Sunday, 21 May 2023

We all thought you would like to put a face to a name...this is Tony on his 70th Birthday last year in Llandudno, where Tony and Tina had spent the day. As they had on the Sunday before his passing....

Dear readers, 

We, Tina (Tony's wife), Laura and Laraine (Tony's daughters) are heartbroken to tell you our beloved Tony passed away peacefully on Friday 12th May. 

The three of us have taken huge pleasure in seeing Tony's enjoyment in sharing what we all thought was a very niche hobby, and finding a community of people who appreciated and shared his passion for the military and military history. 

Tony was new to the blogging world when he set this page up in 2018 and it was a huge learning experience for him. We all loved his excitement when he began receiving comments on his posts, and we thank you for welcoming him into your community and taking the time to read, share and comment with your thoughts on his posts.  We know how much he enjoyed debating various points of view with some of you! 

We are immensely proud of Tony's writing talent, his passion for books, the sheer creativity of his Imagi-Nations series and of course the skill and many many hours he dedicated to building his army. 

We intend to leave this blog here for you to enjoy and we hope it continues to inspire you.  We believe it is a legacy to Tony's passion, talent and creativity. 

Thank you to those who took the time to share your best wishes for Tony; Steve J, Kevin Robertson, Ian Drury and Mark, Man of Tin. Your kind words were appreciated. 

Tina, Laura and Laraine. 

Thursday, 11 May 2023

Dear All

For anyone who regularly reads Tony's Blog.

I'm Tina Tony's wife, Tony was taken seriously ill on Tuesday 9th May. He is currently in intensive care at our local hospital. As such, this Blog is going to be silent for for a short while, until Tony's return.

Take Care, Tina

Monday, 8 May 2023



This article is all about the small tools I use to build my armies. I shall do a separate post about the larger tools I use later.

From left to right the above photo shows an emery board, I use these for all light filing tasks like sanding the end grain on wagon bodies after the sealer has dried, (see the post on constructing GS wagons). Next are tweezers which I use to place the star transfers I use on flags. Next is a sharp round file that I use to make locating holes for horse harness wires on wagons, (see the article on constructing GS wagons). Next is my metal ruler used to measure out balsa blocks to cut into wagon/trailer bodies and to mark up plastic card for cutting into horses. Then comes my sanding "stik" used for heavy filing. My craft knife is next , used for just about everything including cutting out horses, trimming wagon and trailer shafts to length and even locating transfers correctly. My pencil is used for record keeping and marking balsa and plastic card for cutting. Lastly are my scissors used to cut out horses, trimming flags to size and the tilts on GS wagons to shape.

This photo shows my pack of metal files, two of each shape. These are used for cleaning up the cuts in      screws  for cavalry and filing the grooves in screws used as standard bearers, see the post on making flags.                   

This picture shows my razor saw used to cut balsa for vehicle bodies and of course my cutting mat. I do all my work on the mat as can be seen by the paint stains. I use the other side with the metric measurements   when cutting trailer and limber shafts to length.                                                                                           

This final photo shows the sticks I use to stir paint, one for each colour together with the pen stand I use to hold wet brushes while I scratch my nose etc. and the "nail" tool I use to open paint tins and  create the bend in horse harness wire as well as just poking things around generally. This tool came with some emery boards I found cheap somewhere hence the pink colour !!!!!         

I hope this is useful in showing the tools needed for basic modelling and demonstrates the start up costs need not be too high for the beginner.    

Monday, 1 May 2023



This book was recommended by Steve J in his excellent blog so I bought a copy from Amazon.

I am pleased to report this book is just as good as Steve said. It covers the period from the establishment of the EIC  in 1599 through the early years as just another Western trading company until around 1765 when the EIC transformed into a major power in India and on to 1803 by which time the Company was in direct control of the whole  sub continent. 

The book is very well written and researched and gives a excellent account of all the various individuals both British and Indian who, each in his own way, encouraged the extraordinary growth of the Company. The sheer scale of the Company's activities is incredible. It was clearly the first global conglomerate yet wielded military power on a scale never seen before or since. The various military campaigns are discussed in rather limited detail although the background to each is covered in depth to illustrate how each contributed to the endless growth of the Company.

