26 July 2009

Too busy

Apologies for not posting anything but with things very busy at work, an imminent change of job and moving to a flat in Queanbeyan (the 260km round trip drive to work finally got too much for me) mean that I'm rarely able on get onto my computer, which remains in Tallong.

If anyone wants to take the running with the murder of Paddy O'Gabhain in Saxe-Beerstein, please feel free.


07 June 2009

Murder by night

Paddy O'Gabhain was feeling well pleased. An excellent meal, good wine and the attentions of two of Madame Ilse's young ladies had given his world a rosy glow.

Things weren't going too well with his attempts to find more work for the regiments, but the strife around Europe would soon fix that. The 200 Liberties he expected to receive, for arranging the cantonment of a brigade on the Channel Isles, would fit nicely in his purse.

Tomorrow he would head for Hetzenburg and then on to Stollen. They certainly looked as if they may be interested in some extra troops and he thought he may have another task there. He also had to present the Grand Star to Prince Bishop Heinrich of Gruntshoffen. He had been informed by letter today that the order was already waiting, with a trusted agent, for his collection. There were also some other nations, too. Saxe-Huack was also worth a visit. Any nation that had recently expanded was likely to look for extra troops, so as to hold those new possessions.

The Roving Ambassador and Minister for War stiffened as the knife sliced into his back. Before he could do more, a second blow took all the energy from him. His legs buckled and he was dimly aware of being held up and then dragged.

"Footpads.." was his last thought.

The man who had murdered the minister released his hold and let the body slump to the ground.

"Hurry up!" his companion hissed.

The man felt through the minister's pockets, taking whatever letters he found and handing them to his companion.

"Take his money, too! It must look like a robbery, you idiot!" The woman's voice was unpleasant, made harsh by her desire to leave before they were seen lurking in the doorway, where they had dragged the body.

The man slit the coat lining and extracted a handful of gold and silver coins. His fingers then found a large, metal disc.

"The devil! What is this?" In the poor light he could see the disc was gold, if its weight did not already tell him that. On one side was a pattern of stars and on the other bird, not an eagle, and the figure "5".

"Give it here, you may keep the rest. But where is the letter?"

"It is not here. It was not in his rooms, either."

At that moment the sound of marching feet reached them.

"The watch! Drop the button, quickly! Come, leave him!"

The pair disappeared around the corner. Behind them, a minute later, the watch sergeant and four troops marched past the doorway, not even glancing to see the body laying in the shadow. Once they passed another figure moved slowly over and knelt. A hand felt the cooling neck and a stream of French profanities was hissed. The figure stood, looked around and stepped onto the road, before striding back towards the Golden Swan.

"So. What do you think, Johannes?"

"Stabbed twice, sir. The one to the kidney is the one that killed him."

"Are you sure he's that man from the south? The one who calls himself a minister?"

"Yes, sir. Ilse pointed him out last night."

"And he has been robbed?"


Lieutenant Gruenwalder was not surprised. The man obviously had plenty of money on his person. He liked to drink and made much of his own importance. And while murder and robbery weren't common in Fraudorf, a man showing that much money was taking a deadly risk.

"Sir, look at this. It's a button, looks like it came off a uniform."

The button was gilded, with a coat of arms on it. The Lieutenant didn't recognise the arms, which seemed to be some sort of tankard on a bordered shield.

"Watch Sergeant, you did well to send for us. Take the body up to the Golden Swan, please. The man may have left some money with Frau Keller, which will pay for his burial. Send my men back to me- tell them we ride for the capital. Someone there will know what this button is."

Once his men rejoined him, the Lieutenant was surprised to hear that the murdered man's rooms had been thoroughly ransacked. There were no papers to be found, just clothes, a large some of money (though made up of coins from several nations), a pistol and case and a seal, showing a strange bird backed by crossed swords.

"We ride, now!" The troop galloped off, first to report to their squadron commander and then perhaps to take the mysterious button to be identified.

The watch sergeant watched them ride away. Then his eye caught on a reflexion from under the door. He bent down and pulled a small, silver buckle from beneath the door.

"That's a lady's, Willie." one of his men said. The sergeant was pleased. The buckle could bring a few coins at the Old Bear and Hounds.
"OK. Let's get His Grace up to the Swan, boys, and then go for a small drink."

19 April 2009

Diplomacy in two flavours

"Mr President?" came the voice of Chen Chiqui, President Rapp's personal executive assistant. "Minister von Albanees is here to see you."
"Send him in, please."
Antonio von Albanees strode in, clutching a number of documents.
"Kelvin, I have just received a letter from the Reich Duchy of Beerstein. And I would also like you to please sign these two bestowments, for the Order." Antonio seemed rather hurried, a very unusual state for him.
"What is in the letter?"
"The Reich Duke would like to hire our 4th Regiment of cavalry as part of an allied foreign legion he is attempting to raise."
"The 4th? Good, good! Do we have the ships to embark them? Could they catch our troop convoy if they left by Wednesday?" President Rapp was mentally rubbing his hands together, thinking of the income this would produce.
"Kelvin, you farewelled Colonel Finley and the regiment when it left for Darwin, three weeks ago. They're already on the convoy ships, heading for Europe. By now, with favourable winds, they may be putting in at The Cape!"
"Oh, even better! They will be there within a few months, then. Can we send a packet to the convoy, to redirect the regiment to the Duchy?"
"We can. The old pirate, El Trujillo, should be able to catch them. If he doesn't go chasing a few pennies on board another whaler. We really should do something about him, you know!"
"He doesn't attack our ships and has caused no little bother to others, especially the Mormoans, so we'll leave him for now. Get a message, and orders for Fisher's troops, to him, please"
"It's Finley. I will do as you ask. On the other matter..."
"Antonio, those badges cost 1,600 quid each. EACH! Not to mention the 500 acres everyone also gets, when we award one! We are not going to shower them on every head of state in the world, it would bankrupt us!"
"I know, but these two worthy individuals deserve recognition.
Furst Bruno von Ursa, Prince of Saxe-Bearstein, has done the world a great service with his diplomatic messaging service. It has greatly enabled communications between nations. And, to our benefit, has sparked more than one war.
Uber Gruntshuffen, whose current ruler is the Prince Bishop Heinrich XXXII von Wullfenbuttell, has supported the Republic since it began. While not one of the Great Powers, support from these nations has stopped the Republic withering on the vine.
I do urge you to support them. Besides, by raising the awareness of our nation, we also raise the awareness of our troops and their availability for hire. Think of it as some kind of an investment. A 'Future Fund', if you will!"
"Very well Antonio. Pass them here and I will sign." The president signed the Articles of Presentation with a flourish- and a barely suppressed sigh.
"Tell me, Antonio, how is our charming Ambassadress, these days. Quite the intelligent and pretty lady, isn't she?" President Rapp looked up, knowing he would see a little discomfort on Antonio's face. But he was shocked- Antonio was red-faced and trembling! And Antonio in a rage was dangerous.
"I'm so glad you took it 'pon yourself to deal with the lady. Having such an intelligent person necessarily given access to some of more sensitive, er..., governmental branches requires us to be particularly alert in our dealings with her. It would be a most onerous task, Antonio, and I am so glad you have proved equal to it."
"Thank you, Mr President. Now, with your permission, I shall take these Articles, decorations and your orders to Colonel Finley and have them dispatched, immediately. The two new members of the order will of course be considered as founding members, it being only your oversight that stopped them being included in the original bestowments! Good day, Sir!"
President Rapp watched him stalk out.
"That was a mistake!" he thought. Antonio controlled an important bloc in the Caucus. More importantly, he wasn't adverse to calling a man out, no matter what the man's station. He remembered two years ago, when Antonio had run the hapless Nickolai Vitlamovich through, after losing a substantial sum to one of the insurance schemes the man had perpetrated on several leading citizens. Vitlamovich was a leading citizen and son of a former President and member of The Party. That was bad enough, but the way Antonio had twisted his blade as he'd withdrawn it....
Rapp shuddered. He'd not bait his Minister again.


