Adriatic Harbour

Dave Watson: Trades Unionist

A hobby can be important for your well-being, especially if you have a demanding work life. I am a former senior trade union official and policy consultant and my hobby is wargaming.

Wargamers use model soldiers to simulate battles, real or fictional. The game developed out of chess and the war games used by the Prussian General Staff in the 19th Century. Unlike chess, there are hundreds of different rule sets. The rules govern logistics, shooting and hand-to-hand combat. Records are kept for casualties, and rules determine the morale of each unit. Dice or cards are used to determine the chance element. The figures are made of metal or plastic and are hand-painted. In a historical game, this involves researching each army’s uniforms, organisation and tactics.

This photo shows an Adriatic harbour in 1:56th scale. I modelled it to refight the raids undertaken on that coast by the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars. This is the subject of my forthcoming book, ‘The Frontier Sea’. My interest in history came from a big coffee table book I browsed as a kid and endless Ladybird titles (I was easy to buy for!) plus an inspirational teacher at secondary school.

I got into wargaming when I met up with some guys into the hobby at about age 15. Perhaps surprisingly to some, we were meeting to establish a Labour Party Young Socialist Branch!