The Great Wargaming Survey – 2019 Edition

It’s on again. The Wargames Soldier & Strategy Great Wargaming Survey – 2019 Edition.

This is a survey that has become an annual event now and one where the number of respondents have been increasing each year. It focuses exclusively on tabletop miniature wargaming.

The survey only takes about five to ten minutes to complete and the results will, when published, I am sure provide grist for the podcast and discussion group mills for many months into the future.

Last years survey was discussed between Jasper of WSS and the Greg and Miles from the Little Wars Club (which is a great YouTube channel by the way, well recommended).

There is also a section on the Wargames Soldier & Strategy blog discussing past surveys and results.

Wargame Soldier and Strategy will publish the result of the survey when it completes and as a sweetener for participation, they are offering both prizes and every participant may claim a voucher which can be redeemed in the Karwansaray Publishers webshop for a €6.50 discount or be used to ‘purchase’ one of the sprues made available by Rubicon Models, Wargames Atlantic, and Sarissa Precision! Instructions on claiming that are on the final page of the survey.

The survey is running from now until 31 August 2019. I do recommend you spend the 10 minutes it takes to complete the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PJ825GK and add your voice to that of the wargame community at large.

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Life in the Philippines – Paluwagan

Paluwagan has existed in the Philippines for many years. It is a group forced savings system and similar money saving systems exist in other countries and cultures, however, in the Philippines, and regardless of what the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP – the Central Bank) says, it is almost ubiquitous. Paluwagans exist in the cities such as Metro Manila and down to the farms on Mindanao and Samar. Even retired folks have been know to be part of a paluwagan.

So, what is it exactly? It is a means of group saving or money lending. A group of people, perhaps workmates, friends, extended family and such, get together and agree an amount they can afford to “save” or deposit to the paluwagan. They agree on who will hold the funds, how frequently payments will be and then the order of receiving payments – the order is usually random unless there is a compelling reason to help out one or two members of the paluwagan group first.

The mechanics are quite simple. Each member contributes the same amount each week (or month or whatever cycle is selected). One member then receives the collected funds each cycle. The next week all contribute again and the second member receives the collected funds. This continues until all members receive the full funds after which the paluwagan then terminates. In many respects, it is like the terminating Building societies of 18th century England.

A paluwagan payment set of cycles could look like:

There are six members and all agree to contribute 1,000 pesos per month for six months. The payment order is agreed, in this case, Anne, Bob, Charlie, Dave, Edwin and Francine. In January all contribute 1,000 pesos and Anne is then given 6,000 pesos. In February all contribute 1,000 pesos and Bob is then given 6,000 pesos. The cycle repeats until everyone has received their 6,000 pesos.

The benefits of paluwagan are:

  • quick access to a lump sum of money
  • easy to set up
  • no fees
  • forces saving

The disadvantages/risks:

  • unregulated
  • prone to money problems (dishonest members)
  • strained relationships among friends and family
  • no interest or profits

The paluwagan however, is effective among friends, colleagues, co-workers and family where all can be trusted and if there is a large group, say 10 to 20 people, and they are contributing 1,000 pesos each cycle, then the lump sum of 10,000 to 20,000 pesos is very useful.

As with all things in the 21st century, there are a number of online frauds and scams to be avoided. However, when lending face-to-face to the paluwagan among a group of trusted friends,  colleagues etc. the risk is low.

Life in the Philippines

I’ve been living in the Philippines for nearly five years now (I arrived in Manila on 9 August 2014 so five years on 9 August 2019). It is an interesting and friendly country with much familiar and much different. Most of the five years has been spent in Manila, famous mostly for its traffic and balut. I have been fortunate in the apartments I have stayed in to be able to see Manila Bay (battlefield of course for Dewey’s Squadron in the Spanish-American War) and generally a nice view into the distance, although a few too many high dwellings.

Many days the sunsets are wonderful and on clear days I can see the Bataan peninsula which forms the northern edge to the entrance to Manila Bay and was the scene of one of the death marches in World War 2. It is also the home to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Construction of that commenced in 1976 and was completed by 1986, just in time to see the Chernobyl meltdown. It was decided not to power up this power plant and it sits on the Bataan peninsula to this day. Who knew?

Interestingly it is not that far from Mt Pinatubo which famously blew its top in 1991.

Sunset over Manila Bay – Bataan in the right background, Corregidor in the left

To the south I can see the Cavite peninsula, forming the southern edge to the entrance to the bay and in the middle, Corregidor, famous as a fortified island, fortified by the Spanish, the Americans and then the Japanese. It was supposed to protect the entrance to the bay. From there you can see the concrete battleship Fort Drum (originally known as El Fraile Island).

I was fortunate to take a day drip across to Corregidor a few years ago, which I promised myself I would write up here. Still, it’s my blog so things happen at my rate.

