Saturday, December 31, 2005

Where we live

In the spirit of giving I thought I'd show you where we live. The photo I googled but it's actually taken by our next door neighbour. We're about 4th house from the end at the right. They're miners cottages from the now defunct Somerset coalfield.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Age of Reason

Age of Reason movies
Above's a webpage I put together publicising some of the groups that recreate the mid eighteenth century - the Seven Years War mainly - a period I consistently enjoy recreating and studying.
I suppose it was Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (production shot left) that got me started on this period and so far there hasn't been a movie to rival it in scope and depth. Another great 18th century movie is Sternberg's The Scarlet Empress.
I hear there is a movie scheduled on Marie Antionette for 2006 - trailer here - looks interesting...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Call of Duty 2 - the Big Red One

My kids (well not kids anymore but you know what I mean) have long wanted to find a Playstation game that was historically accurate enough for me to want to play on it and I think they found one in this game. A first person shooter (means you see a little rifle in the foreground) that takes you through North Africa, Russia apparently (dont ask how) Normandy and so on, operating various weapons and craft. It's wonderful - yesterday I drove a Stuart tank against Panzers. The scenery is well done and the vehicles and weapons superb.
So... if your kids have a PS2 get a copy of this game - it's really good. I actually prefer letting the offspring play it as they are better at it and I just watch and bore them with background chatter, like why the guys you're fighting are French, and why the Garand isn't worth trading for a Kar 98.

Lobositz 1756 Reenactment

This is looking like a good English speaking organiser too! The above link takes you to a chapter from Carlyle's History

'As many of you already know, the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Lobositz, the first battle of the Seven Year War will take place over a celebration weekend from Thursday 28th September to Sunday 1st October 2006.The weekend opens with a large street fair in the town of Lobositz ( today Lovosice in the Czech Republic), Saturday 30th sees an international wargamers festival in the Lovos Culture Centre organised by the Prague Historic Wargamers Association and on Sunday 1st October we will have a Battle Re.enactment on part of the original battlefield site.

In addition there will be local tours around the battlefield on oldtimer buses and also to Litomerice and the Terezin Memorial which are all within 3 miles of the battlefield and Lovosice.The Battle is being organised by the Mayor of Lovosice with the support of the town council and regional authority and those taking part in the battle will receive food and accomodation subject to early application.

If anyone is interested to take part in the events in Lovosice please contact the Event Co.ordinator'

David Griffiths, Zamek Borec, 41002 Lovosice, Czech Republic

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Rock Star Game

This is an excellent pursuit - choose your band and then off you go - compare your band's progress to others - learn the value of touring and practice. We never did. My band is The Popcorn Dictatorship and I'm at the moment trying to get my first single out.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

King Kong... a star is reborn

I am not normally a fan of remakes but this - the current Peter Jackson version - is very good indeed. It expands on the original - takes the original ideas and gives them more depth and more humanity. Coupled with epic action scenes and panoramas that take the breath away this movie though 3 hours in length keeps your interest from the first scene. NYC of the 1930s is so well recreated that it is totally believable but in a way that makes you feel that you are seeing it in a new way. It makes the original seem like a storyboard - a blueprint for this version which without detracting from the original creates the ultimate version.
Jack Black is good as the crazed Denham but of course the star is the gorilla who has been given more personality and made more believable - there are hints at the fact that he is the last in the line of huge apes and his subsequent loneliness are thrown in and there is a delightful bum-skating scene with King and Ann that is reminiscent of Bambi.
So... give your eyes a treat and your buttocks some torture...go ape for King Kong

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

JCB Song

This quirky folk song about childhood days is an unexpected breath of non commercial music in this season of over produced slosh, from a duo, Nizlopi. Apparently a contender for the Christmas Number one slot. The video is a delight - watch it at the above link. If you're an American reading this you might not know JCB is a make of earth mover...maybe they're an international company...?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Merian C Cooper - King Kong producer

The man who dreamed of a giant gorilla attacking New York would make a fascinating subject for a biopic himself. An airman in the war between Red Russia and Poland he and co poducer Shoedseck are in the close up shots of airmen in the original movie . There's a book on Amazon that looks in interesting

Sunday, December 18, 2005

King Kong Reviews

It seems that this movie is getting the thumbs up - I might even got to see it myself - the period feel to the trailers have sold it for me - the stunning backdrop of 1930s America looks great

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Merry Christmas - the Movie

This movie, which is about to hit the arthouse cinemas in the UK about now, is partly about the Christmas truce of 1914. Presumably this is a movie that could have benefited from the success of A Very Long Engagement.
Synopsis here
If you read this blog a while back you might have seen some links about this obviously important event that has inspired people ever since.

Official website

meeting with Howling Wolf

Good site dedicated to the most powerful of all the Chicago bluesmen Howling Wolf.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Conquest Miniatures' Native Greens

It's always interesting to see figures in their early stage - Conquest are an American company making quite a name for themselves with their 500 nation range. New up are the Sac and Foxes

New World movie reviews

This eagerly awaited tale by Badlands and Thin Red Line director Mallick is based in Jamestown 1607 and features Colin Farrell as John Smith. This 'arthouse movie with a Hollywood budget' is apparently out in the US on the 25th (January 13 in most cities). Mixed reviews are gathered at the above link. I'm enthusiastic about this film despite what some of the critics say - historical pictures that aren't about Rome are as rare as hen's teeth these days and this promises to be a visual feast if nothing else. Check out the official site that has a 360 degree tour of the Powhatan village and some very atmospheric stills

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Trafalgar clips

There was a news item today about the oldest-serving sailor from HMS Victory so here's a few clips of the celebrations this summer

Monday, December 12, 2005

Space Cadets hoaxes public

According to the blurb this reality tv is hoaxing a group of wannabees that they are in Russia and going into space - a big joke - but it seems that the hoax is going to be on the British public as it turns out that the so-called participants are all in fact actors. Shame on Channel 4....

Austerlitz 2005 photos

Lots of really good wintry images at the link above of the French and Allied troops at this event which seems to have been a great success. It's great to see the greatcoats and the winter kit of the period. Much more spectacular than the full parade dress methinks

Pygmy wars

this is a comprehensive site based on the wars of eastern Europe in the post Russian Revolution period. Excellent

Sunday, December 11, 2005


this place is my father-in-law gets his harmonicas... they certainly have a dazzling array - gone are the days when it was Hohner or nothing...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sudden Strike 2

Been busy (ha!) over the last couple of days getting to grips with Sudden Strike 2 and Sudden Strike Resource War - Real time strategy set in World war2. Command either Brit, US, USSR Japanese or German tanks and infantry, their support vehicles even aircraft in realistic battles - well so the aim is. I like them. There are some drawbacks - see the review - but it is a fun and reasonably well rendered world that looks like the war. Some of you might get a copy so I can try out the online capabilities.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Austerlitz photos and video clips

Thanks to Eric from Holland here are some more images of this epic Napoleonic battle. This dedicated reenactor drove 2700 km - 15 hours to fire ten rounds... but despite the cold and the usual difficulties found it worth it to be on the field with 4,000 reenactors.
'It does look great, but very hard work. People having sliding and falling down all over the place. Also having to climb a small hill was very difficult to get up. Took a while before everyone was on top. Very tiring it was. Also very cold, sometimes the leatherstraps of my gaiters froze to the ground if we didn't move too long.
A lot of British we joining French regiments. Our 3eme had some of the 71st HLI members in it.
The Napoleon actor really looked the part, but didn't really have time to watch him on the battlefield. Besides the battle I never saw him again.
I think the next one will be Jena, also likely to be very cold.'
Eric Timmerije

Info on the American who played Napoleon excellent photos - news coverage - photos - news video

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Austerlitz December 3rd 1805 - video of reenactment

Click on the above text for some sensational footage - in snow - thoroughly convincing!
The Battle of the three emperors - French, Russian and Austrian was fought 200 years ago this weekend and a reenactment took place - hopefully it won't be long before we have some photos to look at. If you have a good connection go here to see some videos from a local tv network. Missed the opportunity to watch it live but there's some consolation to seeing some clips. Project Austerlitz

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Cramps New LP of rarities

The Cramps have consistently been probably the greatest rock and roll band in the universe since their inception in the mid 70s. Starting in Ohio before relocating first to NYC and then to their beloved Hollywood, Lux, Ivy and an array of cool and oddly named costars have been the most explosive live act gracing the stage despite the advancing age of the main band. This cd looks like an ideal introduction into the sleazy world of B-movies, horror, burlesque, scifi and anything trashy in American culture that they bring into their infectious rockabilly.

