PAXsims

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Category Archives: simulation and gaming news

How to Master Wargaming

From the United States Army Combined Arms Center comes this interesting Handbook on how to use commercial off the shelf wargames to improve military COA analysis.

“This handbook focuses on three items: First, how to improve and develop the cognitive skill of visualizing, a key component to COA analysis (wargaming); second, improving the methods and conduct of action, reaction, and counteraction adjudication of COA analysis with off-the-shelf wargames; and third, thoughts on training the staff. COA analysis is similar to any collective skill, and is perishable if not continually trained and rehearsed. Therefore, it is the purpose of this handbook to provide thoughts on how to develop individuals and staffs so they can better conduct COA analysis during the military decisionmaking process.)

https://usacac.army.mil/organizations/mccoe/call/publication/20-06

Maritime Warfare Centre is recruiting!

The Maritime Warfare Centre is tasked by Navy Command Headquarters to conduct Operational Analysis (OA) studies and trials/experiments for UK Maritime forces. The MWC is based within HMS COLLINGWOOD in Fareham and consists of around 100 staff from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, international exchange officers, MOD civilians, contractors and Dstl analysts.

Our colleagues in the MOD team at the MWC are advertising to recruit a new analyst to join the wargaming team. From the JO:

MWC Wargame Operational Analyst 2 (MWC-WARGAME OA 2) will work as part of the MWC wargaming team on a diverse and evolving range of requirements in support of RN tactical development. Their primary responsibility is leading and/or contributing to the design, delivery, and analysis of wargames (particularly a series of three annual games sponsored by the Fleet Commander), either individually or as part of a team, and the active development of wargaming methodologies and tools to support MWC activity.

The role would ideally suit someone with strong communication skills (both written and oral) who has experience of applying analytical methodologies to support decision making processes. Actively seeking opportunities to identify and utilise relevant wargaming tools (including software) and techniques used in industry and elsewhere in Defence, particularly the Defence Wargaming Centre (DWC) at Dstl, will also form part of the role.

While the focus of this role will be wargaming, the job holder will be part of the larger MWC operational analysis team which works across a variety of specialisations. As such, there may be the opportunity to support analysis of RN trials and exercises, either from the UK or deployed for short periods onboard RN or Allied warships and support vessels.

85716 Maritime Warfare Centre – Wargame Operational Analyst (Note that this is a MOD C2 post)

The closing date for applications is the 11th of December 2020.

POC is: Paul Shott, Wargaming Team – Maritime Warfare Centre

Tactical Reconnaissance – A Soviet View

I’ve added “Tactical Reconnaissance” (No. 23 of the Soviet Military Thought series) to the earlier post of books 1 — 22 in that series. Maybe of use to anyone interested in Cold War wargaming, or on how Soviet Military Thought has evolved into the current day.

Does anyone know of volumes after No. 23?

(For links to books.google.com, click on the gear wheel top right of the screen and select “Download PDF” for a clean text-searchable PDF.)

Active Learning in Policy Studies in Pandemic Times: The Promise of Digital Games

————– Forwarded ————
From: Bruno Oscar Dente <bruno.dente@polimi.it>
Date: Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 5:17 AM
Subject: Panel at ICPP5 – Barcelona July 2021

Dear colleagues,

Attached you will find the announcement and the call for papers for a panel I will be chairing together with Ixcel Perez Duran and Claudio Radaelli at the 5th International Conference in Public Policy that will be held (in person, blended or online) in Barcelona 6-8 July 2021.

If you are interested in participating either as commentators or paper givers do not hesitate to contact us. We will also be grateful if you will circulate the announcement to your colleagues who might be interested.

Thank you for your attention.

Best wishes

Bruno Dente

Honorary Professor
Politecnico di Milano
Department of Management Engineering
Via Lambruschini 4/B
20156 MILANO (Italy)

Zenobia Award: Underrepresented designers, underrepresented topics

The following announcement was written by  Dan Thurot. PAXsims is a proud supporter of the Zenobia Award.


History is big. So big that it belongs to everybody. Every individual, no matter their background or identity, connects to history in unique and important ways.

So why do historical board game designers seem to fit into the same mold? You know the type. White, male, straight, usually academic, often a part-time dabbler in spurious facial hair.

We’ve wondered the same thing. Which is why we’re pleased to announce the Zenobia Award, a board game design contest for underrepresented groups.

That could mean you! Whether you’re a woman, person of color, LGBTQ+, or otherwise underrepresented, the Zenobia Award is all about helping you break into the tabletop game industry. That can mean boards, cards, dice, tiles, miniatures—whatever your game requires, if it’s about a historical setting, we want to help your voice be heard.

