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.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

A missed Perry plastics!

I started this project in 2010 with the aim of representing each of the 31,500 British soldiers (and god knows how many horses, cannons, wagons etc.) at Waterloo in 28mm. Realistically, I would need several lifetimes to achieve this hasn't stoppped me from trying.

I had planned to get something special ready for the 200th anniversary but various factors combined to mean I have done no painting since March. Representing every British soldier at Waterloo with a 28mm figure originally came from my other loony pursuit which has been researching those men and compiling a database listing all 31,000 by company and troop and collating as much info on each man - birthplace, birthdate, profession, dates of enlistment and discharge, wounds, etc. This has been done over 15 years, and has involved countless trips to the Public Record Office in Kew.
Originally, I thought it would be fun to make a whole company in miniature and label the underside of the base with the actual individual's name. This then ballooned into maybe doing a whole battalion...and so on.

The main reason that I've done no painting since March has been due to spending more time with the research and trying to put a website together in time for June 18th. This is now up at - it offers a series of booklets by county and regiment (to follow soon), a look up service for researchers, and a complete list of the British soldiers who lost their lives at Waterloo - the first time this has been done, as far as I know.

An extract of the database that contains details of 31,500 Waterloo Men, listed by company and troop
The first county booket is already on sale, I've been on Northants radio and in the papers, and the second publication (Leicestershire) will be ready soon. But I'm already missing the painting project and the itch to get back to my brushes has this week been exacerbated by the release of more fantastic Perry plastics; this time British Light Dragoons.
Before plastics came along, the idea of doing all 31,500 men had always been a pipe dream - but Victrix, Perry and Warlord have made the impossible seem more feasible (though I will still need to sell a kidney to buy all the figures I need, never mind find the time to paint them all).

But why let reality get in the way? My first five boxes of Light Dragoons arrived on Friday and I spent this morning cutting the figs off the sprues and assembling the horses.

They are lovely figs, as all the Perry boxes are, but this set is even more generous as it contains different legs, torsos and heads to make different periods of uniform. While I actually hate doing all the painting - I LOVE assembling the figs - especially doing conversions - and trying to come up with new Frankenstein creations. Hence my excitement on looking at this set and seeing the spare torsos and the potential for some creativity - Royal Horse Artillery?

I recently had a stocktake of my British artillery - accrued bit by bit over the last 15 years - and found I had actually got TOO MANY Royal Artillery! There were five batteries in action at Waterloo but I have somehow collected enough guns and men (thank you Victrix) for at least six! Oh well, the surplus gunners will have to be Cleve's KGL battery.
However, the rollcall of the Royal Horse Artillery was far less healthy - I had only enough gunners and limbers etc for 1 battery of 6 guns. So, on looking at the pre-1812 uniform and Tarleton helmet of the new Light Dragoon plastics I felt there might be a nice (cheaper!) option to bulk up this number. I found some spare bodies and arms from other sets and set to work.

Here then are the fruits of today's tinkering: some drivers, gunners, and horse holders.


Horse holders
They still need some tidying up but I'm quite pleased with them.

Hopefully there will be less of a delay before the next update on this blog - if only real life didn't get so in the way...

p.s. here are some more conversions - this time a hussar orderly watering the horses!, a mounted Rifles officer, and two standing light dragoons - an officer and a bareheaded orderly serjeant.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

28th (North Gloucestershire) Foot complete

Here at last are the 28th Foot - part of Kempt's brigade at Waterloo and somewhat bandaged and bruised after Quatre Bras two days earlier. I've been working on these since mid-January, still a few bits to tidy up - I need flags, for example, and a whole load of drummers are still unpainted, but for now The Slashers are going away in the shed to make way for the next regiment.
As you can see, the firing line was too long for any table I could find so they have had to be photographed in double line. Light company skirmishing out front.

At Waterloo the regiment was moved up to the hedge to meet D’Erlon’s attack and spied through the smoke a French column in the process of deploying into line. Struggling through the tangle of the hedge the 28th poured a volley into the French before charging into the smoke in pursuit. 

As they advanced another column came into view, which through the gloom, several officers identified mistakenly as Belgian. These offiers began calling out “Don’t fire! They are Belgians!” but the mistake was soon realised when the “Belgians” suddenly turned on their heels and made good their escape. The regiment then returned to their original position where they remained for the rest of the battle.

The 28th was yet another veteran battalion, its ranks filled with old soldiers from the Peninsula campaigns. Many of the men carried the scars of wounds from Peninsula battles particularly from Albuhera in 1811 where the Regiment had been famously cut up after being caught out of square by French lancers. 

 The regiment was commanded by Colonel Charles Philip Belson but, on Kempt being wounded at Waterloo, Belson took over the Brigade and Lt-Colonel Robert Nixon assumed command of the 28th.  Nixon was then wounded around 6.30pm and was replaced by Captain Kelly  until he too was wounded.  Captain Caddell then took over and commanded to the close of the battle.

A large number of the men had started their army careers serving a year or so in the militia between 1803-06 before being transferred into the 28th. The average period of service already served by men of this regiment in 1815 was therefore a seasoned 10 years.  The average age was over 30 with several men being in their forties and fifties.  Private Thomas Kendall in Number 9 Company was 58.

 Men of Number 6 Company - with a nominal strength of 66 (pre-Quatre Bras) it suffered 24 casualties over the 3 days (36%). Among the twelve wounded was Private Richard Penny. From Culmstock in Devon he had enlisted in 1804, served in the Coruna campaign, and returned to the Peninsula where he saw action at Barrosa, Vitoria, the Pyrenees and Nive. He was discharged in 1823 aged 37 and lived to collect his MGS.

Pity poor Private James Murphy. Aged 22 at Waterloo he was shot through the thigh. By 22nd July it was deemed necessary to operate on his leg and the operation was carried out by Staff Surgeon Cole. By the following day, however, his condition had worsened and the leg was amputated. He died 2½ hours after the amputation. 

Here Private John Connors of Number 5 company is hit in the shoulder. From Doonaderry, Down, he had enlisted in 1812 aged 23. He survived his Waterloo wound but was discharged. Next to him stands young Ensign James Simkins who found himself commanding the company after both senior officers were wounded - Captain Thomas English was later awarded £191-12-6 for his Waterloo wound while Lieutenant George Ingram bled to death following the amputation of his leg having been been hit by a cannonball.

The predominant accents heard in the ranks were Irish (47%) and West Country  (42 % of the battalion hailing from the counties of Devon, Somerset and Cornwall).