Stansell’s Bandsmen #13: The Clarionet

The 13th in a series on some of the roles of British army bandsmen as illustrated by Frederick Stansell c.1900 in the book “Bands of the British Army” by W.J. Gordon.

No.13: Clarionet (Clarinet)- The Suffolk Regiment

In the modern infantry band there is generally but one oboe, the rest of the wood being a piccolo, two bassoons and a dozen or so clarionets. The clarionet, or clarinet, is a substitute for the ancient brass clarion and was so named by (Johann) Denner, in 1690, who is often given the credit of its invention. Since his time it has been greatly improved and is now the best of the wood instruments. It is of considerable compass owing to its having what are known as two registers with an interval of a twelfth between them, and the lower register is called the chalumeau; in fact, Denner developed it out of the old chalumeau which we read of as the shawm. Unlike the bassoon it has but one reed, which is really a reed, being a slip from Arundo Sativa. In a band, there are generally two E flat clarionets, two bass ones in B flat and perhaps ten an octave higher.”

Stansell’s Bandsmen #12: The Bugle

The 12th in a series on some of the roles of British army bandsmen as illustrated by Frederick Stansell c.1900 in the book “Bands of the British Army” by W.J. Gordon.

No.12: The Bugle – Highland Light Infantry

“The bugle, which is in B flat, gives eight notes, but only five of them – C.G.C.E.G. – are used for calls. It is now adopted for what are known as military commands in all branches of the service, as well as in the navy by way of the Royal Marines… The calls are the same on both bugle and trumpet, those of the trumpet being lower. Many of these have been syllabised with some ingenuity, as the few following will show:

  • Drummers and buglers: “Drummers tall, buglers small, don’t you hear the bugle call?”
  • Guard: “Come and do your piquet, boys, come and do your guard”
  • Fall in: “Bugles sound, take your ground, fall in, fall in, don’t look around”
  • First Dinner Call: “Oh, come to the cookhouse door, boys, come to the cookhouse door”
  • Second Dinner Call: “Oh, pick’em up, pick’em up, hot potatoes, hot potatoes, pick’em up, pick’em up, hot potatoes. oh!”

W.J. Gordon

Lace Wars: British Cavalry…not doing much at all!

At the beginning of this year I painted some horses for my War of the Spanish Succession project. After a hiatus I have now – finally -got around to finishing off their riders too.

These British cavalrymen are all sitting around waiting for some orders or action, a fairly common experience for troops, mounted or unmounted, and it’s nice to see it represented by Strelets.

The regiment I’ve painted is Palmes’ Horse. Previously known as Wyndham’s Horse, it became Palmes’ Horse in 1706 with facings described in C.S. Grant’s “Armies and Uniforms of Marlborough’s Wars” as being Sea Green. Grant has it that the shabraque was red but I used artistic licence and preferred green. The regiment would later in the century become the 6th Dragoon Guards (being described at various times as ‘carabiniers’). Bob Marrion included an illustration of a trooper from this regiment in Grant’s book.

I’m going to review the range of indolent poses in the set.


The grazing horse pose is my favourite. Nothing for this rider to do here but allow his mount snatch some much-needed lunch.



Trooper with musket:


Loading a pistol:


Smoking a pipe:



There’s still a few things I intend to do with these figures. I need to source a flag for the standard bearer, add some foliage to the base, add some satin varnish the black cuirasses which can just be seen under their coats and maybe even a wisp of (cotton wool) smoke added to that pipe!

Stansell’s Bandsmen #11: The Side Drum

The 11th in a series on some of the roles of British army bandsmen as illustrated by Frederick Stansell c.1900 in the book “Bands of the British Army” by W.J. Gordon.

No.11: The Side Drum – Coldstream Guards

“Like the kettledrum [the side drum] came from the Arabs, who fitted it with the snares – that is the strings of gut across its lower head which cause it to rattle when struck… At funerals the drum is muffled by pads, or the rope, being inserted between the skin and the snares.