(See them live here doing Cramp Stomp) featuring one of music's most enduring and creative partnership - Lux (vocals) and Ivy (guitar) - long may they reign as King and Queen of rock and roll - German fansite here -


the blurb from Channel 4's website. It is quite an unconventional sit-com as it gets to show the protagonists inner thoughts about intimate subjects

Meet Mark and Jeremy. Mark's the sensible one, a professional brogue-wearer with a slightly disconcerting interest in World War Two. Jeremy is the loose cannon, a lazy waster with dodgy friends who dreams of becoming a musician but can never get his act together (or up in the morning). As ever, their deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings are revealed as they try in vain to find their place in the modern world and to find love and fulfilment. After two years, Mark finally gets together with his beloved Sophie but is distraught when she's relocated to Bristol. He tries everything to maintain their relationship, from mild stalking to a botched session of phone sex. Meanwhile, Jeremy tries to get over his disastrous marriage to American beauty Nancy by embarking on a series totally misjudged relationships. Along the way he falls for a troublesome defendant while he's on jury duty, and - horror of horrors - Mark's younger sister.

Also in this series, Mark and Jeremy are forced to deal with intimidating plumbers, insane friends, and must face up to scary teenage muggers and disappointing threesomes.

Sudden Strike; Resource War

If you were wondering what the game being played at the start of Channel 4's excellent comedy Peepshow by the nerdy Mark it looked like Sudden Strike - so I got myself a copy and will give it a review. It is a resource building based game like Cossacks and American Conquest which I have enjoyed so here goes nothing

site meter added

Now I have taken the plunge and put a site meter up. Now I will see for real how few people read this. So in order not to embarass me tell your friends so the site meter can get into reasonable figures... or hit Refresh a few times!

New Osprey of Note

Back of Beyond Times

An excellent site offering a fresh look at what can be done with miniatures that are painted well. This bit features Copplestone Castings eastern figures.
If you like fantasy and want to see more have a look here

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bath's Blitz Project

lots of memories and so on of Bath (Somerset's) wartime experience. Check out the before and after photographs - amazing sayeth one family member while looking over my shoulder. Bristol is dealt with here


information on this beautiful prehistoric fish

Diorama Dreamland

this is a nice site of dioramas of 1/72 figures. Links to the NIKOLAI range of woodland indians in that scale

Thursday, December 01, 2005

WW2 Fighter sims

Ive been looking around for flight sims as one of the neighbours was asking about them and what with watching a load of airfield movies - this one looks good though maybe a little out of date... this one IL2 - Sturmovik set on the Eastern Front looks good and has good recommendations. Some videos here. Also has Pacific variant

Leslie Howard

Hollywood had a real life hero in this charming man - who took up acting after suffering shellshock in World War One. Costarred in Gone with the Wind. The epitome of the English gentleman. He returned to the UK to help the war effort making morale raising movies such as First of the Few.
Information about the death of this great film actor and filmmaker here a good biography here

Saga of Billy Fiske

Been trying to find out more about this movie The Few based on American volunteers in the Battle of Britain. This movie is already controversial - see above - what about the author of the book, yet to be published Alex Kershaw. He's written a book on the Battle of the Bulge - there's a segment here. He appears to be a very commercially-oriented writer.

the West country in archive film footage

this is a useful collection of films from the prewar and later period in the West Country. Enjoy the reminiscences tooo of an age now longer with us (I wish)... The Compton Martin film is good - reminds me of one of our lame jokes - 'straight outta Compton - Compton Dando'

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bike and sidecar

I never thought I'd find myself lusting after a motorbike but this seems quite a nice idea - perfect for recreating the jousting scene from Indiana Jones

Book Ben Elton The First Casualty

Ben Elton - a stand-up comic and co-writer of Blackadder has long been known as a writer of mildly amusing books but on hearing he'd tackled the Great War my ears pricked up; not usually the stuff of comedy...but the Independent seems to think it worth a look, so hopefully soon a copy will be gracing the shelves of my local charity shop and then I can read it. Another review is here

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

British Comics

Read some of the pages and investigate the adventure comics of the 50s and 60s

Radstock man slams Tom Cruise film

Winston Churchill said it was our "finest hour", but yesterday it was revealed the Battle of Britain was won single-handedly by Tom Cruise. Amid outrage from the West's war veterans and military historians, a new Hollywood film will claim that one American, Billy Fiske - played by Cruise - was responsible for the 1940 victory. But he didn't shoot down a single plane. Fiske was one of a handful of Americans who volunteered to fight in the battle, as the US was yet to enter the war. He was killed by German Stuka bombers in August 1940. His story is to be retold in the film The Few directed by Michael Mann, who made the fighter pilot hero movie Top Gun, also starring Cruise, and filming is due to start soon. "I've heard it is almost like he won the war all on his own," said war veteran Ben Clinch, who loaded the guns fired by the real Billy Fiske. "I can't see how they can make a film of Fiske's life. He was unremarkable, in the context of the squadron. He was just another pilot as far as we were concerned." Fiske's short life is perfect movie material - the handsome son of a wealthy Chicago businessman, he won a bobsleigh gold medal at the Winter Olympics when he was just 16, married the former Countess of Warwick and raced at Le Mans. However, winning the Battle of Britain was not one of his many accomplishments. "He made several sorties but he didn't shoot anything down, and his impact on the battle was negligible," said Bill Bond, of the Battle of Britain historical society.
Jack Younie, 84, of Radstock in Somerset, joined the RAF just before the battle began. He said: "It will make it look as though the Americans were everywhere, but they were hardly there at all. "There were pilots from India, Canada, Australia, South Africa and a few from America. "But the vast majority were British. And our pilots did a great job. If they had lost the Battle of Britain, that would have been the end of everything. Hitler would simply have walked all over us. "They're just trying to make a box-office hit, and they tend to hype it up with things that frankly stretch the imagination." Hollywood has a habit of ignoring facts to glorify the deeds of Americans. In the 2000 film U-571, US seamen recovered an Enigma code machine from a sinking German submarine and changed the course of World War II. Enigma was in fact retrieved by the British crew of HMS Bulldog. The basis for the new film is that the British were on their knees and desperate for help in their fight for aerial superiority with the Luftwaffe. There were, apparently, aeroplanes sitting in hangars and a shortage of pilots. A few brave Americans answered the call - risking jail in the then neutral US - and saved the day. Recalling another piece of Tinseltown propaganda, military historian and former RAF pilot Colin Pomeray, of Dorset, said: "It is like John Wayne being the big D-Day hero in The Longest Day. "The whole idea sounds rather nauseating. It's impossible that any one man could have won the Battle of Britain. "There simply weren't lots of Spitfires sitting in hangars, and I've never heard of the American volunteers facing the prospect of prison. "Fiske was a brave man, all the Americans were brave - but there were only a very small number of them. The problem is that after this, a lot of people watching the film in America will actually believe that is the way it happened."

'Downfall' - screening Dec 9th on More 4

Monday sees the screening in the UK of this highly acclaimed German movie on the last moments of Adolf Hitler. Shot in a realistic style it shows the end of Goebbels and Hitler in a way never before seen. More info on IMDB
The more I learn about Hitler the more he seems like a fool - making some of the worst military decisions EVER. Perhaps the egotistical madness that made him create himself as an embodiment of the Nation's fortunes also made him one of history's worst leaders.

Last Canadian Great War frontline veteran dies

Monday, November 28, 2005

Lancaster Bomber

Inspired to look up this site on these formidable monsters after watching a formulaic bomber command movie starring Dirk Bogarde. Not knowing much about ww2 movies I wonder how many of these airfield movies were made? Seems like a lot from memory. Perhaps there's a site. Ideally a candidate should be in black and white so stock footage can be thrown in.

Flying Clippers

this is a wellproduced page on the subject of the golden age of air travel. The posters and artwork are of the period and well done.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

new Flashman book reviewed

A new book by George Macdonald Fraser has been compared by one as akin to a second coming - this historical novelist is head and shoulders above his rivals in historical detail, wit and general readability. This new Flashman novel is set against the background of the Napier expedition to Abysinnia.
also here also visit here for the background to the character, previous novels and links to other works such as the Steel Bonnets set in the era of the Border Reivers

Eastern front book review

Friday, November 25, 2005

Russian army of the 30s and 40s

According to myth Hitler didn't invade Britain because he lost the Battle of Britain but recent research shows that it was the emerging Russian army with its new tanks and equipment that frightened Hitler into attacking the Soviet Union. This website investigates the armour of this period with some good video clips.
If you want to see a reenactment group of this period go to North-Front's website - some excellent photos including a KV-1 being dredged out of the river

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Percy Topliss - the Monocled Mutineer

One of the great anti-heroes of the Great War, Topliss was once the most wanted man in Britain for his part in mutinies that went on behind the lines. Well that's the myth anyway - a biography of him is here This chemeleon-like character was played by Paul McGann (left) in the tv series written by Alan Bleasdale. Topliss was depicted as a reknowned officer impersonator who used his bluffing instinct to carry him through the various scrapes.
The web is full of anecdotes through local history - one old lady sold him a packet of cigarettes, someone caught him and let him go...have a search and see what turns up. Filmmaker Alex Cox has a script he wrote on the subject here - not sure if you can read it - maybe you have to pay...
There is some of the facts surrounding the controversy of this case on this forum The Etaples mutiny is written about here
The site mentioned above is worth a look - its a campaign to have the 300-odd soldiers shot for cowardice and desertion reviewed. Many of the soldiers shot had no council and were tried, convicted and executed on the same day
There is a book on the subject here but the website gives no information as to what it has. This crime site has an interesting page
Copies of the novelisation of the tv series turn up occasionally.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Great Indian Battles - Minisink 1779

this is an interesting battle that has Militia fighting with a party of Iroquois led by the celebrated Joseph Brant - this website here has some excellent photos of the site.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mickey Lee Lane

there's a great looking compilation of this the man who brought us 'Hey Sah-Loh-Ney' - probably the greatest dance record of all time.

Christmas Truce

LONDON, England (AP) -- Alfred Anderson, the last surviving soldier to have heard the guns fall silent along the Western Front during the spontaneous "Christmas Truce" of World War I, died Monday at age 109.More than 80 years after the war, Anderson recalled the "eerie sound of silence" as shooting stopped and soldiers clambered from trenches to greet one another December 25, 1914.
The Christmas truce has always been of interest to me - there's a book on it I remember reading, but as for finding an interesting angle to celebrate it the prize must go to Billy Childish's Buff Medways for doing a Christmas single 'Merry Christmas Fritz' based around the story on the album 1914 - a concept album of garage rock and roll!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Charge of the Light Brigade in plastic

New manufacturer on the block Emhar are certainly pushing the box about with its new poseable plastic and innovative subjects, and apparently getting their sculpting done in China. This month sees the release of Crimean Russian artillery and British cavalry. All exceptional and historically accurate it bodes well for their Franco-Prussian war sets which are imminent. For more of their products go here

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Not Forgotten

This is a new series attempting to put stories and their descendants to the names on anonymous looking war memorials. Rarely is telly moving but this programme was an exceptionally well put together show that had some interesting and poignant stories to tell, such as the village who had no memorial as one of the fallen was shot for cowardice. This ably showed how the aftermath of the Great War passed on through the generations and was worthwhile time spent.

Native reenactors for New Orleans?

A call to arms! To all able bodied warriors and white men in Indian Country.
A new company is being formed for thepurpose of defending America from that scourge ofEnglish aggression. Major General Pushmataha needs all those warriors who are interested in defending the southland at the major engagement that will soon be had at New Orleans when the English land their ships and troops to attempt to impose their will upon bothours and the American’s lands. We have given our word that we hold in honor to our American brothers and weintend to make good on our promise to help them defend their lands. A company of Indian militia is being formed at present to attend the battle at New Orleans and other sites of interest in an attempt to put the English in their right and proper places. Join now, come and aid in the fight to come. War honors, gifts and loot are to be had to all those who come to fight. Who will go with me to help our American brothers win this fight,who will go with me to teach the English a lesson that they will not soon forget and a fight that songs will be sung for generations to come? Now is the time to join, many English scalps await the hatchet and scalping knife of our bravest warriors, you but need to walk in the path of war with me and we shall be victorious!
The Americans are but a young nation, but with the help of our old sovereign Indian nations we shall help them become great and help them gain the strength that they need to become an old nation as we are. Come brave warriors, come red brothers, let us go to war and let us dance the scalp dances after the victory! I am the one called Apushmatahaubi, the one who brings death to his enemies, the one who stepped forth from the oak fully formed with hatchet and scalping knife in hand. I will lead us to victory and to many prizes of war, come with me!Apushmatahaubi, Mico ant Okla Hannali ChahtaTuska Chitto ant Amahican.(Pushmataha)Leader of the Six Towns Choctaws War General of the Americans
The “modern” call:
At present I am trying to form a company of “Indian Militia” as was such that the “Indian General” andChoctaw chief Pushmataha lead during the War of 1812. The militia will be comprised primarily of Native reenactors dressed as Indians (i.e. frock coats orshirts, leggings, breechcloths, mocs) armed with muskets/rifles/tomahawks and scalpers, but formed up into companies of militia that will adhere to the basic drill of American militia. I realize this is fairly short notice, but only recently was the decision to have the battle of New Orleans reenactment in light of the Katrina disaster made once again. This event is a crucial event in regards to living history and also is important as it will help form a modern link to the importance of a multitude of various groups of people coming together to save New Orleans. It is in direct parallel to what is happening down there at this very moment. The event is January 6-8 of 2006. It is also a great opportunity to portray an aspect of history that has not been displayed since it was originally enacted, that of a significant Native military force serving under “modern” military tactics to accomplish the feat of helping win a major military victory. It is known that Pushmataha drilled his warriors (who numbered some 700 or so Choctaws, Chickasaws and Cherokees) in the white military tactics of the day. They were so effective at learning and conducting the military drill that they were commended on many separate occasions for their bravery and gallantry under fire. That is a sight that will turn some heads, Indians serving in a line company of militia, and with your help as a reenactor in the company, we could be one of the best militia groups ever seen!
The company would also be complemented by any“American” reenactors who wished to portray “Indian country men” – those whites who were living amongst the Indians in their territory at the time, who were serving alongside them because they had a tie either by marriage or by affiliation. This company also has the chance to attend other events of the period other than the Battle of NewOrleans, but what that all depends on is who and how many people wish to join up.
Requirements as far as dress and accoutrements are pretty easy to attain and most folks doing Native reenacting already can easily fit into the role. There is ample documentation of what these men carried and the fact that they were paid as members of the“Mississippi Militia” adds to the idea that these were paid soldiers, not just an Indian rabble.There are no dues, there are few rules, this isn’t a political organization of any kind, I’m just trying to form up a company of militia to attend some really cool events and do a really cool portrayal of an integral period of Native American history.
If you’re interested, please contact me for more information. If you know anyone who might be interested but has not received this, please forward it to them.
Please, inquire only if you’re seriously interested and would be able to firmly commit to at least attending the Battle of New Orleans reenactment in January.Thank you most sincerely, David B. Wells dit Nitaiskatene but now aka Pushmataha:-)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Notting Hill Psychogeography Online Book

Tom Vague's book of Notting Hill pop culture. Well worth a read

Battle for Moscow

An interesting set of pictures from a reenactment of this WW2 battle at Borodino.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Killing a chicken

