With some figures from the BFFFP still up for grabs (unless another forum member elects to paint them over the next week or so), I sought out some of my Esci Scots Greys. These little guys were inside a plastic box which contained many other soldiers, the common denominator of these being that they were all figures from my childhood. I’ve mentioned before in this blog how a key driver of my renewed interest in this hobby was to give colour to figures that frustratingly remained unpainted as a child. So, it’s perhaps a little strange that I have hitherto not attempted to paint any of those original childhood soldiers. To some extent, I wonder if I’ve considered them historical relics, or perhaps I’ve been stalling until I feel I can do them justice?
The Scots Greys, or more correctly the “2nd [The Royal North British] Dragoons“, have achieved some fame for their charge in the battle of Waterloo. In truth, they were but one part of the Duke of Wellington’s entire Household and Union Brigades involved in that charge. Indeed, they were supposed to remain in reserve for the charge but took part on their own initiative as the charge developed. They helped throw back the main French attack and captured a regimental eagle in the process, although fatigue and the lack of any planned objective led to heavy casualties from the French cavalry’s counter-charge. Many artists have chosen to portray the Scots Greys at Waterloo, Richard Caton-Woodville being one notable example, further spreading their fame. But it was the great Victorian military painter Lady Butler who really cemented their legend on canvas with her iconic depiction of their part in the action:
With such depictions as these, it was easy to forget that another four regiments took part in the same charge; the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues), and the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards, the 1st (The Royals) Dragoons and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons. But it is the Scots Greys which feature heavily in popular depictions and, of course, in releases from model soldier manufacturers too! Hence this release from Esci way back in the 1980s.
Esci correctly portrayed their Scots Greys with covers over their bearskin shakos (unlike many of the artists who chose to show the more romantically uncovered headgear). I’m no expert on the uniforms but have done my best with some basic research. As for the greys themselves, I’ve suffered a couple of artistic tantrums in painting them up. My wife is an equestrian who has a horse (a dun, not a grey!), so I’m a bit self-conscious about getting it right. Which I probably haven’t. But I’m happy to leave them as they are – they’re probably good enough after waiting all these years, I think!