Lace Wars: British Cavalry…not doing much at all!

At the beginning of this year I painted some horses for my War of the Spanish Succession project. After a hiatus I have now – finally -got around to finishing off their riders too.

These British cavalrymen are all sitting around waiting for some orders or action, a fairly common experience for troops, mounted or unmounted, and it’s nice to see it represented by Strelets.

The regiment I’ve painted is Palmes’ Horse. Previously known as Wyndham’s Horse, it became Palmes’ Horse in 1706 with facings described in C.S. Grant’s “Armies and Uniforms of Marlborough’s Wars” as being Sea Green. Grant has it that the shabraque was red but I used artistic licence and preferred green. The regiment would later in the century become the 6th Dragoon Guards (being described at various times as ‘carabiniers’). Bob Marrion included an illustration of a trooper from this regiment in Grant’s book.

I’m going to review the range of indolent poses in the set.


The grazing horse pose is my favourite. Nothing for this rider to do here but allow his mount snatch some much-needed lunch.



Trooper with musket:


Loading a pistol:


Smoking a pipe:



There’s still a few things I intend to do with these figures. I need to source a flag for the standard bearer, add some foliage to the base, add some satin varnish the black cuirasses which can just be seen under their coats and maybe even a wisp of (cotton wool) smoke added to that pipe!

Campbell’s Cavalrymen #5: The Lancashire Hussar Officer

Aside from quietly, steadily progressing with my WWI Serbian project, I’ve been sustaining my hobby muse by occasionally dipping into another of my growing collection of 54mm Yeomanry figures.

A 54mm single figure was perfect for a diversion as I could make small additions to it whenever it suited me, whereas with a larger group of figures I find that when painting one, I’m logically obliged to paint all the others at the same time making for a bigger time commitment.

This yeoman is an officer of the Lancashire Hussars in 1913. The model is another made by Chota Sahib, a manufacturer whom I first encountered with the last yeomanry figure I tackled; the Lincolnshire Yeomanry officer.

The Lancashire Hussars were raised in 1848 by Sir John Gerard (Baronet) and were known locally as Lord Gerard’s Own. The county of Lancashire was also represented at this time by the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry (a figure from which I painted last year).

The ‘very rich’ early Hussar uniforms were based upon that of the 11th Hussars who wore crimson-coloured trousers (unique among British regiments), and the Lancashire Hussars were to be inspired by this famous colour distinction in various ways. The ‘field uniform’ consisted then of a tall crimson shako and examples of this uniform can be seen in two oil paintings by John Ferneley, painted in the 1850s. Apparently affected by a fire at some point in their history, the paintings now show the blue uniforms a little darker than originally depicted.

Red shako just visible, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Robert Tolver Gerard, Bt, and His Regiment, the Lancashire Hussars, on Parade by
John E. Ferneley I (1782–1860). This was one of two similar paintings. Photo credit: Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry Museum.

Geoff Wright, writing for the Southport Visitor provides an excellent history of the Lancashire Hussars with plenty of great images. He has this to say about the regiment’s early incarnation:

Many of the first volunteering mid-19th century soldiers were largely recruited from among the rural tenants of Sir Gerard and his neighbouring estates, made up of farmers and agricultural labourers, and so they were affectionately nicknamed the ‘Cabbage Cutters’.

The trained-up and smartly-dressed troops were always a great attraction in the countryside en-route from their Ormskirk base to their annual training ground – Southport Sands; the crowds of fellow workers, mainly farmers and village labourers, always gave them a hearty wave and cheer, they were greeted everywhere they went.

Nostalgia: The lost story of the Lancashire Hussars, Part One

(Note: Part Two of this history can be found here).

In 1879, the regiment’s uniform changed to a more typical hussar pattern, though still inspired by the 11th, and this new uniform was retained with minor changes up until the era depicted by this figure, 1913. The photograph below is included in my copy of “The Yeomanry Force at the 1911 Coronation” by Smith and Harris:

Above: Major F.B.J. Stapleton-Bretherton of the Lancashire Hussars at the 1911 coronation of King George V. Looking very similar to my figure, he wears dismounted review order and, being a veteran of the Boer War, displays a South Africa War Medal with 2 clasps.

