Tuesday 14 June 2022

The von Spanckwürst Identity

A wisp of smoke escaped from Sir Douglas d’Emfore’s pipe. Cautiously, Sir Douglas inserted a fresh wisp. Sir Douglas gazed out of his office window at 64 Baker Street at an overcast and gloomy sky. “Rain, I think, Moneypenny”, he said to his assistant, in a somewhat distracted manner.

The von Spanckwürst problem had come to the fore and, as head of ‘G’ Section, Special Operations Executive, it was down to him to formulate a plan. Normally a decisive and resolute head of section, Sir Douglas was at a loss as to how to proceed on this knotty problem.

Sir Douglas was at a loss

A ‘flimsy’ had arrived on his desk from the de-coding section deep in the bowels of the building, very early that morning. As was his habit, Sir Douglas had been camping out in his office and was shaken awake by Miss Moneypenny at sparrow-fart, as he liked to call it. It was marked ‘Most Urgent’ and originated from Verity ‘Peaches’ Snapcase. Peaches was currently the only female SOE agent operating in Berlin. She had been parachuted into Germany in 1941 and now, in the spring of 1942 she had hit the jackpot. Unless, of course, it was a double-bluff by the Abwehr?

D'Emfore’s mind drifted back to those halcyon days in 1934, back before the knighthood and the desk job. He’d been a ‘joe’, a field agent in Berlin, under the auspices of MI6. He smiled fondly at memories of the nightlife, the cabarets, the nightclubs and the showgirls…and Marlene. Marlene! Marlene Dietrich, now there was a name to conjure with.

His intention at the start had been to recruit Marlene as a source. Not a field agent as such, but a source of information. She was already a movie star and was only back in Berlin, to see friends and family. She made no secret of the fact that she despised Herr Hitler and the Nazis and was involved in helping dissidents escape Germany.

The recruitment was a success and many useful nuggets of information were passed back to 54 Broadway, the SIS headquarters. However, D.M. (as he was known to his friends) fell in love with Marlene, as did many men at the time. Their affair was brief, as Marlene had to return to Hollywood to film The Scarlet Empress. Marlene kept in touch and passed on any information she had gleaned from refugees who she assisted in escaping the Nazis.

Well, he thought, that was all water under the bridge now. He already had had a big triumph in 1933 with the Jonny X case, before he met Marlene. Then, in July 1939, in Pyry near Warsaw, D.M. was introduced by his Polish counterparts into their Enigma-decryption techniques and equipment, including Zygalski sheets and the cryptologic "Bomba", and were promised future delivery of a reverse-engineered, Polish-built duplicate Enigma machine. This was the beginning of the Enigma project and D.M. picked up a knighthood in the New year’s Honours list.

Sir Douglas was looking forward to a spectacular rise, up through the ranks of MI6. Particularly as his old school chum, Admiral Sir Hugh "Quex" Sinclair was ‘C’, the head of MI6. Unfortunately, Quex died suddenly in 1939 and was replaced as ‘C’ by Lt Col. Stewart Menzies (Horse Guards), who had been with the service since the end of World War I. Ordinarily, this would not have been a problem. However, in 1938, D.M. had been caught in flagrante delicto with Menzies’ wife in a Kensington hotel and the scandal would now come back to haunt him. Menzies, as was to be expected, had no love for Sir Douglas, even though he had brought the key to the German’s Enigma machine back to blighty. D’Emfore was posted to what Menzies viewed as a backwater, the newly formed Section D and became responsible for propaganda in 1939. A lucky break occurred when Section D became part of the Special Operations Executive, and D.M. was part of the department tasked by Churchill to “go and set Europe ablaze”. When Brigadier Colin Gubbins, an old Shirburnian and classmate of D.M.s was appointed Director of SOE, Sir Douglas was back on track and rapidly became head of G Section, that part of SOE responsible for creating havoc in Germany.

Sir Douglas arose from his reverie and started to pace up and down like a caged tiger. All this living in the past was not going to solve the von Spanckwürst issue. Down to brass tacks and a straight bat to the wicket, he told himself. “Brace up, man!” he shouted at himself, startling Moneypenny who was just bringing in the Darjeeling and ginger nuts.


Saturday 5 March 2022

Major Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

I think I read somewhere that someone (the joys of senility, I can't remember anything, nowadays) had already thought of the idea of putting Mary Shelley into the Silver Bayonet. Apologies here for pinching your idea!

No pictures yet, as I am still painting, but this thread will keep track of my progress as I try to assemble a British Silver Bayonet unit. Whilst, painting, I came up with a rather wild back-story, which I post here. I have had to fiddle around with several important dates by a matter of years, so anything that does not sound right is either my intention or my error.

I will probably be playing solo but am still reading through the rule book at present.

So, without further ado...

Major Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

In ‘The Silver Bayonet’

(An acknowledgement that some of this text is taken directly from ‘The Silver Bayonet’ by Joseph A. McCullough). I do hope that is not a problem.

Major Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is ostensibly the second in command of the Much-Piddling Hussars, a Yeomanry regiment raised by the Earl of Snapcase in 1797. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Earl of Snapcase’s Own’. The regiment was comprised of local famers and officered by the landed gentry and nobility. The threat of invasion by Bonaparte and his armies, was considered high and many flocked to the standard raised by Lord Snapcase at Snapcase Hall.

Mary’s mother Mary Wollstonecraft was a feminist activist and had persuaded her husband, William Godwin to buy a commission for the young Mary in the Much-Piddling Hussars. Therefore, Cornet M. W. Godwin was duly entered into the regimental books at the tender age of thirteen, in 1800. She did not, obviously, take up her commission at that point.

As a teenager, Mary’s father encouraged her to undertake an education in many diverse subjects, medicine, politics, archaeology and even the supernatural. She fell in love with Percy Bysshe Shelley and travelled with him in Europe during the early 1800’s. This culminated in a summer spent with her stepsister, Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori (who had recorded his study and knowledge of vampires in novelistic form in a book entitled ‘The Vampyre’) on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Their earlier travels in Europe had taken them on a journey along the River Rhine. The party spent some time at Gernsheim and from there visited Castle Frankenstein in the Odenwald. It was reported that Mary and Percy had met and conversed with Doctor Victor Frankenstein at his castle. What they discussed has never been revealed.

A tragedy then occurred in young Mary’s life. Percy Shelley was drowned when a storm sank his sailing boat, whilst he was sailing near Viareggio in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Overcome with sorrow, Mary Shelley returned to England in 1807 and resided with her relatives at Snapcase Hall, Much-Piddling.

Reminded of her commission with the Much-Piddling Hussars, Mary decided to become an active member of the regiment. There was great consternation at first when it was discovered that Cornet M. W. Godwin was, in fact a woman. However, her uncle being the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Lord Bertram Wilberforce Snapcase, these objections were soon quashed. Mary turned out to be a superb horsewoman, a natural markswoman and very talented with the sabre. As a natural soldier and with the influence of Uncle Bertie, she soon rose to the rank of Major.

Our story begins in 1808, when the Prime Minister, William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland sojourned at Snapcase Hall for an extended visit. Cavendish-Bentinck was fascinated to learn of Major Shelley’s time with Victor Frankenstein and John Polidori and of her own studies in the occult and the supernatural.

After dinner one night, Cavendish-Bentinck reveals to Mary and Lord Snapcase that he has commissioned a secret society called ‘The Silver Bayonet’. He recounts that as the wars of Napoleon ravage Europe, chaos and fear reign and the darkness that once clung to the shadows has been emboldened. Supernatural creatures - vampires, werewolves, ghouls, and worse take advantage of the havoc, striking out at isolated farms, villages, and even military units. Whether they are pursuing some master plan or simply revelling in their newfound freedom is unknown. Most people dismiss reports of these slaughters as the rantings of madmen or the lies of deserters, but a few (including Cavendish-Bentinck) know better…

The Silver Bayonet society is formed of soldiers who have faced and defeated these other-worldly evils. They are divided into small, specialist units and are usually led by a veteran Exploring Officer. These small units search for secret knowledge and weapons that can be used against the forces of evil and fight to eliminate these creatures, wherever they are found. Riflemen, swordsmen, and engineers fight side-by-side with mystics, occultists, and even those few supernatural creatures that can be controlled or reasoned with enough, to make common cause.

Cavendish-Bentinck went on to explain that the other great powers, France, Russia, Spain, Austria and Prussia also have their own, similar units. Sometimes these units work together, but more often than not, they battle with one another, hoping to secure some ancient knowledge or lost treasure that will give their homeland the upper hand in the war that is being fought in the shadows.

In conclusion, over large bumpers of vintage port (delivered by the shaky hand of Old Scrotum, the aged and wrinkled Snapcase family retainer) the prime Minister reveals that he wants Mary to form and lead one of these small units of the Silver Bayonet. The Prime Minister believes that supernatural agencies are abroad in the vicinity and with Mary’s natural military prowess and her associations with Frankenstein and Polidori, she is the ideal candidate to form an elite group of this nature. Mary accepts with alacrity and the three of them toast to her success in the future.

