News from the Serbian Front…

The year is 1914 and the Kingdom of Serbia is mobilising. Troops of the 1st Ban in their green-grey uniforms rapidly assemble to meet the invading Austro-Hungarian army…

Or, to put it less melodramatically, my Serbian WWI infantry project has been moving forward slowly but steadily.

Previously, I had finished off painting my First World War Austrian K & K troops. These men in Pike-Grey uniforms still require the challenge of pinning them, but otherwise are finished. In the meantime, their adversaries, my Serbian army, have been cut from the sprue, cleaned, prepared, primed and placed on bottle-tops…

…they’ve had their uniforms base-coated, shaded and highlighted…

…and also had their faces basically prepared, though there is still much work to be done on those.

After their faces and skin have been completed to my satisfaction, next up will be their accoutrements including buttons and ammunition pouches, etc. With dozens to do, I imagine all that will keep me busy to the end of the year, especially as at the same time I’ve certain other things to attend to relating to Suburban Militarism’s traditions at Christmas. More on that anon…

Campbell’s Cavalrymen #5: The Lancashire Hussar Officer

Aside from quietly, steadily progressing with my WWI Serbian project, I’ve been sustaining my hobby muse by occasionally dipping into another of my growing collection of 54mm Yeomanry figures.

A 54mm single figure was perfect for a diversion as I could make small additions to it whenever it suited me, whereas with a larger group of figures I find that when painting one, I’m logically obliged to paint all the others at the same time making for a bigger time commitment.

This yeoman is an officer of the Lancashire Hussars in 1913. The model is another made by Chota Sahib, a manufacturer whom I first encountered with the last yeomanry figure I tackled; the Lincolnshire Yeomanry officer.

The Lancashire Hussars were raised in 1848 by Sir John Gerard (Baronet) and were known locally as Lord Gerard’s Own. The county of Lancashire was also represented at this time by the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry (a figure from which I painted last year).

The ‘very rich’ early Hussar uniforms were based upon that of the 11th Hussars who wore crimson-coloured trousers (unique among British regiments), and the Lancashire Hussars were to be inspired by this famous colour distinction in various ways. The ‘field uniform’ consisted then of a tall crimson shako and examples of this uniform can be seen in two oil paintings by John Ferneley, painted in the 1850s. Apparently affected by a fire at some point in their history, the paintings now show the blue uniforms a little darker than originally depicted.

Red shako just visible, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Robert Tolver Gerard, Bt, and His Regiment, the Lancashire Hussars, on Parade by
John E. Ferneley I (1782–1860). This was one of two similar paintings. Photo credit: Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry Museum.

Geoff Wright, writing for the Southport Visitor provides an excellent history of the Lancashire Hussars with plenty of great images. He has this to say about the regiment’s early incarnation:

Many of the first volunteering mid-19th century soldiers were largely recruited from among the rural tenants of Sir Gerard and his neighbouring estates, made up of farmers and agricultural labourers, and so they were affectionately nicknamed the ‘Cabbage Cutters’.

The trained-up and smartly-dressed troops were always a great attraction in the countryside en-route from their Ormskirk base to their annual training ground – Southport Sands; the crowds of fellow workers, mainly farmers and village labourers, always gave them a hearty wave and cheer, they were greeted everywhere they went.

Nostalgia: The lost story of the Lancashire Hussars, Part One

(Note: Part Two of this history can be found here).

In 1879, the regiment’s uniform changed to a more typical hussar pattern, though still inspired by the 11th, and this new uniform was retained with minor changes up until the era depicted by this figure, 1913. The photograph below is included in my copy of “The Yeomanry Force at the 1911 Coronation” by Smith and Harris:

Above: Major F.B.J. Stapleton-Bretherton of the Lancashire Hussars at the 1911 coronation of King George V. Looking very similar to my figure, he wears dismounted review order and, being a veteran of the Boer War, displays a South Africa War Medal with 2 clasps.

I’ve designated this figure as being another of “Campbell’s Cavalrymen” as the painting notes provided by Chota Sahib reference R.G. Harris’ “50 Years of Yeomanry Uniforms” in which E.A. Campbell was the illustrator of the plates. Campbell’s depiction of the Lancashire Hussar can be seen below:

The busby is described as being a dark brown fur with a crimson bag and silver cap lines which ended plaited over the right breast in a pattern apparently imitating their muse, the Cherrypickers. The white-over-crimson plume ends in a silver holder. I thought the busby was very convincingly sculpted by Chota Sahib.

The blue tunic worn by the officer has lines of silver braiding and loops. The shoulder belt for officers only was silver-covered with a silver picker plate and boss, apparently of a Lancashire rose design.

As for legwear, these were usually blue, as shown in this Simkin illustration of the regiment found in my old copy of “British Yeomanry Uniforms”.

Richard Simkin’s depiction of a Lancashire Hussar officer originally made for Army and Navy Illustrated magazine.

However, Campbell’s portrayal of the officer wearing crimson overalls (which was only for officers) makes for a more colourful and distinctive uniform than the more usual dark blue. His overalls in the book, however, were reproduced in a shade of red which seemed just a little bright to me and so I’ve toned my figure’s overalls down to a deeper shade of red which I hope is just a touch more ‘crimson’.

The rear of the jacket has more silver braiding detailing and a silver pouch. You can also see the slings attached to the sword. Unfortunately, I oafishly broke a spur but I am sure I’ll fix this by and by…

After painting this officer’s face, I noticed that I seemed to have given him a squint. Rather than correct this, I left it as it is as I was quite pleased with it!

A year after this figure’s 1913 incarnation, various units of the regiment would go on to serve in the First World War as either cavalry, infantry or even cyclists. After The Great War, The Lancashire Hussars, as with many other Yeomanry regiments at this time, were converted to an artillery role being re-designated as the 2nd (Lancashire) Army Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

More crimson! The Lancashire Hussars drum banner and cap badge as seen in Player’s 1924 cigarette card series. By this time, the regiment has already converted to the Lancashire Yeomanry Brigade of RFA (Royal Field Artillery).

There are still more of these turn-of-the-century 54mm yeomen in my collection to paint, some of which are still courtesy of the excellent Chota Sahib. As these have been a pleasure to paint, I don’t envisage leaving it too long before tackling the next one!

The WWI Serbian Campaign

A military campaign of any significance takes some considerable logistical organisation and resources. This is also the case with any military modelling ‘campaign’ and my latest venture certainly falls into this category given that it requires the painting of over 100 figures.

Strelets Austrian WWI Infantry

I’ve been asked to help out with a diorama as part of a wider project, the full details of which I must hold back on for the time being. The diorama will feature an encounter between Austrians and Serbians during the First World War. For the Austrians, I am using Strelets WWI Austrian Infantry figures. Unfortunately, this set has been out of production for some time and so I’ve simply made use of the one box I had available. Twenty two of the figures I had painted back in 2018 and the remainder were kept back in storage.

The uniform colour of the Austro-Hungarian troops was known as ‘Pike Grey’, a fairly nebulous shade which I eventually approximated by mixing some of my existing colours together. Thankfully, I kept the tiny pot of my mixed Pike Grey shade aside and had just enough left for these remaining unpainted figures, thereby keeping the shade of the 2018 and 2021 vintage figures very consistent.

Above is the 2021 batch of Strelets Austrian infantry. I just need to add their regimental colour flash to the collars. I’ll be using a source book to help me decide what colour to use for what regiment. The 2018 figures I painted represented the Pucherna infantry regiment of Transylvania with yellow collars.

