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Memories in White Metal
Aug 04, '20

H G Wells

Little Wars is a set of rules for playing with toy soldiers, written by English novelist H. G. Wells in 1913. The book, which had a full title of Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books.

I live in Hythe, Kent just a stone throw from Sandgate where H G Wells lived in Spade House 1900 - 1909.

Wells came to Sandgate near Folkestone in 1896 for the benefit of his health. As it was to his liking, he commissioned Voysey, a well known architect, to build a house in a commanding position overlooking the sea, which became the literary centre of the world in Edwardian times.

The house was named Spade House as is on Radnor Cliff – it survives today as a residential home. There are two other houses in Sandgate, on Castle Road and Granville Parade, that Wells lived prior to the building of Spade House.


His circle included Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw, Arnold Bennett, Ford Madox Ford and Henry James, as well as political figures such as the local MP, Sir Edward Sassoon and his friend Winston Churchill.

Wells stayed for 13 happy years, enjoying the most productive period of his long career. The Sea Lady and Kipps feature the Sandgate and Folkestone area, and The First Men in the Moon has scenes reminiscent of West Hythe nearby.

His romantic life also blossomed at this time, although its initial product, A Modern Utopia, created such a stir in the area where he had become a magistrate that he and his family upped sticks in 1909 for London.

Long term Sandgate resident, and, subsequently, world-renowned BBC Aeronautics Correspondent, Reg Turnill knew H G Wells and met him before his death in 1946.

Little Wars

The beginning of the game of Little War, as we know it, became possible with the invention of the spring breechloader gun. This priceless gift to boyhood appeared somewhen towards the end of the last century, a gun capable of hitting a toy soldier nine times out of ten at a distance of nine yards. It has completely superseded all the spiral-spring and other

makes of gun hitherto used in playroom warfare. These spring breechloaders are made in various sizes and patterns, but the one used in our game is that known in England as the four-point-seven gun. It

fires a wooden cylinder about an inch long, and has a turntable adjustment for elevation and depression. It is an altogether elegant weapon.

It was with one of these guns that the beginning of our war game was made. It was at Sandgate in England.

The present writer had been lunching with a friend--let me veil his

identity under the initials J. K. J. in a room littered with the irrepressible debris of a small boy's pleasures. On a table near our own stood four or five soldiers and one of these guns. Mr J. K. J., his more urgent needs satisfied and the coffee imminent, drew a chair to this

little table, sat down, examined the gun discreetly, loaded it warily, aimed, and hit his man. Thereupon he boasted of the deed, and issued challenges that were accepted with avidity....

He fired that day a shot that still echoes round the world. An affair let us parallel the Cannonade of Valmy and call it the Cannonade of Sandgate occurred, a shooting between opposed ranks of soldiers, a shooting not very different in spirit--but how different in results! from the prehistoric warfare of catapult and garter. "But suppose," said

his antagonists; "suppose somehow one could move the men!" and therewith opened a new world of belligerence...

Teaching, Gaming and Toy Soldiers

Working long hours in a boarding school as a Head of Science with 9 jobs, 3 labs, duties and keeping the boarders happy 24/7 you got to have fun! Work hard and Play hard that has alway been my motto.

So set to work: Mould making, casting and painting Toy Soldiers in the Britains 1/32 tradition and H G Wells style.


“The soldiers used should be all of one size. The best British makers have standardised sizes, and sell infantry and cavalry in exactly proportioned dimensions; the infantry being nearly two inches tall.

There is a lighter, cheaper make of perhaps an inch and a half high that is also available. Foreign-made soldiers are of variable sizes.”


AND now, having given all the exact science of our war game, having told something of the development of this warfare, let me here set out the particulars of an exemplary game. And suddenly your author changes. He changes into what perhaps he might have been under different circumstances. His inky fingers become large, manly hands, his drooping

scholastic back stiffens, his elbows go out, his etiolated complexion corrugates and darkens, his moustaches increase and grow and spread, and

curl up horribly; a large, red scar, a sabre cut, grows lurid over one eye. He expands all over he expands. He clears his throat startlingly, lugs at the still growing ends of his moustache, and says, with just a faint and fading doubt in his voice as to whether he can do it, "Yas, Sir!"

Aug 04, '20
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