Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A detour to Flodden Field - Scotland's tragedy PART 2

Our walking tour of Flodden Field continues....

Having 'advanced' down the north face of Branxton Hill and managed (just) to stay on our feet, Toggy and I found ourselves in the 'Killing ground'.

Explaining the dilemma facing the Scots in the bog

At the foot of Branxton hill the size of the depression between the two positions becomes all to apparent. This dip is now drained by a modern drainage ditch about two feet wide and permanently wet to a depth of a foot or so it appeared.

Looking along the line. The King is reckoned to have fallen at the trees behind Tog's right shoulder.

At the time of the battle the ground was not drained and formed a wide, wet bog. For an close order pike block which had just slithered down a steep hill and was probably coming under artillery and archery fire it would have proved to be the worst possible news. In the picture above the line of the ditch can be seen in the yellow grass running parallel to the hedge behind Toggy.

On this ridge the English Army stands or sallies to attack us

Imagine then, 6 or 7 similar pike blocks of between 1,000 and 2,000 men arriving simultaneously having taken the same slide down the hill on a frontage of about 1,000 yards.  The front ranks would have contained heavily armoured nobles and knights.

Archery and artillery from the ridge line into our pike block - our view

The press from behind combined with the desperation of being stuck in the mud must have compelled many to attempt to get up the hill. Although on our left the Earl of Hume has broken the enemy and is now on the higher, dry ground we are still facing stiff resistance.

At the spot behind me King James is reckoned to have fallen to multiple blows and arrows

The English Army has used reinforcements to curl around the Scots' right flank and now launches an attack on the line from the east. It is reckoned this force contained many longbow men.

Safety is all to far away at the top of Branxton Hill.. no way back

We have no reserves and the entire army apart from Hume's victorious left flank is stuck in the bog being cut to pieces from front and right flank. It is possible that our Border troops have 'done a deal' with their English counterparts and decided on a non aggression encounter. Hume although victorious was later executed for his failure to assist the rest of the army and win the battle,

It's all over, the army is caught in the bog and outflanked

All is lost, the command structure has disintegrated. The battle is all about personal survival. The front rank of nobles, lords and bishops suffers proportionately. The King is cut down by archers and billmen.

Looking at the Scots position(skyline) from the heart of the English position

Some of the dead (probably Lords and nobles) of both sides are brought to the small church in Branxton. Casualties are estimated at 14,000 across both armies. The Scots Army has effectively ceased to exist.

The memorial cross on the position taken by Hume on the English right

The lament still played for both military commemorations and some civilian funerals 'The Flowers of the Forest' - a haunting solo pipe tune remembers the destruction of the Scots Army at Flodden.

A fine version by Isla St Clair and worth a listen. The bag pipe version is also very haunting.

A haunting place

Branxton church is a little modified from its original form but not too much. The cemetery is more modern and is full of border names which exist on both sides of the line.

The weather closed in after about 90 minutes of walking and a blustery and wet April Sunday made us run for the cover of a warm car.  Unforgettable and truly haunting - one of Britain's most evocative battlefields.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Historicon 2016 - Captain Murray's Horse

Clarence Harrison - Work continues on our game for Historicon and I've just managed to finish Captain Adam Murray's Regiment of Horse!

It actually may be generous to assign a full regiment to Captain Murray. At the Battle of Penny Burn Mill, it is likely his unit was bolstered by numerous officers and troops who were simply milling about as the raid was launched and joined his attack. We know nothing about the uniforms or flags his troops may have had so these are conjectural. In a bit of selfishness, I chose the same color scheme I planned to use of Tyrconnel's regiment for my own Boyne collection. It would probably be more accurate to field a single BLB squadron in uniform and a squadron of mixed coats behind.

Busy, busy, busy... more previews on the way!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Captain's log supplemental.. Mumbai 24th April 2016

M.K. Gandhi's room in his house in Mumbai
OK, so I wasn't looking for a wargaming connection here in Mumbai when I took a trip around the burg today. I wanted to feel the city in all of its 21 million (40% approx. of the population of England) chaos and that hit me the minute I got out of the hotel.