The original 22 figures were fully based (rather nicely though I say so myself), but the customer of these figures would prefer them pinned for use in the diorama with no bases. For someone as ham-fisted as myself, this presents a logistical and physical challenge. I need Pat from Pat’s 1:72 Military Dioramas here, the expert on pinning small scale figures such as these! Thankfully, he has a post explaining how he does it. He makes it look so easy, but I’m so clumsy at such things that after having a go (to the sound of much of foul cursing) I can confirm that it absolutely is not! Extracting the already based ones will be particularly tricky, I suspect.

The dioramist also queried whether it would be possible to include a flag bearer for both forces. The only figure that might fit the bill for the Austrians as a conversion I think would be an officer. Conversions, never mind pinning, is really stretching my limited model making abilities, I confess, but I’ll have a go!

Aside from the Austrians, I of course need to produce a similar number of Serbian infantry. I’ll be using figures once again from Strelets; their “Serbian Infantry in Winter Uniform” set. The set included both early and late war versions of these troops. As the dioramist requires only the early war figures wearing the famous Serbian šajkača hat, I’ve used two boxes to provide a sufficient number. Good news for the Serbs, as they will now outnumber the invading Austrian K & K army!

Two elderly Serbian men mobilized into World War I (1914). The first soldier (reservist, on the left) is wearing standard soldiers type. The second is wearing the officer’s version. Unknown Serbian photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Serbian troops will also require pinning, of course, so I’ll be getting plenty of much needed experience with my hand drill and work bench. I’ve also ordered some thin wire to create the pins themselves.

Preparation for painting includes initial cleaning with detergent, adding a layer of PVA glue and then adding a coat of paint to act as a primer. The Serb uniform, like the Pike Grey of the Austro-Hungarians, is another with a specific but vague shade to replicate. I posted about my research on the uniform at the time which had the uniform colour variously described by sources as being ‘khaki’, ‘green-grey’ and ‘olive-grey! Unfortunately, I don’t this time have a handy pot of the original ready-mixed paint to hand. I do, however, find that I had left myself some handy instructions all about the mix I used at the time, back in 2018.

“A mix of Vallejo’s “Green-Grey 886” and a little added grey – possibly Neutral Grey 992 (possibly in a 2:1 mix)…”

There is too much use of the word ‘possibly’ in there for confidence, suggesting I couldn’t quite remember what I’d used whenever I wrote it down, but at least it’s a start!

I’ll update on progress on this blog. Given the number of troops involved and the pinning/conversion challenges, it could be a long ‘campaign’!

Adelaide Hall

“If my husband can be a merchant navy officer, I’m going to be a soldier.” Adelaide Hall.

Seems most appropriate during Black History Month to post two figures I’ve painted of Adelaide Hall, successful singer and businesswoman. As one of the world’s first jazz singers, through her improvised wordless rhythm vocalising she pioneered scat singing and enjoyed a career that spanned eight decades.

Adelaide Hall was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1901. Her family tree included a lineage to the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island. From 1921, Hall quickly developed a very successful stage career in the US, making a strong reputation appearing in all-black performer shows of the time. As a sought-after and successful singer, Hall made enough money to move to affluent Westchester County in New York where she received some racial threats and hostility from some white residents but also had support from her many fans.

Unknown author – The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 6 September 1934, page 20, CC BY-SA 4.0.

In 1935, Hall moved with her husband to the more racially integrated Paris where they set up a jazz club and toured extensively. In 1938, she moved again to London where she would remain until her death in 1993. Her move continued her success and in 1941 she replaced Gracie Fields as Britain’s highest paid entertainer.

In London, she also opened clubs. A club that she owned in Britain was bombed by the Luftwaffe and she later reopened another on Regent Street. The arrangement worked well for, if work ever went quiet, she could always perform a show in own club. Her move to London just preceded the Second World War in which she would play her part in the war by entertaining troops as a member of ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association). It is this point in her career that Bad Squiddo’s figures represent.

