Sunday, April 29, 2007
The 7,000 man combined relief force marched
out of Port Victoria divided into three columns.
Sir Arthur in command of the entire force will
be with the main and largest column in the
center and heading directly to Nacukul Station.
The left column made up of Highlander and
Indian regiments, under the command of Sir
Harold Smyth will take the high ground to the
west. The right (Flying) column of light infantry,
cavalry, the Guards Camel Corps,and several
batteries of horse artillery.The Flying column
is under the command of the famous and
redoubtable cavalryman Colonel Sir Martian
Friday, April 20, 2007
heavily armed land iron clad at their workshop in Dioscuria.
Over the last several weeks large containers have been seen
being delivered to the Prussian holdings in Dioscuria from
Germany. These shipments although done with the greatest
of security, some of the markings on the containers have been
seen to be from the KRUPP manufactures in Essen, Germany.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
was little changed from that which drove the French from the
Peninsula and defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, at least so runs the
In fact there had been changes, many of them for the worse. For
example commanders and staffs had nothing like the experience
in operations with large numbers of troops, supply and transport
departments...painfully built up in the early years of the Nineteenth
century, only to whither away.Uniforms had become tighter and far
less practical than in 1815. Weapons, equipment and tactics had seen
only the most minor changes. With no major European war in
prospect and with the might of the Royal Navy as a sure shield to
the homeland, the British Army was allowed to fall into a sorry
The first small note of change was sounded in 1839 with the adoption
of the percussion musket, giving the soldier far fewer misfires and
slight increases in accuracy and rate of fire. From these small
beginnings, Victoria's Army was to be in a constant state of change
....in weapons, equipment, tactics, terms of service, enemies to be
faced, and terrain to be fought over. In every field and in a degree
unknown to earlier soldiers, the Soldiers of the Queen served in an
army in a state of flux.
Up until the introduction of the Minie muzzle loading rifle in
1853, close order tactics and the two-deep line held sway (except
when skirmishing) because that was the most efficient way to use
smoothbore muzzle loading small arms. The Crimean War of 1854-
56 and, to a lesser extent, the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, came too
soon after the introduction of the Minie and Enfield rifles for major
changes in tactics to result. In any case, the two-deep line of the
British remained as superior to Russian columns as it had to French
columns 40 years earlier.
In the late 1850's and first half of the 1860's, the British army
fought in China, Japan (if the Royal Marines will pardon my lumping
them with the army), New Zealand and on the North West Frontier
of India.The soldiers found themselves facing enemies whom in the
main relied on fire rather than shock effect, but who tended to be less
well armed than the troops.
These mainly small scale actions showed the value of open and
extended order. They made plain the fact that firepower is what
wins fights, if allied to discipline and courage. Many officers took
these lessons to heart and on the battlefields of the Empire less
was seen of close order tactics.
The adoption after 1865 of the Snider breech-loading conversion
of the Enfield gave the soldiers even more firepower. Then, in 1868,
the British came up against a new type of enemy, one they would face
again and again in the late 1870 s, 80 s and 90's. During the
Abyssinian campaign at the battle of Arogee, the Abyssinian warriors
relied mainly on a "mass charge" to try and overwhelm the troops.
British infantry in open order smashed them with volleys of Snider-
Enfield fire. In 1871 the troops were given an even better rifle, the
famous Martini-Henry. A new volume of FIELD EXERCISES AND
EVOLUTIONS OF INFANTRY was published in 1877, superceding
that of 1870 and laying much greater stress on the use of open orders
for infantry armed with the new rifles.
Between 1868 and 1879 the British soldiers saw action in Canada,
Lushai, Ashanti, Malaya, South Africa and the North West Frontier
of India before war began in Zululand.
In the Zulus the British would again face a "mass charge" enemy
and, unlike the battle of Arogee, they would not be fighting on
with steep cliffs to protect the flanks. Also, instead of 5-6,000
warriors, they would face more than 20,000 in some actions. The
Zulus were one people the British had not fought before and many
officers must have expected the fighting to be much like that in the
recent Cape Frontier War; large-scale skirmishing with badly
armed Africans of indifferent morale that superior firepower and
the new open order tactics soon put to flight.