"Lieutenant Rien, please be at ease. And these are your tracker bosses?"
Major Rashid looked at the young officer. He was well turned out, for a militiaman. And had a look of competence. But the Major was more interested in the trackers. They would be invaluable once his squadron of the 2nd Horse stepped up to a proper patrol programme. Leaving O'Connel for this hot, dusty backwater hadn't been popular with the other officers. Nor the men, for that matter. But with both Kingdomer incursions, an occasional brush with the French colonist escorts and a few die-hards from the militia out bushranging, the men wouldn't be bored.

Not to mention all the activity in the new Kingdomer fort opposite Alburburg. What were they up to?
"Yes, Sir. This is Old Billy, our tracker Captain, Dirrigul, Durrigul and Moses. They've been leading parties on the Kingdomer side of the river, trying to find out what all the fuss over there is about."
"And have you found anything, Captain?"
Billy blinked. The Major was talking to him, and calling him Captain!
"Nothin' much we can see, Sir. Them Gunnigong fellas, and them other brown blokes wit' all them feathers, they not likin' us goin' across there, Sir. We had a few times got to run or fight and you said we not to fight them. But Dirrigul he had to fight and we kill two of them brown fellas. An' he got close enough to see them, Sir."
Major Rashid knew that the "brown fellas" were the North American natives the Kingdomers had brought with them. Doughty fighters and trackers, they still seemed a little confused by the change from their homeland to New Holland.
"What did you see, Dirrigul?"
"It a big blue tent, boss, an' they tryin' to start a fire in it! An' it gets big and big, then it catches the fire, boss, and they all run around and try to put it out. Then one of them fellas in the red coats comes runnin' up and starts yellin' and wavin' his arms. That's all we saw when the currawongs come an' nearly get us, boss. But we see them and run off. They chase us, but Wombat an me, we get two of them wit' a spears and we got away, boss!"
"Bown fellas, Sir. We calls them currawongs 'cause they put them feathers in their hair."
"Ah, I see. Very good work, Dirragul. Lt Rien?"
"Good work, but I want you to stop. I can't say why, but all cross border activity is to stop.
However, as of now any Kingdomer found on our side of the border, away from the towns and settlements, is to be taken, preferably alive, and brought to me. And as of today any 'bushranger' who is taken, wearing any part of Republic uniform, will win a reward of 10 Liberties for the troop which catches him.
And your old friend, Lieutenant Gris, I mean former lieutenant, will bring 50 Liberties for the lucky men who bring me his body."

The tight look on the young officer's face showed he knew that his old friend had just been sentenced to death. His trackers would soon spread the word about the reward. And this cavalry major knew it.
"Understood, Sir! Is there anything else?"
"No, Lieutenant. You may.... Wait, I nearly forgot. We can't have a mere lieutenant giving orders to a captain, can we? Even a tracker captain. You are promoted, Captain Rien, and you have been placed on the Reserve Officers List. So you will now be paid as a regular soldier, sir, and are reserve posted to the 3rd Foot.
Rien stood there, not knowing what to say.
"Thank you, Sir."
"Captain, RSM O'Driscoll was very, very impressed with your work. And your regiment is raising two new companies, from the last batch of French colonists. That's why you were promoted. Not for any other reason.
And if I had a friend who needed a , ah..., holiday, I'd tell him that the northern borders are far more relaxed than this one."
Rashid hoped the young officer was listening.
"Thank you, Sir."
Rien and his trackers left. Rashid watched the door close. "Sergeant-Major!" he called.
"Bring in Troopers Shultze and Jenkins and three escorts. I'm in the mood to deal with those two now!"

09 April 2009

The close of the Reception Ball.

The Reception Ball was closing. As was traditional (or will be, once they do it a few times), President Rapp stood up to make a closing speech:

"Thank you for your silence, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my great honour to announce the founding of the Order of the Republic of Neues Sudland. This great chivalric order will have, as its members, only those heads of state who have proven themselves to be friends and allies of our great republic. Those who have contributed to the growth of this new nation. As you can see, the Grand Star of the Order is now on display at the other end of the hall. Those who wish to view it should pass between the red cords, in an orderly fashion. And please, if your are wondering, the guards do have their muskets loaded and have orders to use them, should anyone think of picking up the Grand Star for closer examination.
Appropriately, in honour of this momentous occasion, the first of member of the Order, and the first recipient of the Grand Star, will be King Phillip of the Holy Mormoan Kingdom of New Wales. It is hoped that this award does bring our two countries closer in friendship.

The Articles of Presentation read:

His Royal Highness, King Philip of the Holy Mormoan Kingdom of New Wales.
It is the wish of the people and government of the Republic of Neues Sudland that you be made a Grand Commander of the Order of the Republic of Neues Sudland for your friendship and assistance to the people of the Republic. The Grand Star of the Order is awarded you, so that you may have tangible evidence of the high regard in which the people and government of the Republic hold yourself and your nation.

It is also our great honour to award you a small residence, situated on 500 acres of parkland near the Port of Darwin, that will be available for your use, should you ever wish to visit the Republc.

K Rapp
President of the Republic"
He paused to draw breath.

"The other recipients of this honour, and founding members of the Order, are-

Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II of the Grand Duchy of Stollen

Grand Duke Karl of the Grand Duchy of Hetzenburg

Reich Duke Wilhelm of the Duchy of Beerstein,

Louys, Comte de Montecristo,

Freiherr David von Linienblatt of the Freistadt of Tippelbruder,

Mr William Pitt, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

All these worthies will receive an official residence in the Park of the Grand Order, which will be situated to the east of Port Darwin. It is also our pleasure to offer those nations in Europe who are currently at war the use of any single regiment of our army for the nominal sum of one Maria Theresa Thaler. They will also, of course, have to pay the wages and the provisioning of the troops."

Antonio sat rubbing his temples. "IDIOT, IDIOT, IDIOT!" he thought.
"He's forgotten their honorifics, hasn't mentioned why they got the awards and mixed up their order of seniority. Doesn't he read briefing notes?"