The first big wartime variety concert organised by ENSA was broadcast by the BBC to the Empire and local networks from RAF Hendon in north London on 17 October 1939. Among the entertainers appearing on the bill were Adelaide Hall, The Western Brothers and Mantovani. A Newsreel of this concert showing Adelaide Hall singing We’re Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line accompanied by Mantovani and His Orchestra exists.” Wikipedia

Unfortunately, ‘hanging washing out to dry’ was about the only thing the Siegfried Line was useful for as the Wehrmacht moved swiftly into France and Belgium in the Battle of France. The ENSA members operated as part of the armed forces.

As such Adelaide Hall was enlisted as an officer and entitled to a uniform, as she related in an interview to presenter Sue Lawley on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 1991;

SL: And you wore a uniform?

Adelaide Hall: Yes, and they made me a Lieutenant.

SL: Did that mean the boys had to salute you?

Adelaide Hall: Oh, yes! And I had my own jeep (laughs) and driver. My pianist was with me… [It was] a beautiful uniform, I loved it and I couldn’t stand the collar – very stiff for me, but you get used to anything, I suppose.

While painting, I got a feel for my subject and her music by listening to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs broadcasts. She was recorded twice, once in December 1972 and again nearly 20 years later in January 1991. By the time of the last recording, Adelaide was in her 80s. A 6-minute extract only of her December 1972 broadcast remains:

Adelaide Hall was very well-respected in the industry and played with many top musicians and artists including Fats Waller, Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Since her death, Adelaide Hall and her accomplishments have not been forgotten such as being acknowledged in Vogue’s list of ‘7 Remarkable Black Women Who Shaped British History’ and the award of a Black Plaque at Abbey Road Studios where she once recorded with Duke Ellington.


“I had a lovely uniform made by Madame Adele of Grosvenor Street and it was smart. Oh, you should have seen me in it! With the Sam Browne (belt) and a lovely cap, and the greeny-beige shirt and tie.”

Adelaide Hall

“I went through Germany twice – and I must say that I enjoyed it. I was a bit on edge, but I persevered. I said, if my husband can be a merchant navy officer, I’m going to be a soldier.”

Adelaide Hall

Lace Wars: French Horse Grenadiers

Introducing my latest addition to the Lace Wars project, the prestigious Royal Horse Grenadier regiment of the French King.

You’ll notice straight away that I still have a flag to sort which is just an ominous black at the moment.. Some research needed before I tackle that, I think.

The most distinctive aspect of their uniform is the fur-trimmed cap. The red peak was according to Plastic Soldier Review, originally a standard grenadier cap of the period, having “a hanging bag like any other grenadier, but by 1720 this was stiffened with a point at the top, which is what we find on all these figures“.

 Each man is armed with a curved cavalry sabre, flintlock carbine and two pistols.

An elite force, the Horse Grenadiers were a small formation, rarely more than a couple of hundred men in total. Their elite status as grenadiers however would mean they would often lead a charge, thereby adding to a fame which exceeded their actual clout on the field of battle.

The set includes a flag bearer and a mounted drummer.

The two officers included see one of them (the ‘big wig‘ sports a cuirass over his coat. Lots of extra clothing detailing on the cuffs and coats with these command figures – well, it is the Lace Wars project!

There seems to be a wealth of different War of the Spanish Succession mounted formations in the pipeline from good old Strelets, including Dutch and Austrian Cuirassiers, British Dragoons and Late War-era Horse, French Garde du Corps and French Chevau-Legers / Gendarmes de la Garde. As for French dragoons, they are being released “on the march”, “in reserve”, “in attack” and “in skirmish”! Strelets, you’re spoiling us.

My hobby plans have taken an unexpected turn very recently. This has resulted in my needing to revisit an old set last seen a few years ago on Suburban Militarism. What this set is, and why, will be revealed in the next post.

Chevaux du Roi

Back to the 1/72 scale horse and musket era, so that means, ah, horses. Not just any old horses. Horse Grenadier horses!

If these equines are familiar it will be because I painted the same very recently as Strelets’ British / Saxon Cavalry from the War of the Spanish Succession era. Strelets have used the same horse sculpts for this French set.

