Tag Archives: Royal Navy

Megagame: Iron Dice – Turn 4

8-14th September 1914. I didn’t get a picture of the main control map this turn, so you’ll need to use your imagination.

BEF Report to the War Office 14th September 1914


We have attacked the German First Army on our Right flank. They were numerically superior (Five Corps to our three) but we managed to stop their advance and drive them back. In doing this we took significant casualties, almost 21,000 men.

The plan is to keep the riverline Ghent – (towards) Douai, French 6th army will secure our right flank. Belgiums are gasping behind us but still cover the left part (South of Ghent – Antwerp)

Germans advanced (circled our left flank in Ypres, defeating the Belgiums east of our left flank) and at Cambrai (Germans defeating the French?). Threat of encirclement is very sincere. BEF is urgently retreating towards line Hesdin – Arras.

Team Control Gloss

The previous report had been a little worrisome in Horseguards, but the gist was that the counter-attack on the German First Army was going to rejoin the BEF to the French 6th Army. Unfortunately what happened was a major offensive by the Germans. This was stopped dead (and knocked back slightly over the Scheldt) by the BEF, albeit at a high cost in casualties. The French 6th Army didn’t manage to make progress in closing the gap. The Belgians also got pushed back on the left flank of the BEF, and lost contact leaving the BEF with two hanging flanks.

The news of the casualties caused horror in Horseguards and Kitchener, the Minister of War, came out to the BEF GHQ to find out what Field Marshal French thought he was doing. Typically Kitchener didn’t give instructions, although French was left in no doubt that he’d screwed up and needed to make sure that the BEF remained in being (“We’ve only got one army, look after it”).

Turn Three  –  Iron Dice  –  Turn Five

Megagame: Iron Dice – Turn 3

The first week in September 1914.

Turn 3 Umpire Map
Turn 3 Umpire Map

BEF Report to the War Office 7th September 1914


We have moved up into a line between the coastal marshes at DIXMUDE to LILLE. Two corps of the German First Army are on our Right flank and we intend to attack them in the flank. We believe that they have extended lines of supply.

There is a gap between our right flank and the French left. This presents a risk to our troops.

A planned attack towards Tournai / Valenciennes is in progress with a deep recon by the Cav (to disorganize German Supply). Talks with the Belgiums have revealed that they are attacking out of Antwerp as well.

The Royal Navy is requested to change the supply port to Boulogne.

Team Control Gloss

The BEF counters are finally on the map at the beginning of September as they are almost in contact with the enemy, in a secondary defensive line. The Belgians were having a rough time of it and the Germans have battered the Belgian Army almost out of existence.

Although noted in the report to the War Office by the players the fact that there was a gap between them and the French 6th Army they were more concerned about dealing the German 1st Army‘s Left Wing (shown in the middle bottom of the map photo) a decisive blow from the flank.

Turn Two  –  Iron Dice  –  Turn Four

The Floating Republic, Manwaring & Dobree

18th century illustration of Richard Parker (B...
18th century illustration of Richard Parker (British sailor) about to be hanged for mutiny. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Account of the Mutinies at Spithead and the Nore in 1797 by G.E. Manwaring (Author), Bonamy Dobree (Author). First published in 1935 and re-published by Pen & Sword Military Classics in 2004. 300 pages in paperback.

The naval mutiny of 1797 is the most astonishing recorded in British history; astonishing by its management rather than by its results, for other mutinies had been successful. Though it shook the country from end to end, it was largely ordered with rigid discipline, a respect for
officers and an unswerving loyalty to the King. Moreover, it was so rationally grounded that it not only achieved its immediate end, the betterment of the sailor’s lot, but also began a new and lasting epoch in naval administration. Here are familiar names: the aged hero Lord Howe, the indecisive Lord Bridport, the giant Admiral Duncan who held a mutineer over the side of his ship until the wretch admitted his error, the ever unpopular Captain Bligh, and less familiar figures such as Richard Parker, who led the mutiny at the Nore and paid for his insurrection at the end of a rope. This fascinating account will appeal to all who love Horatio Hornblower, Jack Aubrey and other fictional heroes of the era. The value of The Floating Republic does not merely reside in its excellent treatment of its theme – but likewise in the light it sheds upon the history of the eighteenth century generally.


This was a fascinating and thought provoking read. Drawn very heavily from the primary sources of the period it paints a picture of the events and also how the prevailing attitudes of the time shaped them. Those at the top believed (erroneously) that the mutinies were caused by foreign interference (from French Jacobins, or their English supporters). Those on board ship felt that the improvements in standards of living across the entire 18th century had left them behind, in 1797 the pay rates for seamen were the same they had been under Charles II. This was brought into stark relief by the sudden increase in the size of the navy with the war, bring on board many educated volunteers.

Life on board ship was harsh in the extreme, many officers brutal bullies who ignored the protections in the discipline regulations. Pursers sold short measures (the naval pound had 14 rather than 16 ounces) and the quality of their food was awful, not fit for human consumption – even by the laxer standards of the time. The book shows the conditions and explains why the mutinies happened, it contrasts the conduct and management of the two mutinies, both from a mutineer and an official point of view. There are lessons both on how to conduct a mutiny and on how to peacefully end one, the two adjacent mutinies clearly showing this.

I certainly felt inspired in reading the book and would strongly recommend it to both naval historians and social historians, an excellent work on a period that otherwise gets overlooked.

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