The crowd filed past the watching guards, making startled comments about the size and apparent expense of the decoration. Lady Amanda, Ambassador to the Republic, beamed as she was presented with the Article of Presentation and the Grand Star.

"Bloody hell, it's heavy enough to put someone's back out! Who designed this?" she thought to herself.

In a far corner, a clinking bag found its way into the pocket of The Minister for Arts. This jewellery design lark may prove to be profitable.

08 April 2009

I've been on the road a fair bit lately. Which I blame for any over-silliness in this post.


A Star is Born and the Lady is the Ambassador

Grand Star of the Oder of the Republic of Neues Sudland

"It's hideous! Garrotte, you fool, we wanted something dignified, resplendent and evocative of the riches of this great nation! Not a gaudy, oversized piece of costume jewellery that even the girls at Uncle Ho's would be ashamed to wear!"
In his hand President Rapp held the new decoration of the Order of The Republic. It weighed half a pound and was liberally sprinkled with diamonds, sapphires and, at first glance, dandruff.
"Jeez, Kel, I kind of like it." Juliette Buzzards eyes were firmly fixed on the glittering bauble. "Look at it sparkle!"
"Monsieur President, I assure you that this design is neither gaudy nor costume jewellery! It is based on an order granted by ze Sultan Turkique to ze grandfather of Moe Ahmoud, ze gems are real and so is ze gold! It cost 1,600 Liberties to make and will make ze crown-ed 'eads of Europe swoon!" Pierre Garrotte was determined to defend the first artistic thing he'd done in three decades.
"Don't give me that accent, Garrotte. You were born just up the road from me.... SIXTEEN HUNDRED QUID??!! Are you MAD? Do you know how many votes we could buy with that?" Rapps' face had gone an interesting puce colour as understanding of the cost of the star finally dawned.
"You wanted big, you wanted gaudy and you wanted gold, diamonds and bloody expense, cobber! Well, yer bloody well got all of 'em! And my accent ain't.. iz not fake!"
"Kel, settle down, mate." Unusually Red Ned was playing peace maker.
"Look, most of them inbred royal types haven't got the taste yer underwear gets after a month of hard riding, do they? All they'll see is expense, lots of expense. An' it's a big bludger, too. They're like magpies, mate- they'll love it. And we'll get a few orders for the regiments because they're too busy lookin' at the sparkles to worry about what the regiments cost."
"Besides, if we throw in 500 acres from that back 10 thou' near Darwin, they'll be in heaven, Kel. And really, it is pretty...." Juliette looked mesmerised by the decoration.
"Well, it's too late now! We'll give the first one to King Philip. We can present it to his ambassador tomorrow, when she presents her credentials. But who else? And let's keep the list short!"
"One to the Poms, mate, for letting us house the troops on that island." put in Stefan Smith, who had been woken by the President's shouting. "An' we owe one to that Beer Duchy bloke too, for the one he sent you, mate."
"And the Hetzenburgers, Kel. Apparently they're about to commission a woman! In the Artillery! That's unheard of in the Olde World. And don't forget Whatsisname from Montecristo, too. Those dresses he sent me, when we won government, were rooly nice. And I love his flag!"
"Louys, Comte de Monte Christo, Juliette."
"That's the bloke. Rooly nice."
"What about that bloke who came here and set up the government tailors? You know- he runs a Duchy in his spare time, when he ain't designing jocks and socks. Darrel, I think it was?" Larry Fergusonsson was still breathing. And still in the cabinet.
"You mean Freiherr David von Linienblatt, Larry? Of Tippelbruder?" Antonio von Albanees knew that Larry was putting it on, trying to upset him. These cretins, and that abhorrent decoration, were bringing on another migraine. "Without his advice our army would be wearing rags. If they were lucky. You remember, the rags your family used to make?"
"ENOUGH!! Very well, that will be enough!" Rapp was hoping Fergusonsson would actually be silly enough to attack Antonio, but was disappointed. Ever since he dealt with those three footpads ("Or is it feetpad?" wondered the President) when leaving Madame Celeste's House of Divine Discomfort, nobody fancied taking on Antonio. It could be a terminal error.
"Antonio, please draw up suitable Articles of Presentation for the British Prime Minister, Monte Christo, Beerstein, Hetzenburg and Tippelbruder. And of course, our good neighbour, King Philip. Stefan, you can do up the titles to their house blocks."
"Now. we have to finish preparations to receive the Ambassador from the Holy Kingdom. If there's nothing else?"
The members of the cabinet filed out.

"....And so we welcome you to our great nation in friendship, Lady Amanda!"
On queue the battery of guns started their 19 gun salute, the company of the Rostov Militia forming the Guard presented arms and, after three hours of waffle, the President's speech finally ended. Lady Amanda Hugankiss, Ambassador to The Republic of Neues Sudland from The Holy Mormoan Kingdom of New Wales, gracefully rose to give her reply.
"Hurley burley, what a girlie!" muttered Stefan Smith, who had been woken by the guns.
"Mate, there's hour glasses that she makes look shapeless! Gawd, she's gorgeous! An' she owns a brewery!"
Lady Amanda was indeed a most attractive and well proportioned woman. Her hair was shining like silk, she had poise and grace and, when she started to speak, her voice was melodious and yet carried across podium.
Antonio von Albanees sat there, totally transfixed. There was nothing he would not do for this elegant, well cultured and lovely woman. Nothing! "I wonder if she likes to spank?" flitted through his mind.
"I have here a letter from His Majesty, King Phillip, to the people and government of the Republic of Neues Sudland, which I would like to read to you:
To The Honourable President K Rapp
Allow me to introduce Lady Amanda Hugankiss.She is already well known in your Republic as the owner and brewer of fine beers and lagers that are consumed by your free and happy people.Today she presents her credentials as the Representative of The Holy Mormoan Kingdom Of New Wales.It is sincerely hoped she shall be received as such. It is My sincere hope, and that of my Government and People that our two great nations may co-habitat this great island continent in peace and mutual benefit.Of recent concern however has been cross border raids by criminal elements within your nation. I am assured by members of my Government that the persons responsible are brigands and criminal, (and probably sponsored by France). It must be said however that some within my council do suggest that these raids are actually the work of the RNS Army!I will leave it in your capable hands to confront this issue on your side of the border, and I will leave it to the Royal Army to deal with the problem on our side of the border.Lady Hugankiss will present members of a trade delegation to you. Primarily they represent wool and wheat growers.It is hoped that you will find their offers of trade and commerce agreeable.
"I can assure you, Madame Ambassador, that the raids shall not be repeated. We recently hanged several bushrangers who had been responsible. They were deserters from a number of our regiments, who still wore the remains of their old uniforms. Hence the mistaken belief that regiments of the Republic were indeed responsible."
"I'm glad they met the end they deserved, Mr President. I also believe the fact that the Dragon d'Cooma have embarked for Europe will also hep keep matters calm, don't you think?"
Rapp had been waiting for this.
"Indeed, Madame. And your aeronautical device should be able to confirm that they have been replaced by the 2nd Horse, who have now stationed a squadron at Alburburg, specifically so as to make sure that similar criminal acts do not occur again."
Lady Amanda was puzzled. What was an "aeronautical device"? And he didn't seem bothered at all that she knew of the troops heading to Europe. Why?
The guests mingled, barbed compliments were exchanged and the Reception Ball tottered through the night. Few foreign dignitaries ever bothered to make the trip to New Holland. Far fewer bothered to make the trek to Ekaterinsberg. So all the capital's privileged and "respectable" people had used whatever dirty tricks, threats and bribes they could to secure an invitation to the first ever Reception Ball.
The bright and blessed enjoyed the night. The food and drink were both very good and free. Liveried staff wandered through the crowds, keeping glasses full and, more importantly, listening in to what conversations they could. In the ceiling, eyes watched and noted who spoke to whom from the spy holes placed among the ornately painted mouldings. And in corners deals, of both business and personal natures, were struck.
But nobody noticed Antonio, sitting quietly at the head table. His eyes never left the new ambassador. And his jaw clenched every time someone acted in a manner he thought was too familiar. Which was most of the time.

