Advent Army Generals

The Army of Advent are now formally under the command of senior officers! I’ve been a somewhat distracted from hobbies and painting in recent weeks by the irritating and insistent demands of the ‘real world’. This latest group of soldiers are in truth still only 99% finished but, as it’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared anything even near to complete, I’m showing what I’ve got anyway!

Introducing… General Rudolf St. Nicholas and two of his senior staff:

Figures are by the wonderful Hagen Miniatures, They’re not being used quite for their originally intended purpose as Prussian generals of the 7 Years War but they nonetheless find a very welcome home in my Army of Advent. Rather than place them in ‘deep and crisp and even’ snow drifts, as I’ve done with the rest of the army, I’ve situated these senior officers in a landscape dusted with a fresh seasonal snow flurry.


The first figure is of the Commander-in-Chief himself. I’ve used Hagen’s figure of Frederick the Great, ‘Der Alte Fritz’, raising his hat aloft to his adoring troops. General Rudolf St. Nicholas is riding his magnificent grey stallion, Pandepascua. The figure came with a choice of three alternate upper torsos and I chose this hat-raising one, it being the most visually distinctive.

His Chief of Staff, Major-General Minns-Pye rides Striezel. For the Army of Advent’s General Staff, I’ve placed them in the dark red uniform similar to that worn by the 1st Noel Regiment. A yellow sash and gold trim on the tricorns are indicative of their rank.

Finally, we have Maj-Gen. Stockingfiller bestride his easy-going Trakehner stallion, Bredele.

I was going to include Lt-Col. Figgypudding on his Lusitano stallion, ‘Panforte’. I realised belatedly that I had still to attend to a number of things before he’s ready (saddle cloth, riding gauntlet gloves, spurs, etc. etc.), so maybe I’ll present them both later.

Soldiers and Silkmen

Followers of English football may have noted the very sad ending of a football club which could boast an impressive 146 year long history. The club in question was Cheshire’s Macclesfield Town who went by the nickname The Silkmen. What has this to do with Suburban Militarism, you may well ask? The answer lies in the club’s formation way back in 1873, something which piqued my interest. According to Wikipedia;

The beginnings of Macclesfield Town Football Club can be traced, at least in part, to the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers who were formed in 1873 and played regularly in Macclesfield from October 1874. It was agreed at a public meeting on 21 October 1876 that the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers and the Olympic Cricket club teams be merged to form Macclesfield F.C.; initially matches alternated between association and rugby rules.

Bridge Street Drill Hall, Macclesfield. Wikipedia. By Peter Barr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Some research reveals that the headquarters of the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers was the Bridge Street Drill Hall, seen above. This rather impressive building opened in 1871, just two years before members of this rifle volunteer corps formed what would be the genesis of Macclesfield’s 146-year old football club.


Illustration of a Cheshire Rifle Volunteer from “Redington’s New Twelves of Rifle Volunteer Corps“, a coloured print of 12 different Rifle Volunteer figures. Published by J. Redington of London, c.1860.


With the Childers reforms, this unit become the 5th Volunteer Battalion of the local Cheshire Regiment in 1883. Later, with the formation of the Territorial Force, it became the 7th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment in 1908. At the onset of hostilities in the Great War, men of the battalion were mobilised at the Bridge Street drill hall in August 1914 prior to being sent off to Gallipoli and the Western Front.

Some further research reveals something of the 8th Cheshire’s formation and uniform courtesy of the “Historical Records of the 5th Administrative Battalion Cheshire Rifle Volunteers“.

“On the 31st December the Queen accepted the services of a Corps at Macclesfield, consisting of one Company, under Captain Samuel Pearson, late Lieutenant 1st Dragoon Guards. The uniform was grey, trimmed with black lace, and long loops for the Officers, velvet facings, and a kepi. The accoutrements were of brown leather. This Corps was numbered the 8th Cheshire.”

The book includes the lovely illustration seen above of the 5th Cheshire in 1859. The description of a grey uniform also bears a passing resemblance to another Cheshire Rifle Volunteer Corps – the 1st, also known as The Cheshire Greys.

The Cheshire Greys, c.1860s.

I modelled a small diorama of the Cheshire Greys in their 1880s incarnation wearing Home Service Pattern helmets and firing Martini-Henry rifles. I suppose the 8th Cheshire RVC could have looked much the same at around this time.

