Monday, 28 September 2015

Making Belgians

I'm not talking about Mr & Mrs Tintin, but rather using up some spare bits and bobs to make Belgian line infantry, and some Belgian heavy cavalry.
The line infantry is simple enough - British bodies and shakos with French arms and packs.

 I took a soldering iron to the lace above their waists, although, to be honest, the result is probably no better than just removing it with a sharp knife.

If anyone reading this has any spare French marching arms, please get in touch and I can buy from you, or swap for any plastic parts you're looking for.

Next up are the 2nd Carabineers. As I understand it, the 2nd Carabineers were Belgian and wore helmets while the 1st and 3rd Regiments were dutch and wore bicornes. To make these I used French dragoons with French Carabineer heads. They wore blankets (or greatcoats?) rolled over their shoulders so I made these using green stuff which turned out to be quite easy.

Belgian helmets were slightly different to these French ones in that they had a lion's head moulded to the front, but I will have to do my best to replicate this with the paintbrush.

 Maybe one day I can make some Dutch Carabineers using some of the hundreds of spare bicorne heads I have!

Each box of Perry French dragoons has only 3 elite figures with epaulettes so I bolstered these by adding epaulettes to figures, simply cutting a square into the shoulder and then adding an epaulette from a spare French flank infantry arm. I don't think this surgery will be noticable once they are all painted.

I really enjoyed making these conversions, they were a welcome distraction from the mass of 92nd Highlanders which I'm working to complete. More on that to follow.

Friday, 11 September 2015

92nd Foot (Gordon Highlanders) - reinforcements

Back to the project - finished some reinforcements to bolster the ranks of the 92nd, which are now just about complete.
I enjoyed doing this little lot despite highlanders taking so long. I've come to realise that as long as I keep doing different things, e.g. varying all the redcoats with blue jacket cavalry, Greenjacket rifles, artillery etc, I can get a lot more done, rather than facing the psychological mountain of a whole regiment of the same uniform at 1:1
Huge thanks to Steve at Victrix who sent me a huge box of "spare" Highlander sprues to help out on my project, a very kind gesture which, on my limited budget, was enormously appreciated. So, apart from a few Front Rank, these are nearly all Victrix beauties. Of the three regiments in Highland uniform at Waterloo I've put the Black Watch in square, the Camerons in firing line, and the Gordon's charging (or maybe running away from D'Erlon's columns - you decide!)

 With the regiment suffering so heavily at Quatre Bras, these 60 or so men represent more like two companies, rather than one. I had to use a panorama shot to try to get them all in one shot, hence a bit blurred!

The 92nd Foot was a regiment of enormous experience. Many of the men in the ranks in 1815 had been soldiering since the previous century.  Several had seen action as long ago as 1801 when they fought in Egypt and even more had campaigned with Sir John Moore in the Coruna campaign and then returned to the Peninsula for the rest of that war. During this time the battalion fought at Fuentes D'Onor, Vitoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes and Toulouse.

 The running officer (left) is Lieutenant Andrew Will, a Peninsula veteran, who was one of the few officers of the 92nd to survive Quatre Bras and Waterloo unwounded. Indirectly, however, this luck led to his posting, in 1819, to Jamaica where, like so many in the regiment, he died of yellow fever. The figure is a conversion, adding a Highland officer's body to the running legs from a Victrix. British Line Infantry box.

The men of the 92nd were nearly entirely Scottish, predominately from Aberdeenshire and Invernesshire, and Gaelic was often spoken instead of English. By Waterloo these seasoned veterans were growing long in the tooth -  the average age in Number 1 Company for example was 36 -  and a large proportion of those who survived the Napoleonic wars were discharged between 1815 and 1819.

In the centre of this pic is Captain Archibald Ferrier who had survived Quatre Bras but is seen here falling wounded at Waterloo. He was promoted to Major in 1818. Like Lieutenant Will above, Ferrier also died of yellow fever in Jamaica in 1819.

If I have time, I'll take some pics with these 92nd mixed in with the Scots Greys,"Scotland Forever" - though probably not with any hanging on to the stirrups, as has been famously claimed.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

French Old Guard Foot Artillery - a brief distraction

What do you do when you've got a load of plastic spares - British artillery arms, French pre-bardin bodies, and French Old Guard Grenadier heads? It occured to me the other day that, with a bit of tweaking, they might work as a battery of Old Guard Foot Artillery (at 1:1 scale, of course).
I also had some old Essex artillerymen who could be pressed into service so I set about cutting and gluing and, after lots of experimentation, and nearly cutting my thumb off at one point, I'm actually very happy with the result. Here are the 6 crews - 4 x 6-pounder guns, and 2 howitzers.

