A Trip to Bullecourt Museum – Huddersfield.

On Sunday I took a trip with my Brother in Law and oldest Nephew to the little local military museum across the other side of town to me.

I’d heard it was a little “quirky” so I went with fairly low expectations but happily it was far better than I was expecting and had indeed been lead to believe.

Housed in an old Drill hall it covers the period from Waterloo to the present in a series of glass cabinets. There is quite a bit of local interest too; from talking with the owner/ proprietor it seems that they get left quite a few things from when relatives clear houses that belonged that older generation, that is sadly passing with increasing rapidity.

A general view of the hall.

A general view of the hall.

We went round the museum clockwise starting with the oldest display case.

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Apologies for the low level of photo quality – using a phone camera through glass isn’t the easiest of tasks.

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Moving in to WW” which makes up the majority of the collection:

A rather nice Bren LMG on a tripod.

A rather nice Bren LMG on a tripod.

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This unusual canoe was another gift, puportedly it is from WW2, a one man design with a sail and floatation chambers that can be attached to the outside. If anyone has any extra information that they can give on this it would be more than welcome.

This unusual canoe was another gift, puportedly it is from WW2, a one man design with a sail and floatation chambers that can be attached to the outside. If anyone has any extra information that they can give on this it would be more than welcome.

The item that I was most keen to see was a map that I knew that they possessed; it is of Huddersfield, printed and annotated by the Germans to be used in the administration of the town in a post successful Operation Sealion environment. Chilling stuff really….

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A quirky little place that appeals to my sense of aesthetics, not as flash as the Royal Armouries or IWM North but better for it. Well worth a hour or two of your time if you are in the area.

Extra info here: http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/community/localorgs/orgdetails.asp?OrgID=2717

Cheers,

Pete.

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Invasion from Mars Megagame, Leeds 13th April.

Last weekend, Brian, Chris, Evan and I headed off early to Leeds’ Royal Armouries Museum for another of Jim Wallman’s excellent megagames.

This time the scenario came from ‘The Universe’ a setting that Jim and others have developed out of a continuous 18 years of game play. The colony of New Cydonia, home to 5 island group and corresponding factions, has been at war for some time with the militaristic ‘Democratic Republic of Cydonia (a militaristic dictatorship) had started a two front war against the ‘Diggers and Miners Collective’ and the ‘New Cydonia Colony’, to the north the ‘Independent Development Association’ and ‘North Continental Company’ watched with concern as the conflict threatened to escalate. The escalation was in the form of the Martians who were heading to the colony to sort the situation out for their colonist in the form of the ‘New Cydonia Colony’.

For more detail see the ‘history’ page here: http://www.theuniverse.org.uk/

Brian, Evan (in his first megagame) and I all played military commanders from the DRC, rounding out are team was the President for life- played fantastically by Tim Campbell. Chris was orbiting the planet in the space station that functioned as the colonies trade link to the rest of the galaxy.

The central game map.

The central game map.

Evan and I started the game engaged on two different continents with somewhat depleted armies, whilst Brian stayed on the home island as our reserve. The game played very simply, plan write orders, then carry out all moves on the main map simultaneously supervised by the control team. Evan and I started fairly aggressively trying to expand our initial gains with a view to a better position for our President in the anticipated peace talks. Evan pulled of a clever outflanking move by using his Sea lift assets and did quite well though without making contact. I however ran straight into the NCC counter attack and in the ensuing encounter battle came out very badly (Whilst stronger on paper I was weaker in air assets especially Air Superiority fighters with shot down all my CAS assets.

Whilst I was licking my wounds the Martian fleet had been sighted in Orbit, knowing I was number one target I withdrew my forces, giving up some ground admittedly, to the cities to protect my logistical tail.

Organized chaos on the DRC table.

Organized chaos on the DRC table.

Whilst this was going on the President was running around doing some pretty crucial deals and agreements with the other player factions, none of us were privy to what was going on, we simply briefed him on the situation, planned, then tore up the plans when he came back after negotiating an advantage for us which meant our planned offensive had to be scrapped as it would upset his deal… all good fun.