This small herd wear blue-edged white horse cloths as can be seen on the cover French Royal Horse Grenadiers box. Illustrations show double white edges but I’ve gone with painting a single line as I value my sanity.

Box art from Strelets French Royal Horse Grenadiers

Their distinctively-dressed riders are well-advanced in their painting so hopefully should be united with their exotically attired human companions soon.

Campbell’s Cavalrymen #4: The Lincolnshire Yeomanry Officer

I’ve returned to my 54mm scale Yeomanry Cavalry project by tackling a figure representing an officer of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry.

Various Lincolnshire small and independent troops were raised in 1794, becoming eventually the single North Lincoln Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry until it was disbanded in 1847. The county was then without a yeomanry regiment until the “Lincolnshire Imperial Yeomanry” was raised in 1901 following a call for volunteers to serve in the Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War. The nominated regimental commander was the Earl of Yarborough.

The full-dress uniform the regiment adopted was that of a lancer regiment, Lincolnshire being one of five newly-raised, post-1900 yeomanry regiments to adopt this pattern of uniform (see my East Riding of Yorkshire and Surrey figures as being among the others). It is this full-dress uniform that Chota Sahib have depicted.

Previous yeomen in the project have been manufactured by Dorset Metal Model Soldiers, Mitrecap, Tradition and Ensign Miniatures. My Lincolnshire yeoman figure is by Chota Sahib, the very first that I’ve painted from this manufacturer who produced (so far as I’m aware) at least six yeomanry figures in this scale.

I did visit the Museum of Lincolnshire life in Lincoln some years back and, though the memory fades since 2014, I don’t recall any yeomanry in their military gallery, although I understand it must have been there. Instead, I relied on a postcard and some some books already in my collection, including the plate below by Edmund A. Campbell taken from R.G. Harris’ “Fifty Years of Yeomanry Uniforms”. Harris provides a good description of the uniform in question.

It’s most likely that Campbell’s illustration directly influenced the Chota Sahib sculptor as the year and details of both (nearly) match. What’s more, all the other figures in their range also appear in Harris’ book, their Loyal Suffolk Hussars figure being identical in practically every way.

Postcard on the Lincolnshire Yeomanry, part of a series, with an illustration by Bryan Fosten.

I found an extract from an old Chota Sahib catalogue online which had this below image of a painted version of their Lincolnshire Yeomanry officer. From the low-resolution photo I can still tell how beautifully painted it is. The painter has included a white falling plume whereas the Harris/Campbell book and the postcard of the same uniform all agree that the plume by 1911 was green, R.G. Harris confirming that “a silver cockade with green-velvet front carries a green plume of cock’s feathers.” Apparently, a trial-pattern only, full-dress uniform in 1902 did include a white plume, so presumably this influenced the painter.

Figure Y8 from the original Chota Sahib catalogue.

Hidden under that green falling plume is a very nicely sculpted cap plate of white metal carrying “the arms of Lincoln – argent, a cross charged with a Fleur de Lys – surrounded by a laurel wreath and surmounted by a crown. the Regimental title on triple-scrolls below“. All of which seems to have been beautifully sculpted on this figure only for the plume to sadly hide it all away! An image of the cap at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life is available and shown below.

The lance cap is otherwise made of black patent leather (I’ve used glossy black for this), with white panels and silver cord quartering the top.

The lancer cap itself, as with the rest of the Lancer uniform, was apparently based on that of the 17th Lancers. The principal difference presumably being the green rather than dark blue cloth. The green is supposed to be a shade called ‘Lincoln-Green’, “a lighter shade than dark rifleman’s green”. I’ve not fussed as to interpreting what this subtle colour difference could actually mean and simply painted it something that looks green! Both E.A. Campbell’s and Brian Foster’s (below) illustrations seem to look pretty much like rifleman’s green to me!

The plastron is white (a la 17th Lancers) and the pouch belt and pouch is silver for officers. I’ve also picked out in silver the cap lines, the pricker, plate and chain, as well as all the buttons.

