Vienna Museum of Military History (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) Part 2

Apologies Part 2 has been a long time coming and I hope I can recall enough of the detail


Not only were there superb wall paintings depicting battles in the Napoleonic era but there was as I’d hoped a lot of 18th century paintings and exhibits including this depiction of an encounter with what I presume are Turks or Ottomans




The museum webpage itself has a virtual tour here

These murals are a lovely introduction to the 18th Century room.There were so many superb exhibits its very difficult to know  what to show here


The following 2 pictures are linked with the first illustrating what is on display in the second

The metal work on these caps is extraordinary

In the third and final part I’ll put together a few photographs of what drew my eye in the Thirty Years war exhibit and some of the more modern rooms

Posted in Holidays | 4 Comments

Vienna Museum of Military History (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) Part I

The same Danube Cruise mentioned in my last post ended with a 3 day stay in Vienna. On one of these days I visited Vienna’s Military Museum

I must say that this surpassed my expectations and is well worth a visit. The part of the museum whose exhibits were dedicated to the Napoleonic and 18th Century is what attracted me most but there is also a superb 30 yrs war section as well. Purchasing a photography licence was all of 2 euros I think and allowed me to photograph freely. The building itself is palatial with wonderful paintings adorning walls and ceilings as is so often the case in Vienna. It really was a lovely day out, within walking distance of our hotel and  I spent around 5 hrs there if I recall correctly. I took around 230 photographs and thought it would be of interest if I posted some here.

For this blog post,  I’ll confine myself to posting  photos of what I found of interest in the Napoleonic Period rooms only and hopefully with publish additional post of what mightbe of interest ion the other period rooms.

One thing I was struck by is the contrast between the white of an Austrian coat and the white of the cross belts.

Most of us who paint uniforms in white do not replicate this effect on our figures and neither generally would artists it would seem from this picture

The following pictures show some Austrian infantry and cavalry uniforms along with some equipment, standards and captured French eagles




This last infantry flag puzzled me as its labelled as the 1st Battalion of a 4th French infantry Brigade and the eagle shown in the above picture belonged to a regiment of French dragoons from 1804

When I have a little more time I’ll try and post pictures from the other rooms

Posted in Holidays | 6 Comments

Richard I and Dürnstein

I thought it might be interesting to post a few holiday snaps that have an historical link. My wife and I have recently been on a Danube Cruise from Budapest to Vienna.

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Now there’s probably nothing worse than looking at somebody else’s holiday photos but I thought Dürnstein Castle might be of some interest.  Here are a few view of the castle and the town, initially from the boat on the river, then on foot and finally from the top. It was quite a climb on a cold and windy day

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Dürnstein is located in the Wachau valley in Lower Austria, a lovely scenic area known for wine growing among other things but I understand the castle is a major tourist attraction, having once been the place where Richard I was held captive by Leopold V, Duke of Austria following a dispute at the battle of Acre.

Local legend has it that the whereabouts of Richard I were finally discovered by a travelling bard/minstrel/faithful servant of Richard  by the name of Blondel. The story is that the minstrel sang the first stanza of a song and was alerted to Richard’s presence when a voice from the depth’s of the castle was heard singing a second stanza in response. Apparently the words were such that the response could only have come from his king and so his place of imprisonment became known.

Some time later an huge ransom was paid and the king was released. The local guide was at pains to point out that the lord/baron of the castle was a feared tyrant who terrorized the local populace extracting the equivalent of protection money from the surrounding area.

There is a far more eloquent account of its history here

This would probably make an excellent background setting for a medieval skirmish level campaign.

A little way from the village is a rather quirky statue of Richard & Blondel that further highlights the legend

Posted in Holidays, medieval | 3 Comments

Follow the Neoprene Road

A few years ago I wrote an article for Battlegames Magazine on making roads – I made them from Neoprene, but these were aimed at 15mm gaming.

I’ve now found that I need some new ones suitable for 28mm games. I chose neoprene because it will bend and can be used to run up or down a hill, following the contour nicely but also because it doesn’t have an high step perhaps so noticeable with other products. Its also easy to work with, cutting with a Stanley knife or even a scissors is easy, no need to saw your way through wood and it also comes in various widths.

I chose a roll of Neoprene with a thickness of 1.5mm and a width of 75mm for the straight portions of roads I intended to complete. I bought around 4 metres and also bought a small 0.5 m piece of wider Neoprene to allow me to cut curves more easil easily.

