Thursday 8 February 2024

Blitzkrieg and Afghanistan

Two tactical boardgames from the Lock and Load stable - Heroes of North Africa 1941 to 1942 including operations in East Africa and Operation Torch whilst Heroes in Defiance covers the Blitzkrieg era, chiefly the campaign for Western Europe so the French, Dutch, Belgians and of course the British all feature.

This is not the post I thought I would be writing and the one that I should have been will now not be appearing for a couple of weeks! The reasons are simple enough - a combination of starting my new deployment for work and the seven medical appointments split over two hospitals and two medical centres  last week for Laurel! Phew! For the record the various outcomes of these appointments ranged from the expected to the mildly surprising. 

Anyways, continuing along the lines of ‘front loading for retirement’ I have been having a bit of a trawl across the net for some books to round out the pertinent sections of the library. These acquisitions will of course be followed by several titles heading in the opposite direction as I continue to tailor my library.

Two for the early years of WW2. I have always enjoyed following military maps and so having a good atlas available on a campaign or campaigns is sure to get my vote!

I am rather partial to the Osprey hardback series. For the most part these are compendiums of existing Men at Arms, Campaign, Vanguard or any of the other series available titles but put together, ‘greatest hits’ style, in a single hardback volume. Some are better than others for sure but the title you see above is a good single volume primer for the early years of WW2 in Europe. Poland, Scandinavia, the Low Countries and of course all feature with pictures and maps etc - most of which would be familiar to anyone with any of the underlying titles.

The Blitzkrieg atlas has rather more detailed maps as one would expect but also has a nice narrative to go along with them. An added bonus is that the air and naval dimension is also explored.

Taken together then, these two titles are a valuable addition to my library and I am sure to get much use out of them.

And now for something completely different….

Brian Robson also penned an excellent title on the second Afghan War called the Road to Kabul which is my collection, along with Churchill’s Story of the Malakand Field Force which covers the uprising in 1897. The Action at Badama Post has all the ingredients one could wish for as the setting for a skirmish or even a small mini campaign.

Following my recent acquisition of the excellent board game Pax Pamir, covering the wheeling and dealing amongst the players of the ‘Great Game’ for the greatest influence and control of Afghanistan, I have been revisiting the 19th century in the region with a view to gaming it in some capacity. You may recall my early flirtation with this idea using the fictional Roghan Valley occupied by the British with the fearsome Jalfrezis lurking in the hills. The potential for lots of ‘derring-do’ and manageable actions is a tempting one and so I have been seriously looking at The Men Who Would be Kings as the rules of choice and also of using 28mm figures no less! I should also mention that as part of my research I have also earmarked revisiting Carry on up the Khyber so you can see I am taking this very seriously….

Crisis on the Frontier covers the period of the third AfghanWar and the operations in Waziristan after the close of the Great War. Again, it has all the elements one would expect in such a setting but with the added attraction of vehicles and aircraft. The book contains much of the information needed to game the campaign - maps, orders of battle etc - as well as some interesting observations on how modern firearms had impacted on the nature of frontier soldiering.

Action at Badama Post looks like a real treat for sure! It is an account of the race to find and recover a British aircraft and the crew before they fall into enemy hands. It features the Kurram Militia, 22nd Battery Motor Machine Gun Service (originally trained for service in France) and number 20 Squadron RAF. The account is largely based on that of A/Sgt Ernest ‘Bill’ Macro and the book itself was written by his grandson, Paul Macro - a serving officer in the Royal Tank Regiment at the time of publication (2019).

I shall look forward to reading this - ‘just a small piece of war’.



nobby said...

Enjoyed this post very much.
I an wargaming an imaginary state in the Himalayan foothills in the period between 1919 and 1939. It started because I wanted to make use of the 'Machine Age' rules in Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames.
The Action at Badama Post is very interesting and useful although not terribly well written, I thought.
Thanks for the hat tip towards 'Crisis on the Frontier'; I was not aware of that book.

David Crook said...

Hello there Nobby,

Thank you kindly sir!

I am pretty sure you can find online the Official History of Operations in Afghanistan in 1935 which I am sure you would find useful in support of your project.I will have a look at the Machine Age rules - I have copy of One Hour Wargames lurking around somewhere!

I have not started reading the Badama book yet but it is on my list. Crisis on the Frontier is a good read - as is his work on the 2nd Afghan War.

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Blitzkrieg .. the seductress .. I think it is the romance of those clanky tanks and teh fact we have the French on our side

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

You are quite right - much better than all that later war ‘power gaming’.

All the best,


Aly Morrison said...

Splendid front loading old chap…
The Blitzkrieg atlas looks and sounds interesting…

All the best. Aly

David Crook said...

Hello there Aly,

I learned from the master in respect of frontloading….

The atlas is splendid!

All the best,