Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sergeant Ira Reiff, US Army Signal Corps, 1924 - 2013

I wanted to get this post done before the end of 2013, and have scrambled to do so.  It doesn't have anything to do with wargaming, but it's important to me, so I hope any readers of this blog will bear with me while I digress from the Second Afghan War in 28mm, but fear not -- it's got nothing to do with religion or politics...

My father -- Ira Reiff -- passed away on Sunday, December 22.  He was 89 years old, had weathered a number of serious health issues over the past twenty years or so, and had been seriously ill for more than a year.  Towards the end, he chose to leave the hospital and come back home to stay with my mom, in hospice care, where my mother, my brother and his girlfriend, and myself, my wife, and our three children, spent as much time as possible with him.  One thing I am certain of is that he was more comfortable, and happier, during those last 16 days he spent at home, than he had been for some time.

Throughout his life, more by example than conscious effort, he taught me one thing.  A four-letter word:  W O R K.

As a very active former Boy Scout and Scout leader, my dad chose to be buried in his Scout leader uniform, and as a World War Two Signal Corps veteran of the China-India-Burma Theater, and Central Pacific Area, to be buried with an Army Honor Guard.

Since starting this blog in July of 2010, I have only mentioned my dad a few times -- either in the context of his wartime service in British India, during which his Signal Corps unit's hi-tech equipment was watched over by Gurkha sentries, and which, decades later, his telling stories of, led to my own interest in British colonial history -- or in the context of him having built a "war-room" in the basement of our family's house in Brooklyn around 1977 or '78, for my brother, myself, and our friends to play our miniature wargames and RPGs.

My dad lived a long and productive life.  He fought a war, helped build the state of Israel, returned to the US, met and married my mother, and then -- in the mid-Seventies -- took a huge chance by purchasing a house in the outer boroughs of New York City, while the city itself was poised on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse.  Like most things in my father's life, this questionable gamble worked out well in the end.

My father loved the outdoors (at one point after the war he nearly joined the National Park Service), and loved the sea (he grew up working in his WWI US Navy veteran father's Ship's Chandler shop at the South Street Seaport), and also loved doing his own thing his own way.  He always got the job done, but was not an "Institutional" guy, even while he was part of one of the largest institutions in human history, the WWII US military.  One morning, during his Army training, he and a bunch of other recruits were caught trying to sneak out of camp to shoot craps instead of participating in morning calisthenics.  All the transgressors were taken to the parade-ground, and for some reason -- perhaps pure luck, or, more likely, thanks to some wisecrack he made while they were being apprehended -- my dad was ordered to lead the entire camp in their morning exercises.  He did a spit-and-polish job on all the exercises up to the very last, most physically-challenging, one: push-ups.  Then he raised his hands and announced to the camp: "We will now do finger exercises."  He moved his fingers up and down, while calling out:  "One, two, three... ONE!  One, two, three... TWO!  One, two, three... THREE"

I'm not sure how many days -- or weeks -- of KP he got for that one, but however much it was, I'm sure he was smiling to himself as he did it, though after a while I'm sure he was cursing to himself as well.

I will miss my dad, but I'll always have my memories of him, some of them painful, others hilarious, but all of them distinctly him.

Here are a few pictures of my dad during his military service...

Sunday, December 15, 2013



by Major E.A.P. Hobday, RA

This is the name of a rather remarkable book, first published in 1898.  What makes it remarkable is the fact that it's filled with about 50 line drawing sketches made by the author, an officer of the Royal Artillery who was on service as a staff officer throughout the campaigns in question, and who was also a rather talented artist.

I learned of the book's existance when a link to it was posted on the North-West Frontier Wargaming Yahoo Group, by fellow miniature wargamer Roger Williams.  At that time, I posted a message to the Group thanking Roger for having shared the link to the free online digital edition of the book with all its sketches, but I'm happy now for the chance to do so again: THANK YOU, ROGER!!!

Here, for anyone interested, is a direct link to the "Internet Archive" edition of the book:

The sketches show a variety of Frontier terrain, local dwellings, ancient ruins, and Anglo-Indian encampments, as well as troops on the march, and in action, including a heliograph team, and several artillery crews.

And finally here is a brief sampling of the sketches themselves: