“What would you do ?” used to figure on the cover of a boys’ comic called “Boys’ World”. This was a publication, obviously, aimed at boys and first appeared on January 26th 1963. There were 89 issues before the comic was merged with Eagle in 1964. The last issue of “Boys’ World” came out on October 3rd 1964.
I used to buy “Boys’ World”, and this was mainly for the front cover which always featured a kind of puzzle. It was called “What would you do ?” and was based on somebody being in what Ned Flanders would call “A dilly of a pickle”. Here’s the situation:
The yellow box sets the scene, and the task is for you to solve the situation. Perhaps you might like to write your idea in the “Comments” section.
Here’s the yellow box enlarged:
So…..it’s one “dilly of a pickle”. The Roman army is at the gates of a fortified town, trying to batter their way in. The inhabitants of the town are throwing copious quantities of rocks on top of them, and firing arrows and throwing spears. The Romans are driven back time after time. They have no choice, though, but to capture the gates since this is the only way to get in and capture the town. How can they do it, when they are within easy range of the defenders’ missiles?
Bonus marks, incidentally, for anybody who knows who Frank Worrell or Ted Dexter were, and why were they featured in the comic?
27 responses to “What would you do ? (17) The Puzzle”
Didn’t the Romans use a technique which involved interlocking their shields into what was called a testudo? It might work, but the construction of a wheeled shed under which the Romans might shelter from the enemy’s rocks, etc., might be better.
Yes, they did have the “testudo” but I like your idea even more. It’s very smart.
A number options are available to the great warriors here (edging my bets!). A covering (shields were often used) or wooden topped vehicle with a battering ram attached. Alternatively, using a large catapult, of which various models were available to the invaders. Failing that, a very long stick! As for your two celebrities I’m afraid I don’t know (I did admittedly have to Google them to find out).
I think your covered battering ram and catapult are both excellent ideas. And don’t worry about the two celebrities. I bet you are far too young to have heard of them. Sadly, I am not!
Thank you John. I feel it’s more a lack of cricketing interest than age though, I’m afraid that’s moving on faster than I care to think about!
I have an idea that they used a wheeled shelter of some sort. The two cricketers were captains in the England/West Indies series of 1963
I don’t know if there were any wheels, but there was certainly a shelter. You are 100% right about the cricketers. I was 9-10 years old during the series and I was fascinated by the West Indies’ players exotic names….Basil Butcher, Conrad Hunte, Seymour Nurse, Lance Gibbs and Rohan Kanhai.
To dig a tunnel to bring down one of the walls?
Not the answer, I’m afraid, although bringing down a wall was one of the standard methods of getting into a castle up to and including the fifteenth century. The only way to beat this strategy was to build a castle with curved walls and no right angles, the castles’ corners being the besiegers’ first method of attack.
I was thinking some strategy very close to the gates so the debris couldn’t hit them?
Absolutely 100% true, as far as it goes. All you need now is to work out how the Romans avoided being hit on their way to that position, and how the Romans standing furthest from the gates were protected.
Gee, is THAT all?
Well, it might be more entertaimning tham TV !!
The solution has to have something to do with the shield defence but did the Romans ever come up against a fortress quite like that?
Frank Worrell and Ted Dexter were cricket captains of West Indies and England in the 1963 test match series played in England. West Indies won the series 3-1, their second series win in England following their first in 1959.
You are right. The solution does involve shields although it doesn’t depend on the type of fortress it was. I would guess that if they conquered so much of the known world, they must have come up against fortresses of every design during that period.
The Testudo as long as the rocks aren’t boulders.
100% correct, well done! To be honest, I share your doubts about whether the shields could stand boulders up to, say, 200lb, dropped from a great height. I suppose, though, that we just have to go along with the official solution.
How would they get 200 lb boulders up to the top anyway?
Fair point! When were cranes invented? Probably after the Romans, I suppose.
The Greeks, I think.
The Romans were excellent in finding ways to defeat their enemies. Thank the gods they didn’t have to count on me for a solution 🙂 I remember Frank Worrell. He was a Barbadian cricketer who became the captain of the West Indies Cricket Team. I don’t recall Ted Dexter.
You are absolutely correct about Frank Worrell, whose West Indies team toured England in 1963. Players from Guyana included Basil Butcher and Rohan Kanhai.
Ted Dexter was the captain of England who were totally outclassed and easily beaten by the Wesy Indies.
Finally, I think you are safe now. The chances of a Roman general ever asking you for advice about how to conduct a battle or a siege must be minimal, given that you live in California in the 21st century.
The Romans built a roof over a battering ram that was on wheels. The roof material protected the men pushing the ram from arrows and most things you could throw by hand. Also, if I recall correctly, the Romans did have a design of a catapult that could be used to hit the door and those on the battlements doing the throwing of things.
Personally, this a situation where I’d call in an air strike and only charge in after the walls had lots of holes and the defenders were taking cover. Now if the air force wasn’t available, a few howitzers and mortars would do the trick …
The Romans were famous for their shielding abilities. They must have figured out a way to advance by covering themselves with interlocking shields. That’s what comes to my mind.
And that is more or less the correct answer, Amy. Well done!
I suppose that you’re right there, Lakshmi. It was a different era, well over two thousand years ago.