I’ve designated this figure as being another of “Campbell’s Cavalrymen” as the painting notes provided by Chota Sahib reference R.G. Harris’ “50 Years of Yeomanry Uniforms” in which E.A. Campbell was the illustrator of the plates. Campbell’s depiction of the Lancashire Hussar can be seen below:

The busby is described as being a dark brown fur with a crimson bag and silver cap lines which ended plaited over the right breast in a pattern apparently imitating their muse, the Cherrypickers. The white-over-crimson plume ends in a silver holder. I thought the busby was very convincingly sculpted by Chota Sahib.

The blue tunic worn by the officer has lines of silver braiding and loops. The shoulder belt for officers only was silver-covered with a silver picker plate and boss, apparently of a Lancashire rose design.

As for legwear, these were usually blue, as shown in this Simkin illustration of the regiment found in my old copy of “British Yeomanry Uniforms”.

Richard Simkin’s depiction of a Lancashire Hussar officer originally made for Army and Navy Illustrated magazine.

However, Campbell’s portrayal of the officer wearing crimson overalls (which was only for officers) makes for a more colourful and distinctive uniform than the more usual dark blue. His overalls in the book, however, were reproduced in a shade of red which seemed just a little bright to me and so I’ve toned my figure’s overalls down to a deeper shade of red which I hope is just a touch more ‘crimson’.

The rear of the jacket has more silver braiding detailing and a silver pouch. You can also see the slings attached to the sword. Unfortunately, I oafishly broke a spur but I am sure I’ll fix this by and by…

After painting this officer’s face, I noticed that I seemed to have given him a squint. Rather than correct this, I left it as it is as I was quite pleased with it!

A year after this figure’s 1913 incarnation, various units of the regiment would go on to serve in the First World War as either cavalry, infantry or even cyclists. After The Great War, The Lancashire Hussars, as with many other Yeomanry regiments at this time, were converted to an artillery role being re-designated as the 2nd (Lancashire) Army Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

More crimson! The Lancashire Hussars drum banner and cap badge as seen in Player’s 1924 cigarette card series. By this time, the regiment has already converted to the Lancashire Yeomanry Brigade of RFA (Royal Field Artillery).

There are still more of these turn-of-the-century 54mm yeomen in my collection to paint, some of which are still courtesy of the excellent Chota Sahib. As these have been a pleasure to paint, I don’t envisage leaving it too long before tackling the next one!

The WWI Serbian Campaign

A military campaign of any significance takes some considerable logistical organisation and resources. This is also the case with any military modelling ‘campaign’ and my latest venture certainly falls into this category given that it requires the painting of over 100 figures.

Strelets Austrian WWI Infantry

I’ve been asked to help out with a diorama as part of a wider project, the full details of which I must hold back on for the time being. The diorama will feature an encounter between Austrians and Serbians during the First World War. For the Austrians, I am using Strelets WWI Austrian Infantry figures. Unfortunately, this set has been out of production for some time and so I’ve simply made use of the one box I had available. Twenty two of the figures I had painted back in 2018 and the remainder were kept back in storage.

The uniform colour of the Austro-Hungarian troops was known as ‘Pike Grey’, a fairly nebulous shade which I eventually approximated by mixing some of my existing colours together. Thankfully, I kept the tiny pot of my mixed Pike Grey shade aside and had just enough left for these remaining unpainted figures, thereby keeping the shade of the 2018 and 2021 vintage figures very consistent.

Above is the 2021 batch of Strelets Austrian infantry. I just need to add their regimental colour flash to the collars. I’ll be using a source book to help me decide what colour to use for what regiment. The 2018 figures I painted represented the Pucherna infantry regiment of Transylvania with yellow collars.

