TYPES OF VOLUNTEER & YEOMANRY (1902) #24

TYPES OF VOLUNTEER & YEOMANRY (1902) #24

From the cigarette card set “Types of Volunteer and Yeomanry”, issued by W H & J Woods Ltd of Preston in 1902.

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Swedish Swansong

2018 has so far seen me add another five regiments to the now 30-strong Napoleonic Cavalry Project which was begun back in 2015. In what will probably be the final cavalry regiment produced this year, I’m finishing off the remainder of my 2 boxes of HaT’s Swedish Napoleonic Cavalry. From this kit, I’ve previously painted;

Swedish Morner Hussars (4)

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Swedish Carabineers (44)

Hat Swedish Cuirassiers (2)

All of which just leaves my final Swedish regiment – the Småland Light Dragoons.

Småland Light Dragoon, c.1807.

In the contemporary print above, the regiment is shown in 1807 wearing a long-tailed navy blue coat with yellow facings, buff-coloured riding breeches and black shakos. Around the waist is a yellow cord sash. The black shako is shown with a peak and this is also reproduced in the sculpted HaT figures yet in this is not visible in Preben Kannik’s illustration of the regiment of 1808 (found in “Military Uniforms of the World in Colour”).

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Småland Light Dragoon, c.1808 by P. Kannik.

This style of shako reproduced by Kannik, with a tiny – almost non-existent peak – is seen in another contemporary illustration of a Swedish cavalry regiment; the Nylands Light Dragoons of the same year. From these illustrations, the shako appears to have yellow cord around it, something which is reproduced on the HaT figures. The rest of the uniform appears very similar to HaT’s sculpted figures with its waist length coat, although HaT’s troopers are wearing campaign overalls rather than riding breeches.

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The horses supplied by HaT are of course very familiar to me, being the same already used for the 18-strong Mörner Hussar regiment and also for the King’s Horse Guard.

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Scanian Carabineer

Aside from the headdress, the uniform looks closest to the Scanian Carabineers which I painted earlier on in the year. For that reason, I toyed with painting them with yellow coats instead. This was an undress uniform colour adopted for Swedish cavalry regiments for field duty resulting from wearing the reverse colours of the full uniform.

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In the final event, I decided to reproduce the same blue coats wonderfully depicted by Danish illustrator Preben Kannik. His “Military Uniforms of the World in Colour” book was a regular source of pleasure during my childhood and indeed continues do so right up to today. It contains many uniforms or regiments I’ve painted previously in the project and also, it must be said, regiments which I still intend to attempt.

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Cavalry regiments of the French Imperial Guard
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Saxony: Leib-Kurassiers, Trooper, 1812.
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…and my version of the same from earlier this year.

The Småland Light Dragoon figures are already well under way, so I hope to have something to share on progress reasonably soon.

The Household Cavalry Museum: Day Trip #17

What to do when the girls of my household are in London to see a musical leaving me in the capital city with a few hours to kill until they come out of the theatre? Why, visit a military museum, of course!

I decided that I’d walk down to Horse Guards Parade and take a look around the Household Cavalry Museum which is housed within the buildings there. Horse Guards was subject to some redevelopment in 1758 resulting in the Life Guard being based at the site, a tradition that continues to this day. In the 19th Century, the Duke of Wellington as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army used Horse Guards as the British Army HQ. In the 20th century it shamefully was allowed to become an enormous civil service car park, but it reclaimed its dignity and eventually reverted back to its original purpose as a parade and events ground in the 1990s.

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Horse Guards Parade on the day of my visit. The entrance to the Household Cavalry Museum is centre, left of the three archways and just behind a statue of Field Marshall Wolseley.

The entrance fee is £8 which, though modest enough, is slightly more than many of the other military museums I’ve visited (many of which are free), but for London that’s positively cheap!

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On entry, I soon found the display of the modern-day Full Dress uniform for which the Household Cavalry are famous worldwide. The uniforms are based on a 19th century-style heavy dragoon with polished steel cuirasses. The two regiments of the Household Cavalry have distinctively different uniforms; the scarlet tunics and white plumes of the Life Guard and the navy tunics and red plumes of the Blues and Royals. The colours of these regiments are a tradition which goes back a long way. For the Blues and Royals, their uniform harks back to the Horse Guards of the late 17th century.