How will we do that? Good question. The Zenobia Award is more than a fancy name. It’s a mentorship, intended to pair you with industry veterans who will help develop your game into its best form. It’s an entry point, with partner publishers standing by to discover the most interesting titles and help bring them to print. And it’s a contest, complete with a cash prize, public celebration, and genuine wooden trophy analog—that’s right, a plaque!

Is there a hitch? Nope. There’s no cost of entry, no obligation to list your mentor as a co-designer, and you keep the rights to your game—unless you sign a contract with a publisher, of course. That’s entirely up to you. Being a game designer, you know the importance of the little rules. So, take a look at the fine print over at www.zenobiaaward.org and welcome to the Zenobia Award. 

Distributed Wargaming Working Group

The Distributed Wargaming Working Group is now full, no more applicants will be accepted. Respectfully, Stephen Downes-Martin

You are invited to join the Distributed Wargaming Working Group. If interested, read on …

Covid-19 made distributed wargaming a requirement for both safety and economic reasons. By working together the modeling, simulation and professional wargaming communities can satisfy this requirement.

The Simulation and Wargaming Standing Study Group of the Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization has started a Working Group on “Distributed Wargaming”, the focus of which is to:

“examine how technical, social and design processes can exploit the advantages and overcome the disadvantages of wargaming for professional purposes in a distributed environment”

Note that by “wargaming” we mean:
“A warfare model or simulation, using rules, data, and procedures, not involving actual military forces, and in which the flow of events is affected by, and in turn affects, decisions made during the course of those events by players representing the opposing sides”
Perla, P. The Art of Wargaming, Naval Institute Press, 1990, p.274

We are looking for experts in the following areas to apply their expertise to distributed professional wargaming:

  • Wargame design and execution
  • Modeling and simulation
  • Human/machine interfaces
  • Online collaboration systems
  • Human in the loop simulations
  • Distributed simulation
  • Game psychology
  • Distributed decision making and negotiation

If you decide to join you may participate in any of the following ways:

  • Engage in online discussions on any topic that surface within the focus area of the group.
  • Write a working paper for inclusion in the final report. Your paper can be on any topic you choose so long as it fits within the group focus.
  • Comment and discuss other members’ papers and respond to comments on your own (if you write one).
  • Participate in any of several wargaming and simulation conferences.
  • Lurk and learn, and contribute when you feel comfortable doing so.

The Working Group will produce a product consisting of an Executive Summary, the refined working papers, discussion about each paper and other topics, and an integrated bibliography. The objective is to produce a useful resource for the simulation and wargaming community. All contributors retain intellectual property rights to their contributions but grant the Working Group unrestricted rights to post their material as part of the Working Group product online and distribute it widely. For an example of the kind of report we will produce see: https://paxsims.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/2019-wargaming-the-far-future-final-20191105.pdf

If you wish to join, please email me including either a link to your online bio or a copy of your bio, and let me know your general area of interest in the working group focus. Thank you.

Respectfully
Stephen Downes-Martin
stephen.downesmartin@gmail.com

Women’s Wargaming Network

The Women’s Wargaming Network, launched by Yuna Wong at Connections US, now has a home at womenswargaming.org, where you can subscribe to connect with other women wargamers, and share your WWN-related news, events, and opportunities.

The Women’s Wargaming Network is open to anyone who identifies as a woman, professional and hobby wargamers alike. Our mission is to help women thrive in professional wargaming. It is not enough merely to survive as a woman in a male-dominated field: our goal is for women to bring their authentic selves, the full range of their talents and abilities, and their own vision and ambition to professional wargaming.

Our aim is to hold at least one zoom meeting a month. If you would like to present, have ideas about who you’d like to hear from, topics you’d like covered, or content you’d like to provide for the webpage, sign-up and get involved. We plan for events to be a mix of for-women and open-to-all (ie an opportunity for women to educate the wider wargaming community).

The Women's Wargaming Network logo: a black queen with two D6 dice

You can read more about the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in wargaming here.

Game Review: Enter the Spudnet, or How Potatoes Taught me Cyber

Sometimes a light touch, and a bit of humour can make complex topics very accessible.

Enter the Spudnet is an innovative, and fun, learning game from the studio that brought the coding card game, Potato Pirates, to life. Despite its comical approach, Enter the Spudnet truly is a serious game in a brilliantly accessible disguise.

