Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Pleased with the Freehand

Despite my best efforts, all I have manged to paint recently is five Shermans...

In case you are wondering the apparent Italian tricolor on the base is my way of marking out the platoon.

In other news, I have had a fairly major dose of wargaming ADD (stop press, wargamer has urge to buy stuff before the current project is finished).

Now in my defence the First World War has always been one of my favourite periods, and after a sustained outbreak of webwindow-shopping and an intense Golem-like debate with myself, I have held off from actually buying anything. The various psyches with a dog in this fight have agreed to wait to see what fruits the promised Baccus range brings, before making a definite choice on the scale and scope of the game I want to play.

The release of Chain of Command has partly fuelled this desire to build trenches. I haven't managed to play a game as yet, but I am very impressed with the rules, and the mechanics, and could easily be translated to WWI.

At which point it is time to start moaning - and to do an impression of King Canute.

The ennui provoked by my hankering for World War 1 has led me to go in search of books on the period. Which in turn has opened my eyes to just how bad many of the available titles are,

I am currently reading The Price of Glory by Alastair Horne, which is regarded as one of the best books on campaign/battle of Verdun. And while it is interesting and provides a good overview, in other aspects it is frankly bizarre.

For instance, Chapter 4 begins...

"The German national genius for organisation had never shown itself to better advantage."

It then proceeds to describe the artillery build up in preparation for the 'big push'; we can fool ourselves as much as we like - aided and abetted by Horne's dissembling with regard the to Falkenhayn memo - but if this was not a breakthrough battle akin to the much criticised allied breakthrough battles of the previous year, and the Somme later in the year, then why was there such a concentration of infantry; and more specifically why did the infantry attack?

The essential plan is use artillery to destroy the enemy defences on a narrow front, then move the artillery foward and repeat the process. In short the orthodox massed phalanx typical of the early war strategic offensive.

The final orders were drawn up on January 27th, for the vital military reason that it was the Kaiser's birthday. And for a nation with a genius for organisation it seems rather odd to plan an artillery offensive that begins in February.

We are supposed to ignore how the same post war revisionism that led to the 'blame the Jews' narrative also worked to obscure the very obvious criticisms of the German planning. But then they were struggling to understand the realities and operational possibilities of modern warfare as much as the allied commanders; who for political reasons have become historical Aunt Sallys.

Of the eight or ten books I looked at in a book shop today, all of them played up the blunders and the mud, the misery and the futility; which is fine, no one denies that it wasn't a walk in the park, but isn't it time that people went beyond the cliche - which is some hope given that next year is the centenary and no doubt publishers will be churning out celebrity hagiography to add to backslapping triviality of what amounts to the historical equivalent of those child abuse books that were all the rage a few years ago.

None of this would matter, were it not for the way in which the agenda has permeated into popular culture. For instance this piece of total bullshit. Or this nonsense.

Obviously there are exceptions, Paddy Griffiths and Martin Middlebrook, spring to mind,

But as I have already acknowledged complaining about ignorance on the interwebz, and the political agenda within the closed world of university point scoring, is not something that will promote mental health,

Moan over....

I have taken some pretty pictures of my freshly painted tanks.... I really must finish making the rest boards (and scenery) and take some pretty pictures for some AARs.


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