Reading Roundup

Summer is now long past but I haven’t as yet resumed painting toy soldiers and I don’t have much inclination to do so at the moment. However, I have acquired some new books over the past few months. The first of these was “Great Military Disasters from Bannockburn to Stalingrad” by Julian Spilsbury. It proved to be an accessible read that gives some interesting perspectives on how great military disasters arise. While the causes prove to be many, good old human incompetence tops the list. Of course the book equally demonstrates how great victories were achieved by the opposing forces, and it certainly proves what a perilous undertaking it is committing your forces to battle.

Great Military Disasters

Next on my list of new books is “Wargaming an Introduction” by Neil Thomas. As the name suggests it provides an introduction to wargaming the major periods from Ancients to WW2. It also provides some excellent rules for gaming each of those. I read this book some nine years ago when I borrowed it from the local library. I enjoyed reading the book then and appreciated the elegance of the rules. The book still stands up as an enjoyable read and rules are still well-designed even all these years later.

I was prompted to buy “Wargaming an Introduction” after reading some online reviews of the WW2 rules it contained. I had been looking for a set of WW2 rules that weren’t too tortuous to play. I have played the WW2 rules contained in “One Hour Wargames” by Neil Thomas and enjoyed them immensely but I wanted to try something that could handle larger and more varied forces. I haven’t as yet used the “Wargaming an Introduction” WW2 rules but I look forward to doing so.

Wargaming an Introduction

“The Battles of Tolkien” by David Day I picked up in a local bookshop. It is a beautiful book to behold with its many gorgeous illustrations and faux tooled leather cover. The book came plastered with the warning “This work is unofficial and is not authorized by the Tolkien Estate or HarperCollins Publishers”. However, it proved an interesting read that more addressed what inspired Tolkien’s depictions of warfare in Middle Earth than an analysis of the weapons and structure of the forces involved. More care should have been taken in the preparation and production of the text in “The Battles of Tolkien” as there are some issues with its clarity and typography. The battle maps could also have been clearer. Despite that, the book is a handy reference and would bejewel any bookshelf.

Battles of Tolkien

My most recent acquisition is “The Soldier” by Chris McNab and was procured from ABE Books for a tiny sum. I bought this book after reading a very comprehensive review of it on the Man of Tin blog. The edition I have was only published last year and is very up to date. The book endeavours to describe the personal experiences of soldiers from the Seven Years War to present conflicts. It is a really well put together book filled with useful information and excellent illustrations and detailed colour plates of uniformed soldiers. It is best described as an “Eyewitness Guide” style book for adults.

The Soldier

A Bevy of Books.

It has been a while since I have been able to update this blog, so I thought I would write a quick post about my book purchases over the past few months. I have read a couple in full already and will gradually read all of them as time and inclination allows.

First up: “World Uniforms and battles 1815 – 50” by Philip Haythornethwaite and Michael Chappell. It is a book with which to while away time looking at fabulous uniforms of the post-Napoleonic period until the middle of the Nineteenth Century, before uniforms started down the path to practicality. The many colour plates and descriptions provide plenty of inspiration for toy soldiers. This second-hand book was published back in 1976 as part of the excellent Blandford Colour Series on military uniforms. This series provides my favourite “go to” books on military uniforms.

world-uniforms-and-battles

Another second-hand purchase was “An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Military Uniforms of the 19th Century” by Kevin F. Kiley and Digby Smith.  As the name suggests, this book covers in reasonable detail the uniforms of the combatants in the various wars of the Nineteenth Century. It is beautifully and lavishly illustrated and is sure to provide further inspiration for toy soldiers.

military-uniforms19th-century

I found “Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles” by Bernard Cornwell at a local bookshop and bought it on a whim. I am very familiar with Bernard Cornwell’s “Sharpe” series and was quite intrigued how his first foray into factual history would go. I found it a very enjoyable but informative read. It is an accessible and refreshing look at a battle that has probably had more books written about it than any other.

waterloo

“Napoleonic Infantry” and “Napoleonic Cavalry” by Philip Haythornethwaite from the Napoleonic Weapons and Warfare series, published by Cassell, were a serendipitous find in a local second-hand bookshop. While I have not read these as yet, the books endeavour to provide an overview of the weapons and tactics of the mounted and foot arms of Napoleonic armies.