The 1st Cheshire Rifle Volunteers, “The Cheshire Greys” c.1880.

I’ve written before of how the Victorian Rifle Volunteer movement, with it’s emphasis on locally raised units, could be as much a social as a military endeavour featuring dances, shooting competitions and other events all adding to the camaraderie and cohesion of the units. It seems that, as with the formation of Macclesfield’s football club, sport was also a key feature of the Rifle Volunteer movement. In Macclesfield’s case, the sporting legacy of these local men endured for 164 years until a High Court decision last Wednesday.

The Guardian. Sept 17th 2020 includes this epitaph to the club;

The town of Macclesfield itself is, as the New Order drummer and Silkmen fan Stephen Morris put it, “a mill town that had lost the adjective ‘thriving’ somewhere along the way”. Its high street is pockmarked by boarded-up shops. The football club, like the old Majestic cinema and the many closed pubs on the London Road walk up to the Moss Rose, appears destined to become another lost community asset.

Notably, Bridge Street drill hall, Wikipedia reports “was decommissioned and has since been converted into apartments.” The long legacy of the Rifle Volunteer movement, it seems, has sadly finally come to an end in Macclesfield.

Stable Personalities: Horses of Advent

Horses. They can get a little overlooked in modelling, and I know some people positively hate having to paint them, which I get. I like to give my horses their due, however. In fact, I seem to have developed the convention of naming the noble steeds of Advent army officers after Christmas puddings and seasonal cakes from around the globe. In my officer’s stables, for example, I already have a dun stallion named “Panettone” and a tough little Arabian called “Pandoro”. So, continuing on in that tradition, I introduce to you the Commander-in-Chief’s extremely fine – and rather pampered – grey stallion, Pandepascua!

General St. Nicholas on Pandepascua. The General, along with the rest of his staff, are still a work in progress.

Chief of Staff, Major-General Minns-Pye prefers his elegant and black stallion while on campaign to anything quite as fancy, and as physically delicate, as some of the other thoroughbreds he sees ridden by certain other headquarters staff. Introducing his trusty Hanoverian warmblood – “Striezel” (‘show’ name – Allerheiligenstriezel!).

Maj-General Minns-Pye on Striezel

Next, I have Bredele, Maj-Gen. Stockingfiller’s chestnut-bay Trakehner. A good-natured equine with a tendency to lazyness, much like (it has been said) old Stockingfiller himself!

Maj-Gen Stockingfiller on Bredela

And finally, completing this show of officer’s horses, we have a stallion every bit as spirited and forward-going as his own master (St.Nicholas’ zealous military secretary, Lt.Colonel Figgypunding). “Panforte” is the name of this feisty dark-bay Lusitano.

And finally, Lt-Col. Figgypunding on Panforte.

The scale of these figures is perfect for my Army of Advent and they seem to go nicely with other 1:72 sized plastic figures I’ve used so far, as can be seen by the photo below.

Above: Maj-Gen. Minns-Pye on Striezel is closely followed by Colonel Giftrapp of the Yule Grenadiers on Pandoro – ahead by a length going into the final furlong…

I’ve been working on painting from the hoof up with these Hagen figures, so next in my list after the saddleblankets and pistol holders are done will be the riders themselves. As you can see, I’ve made a start with the coats but there’s plenty more to do before they’re fit to command the Army of Advent.

General St. Nicholas and Staff

As mentioned in the last post, after a call for some suggestions of figures which could represent the staff officers of my Army of Advent, John at Just Needs Varnish came up with a corker of a suggestion that I should check out Hagen Miniatures of Germany. A quick look at their extensive range of 7YW Prussian staff convinced me that I’d plump for them.

They’ve come through the post super quick from Deutschland and they’re glued ready for paint. First up, I have the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Advent:

1. General Sir Rudolf St. Nicholas

The figure is actually ‘der alte Fritz’ himself, King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Pleasingly, the figure comes with three alternative top halves including choices of a raised sword, a lowered sword and a raised hat. I wanted General St. Nicholas to be as distinctive as possible so have gone with the dramatic raised hat pose. The other two redundant poses are below:


2. Major-General Minns-Pye (Chief of Staff)

The most senior member of General St. Nicholas’ staff is Adjutant-General, Chief of Staff and effective Second-in-Command, Major-General Minns-Pye.