The drum is not in such request as it used to be. In the old days before it was replaced by the bugle it conveyed the signals of command, even the full platoon exercises being gone through to drum beats; and for this reason it was ‘put on the establishment’ as it is called, and remains there, the British infantry having sixteen drummers to each battalion.”

W.J. Gordon

The Roll Call

Further to my last post – a quick update. The egg rolling took place between the various painted competitors.

I am happy to report that my ‘Scotch egg’ of the Highland Light Lunch Infantry performed in the very best traditions of the regiment and won the competition! In fact, it took a large number of downhill charges before finally breaking apart.

Family egg designs: an abstract pattern, a roller coaster and a uniform of the HLI.

Easter Bunnies and a Scotch Egg

I confess that ‘Easter Bunnies’ is not the kind of title that I thought I’d be using at Suburban Militarism blog, but I realised that Easter was a perfect opportunity to paint a couple of critters which I recently received as a freebie with some other figures from Bad Squiddo Games.

These two tiny rabbits at 28mm scale are part of a range of animals provided by Bad Squiddo including such things as slugs, snails, guinea pigs, pigeons, rats, horses, pigs, tortoises and kittens. Also, the more exotic are catered for such as lions, giant chameleons, moose and even tardigrades!

I’m fairly sure they are the first bunnies I’ve painted at any scale and I really enjoyed doing them! They’ve joined a modest Easter display in the household.

I’ve based the little guys on a 2 pence piece and scattered some spring grass and flowers around.

I’m not sure why, but this crouching fellow looks like a hot, cross bunny!

I have some Christmas painting traditions practiced at Suburban Militarism, so perhaps Bad Squiddo bunnies could become an Easter one?

Meanwhile, another Easter tradition practiced here is the painting of an egg. I blogged about this tradition back in 2017 in a post titled “Shell Shock“…

An eggsample from 2017: The Duke of Omelette’s Own Yolkmanry

…and again in 2019 based on a Victorian cavalryman in the post “The Last Charge of the Yolkshire Hussars“.

An Oeuf-ficer of the Yolkshire Hussars (sorry…)

This year, I thought I’d daringly attempt a Scottish regiment based on an example of the Highland Light Infantry.

Highland Light Infantryman by Caton Woodville from my copy of his “Territorial Army Album of 1908.

Hard boiled egg at the ready, I set to work with some acrylic paints to recreate the Highland Light Lunch Infantry uniform of 1908; scarlet doublet with buff facings.

The tartan trews were created by mixing the base colour and then adding red and white lines. This is the Mackenzie tartan. This is a regimental tartan and has also been known as “MacLeod and Seaforth” from MacLeod’s Highlanders (a predecessor to the Highland Light Infantry) and the Seaforth Highlanders.

The ultimate fate of this ‘Scotch egg’ is to charge downhill to his doom but at least he’ll look smart whilst on his way.

US President Joe Biden has also announced the return of the presidential egg roll after suspension due to Covid-19. The article about the history of presidential egg rolling and painting is an interesting read, apparently there is even an International Egg Art Guild. Perhaps I could apply? Judging from the examples on display – probably not.

Stansell’s Bandsmen #10: The Saxhorn

The 10th in a series on some of the roles of British army bandsmen as illustrated by Frederick Stansell c.1900 in the book “Bands of the British Army” by W.J. Gordon. #MakeMusicNotWar.

No.10: Saxhorn – The Grenadier Guards

“All (saxhorns) have a cupped mouthpiece and consist of a conical brass tube of easy curves opening out into a wide graceful bell, three pistons providing the intermediate tones and semitones… a saxhorn band includes a soprano, a contralto, a tenor or althorn, and a contrabass.

W.J. Gordon

Stansell’s Bandsmen #9: The French Horn

The 9th in a series on some of the roles of British army bandsmen as illustrated by Frederick Stansell c.1900 in the book “Bands of the British Army” by W.J. Gordon.

