Monday, 22 May 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 5

As we approached Simonstown on the 22nd May we fired a 21 gun national salute followed by a 15 gun to the resident South African admiral, we were alongside the small naval harbour by about 0930. The weather was glorious and as many of the crew got ashore as possible as we were going to spend a long time on patrol after this particular stop. The communications centre ashore took over our signal traffic so only a few RO's were required as duty watch so as many of us as could went ashore.

First stop ashore.

 Aparthied ruled the day back then of course and I found it very strange that there was two of everything depending on your colour, we had one black lad in the crew, a stoker, and he was not allowed to wear uniform ashore, which even back then as young as I was I thought was not right, he was British and serving in the Royal Navy, why should he not wear his uniform, but it was impossible. Whenever a ship docked at a port there was usually a waiting list of invitations to party's, trips, dances etc. which, if there was a lot a notice went up and you put your name down for what you fancied. Because our young stoker was the only black bloke he had his pick of the crop when the invites turned up from the local black and coloured communities, he had a large smile on his face when we left.

On my first run ashore with the help of some mates I sneaked in an all night leave pass, something you were not entitled to until you were eighteen. Our first stop was a South African naval bar where we chatted with an old salt who was happy to get the beer in, then it was the train and off to Cape Town. Some of us had already been to local shops and stocked up on Cape Brandy for the half hour or so rail journey, I can remember several being completely legless by the time we got to Capetown, god knows what happened to them for the rest of the day, at least two RO's were among the casualties, 'Taff' Anstey and 'Lil' New I think. We headed off to the main drag and commenced a pub crawl downing pints of Castle lager, we were welcomed and spoke to by many of the locals. We got split up somewhere and some of we younger guys got lost, a dishevelled old guy promised us that if we followed him he would take us to a club or some such, all he seemed to be doing was taking us further and further from the bright lights, my sense of self preservation kicked in and I insisted we leave him and head back to safety.

At some point we ended up in a very large club where most of the crew had washed up, we found the rest of the lads and settled down in the dark, smoky atmosphere to listen to music and drink, always hoping against hope to 'trap', navy slang for charming a young woman. Later all hell kicked off, a fight started and grew as more and more people joined it, not I of course, I grabbed a nearby waiter or some such employee and told him to get the manager quick only to be informed that the gentleman 'Lofty' had by the throat was the manager. The South African police arrived and they are not the kind of people who will pleasantly inform you of their presence by "'ello, 'ello what 'ave we ere then", batons flew and people were rough handled out and into the back of Land Rovers. I managed to escape all of it, made the station and boarded one of the last trains back to Simonstown sleeping all the way.

The next morning I was hauled up for forging my leave pass, I had enough presence of mind to inform the Radio Supervisor Bart Bartlett that it was his signature on the bottom and that he should have noticed and amended the times, not wanting to make a mountain out of a molehill Bart let it slide but my next all night leave would be in December when I was eighteen, or it might have been seventeen and a half.

I had one more run ashore and it was not as eventful as the first, we got off at the wrong stop on the way to Cape Town and as we left the station we began to be surrounded by a large number of people who seemed to live around the station, they didn't look too welcoming. Lucky for us one white guy in a navy uniform had also got off the train, barked something at the locals and they disappeared back into the shadows. After this we were invited for a cup of tea by a couple of old dears while waiting for a bus, they reminded me of Hinge and Bracket the singing duo, I think we all harboured thoughts of a nubile young niece or two on the premises but we were mistaken. This time of course I had to be back by midnight so the run ashore was rather tame compared to fight night.

We stayed alongside in Simonstown for about a week then sailed to take up station off Mozambique to begin our Beira Patrol for six weeks which was supposed to help bring down Ian Smith's government in Rhodesia.

