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"Lionel Tarr, Arnhem?" Topic

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1,901 hits since 14 Dec 2016
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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uglyfatbloke14 Dec 2016 3:48 a.m. PST

Several wargame websites state that Lionel Tarr served at Arnhem; does anyone know for sure if he did? We're going there to over New Year and it would be nice to play a game with his rules while we're there a a homage to a great wargaming pioneer….we'll probably do it anyway, but it would be nice to know what the evidence is.

Hornswoggler Inactive Member14 Dec 2016 5:42 a.m. PST

It certainly appears to be so. When I did a quick google search I found plenty of references to him having been taken prisoner at Arnhem.

This site has images of a piece he wrote himself where he makes reference to being a POW:

Andy P14 Dec 2016 5:47 a.m. PST

Found this on

30 March 2005
Lee Norman
This message goes out to all, My Granddad fought in the battle at Arhem. His name was Lionel Tarr who ended up at the First Aid Post in Oosterbeek after falling through the school roof whilst in action. This untold story will soon be available. I like to also add that through the bravery of those men on both sides that fought with their lives I have learnt that we owe them all a great respect, my thoughts will contiue to think about them so long as I live, May God gide you all with everlasting peace.

So from that it would seem he didnt do a lot!

uglyfatbloke14 Dec 2016 5:52 a.m. PST

Thanks once again Hornswoggler. Incidentally, I tried that filter stuff on some of SWMBOs 'just plain green' Shermans and halftracks. Pretty impressed – it turned them from 'dreadful' into 'kind of nearly acceptable at a distance if you don't look closely' which is about the best I can hope for.
Of course I expect it would have been better if I'd used the filter that's designed for the purpose rather than the 3-tone camo one, but it's not bad.

uglyfatbloke14 Dec 2016 6:01 a.m. PST

And thanks to you too Andy P. So we'll have a game with the Tarr rules, though I don't know if we can arrange for it to happen at Oosterbeek, more likely it will be at Arnhem in the Rhine Pavilion. The next step obviously is finding out his unit…any thoughts?

vtsaogames14 Dec 2016 6:32 a.m. PST

UFB, I was looking at my copy of Lionel Tarr's rules (last played in the 60's). I don't see a description of the turn sequence. Is is UGO-IGO? Simultaneous? I'm sure we played IGO-UGO back in the day, but that doesn't mean we had it right.

uglyfatbloke14 Dec 2016 7:33 a.m. PST

Have n't had a real look at them yet, but I think we just have to have a shot at it.

Martin Rapier14 Dec 2016 9:20 a.m. PST

Both sides roll for initiative to move first each turn, then they roll for initiative again to fire first. An interesting approach which can cause all sorts of entertaining chaos.

You'll need lots of terrain as infantry in the open die like flies.

uglyfatbloke14 Dec 2016 1:19 p.m. PST

Dense terrain is our thing I suppose. Right now there's 12 foot by 6 of ruins on our table; not a LofS greater than about 10-12 inches at most.

Vintage Wargaming14 Dec 2016 2:04 p.m. PST

I used the Lionel Tarr rules in a couple of interwar try out games. As Martin R says they are extremely bloody for infantry but interesting rules which give a good game

uglyfatbloke14 Dec 2016 2:25 p.m. PST

Know if there's a tutorial/process article or video at all?

Martin Rapier15 Dec 2016 12:13 a.m. PST

Just the AAR of a battle played using them in Featherstones "Wargames"

Martin Rapier15 Dec 2016 3:25 a.m. PST

Hmm, here is a report on the Lionel Tarr set I wrote for the Wargames Developments Journal back in 2005:

1950s Wargaming
by Martin Rapier

I brought this game along as I couldn't think of anything else to bring! In fact it fitted in rather well with what seemed to be a bit of a retro theme this year as we also had a Fletcher-Pratt naval game and the various toy soldier style games such as Redcoats & Rebels.

Lionel Tarrs rules were written in 1959 but first published on Donald Featherstones ‘Wargames' in 1962 as an advanced set of modern (ie WW2) rules. In more recent years Jim Wallman has retyped them and made them available in electronic form via The original set was aimed the Eastern Front, the only modification I made was to remove references to Russian vehicles/guns and replace them with appropriate ones for the western front.

I was unsurprised to find that many COW attendees were already familiar with the rules, having played them in the 1960s and 70s, and I had a number of nostalgic conversations about both these, Donald Featherstones & Charles Grants ‘Battle' rules. Dons plaster cast Panther/Tiger/big scary German tanks were also extensively discussed as were the shortcomings of the original Airfix German Infantry set and the allied ‘Combat Group' figures.

For the game itself we had already tried the scenario ‘Tank and Infantry Action on the St James Road' from Dons book at the club and it was a wee bit big for COW so I worked up a smaller one couched in similar terms based on the action at Steamroller Farm in Tunisia. This became ‘Tank and Infantry Action at Steamroller Farm' and was partly an excuse to get out my Churchill Mark 1, converted from an Airfix model around 30 years ago and never having yet fired a shot in a wargame…. The briefings listed both sides full OB as per the gentlemanly conventions of the 1950s, although I certainly didn't insist that everyone wore the suit and tie which Peter Young appeared to regard as indispensable for an afternoons wargaming! To liven things up a bit I allowed the Germans to deploy hidden, a bit of a cheat really as hidden deployment can make the worst rules in the world seem quite interesting as suddenly the players are concentrating on planning and deployment and what-ifs rather than the rule mechanics. I'd deliberately kept the forces fairly small so the game would reach a conclusion, essentially a handful of vehicles and guns for each side, support by a score or so of infantry figures. At a ratio of 1:3 for weapons and 1:8 for men it scaled out at a weak battalion sized force for each side.