At the docks in Darwin, Colonel O'Neill watched as the last company of men from the 8th Foot slowly climbed the gangway leading up to the deck of their troop ship. They were hours behind schedule and tempers had frayed long ago. He could hear the voices of officers and NCO's among the shouts of the ship's crew. Out on the harbour rode the rest of the ships, bar the one loading the last two companies of the 9th's 2nd Battalion. They'd missed the tide and wouldn't leave harbour now until midday, tomorrow. Still, there's no telling if the convoy from O'Donnell would meet them at Christmas Island or be delayed, either. At least the wet was ending, so they didn't have to fear storms. At least for now.
"All our men are accounted for, Sir. There's no more deserted, so we only lost the 53. The battalion guns are aboard and tied down, too." RSM Wendt was his usual, unflappable self.
"Well done, Lofty. We should be able to make up numbers at The Cape or when we get to Guernsey. I hope I can get a decent couple of horses there."
"You should be able to, Sir. I see Commodore Wong is ready. Will that thing keep up?"
"He says so. It looks like a pearling junk, but apparently it's as fast as these hulks the government is putting us on. And his little surprises on the gun deck will give anyone who tries to interfere with us a nasty belly ache. Let's go aboard!"

04 March 2009

A Letter from Abroad
Banging his hand on the table, President Rapp finally brought silence to the cabinet room.
"Thank you! As I was saying, we have today received a letter from Terry O'Gabhain. Terry is, as you may remember, currently in Europe. He is attempting to find employers for the regiments, a task that is not proving easy. One problem is the sea voyage to Europe. When the troops are required, they are generally required immediately. But the sea voyage to Europe takes at least seven months, often longer. And that has proven detrimental to his efforts.
Just let me say this- we need the income generated by renting the regiments! Those damned clauses in the constitution ,that prevent royalties from mining being used for general revenue, have severely restricted our options in pursuing our aims to improve the standing of the Republic. But while our fellow Sudlanders refuse to pass referenda to change the royalties clauses.. SHUT UP NED! Like it or not, "royalties" is the accepted term!
Where was I? Ah, yes. Our roving ambassador has managed to find a way to negate this tyranny of distance. The British have agreed to allow us to barrack a mixed brigade of cavalry, infantry and supporting troops on the Isle of Guernsey. I shall read the letter to you and I suggest we follow Terry's suggestions:
President Rapp and my esteemed colleaugues of the Parliamentary Cabinet,
I hope this missive finds you all safe and well, the country at peace and the Wet coming to a close.
As you know, the situation in Europe is quite unsettled. Tradgardland, Stagonia, Saschen-Vindow, Hetzenberg and other states are either engaged in hostilities or about to become so engaged. Although we would normally expect this happy state of affairs to be most propitious for the employment of the regiments, to date I have had no offers for the regiments' employment.
When pressed the main reason given has been the delay in transporting the regiments to Europe. Most of the wars here are short affairs, unless one or another of the Great Powers becomes engaged. But those nations who most need the added strength our regiments can provide are the nations whose conflicts are ended well before the troops can set foot in Europe.
After much consideration I approached an acquaintenace who is involved in the governance of the Channel Isles. He suggested I approach the British Parliament and put my case to the Prime Minister, which I have now done.
In short, we are allowed to garrison a mixed brigade of four infantry battalions, a light infantry battalion, a cavalry regiment and one battery, including supporting pioneers and trains, on the Isle of Guernsey until such time as they may enter service. The offer is made on the following conditions-
The troops may not enter the employ of France, Austria nor any other Great Power.
We must also supply two squadrons of cavalry, be they militia or regulars, to be used to contain the unrest in the Midlands of England.
The troops may not be employed against Brunswick, Hannover nor an ally of those states.
I appeal most strongly that a force of troops, consisting of a brigade of infantry, four companies of the Fuss-Jaeger, a regiment of dragoons, Kaufling's battery of guns and two squadrons of militia cavalry be embarked, with supporting troops and under the command of FML Leahy, for transport to Europe immediately. I caution you against sending the 3rd Foot, however, as many disparaging remarks have been made about this regiment, said remarks seeming to again originate from France.
I leave you to your deliberations on this matter but also entreat you to act soon, if you choose to act.
Your Obedient and Humble Servant,
Terence Patrick O'Gabhain"
Rapp looked around the table.
"Any comments?"
He was utterly surprised when there were none.
"Very well, I propose that we send the 6th Brigade, the 4th Dragoons, Kaufling's Battery, three companies of the J├Ąger and a company of pioneers. They can hire train troops on arrival, if they are needed. For service in England may I suggest we send the Linlithgow Dragoons and a squadron of the Dragons d'Cooma."
"Send the whole regiment, Kel. They're nothing but trouble, raiding the Mormoan settlements across the Marches borders. And they'll not hold back with any rioters, if they have to be used by the Poms!" growled Ken Signet, the treasurer.
"Good idea, Ken. Someone wake up Smith, please, and have him prepare the orders. Rather than Leahy, though, I suggest we send General-Major Altarsch. After all, we expect the regiments to be employed in the Germanic states."
And thus the regiments were prepared again to go to war in Europe. Soon couriers were riding out to the 8th and 9th Regiments of Foot and the gunners, while the Colonel in Chief of the 4th Dragoons was summoned to the Parliament, to see the Prime Minister.