Also in this contemporary display were the instruments of the mounted band. It was terrific to see the polished kettledrums and drum banners of a regiment which still uses them even today.

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The Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) has a lineage that goes back to the distinctly un-royal cuirassiers in the Parliamentarian Army in the Civil War (known as ‘Haselrigge’s lobsters’). An example of this type of armour is on display.

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In the early 19th century, Wellington’s Household Brigade performed a famous role in the Battle of Waterloo, comprising both regiments of the Life Guard and the Royal Horse Guards. The Royals (the 1st Dragoons who would later merge with the Blues) took part in the same general charge as part of the Union Brigade, in the process capturing a French Eagle. Helmets from this charge were on display. The images below show a Royals helmet top and a Horse Guards helmet below:

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Back in 2016, I posted on a series of cigarette cards featuring British cavalry uniforms, one of which included this trooper below of the Royal Horse Guards in 1815. The same helmet but with the crest and plume in place can be seen.

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A life-sized model reproduced the moment that Captain Alexander Kennedy Clark of the Royal Dragoons captured the French Eagle of the 105th Line. An original heavy dragoon helmet with horsehair plume could be viewed close up in a cabinet too. Great for comparison with my own 1st Royal Dragoon figures painted for the Nappy Cavalry Project a few years ago.

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My figures of The Royals. British Heavy Dragoons by Waterloo 1815.

After Waterloo, the British Army enjoyed an unprecedented period of peace in which Britain and it’s forces were largely pre-eminent and unchallenged on the world stage. This allowed the army to explore more extravagant uniforms of immense grandeur, often without such indulgence ever being exposed to the proving ground of hard campaigning. With the prestigious Life Guard and the Royal Horse Guard regiments, this trend reached particularly exuberant proportions in the realm of headdress, as can be seen below in this 1832 Life Guards helmet with its outrageous bearskin plume.

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Life Guards helmet, 1832-43.

The plume can be seen to be protruding slightly further forward on the helmet seen above compared to the design that it succeeded shown below.

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Life Guards helmet, 1817.

This older 1817 design replaced the iconic, though short-lived, Waterloo helmet. The new design’s astonishing plume had its drawbacks, however, and apparently unbalanced the riders who wore it, hence the 1832 redesign. It must have nonetheless been a terrific sight in Full Dress occasions such as parades or reviews.

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My aforementioned series of British cavalry uniforms on cigarette cards also pictured this helmet on a trooper of the Horse Guards in 1818.

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Another version of this style of bear-crested ‘Romanesque’ headdress was this version worn by the 1st Dragoons, ‘the Royals’. There are notable differences, however. The helmet has been ‘Japanned’ in a black lacquer and has ornate gold-coloured leaf designs featuring on both the sides of the helmet and on the chin scales.

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It’s an imposing piece of headgear, though another piece I discovered was arguably even more so. It was a headdress which I had been hoping to see up close for a long time. Described by the museum as a ‘bearskin cap’, this particular specimen was worn by a captain of the Life Guards at the coronation of the Prince Regent in 1821 and reflected the obsession that the would-be King George IV had with Napoleon’s recently defunct Imperial Guard.

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The grenadier badge is a direct reference to Napoleon’s grenadiers. The ‘comb-over’ plume is made of swan feathers. Once again, another of those cigarette cards depicts this headdress. In fact, it reproduced the exact same coronation headdress on display in the museum, describing the illustration as “an officer of the Life Guards in the full dress uniform worn at the Coronation of George IV”. Notably, the artist has wrongly envisaged a direct copy of the French version with a shorter swan plume, a front plate and other Imperial Guard details, different to the original shown in the museum.

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It would hardly be the Household Cavalry museum without plenty of cuirasses on display. Below is the cuirass worn at the same coronation as the bearskin cap. It’s quite a curious shape, quite elongated, which I suspect may have made being mounted for long periods uncomfortable.

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The difference in cuirass shape can be clearly seen when compared to the version below;

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For ceremonial occasions, cuirasses could be incredibly ornate. The black lacquered cuirass in the photo below was worn exclusively for the state visit of the Russian Tsar in 1814, no doubt deliberately resembling the Russian cuirassiers’ own black versions. It was interesting for me to discover that cuirasses were therefore being worn by the Life Guard, albeit briefly, pre-dating Waterloo. I’d always assumed that the regiment’s encounter with the French cuirassiers had been the instigator of a relationship between the cuirass and the Household Cavalry.