The British Army Lord Chelmsford took into Zululand in January
of 1879 was in the midst of great changes. Short service in the ranks,
the abolition of purchase for officers, more practical (if still colorful)
uniforms, rationalized equipment, new weapons, education for
soldiers, linked battalions and new tactics had all come in the last few
years. Far from being the old fashioned force sometimes portrayed,
the British Army was as up to date, and in some respects more so,
than the armies of France, Prussia, Russia and the United States.
Yet at Isandhlwana, the British suffered the greatest defeat in their
history against a native enemy. Why? It is my belief that the causes
can be found not in the now largely disproved theory of lack of
ammunition, but in the new tactics that did not allow for an enemy
of the "mass charge" type.
I can find no example of a British multi-unit brigade or divisional
square formation between the introduction of breech-loading small
arms and the battle of Ulundi in July 1879. The British fought the
battle of Isandhlwana in extended formation not just because of lack
of knowledge as to the number of Zulus attacking them, but because
extended formations had become the normal way of fighting. I would
argue that it was the bitter lesson of Isandhlwana that led
Chelmsford to adopt the multi-unit square at Ulundi. In turn
when the British next came up against a "mass charge" enemy
in the shape of the Dervish Ansar of the Sudan, it was natural for the
British officers (some of whom had fought at Ulundi) to adopt the
square as a formation. Thus the famous "British Square" was born of
the defeat at Isandhlwana.
Far from retaining old-fashioned formations, the British had been
forced to adapt the old anti-cavalry square to meet new tactical
requirements after the new tactics of European warfare were found
to be inadequate.
Turning to the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 it is often said that
British Army came into this campaign wedded to outmoded tactics.
However, when one looks at this claim, it can be shown as less than
the whole truth.
While it is true that a few British commanders preferred to operate
in close order for as long as possible, others such as Methuen and Ian
Hamilton adopted extended order right from the start of the war. It
is sometimes said that the British had "only just" ceased to wear red
coats, yet the last time red was worn in action was 1885, at Ginnis on
the Egypt-Sudan border. Khaki type clothing had been in increasing
use since the late 1840's. This compares well with the French who
were still fighting in blue and red in 1914.
Such outmoded tactics as the British troops did use tended to be
common to all major armies, indeed at Mons in 1914 German
infantry advanced in close formations that few British commanders
would have used in 1899! Criticism of British Staff work is on more
solid ground and a proper Staff was only set-up after 1902.
On the whole, the weaknesses of the British Army in 1899 were
those of all major world armies and one must doubt if the French,
Germans, Americans or Russians would have done any better
against such a skillful and mobile enemy as the Boers?
What is clear is that the British Army came out of the Victorian Era
better trained and equipped than any other in the world. Few can
doubt that the B.E.F. of 1914 was the best army in the world at that
time. Sadly, there was just too little of it.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
****This is a great place for ideas and is very well done!
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Wazululand from his diplomatic mission to the Nabyssinian capital
raided several Nashanti villages. The prince also eluded several
cavalry units sent to intercept him. Returning to the Royal Kraal
at Umgungundlovu with a treaty and several hundred head of cattle
to the praise of king Senzangakhona.
In this story, published in 1903, Wells describes how a trench stalemate is broken by armoured vehicles. He obviously draws on the recent South African conflict for inspiration for his war between "Townsmen" and "Countrymen". The use of entrenchments had been a feature of the Boer War but was by no means new, having been seen in both the Crimea and American Civil War.
"What would you do if you were the enemy?" said the war correspondent, suddenly.
"If I had men like I've got now?"
"Take these trenches."
"Oh-dodges! Crawl out half-way at night before moonrise and get into touch with the chaps we send out. Blaze at 'em if they tried to shift, and so bag some of 'em in the daylight. Learn that patch of ground by heart, lie all day in squatty holes, and come on nearer next night. There's a bit over there, lumpy ground, where they could get across to rushing distance-easy. In a night or so.. It would be a mere game for our fellows; it's what they're made for. . . .Guns? Shrapnel and stuff wouldn't stop good men who meant business."
"Why don't they do that?"