28 February 2009

Patrolling on the River Maurier
Lt Rien was watching the wagon train with a puzzled look on his face. Spotted by Dirrigul and Old Billy three days ago, his peleton from the 4th Company had shadowed the train from the Republic side of the great river, which divided the Republic from the Holy Mormoan Kingdom.
The train was obviously heading for Wodongatown and, at first glance, looked like yet more settlers for the Kingdom town that was building opposite Alburburg. But something wasn't quite right. There was the usual escort, this one looking like a company from the 4th Foot, by the red coats and black facings. And there were a few mounted men, probably from the 1st Dragoons, though they were in shirtsleeves in this heat and it was hard to be sure. There were also a few trackers and scouts with them, but all they could tell was that they were from the Gunnigong tribe, which lived around The Lakes to the east. They were far from their usual haunts.
There were also what appeared to be settlers- young men and women. But there were few children to be seen. It just didn't look like a normal settlers' train. It was too well run, too organised and, to be honest, too "military". And most settlers approached up the Broadford road, not from the east.
Lt Gris eased down beside him, opening his usual refrain-
"Geoffery, I still think we should take a few of those settlers and have a quick chat with them."
"You know our orders, Jean-Louis. There was all hell to pay last week, when word came from Katburg about you and your dragoons raiding that sqatter's place two months ago. We've been warned off. The Parliament wants things to stay quiet on our borders, so they can rent more regiments to the warring Europeans. So we watch, we don't raid. And we hope they cross the border so we can do something."
"Merde! Rapp and his ministers didn't see what those Kingdomers did at Beaver Ridge! There is still blood to pay for that!"
"Yes. And if you cross the river again your regiment and mine will be disbanded- and all of us will be 'resettled' in the Kimberlies or Dead Heart. Are you willing to risk that?"
Jean-Lois' stream of profanity in reply was quite impressive. "He's been drinking with those bullock drivers from Begaville again." Geoffery thought.
"Old Billy, can you get Sammy and Wombat over there again, tonight? But this time I want you closer, to try to hear what they say."
His scout scratched his head, not looking happy. "Those Gunnigong fellas they got wid 'em are good, boss. They know we watchin', they know we try to get close. We get too close, we fight. And you say don't fight."
Old Billy was right, of course. But Geoffery needed to know what these people were doing. Katburg's grand plans to rent the regiments were fine, if you were counting money and ignoring the rest of the world. But the Kingdomers were smart. They knew what was going on. And if the army in the Marches was reduced too much, he was sure the Kingdomers would raise their colours and swarm across the border.
"Sir, may I suggest we just watch for the present. If that's just settlers I'll eat my dress wig. But we have our orders, sir."
RSM O'Driscoll was right. He was also annoyingly polite, never forgetting the young officer outranked him. But his suggestions were as good as orders. That's why the Freikorps was saddled with these "attachments" from the 4th Foot. Not because the Regulars needed experience in la petite guerre, because it was blindingly obvious they did not, but to keep the leash tight and the militias on the Republic side of the river.
"Of course, RSM. We will do just that."
Lt Rien pulled back into the trees and gave his orders. They'd keep shadowing the damned convoy and try to learn what it was doing. But he also sent Durrigul and three of the scouts up the river, to cross over and head towards the coast. Perhaps they could find something out by scouting The Lakes. Whatever that convoy was, it was not settlers.

21 February 2009

A Diplomatic Quandary....
Parliament House, Ekaterinsburg:
Larry Fergusonsson, Special Minister for State, strides into President Rapp's office-
"Oi, KRappy, there's some bloke from the Duchy of Beerstein with a prezzie for ya."
Looking a little drawn after having attended the funerals of two public servants, whom he'd had executed for leaking information to the press, Kelvin Rapp snapped.
" Lawrence, I've told you before not to call me KRappy! You address me as President Rapp!".
"Yer can stick that where the sun don't shine, mate. Quite the little mandarin now, aren't ya?"
"Mandarin? Do you mean the fruit?"
"Don't be a smart alec, KRappy, I mean the Chinese kings or whatever they are. Startin' to fancy yerself as a bit of a monarchy now days, aren't ya?"
"Fergusonsson, don't call me Krappy! And I'm sick of your jokes. 'Duchy of Beer Stein' indeed! Do you think I was washed out of the midden in the last shower?!"
"Don't think you got washed out at all, mate. I think you had to be dragged out, with all the other sh...."
"ENOUGH! What are you going on about?"
"I told youse- there's some cove from the Duchy cons-yulate here with some sort of prezzie for ya. Yer deaf or somethin' "?
"For God's sake..!"
"Got religion too, now? Yeah, yer turning into a right little mandarin, aren't ya? The Caucus, mate, will have something to say.."
"SHUT UP! Just show the bugg... I mean please ask his excellency to come in."
"Just remember, KRappy, the Eastern Marches righties won't always control the nominations, mate. And then yer for the chop. Yeah, yeah, keep yer jocks on, I'll go grab the bludger for you now!"
President Rapp composed himself. The thought that the incriminating evidence being placed in Fergusonsson's home would soon rid him of another dolt lightened his mood considerably. Fergusonsson's brother would object, especially about the execution no doubt. But with a seat in the ministry suddenly vacated, he could be bought off.
"President KRapp, may I present the consul from the Reich Duchy of Beerstein, Leftenent Kern'l Johannes Tooheys?"
"YOU PIECE OF.... My apologies....Who? KEG?!! What are you doing here!"
"G'day, Kel. Mate, me olds were from Beerstein, see, and Dad's uncle sort of set this up for me. 6 quid a month for expenses, a real Duchy seal, enough sealing wax to block an elephant's ears (so's I can post me letters for free, see?) and a pension when I retire, though not as good as the ones youse blokes get. So I'm the consul for the Reich Duchy of Beerstein, mate, when I'm not busy at the Blood and Bucket. One day I hope to be an ambassy-door."
"Ambassador? Very well, so you're not only the publican of the most violent hotel in the city, you're also the consul of Beerstein? How ironically appropriate! Very well, Consul Tooheys, what can I do for your grand nation today?"
"What? Knock it off, Kel! Yer sound like one of them uppitty Pommy blokes at the Hound and Whistle. Here, they sent yer a gong, mate. Dunno why. It's real silver, too. I had Blue up at the assay office file a bit off, to check it."
"You what? (sigh). Thank you, Consul Tooheys. It is my sincerest hope that the award of this most prestigous.."
"Gawd! Knock it off, Kel! I ain't got all day to listen to you rabbitin' on! This job's gone straight to yer 'ead, hasn't it? I'll show meself out, mate".
President Rapp stood looking at the Star of the Ancient and Honorable Order of the Tankard. Why Bluey Singh had decided to file the top point of the star, rather than a piece at the back where it wouldn't show, was beyond him. These cretins! The question now was how to respond?
"Yes, Mr President?" Chen Chiqui, his personal executive assistant (Rapp was proud of that job description- he'd thought of it himself), poked his head around the door.
"Please ask the Vice President, Assistant Minister Assisting the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for Ceremonial Observances and the Parliamentary Secretary for Parliamentary Duties to come to my office, please."
2 hours later.....
"...and what's more..."
"Put a sock in it, Kel!" The Assistant Minister Assisting the Minister for External Affairs, Edward (Red Ned) Creene, had had enough of the tirade.
"Who needs gongs any way. Bloody monarchist stuff, gongs are. If the blokes do..."
"Or shielas!" Juliette Buzzard, Vice President and Minister for Women's Business, wasn't going to let that slip.
"Alright, blokes or shielas do something good then we give 'em a bit of land, pat 'em on the back and hope they'll starve before they tell anyone what a useless piece of land it is that we gave 'em. It's one good idea the Conservatives had! Some of 'em have actually turned their places around and made a good go of bein' cockies, too, so we get their taxes. Those that don't usually end up back in uniform, so we don't even starve that many."
"So no, we haven't got gongs and I reckon we don't need 'em! Monarchist s**t, gongs!" Red Ned folded his arms and sat back, glaring at his president.
"The point is, though, that when one receives one of these honours from another nation, one is supposed to reciprocate. Not to reciprocate is considered a grave insult. Worse, with the current unrest in Europe we have excellent opportunites to again rent out the regiments. Such an insult may damage those prospects!" Antonio von Albanees, Minister for Ceremonial Observances, tried to make his comrades understand the ramifications.
"Exactly! We can't ignore this!"
"Well, instead of a gong you could send him the title to that dodgy bit of land that Snowy Kimberley has been trying to flog off. 20 thousand acres isn't much, especially out there, but it's not as if this Duke bloke is going to come and have a look, is it? Besides, if we take it off his hands then Snowy might be a bit more generous with his donations at the next election." Juliette eyed her fellow Cabinet Members hopefully.
"Inappropriate, I'm afraid. It will have to be the star of a Commander of an Order. And we don't have one. An order that is. For diplomatic purposes, and to get the Council of Generals on our side before the next election, I suggest we should establish an Order."
"And I reckon we'll look like flamin' monarchists if we do! Next thing yer know we'll be up to our eyeballs in Dukes and Barons and that lot!"
"Ned, you thought that Coronet Lager should be banned as being Monarchist! And old Tom Coronet didn't give a cent to us after you made the pubs stop buying it by threatening them with new laws, if we won the election. Then there was all the fuss from the Republican Society of Birdwatchers when you renamed that cockatoo!"
"It was a parrot. And you can't have a King Parrot in a republic!"
"And it was sexist! Where were the Queen Parrots?"
"But this is about money! If we don't have customers for the regiments, we'll have to start standing troops down! Do you want a repeat of the '28 Rebellion or the Arakun again? Not to mention the loss of money to fund our election campaign! Without that money, how will we tell the citizens of all the work we've done? Leaflets and posters don't grow on trees!
NO! We need an Order and a Star. Even if we do restrict it to foreign rulers!"
"Enough! We need an Order that represents this great country. Antonio, be so kind as to get the Minister for the Arts to design something suitable. " President Rapp took control of the meeting, before it could degenerate further. He'd have to talk to his "helper" about planting some more evidence, soon.
"Minister for the Arts! Pierre Garrotte! You know, the minstral fellow that we put into Rostov, to get the middle aged, middle class voters to change their vote."
"Oh, him? Are you sure? It's likely to look like a whale rogering a gum tree, if he designs it!"
"Keep an eye on him and make sure it's not too outrageous. Use plenty of diamonds, too. And gold, of course. That will get Billington and Kimberley on side. " The President eyed his recalcitrant ministers.
"All agreed? Good. Let's get moving on this one. The ball's in our court and we can't afford to waste the possibilities of taking advantage of the synergies this could produce!"
"What the...?"
"I beg your pardon?"
His ministers had that look again, the one he hated, that said they had doubts about his leadership! Well, they'd soon understand why he was their leader.
"Just do it! And wake up Smith and take him with you!"
As the bewildered ministers left his office, Juliette heard Red Ned mutter to himself
"Fergo was right about this bloke!"