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There was a particularly nice display relating to Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby of the Royal Horse Guards. To the Victorian public, Burnaby was a famously heroic character; the epitome of the recklessly brave Victorian adventurer. Being a member of the Victorian Military Society, he was already familiar to me and I have encountered a number of accounts of the man and his life. Burnaby was larger than life in every sense; being 6ft 4in tall, immensely strong and 20 stone. In the Victorian era such vital statistics was particularly impressive. As sense of the man’s still considerable stature could be gleaned from standing near his uniform, cuirass and boots.

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Feats of his astonishing physical strength and endurance was subject to many anecdotes. Most of all, his adventurous and impetuous spirit guided him through many solo adventures across Central Asia, Spain, the Balkans and Russia at a time when being in the Royal Horse Guards meant limited exposure to direct military action.

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Finally, desperate to see some combat, Burnaby took an unofficial appointment in the 1884 Sudan campaign. He subsequently died in desperate hand-to-hand fighting at the Battle of Abu Klea. One wonders whether his ceremonial cuirass would have proved of real value in such fighting? The boots displayed above were the same ones he was wearing when he was killed in the act of recklessly engaging the famously fierce Sudanese Hadendoa warriors virtually single-handed. The knife and it’s scabbard seen above are Sudanese weapons found on the field of battle where he lay. The book is a copy of “A Ride to Khiva”, Burnaby’s own popular account of his astonishingly daring trip to the distant silk road city which was then a newly acquired part of the Tsar’s empire.

Nearing the exit, I saw a poignant exhibit from aftermath of the IRA bombing of the Blues and Royals near Hyde Park in 1982. Four soldiers and seven of their horses died in the atrocity. The ornate dragoon helmet on display has been grotesquely damaged and deformed by the blast, a sobering reminder of just how far removed the smartness and beauty of traditional British army ceremonial uniforms are from being appropriate military equipment in the modern era. With the story of the wounded horse Sefton, it was also a reminder of how much appalling suffering cavalry horses must have endured through the ages.

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To conclude with, a few more images of uniforms through the ages included in which is Lord Uxbridge’s artificial leg! Uxbridge was Wellington’s 2nd in command at Waterloo and in command of the Allied cavalry (he even recklessly joined the charge of the Heavy Brigade).

Recently, I also encountered another exhibit relating to a member of Wellington’s senior staff when I saw Lt-General Picton’s top hat displayed in the National Army Museum. Just as Picton’s hat reminded me of a famous scene in Dino De Laurentiis’ superb film “Waterloo”, so this leg also made me recall another scene from it; when Uxbridge (played by Terence Alexander) tragically loses his leg to a stray cannonball at the very conclusion of the battle:

Uxbridge: My God sir, I’ve lost my leg.

Wellington: My God sir, so you have!

On exiting, I took a final snap of a statue situated right outside the museum door. The statue commemorates a former colonel of the Horse Guards, the esteemed Victorian Commander-in-Chief, Sir Garnet Wolseley. He is sitting astride his mount and looking out across Horse Guards Parade. Another colossus of Victorian generalship, Lord Roberts, is just yards away, mounted upon his own plinth.

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Glancing at my watch, I decided I still had plenty of time before meeting my wife and daughter. So I walked off down to the excellent Guards Toy Soldier Centre which is outside The Guards Museum and just off Birdcage Walk…

Mon Infanterie Française!

Having posted on the machine gun crews, I’ve now completed the rest of the Pegasus box of WWI French infantry, so here are some pics of the end result. The figures wear the Horizon Blue coat and Adrian helmet. The trousers are white which were worn by some French units when serving on the Salonika front in 1917-18, which these troops are supposed to represent.

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A chap on Benno’s Figures Forum queried whether the white trousers would have been such a bright shade. My response was ‘probably not’, but my WWI encylcopedia states that the trousers worn overseas on the Salonika or Macedonian front were “Horizon Blue or white”, so I suppose that can be taken literally as I have here. Shades and colours during WWI could vary considerably for many nations suffering supply problems with clothing and dyes, so these trousers are probably as likely worn as anything else!