Thus, is the Much-Piddling Silver Bayonet Troop formed and Mary’s head whirls with ideas, but initially she must recruit some like-minded and courageous individuals, as she cannot work alone. Immediately, she thinks of her old friend and sometime lover, the disaffected French noblewoman, Countess Marie Antoinette du Bedandboard. The daughter of a Royalist cuirassier officer, the Countess is virulently opposed to Napoleon, whom she refers to as that ‘stunted and odious little Crapaud’. The Countess is exiled from France and resides in some style at her home in Felpersham in Borsetshire. Mary prepares an invitation to the Countess to come and stay at Snapcase Hall…and so it begins!

To be continued…

Tuesday 25 January 2022

'Retten Rommel!'

Here we have the Desert Fox himself, Generalleutnant Johannes Erwin Eugen Rommel. Oberstleutnant Hanna Reitsch, having safely landed the Fieseler Storch carrying Rommel to the front, after engine failure, is nervously saying to Rommel, "Ich denke, wir sind hier, meine General".

Monday 24 January 2022


Now a Kübelsitzwagen, which apparently means 'bucket-seat car', and shortened to Kübelwagen. Built by Volkswagen and based on the Volkswagen Käfer (Beetle).  Ferdinand Porsche designed both vehicles.

Saturday 22 January 2022

Kradschützen Truppen

I have a vague plan for the upcoming game entitled 'Retten Rommel!' which I hope means 'Rescue Rommel!' in German.

Rommel is being flown up to the DAK front lines to consult with Fritz Bayerlein on his latest offensive. The Storch containing Rommel has to land in the middle of the desert after engine trouble. The pilot, Hanna Reitsch, manages to put out an SOS call giving their approximate position on the radio, before landing. Rommel’s HQ picks up the signal and dispatches a strong patrol to pick up their chief. Unbeknownst to the Jerries, the signal has also been picked up by an LRDG patrol who are currently escorting an SAS jeep column through the same area that Rommel has landed in. The race is on! Can the DAK rescue Rommel, or will the LRDG/SAS chaps capture the ‘Desert Fox’?

An addition for the DAK is a Kradschützen BMW 75.

Friday 21 January 2022


Joining the patrol is a CMP (Canadian Military Pattern) truck, adapted for use by the LRDG.

The patrol so far...

Seen here in the CMP is Captain Dougie ‘Stodger’ D’Emfore (son of Sir Douglas D’Emfore, MP for Mid-Devon). Although Stodger is now with L Detachment, SAS in North Africa, he started his military service before the war. As part of the ‘county set’ he joined the Much-Piddling Imperial Gentlemen and Yeomanry Cavalry. This particular Yeomanry was formed in the late 18th century amid fears of invasion and insurrection during the French Revolutionary Wars. The 7th Earl of Snapcase formed the Yeomanry and drilled it in the grounds of Snapcase Hall. The tenants of the Snapcase estates formed part of the rank and file as a condition of their tenancy agreement. The D’Emfores have a history of serving as officers in the M-PIGYC and Doug Jnr. here is no exception.

Saturday 15 January 2022

Jeep and Chevy


... and a Krupp Protze with Oberst Joachim von Vagabund, 'The Desert Gerbil':

The Desert Fox

This first post of the new year should of course, be the concluding chapter of the doings in Jhamjarhistan. But, it ain't!

Some time ago I started a small project on what was to be some SAS/LRDG and DAK in North Africa. Recently, I dug it out again to continue. Herewith, some of the progress. I am eagerly awaiting the publication of the 02 Hundred Hours rule set.


This looks set to be right up my street.

02 Hundred Hours is a skirmish wargame focusing on night-time raids in World War II. Inspired by classic war movies as well as historical events, battles are fast paced with roughly 10-20 models on either side.

Field an elite force of Commandos, SAS, Paratroopers or Rangers to infiltrate the enemy lines under cover of darkness. Recruit SOE spies and local resistance fighters to bolster your chances.

Launch attacks on radar stations, munition factories, airfields, bridges and rail lines. Sneak past sentries, take them out with silent attacks, or open fire with a devastating ambush. Plant charges to destroy your objective, assassinate a target or grab vital intel, then fight your way to safety before reinforcements arrive.