19 February 2009

The Militia

Although intended as both an emergency military force and regional police force, many militia units are considered to be a little worse than bandits (it being considered that bandits are more competent at the criminal professions). They are usually entitled "Freikorps", in imitation of German practice, though there are some regiments of "Fencibles" and "Yeomen".

A small sample of government-supported militia units is shown. There are many strange and colourful uniforms, usually the more outrageous the design of the uniform is, the less likely it is that the government supports the unit. All belts are (generally) natural leather.

Officers, NCO's and musicians are habitually dressed in reversed colours, following early Austrian practice. Officers are not permitted to wear the gold and blue silk sashes used by the regular units, but must wear a yellow and green woollen sash. NCO's may be distinguished by button-coloured lace around their collars, but generally the reverse-coloured uniform is their only distinction. Mounted officers are supposed to use plain blue shabracques edged yellow, but the practice of using facing coloured shabracques with button-coloured edging is entrenched. Harnessing may be black, brown or buff leather.

Cavalry units wear similar uniforms, albeit with cavalry boots rather than infantry shoes, and plain coloured shabraques (usually grey or a shade of blue). Few number more than a troop, though the Dragons d'Cooma, who well remember the massacre at Beaver Ridge, muster a full regiment of three squadrons that regularly patrol the southern border with the Holy Kingdom. It is even rumoured that the troops may raid isolated farmsteads across that border, but no substantive evidence has been produced.

The militia units, in theory, carry a plain blue flag with a white, seven-pointed star in the centre. However variations based on the arms (granted or invented) of the unit's colonel or portraying the members' origins are also frequently seen.

Freikorps Arakun

Cheap black cloth with mid green facings, grey small clothes, yellow metal buttons and undecorated hat. Two companies.
Formed from loyal Arunta natives and loyalist Dutch, this unit was raised to garrison the Arakun after the uprising of 1733. Trained to fire their muskets, the troops usually prefer to fire one volley and then use their bayonets. Although the use of native troops and bayonets, which invariably produce fatal wounds, originally caused much consternation among the Malay, Dutch and Scots rebels and citizens alike, their disipline and ability to track and apprehend criminals has seen them become not just accepted, but welcomed in the Arakun settlements. The unit's Sergeant-Major, Wonneputchal, is the first native soldier to reach this rank.
Freikorps du Jour

Grey cloth with mid blue facings, grey small clothes, yellow metal buttons and undecorated hat. Five companies.
Raised in 1699 as prison guards for the penal colony at Port Verdigris (now Port McQuarie), the five companies are usually deployed as two half battalions, to combat raids by natives, or by companies in support of the Dragon d'Cooma on border patrols. The original members came from the survivors of the Freedom War of 1707, who volunteered to serve on the border after the Battle of Beaver Ridge. Based at Cooma (1st and 3rd companies), Thredbo (2nd company) and Yass (4th and 5th companies). Have seen service in the Eastern Marches and Marches Borders. The 5th company claim to have captured a flag from Holy Kingdom raiders at Begaville, but the flag displayed at the unit barracks bears no resemblance to known Holy Kingdom flag designs.

18 February 2009

Freikorps McQuarie

Grey cloth with burnt orange facings, grey small clothes, white metal buttons and undecorated hat. Four companies.
Raised in 1721 by an English captain of the 67th Foot, who had taken retirement to the Eastern Marches while it was still a French colony and who had established a small settlement at the Port that now bears that name. This unit provides militia protection for the northern areas of the Eastern Marches. Companies are stationed at O'Connell, Linlithgow, Port McQuarie and the western districts of O'Donnell. Has seen service in the Eastern Marches, on the Marches Borders and was part of General McLaughlin's abortive plan to attack the Western Districts of the Holy Mormoan Kingdom, for which he was cashiered.