Played across a network of shipping ports, players must fulfill their 5 potato orders while playing ability cards to benefit themselves or harm others’ shipment or structures. Further complicating the potato fulfillment process are bot “ships” who collide with player shipments and destroy them, overload warehouses, and generally cause mischief.

The analogies to cyber are clear from the moment you open the game board. Each map is organized into interconnected, coloured networks (shipping lanes) of nodes (ports) each with its own IP address. The map is immediately recognizable as a network diagram with a wink to its pirating theme.

Players can place firewalls, blocking travel to others, and play cards like Trojans, Ransomeware, 301 Rediects and so many more. There are 40 of these ability cards, with a cyber explanation for each in the clear and concise manual.

Play can be competitive or cooperative, with each game style giving rise to its own strategies and approaches.

As players move their potatoes (think data packets) across the shipping network they will be faced with all the network hinderances (502 bad gateways, static routes…), navigating inconvenient firewalls, and frustrating connection slowdowns when warehouse nodes get overloaded.

While this teaches cyber security at a higher level – no one will become an instant cyber expert playing this game – it brilliantly illustrates concepts, and introduces the player to those hacks, workarounds, problems and possibilities of the cyber realm. As discussion and emphasis is placed more and more on multi-domain operations this fun, approachable game provides a gateway to understanding a piece of the sometimes arcane concepts of cyber security.

Playable by 2-6 players in 30-60 minutes, with high-quality components, I can think of no more approachable introduction to a very serious topic.

Tom Fisher
I can be reached at tfisher@imaginetic.net if you want a more detailed account.

Review: Hedgemony

Hedgemony: A Game of Strategic Choices (RAND, 2020). USD$250.

First of all, let us be clear that there is no typo here: RAND’s recently-published game of strategic resource management really is called “hedgemony” and not “hegemony.” There’s a good reason for that, too. In Hedgemony, the Blue side is preoccupied with allocating scarce resources, investments, and actions to counter challenges from Red. Much of this involves what international relations scholars call hedging: that is, using a mix of military and economic resources to both balance and engage, while trying to avoid costly large-scale conflict.

Hedgemony is a designed to be played with up to six players (or teams of players) divided into two sides. Blue consists of the United States and its EU/NATO allies. The Red side consists of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The game also requires a White cell (game control, adjudication, and facilitation) of 2-4 persons. A game would typically take a half or full day. You can see RAND’s nice promotional video below

The game sequence functions like this:

  1. Red signalling. Each Red player chooses up to three investment or action cards that they might play this turn. They then brief these possible actions to the Blue side.
  2. Blue investment and actions. Have been briefed on possible threats, the Blue players decide what actions and investments they will make. Although they too have cards, they are not limited to these and may propose other actions and investments (to be adjudicated by the controller). The US will also have to spend resources to sustain its desired level of readiness.
  3. Red investment and actions. Red may now to choose to play any or all of the cards that they signalled at the start of the turn, provided they have adequate resources for this.
  4. Annual resource allocation. Players gain new resources based on the scenario and developments within the game.
Some possible Russian investments: new military forces, investment in national research and development, and arms sales to third countries.

In any phase, the White cell may inject international and domestic events, selected from an event deck or crafted for the scenario and current situation. Finally, they summarize the state of the world based on the most recent gameplay, thus setting the stage for the next turn.

Some EU/NATO events: interoperability problems, terrorism, refugees.

Key to the game is the struggle for “influence points,” which largely define success or failure. Various actions (or responses to events and actions) tend to increase or decrease each players influence.

Some international events: an earthquake and tsunami in Southeast Asia, Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, and growing tensions between India and Pakistan.
Some possible North Korean actions: a submarine-launched ballistic missile test, nuclear assistance to Iran, and an incursion in the DMZ. The Blue player must decide how to respond to these, and the outcome usually results in a gain or loss of influence points.

The board is divided into theatre zones, conforming to the US system of combatant commands. Because this is a strategic game focused on national resource allocations and theatre-level capabilities, military assets are abstracted to “force factors.” There is no differentiation of land, air, maritime, cyber, or space assets. However, forces do have a modernization level, which shapes their effectiveness for military operations. The game also tracks national technology levels, as well as certain critical capabilities (such as C4ISR, special operations forces, long-range fires, nuclear capabilities, integrated air and missile defence). There are also special rules for proxy forces.

The China display board, with two actions (Belt and Road initiative, economic cooperation in Africa) and one investment (building a permanent overseas base in another region) signalled.

