Neil Smith authored two pieces (that eventually turned into three) for Wargames Illustrated's big English Civil War issue (pictured at right). He agreed to submit a little background regarding his love affair with military history and the ECW in particular...
I blame Mr. Kelly. I was a nine-year-old kid just moved to the big town from a wee village and I found myself in Mr. Kelly’s class. The soft spoken, bearded Irishman with a talent for story-telling and playing the penny-whistle during lessons also had a passion for history. It was he who gave me my first ever history assignment, and I chose the English Civil War for reasons now lost along with thousands of brain cells during my Newcastle Brown Ale years.
I remember it as if it was yesterday, a huge poster sized sheet of paper with a Cavalier lovingly portrayed down one side and a Roundhead on the other. In the middle was my hand-drawn map of Edgehill and vignettes on all the different aspects of the war cut out from my school notepad and glued on. To my nine-year-old eyes this was art of the highest order, and my love affair with military history was well underway.
Thirty-harrumph-harrumph years later, and all grown up (mostly), my love of military history was intact, although I’d moved on to study another Civil War this time in America. I had also been lured into the cult of wargaming by a couple of shady characters at Edinburgh University – you know who you are – and in the ensuing years amassed a decent sized collection of soldiers from various wars, but not the English Civil War. I’m not sure why, but like my Led Zeppelin collection that never quite happened, I meant to get round to it at some point.
I was also writing a few articles for Wargames Illustrated on a whole range of topics all of which I found interesting and challenging, and I promised myself I would use the money to buy more soldiers and I would start my ECW collection. So, as coincidence had it, I’d just bought my 15mm ECW army when Dan at WI e-mailed asking if I’d like to take on an ECW project. My response, as you might have guessed, was quite predictable, and the result was a couple of articles in WI269. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did doing the research and writing.