Thursday, October 12, 2017

Catch up on some reading....

..if only because I rate these VERY highly and recommend wholeheartedly..


Prompted by the excellent "Airborne" (see book reviews), I was prompted to go back and read those original two books I read all those years ago... have to say I was not disappointed, despite only being able to find number 2, a swift Kindle purchase saw me launched into volume 1. Radcliffe wrote three WWII books loosely linked, but on different subjects - some of the characters in one book may appear briefly in another, but in essence they are all stand alone and can be read in isolation. This one, the first one, is based about the American bomber offensive in Europe and the truly terrible time they had of day light bombing deep into Germany prior to the existence of good long range fighter cover...  so the book is about an American bomber wing based in eastern England, about the sorties, the casualties, the hideous attrition, the relationships they form with local people, their mental state, their physical state..  absolutely excellent...  read this, and then read Deighton's "Goodbye Mickey Mouse" for some of the best (fictional) insight into the American bomber offensives..10
..for the second book, Radcliffe shifts focus to the Battle of the Atlantic - the story is about the crew of a Flower class corvette (*sound familiar? ) but there is also a truly compelling side story based around pone of the officers upbringing in Uruguay, and features certain events around Graf Spee. Once again the book is about all aspects of what it was like to serve in corvettes, the discomfort, the poor food, the cold, the danger, and the fear of fighting a foe that (at the time of the book) was largely undetectable..  basic ASDIC only.. superb... *then go read the "Cruel Sea" you know you want to...  in my view this boiok is easily as good as Montserrat10
..for the third book - only recently released despite having been finished for some time, Radcliffe shifts focus to the fall of Singapore...  in one of the blurbs he wrote that the reason the book wasn't originally published at the time of the first two was because his publisher told him it was too grim reading..  so for this one he self published..  glad he did as it too is an excellent read... the story is based round an RAF pilot who after completing training in one of the northern squadrons ends up being posted to Singapore in time for the defeat..  he is captured, and put to work on the Burma railroad, and the book is about what it was like to be a prisoner, the conditions, the disease, the filth, the lack of food, the brutal and inhumane treatment, and the work...  very, very, dark, but a hugely readable book as he also describes what life would have been like for family and wives/girlfriends at home...  not finished it yet, score when I do... 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Oooooooh....

....out July next year...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I have been to... Hotel des Invalids and Napoleon's Tomb

Just back from three or four days in Paris with the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer, and as my feet have only just about recovered now (five days later  ...they were absolutely battered) it's time to put up some pictures....

Apart from the 'usuals' (most of which we saw), high on my list of places to go for a long visit was the Hotel des Invalids which is (in my opinion) one of the finest war/military museums in the world...  no hand wringing, vaguely apologetic, warm and fuzzy here..  it's a museum about war, and the French understand that means guns, uniforms, flags and weaponry in abundance...

Built by Louis XIV for his wounded veterans, this is basically the French equivalent of the Chelsea Hospital - the dome in the distance stands over the location of Napoleon's tomb and was a slightly later addition, but the whole lot was finished by 1700..


...it stopped being primarily a residence for veterans in the early 20th Century (after the Napoleonic wars the French army became largely conscript so there weren't enough soldiers meeting the 20 year service criteria) but there are still apparently about a 100 veterans living or taking advantage of the services offered here..  the site is huge and now houses a number of museums..


..once through the main gate (above) this is the old parade courtyard which is surrounded by artillery pieces..


..looking back to the main entrance - Musée de L'armée entrance is on the right of the picture..



This (next) gives you an idea of the size of the place - the parade courtyard is top left..



The Musée de L'armée is on the left of the courtyard as you come in and was our first visit - this museum is HUGE - it is primarily 17th/18th Century - but there are also additional temporary exhibitions - while we were there, there was one on Charles de Gaulle's life (which was very good)

First up the steps, after the basement de Gaulle exhibition, was this room showing scale versions of artillery pieces...  absolutely stunning..   mostly 1/10th scale..


Next floor up and they have an incomparable exhibition of early model soldiers.. simply superb...  flats, paper, semi-rounds, Britains, they have it...  what a wargame room this would make!!




Flats..


Beautiful...