"Their men aren't brutes enough; that's the trouble. They're a crowd of devitalized townsmen, and that's the truth of the matter."
Here a character describes the same "Hutier" or "Stormtrooper" infiltration tactics that
the Germans would use successfully in the latter part of World War One. Attacks by stealth
and infiltration were by no means new, but Wells clearly spells out how these might be used
in the context of trench warfare.
Few science fiction works are as uncannily accurate in for telling the future as a short story published in 1903 by H.G. Wells. It portrays a conflict remarkably similar to the trench warfare of the First World War, in which the two sides face each other across a no-man's land. Wells describes the invention that breaks the stalemate between the combatants -- an armored, all-terrain vehicle that can withstand small-arms fire and cross trenches. We know these vehicles as tanks. Wells's name for his creations, and the title of his story, was The Land Ironclads.
Wells envisioned a huge, hundred-foot-long vehicle propelled by eight pairs of pedrails, wheels ringed with flexible feet to give traction. He also gave his vehicles innovative weapons: remotely controlled rifles with an advanced sighting system that gave tremendous accuracy even while moving.
Cloudships fly. That they do so is due almost entirely to the bizarre properties of a special tree grown only in the highlands of Mars which - when correctly cultivated and processed - produces planks of 'Liftwood'. This rare and valuable liftwood is arranged in 'Venetian-blind' style panels which, in the hands of a skilled trimsman, can be opened and closed to generate lift.
This game - based on the GDW Space 1889 background - uses rules adapted by the Warlords for fast play and ships scratch built in 28mm "scale".
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Space: 1889 is an exciting new series of full-cast audio adventures on CD. Set in a fantastic alternate universe where Thomas Edison discovered a means to travel in to space (or the 'ether' as it is known). 19th Century man has escaped the confines of his own planet. In an insatiable quest to expand their empires, conquer new territory and discover new wonders, the nations of Earth have set foot on new worlds.Mars, home of an ancient but declining culture, has become the new battleground for Earth's empires and a lure for adventurers, treasure-seekers and explorers.
Queen Victoria's Red-coated infantry men patrol the streets of Syrtis Major, the once proud Martian city state now under British rule. Merchants navigate the magnificent canals of Mars to trade their goods. Adventurers chart the jagged wastes of the Martian highlands and battle the fierce beastmen while searching for the fabled liftwood groves, the key to the majestic sky galleons of Mars.
You can explore this fascinating alternative past in a new series of on-going audio adventures produced under exclusive license from Frank Chadwick, the creator of Space: 1889. Each adventure is a self-contained but linked story and is released on a single CD with over 70 minutes of action, adventure and intrigue and a full colour, eight-page booklet containing background information. The plays are performed by a full professional cast and feature cinematic sound design and an original music score.
The first adventure, Red Devils, guest-stars Anthony Daniels of Star Wars fame and wil be released in January 2005. The Steppes of Thoth follows in February and stars Simon Williams. You can find out more about these and future releases on their own, individual pages. Just choose a title from the drop-down menu in the left-hand column.
Check back here soon as new pages will added to the section on a regular basis and will include images of the characters from the series and more information about the universe they inhabit.
to historical miniatures gaming of the colonial variety.
*Note*I will be doing the occasional review in the
By Doug Johnson (Originally appeared in Soldiers Of The Queen, No. 3)
The khaki uniform, as everyone knows, was introduced in India and used there extensively long before gaining acceptance as regular field dress for the British Army. Some form of drab made brief appearances in South Africa and the Ashanti War but the Sudan campaigns of 1884-85 were the first campaigns outside India where entire forces were outfitted in khaki. The Sudan was also the last place where the red coat was worn in battle.
The red coat had been symbolic of the British Army to Britons and foreigners alike for nearly two centuries. It is understandable that it was abandoned as a battle dress only with great reluctance. The argument for its retention in the Sudan, that it would "Impress the natives", is more indicative of the Victorians' concept of themselves than that of the "native mind". At no time did the red coat exercise the same effect on the Sudanese Imagination as it did on the British.
