The Roll Call

Further to my last post – a quick update. The egg rolling took place between the various painted competitors.

I am happy to report that my ‘Scotch egg’ of the Highland Light Lunch Infantry performed in the very best traditions of the regiment and won the competition! In fact, it took a large number of downhill charges before finally breaking apart.

Family egg designs: an abstract pattern, a roller coaster and a uniform of the HLI.

Easter Bunnies and a Scotch Egg

I confess that ‘Easter Bunnies’ is not the kind of title that I thought I’d be using at Suburban Militarism blog, but I realised that Easter was a perfect opportunity to paint a couple of critters which I recently received as a freebie with some other figures from Bad Squiddo Games.

These two tiny rabbits at 28mm scale are part of a range of animals provided by Bad Squiddo including such things as slugs, snails, guinea pigs, pigeons, rats, horses, pigs, tortoises and kittens. Also, the more exotic are catered for such as lions, giant chameleons, moose and even tardigrades!

I’m fairly sure they are the first bunnies I’ve painted at any scale and I really enjoyed doing them! They’ve joined a modest Easter display in the household.

I’ve based the little guys on a 2 pence piece and scattered some spring grass and flowers around.

I’m not sure why, but this crouching fellow looks like a hot, cross bunny!

I have some Christmas painting traditions practiced at Suburban Militarism, so perhaps Bad Squiddo bunnies could become an Easter one?

Meanwhile, another Easter tradition practiced here is the painting of an egg. I blogged about this tradition back in 2017 in a post titled “Shell Shock“…

An eggsample from 2017: The Duke of Omelette’s Own Yolkmanry

…and again in 2019 based on a Victorian cavalryman in the post “The Last Charge of the Yolkshire Hussars“.

An Oeuf-ficer of the Yolkshire Hussars (sorry…)

This year, I thought I’d daringly attempt a Scottish regiment based on an example of the Highland Light Infantry.

Highland Light Infantryman by Caton Woodville from my copy of his “Territorial Army Album of 1908.

Hard boiled egg at the ready, I set to work with some acrylic paints to recreate the Highland Light Lunch Infantry uniform of 1908; scarlet doublet with buff facings.

The tartan trews were created by mixing the base colour and then adding red and white lines. This is the Mackenzie tartan. This is a regimental tartan and has also been known as “MacLeod and Seaforth” from MacLeod’s Highlanders (a predecessor to the Highland Light Infantry) and the Seaforth Highlanders.

The ultimate fate of this ‘Scotch egg’ is to charge downhill to his doom but at least he’ll look smart whilst on his way.

US President Joe Biden has also announced the return of the presidential egg roll after suspension due to Covid-19. The article about the history of presidential egg rolling and painting is an interesting read, apparently there is even an International Egg Art Guild. Perhaps I could apply? Judging from the examples on display – probably not.

Veteran of the Veldt or a Gunner of the Great War?

I recently received a copy of a photograph apparently of a soldier of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. The photo shows the husband of my Great Aunt Clara.

Great Uncle Jim Baddley

My mother had written on the back of the photo:

Great Uncle Jim Baddley, Great Aunt Clara’s husband. Taken when he was in the Boer War cavalry.

At first glance, Great Uncle Jim does indeed wear clothing associated with a cavalryman. I can see a bandolier across the chest, riding breeches, what is possibly a riding crop, and spurs are visible on his boots. However, a look at the photograph lead me to suspect that he was not a cavalryman at all and furthermore that it post-dated the Boer War.

Firstly, the peaked cap was introduced to the British Army in 1905, three years after the end of the Boer War. The Service Dress 1905 pattern cap can be seen worn by the men in the photograph below which shows British Territorial Force gunners and a breech loading 5-inch howitzer, apparently taken around 1908-1914.

By Photographer uncredited, unknown – Postcard by A E Marett of Shrewton, Public Domain.

