Wednesday, 28 March 2012

British Stretcher Bearers and Casualties of War

One of the things I’ve been working on during the last couple of weeks are a couple of sets of stretcher bearers from 1st Corps Miniatures. These are very characterful sculpts and fit together very easily with no flash. The casualty is glued to a stretcher, and the stretcher fits neatly onto the two stretcher bearers. Each set is a very reasonable £4.00 (plus P&P). The figures look excellent alongside Great War Miniatures’ British infantry and figures from the Great War ranges of Gripping Beast and Musketeer Miniatures. However, I also think that you would have no trouble fielding them along Renegade Miniatures’ Great War ranges also.

I was especially pleased that one of the stretcher bearers is wearing trench waders, which seem to be very authentically sculpted. The very evocative photograph of trench waders being worn by a medical team “somewhere in France” is featured on the excellent Great War Photos blog by Paul Reed.

Regimental Stretcher Bearers would have had the task of recovering soldiers from the battlefield and taking them back to the Regimental Aid Post for medical assistance, so I made sure that the stretcher bearers were equipped and uniformed to fit alongside my combatant figures. As regards equipment, the stretcher bearers seemed to have carried very little in action except a water bottle, gas mask, and shrapnel helmet. No doubt the weight of the casualty was quite enough. As Harold Chaplin pointed out in a letter to Alice Chaplin in May 1915: "It took six of us to carry one man. You have no idea of the physical fatigue entailed in carrying a twelve stone man a thousand yards across muddy fields."

As for numbers, according to the "British Army Handbook 1914-1918" by Andrew Rawson, "At the start of the Great War a Battalion's RAMC Officer ran the Regimental aid post, aided by two orderlies and 16 stretcher bearers. In 1915 they were doubled to 32.....". Not every man carrying a stretcher would be medically trained – some would just have been detailed to collect the wounded, and prisoners of war would often be recruited in this activity as well.

I also wanted to try and make up some additional casualty bases for my Great War British forces. These use Curt’s fantastic method of building a small impression to place a micro-dice into. I did seven, although in all honesty I could happily have done more.

The dice holders are made out of scraps of offcut Styrofoam, cut according to th size of the micro-dice you want to use.

The larger bases accommodate the British Casualties set from Great War Miniatures, whereas the smaller bases features some converted “generic casualties” from Steve (Silent Invader) on the splendid Lead Adventure Forum.

And here’s a photo of the new casualty bases with some of the older ones which I made a year or so ago, complete with barbed wire …

I’m still figuring out how best to use the stretcher bearers in a game, and need to try out some additional rules for them at my local club to fit into the "Through the Mud and the Blood" rules from TooFatLardies. However, the bravery and determination of these soldiers, and other non-combatants in that role (such as conscientious objectors and Quakers), is something I would very much like to represent in our games.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Trench Loot

I’ve been working on a few additions to my Great War stuff amongst building up the Dark Age forces. I’ve also managed to get a few trench raiding games in over the last couple of months and it’s spurred me on again in the direction of doing some German trench raiding parties and a few extras for the defending British forces. One of the things I was keen to try was a couple of trench raids in which the attackers could try and collect “objectives” in addition to completing their mission determined under the TooFatLardies’ Winter Sports supplement for “Through the Mud and the Blood”.

These objectives would be items of military importance, but as it was dark and soldiers being soldiers, there was a good chance of some loot being included in the night’s haul. I doubt there was many troops who could turn their eye away from an interesting souvenir. Here’s what a young George Coppard was doing in 1917:

“I decided to jettison my souvenirs weighing nearly twenty pounds which I had been lugging around in my pack. German fuse tops, funny shaped bits of shrapnel and a rusty saw-edge bayonet were among the collection of old iron. Why I had been torturing myself with agonizing load I don’t know, just a boyish habit of collecting something out of the ordinary, I suppose.” “Boy Soldiers of the Great War”, Richard van Emden, (p95).

So, with that inspiration, here’s six objectives from a British trench which I came up with for my German trench raiders. Some are militarily valuable, some useful, others ... well, you decide

So we have – a pair of British trench maps, with German trenches shown in red and the British forward positions simply delineated in a single blue line.

A very smart Burberry trench coat and scarf. No military value, but it’ll be a hit with the Belgian ladies in Bruges ...

A couple of cases of carrier pigeons – clearly valuable military loot

A field telephone – again, something which GHQ won’t be happy has gone walkabout

A collection of fine Scottish Malts imported from Jenners. Military value? Of course!!!

A kettle. Well, I guess the German kettles have been turned into an U-boote ...

So the idea was really to add a bit of colour in the tabletop trenches producing some physical items rather than just card counters. All of these were basically made out of scrap cardboard, wire, tin-foil bottle tops, green-stuff and grey-stuff and some items from the bits-box and it was a lot of fun making them.

The only really tricky thing to make was the pigeon. I won’t tell you how many attempts there were before I settled on the final one.

I also finished off a British version of the “Communications Down” figure I’d made for the Germans a while ago. I wanted to add a card into the card deck of “Through the Mud and the Blood” for British Communications breakdown, and wanted to field a figure on the tabletop to show this visually. So, here he is, converted from one of the wonderful generic casualty figures from Silent Invader over on the (most excellent) Lead Adventure Forum:

Next up - a look at some British casualty figures and battalion stretcher bearers. Hope you can join me later for that.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Jetty Wood Campaign Diaries – A “Through the Mud and the Blood” mini-campaign

In December 2011, my local wargames club in St Albans played a mini-campaign set in the Ypres Salient in 1917. There were quite a few campaign emails between myself as the umpire and the players, and I promised to put these into a single document for anyone interested to have a look at.

I’ve posted the emails, and a short introduction, in the document entitled “Jetty Wood Campaign Diaries”, which is located on the right hand side of this blog under the heading Playtesting Scenarios and Campaign Diaries.

I’m sorry this has taken so long to appear on the blog, but hopefully something in the 31 pages will be of interest to someone out there!
I should add that there’s no real magic in the Jetty Wood Campaign Diaries. No silver bullet is provided for running successful campaigns. And no maxims are set out promising success. All I wanted to do was describe what we did, and some of the pros and cons of doing it our way.

Let me know what you think. Happy reading!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Roundwood's Wordle 2012

Here's a harmless (and some may say utterly pointless) bit of fun, and an echo from last year. I put the URL of my blog from the last few weeks into Wordle and came up with this ...

I did the same last year after Big Lee started the ball rolling and the change over 12 months, and particularly since Christmas, is pretty obvious. Great War to Dark Ages in one easy step.

No real surprise I guess, but lots of fun all the same. Have a go yourself, maybe - you'll enjoy it.

Seeing some of the Wordles in the gallery on the Wordle website is always fun - be warned though, it's a time sink!

More Wordle-ing in 12 months time, folks. Normal (non-frivalous) service will be resumed this weekend.
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