As I have a good quantity of narrower widths that I can use for tracks, the intention was to produce mainly straight roads. Of course if I’d wanted to make them less straight it would have been easy to buy a wider strip and produce some minor asymmetry in the straight portions by cutting out a 75mm track on this.

The most important purchase apart from the Neoprene itself is the glue. You have to get this correct, PVA with crack and lift if the road is bent. You need a glue that is designed to be compatible with or that has the ability to stick rubber. I used a Bostick brand pictured below that was sold in the same shop as I bought the Neoprene. The Neoprene roll costs me around $NZ9/metre and the  Bostick adhesive  around $NZ 25.

The rest is easy really :-

Firstly I cut the Neoprene into strips of varied length. Because I’m using TSS boards that are 24 inches wide I cut these into lengths of 24, 18, 12 and 6 inches (Yes I know working in metric and imperial at the same time does not make sense). I suppose I could have made a much longer lengths as I could have stored these but for the moment have kept it simple. Please note I’ve never tried to store a completed road in a rolled up fashion . Its also handy to cut a few short segments from off-cuts at an angle to allow a straight to change direction. Cut any curves or T junctions from the wider roll ensuring that they match the width of the straight pieces.

Give the Neoprene a wipe with a rag soaked in turpentine or Meths to clean away any grease.For some longer lengths its easier if you pin the Neoprene into an underlying board

I then applied a liberal coating of glue but worked quickly as this dries rapidly.

Next I added a grit/sand mix, though with a higher ratio of sand than I would normally use on a figure base.

Press this mix down into the glue and set it aside preferably under something heavy like a spare board and continue the same process with the remaining strips

I found I needed to add a second coat to quite large areas of the roads once these had dried by the following day.

Paint the dried roads in your chosen base colour – I used an earthen colour as mine are intended for the H&M period. (I think once could do tarmac roads like this but by using sand only – i.e omitting the grit and painting black)

Next dry brush according to taste – I used Vallejo Iraquian Sand and later Pale sand. Remember to use an old brush for painting as the sand and grit mix will wreck them.

Finally if desired add a static grass verge using the same glue and dry brush the grass if you really want

Have Pike will travel and will defend the crossroads!


Posted in Wargaming Terrain | 2 Comments

Saving Flossie Thomas or the battle of Jenkins Terrace- A VBCW scenario

I played my first ever game of VBCW today with mate Ants. The rules we used were” Went the Day Well” from Solway Crafts and Miniatures, available from North Star.

As it was our first game we decided to keep it simple with no vehicles being used though a few were on the table for decoration purposes only.

The scenario idea was a loose based encounter scenario. The newly formed independent forces of the Llynfi Valley – the “Meibion Y Llynfi” were on their first training exercise under the leadership of Ypres Hopcyn (Backstory –

All were deemed to be irregular troops with an HQ of 5 men with Ypres, his grandfather old Taliesin and a standard Bearer

There were 3 squads of 10 men each including some notable local characters including Sergeant “Luverrly boy” Windsor and Trevor Traffic Thomas the much despised ex traffic warden of nearby Bridgend. Here we can see Sergeant Windsor trying to persuade Trevor to take the lead over the bridge. Trevor being somewhat reticent to get himself shot at replies “why don’t  yew send Muriel, he’s not doing anything only picking blackberries and anyway he’s bigger than me”.

Mr Davies the Co-op and his manservant Gwilym were leading another squad but with him being a man of distinction and natty dress there were no illusions as to who the boss was and no back chat whatsoever in his squad.

As it happens it was quite lucky that William Williams and William Evan Williams volunteered to bring along the Vickers gun because they thought that they needed to get fitter (of course also secretly hoping to get a chance to shoot a lot of rabbits). William John Williams who is actually known as “Sledge” because he’s so thick first of all told everyone that he thought it would be a sin for a Vicar to own a gun and when his mistake was pointed out to him argued all the way down Maiden street saying that it made far more sense then to call it the Williams’ gun because the Williams cousins were operating it. They finally distracted him and managed to change the subject when they got him talking about his attempt to get in the Guinness Book of World Records by asking how his  training for an attempt at the record number of Mint Imperials he could stuff in his mouth was coming along!