Hedgemony comes with an extensive rulebook, player’s guide, and glossary, all of which are available as free downloads from the RAND website. There is also a game board/map (27’x36″), markers for forces, indicators for national displays, information displays and place tags for each actor, quick reference charts, and dice. The game materials are generally of very high quality. The force markers are rather small (and with very small printing on them), however. They are also laser-cut and rather sooty—I had to frequently wipe my hands when using them to avoid transferring black carbon smudges to other game materials. If I was using Hedgemony regularly I would probably invest in some plastic chips and laser-printed round labels to make them all a bit more substantial.

The game board and some of the (itsy-bitsy) force factors and dice for scale.

At the time of writing, the pandemic precludes a proper playtest: to do the game full justice you really need a dozen people in a room for a few hours discussing resource allocation and strategic options. However, I had the good fortune to take part in a few moves of the game via a Zoom call with the RAND designers and others. I liked what I saw.

Hedgemony is very much a serious game intended to spark thoughtful discussion on strategic issues, rather than a game designed for hobby play. The game strikes a good balance between the structure of a rigid, written ruleset and opportunities for more freeform adjudicated improvisation. If I were running a session I could even see switching to a quick round of matrix game-style argumentation to resolve actions outside the written rules and cards.

You do, however, need controllers and facilitators who know what they are doing. While the action and investment cards are clear enough, some of the resource bookkeeping could get a bit confusing for players, and they probably need to be talked through how the combat adjudication charts works if they have never seen a CRT (combat results table) before, especially given the need to take force modernization levels into consideration. It might be useful if RAND were to post a a “how to” video showing a full turn of game play to help those who are thinking of using it.

For my part, I will certainly be using it in my conflict simulation course at McGill University when we return to regular teaching next academic year.

Introducing the Gaming Lab at CNAS

CNAS PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Cole Stevens, 202-695-8166, cstevens@cnas.org

Washington, October 14, 2020—The Center for a New American Security today launched The Gaming Lab at CNAS, a new major initiative led by the CNAS Defense Program. CNAS experts and adjuncts at The Gaming Lab will lead innovative, unclassified games and exercises to help policymakers and military strategists gain critical insights into key national security problems. …

info@cnas.org

Sally Davis shortlisted for UK Civil Service Award

I am extremely pleased to report that PAXsim’s very own Sally Davis has been shortlisted for a UK Civil Service 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Award for her work on promoting diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

In addition to her work on the Derby House Principles, Sally has been tireless in highlighting the historical and ongoing contributions of women, visible minorities, LGBTQ persons, and others in the defence and national security. She has also encouraged an organization-wide discussion of how to make Dstl more inclusive, welcoming, and effective.

The winners of the 2020 UK Civil Service D&I Awards will be announced on December 4.

Ten Wargaming Vacancies at Fort Belvoir VA (USA)

Welcome to Fort Belvoir

This is an Open Continuous job opportunity announcement, which is used to fill vacancies as they become available.

Note the separate announcements and details for US Government employee applicants and general public applicants. US citizenship or Nationality required. First cut off date is 20 Oct, final cut off date is 17th Nov.

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/580354900
Internal – Government employees

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/580355300
External – Non-Government employees

Thanks to Anne Johnson for spotting this and sending it to me.

Wrens pioneer synthetic environment training

Everybody’s favourite WW2 Naval war correspondant, AJ McWhinnie, author of many marvellous articles on the Western Approaches Tactical Unit, dropped this tantalising detail in an article for the Liverpool Herald:

AJ McWhinne on Wren-powered VR for anti-aircraft gun training. "Wren operators show the film, which darts across the domed screen.

Which tickled me immensely, seeing as how my day-job is software-dev using VR, mixed/augmented reality for analysis, training & simulation, and wargaming. It’s always nice to know that the things you do have always been done by women, even if the boys would like to make you think otherwise. Like the women who wrote and (literally) knitted the moon lander OS, and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper who among other trivial things like inventing compilers, coined the term “bug” after finding one in her computer:

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper's logbook: "first actual example of bug found" and moth selotaped in.

And then, would you beleive it, I found photographs, while hunting-up evidence of the Bombay Tactical Unit.

Just as the WRINS have fitted into the life and routine of other Naval Specialist Schools, they have also become an integral part of the Naval Gunnery Training Establishment, HMIS Himalaya.

Secretarial duties, assisting Instructors in preparing syllabae, arranging courses, and correcting confidential books and publications of modern theories of Gunnery were taken over by the WRINS when men of the RIN were urgently required for War Service afloat. 