The original 22 figures were fully based (rather nicely though I say so myself), but the customer of these figures would prefer them pinned for use in the diorama with no bases. For someone as ham-fisted as myself, this presents a logistical and physical challenge. I need Pat from Pat’s 1:72 Military Dioramas here, the expert on pinning small scale figures such as these! Thankfully, he has a post explaining how he does it. He makes it look so easy, but I’m so clumsy at such things that after having a go (to the sound of much of foul cursing) I can confirm that it absolutely is not! Extracting the already based ones will be particularly tricky, I suspect.

The dioramist also queried whether it would be possible to include a flag bearer for both forces. The only figure that might fit the bill for the Austrians as a conversion I think would be an officer. Conversions, never mind pinning, is really stretching my limited model making abilities, I confess, but I’ll have a go!

Aside from the Austrians, I of course need to produce a similar number of Serbian infantry. I’ll be using figures once again from Strelets; their “Serbian Infantry in Winter Uniform” set. The set included both early and late war versions of these troops. As the dioramist requires only the early war figures wearing the famous Serbian šajkača hat, I’ve used two boxes to provide a sufficient number. Good news for the Serbs, as they will now outnumber the invading Austrian K & K army!

Two elderly Serbian men mobilized into World War I (1914). The first soldier (reservist, on the left) is wearing standard soldiers type. The second is wearing the officer’s version. Unknown Serbian photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Serbian troops will also require pinning, of course, so I’ll be getting plenty of much needed experience with my hand drill and work bench. I’ve also ordered some thin wire to create the pins themselves.

Preparation for painting includes initial cleaning with detergent, adding a layer of PVA glue and then adding a coat of paint to act as a primer. The Serb uniform, like the Pike Grey of the Austro-Hungarians, is another with a specific but vague shade to replicate. I posted about my research on the uniform at the time which had the uniform colour variously described by sources as being ‘khaki’, ‘green-grey’ and ‘olive-grey! Unfortunately, I don’t this time have a handy pot of the original ready-mixed paint to hand. I do, however, find that I had left myself some handy instructions all about the mix I used at the time, back in 2018.

“A mix of Vallejo’s “Green-Grey 886” and a little added grey – possibly Neutral Grey 992 (possibly in a 2:1 mix)…”

There is too much use of the word ‘possibly’ in there for confidence, suggesting I couldn’t quite remember what I’d used whenever I wrote it down, but at least it’s a start!

I’ll update on progress on this blog. Given the number of troops involved and the pinning/conversion challenges, it could be a long ‘campaign’!

Lace Wars: French Horse Grenadiers

Introducing my latest addition to the Lace Wars project, the prestigious Royal Horse Grenadier regiment of the French King.

You’ll notice straight away that I still have a flag to sort which is just an ominous black at the moment.. Some research needed before I tackle that, I think.

The most distinctive aspect of their uniform is the fur-trimmed cap. The red peak was according to Plastic Soldier Review, originally a standard grenadier cap of the period, having “a hanging bag like any other grenadier, but by 1720 this was stiffened with a point at the top, which is what we find on all these figures“.

 Each man is armed with a curved cavalry sabre, flintlock carbine and two pistols.

An elite force, the Horse Grenadiers were a small formation, rarely more than a couple of hundred men in total. Their elite status as grenadiers however would mean they would often lead a charge, thereby adding to a fame which exceeded their actual clout on the field of battle.

The set includes a flag bearer and a mounted drummer.

The two officers included see one of them (the ‘big wig‘ sports a cuirass over his coat. Lots of extra clothing detailing on the cuffs and coats with these command figures – well, it is the Lace Wars project!

There seems to be a wealth of different War of the Spanish Succession mounted formations in the pipeline from good old Strelets, including Dutch and Austrian Cuirassiers, British Dragoons and Late War-era Horse, French Garde du Corps and French Chevau-Legers / Gendarmes de la Garde. As for French dragoons, they are being released “on the march”, “in reserve”, “in attack” and “in skirmish”! Strelets, you’re spoiling us.