...wooden I think - and based on movement trays - a childs? Used for military planning? French in Egypt campaign I think...


Very colourful still - card figures..


Britain's!


..with spring loaded cannon's!


I wanted this one on my loft wall - 7YW I think?




...and then on to the main gallery in the museum...  apologies in advance - I took pictures of things that were of specific interest to me... 

Cuirassier armour - Thirty Years War era...

Turenne!

Honest to goodness standard of one of the Wild Geese regiments! Berwick in this case...

Captains uniform - Napoleonic Wars 1800
Mameluk horse armour... poor horse was all I could think!



French in Egypt period - Camel Corps or more correctly "Regiment Dromedaire"..  1799..


..a selection of original Napoleonic headwear - stunning condition!



...uniform details - this one is worth clicking and then clicking again on...


Loved this picture for the background detail - specifically the guy sitting on the ground with a scarf over his head - apologies for the reflection.. by the painter Edouard Detaille (who we shall see more of below)....


Charleville musket - lock mechanism...  as shiny and clean as the day it came from the foundry...


Mouth watering...  relief map of the Battle of Lodi in 1796 - water effect is stunning...


Close up of the man himself....


More detail (next) from a larger picture - what caught my eye was, one, the plaits (cadenettes), and two the look in his eye ("come on, come on, get a leg on, I have a cold bottle of wine and warm girl waiting..." )


...the Ogre himself ...  modelling the "Sun Emperor"?


More uniforms  - Legere this time...


Imperial Guard...  horse grenadier from memory....


Love this picture - Detaille again...  not sure about the musket - bit long for a carbine? Dragoon scouting...


An 'old grumber' - foot grenadier Imperial Guard..  why on earth would any old solider not want to welcome the Emperor back when he gave them uniforms like that??


Sole representative of  L'Angleterre...  83rd Foot, the "Royal Irish" - shako missing the top know to indicate which platoon


More from Edouard Detaille - this one is called "Before the Charge, October 18th 1812", the Carabiniers at the Battle of Winkowo (or Vinkovo, or Tarutino) - magnificent...


..another favourite ever since my Airfix French cuirassier days....


...and then we left the Musee de L'Armee and on the top floor of the building is a small exhibition of models featuring various cities and forts in France - this one was absolutely stunning - Mon St Michel of course...


..from what I could tell they were all made for Louis XIV - presumably for planning purposes... 


...leaving the Museum block we then passed on through the museum for the site of the tomb, and to pay our regards....

...and here he is - Russian doll style I believe there are about 6 coffins in there - the side galleries on the upper floor hold other French notable generals...




Ceiling detail...


Leaving there it was time for lunch, and then the final stop which was a separate exhinbition of arms and armour...  absolutely gob smacking'ly good... again - the pictures following were primarily of area's of interest - in the case of the first two pictures early to mid 17th C

Curiassier armour..  probably too early for ECW, more 30 Years War...


..matched pair of wheelocks with flintlock for back up (or converted??)


..I didn't remember this from my first trip (next) but what a find - a superb display of Japanese armour - it had to be seen to be believed...



...what about that for a display!


...and on the way out they have turned the museum workshop into it's own display...  look at all that armour!



... note the shelves behind - shel after shelf of component parts waiting to be joined together in full suits as the relevant parts are sourced..


...more cuirassier armour..  I have a thing about Haselrig's Lobsters...

...pikeman's suit - one on the left would be ideal for Edgehill as they started to drop armour as the war continued....


...either Parthian catephract, or more likely, later Ottoman - perhaps from the Egypt campaign??


...this little Renault FT17 was on display as we went out...




....what a fantastic day - reckon we were there at least five or six hours...  hugely recommended I rate it 10 out of 10...

..over the next few days we also visited a few other places, so by way of a military taster....

Musee D'Orsay

Detaille again...  French conscripts sleeping during the Siege of Paris (1870) and dreaming of past Imperial glories


Imperial Guard horse artillery in the Crimea


"Battle of Eylau" by François Flameng


Meissonier - Campagne de France (Napoleon and his staff returning from Soissons after the Battle)


...details that catch the eye... look at the eyes on the guy on the right....



....and that's it...   a superb trip and hugely recommended...  but expensive!!