Below are two figures carrying the Chauchat light machine guns, a weapon featured and discussed in previous posts.

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Another nicely sculpted figure is in the act of throwing a hand grenade. An illustration in my WWI encyclopedia depicted French hand grenades having been painted in the same horizon blue as the uniform, for some reason, and I’ve reproduced that here.

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The officer wears leather gloves and leather gaiters instead of puttees. He’s armed with a revolver and beckoning his men to follow.

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The separate arms allowed for a number of figures advancing with their rifles at different angles, like these poilus below:-

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En avant! Vive la France!

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The firing figures came together very nicely, once again in very convincing poses:

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There were also two kneeling poses which once again I thought were very effective.

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They certainly took their time to paint up, despite the fact that I didn’t paint the whole box, just about 2/3rds of it. .I’m not sure why painting these figures seemed so demanding on this occasion. All I can say is that I think the end result is one that I’m pleased with and so it was all well worth the effort.

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These are probably the last WWI figures I’ll paint for 2018 I think, although I’ve a number of kits ready for resuming the project again next year. Meanwhile, I’ve been making plans on what to paint in the run up to 2019, more on which will be announced in due course.

Until then –  On ne passe pas! On les aura! En avant et vive la France!

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My Serbs are travelling to Serbia!

Suburban Militarism has received a communication from a nice fellow from Serbia enquiring about purchasing my Strelets WWI Serbian Infantry figures. He explained that he and some other colleagues are intending to create a display in Belgrade’s Military Museum on a key WWI battle involving Serbian troops (Cer or Drina were mooted).

From research the internet, Belgrade’s military museum looks extremely impressive and is located in a part of Belgrade’s ancient fortress, in the historical core of the city.

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Glad to help out with any military museum, I waived a fee for the figures and just requested a contribution for postage. Using a little spare underlay from a newly laid carpet at home, I fashioned a padded box for my troops safe transport over to their homeland. A little double-sided tape under their bases will hopefully keep them all in situ during transit.

By way of introduction, I’ve written a few words of greeting on the back of a postcard that depicts a man of the local Leicestershire Yeomanry cavalry.

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Seems appropriate that, much like the liberating men of the Serbian army themselves at the end of the Great War, these troops are returning to their homeland as though from exile. Godspeed my Serbian lads (and perhaps lasses…)

And in other Serbia-related news, in an astonishing coincidence the BBC News website chose this week to include a story on Flora Sandes, a British woman who served in the front line with the Serbian army during WWI. Earlier in the year, I included a post on Flora Sandes and other Serbian soldier women who fought with great bravery in combat for Serbia in WWI. The BBC item also includes some information on the Salonica front during WWI and the nature of memorial commemoration of the fallen in the region. Well worth a read.

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The BBC story on Flora Sands and the Salonica Front during WWI.

 

Quel travail! Voila les mitrailleuses!

My Pegasus WWI French Infantry figures have been inching forward this past month. Aside from their Horizon Blue uniforms, they have been painted wearing white trousers, a type more familiarly seen on the Salonica front during WWI. And much like the Salonica front itself during the First World War, progress with my figures has been slow, until my latest offensive with brush has created a sudden and rapid breakthrough.

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I may have laboured the warfare analogies, but I admit at times this set has been something of a struggle. I’m not entirely certain why but I suspect it’s all the assembly required; those fiddly little arms, legs, heads and weaponry all requiring some glue, was partially to blame. The careful patience which I seem to be able to call upon when using the paintbrush simply evaporates once I have to start gluing little bits of plastic together!

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I think another factor which made it all seem a trifle laborious was the sense that I wasn’t doing the figures much justice. Usually, there comes a point in my painting when I feel all the effort is being rewarded with some decent looking figures, but I didn’t really get that impression with these guys. The figures are superbly sculpted so maybe expectations as to what I could do with them were just too high?

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All of which might suggest that I’m really unhappy with the end result, which ultimately I’m not. These figures still look alright, I think, and have been worth the effort. Having said that – they’re still not all done! Some work is still required on the standing figures and their basing. So, anyway, here are the first batch to present – four small vignettes featuring figures who are either operating the French army machine guns (the Hotchkiss mitrailleuse or Chauchat) or otherwise lying prone.

