Thursday 28 April 2011

Lord Cardigan & his Cherrybums

James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan as portrayed by Wargames Foundry.

The man himself

As portrayed by Trevor Howard

Forward, my Cherrybums!

I see that blasted war photographer has been up to his old tricks!

I'm ready for my close up, Mr. Fenton

It seems to me that from time to time our world media seizes upon a phrase and universally starts to use it as if it has always been so.  Most recently I refer to the term 'embedded' used in conjunction with news correspondents that have been attached to military units as in the current conflict in Afghanistan.  This, of course, is nothing new as I have found whilst bumbling through the history books doing background research for my 'Charge of the Light Brigade' project, two names frequently surface that of William Howard Russell and Roger Fenton.  Russell, an Irishman and the Times' best reporter accompanied the British forces to the Crimea when Britain and France declared war on Russia in 1854.  However as we now know things did not go according to plan;  the ill fated charge of the Light Brigade, poor medical provisions for the wounded, a lack of essentials including food and clothing for the troops.  All of these Russell would report upon and in most cases the Times would print his observations.  This would start to sway the public opinion of the war in Britain and this ground swell of anti war sentiment was partly responsible for Fenton's entry into the conflict.  Prince Albert realised that some form of counter propaganda was required and that by using a medium that 'never lied' surely was the answer.  Fenton was one of the founders of Royal Photographic Society but his brief for the Crimea was clear;  although he saw the half buried skeletons of members of the Light Brigade he did not unpack his camera, no dead bodies to be shown.   Fenton does however provide us with invaluable glimpses of uniforms and personalities and surely deserves the mantle of the first war photographer.

Self Portrait
Roger Fenton 1852

Roger Fenton travelled with his assistant Marcus Sparling using a wagon as an improvised studio and darkroom.  He would take in the region of 360 photographs documenting the 'acceptable' face of war.

Assistant on Photographic Van
Roger Fenton 1855
Cornet Henry Wilkin, 11th Hussars
Roger Fenton 1855
In order to have my very own war photographer I've picked up this miniature from Bicorne Miniatures 'War Artists' series.  I wasn't sure, when the model arrived, that it was going to be suitable as the casting seemed to be a little unresolved in places.  However after a little web based research in order to give me a few painting ideas the resulting figure was produced.  Although very little use when it comes to game play, I'm hopeful that my little friend here will bring a little period quality to some of my future posts.

Brothers in Arms

These mist covered mountains are a home now for me...

No I mustn't!!!  This is not supposed to be a post about the 1985 Dire Straits classic that is now reverberating around my mind.  Instead it was meant to be a very brief post showcasing this tremendous duo that has just rolled of the painting table.  I should add tremendous in its sculpting and not painting.  This represents the first figure of yet another distraction, this time 'The Thin Red Streak'.  The figures are from Great War Miniatures' Crimean range and are available in the UK through Northstar Military Figures.

Through these fields of destruction, baptisms of fire...

Ahhh, make it stop!!!  First observations are that these really are tremendous figures; there is a real sense of quality in the casting and wonderful attention to detail in the character pack.  I have to admit to being a little apprehensive regarding the amount of tartan painting this is going to involve but fortunately I have had a little help.

credit to

Well it made me chuckle, in all seriousness I was alerted to a wonderful post in the Gentlemans Wargames Parlour regarding a wonderful link that was just perfect for this project.  Toy Soldier on line gallery gives a wonderful step by step guide to achieving the tartan of your choice.  So far I have only had to tackle the 'Government' or 42nd Tartan as it is known.  I 'm reasonably pleased with the results but one tip from me would be to do the thin black lines at the end and then use the thinnest brush you have with undiluted black ink as opposed to paint.

I've witnessed your suffering as the battle raged higher...

I can't help thinking that it may have easier to have painted the miniature before assembling the two pieces together but from the point of view of being a test piece I'm pleased with the results; just another twenty eight to do.

We're fools to make war on our brothers in arms

Mutineer Miniatures' Sepoys

These 'delightful' chaps have been sitting in the painting queue for far too long and it wasn't until I actually saw them in the flesh on the Mutineer Miniatures' stand at 'Salute' that I decided to give them a go.