Roll on Phalanx

What a long day yesterday was, it never seemed to end and I was reduced to playing DOW III on several occasions, I did however manage to finish a terrain tile I was working on, a shattered house. I have again done it on the cheap and used what I had lying around, some red brick debris, left over parts from previous Charlie Foxtrot builds and what was left of my Warlord walls. I also looked again at the buildings I had and weathered them a bit more. I will endeavour to get them all set up and a game sorted perhaps on Thursday to see how they all go together, I am staying with the village/countryside look rather than a large town despite having seen some lovely layouts of the latter. I do still want maybe one more house and a church.

I dug through my lead mountain tin yesterday and pulled out several figures which can be added to my forces, some officers, sappers, generals etc. maybe about twenty at the most, so these will be on standby. I also aim to go back to my WWII stuff this week and possibly tart it up or repair some scratches etc then it is more varnish, the excellent Tamiya matt spray which I have just bought.

Phalanx in St. Helens is next month and this show has always been good but it is becoming more popular with traders and grows every year, I am looking forward to it, perhaps I will get that church, some new dice and inspiration. I do hope however that the excellent standard of wargames on show does not deteriorate as more traders move in as this would be a shame. I do have two gripes about the show, one involves the parking which is only just adequate now and will only get worse as the show becomes more popular, the other is the lighting. I have heard people complain about lighting at Salute but last year at Phalanx on walking into the hall I actually thought something had happened to my glasses and that perhaps I still had my driving shades on, it hits you that forcefully.

Right, I have run over time and need to get on with maps, I am back to the trenches this morning with Vietnam in the wings.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

View From The Window

Well, it's not raining and not a breath of wind although it is dull, one of the village cats slinks along the wall en route to cause destruction in an area not its owners. Two old women have died in the last week or so in the village, Winnie had served in the RN during the war and had flown in a Swordfish torpedo bomber at one point, the other reminded me of the Miss Marple actress Joan Rutherford, Ann had a tendency to pick mad dogs from Rescue which must have been a nightmare for her. I always remember one which, when she parked up to come into the Post Office simply went stir crazy in the back of the car and made more noise than a banshee. Two nice old dears.

I registered for the BBC iPlayer yesterday, the service is not going to be free in the near future so you have to have a licence and you have to register to use it, you have about four regular questions then comes the one which causes you to stop dead in your tracks, are you male, female or other? Personally I am annoyed at this but as I belong to a silent majority I can be safely ignored, what has it got to do with watching a television programme and when will these gender fascists give up and admit there are only two genders, male and female. What chance has the human race got in the future when after all our progress we have got to a stage where we are unsure what or who we are? Don't for a moment think this nonsense will not impact you, my seven year old granddaughter is now being forced to read a text book entitled "Bill's New Frock" lest she grow up to be intolerant of people who believe they are neither male nor female. There cannot be any Moslem's at her school because if there were this would never even have been discussed as being a believer of Allah trumps even gender politics.

On the subject of the believers I see that the UNHCR have taken leave of their senses and proclaimed Saudi Arabia, a country where of course women can be executed for adultery and cannot drive a car amongst other lunacies, are in charge of what passes for the department of equality for women. First the EU then the UN?

I notice the Christians are at last fighting back and getting the boot in, sadly, instead of backing the bakers hounded by the gay community for instance they have jumped on a non-starter and are trying to get the King of Twitter Stephen Fry burnt at the stake for blasphemy, I say sadly because Fry's comments were truthfull in the first instance and not many would miss him in the second.

Giant rats will become intelligent and rule the world after destroying the human race, this is my prediction to add alongside this one "Palm trees could grown in the Antarctic if climate change continues". I don't know where you stand on climate change, I believe there is climate change and it is natural, there, no doubt GCHQ are monitoring this and I shall be whisked off to the sound of a truck engine idling and the stamp of jackboots on cobbles at 2 am in the morning. That aside I am old enough to remember some forty years ago reading in a newspaper that I would soon be growing bananas, pineapples, passion fruit and dragon fruit in my back garden if I could brave the solar rays and harvest them. Yes, palm trees 'could' grow wherever and giant rats 'could' take over and on the other hand, perhaps they won't, which one would you put your mortgage on?