I will start to cover life in the Philippines more in the future, especially the life of the expat turning local as my plan is to remain here after I finally retire. In the meantime, ingat ikaw.

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume II – Book Review

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume II, written by John Lambert and Al Ross deals with Vosper MTBs and US Elcos. It was published on 9 April 2019 by Seaforth Publishing, an imprint of Pen and Sword Books, is 256 pages long and has ISBN: 9781526747556.

Like volume I, this is a reprint of a book first published by Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, in 1994 the picked up by  Conway Maritime Press in 2002. It was reprinted again in April 2005 by Conway’s. This volume deals with sixteen Vosper MTB designs, and the US 70′, 77′ and 80′ Elco designs.

Also, as with Volume 1, there are copies of volume 2 from 2002 available still, new, for US $72.40 at various outlets.

Vosper was established as a company in 1871. They became famous for the unstepped planing hull-form they developed which was the basis of their Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) and Motor Gun Boats (MGB) for the Royal Navy in World War II. The original boats had a length of 68 feet and were based upon the prototype MTB 102, which survives to this day as a museum piece.

Vosper 70′ MTB in Admiralty Light Basic scheme with recognition star used in the Mediterranean

Vosper’s designs were copied by many, especially given the speeds they acheived with their planing hulls. Apart from MTBs and MGBs, Vosper also built high speed launches for the the Royal Air Force for the rescue of air crew who ditched into the sea.

Vospers were not only built in the United Kingdom but also in the United States under license.

The illustration here are some of the vessels illustrated with differing camouflage designs are taken from the book. Apologies for the quality, I photographed with my tablet and one hand and it is a heavy tome.

Elco 80′ PT Boat in Measure 33/7P

As with the previous volume, the detail, drawings, plans and photographs in this book are super. Al Ross had a reputation as a very fine draughtsman and it shows in his drawings throughout the volume. Lambert covers the details of the vessels, the equipment that was present on the vessels, selected weapon systems and additional data.

The table of contents, apart from the usual sections of Foreword, Preface, Abbreviations and the like covers:

  • Vosper Ltd
  • Elco – a short history
  • Vosper’s private venture (MTB 102) and Bloodhound
  • Vosper MTB designs 1938-39
  • The Vosper 45ft MTB Design
  • Vosper designs 1940
  • MTB 74
  • MTB 103
  • Vosper designs 1941
  • Vosper designs 1942
  • MTB 510
  • Vosper designs 1943-45
  • Vosper construction
  • The Elco 70ft PT
  • The Elco 77ft PT
  • The Elco 80ft PT
  • Licence-built Vospers
  • PT construction
  • PT camouflage
  • The Packard 4M-2500 marine engine
  • Selected weapons systems (0.5in Vickers machine guns; 20mm Oerlikons (single and twin); 9mm Lanchester machine carbine; 18in and 21in torpedo tubes; PT torpedo armament and the Dewandre turret)
  • Additional data covering US 20mm, 37mm and 40mm mounts and guns; Rocket launchers; Development of bridge and wheelhouse during the Second World War; Notes on operating the Royal Navy Packard engines; Free French Vosper MTBs; The Vosper survivors; and Restored Elco PT 617.

As with the first volume, the writing in the book is clear an easy to both follow and understand. It has been fascinating to read about these vessels, so much so that I am looking for similar works on Axis boats. It is a shame that the third volume mooted back in the 1990s never eventuated as it would have dealt with the British Power Boat 70ft MTBs and MGBs which were also very successful boats.

This also is a must have book for anyone interested in coastal warfare and a great companion to Volume 1. There is nothing I can think of that is really missing from this coverage. Best, along with volume 1, it is on special at the moment (23 July 2019)  at Pen and Sword.

Bavarian Army – Napoleonic Period

Note – I started writing this on October 22, 2010. I guess this is a typical wargaming project, one that starts with a rush then slips to a back shelf as something new and shiny flashes past only to have the interest rekindled when looking at old notes. Of course, I have a number of other projects on the go currently that will prevent the Bavarians leaping t the top of the pile but soon (which in wargaming term could mean sometime in the next 27 years!

Bavarian Infantry from Baccus 6mm (https://baccus6mm.com/catalogue/Napoleonics/Bavarian/)

In my Napoleonic painting and wargaming project, I have decided to concentrate essentially on the Germans – the Prussians and the Confederation of the Rhine along with the Duchy of Warsaw for additional flavour and colour (yes, the Duchy of Warsaw is Polish but is attractive as an ally/opponent). The Bavarians contributed the largest part of the forces of the Confederation of the Rhine as one of the founding members of the confederation in 1806. They came to Napoleons side in the wars after the Austrian general Mack invaded Bavaria as part of the Ulm campaign.