Yesterday we had to terminate one of our chickens - Godzilla - she was ill and old and not hopefully not a Bird Flu victim. I didn't do it myself - which I'm a little ashamed of - but got a friend to do it - a professional - but it didn't make it feel any better - in fact I felt guilty for not having the conviction to do it myself. It was a strange process that at every stage seemed loaded with meaning. I secretly hoped he would say something like - we'll leave it to the morning - or let's leave til after tea - but once asked the progress was slowly, methodically and unstoppably moving towards the final twist. I apologised for my using him to do my dirty work but he said that was how the noble profession of slaughtering came about - but again I felt weak and slightly evil.
This is a week dogged by death as we have had two fat rats nibbling on our chicken feed - they soon will have to die as they have been chewing on the hens and stealing eggs. Having been in conflict with this species before I am aware that it is not going to be easy and no doubt horrific. How I am going to do it I don't know - any ideas?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Last Legion

The Gladiator effect still rolls on - this movie still in production stars Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley and uses the Epic word in the blurb.
book here

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

hunting shirts

Ive been trying to find the reference I saw somewhere that Natives didn't like or wear Hunting shirts much. Can't find it yet...the above article is interesting though

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Great War Trench Mining

Something that has always interested me about the Great War was the mining and countermining of enemy trenches. My Grandfather was a collier from the Somerset Coalfields and spent much of the war in harrowing countermining operations - often fighting hand to hand underground with their German counterparts. This site is a great addition to the online data about the Great War and is to be congratulated.

Rebellion; John Horse and the Black Seminoles

This is a comprehensive and absorbing look at the Black Seminoles - and the conflict surrounding the region. America has a rich modern history - mostly tales of subjugation - but nevertheless colourful and exciting reading.

Nouvelle France movie 'Historic dud'

this review seems to think the forthcoming Nouvelle France movie a turkey. Official site here . Released in the US on Novemeber 13 - I hope someone over there in the land of the free goes and sees it if only to hear first hand...

The Libertine movie

Johnny Depp , John Malkovich star. Depp is the scandalously decadent John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester. Qutoing from some blurb 'The film follows the Earl's adventures in London, from his passionate romance with a young actress, Elizabeth Barry (Samantha Morton), to the writing of a scurrilous play which blisteringly and bawdily lampoons the very monarch who commissioned it, Charles II (John Malkovich), leading to the Earl's banishment and eventual downfall.'
I must admit to being more of a Malkovich fan than a 'Deppy' but this film looks a must-see.
to read about the real Rochester go here
or here

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pershing's Doughboys

This is the UK WW1 living history group - check out their vehicles - based around the AEF - looking at their site they are doing an interesting trip to New Mexico to celebrate the Pancho Villa incursion.

Lost battalion of WW1

interesting site with clips of the 1919 movie which boasted to be the first time history had been reenacted by the original participants on film.

Chav or anti Chav

Well the nation has been gripped by this concept for part of this year. What is a Chav? Entymology suggests a derivation of a Romany word but the best though apocryphal is the Acronym Council House and Violence but basically the word describes UK white trash or a lowbrow underclass - in short the urban poor. Lots of regional variations of this word - one local to me one 'NUmpties' makes me grin. Julie Burchill did a piece on tv identifying the fact that it was simply a new stick to beat the poor, by the so-called cultured middle-class; so what they have poor taste in clothes? Maybe they spend their money on worthless what?
I live in a so-called Chav stronghold - it has its amusing sides; this conversation was witnessed the other day
'You smell nice?'
'Well you know me and me 'olidays - I always get me perfume - this is the new Calvin Klein...' 'Euphoria?'
'Oh I been calling it Ethiopia...I saw an E and a U and thought 'what?'
Well I have a totemic burberry (fake) basball cap that I wear to annoy the chattering classes and ensure I play 50 cent loudly when I can... so I'm on the side of Chavness come the Revolution.

Atalatl News

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Great Indian Battles - Horseshoe Bend 1814

This battle saw the Creek indians defeated by to-be President Andrew Jackson. There seems to be a tradition of Presidents and Militia membership in the US.
The Creek War seems an interesting site Among the Creeks accompanies

Friday, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day

The aftermath of the War to End all Wars saw riots of veterans and disappointment at the world they inherited. Soon enough the protagonists were at it again in what historians of the future must see as one long war with a breeding gap in between.
Channel 4 and the Imperial War Museum have launched an online memorial - also here
Watch the clip of the new documentary the Somme here

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Buccaneer Bay - a 300 years ago holiday?

this is an interesting resort concept I happened upon while looking for epees du soldat on Loyalist arms' website. It promises to be a one of a kind experience... a holiday 300 years ago - interesting ... special rates for reenactors.

52nd light infantry

this is a pretty swish website for a celebrated Peninsula war unit. Some photos hidden away in the body - they look good

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the Old Fritz & the Dreispitz

On the Age of Reason theme here's an excellent image from the site of the Dreispitz - the Tricorn - depicting the Old Fritz Frederick II of Prussia with his father's beloved Grenadiers. These people will no doubt be gearing up for the anniversary of Lobositz - the battle that started the Seven Years War in Europe.
Browse the myriad of groups on the Dreispitz site recreating the colourful age of Maria Theresa, Voltaire and of course the Old Fritz himself.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

18th Century Books - Age of Reason

Twenty Questions?

This is a computerised version of the old game - animal, vegetable, mineral - done by a pc - give it a try - its fascinating - especially afterwards when the computer takes issue with your answers - it's a great distraction. Give it a whirl.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Great Indian Battles - Monongahela 2005

this is an exceptional photogallery of pics for this reenactment entitled 'Drums in the Forest'.
DVD of "Drums in the Forest" - now available$13.75 (includes shipping) Send your check to:Old Bedford Village 220 Sawblade RoadBedford, PA 15522

Battle of Point Pleasant 1774

this battle between the Virginia Militia and Ohio Natives was recognised in 1908 as the first battle in the American Revolution. This battle also yields some interesting sidelines - notably the Cornstalk curse which gets caught up in the Mothman phenomena

Brothers Grimm

For once Terry Gilliam has got it right. This historically based fantasy around the exploits of the Brothers Grimm (Matt Damn, Heath Ledger) is seasonal movie magic. Not a kids film by any stretch of the imagination this movie manages to deal with Red Riding Hood, the Gingerbread Man and all your favourite childhood tales and be really quite frightening at the same time. The settings are superb, - the forests of Thuringia and Westphalia under Napoleon's yolk are magnificently recreated using Prague as a stand in which seems to be the city of choice for all Napoelonic movies these days.
Full of gothic charm and period flavour (those poor geese must have got sick of being ridden through hastily) it is a visual feast. I'm not really a Gilliam fan as his jokes always seem a little lame and his surrealistic touches often unnecessary but this film did it for me - it almost made up for the disappointment I felt on seeing Baron Munchhausen.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

the First Invasion - War of 1812

this History Channel documentary looks impressive. Already region 1 dvds of this are on ebay so I might take the plunge.

Alamo village

If you are a fan of Americana - which I suppose I must be - you'll find this site dedicated to the movie set built for the Wayne 'Alamo' interesting. Also this recollection - also includes a 360 degree tour.