Anyway, I’m wandering again ….Despite the fact that the river was fordable, just about everyone was keen to cross with dry feet rather than have to explain to their wives and mams later why they had wet socks and soggy shoes.

Ypres decided in the end to lead the way down Lessby Avenue and over the bridge before turning left into Jenkins Terrace. The whole idea was that they would then make their way up Jenkins Terrace to the end to see “Billy Half Pint” in the forge to find out if he knew of a way of making bullets from old left over lead piping.

As this was an exercise Ypres decided to send Mr Davies and his squad to the right, the other to the left along with the Williams’ gun err….. I mean the Vickers’s gun to John William Jones’s granny’s house by the river.

Fed up of waiting Ypres pushed past Sergeant Windsor and Trevor leaving them to follow over the bridge.

And that is when all hell broke loose……….

Do you know what was happening on the other side of the river? You don’t do you……

No? Well Jenkins Terrace was being invaded you see by those ruffians from the Vale of Glamorgan and on a Sunday of all days!

What we know now, but we didn’t then…………

Is that a search party had been sent out from The Vale to look for, find, capture and then interrogate poor old Flossy Thomas.  This is an archive picture of Flossy and her long suffering husband Islwyn talking in the garden to the vicar. (He doesn’t look like the sort of man that would carry a gun does he? The vicar I mean not Islwyn … that’s a bloody shovel he’s leaning on you twit)

Do you know……They sent some scaly wags from Cowbridge backed up by a squad from New Zealand of all places – yes and shame on them – medical men from Tauranga and if you look at the pictures you can even see that they were the ring leaders and even brought a flag (figures from Ants’collection and painted by both him and Giles Alison)

What an unholy alliance this really was, the devil himself couldn’t have put together a more evil conglomerate as there was a squad of the hated BUF and those weaselsy good for nothing Cowbridge branch of the Vale of Glamorgan Yeomanry, who they say will do anything for few bob including beating up old grannies and even play bowls for money.

Now the big question of course and the answer to what we want to know of course is why in the hell were they after poor old Flossie?

The reason of course is that Flossie is a gossip and she knows everybody’s business. Look if you want something to get around what you do is tell Flossy Thomas that you know a secret about such and such but you’ll only tell her if she promises not to tell anyone else. That way the whole district gets to know what you want them to know. Well of course word had got around so these ruffians were coming to interrogate Flossy. Luckily though Flossy was out visiting her neighbours so they had to enter and  search each house in an attempt  to find her……….

But I digress (well actually no I’m jabbering – I blame the beer and wine we drank). Needless to say a battle followed between 2 untrained and irregular forces with shots going all over the place with hits needing 8 or 9 on a 10 sided dice depending on cover (except for the veteran rated Yeomanry)

First of all the Willams’ Vickers gun opened up on a squad of the BUF who were sneakily trying to get around the right flank causing the first casualty , Ypres and his men ran over the bridge and lined the hedges and then the fence whilst Sergeant  Windsor followed. Withering fire raked the hedges from the despicable Tauranga men but a combination of the work of Dr Lance Boil the medic and the Dragon standard being carried and kept the casualties to a minimum and the morale high.

Poor old Lance, he got more than a boil for his trouble, here you see him wounded and out of action

Meanwhile Mr Davies Co-op and his squad were trying to get around the flank. (Actually there is a rumour going around that Mr Davies is quite upset because he had to get his feet wet on account of the fact that Gwilym wasn’t able to carry both him and the Lewis gun across the river at the same time – yes I know Gwilym’s surname is not Lewis but we’re not doing that joke again alright!)

Meanwhile on the other flank it was like the Grand National, legs everywhere….. Next week, forget target practice but at BUF training night it’ll be jumping practice I tell you………..

In an attempt to jump the hedge in order to get out of the range of the Vickers Williams gun (look by now I’m sure you know the one I mean) 4 out of 9 BUF men failed and fell over………..

Worse still 2 of the in-coordinate yobs tried and failed again on the next turn!

In the centre the ruffians were getting the upper hand when they managed to get an HMG in the upstairs en-suite of Flossie Thomas’ house killing a few of Windsor’s squad. Undaunted, when they heard that a keg of Brains beer had been stolen from the Lamb & Flag these men saw red and acted like veterans, flanking and then charging the HMG whilst singing “Men of Llynfi”. Now this HMG was crewed by nurses, but by god they were the cruellest evilest nurses you could ever have the misfortune to come across…….

