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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


... of the Desert. I've mentioned the late John Sanders several times before on this blog. His ten part '8th Army in the desert' series ran in Airfix Magazine in 1973 and 1974, finishing in April 1974. It was an inspired bit of hobby writing, mixing basic facts about the British, Imperial and Commonwealth forces in North Africa with thoughts on organising a wargames army and suggestions about how to get round the dearth of vehicles for the conflict. The great thing for an impecunious grammar school boy was that Sanders was an advocate of using cardboard, buttons, balsa, paper, indeed anything that could, with a bit of imagination, be turned into parts of  desert kit. Even I could both afford and find these things, and I made card White scout cars, card three ton lorries, and chopped up existing models to make desert vehicles. I expect that this non-plastic 'plastic modelling' was pretty normal in those days. In fact, in response to a recent post of mine (26th October) 'S' remembered making his Airfix Magazine conversion of the Stug III into the Su76i using a Roco Minitanks (the cost!), and card. So, on a journey into my loft this evening, I dug out this:

The hull is a Fujimi Valentine (I must have saved up for that), but the superstructure of the Bishop is pure Sanders - cardboard, bits of balsa, and an Airfix 25 pounder gun barrel I bartered some Airfix Waterloo figures for. I remember feeling rather pleased with this card effort, and, about a decade later, this came out:

I can't remember which company made it (Italeri ?), but I was pleased that the card superstructure of my Sanders version was pretty close to the kit version.

I believe that John Sanders died at a relatively young age, but the excellent blog Vintage Wargaming perpetuates his memory. John Sanders - sound fellow.

I've managed no toy soldier work this evening as I decided that if I am, in the near-ish future, ever to crack on with writing the various bits and pieces I am supposed to writing, then I had to try and bring some order to what I could call 'my study'. But I just call it 'm'room':

It now looks a tad tidier, and looking at this photo I realised that for a 'Little Englander' I really am quite cosmopolitan. There are photographs of a Welshman (T.E. Lawrence), and an Irishman (James Joyce), a small bust of the martyr Tsar Nicholas, an icon of a Syrian chap, and a print of Old College, Edinburgh University. And a marvellous poem, 'Comfort', by the Norfolk poet Kevin Crossley-Holland.


  1. Do you know the Salamander Oasis trust which has a collection of poetry from the desert war-their site is well worth a shuftie.
    Splendid room and a great place to think and I write I'll venture.

  2. Not heard of that site - will check; cheers, Alan. The room is really cell-sized, but it's mine own.

  3. Having just found your blog I'm impressed by the tidiness of your study, and by the Bishop conversion.

    Kind regards, Chris.

    1. Hello Chris! Many thanks - I'm glad someone thinks it's tidy! I keep beating it back, but, like the Zulus, all the 'stuff' keeps fighting!