Sullivan-Clinton Campaign 1779

this visually impressive site is dedicated to this campaign against the Six Nations. Slideshows are impressive and atmospheric

Friday, November 04, 2005

Maryland Light Dragoons War of 1812

interesting site with good links

Brothers Grimm

this movie, by Terry Gilliam has been picking up good comments for its historical accuracy - set in 1804 - and its content - I'll review it soon - check out the trailers and the official site

Great Indian Battles - St Clair's Defeat 1791

On this day in 1791 almost 700 American troops were killed to the loss of about 40 indians near Fort Recovery Ohio. This battle, sometimes known as the Battle of the Wabash was the worst any American army suffered at the hands of a Native foe, so big a defeat it has probably helped it stay in obscurity. It left Washington's fledgling country with an army of 300 to defend itself and was the subject of the country's first congressional enquiry. It's a little spooky that I was going to write about this battle for my blog before I realised today was the anniversary. Anyway, there are no epic paintings of this battle to put up but here are some links to find out a bit more about this great victory of Little Turtle and his confederacy.
Info about the Song - and the background - if you go to this page you'll hear the tune and see all the lyrics at the bottom of the page. Page on Blue Jacket - info on St Clair.
Sadly it didn't feature in a 'Remember the Wabash' type battlecry but it did spur on the formation of a disciplined fighting force known as the Legion of the United States - aka Wayne's Legion.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


this 60m epic of Rome doesn't grab me I'm afraid. Watch the clips, though.

book; Wilderness War on the Ohio

More great Indian Battles; Battle of Oriskany 1777

The Oneidas at the Battle of Oriskany - August 6, 1777
This battle is aluded to in the movie Drums Along the Mohawk as is the General, Herkimer represented. Rated as one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution heavy rain meant desperate hand-to-hand fighting was the order for much of the battle. This excellent representation of the Oneidas is by Don Troianni and is available as a print from here
If you enlarge it you may notice the incident depicts Two Kettles Together loading a musket for a wounded warrior Honyere. More information on this from an Oneida perspective here

Walter D Edmonds

We all know the movie Drums Along the Mohawk - it's one of the great forgotten movies of 1939 and I've long fancied reading the book. Above is a list of his other historical works - some sound really intriguing.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Perry Miniatures

The Perry twins must be Britain's first 'star' sculptors - they have, with their work with Games Workshop, the Foundry and now on their own, set the trends and defined both the aesthetic and scale across the historical miniatures market. They not only have the whole sculpting thing weighed off they also are now very historically accurate in what they create. They certainly have come a long way since their Wargames Foundry English Civil war range when I first became aware of them. You can sense the enthusiasm in their work in the poses, the ideas and the research. The figures come in black boxes so they might make an ideal gift. Worth checking out are their American Revolution, 40mm Peninsular, and the 'Workbench section to see some great 'greens'

Light Brigade Bugle

Sound clip from 1880s! Presumably this is the same bugle bought by Laurence Harvey at an auctionin the 1960s and had played on the Ed Sullivan show by a trooper in period uniform. This sounds a strange scene indeed compared to say, the Beatles. Harvey had bought the screen rights to Cecil Woodham-Smith's The Reason Why, which for some reason Tony Richardson felt he needed for his version of the charge. Harvey was given a small part that was eventually cut as part of the deal to get the rights. The bugle went to the Regimental museum. Osbourne's screenplay documents here

Great Indian Battles; Blue Licks

I'm going to try a top ten Indian Battles list - this one is reckoned to be the last battle of the Revolution - photos of a 2002 reenactment here - some good images
Also while on the search for such things Kentuckianish to go with the above - ran into this gallery. I don't know but seeing these sort of images make me long for the kind of weather and conditions to 'trek' like that
History of Boone and his early fights with the Shawnee here

Virginia Militia War of 1812

this is an article for the recreated unit's impression.
Military Heritage's War of 1812 website has some useful articles and links too. There's an awful mass of genealogical information out there on this period - people should safely assume that they have a relative doing something somewhere and get on with something else, but that's my opinion.

James Alexander Thom

This author of historical fiction is probably best known for 'Follow the River' and 'Panther Across the Sky' (about Tecumseh). Mostly writing about the Shawnee his wife is a Clan Mother of the United Remant Band

Sunday, October 30, 2005

1812 wargames on the web

there's a couple of great lookng 1812 wargames up at the moment - ideal if you have long winter evenings to fill and have a decent printer. The above linked one is graphically exceptional (see left pic) and the other one based on the battle of Chippewa ideal for junior combatants. So why not download and print them off

The Petersburg Volunteers

History of the unit in the War of 1812. Might be one to do. This book looks worth getting.

Prophetstown and the Vision - 1805

So it's also the bicentenary of this event as well as the other more popularised bicentennials such as Trafalgar and Austerlitz. Go here to see Prophetstown's Native American gallery, or have a look at these biogs of Shawnee leaders - here's one on Tecumseh

the art is 'Kinsman to the Shawnee' by John Buxton

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Panther Across the Sky - Tecumseh/New Madrid

You can't look at the War of 1812 for long without coming on to the subject of Tecumseh. The above article is interesting and includes a chunk of Allan Eckert. Panther Across the Sky is also the title of a novel based on Tecumseh's life that was filmed in 1994 as Tecumseh: The Last Warrior This is not available at a reasonable price on DVD yet but if it was I'd recommend it as a reasonable movie of the Shawnee leader's life, worth looking out for if it comes on tv.

Remember the Raisin

Remember the Raisin
paiting by Ken Riley book by G. Glenn Clift
'Remember the Raisin' has been regarded as one of the richest collections of Kentucky War of 1812 source material ever published. The Battle on River Raisin, which was fought in and around Frenchtown (now Monroe), Michigan from January 18 through January 23, 1812, was one of the four principal campaigns of the War of 1812 engaged in by Kentucky forces. American forces were defeated at Frenchtown and approximately 60 Kentucky soldiers were massacred. When news of the massacre reached Kentucky, patriots exhorted one another with shouts of "Remember the Raisin!" thereby helping to encourage participation in the remaining battles of the War of 1812. Remember the Raisin is a comprehensive look at the Battle on River Raisin, including the events leading up to the battle, troop movements, and eyewitness accounts of the skirmishes and the massacre itself.

More sources here

War of 1812

this is a nice-looking site with a promise of mutlimedia cd to come.
Also visit for Fort Erie's War of 1812 site with lots of photos of reenactors etc., like this one by Mike Lynaugh. One series of images show the poder magazine igniting... spectacular
if you have a good connection and like little movies try

Thursday, October 27, 2005

my favourite tank?

The Renault Ft-17 was a remarkable creation - coming in 1917 it was the only tank to see extensive service in both world wars and was the first tank to have a rotating turret. It saw service all over the world from Poland to Japan. This site has photos from Morocco and this one on Polish use. This site has good photos of the model in the Brussels museum and Bovington. Article about Brazil's tank force here This was not a fast tank - being involved in mainly infantry support. It recently had a cameo in the movie 'A Very Long Engagement'.
A review of the 1/35 scale kit produced by RPM is here which makes either the machine-gun or cannon version. In 1/72 scale the Hat 'simple' kit looks the best value

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Polish armoured car

On the subject of 1/35 models RPM of Poland do some excellent vehicles for the c1920 period so I might have a go at this one - looks really nice. I wonder how much a Zloti is? This model goes for about 6.99 on ebay.
Review here

Article on the Tc here

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Kill Van Helsing

Halloween will see the mitchard family outing to see this bill of lovelies...Kill Van Helsing and the Cheater Slicks contain Gavin, an old friend an one-time band member. Vince Ray is the celebrated rock'n'roll artist.

War of 1812

Well the news that a group over here in the UK is now doing the War of 1812 - an international conflict in the Americas between the US and Great Britain made me do a little search and see what the web had to offer - this site is chock full of lovely photos and is a nice indicator of what looks like a good event

Rare Budenovka for sale

This ebay sale of some rare soviet items is of interest - the train guard gymnasterka, red flag and this budenovka is fascinating.