Lincolnshire Yeomanry lancer’s tunic in green with white plastron, collar and cuffs the latter two items edged in silver.

The shoulder cords are silver and the edges of the tunic are white as are the flaps to the rear.

The overalls are green with two broad white stripes down each leg.

The girdle around the waist is silver with two scarlet-silk lines within it, although “The Yeomanry Force at the 1911 Coronation” says this is green.

The figure required some gluing, both the arms and the plume were attached separately. No doubt down to my ham-fisted assembly efforts, I was left with a centimetre gap between the scabbard slings. Thankfully, I found some nickel strips which I used to bridge the gap I hope convincingly enough.

Trouble attaching the figure to the plinth has left me with the scabbard hanging a few millimetres high in mid-air rather than rested on the ground but I think it’s barely noticeable. It’s the sort of thing that flock or grass scatter would hide if he wasn’t based on bare wood.

It’s all finished off with the usual engraved plates detailing the regiment (front) and rank / year (rear).

After serving in the First World War, Lincolnshire lost it’s yeomanry regiment once again after it was disbanded in 1920 and the notion of a British lancer uniform in Lincoln Green became history.

I often find myself tinkering and making small improvements to my 54mm painting even after the figure is varnished and based on the plinth. I will probably do the same with this officer too as there are a few small things I still want to attend to. I’m pleased with my first Chota Sahib figure. It’s very very slightly more slender than my other yeomanry figures, but otherwise fits in very well.

I’ve also been working on my more familiar 1/72 scale lately. More on that soon!

Officer of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry photographed at the 1911 Coronation wearing his Full Dress uniform with green feather plume.

Straw Horse

It’s that time again. In 2019 we entered a local scarecrow festival by submitting an entry we named Queen Vicstrawia and her Grainadier Guard.

The following year was scuttled by the Covid-19 pandemic but this year it has returned with the added change that our recent house move to the village have made us bona-fide locals. This year’s theme was broad – books! Our idea and its pun title was courtesy of my daughter who suggested we do a version of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse – Straw Horse!

Suburban Militarism: from 1:72 scale to (almost) 1:1 scale, I do it all…

After much prevaricating over what to do this year, we didn’t leave ourselves much time and so were up against it, timewise. Dividing roles, my equestrian wife and daughter attended to the ‘horse’ while I attended to the ‘war’ and set to work making an early WWI cavalryman of the Royal Devon Yeomanry.

A man of the North Somerset Yeomanry of the First World War. Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Tyke.

A child’s second hand WWI costume was secured on an auction site which gave me the basis for the soldier and a cheap roll of fake leather purchased. For the cap, I took the ridiculously oversized peak in a trifle (don’t these children’s party costume people care about historical accuracy?). I then stapled a little faux-leather strip around the band and purchased a badly worn 1st Royal Dragoons cap badge from eBay for just a pound. Cutting a hole in the front of the fancy dress cap, the thing began to look a tiny bit more realistic.

The printed bandolier on the costume just wouldn’t do for me, of course. So, with limited time I set about making my own. Using some more of that faux-leather, I wrapped some Kellogg’s Variety Pack mini-cereal boxes (other brands are available) in more of this material and glued them to a leather belt of mine which I widened using more faux-fabric. Some spare buttons were found and something (very, very) vaguely bandolier-like was created.

Next, it was time for the straw. We secured a spare bale courtesy of our friend whose stable block is home to our (real) horse. Festival rules stipulated that straw must be used in the construction but I fear I got carried away and somewhat over-stuffed my well-fed yeomanry trooper…

My old trusted combination from 2019 – Paper Mache and balloon – came in handy to make the head which would go on to have details added by my daughter:

Some spare costume hair in storage came in useful, though I doubt he would pass parade without being given a dressing down by his NCO to ‘get your bloody hair cut!” Some sturdy wooden posts made him stand to attention. From the stables, some old and well-worn leather gloves, half-chaps and riding boots were kindly donated to complete his cavalryman’s uniform.

