Friday 1 July 2016


A bit of a flying post, everything I do seems to be in a rush recently, and I haven't had much time for blogging with one thing and another. I've been meaning to post these up for a while now, and today, the centenary of The First Day of the Somme seems like a good time.

I don't remember my Grandad (my Mum's father). I was only about 6 months old when he died in 1969,  but at least he met me. His breathing problems carried him off in the end, partially exasperated by his heavy smoking, mainly because the one lung he had left after being gassed was in tatters. About 20 years ago I tried to gather some information about his activities in the Great War. He joined the army in 1915, aged 17, and as far as I can make out he was in the Rifle Brigade at this point and then transferred to 4th Reserve Infantry Brigade
 During this time , presumably still in England he won a ten mile race in full marching kit for which he received this little award

his initials stand for Charles Darwin Longfield, presumably HIS parents were Darwinists and the name has been preserved in our family, although none of my own kid's have it (which was remiss of me). He also received a silver topped swagger stick for winning this race, but that is in my Mum's umbrella stand at the moment and I couldn't photograph it tonight.

Here are his War medals, including the MSM he won in 1917, having moved to 244 coy Machine Gun Corps and been made a Sergeant by this time. They are in mint condition as he never wore them. My Mum tells me he made light of his experiences, and used to scare her with stories about the rats in the trenches, but didn't think much of the medals as a token of what he and his mates went through.

The MSM was either awarded for gallantry of useful service. If the former then the citation recorded the deed, but if useful service the deed was not recorded, and it seems the latter was the case for my Grandad. There are several family stories of how he won it, one being he shot down a German spotter plane with either his pistol (I believe machine gunners carried small arms) or the machine gun, or he took out a series of enemy gun nests with his MG team.

Here is the citation as it appeared in the London Gazette in 1917, he's 4 up from the bottom 6285 Sjt CD Longfield

He certainly fought on the First Day of the Somme, possibly with the KOYLI according to family stories, but I'm not sure . 244 Coy MGC seems to have been active later in the War according to this document I gleaned from some record office years ago

At some stage in 1917, possibly at Cambrai, he was badly gassed and left for dead. He was recovered some days later, but had been been blinded by the gas as well and remained blind for 6 months having been sent back to Blighty.  The colliery he worked for (Allerton Bywater near Leeds) sent wounded veterans to convalescence in Scotland, where they recovered by cutting pit props and generally breathing in clean air.  The colliery also awarded him this certificate

and rather nice watch
Inside is an inscription of the award mentioned on the certificate.

His initials as a cypher on the fob.

Happily, he made it through the war, and into the next one, this time as a Captain in the Morecambe Home guard. Here he is leading his men in what I think is a classic picture, which has pride of place in my gaming room.
That's Captain Longfield at the fore, and the chap directly behind him is the spitting image of Sgt Wilson!

He was also an active Freemason, and I have some of his Jewels (as Bob Cordery kindly informed me of the proper name for this type of regalia).I hope you find these interesting Bob.

I would be interested to find out the meaning of the little house and 'cannon'.

Now let's take a look at our family's other war hero (they are all hero's in my view, to make it through such a bloody awful affair).

Private Mick Comerford was my Dad's uncle. He later became a gamekeeper at a little village called Berkley near Frome in Somerset,not far from where I live, but my Dad was brought up in Lancashire and used to come down to Somerset in the 30's as a small boy to stay on the estate Uncle Mick worked on.

Uncle Mick joined up in 1915, and we also have his medals. He has the 1914-15 star, which I think was awarded to soldiers who fought in 1915. The 1914 star was for those who joined in 1914. However he was given the Christmas tin of cigarettes and chocolate which initially was for soldiers at the front at Christmas 1914. Just reading up on the tin now, more seem to have been issued later on using surplus fund money, so he could have been a later recipient.

Uncle Mick often wore his medals, ands as you can see they are a bit more battered than my Grandad's.

He fought with the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and it seems from the battle list below, they had a pretty rough time of it

Again, happily, he made it through, unscathed as far as I know and his discharge is recorded here

Uncle Mick is 4 up from the bottom. But look at the number of chaps K. in A. 
Three on this page alone killed 1. 7. 16.

My Mum (87) was feeling a bit glum today, after watching and listening to memorial services, but if her Dad hadn't made it through the War, she wouldn't have been around nor my brothers, myself or our children, so we have a lot to rejoice about, while remembering those who didn't make it back.

Hopefully normal service will resume soon, and I can show you some toy soldiers!

Tuesday 3 May 2016


Posts are a bit thin on the ground recently, but there are things in the pipeline which will soon be finished.... a couple of Lion Rampant forces for my budding project Robin of Sherwood Wolfshead Rampant. I've been hanging around on a Robin of Sherwood forum, and it's very pleasant to chat with folk who are keen on the 80's TV series, a couple of whom are also wargamers or role players.