Besides doing office work they also assisted in the actual training of officers and ratings in Gunnery tactics. Theoretical lectures on Aircraft Recognition, High Angle Firing, Ship Recognition, etc were taught with the aid of cinema strips and some of the girls worked the projectors as qualified cinema operators. This was a highly specialised job needing a background knowledge of Electricity and Sound but they soon studied and mastered the technicalities and became proficient in their duties.

Gunnery in its practical aspects was taught at the High-Angle or Anti-Aircraft School which is also a part of the Training Establishment. This is India’s most modern naval school of anti-aircraft training.

Here potential Gunners practised firing at target-towing aircraft and WRINS were employed on Radio Telephones, passing messages to aircraft from control positions and passing orders to gun crews to carry out different forms of drill.

Apart from these jobs WRINS of HMIS Himalaya carried out ordinance duties. They stripped complicated close range weapons and assembled them again after cleaning and maintenance, thus keeping the condition of the arms at the high level of efficiency which is essential for accurate firing and good results.

WRINS and How They Served

This passage in particular delighted me:

They worked the complex precision machines which calculate the speed, range, angle of sight and height of ‘enemy’ aircraft and predict their future movements. This information is transmitted down to the guns by means of electrical transmission units and pointers. When the practices were over the errors in ‘time lag’ and ‘aim-off’ were analysed by the WRIN assistants and later explained to the classes.

Because fire control computers need MEN! WRINS!

But back to the Wren-powered VR:

A RIN rating aims the gun at the dome. Next to him two WRINS operate the projection apparatus.
A WRIN assisting to work an AA training device similar to a 35mm cinema projector. This requires a sure eye and delicate touch. [WRINS and How They Served]

This was the apparatus the charming McWhinnie paragraph described, and I thought I’d go a-hunting for this RCNVR Lt. For about two-and-a-half seconds I was disappointed to find McWhinnie fallible; the Lt was not Canadian, nor had any RCN connections I could find. But frankly who cares WHEN NOW I HAVE VIDEO !!?

Let me introduce to you The Dome anti-aircraft trainer, conceived by Henry Stephens, RN in WW1 and RNVR in WW2. Forty of these devices were built, at sites including HMS Excellent, Portsmouth, HMIS Himalaya, Karachi, and RAF Langham…were the concrete dome has been restored and was the star turn of the BBC One documentary The Dome: A Secret of World War Two in 2015.

You can read the technical specification by Lt Cdr Stephens here. Modern day CAVE and VR synthetic training does not look so different.

And here’s a WAAF operating the RAF Leuchars dome anti-aircraft teacher, because at PAXsims we have both kinds of diversity: Navy and Air Force ;-)

FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (CH 18567) Training films: A member of the Royal Air Force Regiment under instruction in a dome anti-aircraft teacher at RAF Leuchars where a WAAF projects the film of the targets. IWM

Read more about the Derby House Principles for diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming (training & simulation) here.

Royal Indian Naval Tactical Table

PAXsims is delighted to present some recent developments in the WATU story. If proof were ever needed that the Derby House Principles were well-named—over and above the queer Wrens, the RN officers unfit for duty at sea through illness and injury, and Wrens standing watch as Midshipmen on a Destroyer in the Med in 1943, whose diversity is what made WATU great—enter stage right, the Bombay Tactical Unit:

Bombay Tactical Unit WRINS plotting ship movements on the floor. Two are wearing saris, two are westerners in tropical rig.

A huge shout out to Valentina Vitali of the University of East London and her excellent paper, The Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service: Forging the New Woman for Independent India, which provided cultural context and pointed me towards many of the sources.

Pre-1944 RIN officers took their tactical training at Liverpool.

This is Pritam “Peter” Singh Mahindroo:

Lt PS Mahindroo in tropical rig and turban, on parade.

He joined the Merchant Navy at 16, and on the outbreak of war he tried to transfer to the Royal Indian Navy but was denied entry because, being Sikh, he refused to cut his hair. By 1940 he was in, with his turban on, and in 1942 he took the WATU course before escorting ships to the Atlantic Ocean as a Lt on INS Godvari.

A Victory parade was held in London on June 8,1946 in which representatives of the three Indian Armed Forces participated. The senior Indian Naval officer was Commander (later Rear Admiral) A. Chakravarti and the Naval Contingent was led by Lieutenant (later Rear Admiral) P.S. Mahindroo. In keeping with the inter-service seniority in which the Navy was the senior service, the parade was led by the Naval Contingent.