Ghandi's letter to Hitler 45 days before the start of it all

Nevertheless, wargaming and more precisely 17th century military history did catch up with me within 3 hours. As you will see, the extremely imposing and eye catching statue which faces down the last vestiges of the British Raj - India Gate is of a man well worth knowing about.

Remember 29/11/2008? - security here is much tighter now

Bombay/Mumbai is the human condition in its entirety. Spend a few hours here and you'll see the greatest wealth (a massive 40 storey building which is home to 4 mega rich yet detested people and 500 servants), the greatest poverty and mind bending humanity - the house/museum of M.K Gandhi was a real epiphany moment.

Our 15 minutes in the sun - Once there was an Empire - India Gate, Bombay

This blog is not a travelogue but sometimes it is nice to share particularly with friends. I am here to work but the privilege of this job is that I also get to see what I would never have expected.

Kick Ass Indian General - Shivaji Maharaj 1680

At the seething India Gate is an imposing equestrian statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Who? says Mrs H. Hmm, not sure but with a statue like that he must be somebody really important. He looks like a Mongol Prince says the Memsahib (I've always wanted to call her that! - she is well trained at spotting wargaming trivia). I'll Google him back at the ranch.

Plaque on Shivaji's equestrian statue

And, so I did... what a find! I love this guy already and I've only known about him for 15 minutes! Read this folks. What a find. It makes for fascinating and inspiring wargaming fodder. I may even start collecting/modelling a force to mirror the warfare of India between 1630 and 1680.

Click on this link to learn more about a real 'geezer'. It is pure wargaming manna from heaven (sorry to mix religious metaphors)

End of a dream or a gravy train depending on your PoV

To all you fellow Brits out there.. we were only passing through this place for a few minutes of history. We made a mark yes but really, taking into account the big picture... it was a flash in the flintlock pan.

The last Tommies would have seen this view - boarding from India Gate

Friday, April 22, 2016

A detour to Flodden Field - Scotland's tragedy PART 1

What an opener - The shot below was taken on April 17th 2016 on the forward (north facing) slope of Branxton Hill, Northumberland and it looks towards the positions occupied by Sir Edmund Howard's men on the rise above the display board. Beyond that hill is the River Tweed and the full panorama in the distance is the Kingdom of Scotland. On September 9th 1513 the nobility of Scotland perished in drove at this very spot.

The army can see home but has to fight to reach it

On our way back from SALUTE 2016 the battlefield walkers Toggy and Barry visited Flodden Field, scene of perhaps the most emotive battle in Scottish history. For me personally it is more important than Bannockburn or Culloden. On the ground before your eyes over 10,000 of my countrymen died in a most terrible way, drowning in mud and cut to pieces by their opponents.

Toggy knew little about Flodden and it was a joy to explore the field together, march the route of the Scottish divisions down into the low ground and feel the history of the place.

Intelligently positioned display boards support the walker's understanding

Having first espied the English positions from the spot where King James IV's division descended the steep slope of Branxton Hill on a drizzly autumn day, we commenced our walk across the face of the Scot's positions to the extreme western edge where stood Hume and his contingent.

The view from the Scottish left looking north towards the English line.

Toggy and I descended the hill without pike and in warm modern clothes and good walking shoes. We both slithered and stumbled down the slope, each of us in turn almost falling on our tails as the mud gave underfoot.

Looking north at the English centre now the site of Branxton village.

We took perhaps five minutes to negotiate the slope but the Scots Army had began at the top of the hill whilst we joined the trail half way down. This means the descent may have taken 10 - 15 minutes or more on the day of the battle.

Looking to the dry ground on which Hume vanquished the English right

On reaching 'soggy bottom' the now drained bog, invisible to the Scots until they walked into it, Toggy and I appreciated the dilemma which faced the massed pike blocks. Wet, muddy, disordered, stuck in bog and being pressed from behind by thousands of their comrades, cohesion was lost. The English billmen on a significant rise to their front would have goaded them with missiles, cannon fire and insults. The few who struggled out of the bog with their long pikes were easy prey to the more agile billmen who cut them down.