Kimberly Yeomen

Red cloth with mid green facings, white turnbacks, yellow metal buttons, buff small clothes and undecorated hat. One company.
Mainly used as mine guards and a police force, this unit also saw service in the Arunta Uprising, where it was praised for the excellence of its drill and courage when the government encampment was attacked.

Rostov Militia

Dark green cloth with scarlet facings, yellow metal buttons, dark straw small clothes, yellow hat lace and red bow. Two companies.
One of the oldest militia units, formed from discharged members of the original Russian garrison, this unit proudly maintains its Russian traditions in dress, drill and the language in which orders are given. Officers are disinguished by their unique use of gorgets. Has seen service in the Dead Heart.

Tenant Creek Watch

Black broadcloth with scarlet facings, grey small clothes, yellow metal buttons and undecorated hat. One platoon.
Formed from Jacobite sympathisers transported from Scotland and northern England, the Watch is mainly used as a police force.

17 February 2009

Dragons d'Cooma

Red cloth with white facings and black lace buttonhole loops, white turnbacks, white metal buttons, red waistcoat edged black, straw breeches and French style dragoon stocking cap with red base, white stocking and black decoration. White belts. Black shabraque edged white with black harnessing. Regiment of 3 squadrons, armed as dragoons.
Raised from the French citizens who did not join the ill fated exodus of settlers into Holy Kingdom lands after the Eastern Marches joined the Republic. The fate of their fellow countrymen inflamed those who stayed behind and the first two troops were formed and offered for militia service only two weeks after the Battle of Beaver Ridge. Since then recruiting parties have met every shipload of French settlers and their somewhat embroidered story has seen the regiment grow steadily. The regiment has seen service on the Marches Borders, western Germany and, unusually, in the Americas, where the 1st Squadron has been employed against natives and foreign colonies. This unit is considered to be as good as any of the regular units and has been hired out to several countries.

Ludmilla Cavalry

Grey cloth with dark blue facings and waistcoat, grey breeches, white metal buttons and undecorated hat. Polished brown belts. Plain brown shabracque with black harnessing. One squadron, armed as dragoons.
Raised from the wealthier Russian- and Dutch-descended families living to the east of Darwin, the regiment is mainly employed in policing duties. During the Darwin Rebellions the regiment distinguished itself by garrisoning the government buildings and holding the rioters at bay.

Nova Wien Dragoons

White cloth with mid blue facings, yellow metal buttons, red-edged-white waistcoat, straw-yellow leather breeches and and undecorated hat. Polished brown belts (officers' white). Dark blue shabracque with black harnessing. Two troops, armed as dragoons.
One of the earliest militia units raised, this unit started life as hired guards for the more affluent area of Ekaterinsburg. Before the formation of the 4th Dragoons it was considered an excellent choice for young men of means who wished to pursue a (part time) military career. It still draws recruits from the best families, but has recently relaxed requirements to admit the sons of wealthier tradespeople and "notable citizens". The imperial eagle on the flag is tolerated in the republic as a sign of the unit's history. The unit has seen some service, particularly in the Darwin Rebellions and in the Dead Heart.

14 February 2009

Artillery, Sappers and Trains

Artillery. The Republic's artillery arm consists mainly of 3lb Austrian pieces used as battalion guns. The republic also has two batteries of 6lb guns for field artillery and a battery of eight French 12lb guns, captured at Port McQuarie.

When the Republic first took independence, it had no artillery arm. Nor was it considered that one was needed. Most fighting was little more than skirmishes, small affairs that would hardly be mentioned in the reports of a European General. The other consideration was that the most likely enemies were also deficient in this arm. Indeed, the three small cannon captured by the Republic when they freed the Eastern Marches from French dominance were dismounted and the barrels used to make a tasteless (and rather confusing) monument to the Battle of Bulli, which is mounted against the east wall of the Garrison Yards in O'Donnell. The French 12lb guns captured at Port McQuarie were placed in depot at that place, where a lack of attention soon saw the carriages in a poor state.

However, failure to procure contracts in Europe, because the infantry lacked battalion guns, led to the purchase of 26 Austrian 3lb cannon in 1723. As well as the guns, a number of officers and artillerists were recruited from France and Austria. Two guns were assigned to each regiment and volunteers from the ranks were trained in their use. The remaining six guns were used to form a Battery of Support and Training, which is based at Rostov.

Experience in Europe led to the purchase of 14 Austrian 6lb cannon in 1733. These were used to form two batteries, each of six guns, with the remaining two guns assigned to the Battery of Support and Training. One battery is garrisoned at Darwin and the second is garrisoned at O'Connell. Neither battery has seen active service.

At the same time the carriages of the 12lb guns, stored at Port McQuarie, were repaired and the guns used to form a battery. This battery is deployed to defend the harbour at O'Donnell, with a section each properly emplaced on North Head and South Head. They have been used to fire upon an unidentified vessel of Chinese appearance, which turned away, and what is believed to be a frigate of either British or Holy Kingdom service, though both nations deny they have sent ships into Republic waters.

Attempts to forge cannon and howitzers have not proven successful. However, attempts will continue once a new master forger can be recruited. The practice of having the master forger test fire the newly cast pieces, to prove they are safe and may be used, is also under review.

The artillery uniform is a dark blue-grey with black facings, yellow buttons and dark straw small clothes. All belts and leather work are polished brown leather. Officers have gold laced hats and edging to their coat fronts and wear a gold and blue sash around the waist but inside the coat, NCO's are distinguished by gold lace around the collar. The guns are whitewashed wood with polished bronze barrels. Other metal work is painted a dull madder red. Battery drivers are dressed like the men. Their horse furniture is a plain blue shabracque and polished black leather tack.

Sappers: Commanded by infantry officers who have studied the principles of engineering, and who wear their regimental uniforms ("real" engineers being needed for the RNS mines) while attached to the sapper companies, the sappers are used for all the usual engineering duties. Different companies specialised in mining, sapping or constructing defences, but these troops are few and therefore expected to whatever duties are necessary. There are six companies of sappers, garrisoned at Rostov, Kunnanurra, The Springs, O'Connell, Port McQuarie and Tindal.

The sapper uniform is a undyed "black" wool with scarlet facings, yellow buttons and dark straw small clothes. Their head dress is a simple undyed woolen "beanie" and belts are natural leather. The cartridge boxes are worn on the left front, on the waist belt, and are undecorated black leather. Sappers are armed with infantry muskets, sabres and axes.

Trains. The trains, magazines, armouries and depots required by the army are still made up of contracted civilian personnel. While a military train and magazine corps was established (Army Train and Depot Battalion and Naval Chandlers Office) in 1739, claims by various business concerns that they could do the job more efficiently and for less cost led the then Minister of War, Peter Wreath, to disband the organisation and resume the use of a contractor for logistics support. Shortly after the decision was made the Minister resigned from Parliament and took up the position of the director of the company that won the contract.

