In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How the General Met Radu

It was the best part of a Mess Dinner. The toasts were drunk, I had been asked to drone on about glory, the Empire and "What ho, Blandingshires!", then we senior officers had retired to the lounge for cigars and brandy, leaving the subalterns to throw bread rolls at each other while getting beastly drunk finishing the port. My old regiment, the Blandingshire Fusiliers were on station and were celebrating their Regimental Day, or Groose Trinken Day. As the pater and various Majors had hammered into my thick noggin when I was a young subaltern, Groose Trinken was the day when the newly raised Col. Wooster's Regiment of Foote was part of the old Duke of Marlborough's rear guard in Flanders or Saxony, or Switzerland maybe, and like a red brick fort they held all day as the French cavalry, or maybe they were Russians?... some Foreign Johnnies anyway, swarmed about them Formed square around the Duke's wagon of wine, mouths parched with powder smoke and no water, well it's understandable what happened.

But anyway, I was settled into a nicely stuffed arm chair and Radu appeared at my side shimmering in his steward's whites with a little silver tray bearing a brandy and soda and my pipe. A Major from the Veterinary Corps, Dr. Chalmers, nice chap takes splendid care of my stable, just not really a gentleman, tried to flag Radu down to give him a drink order.

"I say! The impertinence of that chap!" huffed the Colic-wallah as Radu ignored him.

Radu, of course has been insisting on serving me at Mess Dinners for years. I would say to him "Right ho, Radu, old chap! Off to the bazaar and nautch dancers for you, I'm dining out", but he would be waiting for me at the door of the bungalow in his whites, with my top coat ready. Always afraid some badmash would take a pop at his General-Sahib if he wasn't there you see? The Regimental Stewards had all gotten used to him and since he let them have his share of the extra pay, they didn't mind. Everyone knew this, except the vet, who was new.

The others were all hiding their smiles as he got redder. "I say! You there!"

I dropped a napkin on the floor. Radu, bent to pick it up, exposing the big nasty kukri knife under his jacket.

"I say!" The Thrush-wallah goggled. "He has a, a erm......"

Major Jeeves filled the Vet in. "A kukri. Indeed he does. Havildar-Major Radu is the General's personal aide and body guard. He's very handy with it, aren't you Havildar-Major?"

Radu smiled brightly, as only Gurkhas can do. "I have had the honour of slitting the throats of many of the Queen-Empress' enemies."

The Major now noticed Radu's rather impressive row of ribbons. "Extraordinary. General, however did you get such a splendid fellow to be your, erm, aide?"

I took a long pull on my pipe. "Radu, be a good fellow and bring a round for everyone, would you please?"

Radu slid away. I puffed my pipe again. "Well it was quite a few years ago. I was a young Captain, new to India, full of excitement. Thinking it was all going to be Rajahs, rubies and palaces. Instead I was stamping up into the hill country where some bandit chief was hiding behind a rock having kidnapped the heiress to the Topping tea fortune. Splendid chap, old Topping, owns a few yards of tea estates up in Darjeeling and around Simla."

View from the Imperial table edge

Close up of village
"We attacked in a long line of skirmishing companies. Sikhs on the right, Grukhas on the left and me with the Blandignshires in the middle.
Imperial attack is fully developed

Dastardly Pathan chieftain exposes the fair Edith 
The Gurkhas hooked around to the left, like a Rugby wing, while the rest of us held their scrum in the middle. All went well at first. Happy Gurkhas waving bloody knives chasing Johnny Pathan through the rocks.
Gurkhas go around the flank
They had a powder charge like a foot ball and tried to go for the touch line.
Gurkhas rush the gate
Radu was just a Naik at the time. He and his chums went bounding over the sangar, kukris flashing, pistols and muskets banging away. It was like a beer wagon had tipped over in Whitechapel.
A fierce melee over the sangar
Bodies were toppling over the rocks like nine pins. But their officer had been wounded, took a jezzail to the temple which knocked him senseless and the rest of them fell back down the slope.
Gurkhas are repulsed!
All the time this was going on in front of me the Sikhs had been banging away furiously at the village and then with their bone tingling war cry charged in with the bayonet, sweeping through the market stalls like some maiden aunts on a shopping spree and driving the tribesmen back to the fort.
Sikhs take the village on the points of their bayonets
I was leading the Blandingshires up to support the Gurkhas with a bit of the too little too late, but just as some dusty tribesman with a pointed, wicked face was raising his khyber knife to slice up a wounded Gurkha I shouted "Now see here! That's just not cricket!" and shot him through the head with my Webley.
Tribesmen driven back on fort to be shot down
I then helped the poor chap to my canteen and bound up the nasty wound on his gut, and then got on with things. We still had a fort to capture and an heiress to rescue after all.
End of game
Although it all settled down pretty quickly after that. The Major demanded they stop being such blighters and let the girl go, or we'd blow in the gate and hang them all from the tower. Johnny Pathan loves a fight as much as the Irish, but he's a sensible chap when the push shoves. Soon enough fair Edith and her maid were released and we confiscated some old rifles."

"The next day this bandaged up Gurkha naik is in my tent polishing my kit."

'I say old chap, what's up?'

'Sahib does not have a batman. This is not good. Radu is grateful  Sahib saved his pathetic life.'

"Well I did need a batman, since mine had taken a jezzail ball through the head just a few days before. He's been with me ever since, posted to Extra-regimental duties, so to speak I"m not entirely sure if he'd let things be any other way."

"Handy chap to have around. Even marching home rough, he had my uniform looking extra spruced up to make an impression on Miss Topping."

One of the other officer's made an 'aha!' face. "I say, General. You're married to a Topping aren't you?"

Jeeves gave him a hard stare. "Now sir! Ladies are not discussed in the Mess!"

I took a pull on my brandy. "Thank you, Jeeves."

The above was a game of Sharp Practice played last weekend with the Mad Padre running the Gurkhas, while Wierdy-Beardy did his best evil Pathan bandit chief impression from behind the fort. There were some scenario flaws, but fun was had.
Other adventures of Brigadier General Sir Pelham Gronville Wooster, VC, KCBE can be found here and here and here


  1. Great AAR - the ghost of George MacDonald Fraser still writes on!

    1. High praise indeed!
      I was actually trying to channel a mix of PG Wodehouse and Conan-Doyle's Brigadier Gerard.

  2. Jolly good show! Nice to see another chap using Sharp Practice for Colonials, what?

  3. Delicious After-Action Report! Reminded me as I was reading of my one of my all-time favorite short stories, Kipling's "The Drums of the Fore and Aft", thanks to your elegant use of the mess-room framing device. Well done, sir -- and well-done Havlidar-Major!

    1. More high praise!
      Thanks for noticing. I rather liked trying to introduce some Mess Dinner traditions.

  4. Absolutely first rate, wot! Play up, the Blandingshires!

  5. "Fun was had" - sounds like it. Great stuff ;)


  6. It is too bad Political Officer - Lt. Brayton - formally of the 21st Bombay Sappers and Miners could not attend.

    1. Quite old chap. You working weekend nights right now is a bit of a bother isn't it?
      Besides I would have had you running Wooster, I'm sure you'd have not only rescued Radu, but managed to get the powder charge to the gate and rescued Edith through some derring do!

  7. This was great fun, James, both the gaming itself and the AAR. I expect a follow up report on the courting of the fair Edith - you could call it ... "Fifty Shades of Khaki".

  8. James, great AAR! I'm also thinking about SP adaptations for 19th century colonial games (c 1860-98), hopefully for a future TFL Special. Would appreciate sharing your ideas on what is needed and appropriate - like you, not that much in my opinion!

    1. I did forget to mention that I gave the Pathans a Sharp Practice card. I also did 2 more:"Ghazi" one group can charge into fisticuffs w/aggression and"Jezzailichi"- a sniper shot at the closest British Big Man. Neither one came up, but the Pathans used theSP card to good effect!