The cap badge, although not clear and set at an angle, seems to closely match the badge of the Royal Artillery. Great Uncle Jim’s cap badge can be compared to an example of a volunteer Royal Artillery badge below. The regulars had a very similar badge to the one shown but instead of the scroll displaying the word “volunteers” under the crown, it had the RA motto “Ubique” (“everywhere”). It’s impossible to see from the old photograph exactly which it is.

The photo doesn’t appear to show a Boer War-era uniform in some other respects too. If Jim is of the Royal Artillery, then images of artillerymen from that war that I’ve seen seems to show them mostly wearing Slade-Wallace style equipment, although I have seen a photograph of a Horse Artillery troop wearing bandoliers too. Incidentally, I made a version of a bandolier last year for my local ‘scarecrow festival’ entry -the Michael Morpurgo inspired “Straw Horse”. With only room for four oversized pouches on the belt, it was a little less than historically accurate – an inaccuracy that I’m sure few noticed!

The one visible in my Great Uncle’s photograph is most likely to be the post-Boer War 1903 Pattern Bandolier:

“The British personal equipment used in the Second Boer War had been found to be deficient for a number of reasons, and the Bandolier Equipment was introduced as a stop-gap replacement. The equipment was made of brown leather and consisted of five 10-round ammunition pouches worn over one shoulder on a bandolier… It soon proved to be unsuitable for infantry use, but was used throughout the First World War by cavalry and other mounted troops.”

The bandolier was “used by cavalry and other mounted troops” – the equestrian aspect of artillery uniforms at this time can be explained as a consequence of the horse still being the main method of transporting the guns.

By IWM Collections. Gunner J Orr, Public Domain.

The uniform in the above example of an RA gunner clearly does match Great Uncle Jim’s down to the white lanyard cord hanging down on his left shoulder. While white plaited lanyards were also worn by cavalrymen, the lanyard was also an essential piece of equipment for an artilleryman:

Members of the British Royal Artillery would wear a lanyard with a key attached to allow them to adjust the fuses of explosive shells. Keeping this key close to hand in a tense situation could only be achieved with the help of a lanyard attached to their uniform.

According to one old RA regiment association, the shoulder on which the lanyard was worn depended on the date;

There is no certainty about this, but the change from the left shoulder to the right probable took place at about the time of the Great War, when the bandolier was introduced, because it was worn over the left shoulder. But there are some who insist that 1924 was the date of change, when the sloping of rifles over the left shoulder would soil the white lanyard.

In this photo at least, that change had yet to happen.

So, it’s a photograph clearly taken after the Boer War of a man in a uniform which appears to be of the Royal Artillery. I’d like to find out more about my artilleryman relative. I have previously written about some of my other relatives at the time of the Great War including my Great Grandfather and also Great Uncle Jack who was sadly killed at the Battle of Loos, 1915.

Serbian Infantry Update

With one small exception, my group of Serbian WWI infantry are finished.

The whole group consist of the following poses:

Throwing a grenade:

Kneeling, firing:

Charging with the bayonet:

Standing, firing:

Advancing with the bayonet:


Kneeling with bayonet:

With those painted, it leaves the officers. As I’ve been requested to create a flag bearer, I’m planning to see if I can convert one officer to holding the Serbian flag – we’ll just have to see how that goes…!

Their adversaries, the army of the Austro-Hungarian empire, I painted some time ago but still require their bases removing and pins inserting. This is no easy task and I’m wary of damaging the paint, so I’m going to trial a few of these to see if its viable without ruining them.

Future Figures

Happy New Year, everyone! Over the festive period (which includes my birthday) I’ve happily accrued some more figures for the hobby which I thought I’d share. These have included some more 54mm yeomanry figures from Tradition in Sweden, namely yeomanry representing the counties of Essex and Norfolk (and if they turn out looking anything like the cover pictures, I’ll be happy).

