Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Happy Waterloo Day - some Belgians

I don't like posting pics of unfinished figures but it's Waterloo Day and I felt like I should post something. The only thing close to being finished are these Belgian line infantry. Still some tidying up and bits to do - canteen straps etc - but they're coming along.

More to follow soon, hopefully.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Brunswick Light Infantry 1st Battalion

Continuing the new non-British European slant, here is a company of Brunswickers from the 1st Light Battalion, presumably fighting somewhere in or around Hougoumont.

The first Light Battalion saw action at Quatre Bras (hence the odd bangaged head above) and at Wateloo were grouped with the Avant Garde and the Leib Battalion in the defence of Hougoumont. 

I'm not certain that this battalion's exact role in the battle is known but Osprey's Brunswick Troops 1809-1815 gives casualty figs of 6 killed, 31 wounded, 34 missing. This is much lower than the other Brunswick light and line battalions, so they were presumably either not heavily engaged or were protected from the worst of the French artillery bombardment by being stationed within the farm complex. 

Figs are a mix of Perry metals and plastic conversions. 

Friday, 29 March 2019

25ème Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne

Many years ago I used to go and watch comedian Al Murray do his hilarious Pub Landlord show. 

That joke isn't funny anymore
That character - a moronic Little Englander who loathed the EU and all things foreign, who wallowed in all the hilarious cliches of a once Great Britain, harping back to Lancaster bombers and the glorious Few while, himself, having never done anything more heroic than open another packet of crisps and pour another pint - was extremely amusing at the time. That was because, in those days (around 2000-2006), such a character was a dying breed, pathetically clinging to the 1970s when such casual bigotry, sexism and boorish nationalism were commonplace. It was very funny watching Murray putting the boot into this stereotype as we watched that generation and mindset slowly die out. 

But how wrong we were. Fast forward to 2016 and I am sure I am not alone in finding it difficult to laugh at Murray's old routine. His character's tiny-minded, isolationist, "let's-get-back-to-the-good-ol-days" brand of xenophobia has somehow triumphed in real life and, thanks to the dripfeed of lies and vitriol from the likes of The Daily Mail, The Express and The Sun, the nation is about to commit economic suicide so that Rupert Murdoch and a handful of other billionaires with vested interests can finally be freed of the shackles of EU regulation. A poll pre-2016 showed that 0.4% of the population rated the UK's relationship with the EU as their key political concern (the NHS and education were top) yet somewhere here we now are, hurtling down this road towards this ludicrous clifftop.

I spent almost a decade of my life living and working in various European countries. It was a wonderful experience that really broadened my mind and it sickens me to think that the younger generation will be denied that freedom to be part of that community, to just catch a train to a new country and start work there the next day, and to live there for as long as they wish without having to get visas or go through the rigours of applying for citizenship. And for what? Who will benefit? Trump and Putin want Brexit, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg want Brexit, Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre want Brexit. Madness. I feel ashamed when I talk to my European friends who live in the UK, that they have gone through these two years of uncertainty and fear, that they have been made to feel unwelcome. Unsurprisingly, they all now talk of leaving the UK, their home, and that makes me so angry. My friends will be gone and instead I will be left with the smirking face of Farage.

It probably seems silly, but in the same way that Al Murray is probably having to radically rethink his career and his past views on xenophobia and nationalism, so my own trivial little project - representing every soldier in the British Army at Waterloo, has given me pause for thought. As a boy, all the books I read on Waterloo were extremely Anglocentric - if the Dutch-Belgians were mentioned at all it was only to describe their cowardice in fleeing the battlefield at the commencement and never being seen again. Mercer's line about Brunswick squares looking shaky was de rigour in every 1960s/1970s account. There was scant mention of the KGL and the British Guards held Hougoumont alone. Happily, this has now been set right and my shelves are full of excellent books that give a much broader and less jingoistic account of the battle. 
My focus on ONLY researching the British Army never had any patriotic element - I have always been interested in the story of the forgotten "unimportant" man in history, the lowly Private in the ranks, rather than the Wellingtons and Napoleons. If records existed for other nations as they do for the British army and were also kept a short train journey away at Kew in west London, then I would have been just as interested in researching those other countries' records. 
All of this has been irrelevant until 2016 but since then all of my endless ranks of redcoats and fluttering Union Jacks have started to leave a slightly bad taste in my mouth. So, for the last few months I've been working on my first French regiment 1-to-1 scale to be ready for 29th March 2019, the date that the UK was originally scheduled to leave the European Union. The next few posts will be pictures of thee Dutch, Belgians, and Germans that I am currently working on. 

Here then is the 25ème Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne - part of Marcognet's 3rd Division. My plan now is to (one day!) do the rest of this Division to represent it in its attack on Wellington's line. This formation advanced with each of its eight battalions in line, forming one huge column. Unfortunately, my garden table is not long enough to fit on even this one battalion when extended into line, so most of these pics show the battalion advancing in the more traditional column. The next battalion I do will be in greatcoats (much quicker!)

Grenadier compagnie

Grenadier compagnie

Voltiguer compagnie

Voltiguer compagnie

1ere Compagnie

1ere Compagnie

2eme Compagnie

3eme Compagnie

The figs are nearly all Perry plastics, bolstered by a few Perry metals and Calpe and Victrix officers. The mounted Colonel and adjutant didn't make the deadline! They're nearly finished and will be added soon.
One small obstacle was finding enough Sergeants - although Perry and Calpe make some (with musket carried in right arm), they were either with discs (not pompoms) or in greatcoats. So, I set about trying to make some conversions:


Some of them I really like, some of them are a bit rough and ready! The guys in gaiters make me smile, they remind me of the Airfix French that started me off all those years ago.

