you the Battle of Chongzhou:

A British force under the command of General Wells were instructed to relief a German and French force, running out of supplies and tied up in a fort next to the River Sonlung very close to the Chinese held town of Chongzhou.

First the much larger Chinese navy had to be defeated, before a dangerous landing could be attempted. The British navy consisted of HMS Daring and HMS Endeavour and a machine gun armed launch. Against them were arrayed 6 Chinese junks and 3 smaller dhows. Alas the Chinese navy proved no match for the much better armed British boats and after some extraordinary dice throwing the entire Chinese fleet was sunk in 3 moves, with very little damage to the British ships.


Landing boats with the Marines were then launched to make a bridgehead.

The Chinese commander  General XunTsu realising it was imperative to stop the landing sent all his cavalry and a unit of boxers to drive the Marines back into the sea before they could establish the bridgehead.

Richard's son Sebastian looks on as the Marines land.

The Marines and their Gardner gun only had time to clamber out of their landing craft and fire one volley before they were hit by the charging Chinese cavalry. That one volley managed to sweep away nearly half of the Chinese cavalry at close range but the charge was carried through and the Marines were beaten back into the sea, although they caused much damage to the cavalry, which was also forced to retire and re-group.

Two Highland regiments were fast approaching the shore, while the Boxers were closing in on the beach. The Marines in a dis-organised state were driven back a second time into the Scots whose firepower made some holes in the Chinese attackers. The Scots managed to land and the Boxers after one round of fighting fled.

Meanwhile the Germans and the French, despite being low on rations decided to launch their own  attack on Chongzhou - a risky operation at best. Chinese fire from the perimeter houses was highly inaccurate, as it was prove to be throughout the battle. The French and Germans fought their way through the houses forcing the Boxers into the open, but they had not realised that a unit of the crack Tigermen were waiting on the other side. These charged forward and despite loses forced the French and Germans back with their own heavy loses.

The patrol boat that General Wells had sent up the muddy river was now approaching the fort and relief was at hand. The British infantry started their advance on Chongzhou with a regiment of cavalry in support. The Navy’s ships poured fire into Chongzhou taking a particularly heavy toll of the Chinese gunners and guns on the battlements.

The regrouped Chinese cavalry decided to give it one more go and moved forward to meet the British cavalry. In a battle that seesawed backwards and forwards the British Cavalry eventually got the upper hand although both Cavalry forces were forced to regroup after 2 rounds of combat.

A small force of German snipers who had been ashore on the right side of the battlefield had now advanced within range of the town’s fortifications and started to lay down a withering fire.

While the Germans and French were fighting in Chongzhou, a small group of Chinese attacked the fort and one of them managed to force his way in killing the last French soldier.

Unfortunately for him the naval launch had by now arrived at the fort and it’s commander plus one rating confronted the Chinese and killed him after 2 rounds of combat.

Things were looking grim for the Chinese commander, so he decided to launch an attack against the German snipers

 His artillery were hopelessly inaccurate and were starting to take hits from both the naval launch’s machine gun and the approaching British infantry as well as a well placed German artillery piece which was firing from the fort. The Chinese stormed out and managed to finish off the remaining Germans before turning their attention to the Navy’s Gardner gun, which had started raking the city’s battlements. Despite taking what they thought was good cover they were mown down by the Gardner gun in two rounds of deadly fire, failing to score a single hit themselves.


General Wells now decided to go for the kill and sent his remaining Cavalry and himself up to the City’s main gate, armed surprisingly with previously unknown explosives. They received casualties from the Chinese defenders, but were able to lay the charges and then detonated them successfully. The Chinese commander realised the situation was now utterly hopeless and was forced to surrender.

I think we will be having a review of the rules next time to ensure the allied force do not have too many machine guns and artillery as these were an overwhelming factor in their victory. Although this was combined with some exceptional rifle fire by the British and a worse than expected performance by the Chinese infantry. In hand to hand battle they generally did quite well, but in a gun battle they were beaten every time.

However, it was a very enjoyable game and the buildings looked magnificent.

Most of the British figures are Jacklex 20mm available from Jacklex Miniatures .  The Boxers are mainly plastic figures from Orion, there are also some 20mm metal figures, including the Tiger Men but the make is unknown. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Conversion of Franco Prussian War ambulance for 25mm S range

Not being in the right mind set to start a new project as such I have been tinkering around. I read about the British Ambulance service in the Franco Prussian War.  This was a volunteer service funded by public and private donations. 

In 1991 To commemorate the Service the British Red Cross launched a ‘limited edition’ model by Lledo of a Horse Drawn Ambulance as used in the Franco Prussian War.  I picked one up on Ebay for a couple of pounds.  Whilst it is said to be carefully recreated from material held in the British Red Cross archives, the model owes much to the Lledo models used for other commemorative and publicity models.  I decided to use this as the basis for a model of a Franco Prussian War ambulance just to pass the time and keep my hand in at doing some S range conversions.

I used the material I had to hand.  Foam board and cardboard and it tuned into a bit of a dog’s dinner.  I struggled with the wheels amongst other things and decided to abandon the idea. 

One of the reasons for making my own version of the ambulance is because the rear wheels on the LLedo model are all wrong based on all the line drawings of the time.  But having made a hash of my own model,  

I went back to the Lledo model which was very ‘flat’ in terms of detail and decided to add strips of cardboard to give if a bit of depth.  

I also decided to get rid of the ‘universal driver’ which Lledo use on all there models substituting it for an S range conversion I made.  I was going to use a Prussian figure but then remade it with a British ‘cap’ more in line with the description I was able to find on line.  The horses had the usual LLedo ‘bobbed tails’ and poorly defined manes so I used a bit of ‘green stuff’ to make the tails and manes a bit more distinctive. 

I couldn’t find anything about the colour of these vehicles.  I didn’t like the ‘creamy yellow of the LLedo model and so opted for a more ‘wooden look’.

Lastly I drilled through and added some ‘cotton reins’.  Why I don’t know, but threading the cotton through the drill holes was an absolute pig.  These I ran back to the ‘driver’s’ hand and added a whip in his other hand for good measure.  

I then made up a couple of foot figures again I am not sure why.  The ‘officer’ is a Prussian gunner officer with a British head’.  The uniform is supposed to be based on the British artillery undress uniform.  The ‘Nun’ is made from the S range CR10 Nap Camp follower with bottle & bag.  I just filed down the hair to give a flat surface for what looks a bit like a ‘wimple’.

I decide not to put the ‘Service of the English Ambulance’ logo on the side so it was a bit ‘more open’ to who and where it was used but I made up wording in the right size to retro fit if needs be.  

Anyway it is just a bit more nonsense and passed the time. May even go back and try to rescue my early attempt!