3. Major-General Stockingfiller (Quartermaster-General)

The figure below will represent the QMG, Major-General Stockingfiller. The horses are quite distinctive; rather skinny with long faces. I like them, perfect for the project, being full of character. They remind me of the cartoon character Lucky Luke’s horse, Jolly Jumper


4. Lieutenant-Colonel Figgypudding (Military Secretary)

Finally, we have the General’s dependable right-hand man – the energetic Military Secretary, Lt.-Col. Figgypudding.

All in all, a nice little group for the General Staff of my Army of Advent!

Revealing the New Uniform of the Yule Grenadiers

Here they are, the new-look Yule Grenadiers!

The new figures are from HaT’s 7YW Austrian Infantry Marching set. The set also comes with musketeer figures which I ultimately intend to make use of for the 1st Noel Regiment of Foot and also for a sister battalion, the 2nd Noel!

Left: Revell and Right: HaT Yule Grenadiers

There a still a few things to attend to with this regiment. Their commanding officer, the recently returned Colonel Giftrapp and his horse Pandoro, needs a little work and a snowy base creating. The ensign has a pole but is notably flagless at the moment. Firstly, my daughter is supposed to be designing a second colour at some point, the first colour featuring a Christmas pudding was created five years ago. The intention is for the first colour to be a kind of King’s Colour with this second colour as the Regimental Colour. Further complicating production matters is that my printer is kaput!

So, keeping faith with tradition, the uniform is largely the same as the older Revell versions. However, the gold grenadier cap which they wore is now a brown fur cap instead.

I’ve enjoyed getting my creative juices going again with my fanciful Army of Advent. Recently, I put out the question as to where I could find some senior officers for the army and received some terrific great suggestions in return. Many thanks for that guys, I’ve decided to go with German manufacturer Hagen Miniatures and have just received some fabulous senior staff through the post lickety split. More on those soon!

The Mysterious Re-emergence of Colonel Giftrapp

I’ve been busy quietly painting my Yule Grenadiers, one regiment from my (admittedly eccentric) Christmas-themed army. The grenadiers are virtually completed but in the course of some painting duties, I was delighted to discover the regiment’s long-lost CO, good old Colonel Giftrapp!

Colonel Giftrapp and his Arabian bay stallion, Pandoro.

He was last seen back in 2015 in a state of being incomplete. I fixed him with a little Blu-Tac for a photo atop his chestnut charger, Pandoro (who was also only partially painted). I took a snap as the Yule Grenadiers marched through the streets of the town of Advent during the Christmas holidays.

I confess I have a history of losing important soldiers only to rediscover them some years later. This was the case with the lost Sharpshooter. Thankfully, I seem to rediscover them again, eventually…

Happily, both rider and horseman have now – quite separately – appeared. Pandoro the horse emerged first tucked away in a tin of random, unfinished figures. Of Colonel Giftrapp, however, there was no sign.

This week however, in the process of tidying, I opened the cupboard door to my painting bureau and there he was lying at the bottom, plain as day. He must have somehow dropped down from wherever he’d been secreted. A little paint was missing here and there, suggesting they’d had a few adventures along the way. They both just need a little work here and there (stirrups, sash, etc.) to get them fully parade-ready.

This is all excellent timing, of course, as his regiment has only this week taken receipt of it’s new uniforms. As obliquely indicated in my last post, the old Revell figures are being updated using new HaT Austrian Grenadier figures. I’ll be sharing the subtle new-look to the regiment in the next post soon.

News from the Kingdom of Advent

The principal newspaper of the Kingdom of Advent, “The Christmas Chronicle (incorporating the Natal News)”, recently published a report on intriguing developments taking place within the Army of Advent. The article states:

“Our fashion correspondent reports on tidings to the effect that one infantry battalion within our Adventine Army are soon to be in receipt of new uniforms, all courtesy of their very generous, not to say well-financed, regimental colonels. The battalion in question are rumoured to be the Yule Grenadiers.

The adoption of a new style grenadier cap is expected to be the most notable feature of the change to the grenadiers uniform.