The EIC eventually became too dominant a factor in the British economy to be allowed to continue operating without increasing UK government control which resulted in a series of legislative changes during the first half of the 1800's. This culminated in the transfer of all the Company's possessions to the Crown  in 1859 after the Mutiny. The EIC limped on as a rump trading company for a few more years and eventually ceased trading in 1874 when it's charter finally expired.

An excellent book on the early history of British India and the rise of the EIC and recommended to all interested in either or both of those subjects.

Tuesday, 25 April 2023


 Following my cataract surgery I am long last free of the restrictions on heavy work and lifting. This means I have just been able to cut the grass for the first time this year and  I plan to do some serious tidying up later. The down side is that I am now eligible to do housework too which is due on Thursday my wife tells me !!!!  In addition I have also been able to have an eye test and new glasses are on order. I hope within the next 7 to 10 days to receive these and finally drive my car again after just over 9 weeks of being a passenger only.... I cant wait !!!!!!!

Despite not being able to see well etc we seem to have been out and about frequently this past few weeks. I think my wife has felt sorry for me not being able to drive so has taken me out perhaps more than usual,  we certainly seem to have eaten lunch out a lot recently. Nevertheless I have managed to get some modelling time and have made good progress on the batch of 30 GS wagons as seen below.

Construction is complete and the wheels have been primed, next step is to paint the bodies  olive drab. The horses for these wagons are also made and have received the initial primer and top coat ready for gluing onto the wagons once they are painted. The rest of each horse will be painted once glued on the wagons.

I have also made progress on the infantry battalion. All the painting is complete and all that's left to do is two coats of varnish.

This shelf shows the infantry privates of the battalion some 216 strong.

The photo above shows 18 infantry lieutenants and the medical, heavy weapons and QM privates.

The final photo shows all the officers and NCO's of the battalion with the staff and signals privates.

Now off to the garden.......

Saturday, 15 April 2023



I bought this book recently in a second hand book store for £4, a real bargain. Strangely however, the book, printed and published in the USA only in 1972 , uses paper that is reminiscence of that used in UK books during the world wars, very cheap, slightly differing page sizes and with an almost card like consistency. 

The War of 1812 was started by the US for various reasons related to trade during the Napoleonic war and was mainly concerned with US efforts to invade and seize parts of Canada. Apart from defending Canada the British response was to send a naval and army expeditionary force to the east coast to "ravage" the enemy and teach them the lesson that the British were not to be trifled with.

The first British landing resulted in the rapid dissolution of the defending US militia by the very professional British troops and the capture and burning of Washington. The next landing was against Baltimore. Here the US militia, better led this time, was able to hold out against the British causing them to retreat after the commanding British officer was killed. This action was supported by a navel bombardment of Fort McHenry by British warships. That event was witnessed by Francis Scott Key who, reflecting on what he had seen, was inspired to write "The Star Spangled Banner" hence the title of the book.

The final British assault was on New Orleans but this resulted in an overwhelming US victory that caused the British to rapidly fall back to their ships. Around this time the British government, dismayed at the cost of making war on the US  and with Canada secure by then, decided to make peace with a US delegation in Europe for that very purpose. This was soon agreed as the US had also had enough.

The theme of the book describes how the humiliation of seeing the capitol city burned almost caused the total collapse of the US yet with just a matter of weeks, the victories at Baltimore and New Orleans caused a complete change by bring the nation together and setting it on the path of internal development and isolation from world affairs that lasted 100 years.

Overall an excellent book about a fascinating time. However I would really commend this book to wargamers of the AWI period. This book contains a large number of scenarios for battles and actions including navel landings and bombardments using the same tactics and weapons of the AWI but in a setting very different to that conflict. Recommended.

Friday, 7 April 2023



I recently found this book in a charity shop for £2. As the author is the famous L.T.C. Rolt  I knew it would be a good buy and it is !!!!