World War One in 1/35 scale

While in the Bath Model Shop I spotted these interesting new figure kits from ICM - one of the many Eastern European modelmakers. They're German Infantry from WW1 and there's a corresponding set of Brits too. These kits must be a welcome addition to this scale and period - presumably fitting in with the Emhar World War One 1/35 tanks, artillery and figures.
Will this be the time to convert part of my garden to the recreation of a trench system in this scale - would this work? I've often wondered whether this was possible or would huge earthworms appear to be swooped down upon by a giant blackbird and spoil the fun? H G Wells in his classic 'Little Wars' always advocated the garden but would painted miniatures take the pounding of being used in the soil? Something to investigate.
A review of an intriguing new pair of Russian cavalrymen of the 1914 period appears

Monday, October 24, 2005

'Gettysburg' and 'Gods And Generals' movies

Why was it so that the movie Gettysburg was so good and the follow-up prequel Gods and Generals so bad? Maybe it was the writing? - G&G was written by the son of the author of 'The Killer Angels'the book on which Gettysburg was based...but the talking scenes in G&G are some of the worst ever filmed - particularly anything with Stonewall Jackson in or anything to do with any subject that got the actors all misty eyed. Jeff Daniels is one of the few of the orginal big names still on board and he looks puffy as if he's been hitting the biscuits while waiting for new offers to come in. Duvall is good as Lee but not as good as Martin Sheen with his sing-song southern lilt which you have to try and copy - 'I believe we may have an opportoonity heah'
The rendering of Frederciksburg is welldone and the battles pretty good all in all - but whereas Gettysburg is a buyer - G&G is a rental only - wonder if the law of diminishing sequels will extend to the 'Last Full Measure' the final chapter...I think I can wait.
Why are they discussing bird flu on the G&G message board?
Essays and articles on filmmaker Maxwell's site

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hating Harry Potter

While at said pub - for a pub quiz which we won - I got pretty angry with the Quizmaster - three questions on Harry Potter? I objected - it's enough that the BBC push this crap on 'the kids 'through constantly banging on about it and would-be (fake) good parents thinking that it is somehow good for them (children)... I have to say - you're not fooling me - it's very name sends shivers up my spine - such middle-class vowel sounds make me realise that this is the new Enid Blyton - something designed to package our children off to suburban Bourgeoise nirvana - a brief respite before getting involved in ASBOS and drugs. It's always used as an excuse 'but it gets the kids to read' - what other books do you buy them then...obviously nothing any good...

Trafalgar day

Well I didn't like this at all. It had a feeling of enforced jollity like the many ww2 anniversary celebrations. Whilst I was at a pub someone stood at the bar said 'we're supposed to be celebrating Nelson today' - says who? The telly? The Queen? Is it something to do with the fact that we're in a war and we need recruits? The only thing I saw briefly was a recreated Spanish infantry comany of 1805 at Cadiz but I havent been able to see any photos online.
I think I am going to give up my interest in history - it's just a pretext to beguile naive idiots to join the forces.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

19thc European uniforms

Franco-Prussian war

This is a period that a few English speaking people are drawn to but is more popular naturally in France and Germany. This site has a fantastic array of photos and information - well worth bookmarking if you have an interest in the period.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Great Northern War pics

This is a great group who recreate the age of Peter the great in Russia and Estonia - this is a series of photos from a movie shoot on the monarchs of Russia

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Thorny Path of Struggle and Torment: Songs of the White Army and the Russian Emigres

This was found on the Russian Civil War yahoo group - some of the titles are amazing - Though mockery, lies, and oppression surround usis one that springs to mind - listen to excerpts

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Christie's Trafalgar Sale

some interesting items up for sale here - including a chapeau worn by the dimunitive one himself

Friday, October 14, 2005

Trafalgar Day

Sadly for us Francophiles and Bonapartists Trafalgar day looms - a fairly interesting set of programmes are scheduled by the BBC who were criticised for ignoring the festivities earlier this year

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Happy John Peel Day

Well... the first day to celebrate the great man himself - and what better way than a concert recorded last night, broadcast tonight featuring the mighty Fall and New Order - apparently doing a set entirely of Joy Division songs. The new Fall lp is another classic (photo above is of singer/bard Mark E Smith from last nights concert) and the last of the Peel era songs - most of the songs Blindness, What About Us? 'I can hear the Grass grow'etc were on their last Peel session and performed on Later with Jools Holland.
Peel certainly loved the Fall and as another Fall fan it was reasssuring to have someone who loved them in the same way - will it ever be the same?
I'll always feel a warmth towards John Peel - Nigel our bass player waited outside the studio to give him our new debut 45 'Don't Misbehave in the New Age' - and he played it straightaway, first record of the night. Can't ask for more than that......

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"They had built huts of bushes and leaves." The Work of John U Rees

This article by John U Rees is well worth a look - about the lodgings of soldiers in the American Revolution - includes a detail from Xaviera Della Gatta's painting of the Battle of Paoli. Also worth a look is "Bugle Horns", "conk shells," and "Signals by Drum":
Miscellaneous Notes on Instruments
During the American War for Independence
also by John U. Rees
both from a site I hadn't seen up to now. A list of Rees' articles on camp life etc is here

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


The other week I downloaded this oldie, about Gangs fighting in various strange guises - for the family - and Red said 'this would make a great computer game' and guess what its coming out - from Rockstar games

John Peel Day 13th October

October is the day set aside for the celebration of this great man. I guess I'll spend it playing the new Fall LP 'Fall Heads Roll' at a volume that might wake the dead. Gigs in the southwest are at

Monday, October 10, 2005

F&I art - Nat Youngblood

Image hosted by

Art of the French and Indian wars - an occasional look at this period through the eyes of artists - this example - which goes along with my theme of 'mini' wargaming is from Pittsburgh artist Nat Youngblood - more images here

Boats of the French and Indian wars

It's all very well these ranges, like the Pendraken 10mm wargames figures, having birchbark canoes but what about batteaux? Details of these and their use at this site

Wren on the Head?

Yesterday while I was at the PC Susan called over to me 'have I got something on my head' - I got up and went over and there was a Wren sat on her head - in the front room! I think Bottle, our cat must have brought it in and it had hidden and then made a bid for freedom. I tried to catch it but luckily it flew out the opened front door. Very strange.

10mm wargaming

This is a scale that is gaining ground in popularity - it could even be described as a craze - the world of mini-wargaming - figures that are 10mm in scale - not the smallest but pretty small. These French and Indian war figures are from one of the leading figure companies - Pendraken
I'm going to paint a few of these and post them up for your perusal. If you want lots of tips in how to paint them sign up for for all the techniques. They are 2.75 a pack and Pendraken take Paypal. Caliver Books in the UK stock the Old Dominion Gameworks and Old Glory American Revolution figures in 10mm which will give you more Natives to paint as well.
The obvious advantage of this scale is a normal sized table can be used as your battlefield and the cost of the armies make it a pretty cheap experience.
There's another review here

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Natives in the American Revolution

This document was posted by Rebecca Jordan of the Woodland Confederacy on
it concerns a European perspective on the Native allies that fought for Britain in the American Revolution

in the army of General Bourgoyne, to a friend in Brunswick, Fort St. Anne, March 1777 translated by Geert van Uythoven...

