1985 - one of Jans scratch built models
Shortly after our second visit to Peter Gilder’s WHC I retired from the army and we moved to Salisbury in Wiltshire. This involved moving and finding a new house. We were determined to have sufficient space for a wargames room, and were delighted to find a house with a large, stand alone brick garage. It would be large enough to hold a 12x6 foot wargames table and have space for shelves for all of our model soldiers and scenery.
It took a few months to convert the garage to an all year wargames room, and we were delighted with the final result. We wanted a similar, though much smaller, table to the WHC. So I modelled about 20 scenic squares each 2x2 foot.
By now I had sufficient model soldiers to provide both armies for large battles, and with the games room ready we wanted to contact other wargamers in the Salisbury area. We placed ads in the local shops and notified the nearby Larkhill and Tidworth garrisons. I even contacted the local newspaper and I was impressed that they sent a reporter and photographer and put a full page article in the next issue.
1986 Salisbury Old Guard
We had a very good response, including many from the army serving on nearby Salisbury Plain. We were particularly pleased that Alison, our first and last female member, was one of the first to attend. We met for an evening game once a week. I would set up the table and usually act as umpire.
The games were always Napoleonic, and I tried to make them as even as possible. We usually had 6 to 8 players, but it worked best with two teams of 3. Each player would then have an area 4 foot wide. I would brief both teams, and each player would have their own objective. Games were always friendly, though it was not unknown for tempers to get a little heated.
I had learned from my visits to WHC how important it was to have a non playing umpire to keep the game flowing and to resolve problems quickly. We used In The Grand Manner rules, and I soon found the difficult of using rules written by someone else. With such constant use of the same rules all players became very proficient with them, and many played to their weakness. I quite understand why this would happen, but it did make my task of umpire very difficult. Each week I would have to make a decision where the rules were not clear. I kept a record of major decisions, but even so would often be held to account many weeks, or months, later. I quickly found that each time I amended the rules to meet resolve a problem not covered that amendment would create many more problems in the future. And I would often have to try to justify two decisions perhaps months apart.
The club would run for almost 20 years, and would meet every week except for short breaks for summer and Christmas holidays. The members would change over the years, particularly the military who would get posted regularly. I was always very impressed how loyal they were, and how they would turn up in all weathers. Despite my best efforts it could be quite uncomfortable in the winter months.