As usual, we went down to see the village Morris Men performing on May Day, outside the school where the 'side' was formed back in the 1930's

Thursday 17 March 2016


I went to see The VVitch last night , which lived up to all my expectations. We don't get to see many films set in the 17c , and rarely one where the dialogue, costume and behaviour of the protagonists is so well portrayed. The director had clearly done his homework and I recognised several real quotes from 17c witch witch trials. It certainly wasn't an easy watch, the burgeoning sense of paranoia, the graphic portrayal of witches rites (as recorded in trial testimonies) and the discordant soundtrack all added up to make a harrowing yet compelling film. I'll certainly be buying it when it's released on DVD to add to the folk horror collection.

Now...who does figures of 17c witches and civilians....?

Friday 19 February 2016


A flying post here. We set up the battle of Lansdown for Robin's history project and moved the figures around for different stages of the battle. This was done rather on the fly, as the project is due in on Monday and we are having a tour of the battlefield tomorrow, courtesy of Ian Chard..a splendid fellow and member of the Skirmish Wargames Group, who also happens to be the Battlefields Trust 'warden' for Lansdown. Slightly fuzzy pots as the light wasn't brilliant and Robin, who took them was well excited. I aim to make some more bespoke terrain in the future and spend a bit more time on getting the terrain better.

Wallers Army on Lansdown Hill ("Thus stood the Fox gazing at us")

The small hammered guns well entrenched on the brow of the hill.

Parliament dragoons sally forth to goad the Royalists off Tog Hill ("...it was aptly named, for wee had much tougging to gain mastery of it")

It works!

Lord Carnarvon  leads the Royalist cavalry down the hill

A body of Parliament cavalry support their dragoons

The Royalist cavalry come down off Tog and Freezing Hills and the Parliament horse and dragoons pull back

Colonels Burghill and Carr boldy charge the the Royalist army in it's entirety (...it was the boldest thing I ever a saw...to charge an army in it's own ground more than a mile from their own body")
The Royalist cavalry flee...earning themselves the appellation "The Runaway Horse"

Incensed by their cowardly cavalry, the Royalist foot march down the hill to give battle.

The Parliament horse wisely pull back, to lure the enemy infantry into a bloody trap 

The Royalist foot approach the foot of Lansdown and the Parliament guns play upon them. They are also enfiladed by dragoons and musketeers lurking in behind hedges and walls. (Wish I had moved the catfood there!)

Stung beyond rational behaviour The Cornish foot cry "Let us fetch those cannon"

They begin their assault upon the Parliamentarian earthworks...at a terrible cost. Arms and legs fly into the air as they are pounded by the artillery.

The assault underway

Grenville's Cornish Foot and other Cornish Regiments (Slanning's, Mohun's and Godolphin's) reach the earthworks and pile in pell mell.

(getting exciting here) as Grenville throws away his life. The Parliamentarians fight back and Sir Arthur Hazelrigge leads a counter charge with his famous Lobsters. (...so called as they are couvered in a bright iron shell")

Grenville falls, poleaxed by a cuirassier, and Hazelrigge receives a pike wound to his thigh.

Waller withdraws behind a stone wall to his rear that has been pierced with holes to allow horse through. The Royalists balance precariously on the edge of the hill...a spent force ("...one lusty charge would have rolled us to the bottom.")

Night falls as the armies fire half heartedly at each other. Waller withdraws to Bath having protected it from Royalist capture. Parliament casualties no more than 80....Royalist casualties between 200 and 500, including Grenville. A definite Parliament victory, yet all the history books say otherwise. I can't get my head around it.

Quotes in italics are along the lines of  real ones, but I am remembering them off the top of my head, so forgive me if they are a bit wrong. I am enthused to do more scenery and baggage train in 54mm, but goodness, they take a lot of room up when laid out. Next time we may borrow the village hall. I hope to do Waterloo one day with a bout 4 times as many figures.

I have also just sold a heap of 10mm Warmaster figures, and within hours Prince August had a sale on their Roman wars moulds so I bought some of those with proceeds, and this very evening Black Tree discounted their Roman range by 50% so I hoovered up some auxillaries and artillery..... I still have cash left from the Warmaster stuff, as well as a few other sales and it is very satisfying recycling hobby stuff to by more, rather than spending more 'real' money...I aim to do this in the future.

Tuesday 26 January 2016


I've been suffering from painters block recently, coupled with the fact I've become hooked on Ripper Street which I'm watching on Amazon Prime (which we somehow unwittingly subscribed to). However, I took the day off today as the forecast was so terrible and managed to get some pictures taken of figures I painted at the end of last year. Here are some generic medievals, for my fantasy games initially...more info and pictures here.

I seem to be over the stoppage in artistic flow now and the muse is upon me again, so I'm going to paint a few figures for Frostgrave which my oldest son is dead keen to play.