Phil was born at Paignton in Devon on 5th November 1932 (an
appropriate date you might think). In 1936, he was moved reluctantly to
Birmingham when his father (who had retired from the navy as a Petty Officer
after 22 years service and had tried several short-term jobs such as running
speed boats from Torquay Pier and walking lion cubs on a lead for Chipperfields
Circus) took a job as a postman. Three years later at the outbreak of the Second
World War, his father was called up again, sailed on the last through Malta Convoy
and on to Egypt in HMS Cleopatra, where he helped prepare the demolishion of the
Alexandria docks during the "great flap". He spent the rest of the war in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Phil was educated at Kings Norton Grammar School. On leaving in 1950, he worked for a short while as a trainee librarian and then enlisted in the Royal Engineers. He served as a regular for three years, training as a field engineer and then as an assault engineer in Churchill AVRE. After leaving the army, he trained in Work Study and finished in a motor industry Operations Research department, becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engioneers. During this time, he also served as an infantryman in a cadre territorial battalion of the Royal Warwicks until it disbanded. (Later he became probably the only ex-sergeant to have given lectures both at Sandhurst and at the Russian Artillery Institute in Leningrad.)
In the 1960s, he started riding (training under the great John Tilke, technical adviser on instruction to the British Horse Society) and competed on his own horse (Sheila) in cross-country events. He took up wargaming after reading Don Featherstone's book and for many years his regular opponent was Tony Bath. Tony lived in Southampton which meant a drive of 130 miles to meet and play games. He joined the Society of Ancients when it was formed and became, at various times, Secretary, Wargames Competition Organiser, President and finally one of the Life Vice Presidents.
Phil played for Birmingham in the Napoleonic period in the first National Wargames Convention in Southampton and then played in the Ancient period at the London National Convention the next year. This resulted in the formation of Wargames Research Group with "BOB" O'Brien and Ed Smith.
He met Sue Laflin (a lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Birmingham) through their interest in English Folk Dance and Song. They were married in December 1969. Shortly after this, Phil became a full-time author.
Phil has been chief umpire at National Wargames Championships in Britain, America, Australia and New Zealand. Phil and Sue have travelled widely across America and have visited Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, Syria, Jordan, L:ibya, Tunisia, the Caribbean, Chile and Argentine. By sea they have crossed the line, rounded Cape Horn, crossed the Atlantic, and sailed the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the "roaring forties" in the Pacific.
He has written wargames rules and army-list books for all eras except 1917-1925. also two books in the "Armies and Enemies" series for Wargames Research Group and three books for other publishers. Apart from his books, he has acted as a consultant for the American and Canadian armies and, more recently and extensively, for the British Ministry of Defence.
Phil believes that a good rule set should call for the talents of a general rather than those of an accountant and should produce a game that is fast-moving, visually and historically realistic and exciting for both players and spectators.