A SHORT HISTORY
The Hong Kong Society of Wargamers was founded in October 1980, by a group of stalwarts who came to be known as the Founding Members. They had two things in common, a wish to wargame and Police Messes. The Founding Members (FM) were Pete Summers, Ken Lloyd, David Russell, Chris Briggs, Peter Hunt, Bill McIntyre and Ken Davey. They first met to wargame at the flat of Peter Hunt, a second meeting followed swiftly after and was held at the Bugs Retreat, Mong Kok Police Station Officers Mess. The Bugs Retreat named, after their tents, by ex-soldiers who had served in the Malaysian Campaign, made a fitting venue. In the following months the group expanded and a need for venues with greater table space was required. The HKSW's first real home was the China Fleet Club, which provided the necessities of wargaming, a large function room and bars serving cheap beer. A move to the Mariners Club followed where the club stayed for sometime before higher rents drove us to the then Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Officers Mess. We stayed until the building was sadly demolished whereupon, after a short interval of holding meetings at the Jardine Staff Club in Quarry Bay, we took up 'residence' at our current venue of the Hong Kong Police Senior Officers Mess, Arsenal Street, Wanchai.
Hong Kong is transient by nature and a large number of members have come and gone over the years, many of them now members of other clubs around the world. The list of members is as complete as our records will allow (please advise any corrections); whilst some joined and stayed for only a short period of time, many contributed much in the time they were members and are sorely missed. Only Peter Hunt, the current Treasurer, remains as a Founding Member, Jeff Herbert and Andrzej Cierpicki come a close second and third. A number have left the club and remain in Hong Kong, but appear to either have lost interest in wargaming or have other more demanding interests to pursue. Others have been wooed away by Games Workshop whose games have a well established following locally and although a number of our current members enjoy the various Games Workshop activities, the bulk of the interest is in historical wargames. We are, however, very glad to say few have ever left in a huff and only one person has been 'expelled', although even that was technical, as he hadn't paid his subs!
Since its inception the club has been dedicated to the pursuit of fun and, apart from some in-house competitions in the early days, little has been done in the way of competitive wargaming. The reason for this is probably our relative isolation and the fact that, at any one time, we have a small hard core membership, a handful of enthusiasts and those for whom wargaming is of a lower priority than other activities. Also, Hong Kong by its nature tends to be very competitive so gaming for fun provides for much needed stress relief.
We wargame almost anything, from the ancient period through to modern, with one of the recent hits being Darkest Africa, more members have figures for this than any other period, although WWI aeroplanes and Napoleonic ships are not far behind. The Russian Civil War has also recently gained a following. Figures are the main interest, particularly at meetings, but most also play board games, with a handful playing virtually nothing else.
The HKSW is a registered society and would have been called, "The Hong Kong Wargames Society", except this already existed under the leadership of Nim White, who at that time was gaming with fantasy figures. Nim later joined us and his group were never registered but when he left Hong Kong he donated a splendid Silver Rose Bowl as the Nim White Napoleonic Trophy. Many people have added to the colour of the club over the years and some put in considerable effort, particularly in the early days. Despatches, which was the club magazine, was quite a production and provided for the need created by the void of wargaming material. With the advent of the popular wargame magazines, Despatches gradually fell into decline, but thanks must go to people like John Cartwright and Ken Lloyd for their early efforts. John was a very prolific wargamer and even went as far as buying and bringing into Hong Kong some ancient armies to get the club going. Ken Lloyd with Pete Summers set up Hong Kong's first dedicated (albeit short-lived) wargames shop, which declined, not so much through lack of demand, but because it was hard to staff. Ken Lloyd had, and presumably still does have an excellent Late Roman 25 mm Army.
Our doors are open to all, although, unlike in the past, we have no junior members at the moment. Most of the younger generation have gone in the direction of Games Workshop who have attracted a dedicated following.
1997, saw big changes in our membership with many sadly leaving. This included some who worked in local Government and those just purely emigrating. It also shut the door to the intermittent flow of recruits from the British Armed Forces who were undertaking their tour of duty here. These latter gentlemen had always been a welcome addition to the club tending to be very active gamers with good collections, and we did on one occasion stage the Battle of Leipzig at the Osborne Barracks, an event held over two days. Membership dwindled to less than 20 in the late 1990's but has since risen to a very healthy membership of over 70 keen wargamers.
We have three venues at present and two of these are chosen on a monthly basis for club meetings (please check the website and/or forum regularly to see where meetings will be held).
The three venues are:
(i) Senior Police Officer's Mess, 6/F Police Headquarters, Arsenal Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong island;
(ii) 6th floor of the KITEC Centre, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon.
(iii) Room 2A, Youth Outreach, Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong island
Short-term visitors to Hong Kong are not charged and will be made welcome but otherwise our rule for residents is, first time free, second time must join; our annual subs are HK$300 for newly joining members who receive a complimentary HKSW sports shirt - tastefully done in black and featuring our hoplite logo, picked out in silver thread. Every wargamer should have one! Membership renewal is a bargain HK$220. Attendees are charged a further HK$80 per meeting, this includes for the cost of the venues and sandwiches provided free at the Police Mess (there is waiter service for food at the KITEC venue); both venues have a reasonably priced cash bar.