Bavarian chevaux leger from Baccus 6mm (https://baccus6mm.com/catalogue/Napoleonics/Bavarian/)

It occurred to me at the time, and has me thinking again about the Bavarians, I have a feeling that the usual wargamer’s megalomania will start to surface as we want to increase the size of what we are doing to recreate bigger and bigger things. The Battle of Ulm comes to mind as one of those things to recreate. Basically it was the culmination of skirmishes and manoeuvring over a period between he French and the Austrians. That wonderful mine of misinformation, Wikipedia, has an article on the Battle of Ulm. Of course, to do that I would need to model around 150,000 French soldiers in the French army at the time as well as about 75,000 under the command of Mack, the Austrian army facing them. To make it interesting, I could add the Russians that were marching to join up with the Austrians. I then start to think about the Battle of Leipzig – see what I mean about megalomania?

I digress. The Bavarian Army was part of the Confederation of the Rhine. In fact, prior to the formation of the Confederation, Bavaria was an Electorate (a term I will explain elsewhere and at another time, probably about the time the 30 Years War starts to intrigue me again). Sorry, more digression. At the time the Confederation of the Rhine was formed Bavaria became a kingdom and was a founding member of the Confederation. I’ve listed the members in a previous post.

Bavarian artillery from Baccus 6mm (https://baccus6mm.com/catalogue/Napoleonics/Bavarian/)

So, the Bavarians were something to add to my 6mm collection. The nice thing about the Bavarians is that they fought together as a single group, for example being VI Corps of the Grande Armee in 1812. Whilst they had Bavarian commanders, perhaps the most famous and successful Bavarian commander was the French marshal, Gouvion St Cyr. The Bavarians sent around 33,000 troops with Napoleon in the invasion of Russia, around 4,000 returned. The Bavarian corps of 1812 therefore seemed the best to model as part of my project.

The Organisation of the VI Corps at the time is shown below. The Bavarian Order of Battle 1809-12 reflects that Organisation fairly closely, without the other German troops. In Germany in 1809 its Commander was Marshall Lefebvre, the Duke of Danzig. Initially, in Germany in VII Corps the Commander was Colonel-General de Cuirassiers, Laurent, Marquis de Gouvion St-Cyr who was perhaps the best of the commanders of the Bavarians.

Type Battalions Grade Name Coats Facing Colours
Commander-in-Chief: General de division G. St. Cyr
Chief of General Staff: Colonel d’Albignac
Commander of Artillery: Colonel de Colonge
First Division
Commander: General von Deroy
Staff Officer: Major von Gravenreuth
1st Brigade: Generalmajor von Siebein
Light Infantry 1 Regular Tyrolean Chasseurs Green Blue
Line Infantry 2 Elite 1st Line Infantry “Liebe” Blue Red
Line Infantry 2 Regular 2nd Line Infantry “Kronprinz” Blue Red
2nd Brigade Generalmajor von Raglovich
Light Infantry 1 Regular 4th Light Infantry “Theobald” Green Black/Red
Line Infantry 1 Regular 4th Line Infantry “Salern” Blue Yellow
Line Infantry 1 Regular 11th Line Infantry Blue Green
3rd Brigade Generalmajor Graf Richberg
Light Infantry 1 Regular 4th Light Infantry “Theobald” Green Black/Red
Line Infantry 2 Regular 3rd Line Infantry “Prinz Karl” Blue Red
Line Infantry 2 Regular 9th Line Infantry “Graf von Ysenburg” Blue Red
Cavalry Brigade Generalmajor Graf Seydewitz
Bavarian Dragoons 1 Light Cav 1st Dragoons White
Bavarian Chevaux-Legere 1 Light Cav 1st Chevaux-Legere Kronprinz Green
Bavarian Chevaux-Legere 1 Light Cav Green
Artillery Oberstlieutenant Freiherr von Lamey
Bavarian Foot Battery Regular 2nd Line Battery – 6 medium guns, 2 Howitzers Dark Blue
Bavarian Heavy Foot Battery Regular 4th Line Battery – 6 heavy guns, 2 Howitzers Dark Blue
Second Division
Commander: General der Kavallerie Graf von Wrede
Staff Officer: Oberst von Comeau
1st Brigade: Generalmajor von Vincenti
Light Infantry 2 Regular 2nd Light Infantry “Wrede” Green Red
Line Infantry 3 Regular 7th Line Infantry “Lowenstein” Blue Pink
2nd Brigade: Generalmajor von Hugel
German Jägers 1 Crack Freiwillige Jägers: can field as Rifle armed skirmishers Green Blue
Guard Grenadiers 1 Crack Wurttemberg: Fusse Garde Dark Blue Black
Line Infantry 2 Regular Wurttemberg: Prinz Paul Regiment Dark Blue Yellow
Line Infantry 2 Regular Anhalt-Lippe Contingents of 5th C. Rhine Regt. Green/ White Pink/ Green
3rd Brigade: Generalmajor Graf Minucci
Light Infantry 2 Regular 6th Light Infantry “Taxis” Green Red/ yellow
Line Infantry 3 Regular 13th Line Blue Black
Line Infantry 2 Regular 8th Line Infantry “Herzog Pius” Blue Yellow
Artillery Brigade: Oberstlieutenant von Lamy
Bavarian Foot Battery Regular 5th Line Battery – 6 medium guns Dark Blue
Bavarian Foot Battery Regular 8th Line Battery (can field as 1st Light Battery horse artillery instead) Dark Blue
Cavalry Brigade: Generalmajor von Preysing – poor
German Cuirassier 1 Regular/ Crack “Prinz Karl” Blue
German Hussars 1 Regular/ Crack 1st Bavarian Hussars Blue
German Uhlans 1 Regukar/Crack Uhlanen Green
German Horse Artillery Regular 1st Light Battery
German Horse Artillery Regular 2nd Light Battery