My hobby plans have taken an unexpected turn very recently. This has resulted in my needing to revisit an old set last seen a few years ago on Suburban Militarism. What this set is, and why, will be revealed in the next post.

April’s Painting Challenge: Saxony Soldiers III

Before this blog went quiet, I had just finished some more figures for the Neglected but not Forgotten challenge, and I’ve continued with these Saxon Great Northern War figures in the meantime. I’ve enjoyed building an army and seem maniacally committed to keep on going. To date I have painted figures representing the:

Ann has posted a fabulous roundup of the various submissions for this challenge and I urge visitors to check it out here!

Since I’ve been away, Ann also launched into Second Annual “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” Painting and Hobby Challenge for the month of April. Utterly boringly I’ll be submitting… yes, more Saxons! They fit the rules of the challenge and – quite frankly – it’s been all I’ve been able to paint during the month of April anyway. So, with apologies, this is what I’ve been busy doing:

Command and musicians for the Kurprinz Regiment

The command figures (which I’ll repeat for each regiment) features an officer with a halberd, an officer with a cane, a Senior officer with riding boots, an NCO, an ensign with flag, and two musicians (a drummer and a fifer).

Although both musicians are finished, I might yet add some crest design to the drums for all the drummers.

The ensign came with a sculpted flag. Trying to paint sculpted flags with ornate and intricate designs is likely to lead to disappointment! So, I’ve cut it off and replaced it with a printed alternative. The flag itself is directly downloadable for free from the wonderful Tacitus website, it is a trifle – ah – too large it being intended for 40mm, not 20mm, figures but it fitted nicely on the flag pole without any scaling so I’m sticking to it.

Command and musicians for The Polish Guard

I also painted some command figures and musicians for a new regiment, the elite Polish Guard (later named the 1st Guards Regiment). The Elector of Saxony, Friedrich Augustus I also became King of Poland and this was reflected in his two prestigious Guards regiments; The Polish Guard and The Saxon Guard.

I did a little shenanigans here, repainting five of my original Zeitz Regiment figures as Polish Guards with white cuffs and red hat lace.

Zeitz’s Regiment… again!

So, I then painted some new figures to replace the ones in the Zeitz Regiment which were now Polish Guards and added more too. Ten Zeitz figures now painted, the Zeitz Regiment is just awaiting it’s quota of command figures and musicians to be completed.

The Zeitz Regiment firing line features some men firing remarkably high. Perhaps they are shooting uphill or at ramparts? It might even be a salute over the grave of a fallen comrade…

Reuss’ Regiment

Finally, the last regiment I’ve raised is Reuss’ Regiment. They are distinguished by pale blue facings and so far consist of finished a kneeling firing line, an officer, a drummer and a fifer. Once again, the Saxons seem to be firing high – no wonder the Swedes beat them. To offset this a little, I’ve tilted them forward on their bases slightly.

A box of previously untouched figures has now grown steadily into a fully painted army from the Great Northern War numbering nearly 50 figures. And it’s still growing. The great thing about challenges like Ann’s is that it provides the kind of impetus needed to get things painted and brought to life.

Soldiers (and Subbuteo) by Stadden

Though I’ve had little time for anything related to model soldiers of late, I thought I’d share some figures that I unexpectedly received for Christmas from my brother.

They came with a little handwritten note sharing some details he’d copied off eBay – “Fifty four vintage 30mm metal figures. Made by Chas Stadden. Era 1751-1815”. Nice one, bro. Lovely stuff!

A closer examination revealed that the figures appeared to be related to, I believe, the American War of Independence. A number were kilted highlanders engaged in a firefight led by some animated officers wielding some fearsome claymores.

What I believe to be light infantry wearing mitre caps were also well represented.

There were also a handful of marching line infantry, some officers, bandsmen (drummers and fifers) and groups of artillerymen too:

The figures are very nicely sculpted indeed, no surprise to anyone familiar with Stadden’s work. Charles C. Stadden is a legendary name in model soldier circles and a quick search of eBay will reveal many of his figures still for sale.

