Sunday 24 March 2024

Peter Cushing - Wargamer (Found another photo, added 24/03/24)

 Peter Cushing

Now for as long as a can remember I`ve played with toy soldiers, my parents house and garden in Rhondda were strewn with little plastic men for my entire childhood and kept resurfacing right up until we finally moved my mother down to Swansea in 2012! Buying me presents for birthdays, Christmases or just rewards was dead easy - a packet or box of Airfix soldiers - any period or nationality, it simply did not matter as they joined on side or the other in a vast melee across the house and garden. If I was particularly lucky a Dinky or Matchbox di-cast vehicle would add a motorised or armoured element too. 

War movies, Commando comics and Christmas annuals by Warlord and Victor also fuelled my obsession.

In my early teens I discovered "real rules" and books by Charles Grant, Terence Wise and Donald Featherstone and began building plastic kits.

About the time I went to secondary school I also discovered another interest - horror movies. Particularly late Saturday night creature feature features on BBC2 from the Hammer studios, these introduced my young mind to Dracula (and his various buxom victims/brides); Frankenstein and his monster and Mummies, etc. 

They also were my first introduction to Mr Peter Cushing a man of many roles, an actor of skill and finesse, who became a firm favourite of mine (and still is nearly 50yrs later).

When I was about 14 my Dad brought home a copy of "Past Forgetting" by Mr Cushing which he`d picked up cheap at a bookbinders sale. I wasn`t much of a reader so he thought it may encourage me (many 100s of books later it obviously has). The book contained several images of Mr Cushing`s Hammer years, but to my amazement two images of the great man with model soldiers and a copy of HG Wells "Little Wars" book! Reading the text revealed Mr Cushing was an avid collector and wargamer! To say the least I was thrilled to note I shared a hobby with this man who I admired.

Below I have collected images from across the net, some of which I have posted onto the FB page of "A Gentlemans War" others just found though Google. I don`t claim ownership of these and if anyone does and wants me to take them down please just let me know, I am using them to illustrate and pay homage to Mr Cushing and our shared hobby. 

Colourised version of the photo above

Peter and his wife Helen

Another photo of the racehorse game this time with wife Helen

A couple of coloured stills from the Pathe news piece on Peter`s hobby

A more complete copy of the photo above

This photo was taken at the little museum at Whitstable which has some cases on display of Peter`s personal posessions including this WW1 bunker scene with cardboard soldiers including Peters orginal sketches.

A link to a YouTube video about Mr Cushing and his collection:

Monday 18 March 2024

San Ignacio

San Ignacio

Texas, June 15th 1916

 I`ve been looking at ideas to create interesting and different games using the forces I have for Mexican Revolution. This game is based  (loosely) on a real event and whilst not as famous (infamous) as Pancho Villa`s attack on Columbus, New Mexico on March 9th 1916 did happen even though it is often overlooked in most histories of the revolution period! 

 Historic Background

On February 20th 1915 a group of disgruntled Mexican/Americans got together to sign a document calling for a general revolt that would bring about the independence of Texas, California, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona! Ultimately the group proposed the new territory would be annexed to Mexico, but called upon a general rebellion by Mexican Americans, Japanese Americans, African Americans and Native Americans, all of whom had suffered at the hands of the white majority. Who actually came up with the plan is not known to this writer, but what is known is that the organizers issued several manifestos designed to recruit followers on both sides of the border.  

 What followed was a series of minor raids carried out by followers of the group (or simply bandits) on properties in Texas. This actually just added to the problems suffered by Mexican Americans in the lower Rio Grande Valley as they began to face even greater discrimination and harsh treatment from the Anglos! But by early 1916 with the change of US policy now recognising Carranza`s government and US authorities jailing or hanging several captured raiders the threat seemed to go away.

 But after Villa`s raid on Columbus, former leaders of the group – Luis de la Rosa (a former Deputy Sheriff of Cameron County, Texas) and Est├ęban Fierros (superintendent of the Mexican railroad at Tampico) once again began recruiting. There was in fact a plan for a major invasion into the US around June 10th, but the US authorities were warned and security tightened along the border and the invasion never took place.

However on June 15th over one hundred men crossed into Texas and attacked San Ignacio, a small town about thirty-three miles from Laredo.

 San Ignacio, Texas

A small rural township with a dozen or so abode buildings. Fortunately for the population 150 men of the 14th Cavalry were camped nearby and came to the town`s aid once news of the raid reached them.