Notes:

  • I was also thinking about the Battle of Leipzig and started to build II Corps of the Prussian Army present at that battle – a perfect opposition for VII Corps of the Grande Armee
  • Cavalry and Artillery Brigades can form separate divisions or detached brigades
  • No Grand Battery
  • If I start using FOB rules, any Line Infantry can be reclassified as Raw
  • The Bavarian Infantry are famous for both their cornflower blue coats as well as their rappenhaulms
  • This post was originally written when I was considering using various wargame rules, most of the names of which I can no longer recall but where Principles of War was one
  • I am going to base on 60mm x 30mm bases using 6mm figures
  • and lastly, this is a plan for when I move from the small Manila apartment to something a little larger, that will permit me something like a 6′ x 4′ (1.8m x 1.2m) table to play on

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume I – Book Review

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume I, written by John Lambert and Al Ross deals with Fairmile Designs and the US Submarine Chasers. It was published on 12 December 2018 by Seaforth Publishing, an imprint of Pen and Sword Books, is 256 pages long and has ISBN: 9781526744494*(see below).

I do love naval history and I have a particular interest in small boats (and big ships and all in between truth be told). This volume deals with some of my favourite vessels, the Fairmiles.

Fairmile Marine was a British boat building company founded in 1939 by the car manufacturer Noel Macklin using his garage at Cobham Fairmile in Surrey for manufacturing assembly. His company was run as an agency of the Admiralty, the company carrying out business without turning a profit, the staff being in effect part of the civil service.

Fairmile B – Admiralty Light Modification Scheme

His first design was the Fairmile A Motor Launch (ML) but the most ubiquitous of the Fairmiles was the Fairmile B ML. Over 600 of these were built over the period 1940 to 1945. Originally designed as submarine chasers the Motor Launches were fitted with ASDIC. Later versions of the Fairmiles (the C, D and F versions) were fitted out as gunboats with the Ds also rigged as Motor Torpedo Boats.

Coastal naval warfare in both the North Sea and the Mediterranean were fiercely fought skirmishes between the Allied MLs, MGBs and MTBs and the Axis E-Boats, R-Boats, MAS boats and the like. The Fairmile boats made up a considerable portion of Coastal Command and fought in all theatres.

Fairmile B – Admiralty Dark Modification Scheme – a harbour defence ML

The illustration here are some of the vessels illustrated with differing camouflage designs are taken from the book. Apologies for the quality, I photographed with my tablet and one hand and it is a heavy tome.

The detail, drawings, plans and photographs in this book are super. The authors cover the details of the vessels, the equipment that was present on the vessels, selected weapon systems and additional data, including the fate of most of the vessels. For example, we can see the builder, when a vessel was completed and its fate. In the case of ML 400, this vessel was built in New Zealand and completed on 18 November 1942. It served in the RNZN where it sailed as HMNZS Kahu, being sold in 1947 and sailing then as the Dolphin.

US Submarine Chaser, SC497, part of a class of 110′ sub chasers in measure 14 camouflage

The US Submarine Chasers are covered as well, although not in as great a detail.

The table of contents, apart from the usual sections of Forewards, Authors Notes, Prefaces, Abbreviations and the like  covers:

  • The Fairmile company
  • The Fairmile B ML
  • The Canadian Fairmile B ML
  • The Fairmile C motor gunboat
  • The Fairmile D MTB/MGB
  • The Fairmile F MGB
  • The Fairmile H Landing Craft
  • The SC 497 class 110 ft sub chaser
  • Depth Charges and anti-submarine equipment
  • British Coastal Forces radar
  • British Coastal Forces camouflage
  • Engines and engineering
  • Weapons systems (depth charge projectors, flares, machine guns, 1- and 2-pounder guns, 4.5in guns and the like

The extensive appendices include:

  • Schedule of British Builders
  • Fairmile production analysis Yard analysis Consumption of major materials
  • Area comparisons
  • Building times

all in all, 12 appendices.

