Suburban Militarism goes on holiday (part 2)

Not only did I pay a visit to Hurst Castle, but I also had the pleasure of spending a day at the Royal Navy’s Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth. Suburban Militarism is not a naval blog, so I won’t dwell too much on the visit, suffice to say that seeing Admiral Nelson’s HMS Victory, the Tudor-era wreck of the Mary Rose, and the pride of the Victorian navy’s HMS Warrior was a truly special day out.

The Royal Marines fell under the auspices of the navy in 1755, but prior to that were formally part of the army. As such, I feel justified to include something on them here – as Kipling said; “soldier and sailor too”! On board and below decks on the dark HMS Victory, I did sneak a photo of a uniform of the Marines. It’s easy to overlook how much a part these infantrymen played in the victories of the Royal Navy. The infantry element of the Royal Marines were known as the Red Marines on account of their infantry-style scarlet coat, sailors sometimes rudely referring to them as the Lobsters!

An example of the uniform of the Marines taken on board HMS Victory herself!
An example of the uniform of the Marines taken on board HMS Victory herself!

Later in the week we paid a visit to the local museum in the town of Lymington. I was pleased to find some fascinating information referring to the Quiberon Expedition of 1795, an incident in the French Revolutionary Wars. This was a counter-revolutionary pro-royalist invasion of France by a legion of emigres, sponsored by the British government. Lymington, being a port town just up the river from the Solent and English Channel, was an ideal base for the training and provision of these French exiles prior to an invasion. The museum, which also sold a cheap information booklet on the episode, helpfully depicted the uniforms of the royalist regiments with watercolours on a laminated sheet which I photographed and reproduce below: DSCF7954 (2) The Royal Louis Regiment wears the pre-revolutionary white common to the royal French army. The Royal Marine and the Loyal Emigrants wear British scarlet, a consequence of having been supplied and equipped by the British government, something that would not help their cause with the French population once the invasion was mounted. The invasion, though initially successful with assistance from the Royal Navy during the channel crossing, fell foul to indecision and infighting between the invasion force and the local Chouan forces. The Chouannerie was a royalist uprising in western France and the Chouans, often fighting using guerilla tactics, would remain a thorn in the side of Republican France right up until 1815. DSCF7955 (2) The uprising ended in bloody defeat with the capture of over 6,000 Chouans and emigres, 750 of whom were executed by firing squad. Some 2000 were evacuated by the Navy back to England, many facing hardship and destitution as they settled back into the Lymington area. Interestingly, Strelets have produced a kit of British infantry wearing the foreign service style uniforms that the emigres (and some Chouans) were shown equipped with. So, I have purchased a cheap copy of this set and may have a go at some point reproducing a company from a royalist emigre regiment.

Strelets “British Line Infantry in Egypt”.

Suitably inspired by my holiday, I am now able to return to finishing off my French Dragoon regiment that I began before I left. More on that as it progresses!

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