Monday, July 22, 2019

Wargaming likes it's 1985

In 1985 I was 17. Over winter my friend Ian would pop round on Saturday evenings and we’d wargame. We used our own rules we’d developed over the years and were a combination of Lionel Tarr’s rules (from Donald Featherstone’s Wargames) and also Gavin Lyall’s Operation Warboard. We were right into World War Two, and to us there was no other era worth gaming.

We used to frequently undertake D- Day landings but also river crossings figured heavily too by the looks of it. The buildings were a combination of HO/OO model railroad cardboard buildings and home made one’s that had originally been part of a rather large model railway layout my father had build my brothers and me when we were younger. Most of the trees had been repurposed from that model railway layout as well.

The models we used back then were a mix of Airfix, Matchbox and Esci and by this stage I’d replaced most of my earlier Matchbox and Airfix figures with Esci ones which I thought had much better detail even thought they were noticeable bigger than the other two ranges. We painted our vehicles and guns but not our figures by the looks of it.

I have no idea who won or lost now but that doesn’t matter, these grainy photos are the only ones I have of that period and so now I’ve rediscovered them will treasure them.

 An assault on a village somewhere in France. By the looks of it this one is based on Gavin Lyall's Pont- De la Croix in Operation Warboard- I am assuming by the pillbox in front of the Airfix pontoon bridge

 A German mortar crew barely visible in the foreground.

Beach landings- we gamed these ones a lot. you can see our mortar template on the right- the idea of which we borrowed from Charle's Grants Battles?) and a plastic Airfix DUKW is clearing the beach- which is denoted in chalk- totally old school that!

Homemade landing craft and a Fujimi (?) watchtower in the foreground. I think I was the invader in this one.

My younger brother watches on. We usually didn't let him in our gaming room, must have been feeling generous. Note World of Grehawk map from AD&D on the wall.

 This landing doesn't seem to be going well.

Another game and view from the landing craft. IIRC I attacked with commandos in this one.

Marchbox Sherman fireflies with homemade flails, you don't see those every day!

The Airfix gun emplacement featured prominently for many, many years. I got it for my 9th or 10th birthday and it got a lot of use in our wargames.

Note the foxholes we had cut out of pynex and the cardboad pillboxes. The dark Green Esci German infantry.

A village somewhere in France. The red roofed buildings were "borrowed" from the model railway layout.

A view from the German positions of another invasion of Normandy.

My friend Ian plots his next move.



  1. Wonderful! The set-ups for those battles look imaginative and compelling, and a heck of a lot of fun!

    My half brother David (20 years younger than I) used to make his own buildings, and eked out gaps in availability of plastic kits by scratchbuilding. He sure had a talent for it! But he'd never paint anything. I never could figure why...

  2. Fascinating photos of past WW2 games.

  3. Cheers Guys, was lots of fun from memory.
    We made do with plastic kits and some minor scratch building- such as the flails. I would have loved to get 20mm metals but were far too expensive back in the day with the exchange rate and postage from the UK.

  4. Excellent, I had those exact buildings and shrubbery materials in the 80's too :)

    1. Thanks Chasseur, those HO model railway buildings lasted us many, many years. You can never have too much lichen IMO :)

  5. Looks way better than my layouts in the 80s

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