Basically it tells the story of the working lives of the famous father and son duo who were largely responsible for the introduction and development of the railway in Britain and throughout the world. The early years of George are particularly interesting in that he had no formal engineering training and very little actual education. Instead he was blessed with a natural genius for engineering. Recognising this and his own limitations he ensured his son Robert received the very best education which resulted in him eventually  possessing far superior engineering and administrative skills to those of his father.

The stories of the creation of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the Rainhill Trials and the Great Tubular Bridges  among others make for fascinating reading even for the non railway historian while the construction of the London and Birmingham Railway , the largest ever civil engineering project at the time, is a testament to human ingenuity and fortitude.

Although this book will particularly appeal to the railway fan it also provides a superb account of the engineering element of the industrial revolution and some of the extraordinary, gifted and visionary people who created that revolution. Overall a very well written and highly recommended  book by an excellent author.

Saturday, 1 April 2023


 Apart from not being able to drive, another problem with having my cataracts done is that for six weeks I am not allowed to do any lifting or other heavy work. This includes gardening and grass cutting. At this time of year I, with everyone else, expects to start preparing the garden for the coming summer including cutting the grass which, in my case, is already looking a bit shaggy. However I must leave it to grow out of control and no doubt become infested with an abundance of exotic wildlife !!!!

Another "interesting" activity that is banned for me is housework. However, much like the garden, I have no doubt I will be doing a lot of catching up when the time is right !!!! All that said one positive has arisen in that I have got a good amount of spare time right now, and,  with my new close range vision,  therefore the opportunity to do more modelling. In fact I have done more this past week than for several months.

The batch of field kitchens that had been sitting around since last autumn have finally been completed and issued. I have now started on a batch of GS wagons as seen below.

The bodies are done and next step is to add wheels. The full construction process can be seen on a post under the Construction Techniques label.  In addition I have made a start on an infantry battalion. The soldiers have all been painted in uniform green and the addition of rank insignia is now under way.

Apologies for the strange photo. The soldiers are painted on my "work" shelves and had to be squashed up on my "photo studio" window cill to get them all in. As a matter of interest, this is what 407 screws look like during the painting process. Also note the flag bearers in the bottom left corner. 

The shelves are plywood and were light brown in colour as still seen on the edges however years of processing thousands of screws have changed the colour of the boards to a dirty looking green.

Just out of interest, the latest count of my soldiers shows 63,488 are with my armies at present.

Saturday, 25 March 2023


 Two days ago I had my second cataract operation, on my right eye this time.  Once again quite painless and problem free. Already I can see quite well. Interestingly my regular distance glasses are of no earthly use anymore but my very old reading glasses are giving me tolerable distance vision. However, as planned, reading etc is best without glasses at all.  I now have to wait four weeks before I can visit my optician to get tested for new distance glasses. By the time I get them it will have been at least 8 weeks without driving !!!!  To me that is the worst part of having these procedures...I really miss driving a lot.

The good news is that my wife has cast aside her refusal to drive my car..."too big, too fast and too expensive"... and driven my car a few times over the last couple of weeks as she thinks it bad for the car to be left unused for weeks on end, which is quite right of course. Naturally she drives it just fine as I expected, she is a great driver, and in fact has put her foot down hard once or twice and had a smile on her face when she did, again, as I expected !!!!

My other good news is that I became a grandad for the third time yesterday. A second, so far officially unnamed,  grandson, whom I have labelled Freddie alongside his brother Buster and sister Squirt, much to their Mothers irritation !!!!!!!!! Grandads can have such fun...for example feeding the children chocolate and fizzy pop etc before sending them home !!!!!!! Am I bad ??????

Sunday, 19 March 2023



Another book from my library  and a complete change of subject. While not a huge navel enthusiast I do like reading about the navel history of Britain and this book offers a good overview of that history over the ages via the lives of some of the greatest admirals in the Royal Navy.

The lives and careers of eleven admirals are discussed including Lord Howard 1536-1624, Robert Blake 1599-1657, James II 1633-1701, George Anson 1697-1762, Samuel Hood 1724-1816, John Jervis 1735-1823, William Parker 1781-1866, Geoffrey Hornby 1825-1895,  John Fisher 1841-1920, David Beatty 1871-1936 and Andrew Cunningham 1883-1963. Each is assessed as having had a significant and positive impact on the art of being an admiral.