At the lowest level of the battlefield is an interesting geological chart showing the prevalent ground conditions. Fascinating stuff.

Geology lesson

Turning around Tog and I looked back up the slope which we had descended. Those tree tops way in the distance mark the gun line of the massive and unwieldy Scottish artillery which found it so difficult to depress their muzzles to the appropriate angle to be effective.

The Scots guns were way back up there beside those distant tree tops

As humble Scots pikemen Toggy and I looked back over our right shoulders to the South east to watch our King march down the hill into the same depression as we now stand. If you look carefully you will see my white car in the distance(centre of shot to the right of the stand of trees). This is the jump off point for the King's Division marching to its death to the left of the lower ground in this shot.

In the second part of the tragedy of Flodden we'll share more shots, describe how victory turned to defeat and explain the total destruction of the Scottish Army.

No your Majesty! Stop! it is hell down here in the mud!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Even when fried in butter...........

Named after a GNW battle What next?

On the road with Bazza... Vaasa, Northern Finland 20 April 2016.

So, here I am in Vaasa, Finland (pop 60,000) earning Mrs Hilton's lunch money. My client takes me out to dinner in an Italian restaurant and we are presented with a special looking drink.

I am informed that it is 'officially the best gin and tonic on the planet'. Interesting for a gin soaked connoisseur expertly trained by the Richard Sharpe of the juniper berry, the aforementioned Mrs H.

Napue, Isokyro, Storkyro.. whatever.. it was a battle!

Award winning, locally distilled, 17 herbs - Napue Gin. The introductory speech was given by a pleasant young man and in his monologue he mentioned that the gin was named after the well- known local Battle of Napue (pronounced Naa pooo ey) which took place in 1714.

Whoa there young fella, 1714? He raced on, we did the toast and off he went. I chased after him. I enjoyed your speech, you mentioned the gin was named after a battle in 1714 right? Yes it was. In the Great Northern War? pardon? Against the Russians? Yes that's right. Who was fighting the Finns or the Swedes? Hmmm not sure but there is a memorial outside town.

Having scoffed the nosh and back at the hotel I looked it up - The Battle of Storkyro (in Finnish- Isokyro) 1714. 4,500 Finns under Armfeldt went down in a blaze of glory against 9,000 Russians under Golitsyn. Flank march, possible desertions, last stand... it has the lot.

Have a look at the link here:

The description is graphic and informative. The 'Great Wrath' followed and the hardship of the local Finns resulted in the locally held belief..

"Even when fried in butter a Russian is still a Russian"

It looks like a battle I want to try.

Don't know if it was snowing then but it was snowing today!

The gin was good too although I think the claim of best on the planet may be somewhat hyperbolic.

India on Friday, I wonder if I'll get near any 1690s vintage colonial forts after I earn my corn?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Awakening Derry from hibernation

taking shape now but still plenty to do on the ground work

The nature of this project and too many conflicting priorities over the winter months meant that my Derry- Building went into stasis for a while.

Lots of work to be done on the ditch and drawbridge

With a couple of weeks at home, Tactica behind me and some new ideas in my head I took inspiration from the non hibernating family of squirrels who have live in my back garden all winter and got busy!

The view from the defenders side

The most complex house in the original build finally got finished as can be seen. I also embarked on the town itself as opposed to simply completing buildings attached to the walls.

Working on some large buildings for the centre of town

The first piece is a conversion of a building shell given to me many years ago for another project by a friend. When I received this I had built nothing with foam core. It sat on my workshop shelf for over 4 years glaring at me to do something with it.

The un-weathered and washed Rotting Pike

Finally, as a now 'FCV' Foam Core Vet - I decided to move it on from a partially finished Spanish Villa to a fully finished Irish Inn circa 1690. Clarence has created authentic Inn signs for the 'Rotting Pike' which will continue our pathetic little in joke into the Ireland book.

The 'Big Hoose' which has interior lighting! Unfinished shot

This post is an overview of several bits and pieces I have been doing in my model Derry. I'll come back to several of the individual finished buildings and constructions in other posts.