The writing in the book is clear an easy to both follow and understand. Best, most of the book is in shorter chapters making it easier to read and follow over shorter reading sessions. I have learnt so much from this work that I am really itching to start on their volume 2 which covers perhaps the most famous of the Allied coastal vessels, the Vosper MTBs and US Elcos. There is a third volume being prepared covering the British Power Boat 70ft MTBs and MGBs which were very successful boats.

This really is a must have book for anyone interested in coastal warfare. There is nothing I can think of that is really missing from this coverage. Best, it is on special at the moment (20 July 2019)  at Pen and Sword.


* Please note the following (21 July 2019):

This work was originally published in 1994. in the US it was published by the Naval Institute Press (and I am guessing by Conway’s in the UK). In 2005 it was reprinted and published by Conway’s in the UK (and I am guessing that the Naval Institute Press may well have republished then too). I have not seen either of those editions so I can’t comment on any change in content in this edition. I can, however, note that a new copy of the 1994 version is selling on Amazon for US $225 dollars and the 2005 version new for US $165.60. The £32.00 current version from Pen and Sword therefore looks good value by comparison.

I should also note that unfortunately, the third volume covering the British Power Boat 70ft MTBs and MGBs was never published.

The Perfect Captain – Wargames Rules

I have tried some of the Perfect Captains rules before and enjoyed. In fact, I seem to recall interacting with them what seems a lifetime ago. I thought I would give a shout out to them however here, especially as they have a number of different types of rules for different periods. I can recommend getting into them, most work well and those that are a little obtuse become clear after a little reexamination.

I am thinking of using these for my hoplite project, I’ll let you know how that goes.

Do slip out and have a look, the Perfect Captain.

More Ships – Ancient Galleys

While I was back in Australia visiting mother, I thought it would be a good idea to buy some more ships. Not modern warships, not World War II, World War I or Russian Japanese War. Not Napoleonic but rather ancient vessels. OK, I did buy some World War I ships, an American fleet pack, however everything else was ancient.

As you may remember, I reviewed a few books here on ancient naval battles, Rome Seizes the Trident – The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower and the Forging of the Roman Empire – Review; A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC – Marc G DeSantis – Review and Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees – Review in particular. I have always had a love for triremes, quinquiremes and the like so I decided that I should engage in some scenarios from those books.

I already had a Roman and a Carthaginian fleet pack pack in Australia so packed that and brought it back to Manila. Each pack has about 20 vessels in it. An order was sent off to Navwar for more galleys – there are never enough – and I purchased:

  • Hellenistic pack (Greek Warships mostly with a couple of large vessels) – about 20 vessels
  • Phoenician pack (same but a little different enough to make it a little more interesting on the tabletop – about 20 vessels
  • two packs each of:
    • Greek Triremes
    • Carthaginian Quinquiremes
    • Greek Pentekontors
    • Quadriremes
    • Roman Merchantmen
    • Roman Liburnians
    • Roman Quinquiremes
    • Greek Merchantmen
    • Hemiolas
  • four packs of Lembus

This should provide a nice basis for some galley on galley action. I like the Navwar galleys for their cost, and painted they look the business. I may add a couple of Langton galleys in the future as flagships and such. Biggest decision prior to painting will be to paint them with sails up (colourful) or sales down (historically more correct).

Right, well that’s another project to get going on with – only about 100 other projects to finish before these little beasties turn up from England.

Dark Age Campaign Set – the Figures ordered

These will serve as the Andalusian cavalry.
Photo taken from Baccus website (http://www.baccus6mm.com)

To begin the process of adding more lead to the pile, I mean, after all, you can never have enough lead, I looked at all the figures I would need then though, I should by these in groups as they will cost a bloke an arm and a leg. I then received a bonus at work and thought, “what wargaming items can I spend this on … after all, it’s mine, allllll mine”!

These will be the core of the East and West Franks. Photo taken from Baccus website (http://www.baccus6mm.com)

Damn it if it did not seem like a great idea to get all the lead for this project, after all, it was only going to be another 1,800 figures or so. Best part was, when I looked at the order, I calculated that there would be enough left over to purchase a World War 2 French army for Blitzkrieg Commander IV. This was important as I had picked up a paint set in Sydney from Hobbyco. Even though the store was disappointing, the paint was not. French armour from World War 2, paints were Ammo by mig. I have wanted to try these paints for a while and yes I know, I could have purchased a set for early war British or something but the French seemed so, well, colourful and best, it means I will have a WW2 and a Modern French force.