And if you doubt the scientists then listen up, this just in, exercise will not now help you to lose weight, I will of course leap on this gem to justify my hours spent in front of the computer shedding pounds.

Weight, OK, a family somewhere were being hailed in the press for being frugal and instead of spending a fortune on takeaways, the canny woman made her own, fakeaways, geddit? She has succeeded so brilliantly in this venture that she has also managed to fake the fat content and no doubt the increased health problems, but she has saved £3.46p.

What's your take on novelty funerals, the coffin shaped like a star destroyer or the mourners turning up as the cast of Aliens, would I be happy if my friends and family turned up as Legio XII Fulminata or differing versions of Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant? No I wouldn't. I have given strict instructions that respect will be shown and anyone not in black or chucking on their best jeans, combat jacket or trainers gets turned away at the door.

Do you remember the old days when you fell out with your mate and you shunned him in the playground until you grew up and became best friends all over again. The modern version is far more stupid, you get 'ghosted' your so called mates do not answer your emails, texts or eventually when they fail, your phone calls, this allows the penny to drop and you are persona non grata. Isn't technology wonderful.

That damn Brexit won't be happy until we slide into third world obscurity, the latest victim of all those ignorant, racist, fascist, know nothing votes was poor Lucie Jones, you remember Lucie, the girl who lost X-Factor to the two incredibly talented Irish clowns, sorry clones, Jedward. Lucie suffered Europe's backlash against Brexit by not being voted the winner of Eurovision, I feel ashamed.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Romans vs Romans

Another War and Conquest game last night, it is either famine or feast with this enjoyable game. Simon has wanted to play with Romans for a wee while now and I have always been strangely reluctant because I see the Twelfth as 'my' army and I had not used it many times myself. Now they are veterans however and it is better to encourage others to play or you end up on your own, oh, and they are still 'my' army.

Simon chose three cohorts with heavy armour some skirmishers, a bolt shooter and a unit of cavalry, I had a more balanced army and had one Palatina Legion and two Auxilia Legions nowhere near as heavy as Simon's guys, they were supported by horse archers, cavalry, two bolt shooters, and two large skirmish units. My plan was to hit the enemy cavalry unit with archery then charge them, after this the cavalry would descend on the enemy flank and rear.

Twelfth on the left, Patricians on the right.

Plan A went out the window fairly fast as Simon managed to get a charge in before I could do any damage to his cavalry, this swept away the horse archers and routed the Equites, thankfully the latter rallied off table and would be back, the enemy unit then went on to loot my camp as per his objective. The Aurelian battle line advanced and this time my skirmishers failed to move the enemy and ran for the rear I got one back for a short time but eventually it too dispersed, not a great start, perhaps I was jaded after the weekend.

"Steady lads, steady".

I duly went into shieldwall as the heavily armoured legionaries hit me, I managed to hold all along the line, the Auxilia winning their fights but the Palatina were up against veterans and lost but held. The second round of combat gave the same results, but a third round and a dreadful morale throw caused the Palatina to run, but they did manage to outdistance their pursuers, sadly though this put them in the path of Simon's remaining cavalry and I couldn't stop them getting run down. However this unit had been reduced to a mere four figures and if it lost one more it dispersed, so I wasn't really bothered about it, I had a bolt shooter tracking them.

No, sixes are bad for morale in this game, sigh.

The game ended with my Auxilia defeating their opposite numbers and my cavalry free to do what they wanted. With units lost and reduced to under half strength the game was basically a draw at that point, I think one more turn would have turned the tide, especially if I managed to get the initiative but it was home time. A really good hard slog, because I managed to hold for the first clashes my numbers helped against the armour saves of the heavy infantry, I did seem to have some dreadful luck at the beginning and things were  looking very uncomfortable for a while.

Elsewhere we had a haunted house type game run from an iPad with figures and cards, the usual boardgame with Clive and Dave, Dave gave me a t-shirt which didn't fit him, then there was a 15mm ACW and some Steampunk along with Ryan and Julian testing out the new Runewars. Next week Rob is running a Battlegroup Tobruk game which I have jumped in to.