The way battle is waged over here is very special, and differs totally from our systems. We campaign only two men high, and one man has to act on a distance of 18 Zoll from the other, to be able to march in line inside woodsand bushes. Cavalry is totally useless, and therefore our dragoons have to depend on their legs. Our colours encumber us much, and none of the English regiments has brought theirs with them. Every English regiment has a separate grenadier-, and a light company, which are formed into combined battalions which are of great use. The Corps Canadian Volunteers is not to despise.
The savages cannot be trusted because of their innate bestiality.They are very brave, but also very unbridled, and therefore have to be accompanied by English or Canadian officers. Above all they wish to fight independently, not under the command of English generals or officers, as true allies and friends of the king. One certain Iroquois, called Joseph, has been in England for some time. He knows to make a correct judgement of the interests of the English and savages, and he tries to build himself a name as chief of an army of savages. One is trying to prevent this in every possible way, then God should be merciful to the colonists that will be their neighbours. The savages are queer birds [sic!], which fall from one extreme into the other easily. I have been in Loretto, an old settlement of Huron's, which over eighty years ago were converted to Christianity. They have qualified themselves for regular cultivation and cattle-breeding. However, with surprise one notices that they cling to their old habits with perseverance. Their church is curious, and without any chairs or pews; on the other hand it is filled with handmade wooden saints, which, although they were Hebrew,Roman, Greek, or from another European nationality, are now depicted assavages in savage clothes and painted in many beautiful ways. I will noteasily forget the good Petrus, with his keys and beautifully painted face. I could tell you grotesque stories about their monarch Athanas who resides here, and who is honoured by the savages for hundreds of miles around. Aswell as about the prince, their upper-steward, and his three daughterprincesses. However, for now the hour-glass has been completely run through.(…)"
The expedition which has been mentioned, departed by water on the 16th. The author of the above letters has kept a diary of it, of which we will print the part which describes his first meeting with the savages:"On 21 June General Bourgoyne, Major-General von Riedesel, and bothBrigadiers Specht and von Gall departed for the camp of Brigadier Fraser at Rivière Bonguet, five hours distance from our camp. Here we saw a congress of savages of three tongues, which offered their services to GeneralBourgoyne. For the audience, a huge summer-house was build. Such a ceremony is very extraordinary, and I will describe it in detail some time when I have more time to spare. The deputies sat all in a circle on the naked ground, and smoked in their Calumots such a terrible tobacco, that one couldsuffocate. Their faces are painted with black and red, according to anyone's fantasies and ideas. The mutilation of their ears in many different ways is very special. Many have cut lose the complete edge of their ears, which hangs down like some decoration. The decoration of their hair is even more striking, and rarely one sees one of which not all hair has been pulled out except of a small part at the back of their heads, the bald places which have been created this way been painted with various figures. In their nosethey wear rings with small bells, or they pierce them with big red feathers or even blades of grass, etc. I especially liked one certain individual; he had painted one half of his face black, the other half red, and on the black half he had painted a red, on the other red half a black moustache. General Bourgoyne accepted the offer of the savages of Sault St. Luis or Kaynuawaga, of Jamaska and of the Abenaki's, and assured them of his friendships and reward. At the same time he pointed out to them, that all savage nations of the American continent had been summoned to serve against the rebels. In addition, they were urged strongly to spare old men, women and children, and not to scalp prisoners nor wounded. After that, they were regaled with some fat oxes and several casks of rum."
Source: Militair-Wochenblatt, 18. Jahrgang (Berlin 1833), No. 865, pp.4862-4860.(c) Geert van Uythoven

Friday, October 07, 2005

Aircraft of the Spanish Civil war
If you have any interest in the 'planes of the 30s then this is the site for a visit - well illustrated and organised - well worth the time
I need some fine wine and you, you need to be nicer
this the latest single from Sweden's Cardigans is a belter - no messing... lyrically, melodically it is a pop song from heaven - such a fantastic video that is so good

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Polish Air Force
This crops up in Babel - in particular Cedric Fauntleroy the below note I found on the web
Major Cedric E. Fauntleroy was the leader of
a group of volunteer American pilots who formed an escadrille and fought and flew for Poland in the Polish–Russian War of 1919–1920 [sic]. They called themselves the Kosciuszko Squadron in honor of the 30 year old Polish Officer who served the cause of freedom during the American Revolutionary War [Saratoga, West Point, etc.]. Captain Merian C. Cooper conceived the idea of the squadron and Major Cedric E. Fauntleroy was its first commanding officer.
(Back dust jacket, Robert F. Karolevitz and Ross S. Fenn, Flight of Eagles: The Story of the American Kosciuszko Squadron in the Polish–Russian War 1919–1920, Sioux Falls, S.D.: Brevet Press, 1974)

An excellent website has this article White Eagles on the Polish Airforce of the period
Red Air forces here
Russian art
George Mitrevski has a pleasant gallery of Russian art that might interest some people - one called Red Cavalry caught my eye
Book: 'Red Cavalry and Other Stories' Isaac Babel
This is the Penguin Modern Classic version which also compiles his Odessa stories and many others.
A collection of short stories written when Babel was assigned to Budyenny's Red Cavalry - all based on fact, apparently. Now if this description doesnt send you to order a copy nothing I can say will persuade you - but it is a must have classic work. Written during the failed Soviet invasion of Poland
this collection of anecdotes about the human condition take you to the front line of history, among the blood and misery, the humour and tragedy of warfare.
This was one of the last wars to use mounted troops for shock action and it shows a time now gone when mounted bands went into battle and when cavalry charges still took place with lance and sword.

Russian Civil war weekend
This weekend just gone saw Dave Allen and I making the long trek north to just outside York - to Murton Park - York's museum of farming for a Russian civil war weekend. How it works is the museum which has a Danelaw village, railway and Roman fort allows itself to be Russia for the weekend - the thatched wattle and daub huts of the Viking period look ideal for Russian peasant dwellings. This was with the 1914-21 society who normally recreate troops of the Tsar in the Great War. I was hoping to put some photos with this but you'll have to use your imagination - the huts were an excellent backdrop - ideal for skirmishing around with their shuttered windows and outhouses. We were able to sleep in these hobbit houses which was fun, too.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Animals and men cd
Recently Susan and my band had a cd out and it's always frightening - wondering how it'll go down - today we got a review at - I'm too scared to read it yet but Bea says its favourable... maybe I'll hazard a look
Seven Years War anniversary events
Udo of the Prussians is looking for good groups to take part in the anniversaries of Minden and many others - if you are one of these SYW groups interested email him at
If you want to check out the Prussians and many more go to my site

Friday, September 30, 2005

I wish you would - Billy Boy Arnold - a forgotten classic
This year sees the anniversary of many great records - 1955 was one of the best. A reissue of the classic Bo Diddley/I'm a Man had been done by Chess but I thought it might be interesting to look at another unsung masterpiece of 55 'I wish You would'.
Billy Boy Arnold was part of the wave of 2nd generation Chicago bluesmen although Billy Boy picked up his harp style not only from records but also from the great John Lee 'Sonny Boy' Williamson. Billy Boy played with Bo on the streets of Chicago perfecting their distinctive 'African' style sound - complete with maraccas and a repetitive hypnotic riff. An early dub of Bo Diddley caught the ear of Chess records and an audition was set up. Billy Boy was told by Bo after the session that Leonard Chess thougth his style too dirivative of Sonny Boy's and so Billy Boy took his self to Chess's rival VeeJay. The result was 'I Wish You Would' - reputably the first use of electric bass on record in Chicago. Unfortunately Chess considered this competition for 'Bo Diddley' and had strings pulled to keep the record off the air, and so the record wasnt as much of a smash as it should be. Listen to Billy Boy classic 45 here

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Lobositz 1756
Well the anniversary of the Seven Years War moves into the European phase with next year a reenactment of this, the opener between Austria and Prussia. This battle is being reenacted in 2006 on the dates, 29th September to the 1st October - groups of the period who might be interested contact
David Griffiths,
Zamec Borec,
41002 BOREC 1,
Information and links to groups reenacting the 7 years war at
Info and pictures of this battle

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No Direction Home - Dylan documentary
This was an amazing piece of telly. Dylan, usually reticent, tackles the difficult years of his turning his back on the folk scene and embracing poetry against the 'topical' song. Loads of clips keep the pace going and some really good versions of some of his classic works appear - some of it live, some in the studio. I had forgotten what a true original Dylan was/is and this work showed him in his prime; besuited in beatle boots, getting booed by the northern lads and lasses who in little glimpses seem like children compared to the godlike Bob. The looseness of the sound created by Bob and the Band is well demonstrated with unusual by contextually correct versions of the songs if you know what I mean. Other folk and Blues performers get a mention - there is even a 5 second burst of the Wolf doing Spoonful at the Newport Folk Festival.
While in the mood here's my top 5 Dylan songs at this second in time
Obviously Five Believers
From a Buick 6
Visions of Johanna
Watching the River Flow
Highway 61
Giant squid Photographed in its natural habitat

Monday, September 26, 2005

New York Dolls on 'Don Kirschner's Rock Concert'
I have only just seen this performance - another of the web's joys... a tv show from 1975 - it is just brilliant. It knocks into a cocked hat any theory that the NYD's weren't the best band of the 70s - the energy and passion present alone make them the best rock thing America had produced up til that time. Thunders' doing Chatterbox is phenomenal especially compared to the later renditions and Johansen pouts and preens himself throughout. Jerry Nolan fans get to see him drumming centre stage behind the singer and he is all arms - a veritable squiddley diddley.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

No Direction Home
I admit to being a Dylan fan - at least the classic period which this documentary covers - 1961-66. I'm looking forward to it immensely actually - does that make me really unfashionable? as my kids tell me Dylan is about as unfashionable as it comes due to him not being dead and all that. Anyway