I digress.

What exactly did I purchase. Remember that I was looking to build the project around six armies:

  • Viking
  • Andalusian
  • Anglo-Saxon
  • West Frankish
  • East Frankish and
  • Leidang

So, what did I purchase I hear you ask? Here is the order list of pack numbers I purchased:

Andalusian

1 x CIS17 – Saracen Command
1 x CIS01 – Seljuq Turk Heavy Cavalry
1 x CIS04 – Seljuq Turk Light Cavalry – Gallop
1 x CIS09 – Fatamid Spearmen
1 x CIS16 – Sudanese Spearmen

East and West Frankish

1 x EMC – Early Mediaeval Casualties
2 x EMN01 – Norman Armoured Cavalry, charging
1 x EMN02 – Norman Armoured Cavalry, stood
1 x EMN03 – Norman unarmoured Cavalry
1 x EMN04 – Norman armoured infantry
1 x EMN05 – Norman Archers
1 x EMN07 – Norman Crossbowmen
1 x EMN06 – Norman Leaders
1 x AGO03 – Gothic Heavy Cavalry

Anglo-Saxon

1 x EMA01 – Huscarles with Spear
1 x EMA02 – Huscarles with Axe
2 x EMA03 – Fyrd Spearmen
1 x EMA04 – Anglo Saxon Archers
1 x EMA05 – Saxon Leaders and command

Viking and Leidang

2 x EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen
2 x EMV02 – Unarmoured Spearmen
1 x EMV03 – Armoured Axemen
1 x EMV04 – Viking Archers
1 x EMV05 – Viking Luminaries and Loonies
1 x AGO01 – Gothic Infantry
1 x AGO02 – Gothic Archers

Anglo-Saxon huscarles.
Photo taken from Baccus website (http://www.baccus6mm.com)

The armies will morph as well. I can make Irish Viking out of these figures for a bit of variation. I can also manage the Finns as well

The entire armies will be Baccus and I will admit to looking forward to their arrival. I am trying to clear the painting table and queue in anticipation. Mind you, I am not sure that ordering 1,800 figures in one hit, even 6mm figures, is the smartest thing to do. Still, wargamers will understand.

Rome Seizes the Trident – The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower and the Forging of the Roman Empire – Review

After reading Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees recently, it only seemed natural to pick up the story by looking at Rome and Carthage. Carthage was famous for its seafaring having been originally a Phoenician colony, the same Phoenicians who participated (we must assume unwillingly) in the ill-fated Persian invasions of Greece. Rome certainly was not famous for its seafaring.

Where the naval battles were mostly fought in  the Ancient Greek World by triremes and to a lesser extent, penteconters, when Rome and Carthage faced off against each other the vessels had become heavier, consisting to quadriremes and more importantly, the peak of the ancient Mediterranean galleys, quinqueremes.

Pen & Sword Books published Rome Seizes the Trident – The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower and the Forging of the Roman Empire by Marc G DeSantis. The book is 272 pages long (ISBN: 9781473826984) and was originally published on 16 May 2016. It is available in hardback, Kindle and ePub versions with the electronic versions somewhat cheaper than the printed copy.

Owen Rees noted that in the Battle of Catane, part of the Hegemony period, in the the battle between Syracuse and Carthage it appears that this is where the Carthaginians were first exposed to quadriremes and quinqueremes, noting:

Leptines had already shown himself a capable commander, having been in charge of the fleet since the siege of Motya, at the latest. Within his fleet he is said to have had thirty superior ships, a crack force of the same number which had confronted the Carthaginian armada at the beginning of their expedition. It seems extremely probably that these thirty ships, or at least a proportion of them, were of the new designs: quadriremes and quinqueremes.

When Carthage and Rome finally faced off in the Punic Wars, the standard warships at the stage were the quadriremes and quinqueremes Carthage may have been exposed to in Syracuse.

Marc G DeSantis commences his book by a look at the sources, and for this period , the preeminent source is Polybius. Also important of course were Livy although a much later author and concentrating on the Second Punic War and Plutarch, later still with his Parallel lives. Appian is the main source for the final Punic War and the destruction of Carthage. The Byzantine, John Zonaras was an author from the 12th Century but his value here is the summaries in Epitome Historiarum where he recounts information from the now fragmentary Dio with some naval aspects from the First Punic War that Polybius did not mention.