And finally some corporals

Flank company corporals

Centre company corporals
So that brings me to the end of this rather atypical post. I generally paint toy soldiers to get away from the depressing aspects of the world so I won't use this blog to rant again. Hopefully, you can forgive this one-off outburst and enjoy these pics! 

Monday, 18 June 2018

1st Dragoons - Happy Waterloo Day!

Happy Waterloo Day!

Here are 90 men of the 1st (Royal) Dragoons, mostly of Methuen's No.7 or "D" Troop. I have hurried to get these finished in time for 18th June so there are tons of little errors and imperfections, mostly chips on the painted metal - I find metals 100% more troublesome than plastics - which I will need to go back and tidy up.

The 1st (Royal Dragoons) were the "English" part of the Union Brigade - the 2nd Dragoons being, of course, the Scots Greys, and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons being predominantly Irish.

 The Regiment had a nominal strength of 444 but this would have meant a maximum of around 380 sabres on the field. These men formed 6 Troops which were then paired together to form 3 Squadrons. 96 men were killed or died of wounds. A further 69 men are known to have been wounded but records are incomplete and this number can probably be doubled.

The 1st Dragoons, or Royals, was the only regiment of the Union Brigade to have had recent experience of warfare. The Regiment had served in the Peninsula at Fuentes D'Onor, Vitoria and Toulouse and the majority of men at Waterloo had served in at least one of those battles.

The Regiment was on the right flank of the Brigade’s charge and became intermingled with the left flank of the Household Brigade (the 2nd Life Guards). The column at which they charged was under the command of Bourgois and consisted of the 105th Line (whose Eagle they captured) and the 28th Line.

The Regiment was overwhelmingly English – the ratio being 92% of English origin with the remainder mainly from Scotland and Wales. The men came from a broad range of counties but the most common were Lancashire -15%, Wiltshire -13% and Staffordshire (mostly Birmingham) -  11%.  Curiously, the five men from Shropshire – Corporal Williams and Privates Bevin, Clarke, James and Turton – were all killed .

There were few youths in the Regiment – the average age was 31 with 92% of the men being aged 25 or over. A large number of men had enlisted in 1804 and a similarly large number would be discharged in the year 1821 when the Regiment was reduced.

Here was see 10 men of Methuen's Troop - (front row, left to right) Private William Dance (killed), Private William Galliford (killed), Private Joseph Wadham - a veteran of Fuentes D'Onor, Vitoria and Toulose, promoted to Corporal after Waterloo, Private William Wiles - enlisted in 1799, from Thatcham, Berks, aged 37 at Waterloo, Private John Bilsborough - another Peninsula veteran, from Churchstone, Lancs. Lived to see the unveiling of Wellington monument in Manchester in 1856.

(back row, left to right) - Trumpeter John Webb - from Essex, enlisted in 1804. Survived Waterloo only to be Court Martialed two weeks later for unsoldierlike conduct in having in his possession a watch supposed stolen from Private John Rains.  He was sentenced to 200 lashes and received 197. Lieutenant Samuel Windowe (wounded) - promoted to Captain in 1822, Corporal William Tate (killed) - from Halifax, Private Joseph Townrow (killed) - from Suffolk, Private John Rains - from Yatton, Somerset.

Serjeant William Grant (in the front rank above) was from Westbury, Wiltshire and had enlisted in 1804. He saw action in the Peninsula and survived Waterloo, being discharged in 1821 aged 35. He lived to collect his MGS medal in 1848, with clasps for Fuentes D'Onor, Vitoria, and Toulouse.

These 90 figs are all old Perry Foundry, picked up bit by bit from Ebay over the last 20 years. I think my long campaign to persuade Alan and Michael Perry to do a box of plastic British heavy cavalry has been unsuccessful so I guess that, at the above rate, it will be another 20 years before I get to do the next 90 men of the Union Brigade!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

23rd Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers)

Here are 90 men of the Royal Welch, part of a square of the whole regiment I have been working on.

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers was a battle-hardened regiment whose battle honours included Coruna, Martinique, Albuera, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vitoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes and Toulouse. Amongst those men who lived to receive their MGS medals in 1848 claims for 10 or more clasps were not uncommon.

Despite their heritage, this “Welsh” regiment contained twice as many Englishmen as Welshmen. The known places of origin amount to as follows:
English   407
Welsh     190
Irish         62
Scots         5
Other         2

When Byng’s Guards moved forward to reinforce Hougoumont their place in the line was taken by the 23rd who formed square.  The regiment remained in this position all day sustaining repeated cavalry attack and one infantry advance.

Obscured from view here (his pike is just visable from the rear rank) is Serjeant Ingham, from Kenyon, Lancs who had enlisted in 1807 aged 23.  He served in the Peninsula and during the storming of Badajoz carried the wounded Major General Colville from the breach. So began a cycle of promotion and reduction (he was demoted to Private at least three times) which lasted over his 20 years service.

Here was can see Lieutenant Harry Palmer.giving orders in the midst of the ranks. He was born circa 1793, the son of a reverend in County Longford and commissioned in 1808. Upon quitting the army in 1819 he followed his father, and grandfather, into the church.  He was posted as a chaplain to the colony in Freetown, in Sierra Leone where he soon died aged 30 leaving a young widow.

In the foreground the wounded man is Private James Brockley, from Manchester, who served 26 years in the Regiment.  By Waterloo he was a veteran of six Peninsula battles and had been wounded in the shoulder at Badajoz. At Waterloo he was wounded again, this time in the leg, but continued to served until 1836.  His conduct on discharge was listed as “excellent”.  He never married and, in 1861, became an In-Pensioner at Chelsea.