Interestingly Nelson is not included. There are a couple of reasons for this, firstly there are already a lot of books about him and secondly , he is assumed to be the "perfect" admiral, perhaps the best admiral ever. Those in this book are the admirals who came before Nelson and provided the foundations for his career and success and those who subsequently took his legacy forward. Between them these are the admirals who made the Royal Navy the greatest navy in world history over a period of some 400 years.

Each admiral gets his own chapter that not only provides a detailed character assessment of the man but also outlines his full career and the political and military circumstances during his time in command. Naturally his actions in battle are also recorded.

Overall a fascinating book that will appeal to anyone interested in British naval history but also as a well written general history book.

Monday, 13 March 2023


Just a brief note to report that having had cataract surgery at the end of last week I can now just about see enough to read blogs and type this post.  The procedure went well and was totally pain free however I now have quite different levels of vision in each eye which is very disconcerting. I am due to have my other eye done later this week after which I shall not be able to use my glasses at all. However I should have excellent close range vision and be well able to read, watch TV and type or indeed paint and model. Driving will not however be an option. I should be able to get tested for new glasses for long distance around early April ....I will miss driving so much !!!!!!

Tuesday, 7 March 2023


I have noticed that several of the bloggers I follow have recently included photos of their painting arrangements. This is very interesting and supports the often mentioned theory that we all like to know more about the "person" behind the blog. With that in mind I thought I would join in and post some details of my working arrangements.

I am very lucky in that I have a dedicated modelling room. It is the smallest bedroom in the house. However I have also been allowed three further display units and two book cases in the spare room which is basically my wife's  dressing and general storage room.

The first photo is from the doorway of my room and shows the bookcases on the right and the modelling unit on the left with one of my four display units above. Also seen in the foreground is my armchair where I do my computer work including writing this blog. Being a lifelong amateur woodworker, all the furniture (except the armchair of course)  has been made by me in my workshop, the roof of which can just be seen outside in the bottom right corner of the window. Like everyone else, book storage is an endless and unsolvable problem !!!!!!

The photo below shows a full on view of the work bench with the display unit above. The drawers at the bottom house materials, tools, stationary items, the computer and the computer printer which is on a pullout shelf behind the larger door on the right behind the bin.

The unit was designed to be closed up when not in use hence the concertina doors as seen below. However as you might expect, they never get closed !!!!!

The next photo below shows the doors open with the actual work top still folded up. The black patches are actually thin rubber sheets designed to protect the top of the unit when the doors are open and the work surface down. My "special" modelling slippers can also be seen, only used when sitting at the unit !!!!.

With the chair in position, complete with soft  cushion and craft mat on the work surface I am ready to go. Just visible is the extension lead in the leg space to which my modelling lamp and the printer are connected together with my miniature drill when needed and of course the computer recharging lead. 

Below is a close up of the working space. Not particularly big but adequate. On each side are miniature sets of drawers holding paints, tools, materials and all sorts of odds and ends. In the centre is a set of pull out drying shelves that I use to hold screws I am painting. Vehicles under construction or being  painted are located on sheets of plastic card on the shelf alongside the clock or even on the window cill occasionally. A batch of 30 field kitchens that I have recently finished painting are just about visible on the left.

Well I hope these photos are of interest, I also hope others share their arrangements too.

Thursday, 2 March 2023



Some readers may recall that back in January I reviewed a book on British Railway Tunnel disasters. I mentioned that I had found another book by the same author and had bought it from Amazon. This is the review of that book.

The book is divided into three elements based on the title. "Death" includes details of the first death on British railways being that of Huskisson during the launch of the first railway ever between Liverpool and Manchester in 1830. Also covered is the accident that occurred at Sonning in 1841 being the first fatal accident on the GWR and, at the time, the biggest loss of life in a railway accident. Also discussed  in this chapter is the impact of railway construction in the larger cities especially London and the impact this had on old grave sites and the work needed to remove thousands of bodies.

