A cosmic coincidence: Clonque, the Conference of Wargamers and the Cowley Road Carnival

Releasing the new video for Marine Peilstand Drei (MP3), I’m reminded that just over a year ago I received correspondence from a contributor to the Nugget, online magazine of Wargame Developments, asking if he could reproduce the lyrics to Marine Peilstand Drei (MP3) as part of an article.

I was deeply honoured to receive this unexpected request, but more than a little intrigued. However, the connection soon became clear.

In his article, ‘Fortress: Offside report’, John D Salt describes playing a new game at the Conference of Wargamers (COW). Fortress by Jim Wallman is a ‘splendid multi-player solitaire planning game on the fortifications of Alderney constructed by the Germans during their occupation of the Channel Islands, 1940–1945.’ I too have researched the WW2 coastal defences of Alderney (mainly in a practical fashion) for Marine Peilstand Drei (MP3).

But there’s more to it. As Mr Salt (or perhaps Major Salt, or perhaps even Fregattenkapitän Salt) goes on to say:

Did I say a final reason to love the game? There is one more. By a cosmic conicidence, Fort Clonque was mentioned in a facebook posting by a pal of mine which I saw as soon as I got home from COW. The same weekend as I was at COW, he was at the Cowley Road Carnival, and one of the sets was by a chap called Moogieman. When he announced a piece inspired by the German fortifications on Alderney, my pal said ‘I hope he mentions Fort Clonque’.

And, of course, I did.

Unfortunately the video’s budget didn’t allow me to fly to Alderney with a bunch of actors so I took the opportunity to shoot while on holiday in Malta. Fort Campbell built by the British in the 1930s provided the the ideal location (outside the Channel Islands), being of a similar period, designed for a similar purpose and, crucially, abandoned.

The differences are also interesting. Most of the British pillboxes and other WW2 fortifications on Malta are ‘decorated’ with stone blocks in the local architectural style to disguise them as farm buildings, recognising that the chief threat to such defensive structures came from the air.

On Alderney, however, while the various bunkers, gun emplacements and strong points were usually hidden from the sea (which they were aimed towards) there didn’t seem to be any obvious measures to camouflage them from aerial view. Whether this was because of the nature of the defences or due to a confidence in German air superiority at the time, I don’t know. Thoughts and answers are welcome.

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