In addition, further extending my 54mm Yeomanry Project, I’ve even managed to source a rare figure from the now defunct Border Miniatures, which was duly ‘put away for Christmas’ for me. It’s a figure of the Westmoreland and Cumberland Yeomanry but, uniquely in my collection, it’s mounted! Both horse and rider are included, so a 54mm horse will be a first for me. That’s a lot of equine.

Border Miniatures issued another Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry figure (this time standing) which I’ve had in my collection for a while and is still awaiting painting. In fact, I posted on this manufacturer back in March of this year. I’m thinking that this mounted yeomanry figure will make for an fittingly eye catching coda to the project when, eventually, I’ve exhausted the rest of my unpainted 54mm yeomanry figures.

PM/1, Cumberland & Westmoreland Yeomanry, Mounted 1898 – Border Miniatures. (manufactured possibly late 1980s).

All the way from Germany, meanwhile, I ordered some more troops for the Army of Advent. In what will probably be the last major purchase for my festive force, the box contains a heavy cavalry regiment. For now, they will be stowed away ready for the another Christmas crafting season.

I’ve also received a package from the ever excellent Bad Squiddo Games containing some figures I intend to use for next year’s FEMbruary. I won’t reveal what they are in advance but simply wanted to show off these excellent little freebie rabbit figures that BSG supremo Annie very kindly included!

A Bunny Bonus courtesy of Bad Squiddo Games!

Finally, my mother came up trumps with something for these figures to stand on – grass tufts!

Looking Back and Forward

This year has seen Suburban Militarism become distinctly less suburban with a move out from the suburbs and into the county. My armies (mostly) survived the move and after a hiatus in order to settle in, painting has continued more or less as normal. Another year in the time of plague at least provides an excellent excuse to immerse oneself in hobbies and here’s some of things I turned my sable brush to in 2021:

FEMbruary 2021

For this year’s FEMbruary I produced 5 of Bad Squiddo’s female WWII SOE agents, providing a brief biography of each.

The “Neglected But Not Forgotten” Painting Challenge…

For Ann’s challenge, I threw myself into clearing an entire two boxes (and a quarter) of some old Mars Saxon Infantry of the Great Northern War,

…eventually producing an entire brigade of six regiments! The entire process, interrupted by the disruption of moving house, took months.

I took time out on occasion to add to my 54mm Yeomanry Project, producing:

A sergeant of the Worcestershire Yeomanry:

An officer of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry:

An officer of the Lancashire Yeomanry:

Continuing with troops of the Lace Wars of the 18th century, I managed to paint a couple of cavalry regiments:

Schomberg’s Regiment of Horse (British) or Beust’s Regiment (Saxon):

French Horse Grenadiers:

I even managed to take a brief summer holiday for the first time in two years and sent a postcard:

I continued to nurture my slowly developing Ottomania! Project with some examples of Eyâlet infantry.

I expanded to (nearly) 1:1 scale with this submission into the local Scarecrow Festival. It was based on Michael Morpurgo’s WWI cavalry-themed book “War Horse”, or as our entry had it – “Straw Horse“:

I entered the Jazz age with a 28mm scale homage to singer Adelaide Hall for Black History Month:

I received a request to paint a large number of Serbian and Austrian infantry in 1/72 scale, a project which is still continuing slowly but surely!

And, as the year drew to a close I painted some more wintry-looking figures for my ever-growing French infantry retreating from Moscow in 1812…

…and finally produced two more regiments for my Christmas-themed Army of Advent. One, an entirely new regiment – The Poinsettian Rifles:

…And the other, the oldest regiment in the army, received their brand, spanking new uniforms – The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot:

Next year? I’m too wise to make specific predictions but I’ve no doubt that the old, familiar projects (see above) will make an appearance at some point. Often, though, it’s the unexpected diversions which keep the motivation high and I’ll look forward to more of those in 2022.

Hoping for a healthier and saner 2022, I send my best wishes and a Happy New Year to all Suburban Militarism’s visitors.