Lucky for the town`s folk the 14th was near at hand, they arrived and drove off the attackers killing some and capturing several more. The next day the cavalry crossed into Mexico in pursuit but failed to intercept the raiders who had fled. One of those Mexicans killed at San Ignacio was later identified as Federal Lt. Col. Villareal! Also one of the captured raiders claimed he was in fact a private in the Constitutionalist Army and not a bandit, he was just obeying orders!

 The Game

Now I could run the game as it happened, but decided I wanted to something a little bigger. I included a station halt at San Ignacio along with stock pens, etc and a two storied hotel. I also swapped the 14th Cavalry detachment for elements of 9th Infantry including a motorcycle platoon and an armoured car. In this game the Mexican attackers are well aware of the proximity of the US troops and have detached a small blocking force to delay any column whilst they loot the town.

 The Mexicans are after loot, they have objectives to seize where this loot – leather goods (saddles and horse furniture, etc), jewelry, cash money, foodstuffs; can be obtained.

1. The General store

2. The hotel

3. The rail halt, warehouses (2)

It will take 3 bandits 4 turns to search/loot each building, during this time they cannot fight!

My table

San Ignacio

10 civilians with rifles, shotguns or pistols (these start scattered among the buildings)

Platoon 9th Infantry (half on duty at the rail halt, half off duty in their camp)

Mexican attackers

30 mounted bandits (note some wear Federal uniforms)

Mexican ambush force

20 men (have one package of dynamite)

9th Infantry relief column (arrive on table on turn 3)

Motorcycle platoon

Armoured car

Truck mounted platoon

Command car

The game

Early in the morning San Ignacio sleeps peacefully not knowing the storm is coming.

The mounted bandits move towards the town, split into three 10 figure groups - one group heading straight towards the station, one towards the camp of the 9th Infantry and the last towards the sawmill.

The blocking force moves on foot towards the road and the old stone bridge over the stream.

Turns 1 & 2 just see the Mexicans advance on the town, the group heading for the sawmill reach it first and some men dismount to enter the shacks.

On turn 2 a US sentry spots the incoming rider and calls out a challenge, he is met by several shots one of which fells the soldier!

At the same time the second group of Mexicans launch themselves into the tented US Army camp, again the sentry challenges the riders and meets the same fate as his mate at the station……..

Turn 3 The Mexicans in the sawmill slaughter every Gringo they can find and begin burning the place to the ground.

At the station the bandits dismount and storm the station buildings, killing a couple more soldiers

At the Army camp a savage melee erupts as troopers desperately scramble from their tents and confront the rampaging Mexicans

Turn 4 the bandits leave the now burning sawmill and move towards the town, the melee at the army camp leaves most soldiers dead or wounded, they have taken a few bandits with them, the rest ride onto the town. At the station the bandits spread out and begin looting the warehouse.

Turn 5 the townsfolk roused by the noise grab their guns and move to defend their town.

At the far end of the table the 9th Infantry relief column enters

The bandits receive rifle fire from the citizens

Turn 6 combat swirls around the town

The relief column comes under fire and deploys

Turns 7-8 the battle rages within the town, some bandits loot outlying houses and then set them ablaze

The bandits take quite a few casualties from the citizens, who stood tall and defended their woman folk and kids as they escaped the chaos

The 9th Infantry engaged the blocking force using the armoured car and M/C LMG to great effect, causing several casualties and a morale check.

 Turn 9 the blocking force morale breaks and they flee back towards the border

This allowed the relief column to advance towards the town

In the town the Mexicans also reach a morale check, some of those not directly engaged start to withdraw with their loot.

Turn 10 the relief column over runs and captures several bandits

In the town the Mexicans are fleeing for the border, Shotgun Pete (later the town hero) kills two whilst defending the hotel (his second and third kills of the battle)

 Turns 11 & 12 the surviving Mexicans flee south leaving 50% of their number either dead or prisoners.

An interesting game, quite different from those I`ve run lately, more like a skirmish game than a tabletop battle. 

As you can see above the Mexican raiders lost about 50% of their men, its very difficult to fight against riflemen firing from windows or rooftops! They did manage to loot the two warehouses which I guess makes the raid a partlal success. 

The citizens lost several people and three houses were looted and burned plus the sawmill was destroyed and most of the workers killed! There will undoubtedly be calls for more Army patrols along the border.

The 9th Infantry did as well as can be expected, losing all but one of their men in the township and the relief column also lost a man.