The engagement unfolded in much the way you'd expect from a 1950s set of rules, the infantry were slaughtered in droves and the survivors spent most of the game trying to find places to hide (sadly not many places to hide in Tunisia) whilst the battle was decided by the tank-anti-tank engagement. After losing a troop of Churchills to an 88 early on, the fight swung the way of the British as they steadily knocked out the German AT positions and handful of Panzer IIIs who staggered to the front whilst shrugging off the return fire. The most resilient weapon proved to be a troop of Pak 36s cunningly dug in behind the farm buildings, whilst they didn't manage to destroy anything, they withstood all incoming fire including a troop of tanks driving right over them. As the game ended the British had overrun the German first line but had not succeeded in attaining the historical result so both sides could claim some battle honours.

On the whole the game produced a reasonably believable outcome (especially if you rationalised away the slaughtered infantry as including morale failures, skulkers etc) despite some creaky bits. The game used initiative rolls for both the move sequence and the firing sequence, although the latter was overridden if conducting enfilade fire. This produced some interesting friction as no-one could predict who was going to move or fire first. Richard Brooks commented that when he played the rules in the 1960s they rapidly introduced a saving throw mechanism so the infantry survived a bit longer.

An interesting discussion arose regarding infantry lethality – rules authors such as Donald Featherstone, Lionel Tarr and Charles Grant clearly based their WW2 wargames rules on their personal wartime experience. In all their rules, infantry are vulnerable to the highest degree to every type of weapon, whereas tanks are unstoppable monsters in contrast to many more modern sets of rules where the relationship between infantry and armour is more ‘balanced'. We wondered if this was a reflection of reality in WW2, or perhaps more a reflection that if your war experience consisted of spending a lot of time underground avoiding artillery fire, mortar fire & MG fire then you would naturally rate the surviveability of infantry in the open as rather low. The appalling infantry casualties suffered in WW2 would seem to indicate that perhaps more modern rules authors tend to overrate infantry in the offensive. It could also be argued that more modern rules retrospectively apply the modern experience where man portable AT weapons are ubiquitous, and that perhaps life for an infantryman in WW2 was not so simple as ‘bring up the LAW'. The desperate tactics employed by WW2 infantry against armour in the absence of portable hollow charge weapons were very amply demonstrated by Tom Mouats session ‘Men Against Tanks'.

manchesterreg Inactive Member15 Dec 2016 8:15 a.m. PST

Lance Bombardier L A Tarr, 890036, of A Troop, No.1 Battery, 1st Airlanding Light Regiment

manchesterreg Inactive Member15 Dec 2016 10:56 a.m. PST

Lionel Tarr, was in the Battery Command Post when it was hit, killing a Royal Engineer and wounding 5 others, he suffered Shell Shock.

M C MonkeyDew15 Dec 2016 12:22 p.m. PST

Oh this brings back many fond memories. Just read them again and if the WWII bug strikes, will have a go at them again.

Brilliant rules. Simple and effective.


uglyfatbloke15 Dec 2016 2:38 p.m. PST

Manchesterreg….that was kind of you to dig up the info. As it happens I do have a battery of Pack 75s in 28mm, so maybe they'll be going to Arnhem if space can be made, but we will definitely have a game with his rules while we're there.

aph175715 Dec 2016 2:59 p.m. PST

Have you seen or got the "More Wargaming Pioneers" book from John Curry's History of Wargaming project?


It has Lionel Tarr's rules and more material on him and his wargaming activities, including the RETASOL solo campaign and Stalingrad, expanding on what was originally available in Don Featherstone's books. (Some of the commentary on the rules is from Martin's report above.)

Who asked this joker16 Dec 2016 7:51 a.m. PST

I have the Pioneers book and it mentions Mr. Tarr's experience at Arnhem. I think the rules themselves are a very solid base for a fine wargame. They don't need to be complicated to give believable results. Apparently, Mr. Tarr used them for years adding and morphing them as he played out a Russian Front campaign ending with Stalingrad.

uglyfatbloke17 Dec 2016 2:12 a.m. PST

Obliged for all your help chaps.

HistoryWargaming Inactive Member06 Jan 2017 8:53 a.m. PST

A new book by the History of Wargaming Project on Lionel Tarr will be out shortly.

M C MonkeyDew06 Jan 2017 11:23 a.m. PST

Oh that is FAB.

More than just the bits in Pioneers two then?

Keep up the great work!


HistoryWargaming Inactive Member08 Jan 2017 1:51 p.m. PST

manchesterreg I am just about to go to print with a book on Tarr, I am interested if you know any more about Tarr, I have found some background, but I am keen to know if anyone knows any more.

uglyfatbloke13 Jan 2017 1:59 p.m. PST

Interested to see that Hist.War.

manchesterreg Inactive Member14 Jan 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

Sorry only about his Arnhem career.

uglyfatbloke14 Jan 2017 6:03 p.m. PST

That would be extremely interesting to me; I'm always keen to know about Arnhem stuff and especially 1st Airlanding Light Regiment RA. Do you want to drop me a line so we cna have a chat?

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