54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot, Burma 1825

I’ve a number of projects on the go at the moment, namely;

  • the horses for the 28mm scale Warwickshire Yeomanry
  • my “secret” figures
  • the Perry Miniatures Carlist War infantry figures.

As for the latter, I’ve been casting around for inspiration as to exactly what to paint. There’s not a lot of information readily to hand about 1820s infantry, the quiet period after Waterloo was for the British army the calm following the storm of the Napoleonic Wars. Then I recalled a postcard that I’d purchased whilst visiting the Keep Museum in Dorchester a couple of years ago. It depicts a soldier of the 54th Regiment in 1825, behind him can be seen the jungles of the Arakan in Burma. 

The 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot came into being in 1782 after formerly being designated as the 56th. The Childers Reforms merged it with the 39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment of Foot, to form The Dorsetshire Regiment in 1881, hence its appearance in a postcard at the Devonshire and Dorset regiment museum. The regiment was nicknamed Flamers (in 1781 it burned 12 privateers and the town and stores of New London in Connecticut). This is somewhat ironic when considering one of its most famous and gallant exploits took place aboard the burning troop ship Sarah Sands.

The 54th Regiment took part in operations during the First Anglo-Burmese War and took appalling losses, mostly as a consequence of tropical diseases and extreme weather conditions, all of which were experienced in clothing which was far from suitable for the climate.

I was attracted to paint this regiment as that unsuitable uniform was, nonetheless, a wonderfully colourful and attractive one. Aside from the scarlet coat, white crossbelts and green facings, there is the added colour of the light-blue trousers. I believe this to be a tropical pattern worn in hot climates. So I’ve made a start in recreating this illustration by painting the trousers as can be seen below.

58th Regiment (3)
Illustration of 54th Foot in Burma by Rob Chapman.




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