Or play as the defenders, carefully setting patrol routes so your sentries can spot raiders in the shadows, utilise guard dogs, officers or even the dreaded Gestapo and make use of informants and intercepted transmissions to thwart the attackers’ plans.

A few SAS types:

Some DAK boys:

The game board:

A dramatic sunset as the SAS set up their patrol base.

An Sd.Kfz. 2, better known as a Kettenkrad:

Tactics are discussed over a 'brew':

Friday 3 December 2021

Jhamjarhistan: Chapter 5, The Dig Site Overrun

After facing down a volley from the Krasnyy Sotnya, the Gentlemen's IX becomes the Gentlemen's IV! Aggers has taken over from Snappers and is still standing, with Lord Flashers, Sergeant Archibald Cutter and Billy Fish. Aggers decides to join forces with the mortar platoon.

As Vaggers roars past on the Enfield, with Bunty still firmly attached to the pillion, the Kaiserlicher Stab decide to charge Honeysuckle and her crew in Genevieve.

Over to the south-west the Tachanka brews-up after the Basmachi get in range.

The P'yanyy Kazaks have got their dander up now! With bloomers and camiknickers adorning their papakhas, the boys are feeling ready for a bit of a dust-up. The small four-man unit decide to charge the Basmachi horde...

...with a rather sad and predictable end to their alcohol-fuelled berserker rage.

Over in Djelibad, the Royal palace is in chaos. Under the command of Jonners, the Gurkhas have moved forward uttering their immortal battle-dry, ‘Ayo Gorkhali!’. Coming under fire from the Emir's court, the Gurkhas return fire with a vengeance. More than half of the Emir's fawning court are down, before the Emir (a notable fence-sitter) panics and decides to surrender. Turning to his former prisoner, Chippy, the Emir pleads for terms. Chippy, sensing his moment of glory has come, leads the Emir and his family down into the courtyard of the Palace and calls to Jonners and his men, who are forcing the gate. "I say old boy, Minton here of the Felpersham Peculiars. I have taken the Emir, Emira and Emirzade into my custody. Be a good chap and stop shooting, would you?", "Good show old stick", replied Jonners, "Gurkhas, cease fire!". This was the secondary objective achieved for Snapforce, the rescue of Chippy Minton. However, it effectively removed the Gurkhas from the game as they were needed to garrison the Djeli Palace in case of insurrection.

So, as we had seen previously, the Kaiserlicher Stab had elected to charge into Snappers' Roller to try and remove the HMG threat to the Zeppelin Korps. On the left can be seen the three men of the Geier Geschwader; Rittmeister Rikard D’Astardly accompanied by Hauptmann Herman von Klunk and Oberleutnant Albrecht Zilly. During the first exchange, the generals are going down like nine-pins and the Gräfin can be seen, trying to recall her errant staff.

As the last of the Kaiserlicher Stab fall to the blood-spattered plain they manage a Parthian shot. Genevieve, after travelling overland from Peshawar, through Kashgar and into Jhamjarhistan catches fire. Honeysuckle and her crew are forced to bale out to avoid the flames. A regretful end to one of Henry Royce and Charles Rolls finest creations. Snappers, nursing his shredded buttocks, watches from afar and cannot stop a tear or two rolling down his dusty cheeks (on his face, that is!).

The slaughter in the Mission Station is finally over. The Zhlobinski Penal battalion have cut down the last of the Warrior Nuns of the Ordo de quod Crucis Gladio.

In the overrun camp site, the Basmachi are getting to grips with the Bolos HMG, supplied by the Red Navy.

The boys from the Penal battalion reform in order to rescue their HMG.

However, the Traktor HMG is surrounded by snarling tribesmen, wielding blood-stained talwars. It looks like curtains for the Krasnyy Flot moryaki.

The Zhlobinskis take casualties as they advance, but the presence of the Bolo 2nd in command, Mikhail Borodin steadies them.

Enver Pasha heads through the dig site, looking for clues as to the location of the Golden Jhamjarh of the Sticky Gods. Carl Rosegger and Charlie Chan really do need to get out of the way!

It's the end for the HMG and the Cheka run as fast as they can for the entrance to the underground workings.

Enver Pasha and his bodyguard are desperate to cut down the Cheka before they reach the safety of the entrance. Will they make it?

Exciting news in Djelibad, as Vaggers and Bunty tear through the market place scattering cows and market produce, left, right and centre. "By 'eck lass, 'a' wor close. Alreight r e?". Bunty looks at Vaggers in adoration and manages to reply in the vernacular "Ah'm gran', me duck!". It looks as if they have made it to safety. The tertiary objective for Snapforce is complete.