No.9: French Horn – The Rifle Brigade

“Another instrument with a long pedigree is the French Horn which is a development of the old hunting-horn that had the tube curved widely enough to be carried over the shoulders. Throughout it has had a softer tone than any other brass instrument, this character being due to its mouthpiece being a funnel instead of a cup. In these days it has crooks for different keys and a tuning slide. About 1770, an ingenious player named Hampl put his hand into the bell and was able to complete the scale by thus lowering the pitch a semitone, but valves have now obviated the need of hand-stopping. The Horn is not easy to play and is seldom trusted alone, there being generally two or four in a band.”

W.J. Gordon

Miniature Musicians: The Guards Band in Paper and Plastic

With my recent series of posts on marching bandsmen as depicted by Fred Stansell, I’ve been wondering about turning my attention to painting a band myself. I thought of a group of bandsmen that I’ve had for some time buried in a trunk of unpainted figures – (yes, I have a whole trunk of them).

I’m thinking of Airfix’s classic Guards Band. As plastic soldiers go, these are pretty ancient, a miniature Australopithecus from Airfix to our modern Homo Sapiens from the likes of Strelets or RedBox. First released in 1961, this set has long been out of production and will spark off a wave of nostalgia for those old enough to remember it when freely available (which does not include me actually).

In an original box, the band consisted of:

  • x1 Drum-Major
  • x7 Side Drummers
  • x10 Flautists
  • x7 Tubists
  • x5 Saxophonists
  • x2 Cymbalists
  • x4 Trombonists
  • x7 Trumpeters
  • x1 Bass Drummer

My bandsmen were bought in an auction and so came in a ragtag, broken and half-painted fashion. I had plenty of some types but few of another. Of those in working order, I was a bit short on side drummers and trombonists (I have only two of each) but over-subscribed with saxophonists and tuba players.

I’ve evened things up a bit for the underrepresented trombonists at least with a bit surgery, making for three extra. The drummers will have to remain a trifle undermanned.

A two-man band. Half saxophonist – half flautist!

Having removed some paint and glued some limbs, I’m nearly ready to put some paint on them. Given the topic, and being such a very old set with details which are very slight indeed, I’m not sure they are suited to my usual painting style. I think they cry out more for a toy-solder style simple paint job, which I think is sort-of what I’m going to go for.

I fancied having some oboists in my band and thought some of the damaged saxophonists might pass with the end of their instrument missing?

Clarinet player? Almost?

One of the saxophonists seems to have come out of the mould a little awry, leaning back and letting rip!

Being an individualist has made him keen to express himself more freely than his other bandmates – a Guardsmen Charlie Parker or Guardsmen John Coltrane, perhaps?

I envisage embarking on a slow burn project with these, steadily adding some paint as and when I can.

Meanwhile, up for auction on eBay is another marching band of the Grenadier Guards, this lovely lithographed cardboard soldier set. Titled “Drum and Fife Band of the Grenadier Guards”, it is made out of cardboard and was manufactured by postcard company Tuck.

Delightfully illustrated, perhaps it can be considered a forerunner to the “Paperboys” paper soldiers range by Peter Dennis? Famous British army artist Harry Payne painted many military subjects around 1900 for Tuck postcards – so could this be his work? I couldn’t find any evidence of the artist’s name on the example shown.

The Grenadier “Cards” – postcard guardsmen.

A little bit out of my price range for this set but a very pleasing set, nonetheless.

Stansell’s Bandsmen #8: The Fife

The 8th in a series on some of the roles of British army bandsmen as illustrated by Frederick Stansell c.1900 in the book “Bands of the British Army” by W.J. Gordon. #MakeMusicNotWar

No.8: The Fife – The Irish Guards

The Fife came to us from Switzerland by way of France, where it seems to have been introduced by Francis the First… The fife has a compass of about two octaves and, unlike the bugle, all its notes are used. Drums, fifes, bugles and trumpets, having originally been instruments of command, have all along been supplied to the army at the public expense… (fifer and drummer bandsmen) have still to play either instrument as required so that every fifer is a drummer and every drummer is a fifer.”

W.J. Gordon