As stated, the horse was mostly the creation of my two ladies and I think it looked magnificent for such a large and ambitious ‘scarecrow’ put together in such a short time. Some old leather tack was added to his muzzle and the last of the ubiquitous faux-leather made for the saddle. Much of “Joey the War Horse” consisted of brown fleece, some chicken wire and the remains of the straw bale on top of our ironing board. Finally, as a finishing touch, some WWI propaganda posters and fake barbed wire were put up and Scarecrow Number 53 was ready!

The three-day festival was astonishingly well-attended and at one point ‘Straw Horse’ met ‘more horse’ as Mrs Marvin (on Woody) and other friends paid us a visit from their stables just down the road.

Our display gets a visit from Mrs Marvin, Woody and friends.

Needless to say, we didn’t win (given the number and astonishing quality of the entrants, hardly a surprise!) but much fun was had once again, nonetheless. In the meantime, I certainly haven’t neglected smaller scale military modelling and will be sharing my more miniature efforts soon.

Plastic Battlefields: Esci’s Adventures in History

Looking through a few more of my old photographs recently I found some birthday snaps from my childhood, in the background of which featured (not unsurprisingly) some model soldiers.

A happy boy with his birthday pressies.

I see on the photo above a box featuring an Asterix the Gaul figurine and “Crossbows and Catapults” – a delightfully destructive game literally played with said weapons in order destroy the opposition’s wall. What particularly interested me though was the large box in the background which I can see is an Historic Battle Game by Italian 1/72 figure manufacturer Esci.

Historic Battle Game – “Isandhlwana”

This “Isandhlwana” box was one of the first in series of these historic battle boxes they produced.

Esci Zulu War. Isandhlwsna Battle Set. Like Airfix.  African, British Warriors
A clearer view of the box.

First produced in 1984, the set included the equivalent of 2 boxes each of their Zulu War British infantry and Zulu Warriors. Also included within was this plastic moulded battlefield with part of Isandlwana mountain included (it came with the mountain top sliced off so as to fit in the box). My own box, I note, was actually one of the rarer first editions featuring C.E. Fripp’s famous painting of the battle filling the entirety of the box lid, so I guess this birthday may well date from 1984, the year of its release.

I don’t think I ever turned the plastic battlefield into a full diorama and the vacu-formed base was just too flimsy to use without gluing the figures directly into place. I did, nevertheless, have immense fun with their terrific figures, setting up diorama re-fights on anything from tables to carpets. I wonder if anyone did attempt a full diorama using the figures and the base provided?

But that wasn’t all. I found another photograph, presumably from Christmas Day given the party hat, with another of these Esci boxes secreted in the background.

Clearly quite taken with my new Silver Reed 500 typewriter (I had novelist pretensions), my present stash is in the background. If you can avert your eyes from my truly shocking jumper, you will note also there is Britains soldiers box too!

This other Esci box, I can just make out showing “Waterloo 1815”. There were two of these Waterloo sets, one for the Infantry and the other, as appears here, for the cavalry and artillery.

PSR tells me that this set was released in 1985, so this is possibly be a year later at least than the previous pic. This box included Scots Greys, Imperial Guard, battlefield accessories (abatis, barrels, etc) and another vacu-formed base.

Adventures in history! They certainly were for this boy.

A wry PSR reports that “The leaflet is particularly hilarious, however. Not only does it somewhat mangle the English language, as they all do, but the author repeatedly fails to understand the difference between English and British. At one stage he even states the Scots Greys were part of the English cavalry, an ignorance likely to infuriate any Scotsman of the time or since!

Furthermore, the Scots Greys and Imperial Guard did not, in reality, encounter each other on the battlefield that day, making the dramatic box artwork superfluous. It didn’t matter, boyhood imagination made for far more preposterous encounters than that between the Old Guard and the Scots Greys.