As to when we might expect to see men of these battalions walk out in their splendid new military attire, the Chronicle can only speculate, however sources suggest it may be soon. Plans for the design of the uniform have apparently already been approved by the C-in-C following samples run up by the contracted military tailors. If the idle tittle-tattle of the local fishwives at the docks is to be believed, they could be with the Commissariat Department within weeks...

A preview of the new designs drawn up at the well-known military tailors “Badfitting, Misshapen and Itch”.

Here the report concludes.

Remembering VJ Day – 75 years on

It’s the anniversary of VJ Day (Victory over Japan) today. The end of hostilities in August 1945 has sometimes been overshadowed in popular consciousness in the UK by VE Day and the fall of Nazi Germany. The 15th August marks the 75th anniversary of this crucial event and I didn’t want to let it pass without remembering my grandad, who served in the far east theatre as 4864372 Private Laurence ‘Nobby’ Clark. He enlisted in the 7th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment and was later drafted to the under-strength North Staffordshire Regiment, serving in India and Burma.

I recall hearing from my grandad a number of comments and seeing some mementos of his time there. As is the way with eager but ignorant schoolboys, I would often press him to tell me more of his wartime experiences, and – as is the way with veterans who encountered the reality of war – he was reluctant to go into too much detail about the actual combat. He would occasionally recount how he and his comrades would be subjected to Japanese psychological warfare in the jungle. At night, the unseen enemy would call out in English the first names of soldiers, saying such things as “Nobby, go back home to your mother, she’s worried about you“, etc. etc.

One story that I remember most clearly was his recounting a time when he encountered some Indian jungle wildlife. He was used as a ‘runner’, sent on his own to carry messages through the jungle between lines, often at night. This must have been a terrifying experience for a working class city man from the midlands of England. On one occasion he ran straight into the path of a tiger running towards him! The shock of the encounter was shared by both tiger and soldier, and both turned and ran in the opposite direction. My grandad told me he thought it might have been a juvenile. The badge of both The Leicestershire Regiment and the 26th Indian Infantry Division (to which his other regiment the N. Staffs was attached) is a tiger, so perhaps he was forewarned of this eventuality!

My bet’s on dog number 2! A number of his wartime photographs show my grandad taking part in army entertainments and sports. I’ve previously seen some photos where he is posing in army hockey and football teams, I believe he represented them at company and even inter-battalion or regimental level hockey. Here, I’ve highlighted him taking part in some kind of ersatz dog racing event involving giant dice, numbered wooden greyhounds and respective numbered armbands on six smartly dressed chosen men (of which my grandad is one). I wonder how this entertainment worked in reality?!

My mother sent me this below she’d discovered about the 7th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment. Perhaps he was transferred in 1944 to the N. Staffs after serving with the Chindits, I need to find out more:

I imagine that tropical diseases, privations from extended lines of communication, plagues of insects and other exotic wildlife, the heat and humidity, the extreme stress of fighting far away in such alien and difficult conditions, all must have made the experience incredibly gruelling.

My grandad wearing the uniform of the North Staffordshire Regiment. Note the slouch hat with a khaki pagri wrapped around it. This headgear was issued to British Soldiers fighting in the jungles of India and Burma.

After VJ day, he understand that he felt part of a forgotten army. No cheering crowds or wild celebrations in the streets greeted his return in a nation already months into adjusting to life after the Nazi threat had been destroyed. I recall he was disillusioned also by the issuing of his medals without any engraved name and number of the recipient. The impersonal nature of these awards meant that they mattered little to him as a consequence and, I believe, he simply lost them or threw them away.

He returned home with some locally bought Indian metalwork crafts and a kukri, the famous bent knives of the Gurkhas, which he subsequently used to trim his lawn with. Nearly a very literal case of from swords to ploughshares! I believe he maintained a good friendship through correspondence with at least one of his senior officers for some years after the war and leaving the army.

Even 75 years on, and over 20 years after he passed away, this blog post affirms that he’s not a forgotten soldier from a forgotten army.


There is a website dedicated to this year’s VJ Day commemoration – https://ve-vjday75.gov.uk

Fighting in the Far East theatre were many nations with Africans, Indians, Japanese, British, Americans, Chinese and many others including the Australians. My blog buddy IRO over at Imperial Rebel Ork blog has just completed some fabulous looking Aussie infantry from the New Guinea campaign.