napoleonic-infantry

napoleonic-cavalry

I picked up “Generals: Ten British Commanders Who Shaped the World” by Mark Urban on the sale table of a local bookshop.  I have only just started reading this but it seems a quite interesting history of a selection of generals from Monck to Montgomery.

generals

From the same sale table came “How History’s Greatest Pirates Pillaged, Plundered, and Got Away with It: The Stories, Techniques, and Tactics of the Most Feared Sea Rovers from 1500-1800” by Benerson  Little. The title says it all. I have read a few chapters of this entertaining book, despite the over the top title.

pirates

I hope after this little literary interlude to have some more toy soldiers to show,  it is simply a matter of me getting motivated enough to apply the final finishing touches to them. In the mean while I am greatly looking forward to attending a concert by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards next month.

Tasmanian Toy Soldiers

For my first batch of 40mm home cast toy soldiers I wanted to do something unusual but meaningful to me. I decided my first lot would have to be a Tasmanian colonial unit. I chose the Tasmanian Volunteer Rifle Regiment / Southern Tasmanian Rifle Regiment.

Little Wars

Until 1870 Tasmania was protected by imperial forces but in 1859 the Hobart Town Volunteer Artillery Corps was formed. This was followed by more local units, including quite a few of rifles.  In 1878 the Tasmanian Volunteer Rifle Regiment (TVRR) was created with four companies based in the South and two in the North.

TVRR parade front

In 1880 the two northern companies were split off to form the Launceston Rifle Regiment and the remaining companies became the Southern Tasmanian Rifle Regiment. In 1897 the regiment was incorporated into the Tasmanian Regiment of Infantry of the Tasmanian Defence Force. (The Queen’s and Regimental Colours of the TVRR were eventually laid up in St. David’s Cathedral in Hobart in 1922 and 1949 respectively).

TVRR rear view

Tasmanian contingents served with distinction in the Second Boer War and earned two Victoria Crosses and battle honours. After the formation in 1901 of the Commonwealth of Australia, the successors of the Tasmanian Volunteer Rifle Regiment continued to serve with excellence and are now represented by the 12th/40th Battalion Royal Tasmania Regiment.

TVRR march past

The figures are home cast from Zinnbrigade moulds depicting late nineteenth century Prussians and glued to standard size MDF bases. They were painted using acrylic paints in the fashion of the old toy soldiers manufactured by Britains. The figures were then lavishly varnished to produce a suitably high gloss. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of casting and painting these figures and I am now looking forward to completing some more and having a game with them. In the meanwhile my first company of TVRR shiny toy soldiers stand ready to defend Queen and Empire against all comers.

Colonies to Commonwealth

I have been fortunate to recently add two new books to my collection. One I have sought for some time, while the other was a serendipitous find. Both books address my interest in Australian military history, and Tasmanian military history in particular. The first book, “Australian Military Uniforms 1800 – 1982” by Monty Wedd, I was able to purchase for $15.00 on EBay. Although second hand, the book is in reasonable condition (They normally sell for considerably more). The book was published in 1982 and features some 40 colour plates and many black and white illustrations by Monty Wedd. It details the various uniforms worn by the Australian military forces of the individual colonies and then the Commonwealth until the mid-seventies. I am very pleased to be able to add it to my bookshelves as it is a rare gem for anyone interested in Australian military history.

Australian Military Uniforms

The second book I was fortunate to pick up at a local book shop is “Preserving Our Proud Heritage The Customs and Traditions of the Australian Army” by L.I. Terrett and S.C. Taubert. The book was only published in November last year and is a very weighty and comprehensive tome detailing every aspect of the Australian Army through the customs and traditions it has developed and  maintained since its formation from the colonial defence forces in 1901. The book also includes a CD of the regimental marches and bugle calls of the Australian Army. I was able to pick up my copy of this brand new book for $15.00 due to it missing its dust jacket and having a very slight bump to the spine.   The recommended retail price is about $60.00 so I found a true bargain on a book that is surely  a must have for anyone interested in the history and traditions of the Australian Army.

Australian Army Heritage