Rear Admiral Mahindroo, who later commanded our first aircraft carrier Vikrant, reminisces on the occasion, “Needless to say, that as a turbaned officer leading the Naval Contingent, I was most prominent and I must have given hundreds of autographs amongst thousands of spectators who probably slept on the pavement for one or two nights to witness this historic parade.

Blueprint to Bluewater
The RIN contingent marching through London in the Victory Parade
Mahindroo, 3rd from the front, centre column.

Formation of the WRINS

Fearing imminent Japanese invasion in 1942, the Women’s Auxilliary Corps (India) formed to free every available shore-man for active duty. In January 1944 the WRINS formally stood up as its naval branch, as the focus of the war turned towards Asia. 

43% of the officers and 77% of the WRINS were Indian, and among the junior officers 80% were Indian. The rest were Anglo-Indians (born in India of British descent; the white ruling class of Empire) and Brits—a combination of women stranded in the Empire by wartime travel restrictions, and women from Britain who signed up to the WRINS instead of the WRNS (applicants who didn’t quite make the cut for the RN were sometimes offered a more favourable position in the RIN, RCN, or other colonial navy…)

[Of course, Indians and Anglo-Indians were British Citizens; that’s how Empire worked. A fact conveniently forgotten by the hostile environment policy and Windrush scandal.]

The WRINS offered opportunities for “intelligent and well educated women and girls when they pass out of their schools and colleges … [for] cultured Indian girls and women … who have the interest and well-being of their country at heart.”

Chief Officer Cooper’s somewhat idyllic view of Empire certainly reflected attitudes of the time:

[Cooper’s spelling] Here Mohammedans, Hindoos, Parsees, Pathans, Anglo-Indians and British lived side by side in harmony, the only allowance made for difference in tase were the meals, two sets being provided.

For the Indian girls it was the experience of a life-time, broadening their outlook, and helping towards emancipation—so important for their future role in India.

During the three-day Mutiny in February 1946 it was significant that the WRINS in all the ports stood fast, and showed no signs of disaffection.

Cooper, Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service

Given that the chief grievance of the mutineers was poor treatment of Indian ratings by white officers, it suggests a white leadership (and of course, it was all white at the top) somewhat out of touch with the recipients of their colonial benificence.

Roshan Horabin, who was turned away from the WAC(I) because pre-1944 “they did not employ native girls,” talks about the class and race tensions at play: 

I was educated at the Cathederal. And in those days there were only 10% Indians and we paid double fees. And although [an Indian] could be a prefect, you couldn’t be a head girl.

Roshan came from the upper-crust of Indian families, and socialised with Baronettes. Even so, she was once challenged by a police officer for using the “European” latrine instead of the “Indian” one.

He said, “These are the rules of the Empire and Indians do not go into British latrines.” People are shocked to hear this, and think Appartheit was only in South Africa. And I say no, in fact it was the whole of the Empire.

In 1942 she joined the Intelligence Division.

We had English people, Germans, French, and Mrs Smith who was a Colonel’s wife, in charge of my section. I think we had four Anglo-Indian ladies but they didn’t talk to Bina [the Honourable Bina Sina] and myself, they just spoke to the European lot. But the English lot talked to Bina and me.

Later when the WRINS began accepting Indian applicants, the Intelligence Division wouldn’t let her go. You can hear the whole of her oral history interview here.

The WRINS were immensley proud of their Tactical Unit contribution. In WRINS and How They Served, a two-page spread is devoted to explaining the purpose and details of the Royal Indian Naval Tactical Unit, while the rest of the book has photographs and only brief captions at-best, glossing over the rest of the WRINS technical duties. (My particular favourite: Cypherettes at work. Because intelligence officers and backing vocalists are so very hard to tell apart…)

The Royal Indian Naval Tactical Unit in Bombay trained officers of the RIN in one of the most thrilling and vital phases of sea warfare—the “Killer Group” tactics that played so large a part in the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic. Modelled on the lines of the Royal Navy’s famous Western Approaches Tactical Unit, this well-equipped establishment had WRINS assisting in the training of future commanding officers of HMI escort vessels.

WRINS and How They Served

Founding the Bombay Tactical Unit.

This is Cdr Arthur King:

Cdr A.F. King

The Tactical Unit was established in Bombay in 1944 and was disbanded shortly after the capitulation of Japan. As I was in charge of this unit it is of some historical interest that my thoughts on it should be recorded.