The second section of the book covers "Dynamite" and includes not only details of the use of dynamite in railway construction and the inevitable accidents but also the perhaps not so well known terrorist campaigns in the 1880's and 1890's by Anarchists and Fenians against the railways.

Finally the last section on "Disaster" covers the Tay Bridge Collapse of 1879 which was caused by the failure to use the most up to date engineering standards of the time and the Hexthorpe accident in 1887 which was caused largely by the railway company's failure to utalise the most modern  braking systems then available.

Every incident account is based on contemporary newspaper report supplemented by the official accident reports therefore the language used is of the time being sensational and colourful. The level of detail is extraordinary. Often full details of the dead are included even the amounts of compensation paid to relatives is revealed.

Overall a fascinating book and highly recommended especially to those interested in early British railway history however even casual readers will find this book a great read.

Saturday, 25 February 2023


 Three and a half weeks ago I tested positive for Covid. Two days later my wife and daughter also tested positive. Within 5 or 6 days they both tested negative but it took me ten days to become negative.

I have to say I have never felt so sick in my life. The symptoms were like those of a cold but a super cold, everything was many more times worse. I am the first to admit that I am not a good patient. I have  been lucky enough to have enjoyed good health, never been ill, never been in hospital, no broken bones and got all my teeth and even a generous supply of hair. Therefore even a normal cold really gets to me.

The first week was spent on the couch watching tv and feeling sorry for myself. The second week I managed to add in a few short local walks although they left me exhausted. The third week I actually started to feel better.  I have now fully recovered, as of today I feel 99% normal, my normal that is !!!!

However I have never felt so unmotivated to do anything. It seems I can only walk, go shopping or watch tv, even reading has been a bit of a chore and blogging or modelling has really been a step too far. Today is the first day I have actually felt interested enough to read some blogs and of course post this note.

I hope that my motivation will now start to recover so I can get back into modelling and blogging as well as develop some enthusiasm maybe even to work in the garden rather than just looking out the window. For sure there are many others who have been far sicker with Covid than me but has anyone been so stripped of enthusiasm or interest in normal activities than me ????? I really feel like I have become a vegetable these past few weeks, only now are a few shoots of interest in life reappearing.

A very unpleasant experience in so many ways.

Saturday, 28 January 2023


 Following on from previous railway book reviews I have now re-read probably the ultimate classic on British railways. My uncle was a "top link" engine driver with the legendary GWR and introduced me to Tom Holt's book 50 plus years ago. It is as exciting and interesting now as it was then.

The book basically details how Britain's railways introduced a wide variety of safety devices as a direct result of lessons learned from accidents over the years. All the major accidents on Britain's tracks from the earliest days until the 1970's are discussed using information drawn from the official Railway Inspectorate reports, with a detailed analysis of what went wrong and exactly how it could have been avoided by the use of some new equipment or working practice changes.

I suspect all railway enthusiast have this book but it is so well written and interesting it will probably appeal to anyone with even just a passing interest in railways. Very highly recommended indeed.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023



The primary purpose of the Cavalry regiment is to provide reconnaissance, flank protection and screening of the Army's movements from the enemy. It may also be used for raids behind enemy lines in certain circumstances. The Cavalry regiment consists of 4 Cavalry squadrons and a Headquarters squadron.

The Cavalry squadron comprises two troops each of 8 privates and 2 Corporals under the command of a Lieutenant assisted by a Sergeant. The  squadron is commanded by a Captain assisted by a squadron Sergeant Major. The total strength of a squadron is 26, all of whom are mounted.

The Headquarters squadron, none of whom are mounted,  comprises a Staff troop of 4 privates, a Corporal and a Sergeant, a Medical troop of 8 medics, a medic Corporal, a medic Sergeant, a surgeon Lieutenant with a surgeon Captain in command, a Quartermaster troop with 12 privates, 2 Corporals and a Sergeant with a Lieutenant in command and a Signals troop with 8 signallers, 2 Corporals and a Sergeant with a Lieutenant in command.

