As I prepare another wargamers’ military history tour for 2018, I first strolled down memory lane to think about how this highly-specialized tour concept got started with an idea to James F Dunnigan, board game designer. As a travel agent since 1972, and wargamer since 1965, I finally got the two together in 1989 when I approached JFD with the idea of his leading and providing historical commentary on a battlefield tour. I even made a “wargame” out of the tour design process (photo at top shows game board and counters I sent to him).
Unique Military History Tours
If you want to see more about the 14 such tours I have designed, click here for my tour group blog.
Games played en route
While visiting various wargame clubs in Nottingham, Amsterdam and Ghent plus the Triples wargame convention in Sheffield and while rolling along on board our motor coach we have played board games (Napoleon at Waterloo, Hitler’s War, WWI, Bulge, and more) plus a two miniature games (Bulge and Pegasus Bridge) on a big, magnetized table in the back of the coach! If it weren’t magnetized and troops with steel stands, they would have all gone off the edge of the world when we turned corners. Miniature games included: Command Decision, Spearhead, Great Battles of World War II and Volley & Bayonet.
Some recollections from past tours
- Bob Bledsaw and I were playing Hitler’s War on the way through the Cotentin Peninsula and at some point I got tired of his asking “Can you do that?” and threw the rulebook at him saying “I quit!” And he responded, “Does that mean I win then?” So I grabbed it back and said, “I’ll show you why you’re wrong!” and we kept playing.
- And another now-fond memory is his walking around with a giant beer mug at Waterloo in 1991. “What’s with the empty mug, Bob?” He responded with disgust that they charged him $5 for the beer so he figured that it came with the souvenir mug.
- Or Dunnigan saying at the top of the Lion Mound there “Napoleon was defeated by mud.” That’s it?!
- At a display case showing the WWI helmets, JFD said, “Here’s illustrated cultural differences in the armies involved: the Germans hired a ballistics expert to design their helmet, the French, an artist and the British, a committee!”
- While driving through the Ardennes, I volunteer, “Doesn’t look lie rough terrain (here) to me.” And John Holtz responding, “But the defender gets to choose where to set up!”
- Yelling while packed into a vintage Sdkfz 251 we were riding in at Poteau Belgium, over the extremely loud motor, something like, “We’re spotted …even if they can’t see us yet!”
- On the hill by the Mulberry Harbor at Arromanches, checking to verify the terrain accuracy with my new D-Day map series and the coach driver saying to me, “It won’t be that hard to find your way back to coach parking lot.”
- Most infamously, my tiny wargame set-up in a thin, leather briefcase that the guys called the Football, like the Secret Service carries for the President and the “button”.
- Nick Moran driving straight into the world’s biggest mud puddle with his British Army surplus Chieftain tank.
- Awarding medals for particularly notable exploits.
Each tour itinerary and inclusions are unique. If you are interested in such a specialized tour, please contact me, watch this page and please tell your wargamer friends!