Oh! The Futility!

Since buying the new Square Bashing 2nd Edition I decided to make these new Casualty markers for the game. The new edition of the rules sees casualties being placed next to individual battalions as they suffer from the effects of fire and it all plays a larger part of the morale. I had made a set of casualty markers for the first edition rules, you can see them here, but the bases were just too big to be of much use in the new edition of the rules. Whilst moving house I found a lot of unused WW1 casualty figures from Peter Pig in a box, so got to work on these chaps...  They didn't take so long to make, each figures is glued to half a Peter Pig 30mm square base and I like them, I hope you do too!

I have been writing this blog since before October last year, so over six months now. I thought I'd better tell you a little bit about myself, so you don't think I am some sad robot sat painting tanks and figures all day long.

My name is Alex, I live in Rotherham in the UK and am 38 years old. I have been wargaming since the age of about twelve and making model kits for longer than I can remember. I have gone through several phases of gaming, including, Napoleonics, Microtanks, fantasy, Franco-Prussian War, ACW etc, but have finally settled on World War One, World War Two, Wings of War, Bloodbowl and a few other select board games. My regular opponent and chum from school, Ninjasaurus Rex makes me play Sci-Fi games, much to my distaste, but a game is a game.

About five years ago I had a massive clear out of my old wargaming stuff, which included, 15mm and 28mm Vikings, 20mm WW2 Romanians, 1/300th WW1 aircraft, 1/300th WW2 tanks, 28mm Call of Cthulhu RPG figures, 25mm Star Wars Miniatures Battles figures, 15mm WW2 German and Russians and reduced everything to one scale and one period; 15mm WW2 (along with the 28mm Vikings I was convinced to keep by Ninjasaurus Rex who claimed we'd use them in a skirmish game which has never materialised...). I like 15mm because it has a great and cheap range for World War Two and you can have a lot of gear on the tabletop with little loss in detail. In recent years, however, the sickness rose in me again and I expanded the periods I play to the ones mentioned above.

A game of Square Bashing in progress

In my personal life, I am a field archaeologist and have been since 2001, when I graduated from the University of York with a BA in Archaeology. I currently work for a company which I helped create three years ago and we are a community archaeology company who deal with students and volunteers in providing courses and training in archaeology. I am currently undertaking an MA in British First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham and expect to finish this course in September (if I don't end it all under the stress of the dissertation...). I have also had the fortune of working as a Battlefield archaeologist in France and Belgium over the past ten years on First World War battlefields, which has had some of the most amazing and rewarding moments of my life.

Excavating a rather wet German WW1 Trench line outside Ypres

During that time I have also featured in television shows, such as Finding the Fallen and the BBC's Ancestors. As an archaeologist I have worked in such diverse places as Ireland, Iceland, Japan, Tanzania, Singapore, France, Belgium and Germany. Want to know any more? Just ask...

What cho lookin' at?


  1. It is nice to meet you Alex and I must say I am impressed. To me you have a dream job, something that so many of us would like to do.

    And I do have some questions.

    Where in Ireland did you dig? What were you looking for and what did you find?

    What was your most exciting dig?

    What was the most fascinating discovery in your WWI digs?

    Do you ever sleep?

    1. Thanks Anne, I seem to have a dream job to a lot of people. When I tell them what I do, they usually say something like 'Oh I wish I could do that.' I usually think, you probably wouldn't say that when you have to spend eight hours standing in the driving rain/sleet watching a machine dig the foundation trenches for a housing project... But it also has its up days!

      I lived in Ireland for four years so I worked in a lot places. I was mainly based in Dublin, but also lived in Wicklow and Trim. I worked on the (in)famous Carrickmines Castle, but also worked on a lot of road schemes, the N50 for example. All the of the work was developer led, so we were really clearing the ground of archaeology before it was lost under a new road or housing development. As I said, I worked on the 16th Century castle at Carrickmines and did a lot of 17th century field systems...

      My most exciting did was at the battlefield of Loos in France on the Hollerzollern Redoubt, although exciting is probably the wrong word. We found a trench from WW1 full of at least six German soldiers and one Scottish soldier, we managed to name a couple of the Germans through personal items but fell short with the Scot as he was not carrying enough material to identify him unfortunately. It was tough going, as we were running out of time to finish the job (they were discovered on Thursday afternoon when we were set to finish for the week on Friday evening...). It was rewarding because we were able to give those men a known grave.

      Also I found the remains of this man: http://www.fylde.demon.co.uk/fraser.htm, which has probably been one of my proudest moments.

      I do sleep, I like sleep. But I probably don't get enough of it...

    2. You must have been in Ireland during the boom. The housing developments will be great finds hundreds of years from now because so many of them remain unfinished and are but ghost towns. "What tragedy could have befallen these people so suddenly" they will ask. "Could it have been aliens that took them all at once or was it disease that emptied so many homes"

      My husband and I watched a fantastic series on the trenches in WWI. It was so thorough, exhilarating and sad all at once.

      The work you did to give that one German soldier his identity and the story of his life is very important.

      Thank you for answering my questions.

    3. Yes, it was exactly during the Celtic Tiger boom, I left in 2004 just before the bottom fell out of it. Ha ha, yeah, it's true, so many empty buildings and underused motorways...

      What was the series? I was involved with Finding the Fallen, which keeps cropping up on the History Channel, it's also known as Trench Detectives. Maybe you saw it?

  2. Hi, ABS. Thanks for the gaming and digging history.

    I'm enjoying your blog, and hope you keep digging up stuff to share with us.

    AS a side note to my comment, When I was 9 yrs. old I used to dig down into WWII trenches and artillery holes to play war and to look for treasure. My friends and I had an old rusty, tank turret, hidden deep in a southern Bavarian forest, minus gun barrel and hatch cover, in which we would occupy on occasion and use for our secret hide out! That was in 1953.

    1. Thanks Jay, wow, that sounds brilliant. Do you know what tank it was? Did you ever find any treasure? It sounds like a battlefield archaeologist in the making...

  3. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the post and the additional information. It's always great to meet the person behind the blog!

    I think the casualty markers look first class. It's a pretty sombre process painting those (I know only too well), but it's something which I wanted to do and I guess you felt the same way. I always wanted to show the casualties and fallen on my Great War wargames tables - in fact, I've got just as much out of painting the casualties as the actual troops. I think that saying I "enjoyed" painting dead soldiers would be going too far, but it's something which feels appropriate given the period and the history.

    I really enjoyed "Finding the Fallen". I catch it occasionally on TV, but I've kept meaning to buy the DVDs to watch them at leisure.

    Keep up the blogging, and good luck with the MA!

    1. Thanks Sidney, that really means something coming from a man with such massive talent for painting as yourself.

      I always feel a bit weird about painting casualties, I'm not sure why, maybe it's the sobering thought that we are recreating wars where men (and women) are killed. You're right though, it feels correct for the period.

      I'm glad you enjoyed FtF, it was a great experience making it. It was a great chance to excavate some really interesting and exciting sites and visit places I wouldn't have normally seen beyond the usual 'tourist' trail of the battlefields of France and Belgium.

      Thanks again!

  4. Utter lies. You are just a sad robot sat painting tanks and figures all day long.


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