In Part I of his work, DeSantis breaks that section up into the following chapters:

Part I: Breaking Carthage

Chapter 1 – Sources
Chapter 2 – The Contestants
Chapter 3 – Sicily: Theatre of War, History and Blood
Chapter 4 – War at Sea in the Age of the War Galley
Chapter 5 – Breaking Athens: A Case Study

Chapters 4 and 5 are where DeSantis really gets swinging. The early chapters really set the scene, discussing Rome and Carthage and Sicily, for much of the naval aspects of the Punic Wars, the battleground. In Chapter 4 however he talks about the ways galleys fought, and for once he does not draw a straight dichotomy between ramming and boarding tactics, rather noting that both were used by all sides, depending on situation. He does draw a clear distinction, however, between the skilled seafarers who seemed to prefer ramming over boarding, such as the Athenians, the Phocaeans, the Rhodians and the Carthaginians. However he does point out that “ramming and boarding would have been carried out as the opportunities presented themselves”.

He notes the use of lemboi as a means of transferring signals across a fleet by standing off a little and repeating the signals, much like the frigates of the Napoleonic Wars at sea.

Chapter 5 is a review of the breaking of Athens through the negation of naval superiority in the Peloponnesian Wars. He also recounts a Corinthian tactic where the Corinthians at the Battle of Erineus in 413 BCE, slightly outnumbered by the 33 Athenian vessels, had made changes to their rams and adopted the tactic of a headlong charge at the Athenian fleet, looking to ram their vessels straight on and not giving the Athenians a chance to use their superior seamanship.  While no vessels were sunk from either side so technically a draw, the Corinthians looked on it as a victory and the Athenians saw it as a defeat.

After this survey of early naval tactics, DeSantis starts on the meat of his work – the Punic Wars.

Part II – The First Punic War

Chapter 6 – Trouble at the Toe of Italy
Chapter 7 – Opening Moves
Chapter 8 – Mylae, 260 BC: Rome’s Fleet Sails in Harm’s Way
Chapter 9 – After Mylae
Chapter 10 – Ecnomus, 256 BC
Chapter 11 – The Battle of Cape Hermaeum, 255 BC
Chapter 12 – Rome Tries Again
Chapter 13 – Drepna, 249 BC
Chapter 14 – The Debut of Hamilcar Barca
Chapter 15 – Endgame: The Battle of the Aegates Islands, 241 BC
Chapter 16 – Peace
Chapter 17 – Was Seapower Worth the Cost?

DeSantis starts with the trouble at Messana and Rhegium and the effect of the perceived threat from Pyrrhus. Mercenaries and garrisons revolting and taking over, enter Hiero of Syracuse who placed the city of Messana under siege after defeating the Mamertimes at the Battle of Longanus River in 264 BC. The Mamertimes appealed to both Rome and Carthage for assistance. Rome really stepped in to prevent Carthage developing a toehold in Sicily, fearing that the Carthaginians would use that as a springboard to an invasion of Italy.

From this point in and narrative DeSantis examines the moves and counter moves of the protagonists. The Romans built a fleet, copying a Carthaginian galley that had grounded itself on the coast back in 264 when it was trying to oppose the Roman landings in Sicily. The Roman vessels however were not of the same quality as Carthaginian or Greek vessels. DeSantis the follows the course of the war, the defeats and then victories of the Romans, stopping briefly to discuss the Corvus and its origins. The necessity for the corvus was probably because of the poor quality of the Roman vessels and seamanship. The suggestion for the corvus appears to have come from an unnamed Sicilian Greek. The suggestion may have come from within Messana although there are a number of compelling suggestion that it may have come from Syracuse, given the Syracusans being an enthusiastic practitioner of the Corinthian style headlong rush into the enemy. Grappling from that position was a natural extension of that tactic and building a boarding bride, the next logical step.

DeSantis also examines the negative answer to this version of the corvus mounting as well and provides a good counter argument. His discussion of the corvus and the Roman quinquereme versus the Carthaginian quinquereme is a far argument of both sides of the tale. I will admit that his discussion has me reexamining some of my thoughts and perceptions of naval warfare in those times.

He then discusses the more famous battles, Mylae; Ecnomus; Cape Hermaeum; Drepna; and Aegates Islands. To conclude the section on the First Punic War DeSantis looks at the question, “was the seapower worth the cost?”

Part III: Conflicts Between the Wars

Chapter 18 – Illyria and Gaul
Chapter 19 – The Mercenary Revolt 240-238 BC

The two chapters here deal with Rome’s intervention in Illyria in 229 and the overseas deployment, this time across the Adriatic, of the Roman army. The start of this intervention paralleled that of the start of the First Punic War but in this case it was a bunch of Gallic mercenaries seized control of the city of Phoenice in Epirus. The people of the city asked the Romans for assistance and that coupled with the Illyrian pirates attacking Italian shipping the situation became one that Rome could ignore. Polybius even records that previously the Senate in Rome always ignored complaints about the Illyrians. Rome sent a couple of commissioners to Queen Teuta’s court but she dismissed them and apparently had one murdered while he was returning to Rome.