The two mitrailleuse teams remind me of the early war French figures by Caesar which I painted earlier this year.

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During the course of my research for the Caesar figures, I discovered that those 1914 figures must have been operating the St. Etienne machine gun or Mitrailleuse Mle 1907T. By late 1917 however, my figures have ditched the unreliable and unloved St. Etienne and are instead using the superior Hotchkiss Mle 1914. This weapon is identifiable by the five pronounced rings on the barrel which have been faithfully included by the sculptor. These rings were a feature intended to resist overheating. Produced by French company Hotchkiss et Cie, the Hotchkiss Mle 1914 proved to be far more reliable than the St. Etienne and indeed was retained by the French army right up to the beginning of WWII.

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“You’re firing a little high, Lucien, mon ami…”
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“Allez, allez, vite! Keep those ammunition strips coming, Jacques!”

I might say that I am rather pleased with the way their Adrian helmets turned out. It doesn’t look much to the camera, looking identical to their uniform, but to the naked eye I like their slightly metallic aspect which is also a slightly darker colour to the uniform’s Horizon Blue shade.

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Like the St.Etienne, the Hotchkiss machine gun was fed by hand-inserted individual strips holding 24 rounds of 8mm Lebel ammunition. It was an easy though laborious process which led to a 250 round belt-fed alternative being developed. The Hotchkiss also shared the same metal tripod stand as the St. Etienne, known as the ‘Omnibus’ tripod. This added to what were seen as the gun’s major shortcomings; it’s heavy weight and excessive height (making it more easily seen and subject to counter-fire.

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The Hotchkiss M1914 medium machine gun. © IWM (FIR 8102)

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One of the figures is operating a weapon already familiar to Suburban Militarism (see my Serbian WWI Infantry); the hand-held Chauchat light machine gun.

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“Fear not, René. I’ll make those Bulgarians pay for that!”

The Chauchat figure lies on a small mound which was a piece of moulded plastic included on the sprue. A little modelling clay and it has hopefully been blended into the rest of the scene. The Chauchat was a weapon with a number of serious problems, even being called the ‘worst machine gun ever’, according to this film on YouTube.

I’ve included a figure behind the Chauchat wielding infantryman; a casualty who is lying lifeless on his rifle. I resisted the temptation to throw red paint all over it but on hindsight I may add a spot to the ground seeping out near his head.

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Even ‘worst ever’ machine guns are pretty deadly in my opinion and I guess that my armed figure would still be a formidable opponent to anyone advancing over open ground. Speaking of which, the ground on my little displays I’ve tried to make look vaguely arid which I hope might be the sort of landscape found in the region of southern Greece.

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“Cover me, Pierre. Vive la France!”

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One of my little scenes includes a small shell hole in which two men are taking cover. One of the duo bravely, or perhaps unwisely, is emerging from the hole to advance while his comrade covers him with his rifle.

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So, that just leaves the standing figures still to come which, after some more painting and basing, I hope to finally present hopefully at the end of the week.

At which point I will happily be able to say – Finallement!

Another Marrion’s Men post…

You’ll never guess what came through the post today. A couple of weeks ago, I complained about missing out on eBay on a Dorset Miniatures 54mm figure, another one for my “Marrion’s Men” series of yeomanry.

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Having been outbid, I was surprised to see the same figure quickly re-listed. Presumably, the original winner found themselves unable to commit to the purchase for some reason. I’m delighted to confirm that I subsequently won the figure – all of which makes for a happy me!

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So, I’ll be painting up this 1852 officer of the Yorkshire Hussars at some point. In the meantime, the lack of any finished figures appearing on this blog of late is not down to a total lack of endeavour on my part. Those Pegasus’ French WWI infantry are proving incredibly time-consuming. I’m creeping forward with them, so more on those whenever I finally get something worth sharing…

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You’ve been framed: Henry Marten’s Yeomen

Just a quick post to share some photos of two of my recently purchased Henry Martens yeomanry prints, now newly framed and hanging up on the wall here at Suburban Militarism.

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The Yorkshire Hussars
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Long Melford Troop of Suffolk Yeomanry

And I’ll be sourcing frames for the remaining two prints at some point, when circumstances at the family exchequer improve…

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