The British troops that defeated Arabi's army in Egypt still wore red. Khaki drill had already been introduced to British troops serving in India, Aden, and Malta, and was soon Introduced to the army of occupation in Egypt. Thus it was that the first Suakin expedition under General Graham in 1884 was outfitted in khaki. Those staff officers who insisted on wearing red coats soon found themselves favored targets for Mahdist snipers.
The reckless charges of Uthman Diqna's Hadendowa warriors caused many casualties in unexpected hand-to-hand fighting. Some thought they had found the reason for the fervor of these charges when reports filtered in that the Mahdists had thought the drab-uniformed, white-skinned British were just more of the white-coated Egyptians they were in the habit of defeating so easily. In the campaign of 1885, then, it was thought that if the troops marched out in red coats the Mahdists would know that they were fighting British soldiers and their morale and enthusiasm would drop. Many units disembarked in red and some marched out on their first patrols In red. However, the red coat was unsuitable for the Sudanese climate. The Sudanese knew, from their earlier experience, who they were fighting, and only their tactics, not their morale, changed. The red coat was soon discarded and all troops were issued khaki.
Nevertheless the red coat did have a morale effect on the British soldier. He fought just as well no matter how dressed but the red coat was still a symbol that brought forth feelings of pride and patriotism. When the New South Wales contingent disembarked at Suakin in red coats they were met with great cheers, and their red coats were admired and commented on by soldiers and press alike. But the Australians, too, were issued khaki on the very day they arrived, and never wore their red coats into battle. Red was almost entirely absent in the Desert Column. The Guard Camel Regiment was issued red coats in England, but these were replaced by gray as soon as the Guards reached Egypt. The red coat was reserved for church parades. Only one officer wore his red coat, and he fell to a sniper's bullet. The British command was much too influenced by Gordon's claim that the appearance of even twenty red coats in Khartoum would be enough to demoralize the Mahdist army and end the siege. Thus when the Desert Column finally did reach the Nile and met two of Gordon's steamers, red coats were scrounged from the Guards to be worn by the small detachment of the Sussex Regiment sent up the Nile to relieve Khartoum.
Gordon's grasp of "the native mind" was not as firm as the authorities and the public believed. In all probability his statement was supposed to mean that the arrival of a small detachment of British as opposed to Egyptian troops would let the Mahdists know that Khartoum had not been abandoned. But the public took his stated faith in the red coat quite literally, and it is surprising to note how many 20th Century writers retain this same faith when writing of the Sudan, and do not question the literal application of Gordon's claim. The Sudanese had never met a British army, red coated or otherwise, before 1884 and were ignorant of what the British public expected of them at their first sight of red. The arrival of the drab-coated Desert Column at Metemma hastened the fall of Khartoum, and the riflemen and artillerists who kept up a hot fire on Wilson's two steamers seemed more affected by the blue jacket's Gardner gun than the red coats' Martinl-Henrys.
Only one battle, Kirbekan, was fought by the Nile Column, and this was after they had received the news of the fall of Khartoum. The infantry at Kirbekan donned red. Far from being demoralized at the sight of this new uniform, the Mahdists, it was reported after the battle, first mistook the advancing British soldiers for a herd of red cattle! It was only after they were outflanked and attacked from the pear that the Mahdists' morale broke. With the end of the campaign the British withdrew to Egypt in a variety of patched khaki and gray clothing. The Nile Column was disbanded but a small detachment of Egyptian and British soldiers were kept in small outposts along the Nile and the railway line on the frontier. They were followed and harassed by the Mahdists, a vanguard of an invasion that was called off after the Mahdi died.
Between June and December 1885 the border war consisted of attacks on the Angle-Egyptian forts followed by counter-raids. A large Mahdist contingent gathered at the village of Ginnis near Fort Kosheh on the Nile in November. For over a month they harried the garrison which consisted of the Cameron Highlanders and the IXth Sudanese. To bring this frontier war to a conclusion, an Angle-Egyptian force was sent to Kosheh and on 30th December routed the Mahdist Army at Ginnis. Ginnis was a small affair. It is important mainly because it brought the 1885 war to an end but it is remembered as being the last battle in which the British army wore red. The Mahdists were taken completely by surprise, but not by the traditional uniform. They were not aware that reinforcements had come and has made no preparations to meet them. Curiously enough, Ginnis was not the last time red was worn in the Sudan. In1896, when the reconquest of Dongala began, the Egyptian army had no Maxim batteries of its own. A battery from the Connaught Rangers was lent to them, and these men elected to fight the battle of Firka in full dress, red coats and all. Like the use of red coats on the Nile steamers, at Kirbekan and Ginnis, it was a gesture of pride - "showing the colors." The men must have suffered in their red serge but one can imagine that it was a suffering they endured willingly while operating their guns.
Later, after the Battle of Omdurman, the "Bird's Eye View" prints offered to the public by G. W. Bacon and Co. showed the troops in their red "home" uniforms. The company later explaining that this aided with the identification of individual units. As the only identifying marks on the uniforms were standardized facings of blue or white, or kilt tartans which do not show up clearly in the prints, the real explanation is probably that a picture of a "thin red line" was still more pleasing to the public than a khaki smudge. In this way a compromise was made. The red coat was put back in the Sudan in the public's mind, but the soldiers did not have to suffer wearing them.
Friday, April 6, 2007
A 5,000 man British relief force set
sail from England today for port
Victoria. There they will join a force
of 2,000 men dispatched from India.
The force under the command of His
Lordship Major General Arthur Witt.
Sir Arthur will march this combined
force north to Nacukul Station. Sir
Arthur will also assume command of
all of her majesty's forces already stationed
in the crown colony and in the operational area of the Nacukul Plain.
reached agreement and signed a
general alliance. The formal treaty
of eternal friendship was signed in
the Nabyssinian capital by the
Nabyssinian king Ezana and the first
born son of the Wazulu king
King Ezana called on all the chiefs of
his realm to form their levies and join
with the royal army at their nations'
Wazulu Amabutho forming into full Impis march from the
Royal Kraal at Umgungundlovu. Over 20,000 warriors were
seen moving north. Reportedly there is another estimated
10,000 warriors remaining in and around the vicinity of
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
The Royal Geographic Society's expedition to the Uldomon gorge
lead by famed archaeologist Sir Henry Weller is feared to be lost.
The Uldomon gorge is located to the far north east of Tangara just
above the Nacukul Plain and just below Greater Nabyssinia. The
Weller party also had several other notable persons with in it's ranks.
The well known big game hunter Bruce McFarland, Sir Henrys' wife
Helen,and Sir Henrys' life long friend retired British army Major
Richard Melville. The well equipped expedition consisted of many
native bearers and guides, and a large armed contingent of ex soldiers
as well as a unit of Nacu askari all commanded by Major Melville.
Sir Henrys' expedition was to return to Nacukul Station within six
months of their departure, they have now been away eight months.
The expedition was as a safety measure provisioned for up to a
years stay.It is feared with the unrest on Nabyssinian boarder and
the Wazulu Impis raids to the south that the Weller expedition may
be lost. Public pressure is already being received by parliament to
send reinforcements to the area and to mount an emergency rescue
mission to find and save the Weller party.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
greatly outraged upon hearing the news of
British intervention into what was always
considered by his people as their justified and
traditional raids on the Nashanti. King Senzangakhona
was quoted to say "After all the spring planting
is done, what else is there for my young warriors
to do?"The Foreign Office has learned that King
Senzangakhona being a traditionalist has long
resisted French and Italian overtures and offers
of technical help to include weapons. This has
changed, our agents have seen both French and
Italian advisors at the Royal Kraal at Umgungundlovu.
There was also one report of French troops seen at
Ulundi, although this can not be confirmed at this time.
The Wazulu King has called up all 35,000 of his warriors.
There also rumors of a Wazulu and Nabyssinian alliance
that is causing great concern in the Foreign Office. The
PM is to address parliament about the situation on the
Nacukul Plain in the next session.
Monday, April 2, 2007
Norman's VC citation in the briefest of terms. It states:
"Norman, Frederick . For devoted gallantry at the British
Camp on the Nacukul Plain, in having promptly rushed to
the rescue of Captain Williams of the same corps, when
wounded and in danger of his life, whom he carried to a
place of safety, to which the sergeant was brought in shortly afterwards badly wounded."