At the outset I should say that I do not have any clear idea as to why I was given this job. Certainly I never asked for it. But I have, nevertheless, for as long as I can remember, had an interest in naval tactics. This started when at school I read of Nelson’s conduct of his fleet. The positioning of ships to gain maximum advantage over the enemy was only achieved by a clear understanding of what was needed and how to use the elements—sea, wind, sun and moon—to gain the upper hand. A total understanding between the ships’ Captains was essential. Nelson developed this to the full, calling his Captains his “band of brothers”, and fostered this espirit de corps to a fine degree of understanding by calling them all together at every possible moment he could create.

In 1942, standing by HMIS Jumna building on the Clyde, a notice was circulated to COs of all escort vessels that they and their executive officers should attend as convenient at the A/S Tactical School located in Derby House, Liverpool, headquarters of Admiral Sir Max Horton, C-in-C Western Approaches. 

There I met Commander Duncan

And this is the true joy of King’s account for me as a woman: to see the karma of the Williams’ biography of Captain Roberts, which mis-spelled the names of every single WATU Wren, repaid in kind by King persistently mis-remembering Roberts’ name as “Duncan”, and confusing him with his then-XO Lt Cdr Walter Higham, ex-submariner and ranking survivor of HMS Audacity:

There I met Commander DuncanRoberts, a dug out submariner who had been invalided out of the service in 1939 and recalled to set up a school to aquaint the Captains of the many escort vessels—sloops, frigates, corvettes—with the ways of the enemy they were going to face when they got out into the Atlantic, and how to deal with him. Technical schools had already instrcuted people in the mechanics of Asdic and final attack procedure, but they did not then have any experience of the tactics the enemy would use to get into the best position to get at the convoy. DuncanRoberts had made a study of such matters and had the added benefit of his Chief’s submariner’s mind.

The week-long course consisted of very few short lectures. Most of the time was spent playing games and analysing them. The “play area” was a gridded linoleum (has anyone ever seen lino of the quality provided to the Navy?) floor, with the pupils behind screens out of sight of the main plot, positioned at desks and fed with data—some relivant, some irrelivant—of contacts, signals, D/F bearings, etc, from which each had to decided his actions—signals to others, course and speed of his own ship, whether to move towards the convoy or to go to help some other ship in trouble, etc etc. All this was then transfered to the plot on the floor and success or failure resulted. Understanding of how best to achieve the objective of getting the convoy safely through was undoubtedly improved as the week went on. One was better informed of what the Germans were about and how they operated their “Wolf Pack” tactics. Confidence in how to counter-attack was gained. It was Nelson’s band of brothers again.

Then, in 1944,

I was somewhat mystified to recieve instructions to set up a Tactical Unit in Bombay on the lines of the Unit in Derby House Liverpool. The intention was that, as the war in Europe was approaching finality, Churchill and the War Cabinet directed that more effort had to be made against the enemy in the East. 

And so, in July 1944, in company with Lieutenant Ahsan, DSC, and four WRINS—2nd Officers E. Donoghue, E. Staveley, J. West and E.A. Twynham—we set off in a York to fly to Liverpool. DuncanRoberts was still there—actually he spent the whole of the war in this appointment—and for six weeks we understudied him and his team.

Hornby Road, Bombay
Hornby Road in the 1930s

In Bombay we set up shop. Our first location was above Mongini’s Restaurant in Hornby Road. This was all right for operation as it had the space and was properly fitted out, but it was hardly the place to keep confidential books. We were soon found a corner of the dockyard.

VE came and was celebrated. Then some months later Hiroshima and then Nagasaki were attacked by atomic bombs and the war was over.

In the weeks following, we in the Tactical Unit considered what we should do. There was obviously no enthusiasm for VR officers to spend time learning something they would never have to apply in practice. People all around us were just waiting for demoblilisation and getting bored. So we decided to set up demonstrations, using the facility of the large gridded linoleum floor as our stage. We read up on the confidential reports of the major Naval batles of the war and prepared our floor-show. “The Sinking of the Bismarck” and “The Battle of the River Plate” were presented by us in Bombay long before they were made into films! And we had large audiences, weighted from time to time by gold braid. Admirals Godfrey and Rattray both came along to see what we were up to, and made some complimentary remarks at the end of the shows.

Like this, I imagine, only with less YouTube and more pipe-smoking:

Was the Tactical Unit worthwhile? This is difficult to answer. Certinly if the war had developed into a long battle against the Japanese, who up to then had shown every sign of being difficult to move and fanatical in their resolve, then there would have been an enormous increase in military activity in this sphere with all important supplies coming by sea and therefore entirely dependent on Naval supremacy.

The Tactical Unit at Bombay would then have become, as was Liverpool to the Atlantic, the centre for updating intelligence of enemy tactics.

Show me the WRINS!

Oh, dear reader, I can do one better. Please be upstanding for 2nd Officer Staveley (now Puckridge), only the third first-hand account of WATU’s activities by a Wren (WRIN) in existance (Wren June Duncan’s memoire, and Lt Carol Hendry’s oral history being the other two). 

Here are the founding WRINS of the Bombay Tactical Unit: 

Four WRINS arm-in-arm, wearing tropical rig
L to R: 2nd Officers E. Donoghue, E. Staveley (Anne Puckridge), J. West and E.A. Twynham.

Pinch me. I am actually exchanging e-mails with a WATU Wren:

My father had just completed a 6-year Army posting to India when war broke out and we were unable to return to the UK because of the new travel restrictions. I enlisted in the WAC(I) in Bangalore in South India when the local women’s services commenced recruiting (had to back-date my date of birth by a year to qualify).  After a few months in a Recruiting Office, I was asked if I would transfer to the Air Defence Unit, still in Bangalore. Later (sadly I did not keep a diary, so am imprecise about dates) I was asked to move to Cochin to work on Cyphers and from there was sent on an OTC and promoted to 2nd Officer, WR(I)NS.  I was then sent to Liverpool Western Approaches Tactical Training Unit and, on completion of the course, was posted to Bombay to help with setting up a Tactical Unit there. 

On arrival in Bombay from Liverpool I seem to recall working exclusively with the small group who attended the UK course, ie the four of us in the picture, the officer named King and another IAF officer [Lt Ahsan], and a lovely girl from India whose name I can’t recall.

When this was disbanded after VJ Day, I was posted as Personal Assistant to the Chief Staff Officer to the Flag Officer, Bombay, [Capt Nott] for a short while until I was demobbed in 1945.

2nd Officer Anne Puckridge (nee Staveley)
Anne Puckridge wearing her WW2 medals.
2nd Officer Puckridge (nee Staveley), campaigning for ex-Pat pension rights.

That lovely girl from India was 2nd Officer Kalyani Sen:

It was decided that four WRIN officers should be sent to the United Kingdom for a two months’ course at the Anti-Submarine Tactical Course at Liverpool. Those officers on completion of their training were appointed to act as “movers” at the Anti-Submarine Tactical School at Bombay. The Deputy Director WRINS, Chief Officer Cooper and two administrative officers also proceeded to the United Kingdom where they were attached to Women’s Royal Naval Service establishments and training centres for a period of two months to undergo a course of instruction in WRNS methods of administration and training.

The first Indian service woman who visited the United Kingdom was second officer Kalyani Sen, of the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service. With Chief Officer Margaret Cooper and second Officer Phyllis Cunningham she went there at the invitation of the Admiralty to make a comparative study of training and administration in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

Royal Indian Navy 1939-1945

Here she is on a ship visit in Rosyth with Chief Officer Cooper:

INDIAN WRENS VISIT ROSYTH, 3 JUNE 1945 (A 29070) Chief Officer Margaret L Cooper, Deputy Director of the Women's Royal Indian Naval Service (WRINS), with Second Officer Kalyani Sen, WRINS at Rosyth during their two month study visit to Britain.
Chief Officer Margaret L Cooper, Deputy Director of the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service (WRINS), with Second Officer Kalyani Sen, WRINS at Rosyth during their two month study visit to Britain. IWM.

Number One

Who’s that Ahsan chap that King mentions? This guy, in the shorts:

The Bombay Tactical Unit. Three WRINS and a RIN officer in shorts plot ship movements on the floor.
L to R: 2nd Officer Donoghue, 2nd Officer Kelyani Sen, Lt Syed Ahsan, 2nd Officer Staveley

He’s only the future Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Navy. Oh, and his service number is PN-007. Nice.

Vice Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan

Diversity won the war.

There you have it. Women and minorities forging operational analysis. And casting gears for submarines, too (from Wrens in Camera by Lee Miller. Really stunning and unexpected photos of Wrens onboard ship and other non-clerical duties):

You can read more about the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming here.

Derby House diversity in gaming pins

For those of you who may have seen colleagues wearing Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming pins and wondering how to get your own, here’s your chance! We are now selling them in lots of ten for £20 (UK) or USD$30 (rest of world).

Since quantities are limited, email me for further details. Upon payment, they will be dispatched to you through our global network of PAXsims order fulfilment warehouses.

The Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional (war)gaming can be found here.

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