Welcome to my blog!

News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
or on Mastodon @balkandave@mastodon.scot, or Threads @davewatson1683

Monday 31 December 2012

Russo-Turkish War & Rasputin

Fought a small Russo-Turkish War 1877 skirmish yesterday. Three companies of Turkish Nizam with artillery and cavalry support against a similar Russian and Bulgarian Legion force.

I used Black Powder rules with infantry and cavalry in skirmish formation and it worked very well. I made the Russian and Bulgarians 'stubborn' but classified the Krenk rifle as a carbine to reflect the shorter range. The firefight was pretty inconclusive as both sides had light cover in the extensive woods. The Russians clinched the action with a successful charge on both flanks, but not without several rounds of hand to hand combat.

I got into this period in 28mm 'thanks' to a pal who bought me a few packs (in the tradition of the drug dealer!) of the excellent Outpost Miniatures at Claymore. The stand was behind our display game, so of course I couldn't resist a few more. I have a further pile of metal that needs some brushwork, as that equally evil Jeff at Outpost keeps adding to the range. Even asking me what new figures I would like! I think I foolishly mentioned 1876 Serbs would be useful, stop me please!

And Rasputin you ask? As he was born in 1869 he was barely a child in 1877. Well, we have a new cat and his name is Rasputin, or Razzy for short. He has taken a far too close an interest in wargaming. Wandering over the battlefield he managed to knock over several Turks, so at least he knew which side he was supposed to be on! Earlier in the week he got into the study and on top of my figure collections to tip over a box of, now lance less, German lancers. Where is the super glue.......

Saturday 29 December 2012


As the New Year beckons I usually start with a look at forthcoming centenaries. Mainly as inspiration for display games in the coming year.

I suspect the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden 1513 will be the big UK centenary and we have started to think about it. Many figures already in GDWS member's collections, but we are going to need more pike armed Scots. You could include the battles of Novara, Spurs and La Motta of the same year. 

The Thirteen's were not big in the Balkans with the obvious exception of the continuing Balkan Wars. The Fall of Jannina and then Edirne signalled the end of the First Balkan War. But then the Bulgarian's kicked it all off again in June 1913. Jannina is a city well worth visiting and it has the period Fort Bezane as well.
Less well known is the Battle of Camurlu, near Sofia, fought on 5 July 1413 Between Musa and Mehmet I to decide which son of Bayezid I would unite the Ottomans. Mehmet won with Byzantine support. An excuse to get out lots of Ottomans is one I am unlikely to miss during the year.

On a medieval theme Louis the Bavarian defeated his cousin Frederick I of Austria at the Battle of Gamelsdorf in 1313. Or a chance to use the Spaniards again because Simon de Montfort beat Pedro II of Aragon at the Battle at Muret in 1213.

The Napoleonic Wars continue to generate a range of options. Vittoria, Leipzig and the Pyrenees to name a few. The War of 1812 continued with several interesting actions although I prefer the South American Wars of Liberation. Bolivar's invasion of Venezuela and the Battle of Barbula on 30 September 1813.

Cheating slightly, the ACW has a number of 150th anniversaries including Chancellorsville, Chickamauga and of course the big one, Gettysburg.

That should be enough to keep anyone busy!

Friday 28 December 2012

Knight's Move

The Knight's Move (Operation R√∂sselsprung) was a combined airborne and ground assault by the Germans on Tito’s headquarters at the Bosnian town of Drvar in May 1944. Operation R√∂sselsprung involved the 500th SS Parachute Battalion (Captain Rybka) making an air drop on the town while several ground force columns (XV Mountain Corps) converged on Drvar, supported by the Luftwaffe.

Faulty intelligence meant the paras attacked the town rather than the nearby cave that housed Tito's HQ. By the time they realised the error, partisan units arrived to make the attack a costly failure. Tito escaped before the ground troops could close the trap.

David Greentree has written a very good history of the operation for Osprey in its Raid series. As you would expect from Osprey, it includes many photies and several excellent colour maps.

Santa has been good in providing some 28mm metal Soviet and partisan types to supplement my VBCW workers who can make the shift to Yugoslavia quite easily. Iain from Flags of War is working on the Paras and I have some ground troops. Any ideas for Prinz Eugen fez wearing figures would be welcome. We are considering this as one of GDWS display games in 2013, so expect more on this theme.

I have also written a longer piece on the operation for the New Year, Balkan Military History update. My holiday reading is 'Terror in the Balkans' by Ben Sheperd, so I am likely to bore the pants off my loved ones on the subject as well!

Monday 17 December 2012


This is the first of Robyn Young's take on the Robert the Bruce story.

She starts with the death of King Alexander and the Bruce's formative years. Then his time at the English court is played out in some detail before his return to Scotland. Firstly, supporting Edward and then his conversion to the Scots cause. This volume ends just after the disastrous battle of Falkirk and the falling out between Bruce and Comyn.
The narrative sticks fairly closely to what we know of the period, although this is limited. What does come over is the complexity of Robert the Bruce and his shifting allegiances. There is good historical note that explains the historical deviations.

I picked this up because I really enjoyed this author's  Brethren trilogy. This story is not quite so dramatic but it is well written and has everything you would expect in the best historical fiction. I will read on.