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Powell & Pressburger
This week a couple of classics have been screened - a Matter of Life and Death' and 'Life and Death of Colonel Blimp' - both featuring the excellent Roger Livesey. It's hard to put the appeal of these films into words - their high production values show what might have been if Britain had been blessed with a Hollywood system - these films are essentially British but also first class - something that few British films can be. This site has a lot of good stuff on these best of British filmmakers.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Haitian history
one anniversary that slipped by me was the anniversary of the Republic of Haiti in 1804 - an amazing tale well worth reading about - check out for a start. I've always thought the story of Toussaint L'Ouverture could make a good movie and one that could bring positive light on the history of this brave endeavour. A shortened version of key events are here
An article on Dessalines is here

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jean Lafitte
I was talking to Dave Allen about my New Orleans battle idea and it wasn't going to well until I mentioned there were French pirates there...but it was Talk Like a Pirate Day which seems to have really got this country going . Here's a piece on Jean Lafitte

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The 9eme legere
Those of you who are reenactors may despair at the lack of progress of your unit but take heart - it wasn't that long ago that this unit were just a core of two or three people - now look at them. It goes to show that if you stick with something and get it right then it will all fall into place. This group are on a bicentennial scheme following the changes in uniform as it goes.
Blowing the Blues: A History of Blues Harmonica by Various Artists
this is a fantastic 3 cd set on the history of blues harmonica - tracklisting and samples here
the first 2 cds are absolute gems with the legends of pre war harp such as Noah Lewis, Jaybird Coleman and Jazz Gillum. The 2nd cd deals with the golden age if you like - the Sonny Boys, Little Walter, Big Walter - you know them - includes some great harp work. Cd 3 is a little less indespensible but who knows - maybe it'll grow on me.
Howl's Moving Castle
This week sees the release at the cinema in the UK of this new title from Studio Ghibli - the people who brought you 'Spirited Away' and many other superior family animation classics. Set in a Victorian world the trailer may be seen here
Based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones it has been redubbed with many Hollywood biggies lending their vocal talents.
Official website
To learn more about the work of the creator Hayao Miyazaki go to

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Slim Harpo
Occasionally I'm going to feature some of the greats of Louisiana's musical heritage which is so rich and diverse as to have produced so many good records and artists in the 20th century.
The region's influence is everywhere - even in music like Slim Harpo's electric blues. On paper Slim, aka James Moore, from Baton Rouge was an imitator; most of his material is a take on the Jimmy Reed style from Chicago - lazy guitar boogies over racked harp and even lazier singing but Slim Harpo brought something else with him - the tonality and rhythms of Louisiana.
His repertoire of r&b hits encompasses some of the most covered of all blues songs 'I'm a King Bee', 'Got Love If you want it', 'Shake Your Hips', all with their original echoey recording sound and their sparse, unusual percussion. Moore's nasal vocal style is infectious as is his style of songwriting - minimalistic and somehow desolate. Witness the great swamp pop of 'Raining in my heart' or 'Baby Scratch My Back'. Anyway - listen to some clips on amazon - you might like it - you might even grow to love it. 'Wondering' and Worrying' is a personal favourite with probably the best intro I've ever heard.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Lake George French and Indian war tactical - keeping it real
Can you imagine reenacting the French and Indian war in the historic backdrop where it took place, away from the public in a 'wargame' situation - scouting, ambushing and so on for a good few days? Well that's what the Lake George tactical is all about. Read about it here I was lucky enough thanks to Dubois to attend this event in 99 and it is a real eye-opener and worth attending. I'd love to take a party over from Europe - just the experience of living on jerky and lake water waiting for a possible Ranger ambush is amazing. It's usually in October so flights aren't expensive and there's nothing to spend money on once you're on the the expansive Lake and its environs. Highlights for me were a night scout when we canoed around the myriad islands under the northern lights and the various treks when we outscouted the Brits and took their flag. The weather's pretty mild in comparison to the UK at this time and it is certain you'll never be quite the same again. Read the journals and so on at the webpage above and maybe make a date for 2006?
250th anniversary redcoats - the 44th Foot
As mentioned elsewhere on this blog this year is the 250th anniversary of 1755 - a year in which the world war known as the Seven Years War kicked off. There seems to be some confusion among reenactors as to what British redcoats looked like in the American theatre and in Europe so I thought it interesting to feature the 44th regiment of foot, from the US. who were originally participants in the great Braddock disaster at Monogahela. Their wesbite is here - the image left is from their website and is their webdesigner Ryan Gale.
If you are a francophile and want to see the French side of this picturesque conflict you won't have long to wait for more features.
Is this the best 18th century reenactment group in the world?
This Milan-based group recreating the Garde Francoises of the Seven Years War are in my opinion the best 18thc society. Their leader and tailor Gabriele Mendella is certainly one of those rare people in reenactment - someone who knows what they're talking about - he's inspected and handled pretty much all the existing uniforms and painstakingly recreates them. They may have a webpage of their own by now but in the meantime check out for more

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

my children got to meet their tv chef idol Gary Rhodes in Bath today promoting his new book 'Keeping it Simple' - the usual Rhodes' mixture of common-sense cooking and ingenuity. He must win an award for being the least annoying tv chef ... so far

Review; Italeri 1/72 indian warriors (American Independence war)

I have always liked small plastic figures. I like them for a number of reasons, some of them nostalgic - the opening of a new box is a pleasure that goes right back to way back in my childhood, but I also like the sculpting, animation and availability of them too. Recently many new companies have increased the depth of subjects covered and the overall accuracy of the figures has improved incredibly. Leaders in the market include eastern European manufacturer Zvezda whose Samurai warriors have raised the boom in quality and accuracy and companies like Emhar and HaT industries have brought new ideas and useful poses into the frame.
A site that is so valuable in taking the guesswork out of buying these figures by reviewing the figures and categorising them by time period and manufacturer is the Plastic Soldier Review - visit this site and be amazed at the range of figures now available to the modeller or wargamer.
Indian Warriors
As someone interested in the frontier period in American history I was looking forward to these woodland indians from Italeri and whilst they aren't perfect they certainly do the job of recreating the allies of the British in the American Revolution. OK so the sculptor doesnt really know anything about ballheaded clubs - that much is eveident - and the gunstock clubs are a little too prevalent showing the influence of the 'Mohicans' movie on the choice of weapons. A lot of the poses are kind of strange - one holding a scalp aloft being one and some very odd waving stances being some that come to mind. None of the warriors look like they know how to fire a musket which would be erroneous in that most woodland indians were expert marksmen and none are using the bow or woodland spear. It is another case of the box art being so much better than the contents but they are worth a paintjob and coupled with the other Revolution or Seven Years war figures enable people to recreate battles of the French and Indian wars pretty cheaply. Imex are planning releases of Mohawks and Rogers Rangers to add to their already impressive range of settlers, wagons and stagecoaches in their American History series - one set includes wigwams and camp equipment for 'Eastern Friendly Natives'.
So there you have it - the future is plastic - check out the Plastic soldier Review for the all-important 'sprue shots'
Cossacks 2 looks good
check out the gallery for this new Napoleonic realtime strategy pc game - looks good but then I'm a fan of Cossacks and American Conquest the predecessors - also watch out for the American civil war version of the latter

Testard de Montigny
This is a French group recreating the Compagnie franches de la marine in North America. These were colonial soldiers garrisoning the forts up and down the various rivers and lakes in Canada and beyond
If you thought this was all cavalry, this war of 1920 had a fascinating armoured car column made of converted Model T Fords - go to this site to read about it and see pictures of the vehicles

Battle of Komarów 1920
As a cavalry fan I was pleased to have an account of this battle come through the post today. It's the last big decisive cavalry battle in history and it could be credited as being the battle that saved the rest of Europe from the Bolshevik peril. It certainly was bad for the hitherto invincible Budenny and his cavalry army - but Polish cavalry have never been a push over - they could be credited as having saved Europe in 1685 relieving the siege of Vienna but that's another story - to read about the miracle on the Vistula go here
or hereów