Most ambitious yet - the tenement slum under way

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Historicon 2016 - Unit Cards

Clarence Harrison - While work continues on the models need for Historicon, I thought I'd throw up a quick post (I have to get back to painting)  to show a few of the other custom bits we'll be bringing along to enhance the game. The first up are unit cards.

Character and unit cards are completely unnecessary in Beneath the Lily Banners. However, I wanted those unfamiliar with the period (or even old hands since many of the unit standards had to be conjecture) to be able to easily identify their units and to that end I've made cards to hand out to the players. Each card has been customized with photos of the actual models. The unit cards also have space to track casualties and 'First Fire'. All of the cards will be in plastic sleeves and the marks can be wiped away after the game, good as new. The umpires will also maintain traditional paper rosters.

I intend to create a full set of these for my own collection as I enjoy using accessories like these at the table. I still get units mixed up (are Jyske or Fynske in green coats? Which red coated regiment had white cuffs and which was yellow?) and having the photos on cards makes it easier to concentrate on the action and allows me to easily identify units that covered themselves in glory or colonels that need to be shot!

Next week (I think) I'll have new order and condition makers to show off...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ireland book Vol 1 : Personalities :King William III

This iteration of King William I have done in a far more ' Kingly' pose than the triumphalist rearing horse with wounded soldiers around him. although I like that vignette this is more understated.

I use the colour scheme of another grand painting of the man. He is wearing a rich yellow coat, red English sash and this time I spent much longer on the face than the previous rush job.
I have used the King James horse from WLOA19.

The Horse furniture contrasts well with the black horse and yellow coat. I like this version of the King much better than my original, perhaps because I took some time considering the piece in a different light.

The original vignette on the table

I painted a map of Ireland which he is gambling all to win and mounted it on the loose drum from pack WLOA930.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Piers Butler, Lord Galmoy

Clarence Harrison - I've been painting lots of Warfare Miniatures for the Battle of Penny Burn Mill and the units are coming along nicely, but I realized I needed more brigadiers! I am currently wading through two squadrons of Captain Murray's Horse, but I thought I'd treat myself to a quick project and paint up a Jacobite commander - namely Piers Butler, Lord Galmoy.

I drew inspiration from Barry's version and game him a buff coat before realizing I painted General Hamilton in a similar manner not long ago. No matter - I think every other officer I've painted so far has a red coat so two buff coats in my collection will hardly be a majority.

Murray's horse up soon...

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Earl of Clancarty's Regiment of Foot

Clarence Harrison - Yet another unit for my collection and our game for Historicon 2016, the Earl of Clancarty's regiment. Research said Clancarty's regiment had white or blue cuffs. I chose white because of the many other regiments they could stand in for with a flag swap. Just a quick scroll through the BLB rule book revealed Orkney's, Lord Grand Prior's, Ramsay's, Earl of Angus', and the Scot's Footguard!

One of the joys I take in this hobby is creating conversions. There is a satisfaction in fielding a unit with a unique model that appears in no one else's army. I usually concentrate these efforts in command models and Clancarty's officer was the focus of my efforts here.

This dashing gentleman was made from a Warfare Miniatures' foot officer, a cuirass equipped cavalry officer (let's ignore the question as to whether or not any foot officers still wore a cuirass), the judicious application of a jeweler's saw, and a bit of green stuff. It was actually a simple conversion owing to the careful selection of the original models.

I cut the horseman below the sash to minimize the amount of sculpting I need to do. I filed the waist attached to the legs to give the new torso a slight lean forward for a hint of action.

The sword arm was from a Warfare cavalryman, but filed a bit at an angle to throw the arm a little to the right rather than straight ahead, which seemed a more dynamic pose. The minimal amount of green stuff needed to hide the joins was easily sculpted into the lowest fold of the sash and folds of the coat and the paint job hid the rest.

As I said, this was a rather simple conversion. We'd be interested in seeing your efforts. Send your pics to with BLB Conversions as the subject and if I get enough together, I'll post them here. They don't have to be Warfare Miniatures, but they should be in the period covered by Beneath the Lily Banners!

Next up will be two squadrons of Captain Adam Murray's Irish Horse...

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