News from the Serbian Front…

The year is 1914 and the Kingdom of Serbia is mobilising. Troops of the 1st Ban in their green-grey uniforms rapidly assemble to meet the invading Austro-Hungarian army…

Or, to put it less melodramatically, my Serbian WWI infantry project has been moving forward slowly but steadily.

Previously, I had finished off painting my First World War Austrian K & K troops. These men in Pike-Grey uniforms still require the challenge of pinning them, but otherwise are finished. In the meantime, their adversaries, my Serbian army, have been cut from the sprue, cleaned, prepared, primed and placed on bottle-tops…

…they’ve had their uniforms base-coated, shaded and highlighted…

…and also had their faces basically prepared, though there is still much work to be done on those.

After their faces and skin have been completed to my satisfaction, next up will be their accoutrements including buttons and ammunition pouches, etc. With dozens to do, I imagine all that will keep me busy to the end of the year, especially as at the same time I’ve certain other things to attend to relating to Suburban Militarism’s traditions at Christmas. More on that anon…

Straw Horse

It’s that time again. In 2019 we entered a local scarecrow festival by submitting an entry we named Queen Vicstrawia and her Grainadier Guard.

The following year was scuttled by the Covid-19 pandemic but this year it has returned with the added change that our recent house move to the village have made us bona-fide locals. This year’s theme was broad – books! Our idea and its pun title was courtesy of my daughter who suggested we do a version of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse – Straw Horse!

Suburban Militarism: from 1:72 scale to (almost) 1:1 scale, I do it all…

After much prevaricating over what to do this year, we didn’t leave ourselves much time and so were up against it, timewise. Dividing roles, my equestrian wife and daughter attended to the ‘horse’ while I attended to the ‘war’ and set to work making an early WWI cavalryman of the Royal Devon Yeomanry.

A man of the North Somerset Yeomanry of the First World War. Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Tyke.

A child’s second hand WWI costume was secured on an auction site which gave me the basis for the soldier and a cheap roll of fake leather purchased. For the cap, I took the ridiculously oversized peak in a trifle (don’t these children’s party costume people care about historical accuracy?). I then stapled a little faux-leather strip around the band and purchased a badly worn 1st Royal Dragoons cap badge from eBay for just a pound. Cutting a hole in the front of the fancy dress cap, the thing began to look a tiny bit more realistic.

The printed bandolier on the costume just wouldn’t do for me, of course. So, with limited time I set about making my own. Using some more of that faux-leather, I wrapped some Kellogg’s Variety Pack mini-cereal boxes (other brands are available) in more of this material and glued them to a leather belt of mine which I widened using more faux-fabric. Some spare buttons were found and something (very, very) vaguely bandolier-like was created.

Next, it was time for the straw. We secured a spare bale courtesy of our friend whose stable block is home to our (real) horse. Festival rules stipulated that straw must be used in the construction but I fear I got carried away and somewhat over-stuffed my well-fed yeomanry trooper…

My old trusted combination from 2019 – Paper Mache and balloon – came in handy to make the head which would go on to have details added by my daughter:

Some spare costume hair in storage came in useful, though I doubt he would pass parade without being given a dressing down by his NCO to ‘get your bloody hair cut!” Some sturdy wooden posts made him stand to attention. From the stables, some old and well-worn leather gloves, half-chaps and riding boots were kindly donated to complete his cavalryman’s uniform.

As stated, the horse was mostly the creation of my two ladies and I think it looked magnificent for such a large and ambitious ‘scarecrow’ put together in such a short time. Some old leather tack was added to his muzzle and the last of the ubiquitous faux-leather made for the saddle. Much of “Joey the War Horse” consisted of brown fleece, some chicken wire and the remains of the straw bale on top of our ironing board. Finally, as a finishing touch, some WWI propaganda posters and fake barbed wire were put up and Scarecrow Number 53 was ready!

The three-day festival was astonishingly well-attended and at one point ‘Straw Horse’ met ‘more horse’ as Mrs Marvin (on Woody) and other friends paid us a visit from their stables just down the road.

