Sunday, 29 March 2020

In Defeat, Unbeatable: In Victory, Unbearable

Winston Churchill's description of Bernard Law Montgomery in 1945 sums him up perfectly* 

My choice is probably not the most popular one, but despite expressing  outdated and controversial views in later life during the Second World War Montgomery was exactly what the British and Commonwealth forces needed.

As a child I remember Montgomery appearing on the news or in the papers quite regularly after saying something particularly ill thought out, The films "Patton" and "A Bridge Too Far" are not exactly pro Montgomery and so by the time we get to "Saving Private Ryan" it is established Hollywood fact that Montgomery is "overrated". Unfortunately it is these post-war antics that have blighted his record.

For a far more balanced view I thoroughly recommend this fantastically researched and written book:

So what is it about this prickly egotist that I admire?

Montgomery learnt in the First World War to value his troops lives and was a vocal critic of those prepared to accept high casualties. His criticisms hindered his inter-war career but he did learn to curb some of his excesses and was determined to be the most professional soldier he could be.

His singlemindedness paid dividends during the opening stages of WW2. He handled his troops well in France and eventually was given the desert command for which he will be eternally famed for. He was the master of the pitched battle. His attention to detail meant that nothing was left to chance. He kept his troops informed, he visited them and in return he was seen as a soldier-general they could trust.

The D-Day landings were his plan. His success.

He has been roundly criticised for Market Garden. However, having effectively destroyed the bulk of the effective German Army at Falaise Pocket his plan was approved. Clearly others believed it could work too.

His later Rhine Crossing was a return to his meticulous preparations. He saved his troops lives.

Interestingly he did admit to making mistakes, like not capturing Antwerp as a major priority. I cannot think of many other Allied Commanders who did that in their memoires.

And finally for those who believe he was slow and unimaginative you only have to look at his much underplayed role during the Battle of the Bulge. It was Manteuffel himself who described Montgomery's counter attacks as follows:

"The operations of the American First Army had developed into a series of individual holding actions. Montgomery's contribution to restoring the situation was that he turned a series of isolated actions into a coherent battle fought according to a clear and definite plan. It was his refusal to engage in premature and piecemeal counter-attacks which enabled the Americans to gather their reserves and frustrate the German attempts to extend their breakthrough"

*My favourite anecdote regarding his monstrous ego however is that attributed to a conversation between Churchill and King George after VE day. 

While Montgomery was playing up to the crowd Churchill is alleged to have said "I think he's after my job". 

King George's response "Thank God for that, I thought he was after mine!"

Friday, 27 March 2020

So Who Is Your Favourite Commander?

So, we are on lockdown. As it turns out I have been given backroom duties so that I form the second wave of first responders. 

I know I have a limited following, I do not do "Social Media" much and so this will never go "viral" but what the hey! 

On Sunday evening  I will post who is my most respected C in C. I am keeping my poker face as it's not actually this chap:

So, my request is please give it some thought.

 On Sunday evening give your thoughts on who and why your favourite is on your own blog. 

Cunningly, if I ever face you on the wargames table your thoughts may give me the edge!

P.S Let me know you have done it so I can shamelessly gather the necessary intel!

Monday, 23 March 2020

Airfix Waterloo Odds and Ends

So for my final post before returning to work I thought I would finish up some of the Airfix Battle of Waterloo Project figures. There were far too many to finish in the time left so here is a sample of what is in the queue.

The glue is in fact still drying on my first command stand, but here is Jack Hawkins, sorry General Picton, leading from the front "Gordon, take your bastards forward. I'll bring up the rest of the Brigade".

He started life as the US 7th Cavalry officer. The jaunty sentry is perhaps hoping the cannon carcass will offer more protection to him than it did for the original crew.

The Chasseur a Cheval is an obvious conversion. All the mounted cavalry figures have been reinforced with a pin bent to shape on one of the legs and pinned to the base. In this case the pin is on the rear left leg and once painted is pretty much invisible. Its a fiddly job though!

 Finally the good old French artillery marching figures serving (with their occasional warped muskets) as Prussian Musketeers.

Not sure when I will being returning to the painting/gaming table. My job for one of the "blue light services" means I'm being deployed against the C-19 virus. From my experience of other civil emergencies I'm going to be really earning my wages for the foreseeable future.

So keep safe indoors and I'll see you all when we come out of this the other side!

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Jacklex Indian Army Mountain Gun

As promised yesterday here is the Mountain Gun and crew.

Batteries consist of three guns in the rules commanded by a Captain. The matching mule train is undercoated and in the queue. 

I hope to have one more post tomorrow as I am back at work on Tuesday.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

The Lincolnshire Regiment Revisited

Rather incredibly it has been five years since I decided to start a collection of 20mm Colonials for the "Sands of the Sudan" ruleset. I was not happy with the paintwork on my first figures and so have started again from scratch. Here is how version 2 of the collection rolls:

The figures are Jacklex, of course, and the majority are new castings. The new owner Mark Lodge has done a fantastic job with new moulds so they are a far superior product than the tired old moulds used before. He has even added a few figures like the standard bearer (I know but he does look great!). 

Oh dear - I've just noticed the missing helmet patches on some of the rear rank! That will be sorted tomorrow.

The paint job is functional with very limited shading. Unit sizes in Sands of the Sudan are enormous - I need to paint up one more 12 figure company and the Colonel to bring the unit up to its 60 figure full strength. Guards Regiments are 72 figures!

I have an Indian Army mountain gun and crew awaiting basing so may even have another post tomorrow. The reason for this all this productivity? This week was supposed to be the first foreign holiday we were going to have without the kids in 27 years. Oh well, I would only have been sitting on the beach reading about toy soldiers!

I have a second infantry battalion and contingent of sailors that I started too. I will complete them first before sending off for the extra figures to bring them all up to full strength.