In the ensuing melee they bit and scratched (and being nurses naturally of course knowing where the men’s testicles were) they did their worst and when that Yeomanry squad arrived in the nick of time through the backdoor to help them, they both  saw off sergeant Windsor and his remaining men who were forced to retire.

Now the picture above doesn’t really do justice to the situation – you’ll have to imagine them kneeling down in the river trying to soothe those nasty nether region wounds with looks of indescribable agony on their faces. On hearing of this atrocity Muriel’s mum fainted fearing that he would end up singing soprano rather than bass in the Nantyfyllon men’s choir but I have it on good authority that his manhood was actually saved by a family heirloom. Lucky for Muriel he was wearing  his the old long Johns with the built in reinforced jockstrap that was handed down from his late great uncle William Henry. (Actually it’s the little things that matter so to put the record straight I should point out that this was not actually a built in jock strap but long ago his wife great aunty Liz, had over sewn a hole in the long johns with an old scrum cap)

Anyway, where was I? On the right flank Mr Davies and his men had arrived and were flanking the Tauranga men when all of a sudden the action stopped and everyone was afraid to move.

One of the random event cards was drawn which stated that a drunken Morris man was wandering around, his movements controlled by scatter dice – when this man made contact with a unit he would recognise a man in the unit and ‘out’ him as a Morris dancer known to him and so cause the outed man’s unit to undergo a rout test.

Now again I’m going to ask you to use your imagination and pretend that this drunken Landsknecht is actually a bona fide Morris man. Eventually he withdrew after meeting Mr Davies ‘ squad and failing in his attempt because apparently he lost a fancy dress competition with Mr Davies and was so ashamed that he just  pouted and sulked away.

Some hairy moments were had in the ruffians centre at this stage as the nurses manning the HMG had a morale crisis and spend some time re arranging their hair, hat pins and nails before finally deciding to stay and fight on .

The ruffians were not able to make any further progress beyond the stables in their attempt to find Flossie Thomas, being thwarted by Mr Davies and his men – they actually didn’t bother searching the stables despite being given information that Flossie can be a bit of a cow at times – but there we are.

On the left flank the BUF were by now in big trouble having attempted to ford the river and cross the bridge at the same time taking 4 casualties. By this time they were below 50% in strength and actually cowering under the stone bridge after being stopped by Ypres’ 3rd squad who later needed the service of this ambulance themselves when they tried to go forward.

At this point the skirmish ended with roughly similar casualties on either side but this picture of the BUF infantry cowering under the bridge is now being posted all over South Wales as a superb propaganda poster.

As for Flossie, well I’m glad to say she was safe and well, oblivious to it all gossiping in a nearby cottage with Blodwen Pugh. Looking at her picture now I can see why they didn’t want to search the stables as I doubt anyone would fancy a roll in the hay with her!

Posted in Uncategorized, VBCW | Tagged | 2 Comments

Painting & Flocking Sand


I thought I’d added an update showing the next step but clearly I forgot! I moved onto the next step a while ago and finished everything off today

A few weeks ago I started the painting process, first of all giving the boards a covering of a cheap brown earth acrylic paint that I bought from Bunnings. once this had dried I gave it a drybrush with something close to VJ Iraqui sand – again I bought a few test pots at Bunnings again and mixed them until I had a colour I liked and then set them out in the sun to dry

I added a small amout of VJ Pale sand to this and gave them a final dry brush

Next came the flocking stage and again I used a mixture of Woodland Scenics grasses and blended these to a suitable mix. Quite a bit of diluted PVA was needed again but this was applied in patches this time and then the excess flock was knocked off for later use again and the boards placed on the drive to dry. I found it most effective to use a brush to apply this rather than a spray bottle because this kept clogging.

I’m fairly pleased with the overall effect but may yet tweak the bare earth patches a little more in the future. I decided not to dry brush the flock

A few weeks has passed by since I completed this but in the past few days I decided I’d finish the river beds. These were painted in the same way as the base boards, though I gave the bed a little more rigorous  dry brushing with a light colour. By now it was time to apply the Woodland Scenics realistic water.