The command troop, all of whom are mounted,  has a Lieutenant Colonel as regimental commander with a Major as Adjutant and second in command, a regimental Sergeant major and two standard bearers, one with the national flag and one with the regimental flag. The total strength of the headquarters squadron is 51 giving a total regimental strength of 155, of whom 109 are mounted and 46 are foot soldiers.

The vehicles and equipment of the regiment comprises 6 limbers each towing a light GS trailer with secondary towing of a field kitchen trailer, a water tank trailer, a signals trailer, a medical trailer and two further light GS trailers. Foot soldiers of the Regiment are carried on the various vehicles to ensure the Regiment has full mobility which is also assured by the exclusive use of two wheeled vehicles.

The photo above shows a regiment in parade formation with the combat squadrons on the left and the headquarters squadron on the right in front of the regimental vehicles. **

This photo shows the regiment drawn up ready to advance with regimental wagons to the rear. **

My armies have a total of 24 Cavalry regiments. The arm of service colour for Cavalry is German purple, a shade of burgundy.

** Both photos show the old original regimental structure. New photos will be added ASAP

Thursday, 19 January 2023


 Much as I have tried over the past several weeks I am still finding less time for modelling than I would like. Perhaps over the coming weeks of deepest winter more time will become available.

That said I have at last been able to complete the first set of vehicles for my new Pontoon Bridge capability. The photos show the equipment for a single Pioneer battalion. I have now listed construction of sufficient vehicles to equip another 15 battalions.

I decided to leave the boats and chesses (pallets) unpainted. I have always felt the need to paint everything in my standard olive drab green but on this occasion I think this equipment just looks better in the natural shades of brown.

In addition to the above I have almost completed a batch of 30 field kitchen trailers. All that remains is to paint the wheels and chimneys black.

Finally I refer back to the saga of Humbrol enamel paints as mentioned a while ago. All the evidence I can find suggests that the range is being massively reduced although Humbrol (Hornby) have yet to make a public announcement. However my local retailer says the range is being reduced and the on-line colour charts only show a much reduced range. Interestingly it appears the acrylic range has been increased to include those enamel colours apparently being discontinued.

I have spent the past month  or so buying up those colours that I believe are going out of production but which I use a lot. So far there seems to be no shortage but this will soon change. My advice is if you use Humbrol enamels check the official colour charts and buy up any which you use and which not on the latest charts while you can.

Sunday, 15 January 2023



 As is often the case, having read a book on a particular subject, "Rails to the Front" in this case, I then find myself reading similar books for a while. I am afraid this means the next few book reviews will be about railways !!!!!

This particular book comes from my library and has not been read for a very long time. It basically details the various accidents that occurred both during and after the construction of the many railway tunnels in the UK. Most of the material is taken from newspapers of the time supplemented with official reports. The former of course offer by far the most interesting accounts because of the headline grabbing descriptions as well as the quaint language of the time. There are not too many illustrations but those included are both interesting and informative. 

Overall a fascinating book and highly recommended to railway historians but also generally as just a good book which I should have re-read a long time ago. In fact, the author has another book on disasters during the construction of Britain's railways which I have just ordered as a direct result of enjoying this book so much !!!!

Monday, 9 January 2023



I found this book on Amazon some time ago reasonably cheaply and have finally got around to reading it. The delay has mainly been caused by the strange shape of the book which is landscape rather than portrait which I find peculiarly disconcerting in a book.

That said the book is very well illustrated and basically covers the use of railways in war from the Crimean War right up to WW2 and into the 1960's where use of railways for military purposes is claimed to have been superseded by road transport. However anyone watching the news from Ukraine over the past year will be only too aware of just how important military use of the railways still is to both sides.

Rather than cover every conflict separately, the book discusses the use of railways more by period with only the major wars meriting a specific chapter. The book is loaded with many excellent photos and although the coverage of any particular conflict is necessarily limited, it does give an excellent overall history of railways in war. 

There is a great deal of useful information in this book which means it should appeal to the reader who is looking for a general history of railways in war and in that respect it is certainly recommended.