I'm now wishing that I hadn't waited so long as they were a delight to paint and really came up well.  I decided not to emblazon their regimental number on the white covered Kilmarnock cap choosing instead to  use a single colour, in this case yellow, to indicate regiment.  Ultimately this gives me a little more time to decide where my force came from.  The yellow facings here could represent a number of Bengal Native Infantry regiments as follows:

1st - Mutinied at Cawpaore
2nd - Disarmed or disbanded at Barrackpore
3rd - Mutinied at Phillour and Loodinah
4th - Disarmed or disbanded at Nurpur and Hoshiarpore
8th - Mutinied at Dinapore
18th - Mutinied at Bareilly
21st - Mutinied at Peshawar
36th - Mutinied at Jullundur
37th - Partially mutinied at Benares
41st - Mutinied at Sitapore and Mullaon
42nd - Partially mutinied at Saugor
47th - Disarmed or disbanded  at Mirzapore
48th - Partially mutinied at Lucknow
53rd - Mutinied at Cawnpore
54th - Mutinied at Delhi
61st - Mutinied at Jullundur
62nd - Disarmed or disbanded at Multan
63rd - Disarmed or disbanded at Berhampore
64th - Disarmed or disbanded at Fort Mackeson and Peshawar
65th - Disarmed or disbanded at Ghazepore
67th - Mutinied and disbanded at both Agra and Mutera
68th - Mutinied at Bareilly
70th - Disarmed or disbanded at Barrackpore
72nd - Mutinied at Neemuch
73rd - Mutinied and disbanded at both Jalpaigori and Dacca
74th - Mutinied at Delhi

They have been sculpted wearing dhoti, which was the ordinary civilian loincloth, the trousers often been the first item of European uniform to be discarded.

Thursday 21 April 2011

"Jingal all the way" - more Pontoonier Miniatures

Hold it steady!
My apologies for the title of this entry, it was just too hard to resist!   As part of my recent foray into the Third Anglo-Burma War of 1885 I recently completed this two man Jingal team from Pontoonier Miniatures.  Try as I might I found it very difficult to find any real reference other than that a Jingal was a 19th century Indian or Chinese large weapon.  ‘Foundry’ produces a Chinese team but other than this Burmese version by Pontoonier there seems to be very little else out there. 

Fortunately Ian Heath’s excellent, ‘Armies of the Nineteenth Century: Asia. 4: Burma and Indo-China’ was able to shed a little more light on the subject.

A Jingal, its British nickname, was a large calibre matchlock called pun lang chan by the Burmese.  It was, in effect, an ultra-light field piece capable of firing a single shot or, when packed with small jagged pieces of lead or iron, withering grapeshot.

 I suppose that would allow me to classify this unit as artillery.

Another, more sombre reference to this weapon can be found in Kipling’s 1888 poem,

The Grave of the Hundred Head

There's a widow in sleepy Chester
  Who weeps for her only son;
There's a grave on the Pabeng River,
  A grave that the Burmans shun;
And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri
  Who tells how the work was done.

A Snider squibbed in the jungle,
  Somebody laughed and fled,
And the men of the First Shikaris
  Picked up their Subaltern dead,
With a big blue mark in his forehead
  And the back blown out of his head.

Subadar Prag Tewarri,
  Jemadar Hira Lal,
Took command of the party,
  Twenty rifles in all,
Marched them down to the river
  As the day was beginning to fall.

They buried the boy by the river,
  A blanket over his face --
They wept for their dead Lieutenant,
  The men of an alien race --
They made a samadh in his honor,
  A mark for his resting-place.

For they swore by the Holy Water,
  They swore by the salt they ate,
That the soul of Lieutenant Eshmitt Sahib
  Should go to his God in state,
With fifty file of Burmans
  To open him Heaven's gate.

The men of the First Shikaris
  Marched till the break of day,
Till they came to the rebel village,
  The village of Pabengmay --
A jingal covered the clearing,
  Calthrops hampered the way.

Subadar Prag Tewarri,
  Bidding them load with ball,
Halted a dozen rifles
  Under the village wall;
Sent out a flanking-party
  With Jemadar Hira Lal.