Our display gets a visit from Mrs Marvin, Woody and friends.

Needless to say, we didn’t win (given the number and astonishing quality of the entrants, hardly a surprise!) but much fun was had once again, nonetheless. In the meantime, I certainly haven’t neglected smaller scale military modelling and will be sharing my more miniature efforts soon.

Suburban Militarism is on Holiday…

The Suburban Militarism holiday postcard featuring my avatar (Sergeant-Major Lejaune from Beau Geste) on a beach is a tradition going back a few years now (2020 was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic). See below for previous postcards:

The Discomforts of Moving

Suburban Militarism is back online – at last! In the past few weeks, without any internet, I’ve been rediscovering what I once did in the 1980s for entertainment. Reading, mostly. Board games. Watching free-to-air television. Taking a walk outside and also down memory lane with all the boxes of stuff that I brought with me. And eventually managed to locate my paints and brushes to get painting some figures again. More on that in the next post.

One of the tasks I’ve enjoyed doing is setting up my new “hobby room / office” (note the order of naming importance). I’ve fixed some pictures to the walls already including my Bob Marrion yeomanry prints and a framed cutting from the Illustrated London News (see my post Relics of the Norfolk Light Horse for more on this). This framed newspaper illustration was sparked from an idea by Mark at Man of Tin when he shared a photo showing something similar hanging over his painting bureau. My own piece of Victorian newsprint now which now hangs above my office desk. In this new position, I’ve been able to examine it more frequently and in more detail, which had got me thinking…

The print shows the “Review of the Norfolk Volunteers on Mousehold Heath. Lady Suffield presenting prizes won at the Norfolk Rifle Association Meeting” and enticingly held out the suggestion of their being further information (see next page). Of course, I don’t have the next page, just the engraved illustration itself. So I wondered if it was possible to find out more. Thankfully the internet – acting in the nice, positive and open way which it was originally conceived of to do – provided me with all the information!

Here is the news… Saturday, September 26, 1863.

The very wonderful and free Internet Archive has fully scanned copies of the Illustrated London News, including the specific edition that I required – Saturday, Sept 26th 1863.

The article in question had much to say about the events on Mousehold Heath near Norwich, these being rifle shooting competions which started on the 7th September 1863 and lasted for five days. Much of the article covered in patient detail all the various competitions, the prizes, the marks scored and names of winning competitors. The prestigious championship of Norfolk went to Corporal Wilshak (Great Yarmouth Rifle Volunteer Corps), beating Private Richardson (Fakenham RVC) and the aptly named Corporal Gunn (4th Norwich RVC).

Contemporary prints of the Norfolk Light Horse from W.Y. Carman’s “Light Horse and Mounted Rifle Volunteers”.

To modern eyes, the journalist presents a notably dry account of proceedings, mostly being facts, names and statistics and lacking any colour in describing details of the spectacle, the weather, the personalities and the crowds. The largely factual approach, however, at least has the advantage that the event pictured in my illustration has light thrown upon it by the paper’s fastidious correspondent who very helpfully lists all the units involved in some detail. The prize-giving ceremony he reports taking place on “Tuesday week”, so actually on the 22nd September 1863. The following volunteer corps that were ‘assembled on the occasion’ included:-

  • 1st Norfolk Rifle Volunteers (408 men)
  • 2nd Norfolk ” ” (316)
  • Norwich ” ” (339)
  • Yarmouth Artillery (194)
  • Yarmouth Rifles (221)
  • (Norfolk) Light Horse (35)

The very useful painting below by artist Claude Nursey shows a group of men of the 1st Norwich Rifle Volunteers on the rifle range at Mousehold Heath, presumably the location of the event in question. They are mingling with some other men of the Norfolk Light Horse (wearing red jackets) the remainder of whom can be also just seen mounted in the far distance. The landscape does bear a resemblance to my print.

