Life in the Philippines – Pasalubong

Whenever I return from a trip to Australia or Singapore, my staff ask me for their Pasalubong. Pasalubong is a Tagalog word that seems to mean, “here is something I have for you for when you welcome me back”. It is a Filipino tradition where travellers bring gifts from their destination to folks back home – for family, friends, office mates and so on. The Pasalubong can be any gift or souvenir brought for family or friends after being away for a period of time.

Pasalubong is normally something local from the region, or country visited. Yes, it does not just apply to those that have been overseas. So, for example, should I visit the province of Bicol, then I would look to bring back pili nuts. Head to Pampanga and chicharron (see left) would be a suitable Pasalubong. Visit Australia, and I could bring back vegemite (which has the double advantage of being the expected Pasalubong and at the same time, after tasting it, curing the locals of asking me for Pasalubong in the future). Vegemite is an acquired taste after all, fit only for real men and women! 😉

Pasalubong is culturally important to Filipinos and is a way for the traveller to share some of the experience of their trip with family and friends – sort of like the souvenirs brought back by western cultures (like the Elgin marbles for example).

The other nice part about Pasalubong is that it is not wrapped, but given as is. A nice custom and one I seem to recall in other parts of Asia as well.

 

Advertisements

Waiting for the Postman

I’m waiting for some ancient galleys

I’ve ordered some wargaming items mail order. This includes some board games, figures, flight deck decals and so on. The connections internationally to the Philippines are good, it all slows down however when it arrives in country.

I ordered some ships from Navwar before I left Australia on my last trip back and asked for them to be sent with tracking. Here is the tracking report. They were posted on 10 July 2019 and arrived in the Philippines on 19 July 2019. Not so bad.

It took 12 days to pass a customs examination and then on 2 August, the parcel was placed en route to the delivery office. This is a distance of about 7.5 kilometers or so, a distance I could walk in about 90 minutes. 6 days have passed and it has not arrived there yet.

Board games from the US

I also had tracking on an order of two board games from the US (see left). These were despatched on 1 August, arriving in the Philippines on 8 August. Not bad. They have now gone for customs examination. I am guessing this will take another three or four weeks to pass that inspection then find its way to Makati – or I will get a notice that tells me I need to go to customs to pay a fee.

It would be difficult to set up an industry here that relied on the Post Office being able to deliver and despatch items quickly. In the meantime, mercifully, I still have many more books to review to keep me busy this long weekend coming.

Another Project – World War 2 French in 6mm

In November 2017 I added a small World War 2 force of Belgians to my Blitzkrieg Commander armies. Looking for some additions to my collections (it’s not like I have nothing left to paint however), I thought that as I had acquired the figures for a Cold War Commander French force, it would be neat to have the same for World War 2. This has also led me into a lot of reading about the French in World War 2. I must admit that I only had the old stereotypes in mind – dodgy commanders, no radios, poor quality weapon systems etc. I am rapidly rethinking those as I read and understand more.

The first thing I did was to try and understand French Infantry and Armour organisation during that period. So far my searches of this across the Internet have not been as fruitful as I had hoped. However, I think I have enough information now to move forward a little.

A French infantry company

My infantry organisation for the French for Blitzkrieg Commander is based around an infantry battalion consisting of three companies of 12 elements to the company. Each element/base (Section above) will have about 5 or 6 figures on it and represent a section. Three sections to a platoon, four platoons to a company, three companies to a battalion.

For armour I am assuming five Renault R35 tanks to a tank platoon or three of any of the other types. I am not certain currently how many platoons work up to the higher organisations so any advice will be greatly appreciated.

So, what did I purchase? To make up a chunky force, I purchased from both Scotia Grendel and Heroics and Ros. I am looking at one company of Infantry (so 36 elements/bases) plus heavy weapons etc. Several platoons of armour, both light and heavy. Two or three batteries of artillery and a few aircraft thrown into the mix for the some variety. So, I purchased the following:

Quantity Item Manufacturer
2 Citroen Kegrese SPAA Scotia
3 Laffly S20TL Command Scotia
2 Peugeot 402 staff car H&R
3 Latil M7T1 Field Car Scotia
1 Infantry (50 figures) Scotia
1 Infantry with Command (50 figures maybe) Scotia
3 Infantry (50 figures each packet) H&R
1 Heavy Weapons Packet Scotia
1 Heavy Weapons approx. 50 figures H&R
12 French gun crew kneeling (5 figures each) H&R
4 Panhard AMD 178 A/C Scotia
2 Laffly V15R Recce Car H&R
4 Char B1 Heavy Tank Scotia
6 Char B1 Heavy Tank H&R
6 Somua S35 H&R
3 Hotchkiss H39 Light Tank H&R
6 Renault AMC 35 Light Tank Scotia
5 Renault Ft 17 H&R
2 Laffly W 15 TCC tank hunter + 47mm (Portee) H&R
3 105mm Schneider 1913 gun H&R
3 75mm field gun H&R
2 French 47mm AT H&R
4 French 25mm AT H&R
2 Twin 13.2mm AAMG Scotia
6 Tracked personnel trailer H&R
6 Lorraine 38L APC Gun Tractor H&R
1 Horse Drawn 75mm Gun (3 teams each of 4 horses , 1 limber, 1 gun) H&R
3 Laffly W15R prime mover H&R
6 Citroen 10cv C4F 4×2 1000kg truck H&R
6 Citroen 45u Heavy Truck (Covered Top) Scotia
6 Renault ADK Truck (Covered Top) Scotia
1 Liore Et Olivier Leo 451 H&R
1 Martin Maryland H&R
1 Breguet 690/1 H&R

In addition to the above, I also purchased a 47mm FRC A/T Gun from Scotia for my Belgians along with the following buildings, also from Scotia:

  • Church
  • Ruined Cottage
  • Barn
  • Small Cottage
  • Ruined Barn
  • Stone bridge
  • Stone farm

The cost for all these models and buildings came to £108.50 (not counting postage) – slightly more than my July wargaming allowance*. Now I am waiting their arrival so that I can add them to the painting queue. The Scotia order is somewhere in customs I believe at NAIA airport. The Heroics and Ros order was only made on 3 August (hmm, maybe within August budget then 🙂 ) so I do not expect that for at least another four to six weeks. The delay is not the at the Heroics and Ros end, their turnaround is usually quite good, but rather parcels working their way through the Philippine Postal Service.

Looking at the list of figures above, perhaps I should have calculated these things ahead of time, I think I need another three artillery pieces and I maybe have enough infantry for one more company of infantry (4 companies instead of three).

Hmm, maybe a slight over achievement.


* I must admit that I also spent my June and May allowance and half my August allowance at the same time and, as a result, have a number of other batches of figures and a couple of board games on the way. Now will be a period of painting to reduce the size of the painting queue a wee bit, as well as catch up on reading some books.

Life in the Philippines – bagyo and Baguio – storms and strawberries

Manila Bay hidden by an incoming rain squall

One of the difficulties for the foreigner in the Philippines is the similarity of some words or sounds in Tagalog. Tagalog is the Austronesian language of the Tagalog people, generally from central Luzon. Its vocabulary has been much influenced by Spanish and English, and it is the basis of a standardized national language of the Philippines (Filipino). The other national language, mercifully, is English. All Republic Acts in the Philippines are written in Tagalog and English.

Two words that to me sound alike are Baguio and bagyo. Baguio is a mountain city of some 350,000 residents that was initially established as a hill station by the United States in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway. It has grown over the past 100 years or so and is known as the summer capital of the Philippines. Famous for its cool air, pine trees, fruit and vegetables and strawberries in particular, it is one of the major towns in the Philippines that does not have air-conditioning installed everywhere.

Bagyo however is a storm. We have just had four or five days of a storm here in Metro Manila, brought about by a combination of the Habagat and a Low Pressure Area (LPA) in the Pacific east of Luzon.

There are two kinds of winds and seasons that occur here every year. The Amihan refers to the northeast monsoon and the Habagat, the south western monsoon.

The habagat blows up from the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) and generally brings with it a lot of moist air. When there is an LPA in the Philippine Sea to the east of the Philippines, the habagat is intensified, as was the case over the past four or five days. FLood warnings were at the yellow level for three of the four days in Manila, Bataan and Zambales, with orange warning signal for Bataan and Zambales over a day. This season is normally over the period June to October (the wet season).

The amihan usually occurs over the period October to March and generally there is a little rainfall associated with it but more characteristically, there is a lowering of the temperature in the Philippines as the wind carries cool air that originates in Siberia and Mongolia which passes across China to blow down to Southeast Asia. This makes Christmas, January and February the best time, temperature and humidity wise, in the Philippines.

I also believe that habagat and amihan are two characters from Philippine mythology. I shall investigate that later.

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.

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.