I sealed the board edges of the river bed  with blue tack and was about to pour but decided to read the instructions – it was just as well because it told me that bubbling can occur with polystyrene. Fearful of a mishap I abandoned the idea but sealed the river bed with acrylic varnish and allowed this to dry. I had a moment of panic here when it initially appeared white but that settled once it dried thank goodness

After that it was a simple matter of colouring the “water” as the pictures show and pouring the realistic water and pushing it around with a brush. The blue tack seal worked, I poured 3 layers of “water” over successive days to build up a depth. I then removed the blue tack this morning and trimmed any excess water with a Stanley knife. The picture below shows the result of 1 coat only.

The end results is they look much nicer than the original blue painted polystyrene and I’ll probably add a few reeds or grass tufts over the next few days

That’ll have to wait until I’ve resolved this set up though!


Posted in 15mm Napoleonics, Wargaming Terrain | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Baking sand

Today I’ve been doing something that I have no clue about – I’ve been baking – but nothing too taxing in the way of a recipe – you just take a pile of sand, put it on a baking tray and heat at 100 degrees until dry.

Hence the  title of today’s post was my wife’s idea – probably because I’ve used the oven more times today that I have in the last year I’m ashamed to say  Clearly this requires an explanation – its all about basing

My TSS terrain tiles have  travelled well too, all the way from the UK to NZ in 1999 but now they’re   looking a bit ragged and it need of an upgrade. With this in mind I thought I’d give them a complete overhaul and with a long holiday of 4 days and rain outside I decided I’d take the plunge and start.

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The first problem I found was that the sand that I thought I had in the garage wasn’t sand’, it was compost! The replacement sand I hurriedly bought was wet and that’s why it found itself in the oven.

I decided to start with the river sections first. I’d always planned to do something with that horrid painted blue polystyrene but never quite got around to it! I started with some fairly coarse grit for the river bed, this is a mix of sand and reasonably large pieces of ballast from the local model shop. Because the grit was on the large size I used undiluted PVA for this…



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With those done I’m on a roll so its the roads next.  Many of my TSS boards have fixed roads and while these have their benefits it dose limit the set up somewhat and I only have  a few plain boards. Because of this I made a decision some time ago that all terrain tiles would be plain and that roads will have to sit on top. ( A future project will be to produce more roads from Neoprene, soon I hope as I don’t have any of a suitable size for 28mm games)

I decided against cutting into the boards to remove the sculpted roads and opted to go with a thick PVA application again, hoping this would to the trick

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This project has taken a lot more time that I anticipated, its not easy to get the rest of each board painted with a brush. An attempt to use a sprayer failed miserably when the sprayer clogged so its felt a bit like a DIY job rather than an enjoyable hobby thing. I soon noticed it was a little easier and quicker if the PVA was more dilute. I also began to realise that the 2 litres of PVA glue I had wasn’t going to be enough either so as the afternoon wore on, the PVA got thinner for another reason.

Now that all happened yesterday, I began to draft the post last night but got distracted by a film on TV. Subsequently it’s now today and “today” started with a trip to the DIY store again to buy more PVA, had I bothered to think about it before hand I wouldn’t have been so ill prepared- I’ve just had count up today and there are the equivalent of 25 2′ x 2′ boards! No wonder it took me most of yesterday to get them covered. I’d have been quicker painting the outside of the house.

So today I spent some time applying a second coat in an attempt to hide those roads, one clearly wasn’t enough as you see from the picture below. I also reapplied more sand/grit mix to the boards that were a bit sparse

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Today I’ve also covered the hill sections so they’ll all look the same and had something of a frustrating afternoon working in a garage where there is now no room because of the number of wet terrain boards whilst either running outside to bring drying boards in from the showers or pick them up from where the wind had blown them!

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Part two of the project was to have been started tomorrow – applying paint, but its so humid today that the PVA won’t be dry enough but at least I had the sense to buy enough brown paint today (or at least I think I did!).

Part 3 of the project is to apply some patches of flock to the boards as in the picture below – these were hills I completed a few years ago and is the way I’d eventually like my completed boards to appear – today I used the opportunity to touch up some minor damage on these.

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Hopefully the end result will be something like the hills below only with the green terrain tiles being replaced by something like the background to a board I use for taking pictures

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Part 4 – well that’s what those unused styrene boards are for – I’d like to make a series of matching hills that will be suitable to use along the length of a table edge rather like a single ridge like at Waterloo but this has taken me so long that its going to have to wait in the queue



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