Saturday, 17 September 2022

Our holiday this year was in the Champagne region of France, close to the River Marne. We took the opportunity to visit the National Memorial to the First World War (there are four in France altogether) which is at the town of Dormans. It was well worth the visit, with an especially interesting exhibition on the author, Maurice Genevoix, who fought in the war and wrote several books about his experiences, collectively known as Ceux de 1914. There is also an exhibition of trench art - items made out of shells, cartridges, supply boxes, etc. - which was very interesting as well.

There was a World War One tank outside, I believe it is a Renault FT.

The valley of the River Marne was much narrower than I had imagined, the slopes covered in vineyards, but also much woodland, and numerous small villages. The flat land on top of the ridges has extensive arable. The river is quite wide, meandering through the countryside, although some parts have been straightened for large canal traffic, and is certainly a significant military obstacle, but with numerous bridges. Seeing the vineyards made me realize how difficult it would be to move troops through them - you can go downslope fairly easily between the rows, but trying to move across them transversely would be very difficult!

We also took time to visit a war cemetery close to the town of Sézanne which included British and French soldiers who had fallen in the fighting. the French dated mostly from 1916-1918, the British from 1918, during the 2nd Battle of the Marne. It was very moving and caused much reflection, given the conflict going on in Ukraine, and a reminder that the background to my hobby has a reality that should never be forgotten.

The war memorial in the village where we stayed - Orbais l'Abbaye - brought this very much home as well, for like most French war memorials to the dead of World War One, it had a long list of names which reflect the great losses even small villages and towns suffered.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

"Into the Wilderness 1864"

I have been playtesting an American Civil War game. This means setting up and working it out in the garage as I usually need several days to do something like this, refining the details, etc. The idea is an advance by Union forces into the Wilderness, with the scenery gradually unfolding on the table-top as the players advance their two columns and the Confederate forces appearing to counter the Union advance. A few random events are also planned, to try and divert the Union commanders. It is also a chance for me to play some rules I found online, produced a long time ago by Jacklex Miniatures, and which I have found to be rather fun and realistic for ACW. Here are some photos of the playtest in progress, although the first few show the complete board and the scenery. The light in the garage is not the best, but the pictures look okay!

And just for fun, I tried some black and white images, having finally found out how to do this with my new digital camera!