In the 10 years this state of affairs has existed the contract costs have increased markedly. The contract now costs far more than the upkeep of the Army Train and Depot Battalion and Naval Chandlers Office ever did. Logistics support for the garrisons, regiments and the Navy is so poor that many regiments hire their own trains when away from garrison and when on campaign. Peter Wreath has been challenged to duels by irate officers several times over this matter. However the former Minister (and now very wealthy citizen) is prevented from defending his honour by chronic gout and dyspepsia, reportedly much to his dismay.

12 February 2009

The Real World Intrudes

The fires that have swept through Victoria can't be ignored by anyone living in Australia. Living in the bush myself, I know what it's like to watch plumes of smoke and worry about how we'll go in trying to save our dogs, horses and house. So far I haven't been put to the test, but this week some of my friends have. Smiley and Maree lost everything but the clothes they wore, the car they escaped in and a couple of items they managed to grab. Smiley, a veteran of Viet Nam and retired member of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals, was a friend and mentor who taught me more than I can say about the mysteries and vagaries of communications , especially satellite communications. For a RAEME soldier, as I was by then, whose focus was on maintenance more than using the communications, the knowledge he imparted filled an important gap and enabled me to better do my job.

Mark and Vicki were a little luckier. Although they lost their sheds and in many of the personal "treasures" that mark our lives, their house was damaged but not destroyed. Mark is an old friend, a former infantry soldier who served in Cambodia and later went to RASigs. Our pride in having been infantry soldiers in the Royal Australian Regiment and in having earned the right to wear the "Skippy badge", although we served at different times and put our loyalty with different battalions, and our shared interest in history and wargaming cemented that friendship. We've joked together, watched each others' kids grow up, helped each other with problems and taken a lot of pleasure in facing each other across the games table, playing mainly ancients but also ACW and Napoleonics. Mark's figures, bar a couple of boxes he managed to save, were victims of the flames.

So far I've been lucky. The few peple I knew, that lived in that area, are safe. Too many other Australians were not so fortunate, grieving because family or a friends were among the 181 confirmed dead from the fires.

Another friend, from the USA, asked how a tragedy like this can happen in a civilised country. I really don't have an answer. It was, literally, an unprecedented event. Old methods of staying safe in a bush fire had failed. Never has a fire burned this hot, fanned by strong winds into bush that was dry from years of drought. Glass in house windows shattered from the heat, allowing the flames in. Windows in cars melted as the flames overtook vehicles driving to safety and the cars burned. The flames travelled at over 100km per hour, from some reports.

I'm not religious and I don't believe in prayer. But in this I'll ask that, if you do believe in prayer, please say one for those who are injured, those who are missing and those who are grief stricken. I'll gladly be wrong in what I believe, if it helps just one of those who have suffered this past weekend.


08 February 2009

The Cavalry

Each regiment consists of four field squadrons and one depot squadron. Each squadron contains three troops of 50 officers and men.

The uniforms are based loosely on Prussian and Austrian uniforms. Following the same theme as the infantry, the uniform colours are generally based on the colours found on Australian birds, it being considered that basing the uniforms on colonel's family arms was elitist and showed monarchist tendencies. Also the regiments are numbered consecutively, not numbered by type.

The troopers wear straw-coloured cloth breeches and white lace on their hats (regardless of button colour). The officers wear facing-coloured heavy cloth breeches, a gold and blue sash around the waist, but inside the coat, and metallic lace, matching the button colour, on their hats. NCO's have button-coloured metallic lace on their hats and around their cuffs.

All regiments' shabraques are made in the national colours of blue and golden yellow. Officers' shabraques have gold lace and a silver, seven-pointed star in the corners and on the pistol housings. Hussar officers have the star on their shabraques and sabretache, troopers' sabretaches being undecorated. All harnessing is black.

Musicians are in reversed colours, except where noted. Belts are whitened leather, edged in the facing colour for the 1st Regiment of Horse and in vermillion for the 2nd Regiment of Horse. The cavalry swords are based on the Austrian models for both the heavy cavalry and the hussars. Each trooper also carries a brace of pistols and musketoon (Regiments of Dragoons) or carbine (Regiment of Hussars).

All Regiments carry a Parliamentary flag, carried immediately behind the Colonel at the centre front of the regiment. Regiments 1 to 5 also carry four squadron flags, at the centre of each squadron. The hussars have no squadron flags.

The regiments of horse carry standards, the dragoons carry German-style guidons. The hussars carry a French-style guidon.

The Parliamentary flags are deep blue with a gold, seven-pointed star in the centre. The fringing is in the button colour and the regiment's number is embroidered in the upper left canton in gold or silver thread, as appropriate. They are shown as the top flag on each cavalry plate.

The squadron flags have the field matching the regimental facings and the fringe and star matches the button colours. The exception is 1st Horse, whose squadron standards are white. The squadron flags are shown as the bottom flag of each cavalry plate.

The flag lances are in the regiment's facing colours.
1st Regiment, of Horse.

Nickname "The Fried Eggs"
Officially raised on 15 March 2004, the regiment was first paraded by the then CO, Colonel Pieter de Gruyt, on 14 March. The regiment therefore claims to be the senior regiment in the army. Recruited from former cavlarymen in British, Dutch and Swedish service, the regiment has served in the Kimberlies, the Dead Heart, western Germany (where, in the pay of the Wendish League, it routed the 3rd Dragoons at Blasthoffen), Eastern Marches and Darwin Rebellion of 1728. Brigaded with the 5th Dragoons. Garrisoned in Darwin.

White coat, sulphur yellow facings and lace, white shoulder strap, blackened cuirass (officers' with a gold parliamentary star at the top centre) with sulphur yellow trim, red leather cuirass straps (officers with gold plates), yellow metal buttons.
2nd Regiment, of Horse.

Nickname "The Maggies"

Raised on 15 March 1704, from horsemen recruited in Poland, Russia and the Baltic Provinces. Service in the Arakun, Kimberlies, the Dead Heart, Poland (in Russian pay) and van Demon's Land, where the regiment was sorely hurt by a volly fired by the 8th Regiment of Foot. Brigaded with the 3rd Dragoons. Garrisoned at O'Donnell and Yass (2nd Squadron).

White coat, black facings, lace and shoulder strap, blackened cuirass (officers' with a silver parliamentary star at the top centre) with white trim, black leather cuirass straps (officers with silver plates), white metal buttons. Musicians wear red coats with black facings and six white inverted chevrons on the sleeves.
3rd Regiment, of Dragoons.

Nickname "The Sprinters"

Raised 15th March 1704 from former cavalrymen recruited in northern German states and Swedish Pommerania. Has served in western Germany (in French pay), the Eastern Marches and on the Marches Borders. Was severely handled by the 1st Horse at Blasthoffen (the 1st was then in the pay of a group of minor German princelings), where it gained its nickname. The feud with the 1st Horse continues and the Regiments are not to be deployed in the same theatre. Brigaded with the 2nd Horse. Garrisoned by squadron at O'Connell, Linlithgo, Port McQuarie and Taree.

Dark green coat, scarlet facings, light green shoulder strap, yellow metal buttons.