Only one more chapter remains now of our thrilling tale. Various forces of the protagonists are entering the entrance to Lord Creosote's underground workings. Who will prevail? Stay tuned.

To be continued...

Friday 26 November 2021

Jhamjarhistan: Chapter 4, A Daring Rescue

The sharp-eyed Honeysuckle Weeks, driving Genevieve had seen movement on a nearby hill and turned to investigate. Against all accepted military doctrine, the Kaiserlicher Stab (part of the Zeppelin Korps) have silhouetted themselves against the skyline. This can be excused on their part, as being staff officers and General rank, they can make their own minds up without being confused by the facts. One old military maxim has it, that the most dangerous combination a common soldier can experience is an officer with a map!

A far more lethal threat is still flying above the battlefield. The Gräfin von Stauffenberg is still threatening Snapforce in the vicinity of Djelibad market. Another Luftballon has also joined the fray. Piloted by Ernst Udet, the Great War ace, he seems to have chosen the Basmachi as a target. The Gentlemen's XV is now reduced to the Gentlemen's IX and they are heading to join up with the mortar platoon. The Jats are entering the market place and the Gurkhas are heading for the Emir's Palace in Djelibad. Bottom left, we can see Snapcase who has inched his painful way towards safety, with a sore arse, full of shrapnel. Chulmleigh, his faithful bulldog accompanies him.

The ever-resourceful LACW Weeks lines up the front-facing HMG in Genevieve, preparatory to potting a few Generals. The Zeppelin Korps troopers in the background are shouting a warning to the Kaiserlicher Stab, but to no avail. "Nimm deine verdammten Köpfe runter!"

In the meantime, our hero Vaggers has managed to reach the dig site. Ducking and weaving his way through a hail of lead, the intrepid Yorkshireman espies Bunty Hamster-Crust, hiding behind a Scythian pillar. "Bunty, uz beauty! Ah'm 'eear ta rescue theur. Gerr thy shapely arse ont' pillion, uz flower!" Perhaps the longest speech the reticent SIS agent has ever made to the alluring Bunty. Without further ado, the object of Vagger's passion is aboard his throbbing machine and ready to ride. Just in time too, as the Krasnyy Sotnya are entering the dig site from one side whilst the Basmachi are flooding in from the other.

The Basmachi have overrun the encampment around the dig site. Some of the dig members are fleeing for their lives. Professor Hilary de Spongepants (Rumpole College’s Chair of Archaeology), Lady Camilla Marsupial-Trout and Arabella Fotheringay-Featherstonhaugh were trapped on the roof of the building on the right. Hilary de Spongepants and Camilla Marsupial-Trout were executed in cold-blood by the vicious Basmachi horde, but for some reason Arabella has been spared this end. Trotsky will no doubt be cursing the fact that his daughter is a prisoner of the Basmachi, but grateful that she is at least, still alive.

Ernst Udet navigates his Luftballon acros the field of conflict, aiming to inflict as much damage as possible on the Basmachi.

Enver Pasha and his bodyguard of riders enter the dig site. We can see Carl Rossegger the archaeologist and Charlie Chan, a police detective on holiday from Honolulu. They are about to duck into that doorway behind them to try and avoid the inevitable carnage.

"The infidel camp is ours", cry the Basmachi as Ibrahim Bek leads them forward.

Ernst Udet is still struggling to aim his bombs, obviously somewhat lacking the skill of his Luftballon colleague, the Gräfin von Stauffenberg.

Speaking of the Gräfin von Stauffenberg, having seen the Gentleman's IX disperse to avoid the bombing, she makes anothe bombing run towards the Mooltan Battalion, not caring one iota for the traders and customers in Djelibad's busy market place. A few desultory rifle shots are fired at the Luftballon, but to no effect. The She-Wolf of the Zeppelin Korps scores another hit and five Jats are down out of an original force of eleven. No problem with the morale of this elite regiment though. "Jat Balwan, Jai Bhagwan!" they shout their battle-cry.

In the intervening period, the small vodka-fuelled unit of P'yanyy Kazaks are now busy looting the campsite area of the girls of Hilda Rumpole College Archaeological Society. Rifling through the scattered luggage, it was inescapable that they would discover many items of women's unmentionables. Even the Cheka pass by, registering their disgust at their Cossack compatriots dancing around a wrecked camp site with frilly knickers on their head, consuming even more vodka as they dance the Troika!

To be continued...