Naval operations got underway with the Illyrians attacking Epidamnus and Corcyra. The Corcyraeans appealed for assistance to the Achaeans and Aetolians for assistance and 10 Achaean ships were sent (quadriremes it seems). Acarnanians allied themselves to the Illyrians and sent seven galleys. A small inconclusive battle was fought off the Paxi Islands. The Illyrians used lighter galleys than the Achaeans but developed an interesting tactic when they faced the Achaeans. The Illyrians lasd their vessels together in groups of four. This was a tempting broadside target for the Achaeans who dutifully increased the stroke rate to ram speed and hit the Illyrians vessels only then to become entangled with the four lashed vessels and as their crews were well outnumbered (about 4 to 1), the Illyrians stormed the Achaean vessels and four Achaean quadriremes were either lost or captured.

The Roman army and fleet became engaged in the area now and the result was around 20 Illyrian galleys and most of the coastal cities captured by the fleet while the army moved inland and took control of cities there.

Part IV: Strangling Carthage

Chapter 20 – The Second Punic War, 218-202 BC
Chapter 21 – A Second War with Carthage
Chapter 22 – Hannibal in Italy
Chapter 23 – Holding the Line in the Adriatic: The War with Macedonia
Chapter 24 – Sicily and Sardinia
Chapter 25 – Carthage’s Spanish Ulcer
Chapter 26 – Africa
Chapter 27 – Seapower and the Second Punic War

The Second Punic War is one that modern readers mostly associate with Hannibal (with or without his elephants); Scipio Africanus; battles such as Cannae, Trebia, Trasimene and Zama; and a small largely mercenary army spending 16 years in enemy territory undefeated. This is not to ignore the contribution of Scipio, especially with the battles he fought in Spain but mostly the Second Punic War is remembered for land actions.

DeSantis makes a good survey of naval action as well as other theatres over this period. The details of the treaty Hannibal struck with Philip V of Macedon, for example, where the Macedonians would assemble a fleet of 200 ships and harry the west coast of Italy as well as operations on land. Once the Romans had been defeated, Macedon would be given control of the Illyrian coast and Hannibal would assist Philip to defeat his Greek enemies.

Over the period of the Second Punic War there were a number of naval expeditions, mostly in and around Sicily. Bomilcar in 212 with 130 war galleys and 700 transport ships sailing to Sicily to rescue Syracuse from the Romans was one such expedition.  Over this period, Rome maintained some measure of control over the sea between Africa and Sicily but there were many other  areas where control of the sea was not so complete.

DeSantis also notes that the Carthaginians may have been reluctant to try their hand against Rome at sea as the First Punic War and the naval defeats there were only a generation previously.

Part V: Destroying Carthage

Chapter 28 – Roman Naval Operation in the East
Chapter 29 – A Third War with Carthage

Interestingly, DeSantis notes as well about this period, “the First Macedonian War (215-205), fought as part of the larger Second Punic War, had sputtered along once the Romans lost interest in it.” In chapter 28 he surveys the Roman naval operations in and around Greece, especially with regards to the Second Macedonian War and makes mention of the monster galley building of the Hellenistic monarchs (for further detail on those monster galleys, I can suggest Giant Hellenistic warships with more than 7000 crew members).

To conclude his work, DeSantis notes a number of changes in Roman Society as a result of the Punic Wars. He contends that the huge influx on slaves after the First Punic War changed the state from one of yeoman farmers into a state with great inequality among the citizenry. The appearance of the patron-client relationship over this period as well would cause issues for the later Republic. This relationship first appeared in the Second Punic War. As more provinces were added to the Roman Empire, the equites or knights became more and more wealthy as the class that were the tax collectors. This stymied any future attempts of the aristocrats to return Italian peasant farmers to the land as well as causing provincial populations to hate the state as a result of the deprivations of the tax collectors.

The Romans also simplified their ship building (as did the Carthaginians for that matter), preparing premade parts and stockpiling them, building the ship as a large kit. Rome settled on two ship designs over the period, the being based on the Carthaginian war galley that had run aground in 264 and the second on the vessel of Hannibal the Rhodian, captured in 250.

DeSantis’ book is a good survey of Rome’s efforts at sea and the effects of the strategy and tactics involved in the period covered. He discusses the effects of battles and political manoeuvring, including its effects on the struggles underway on land. This is a great read, and one I have been waiting to read since I read A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC – Marc G DeSantis last year (yes, I know, read them in the wrong order). I am happy to recommend this book to anyone interested in ancient history, military history, naval history, classic naval warfare. I will admit to having learnt a few new things here, especially about Queen Teuta and her conflict with Rome.