Plastic Soldier Review has a fascinating review of this series of battlefield boxes which eventually expanded to include;

  • 501 – Isandhlwana 1879
  • 502 – Waterloo 1815 – The Infantry
  • 503 – Balaclava 1854
  • 504 – Gettysburg 1863
  • 505 – Waterloo 1815 – The Cavalry and the Artillery
  • 506 – Rorke’s Drift 1879
  • 507 – Hadrian’s Wall CLXV AC
  • 508 – Austerlitz 1805
  • 509 – Jena 1806
  • 510 – Salamanca 1812
  • 511 – Hamburger Hill 1968
  • 512 – Quatre Bras 1815
  • 513 – Borodino 1812
  • 514 – Khyber Pass 1879
  • 515 – Sidi Bel Abbes 1912

Historical accuracy of the battlefields was often low (Salamanca 1812 uses the exact same base as for Rorke’s Drift 1879 for example!) and the idea was mainly to push a group of figures which were already available separately. Regardless, the figures were always very nicely sculpted and the range for plastic 1/72 figures expanded massively under Esci, making them accessible for young lads such as myself for whom owning masses of metal figures then available was not really possible.

One final photo which I may have shown before on this blog. A birthday cake featuring a chocolate cake Fort Zinderneuf complete with Cadbury Fingers for gates and topped with two Britains French Foreign Legionnaires (the officer is partially hidden behind the French flag).

Look at that happy 10-year old face!

Fort Gâteau-Dix.

Ottomania: More Eyalet Infantry

Another batch of Ottoman Turkish Eyalet Infantry by Red Box. The last bunch were armed with muskets. This group wield edged weapons; halberds and scimitars.

These are the five edged weapons in the set which just leaves me the ‘command’ group so far not attempted.

A quick glance at the individual figures:

I’ve added some basic decoration to some of the shields:

The same kind of basing idea allows them to fit nicely with my last cohort of musketeers.

The Ottomania project allows me to simply add a little more whenever I fancy and the army is growing slowly but steadily over time. With these irregular troops my Ottomania infantry arm is really starting to expand.

The Eyalets were basically administrative units of the Ottoman empire and there were as many as 42, with new ones established or founded and old ones being discarded at various times over the centuries. There was an order of precedence for these provinces;

“At official functions, the order of precedence was Egypt, Baghdad, Abyssinia, Buda, Anatolia, “Mera’ish”, and the Capitan Pasha in Asia and Buda, Egypt, Abyssinia, Baghdad, and Rumelia in Europe, with the remainder arranged according to the chronological order of their conquest.”

The list below gives an indication to the huge extent of the empire and the range of peoples, traditions and cultures which it spanned. I suppose, I could even nominate a specific eyalet for each of my two groups to differentiate them.

Eyalet Name
Habesh Eyalet (Abyssinia)
Adana Eyalet
Archipelago
Aleppo Eyalet
Algiers Eyalet
Anatolia Eyalet
Baghdad Eyalet
Basra Eyalet
Bosnia Eyalet
Budin Eyalet (Buda)
Childir Eyalet
Crete Eyalet
Diyarbekir Eyalet
Dulkadir Eyalet
Eger Eyalet
Egypt Eyalet
Erzurum Eyalet
Al-Hasa Eyalet
Kefe Eyalet (Theodosia)
Kanizsa Eyalet
Karaman Eyalet
Kars Eyalet
Kıbrış Eyalet
Morea Eyalet
Mosul Eyalet
Podolia Eyalet
Ar-Raqqah
Rumelia Eyalet
Shahrizor Eyalet
Sidon Eyalet
Silistria Eyalet
Eyalet of Sivas
Syria Eyalrt
Temeşvar Eyalet
Trebizond Eyalet, Lazistan
Tripoli Eyalet (Tripoli-in-the-East)
Tripolitania Eyalet (Tripoli-in-the-West)
Tunis Eyalet
Uyvar Eyalet
Van Eyalet
Varad Eyalet
Yemen Eyalet