The men of the First Shikaris
  Shouted and smote and slew,
Turning the grinning jingal
  On to the howling crew.
The Jemadar's flanking-party
  Butchered the folk who flew.

Long was the morn of slaughter,
  Long was the list of slain,
Five score heads were taken,
  Five score heads and twain;
And the men of the First Shikaris
  Went back to their grave again,

Each man bearing a basket
  Red as his palms that day,
Red as the blazing village --
  The village of Pabengmay,
And the "drip-drip-drip" from the baskets
  Reddened the grass by the way.

They made a pile of their trophies
  High as a tall man's chin,
Head upon head distorted,
  Set in a sightless grin,
Anger and pain and terror
  Stamped on the smoke-scorched skin.

Subadar Prag Tewarri
  Put the head of the Boh
On the top of the mound of triumph,
  The head of his son below --
With the sword and the peacock-banner
  That the world might behold and know.

Thus the samadh was perfect,
  Thus was the lesson plain
Of the wrath of the First Shikaris --
  The price of a white man slain;
And the men of the First Shikaris
  Went back into camp again.

Then a silence came to the river,
  A hush fell over the shore,
And Bohs that were brave departed,
  And Sniders squibbed no more;
    For the Burmans said
    That a white man's head
Must be paid for with heads five-score.

There's a widow in sleepy Chester
  Who weeps for her only son;
There's a grave on the Pabeng River,
  A grave that the Burmans shun;
And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri
  Who tells how the work was done.

 Rudyard Kipling

It is difficult to know for sure whether Kipling is being overtly jingoistic with this work or simply realistic.   He is clearly aware as to the level of violence that perpetuated from this guerilla war; the Burmese forces simply melted into the jungle and harried the British troops for several years. The resistance was finally crushed by an intensified level of retribution directed at those suspected of assisting the insurgents.  Villages were burned to the ground and the property of the inhabitants simple destroyed or confiscated.  Parallels can be easily drawn between the nature of this conflict and that of Vietnam War; the poem also evokes passages from Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’-1902:

"We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere as of an overheated catacomb; all along the formless coast bordered by dangerous surf, as if Nature herself had tried to ward off intruders; in and out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were rotting into mud, whose waters, thickened into slime, invaded the contorted mangroves, that seemed to writhe at us in the extremity of an impotent despair."

and ultimately Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ -1979:

Kurtz: We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig. Cow after cow. Village after village. Army after army. And they call me an assassin. What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin? They lie. They lie, and we have to be merciful, for those who lie. Those nabobs. I hate them. I do hate them.

Finally I just need to extend a huge vote of thanks to Malcolm Johnston of Grimsby Wargames Society for editing some of the photos and giving them a much needed bit of drama; Thank you, Malcolm.  More examples of his work can be found on their website -

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Bamboo Grove- revisited

Not that I’m becoming obsessive about this most mysterious of plant but I couldn’t resist this variation on a theme.  Whilst looking at the 'cute and fluffy creatures' and picking up the plastic aquatic plants for the previous attempt I spotted this small ‘Buddha’ head a snip at £2.50 and been dying to use it somehow.  When I saw 6milPhil’s brilliant  'roller-coaster' terrain feature using cork tiles I just had to give it a go.

6milPhil also had a great call when he sourced his aquatic plants from ‘Products for Wargamers’. I saw them a 'Salute 2011' and thought now there is a good idea.  Just checked them out online and they are certainly a much more favourable price and a better pattern for the leaves than 'Pets at Home'.

Apart from the little ‘Buddha’ head and ancient stonework the build was exactly the same apart from a bit of old electrical cable used to give a bit of variety for the jungle creepers.

New secret ingredient

before base coat

with initial terrain

Now, as the noise of the patrol starts to recede into the distance and the jungle starts to come back to life, provided we are very, very quite we might just get a glimpse of.....

And there he is; Ailuropoda melanoleuca - the Giant Panda

One for the good Mrs. Awdry

6MilPhil has just gone and raised the bar again, take the time to visit his variation at: 'I can't believe it's not buddha'

He has also done a fantastic 'how to' on jungle vines entitled: 'on the spot vine' please go and visit.