However he couldn’t do enough to stop the Martians invading in force. Using Orbital bombardment they attacked all three of our forces and landing en masse to face mine, cutting me off from my escape route.

The massive Martian invasion force, you may be able to make out the discrepancy between our relative strengths on the counters.

The massive Martian invasion force, you may be able to make out the discrepancy between our relative strengths on the counters.

At this point with my forces cut off, out of supply and having suffered heavy losses I was offered terms of surrender by my opponent on the NCC. The defence Minister offered free passage for all of my men if I left all my heavy equipment behind. whilst I tried to nail down the specifics of the deal the offer was withdrawn (I was stalling as I didn’t want him to take all my AFVs which I knew he didn’t have). Still like I said at the time we are playing a war game not a surrender game. Therefore my alternative was to conduct my own little ‘Operation Dynamo’, as my three naval flotillas had escaped the initial Martian attacks.

I managed to get two tank divisions and one mechanized division off in my boats, the rest off the men who couldn’t make it off in the boats, stripped all the light weapons from their vehicles, blew up what they couldn’t carry and headed to the hills as Partisans to harry the NCC’s supply lines and allow the rest of the army time to escape.

My own Dunkirk

My own Dunkirk

In all I hadn’t done very well- the Martians were several orders of magnitude more powerful than I, I had gone in with a Corps and came out with little more than a brigade… As I sailed back to my home island, being attacked from orbit, I pondered my fate, with my army in tatters I was effectively out of the game. The invasion of my home Island was a distinct possibility but one that was out of my control, would the remnants of my force be used as a last ditch defence? It was some comfort that I had managed to dint the Martians, against all odds my Guerrillas had shot down some of their ultra high tech fighters.

Meanwhile, as I floated back feeling despondant, President for life had pulled of anamzing piece of bluff and diplomacy and managed to get us off the hook by compling a dodgy dossier that blamed the Diggers… sound familiar, which neatly deflected from the fact that we had launched an unprovoked war of aggression….

Hostilities were wound down and the Martian stopped trying to wipe us off the map from Orbit, we almost got away with it but we were rumbled on our faked evidence. Sent home with our tails between our legs we had to re build our country and economy. Both us and the NCC paid a heavy price in treasure in our exertions.

As far as the game Universe is concerned we played an infinitesimally small part, and a part of the game’s history that had been and done. Some 50 years after this scenario was set the planet becomes a full colony of the Martians.

Oh any my Guerrillas that I left behind? They were such a stubborn thorn in the side of the NCC that they were eventually paid off and bribed to leave their continent.

All in all another classic day’s gaming. All the players and control team made the day great fun, with an interesting scenario mixing high level military planning with political dealing. I’m looking forward to the next one later in the year… WW2 in the desert.

Cheers,

Pete.

Royal Armouries Leeds.

Last Friday my parents and I took my 2 oldest nephews to the Royal Armouries in Leeds. As it was half term the museum had a Wild West Theme going on. My nephews enjoyed exploring the museum trying to catch the baddies (staff dressed up), when caught they gave you a card. The card could be then traded in at reception for a sheriff’s badge. a nice idea that got the kids involved. It was of course rather busy with children and as I had my ‘Uncle Pete’ hat on it only managed to get a few snaps. Also much of the exhibits are behind glass which makes photography difficult, how ever my favourites were not.

Part of the rather impressive tower of steel which a staircase winds round.

Part of the rather impressive tower of steel which a staircase winds round.

Another view of the same.

Another view of the same.

1 to 1 diorama at the entrance to the hunting gallery.

1 to 1 diorama at the entrance to the hunting gallery.

Large diorama of Pavia.

Large diorama of Pavia.

Now on to my favourites- the large collection of early machine guns, Gatlings, Nordfelts, Gardners and suchlike. Chunks of old fashioned steel and brass but still very lethal devices.

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Some of you may the given at this point to draw steampunk references with these early machine guns… in a moment of synchronicity Brian/ count zero bought me a copy of the computer game ‘Guns of Icarus‘ a great fun game full of steampunk airships and early machine guns. Been spending a few hours playing on it all ready.

Cheers,

Pete.