Crew 1 - the black figs are old Essex metals, everything else is Victrix plastic, with some Perry faces/heads
Crew 2 - green stuff to cover the grenadier front plate

Crew 3 -  a green stuff canonball for the loader

Crew 4 - it's hot work and the loader has taken off his bearskin

Howitzer 1 - mostly Essex figs with some Victrix arms added

Howitzer 2 

I know, of course, that Victrix have just brought out a great-looking artillery set, and I will buy the Bardin set when it comes out, but I personally get a lot of satisfaction from using up leftover bits and bobs (though Steve and Julian at Victrix are probably less keen on this practice!). 

The trickiest bit was adding a peak to the bearskins - at the beginning, I used peaks cut off from spare Victrix shakos and these worked ok (see these two examples below).  

 But then, having done over half the peaks like this, it occured to me that it would be much easier to cut off the whole lower half a head and stick that to a severed bearskin. See below:

 I also made up some extra gunners, the guys who pulled the ropes to get the guns back into position, and a couple of officers.

Now I just need some guns!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

12th Light Dragoons - Number 1 Troop

Here at last are the 72 men of Number 1 Troop of the 12th Light Dragoons.

Although Wellington had, in general,  a low opinion of British cavalry he made an exception of the 12th Light Dragoons who he felt, under the able command of Fred Ponsonby, could be trusted to stop when required and not go galloping off in all directions. Ironically, it would be the 12th who, of all the British light cavalry,  showed most impetuosity at Waterloo and displayed exactly those bad tendencies upon which Wellington frowned.

 The 12th were an experienced Peninsula regiment having seen action at Salamanca, Vitoria, Nivelle and Nive, with a few men even having served as far back as Egypt in 1801.

The Regiment was a mix of Scottish (particularly from Lanarkshire), Irish (particularly from Clones), and English (particularly from Leicestershire). 
The regiment had a nominal strength of 436 men at Waterloo, divided into six Troops, although with typically around 15-20% of any cavalry regiment left in the rear echelon, the number of men actually drawing their sabres on 18th June would probably have been nearer to 60 men per Troop.

 Number 1 Troop was commanded by Captain Edwin W.T. Sandys who died of wounds received in the battle. A further 8 men of Sandys' Troop lost their lives - Troop Serjeant Major Robert Neilson, Serjeant James Kirby, Corporal William Marsh, and Privates Daniel Murphy, Hugh Denneghan, Jeremiah Hickey, and John Glass.


 The only other officer in Number 1 Troop was Lieutenant John Vandeleur, the son of Sir John Ormsby Vandeleur, commander of the brigade. ieutenant Vandeleur had served in the Peninsula, initially with the 71st (Highland Light Infantry) before transferring into the 12th Light Dragoons.  He later commanded the 10th Hussars and received an MGS with 5 clasps.


Regimental Serjeant Major Carruthers led the troop in the clash with the French lancers at Waterloo,
“…the first lancer came bravely on and the gallant Serjeant Major resolved to grapple with him single-handed…The lunge of the Frenchman was dextrously parried and the sabre in an instant thrust through his body.”
He was commissioned on 26th October although by the end of the following year his name was on the half-pay list.

The commander of the 12th, Lieutenant-Colonel ‘Fred’ Ponsonby, was wounded on the French ridge, up amongst their guns, having fallen “into the same error which we went down to correct” – that is, having got carried away and gone charging off instead of forming up and maintaining discipline. His account of the ordeal that followed is often recounted in Waterloo books. 

While lying on the ground he was skewered through the back by a passing lancer and blood gushed into his mouth. 

 Fred Ponsonby recovered from his wounds despite the best efforts of Assistant-Surgeon Smith who bled him continually, and lived until 1837. He married Emily, the daughter of Lord Bathhurst, in 1825 and had three daughters and three sons, one of which served in the Crimea and was private secretary to Queen Victoria.

This is yet another fantastic set from the Perrys, beautiful clean castings and the mountain of surplus pieces offers wonderful opportunities for conversions. They were certainly easier to paint than the hussars - no pelisse, no intricate lace on the chest and cuffs, although I found the shakos quite tricky to get right. My basing seems to be getting worse, and something needs to be done. I've been reading about DIY static grass applicators and I might try and give that a go.

Next up is a troop of the 23rd Light Dragoons (pink facings!) - but I might have a little break first.  Perhaps a company or two of highlanders for a "relaxing" change.