Monday 18 April 2011

The Enemy Within

This latest instalment in my Light Brigade project tells the tale of the fifth columnists that were found lurking within the ranks of the brigade.  While painting what I thought was to become a member of the 4th Light Dragoons and applying colour to the cuffs I was suddenly aware that the shape was not as I had previously encountered. It looked to all extents and purposes like a dragoon as he was wearing a dress shako but interestingly there were no gold cord cap-lines.  A little more research and it was clear that I was not painting a dragoon but a Russian Hussar!  Having not progressed much further than the skin tones and a blue base coat I decided to repaint the figure as it was intended but had little reference to hand.  There was a very small photograph on the `Foundry’ website and a little more in my Osprey, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ but that was about it, unless of course you consider the following exchange from the 1968 movie, ‘The Charge of Light Brigade’ directed by Tony Richardson;

Officer: What colour is the Russian enemy?
Riding-master Mogg: Sneaky colour. 
Paymaster Duberly: Gwey. Your Russian is gwey. Which is why he can't be seen. Which is why his pwomotion is slow.

Paymaster Duberly & Fanny looking a little, "Gwey".
Roger Fenton Photograph - 1855
In the end I went for what I hoped represents a Hussar from the Ingermanland Regiment who on the day formed part of the command of Lieutenant-General I. I. Ryzhov.  A quick roll call discovered that there were in fact another three of these sneaky Russians hiding within the ranks.  This was not necessarily a problem until it came to their mounts; a little web-based research had unearthed the fact that the Russian cavalry had a rather distinctively shaped blanket! 
 I decided to avoid the embarrassment of contacting ‘Foundry’ and asking if they would sell me four Russian styled horses from their Crimea range and instead thought that I would be able to undertake the conversions myself.  Things had progress reasonably well as I hacked off hay bags and blanket rolls and then came my nemesis- ‘green stuff’.  oh how I hate this stuff of green;  I see so many wonderful examples of conversions undertaken with this most malleable of substances but every time I have ago I end up with fingerprints everywhere and bits stuck where they shouldn’t be.  Still I persevered until I had produced something that I felt was reasonably passable.  I had all but completed this modest little unit when a horrible and sickening thought crossed my mind; I had painted the riders and now the converted horses but hadn’t stuck the two together, more importantly I hadn’t checked to see if the extra blanket and of course the extra girth would effect the riders’ position on the horse!

Now that you've all stopped laughing I can tell you that it did and that there was a very nervous couple of minutes as I gently tried to prise apart the legs of my Russian Hussars – not a phrase that I every imagined myself to write down!  Finally completed all I now need to go a track down the missing Dragoons.

Monday 11 April 2011

Pontoonier Burmese Regular Infantry

Perhaps to be considered as one of Victoria's forgotten wars the third Anglo-Burma War of 1885 had certainly passed me by, that was until I read a posting on the Gentlemans Wargames Parlour eluding to such a conflict.  The Kingdom of Burma, as it was in the 19th Century, sat on India's Eastern boarder so became of significant tactical importance not only as a direct threat to the 'Jewel in the Crown' but also as a possible route to the untold wealth of China.
Constable's 1893 map
The previous two wars had seen the Britain simply annex Lower Burma, which included the area around the Irrawaddy Delta including Rangoon.  However when King Thibaw ascended the throne of Ava in 1878 relations, once more, began to deteriorate.  His trade agreements with rival European powers, particularly France, sent alarm bells ringing in London and Britain simply moved to annex the remaining  kingdom.  The resultant campaign, described as,
not a war at all - merely a street row
met with early success with the British occupying Mandalay and forcing Thibaw into exile.  The Burmese army, however simply took to the jungles and waged a war of attrition into the 1890s.

Pontoonier's range seemed to cover Burmese regulars, British and Gurkha troops sculpted by the talented Mr. Hicks, I simply had to have some and ordered up a sample of the home team.

It would appear that Burmese soldiers routinely smoked in the ranks

The well made bamboo helmet, lacquered red with a white spike on top constituted a much needed constant in the Burmese regular uniform.

On patrol!

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