The Army of Advent

Having been mired in a lack of enthusiasm for any new painting assignment, I started rifling through the piles of soldiers in storage in the hope that something, somewhere might eventually inspire me to pick up a brush. I eventually pulled out a box of HaT’s Austrian Infantry from the 7 Years War. These are figures intended for the Christmas Corps, which I’m increasingly labelling the Army of Advent.

Followers of this blog may recall a certain Christmas tradition involving the formation of this Christmas-themed imagi-nation army (because nothing says “Christmas” quite like military conflict…). Glibness aside, although hopelessly out of season (August highs of 31°c+ here yesterday), reviewing these figures for the Army of Advent suddenly re-inspired me. I usually paint such figures nearer the time, but it doesn’t really matter so long as they are ready for mantelpiece duty on the 1st day of Advent. So I’m going with these HaT marching figures in an attempt to get my paint juices going again.

This army currently consists of specially painted troops in their bright and colourful uniforms, created for one purely ceremonial purpose – the duty of standing guard on the mantelpiece during the Christmas season.

The newly-raised Mistletoe Guards on their plinth during last Christmas.

Each year, two regiments from the Army of Advent take a ‘tour of duty’, being displayed on a plinth amongst all the mantelpiece decorations. The Army of Advent currently consists of;

General Staff:

Commander-in-Chief Major-General Noel St. Nicholas and his staff.


Infantry Brigade:

Colonel Hoarfrost (Midwinter Fuzileers) commanding, Major Incense (Mistletoe Guards) ADC.

  1. The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot
  2. The Yule Grenadiers
  3. The Midwinter Fuzileers
  4. The Mistletoe Guards
Colonel Hoarfrost and Major Incense ride out on their respective chargers; Blitzen and Panettone.

Cavalry Brigade:

Colonel Mulled-Wyne (Christingle Dragoons) commanding, Captain Wassail (Carolling Hussars) ADC.

A Carolling Hussar.

Artillery:

Captain Fortune-Fisch commanding.


I’ll be sharing news of some progress very shortly on this project. In the meantime, I’m looking to develop a general staff for the festive force. If anyone knows of 20mm / 1.72 scale figures which may be appropriate for 7YW era commanders aside from HaT’s versions, I’d love to hear your ideas.

Mitrecap Miniatures: 54mm Leicestershire Yeomanry

Another of my 54mm Mitrecap Miniatures Yeomanry chaps. Although not inspired by R.J. Marrion or E.A. Campbell, or indeed any other illustration that I know of, this one is of particular interest to me as it’s my local volunteer force, the Leicestershire Yeomanry.

The uniform is a hussar pattern and recall similar items of uniform which I’ve seen before in the Leicestershire Yeomanry museum.

A model of a trooper in the Leicestershire Yeomanry.

Much to my surprise after the usual chaotic and alchemical process of paint daubing and wash applications, the face has come out nicely. The shading is subtle, as is my style, but (I like to think) convincing enough.

The painting instructions by Mitrecap did not always accord with other evidence. The busby, for example, was described as dark brown fur but the examples seen in the museum were very definitely black – so I’ve gone with that.

A busby of the Yeomanry.

Likewise, the ornate braid is described as being “silver” by Mitrecap. A Richard Simkin print which I have framed shows the braid as being a silvery shade of white.

The Leicestershire Yeomanry depicted by Richard Simkin

Hopefully my blend of white and silver does the job.

The rest of the uniform is dark blue with scarlet piping on the legs, scarlet cuffs, collar and busby bag.

The flimsy plume had all but broken off when I received the figure so with some difficulty, I’ve managed to reattach it.

It’s a nice pose and excellent sculpting by Mitrecap, as I’ve come to expect from them. This yeoman joins another Leicestershire Yeomanry pair of figures, (Napoleonic era) which I painted just the other day. I know of only one other model representation of the Leicestershire Yeomanry, a plaster 150mm figure by “The Sentry Box”. Something to keep an eye out for?

Sited on the usual alder-wood Ukrainian-made plinth, this chap makes for the 11th 54mm yeomanry figure in my slowly growing collection. There’s more to come and given how pleasurable they are to paint, who’s to say it won’t be soon!