Nursey, Claude Lorraine Richard Wilson; Officers of the 1st City of Norwich Rifle Volunteers, with Their Captain Henry Staniforth Patteson, on the Rifle Range, Mousehold Heath; Norfolk Museums Service.

There were other armed forces present too:

  • 18th Hussars (3 troops)
  • 14 staff of the West Norfolk Militia
  • ‘The Norwich Cadets’

This amounted to a total of 1800 men under arms in addition to which, as can be seen from my illustration, there must have been a considerable number of interested onlookers. That description suggests that the mounted officer in the foreground (below) judging by his uniform is probably one of the ’14 staff of the West Norfolk Militia’.

Likely to have been present during the proceedings would likely have been the officers of the Norfolk Light Horse, namely; Captain Francis Hay Gurney, Lieutenant Francis Boileau, Cornet Frederick Grimmer, Honorary Vet. Surgeon Smith and Hon, Assistant Surgeon Cooper. The article then goes on to describe the scene very specifically shown in my picture.

“Several manoeuvres were then gone through, after which the Hussars left for Norwich [the location of their barracks] and the volunteers then formed a large square for the purpose of witnessing the presentation of prizes to the successful competitors at the late annual gathering of the Norfolk Volunteers Service Association.

So, my illustration depicts the gathering actually formed in a large square as the following scene played out:

The presentation was made by Lady Suffield, the recipients of the well-merited rewards being also addressed, one by one, in a few encouraging words, by the Earl of Leicester.

The Earl of Leicester, as Lord Lieutenant, would be most likely to be wearing a uniform much like the one below with the cocked hat and blowing white feather plumes, while Lady Suffield is here bestowing an award upon one lucky sharpshooting recipient.

I had previously noted the appearance of a mounted hussar in the drawing (below right). I wonder now, given that the troops of the 18th Hussars had apparently returned to barracks prior to the presentations, whether this might actually show an officer of the Yarmouth Artillery in a Royal Horse Artillery-style uniform? Other mounted volunteers appearing below seem to include another militia officer, a rifle volunteer officer, a senior officer (possibly the said Colonel McMurdo of the Norfolk Corps?) and in the foreground two white-plumed men of the 35-strong Norfolk light Horse.

So, all that helpfully shed a little more light on my treasured scene of events which took place over 150 years ago at the height of the Victorian Rifle Volunteer movement.

The rest of that edition of the Illustrated London News was also an interesting read. Events included tension between Russia and others over Poland’s national struggle for independence; the ongoing ‘War in America’ between the Union and Confederate states and the siege of Charleston; we are informed that “Her Majesty the Queen continues at Balmoral, in good health”. Columns appear with obscure headings abound such as “Echoes of the Week” and “Column for the Curious”; while sporting columns appear to be exclusively about horse racing and fishing. Scientific news included the Admiralty’s investigations into the sun’s distance from the earth,

There were macabre crimes;

The ILN had a particularly intensive interest in the most minute matters of royalty, both home and abroad; “The King of Wirtemberg, who is now in his eighty-second year, has been seriously ill for some days.”

Victorian advertisements within it’s pages are entertaining including such products ranging from “Pistachio Nut Toilet Powder” to parlour game catalogues (dull evenings made merry), and pleasingly there was even something for “The Little Modeller” of the mid-Victorian era too!

And finally – in a nice coincidence – the ILN printed a full page reproduction of an artist’s work (which they discussed in an eccentrically Victorian manner) entitled “Quarter Day! – The Discomforts of Moving” – a chaotic experience which I am personally still living and, I fear, will be for some time!

“The house is given up to a reckless band of nondescript men, who tear up carpets, pull down curtains and level bedsteads.”

Quarter Day, incidentally, is a old English tradition marking the quarters of the year when traditionally rents and notices to quit were due, servants were hired and school terms began, one of which – Lady Day – was just a few days before my own moving day.

A scene not dissimilar to my own moving experience…

For anyone who may be any interested, I’ve reproduced the full ILN article below: