Sunday, May 31, 2020

Of Tear Gas and Merchantmen

“My last waking thought, I remember, was that, while this was a hell of a thing to have happened to a respectable old gentleman in his declining years, it was all pretty darned interesting and that I could hardly wait to see what the morrow would bring forth.” ~ P G Wodehouse.

While I may not qualify for old, nor have I quite reached my declining years, I do hope I qualify as a respectable gentleman. Yesterday was, however, pretty darned interesting.

Normally I'll seldom touch on real life matters here on a hobby blog. This is an exception. I was asked to cover a protest rally outside the police HQ here in downtown Toledo. A lot of impassioned speeches were made in relation to the recent unpleasantness in Minneapolis and nationally in general. Three police drones buzzed above the crowd and a quartet of officers observed from the precinct house rooftop, but other than that the police presence was light. After two hours the crowd of around 1,500 moved off to march around the block. The marchers reached an intersection where they were to turn, only to be greeted by armed and armoured police - who promptly opened fire with tear gas and baton rounds.

Marchers fleeing the scene.

I was talking to a marcher some way back, and even so we caught a whiff of the gas. It's not a nice experience. My eyes stung, and although I wore a mask against COVID-19, of course it's no protection against gas. I still have a sore throat this morning. Several people were overcome by the gas, which drifted downwind into an area of apartment blocks. One young woman marcher was shot in the back of the head by a 'knee knocker' round whilst giving first aid, her wound requiring ten stitches. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the arguments on both sides, it was a gross over-reaction by the police to a hitherto peaceful protest. Shame on you, Toledo PD!

* * * *

On to the merchant ships...

Whilst I plan to scratch-build four 1/2400 scale German battleships and four British armoured cruisers, I thought a few merchantmen of one kind or another would be useful. Here's what I have so far, and I'll build at least a couple more.

They represent a couple of bulk carriers, one a seagoing or coastal vessel, the other a larger ocean-going ship. I kept them generic so they can serve any side in naval conflict. There's another useful aspect to these. Although guerre de course warfare - privateering - was banned by the Declaration of Paris in 1856, a form of it was reinstated in the Hague Convention of 1907, where privately-owned ships manned by naval personnel could attack merchant shipping of a belligerent power. Since this agreement comes at the same period as my hypothetical war between Britain and Germany, it opens another aspect for a campaign.

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