One of the first unpainted metal figures I ever owned, possibly around the age of 13, was of a 80mm model of a Victorian British infantryman, part of the ‘Stadden Collection’.

Box for an 80mm Stadden figure.

Bringing together his immense artistic talents with a light engineering experience, Stadden first turned to commercial model soldier production in 1951, yet throughout his life he also developed a deserved reputation for watercolour and oil painting too. Stadden died in 2002 at the age of 83. A very useful history of Chas Stadden can be found on his son Andrew C. Stadden’s website. Andrew has followed his revered father into miniature model making and his beautiful railway figures can be purchased via his own site.

Charles Stadden’s submitted designs for Subbuteo’s police crowd control set.

One thing that I admit I wasn’t at all aware of until recently was Chas Stadden’s close connection with my other major childhood passion – Subbuteo table football.

I’ve been sorting through my old Subbuteo collection (it’s true, I really have never grown up…) in readiness for a house moving date and came across some books on the history of the game; “Fifty years of Flicking Football” by Richard Payne and “Flick to Kick” by Daniel Tatarsky. Thanks to the latter, I now realise that it seems that Stadden appears to have had a hand in the production of the beautiful old Subbuteo figures of the 1960s and 70s. These so-called ‘heavyweight’ figures featured a footballer casually walking with leg partially lifted. They remain unsurpassed in quality by any figures since produced. Infamously, in 1978 Subbuteo cut costs and switched from hand-painted to machine painted figures, assisted by a new machine painting-friendly figure caustically known in the hobby as a “zombie” figure. The contrast between Stadden’s lovely creation and the stiff Zombie could hardly be more stark.

Aside from making many model soldier figures. Stadden produced figures for Scalextric and Hornby amongst others, so his influence upon the lives of many, big or little kids alike, must have been enormous and this big kid pays tribute to him!

The Foragers – Part 3

Erm… a belated ‘Happy New Year’. Seems like we’re back in lockdown – and for a long time too. Hope everyone is staying safe and looking after each other. In my spare moments, I have very slowly been adding some paint to the remaining figures in my Russian Sledge Train project. I previously had a few figures painted in December (see forager posts parts one and two for these), but I still had about a half dozen remaining.

The remaining figures include the following:

The Prodding Peasant:

This figure goes together with ‘The Peasant Pummeler’ figure I painted a month ago. I suggest that this irate yokel is unimpressed with the quantity of livestock that the Tsar’s troops are carrying off!

The Scarfed Supervisor

He’s the one with a list, an officer’s bicorne and a gesturing hand, so must be the man in charge of the foraging expedition. The green scarf around his neck is a nice touch by the sculptor.

The Barrel Bringer

This Cossack is rolling a barrel up to the sledge train. Plastic Soldier Review were somewhat confused about this figure, suggesting that it “…might be a Cossack doing something (our best guess is pushing the sledge, but it could be anything).” The barrel included in the set is the clue, the two seem to go so nicely together that I believe this was the sculptor’s intention.

The Rabbit Raider (or maybe, The Balalaika Burgler)

He could even be called The Hare Holder, certainly PSR seem to think it’s a hare. From his helmet, I can tell he’s a dragoon in winter dress. In his other hand is a balalaika which confuses me a little (although PSR seem unquestioning about it!). I’m wondering why this dragoon might have it. It’s unlikely that he’s taken it with him on the foraging expedition, so presumably it is – like his hare – booty taken from a peasant household to be enjoyed back at camp.

The Calf Carriers

These two characters can be seen from their dress to be some type of warrior from the Steppes, most likely Kalmyks or Bashkirs. They are carrying a pole tied to which is some type of an animal which I decided is probably a calf. I’ve had little opportunity to develop my cow painting skills, so I’ve just done my best here. PSR point out that the legs are tied somewhat impossibly underneath the pole!

And finally, the man left waiting around, whip in hand, for all these foragers to finally return with their food is…

The Dallying Driver

Another nice character, I painted his hat red as I thought there was a little something of Santa about him.

Another long lockdown ahead…

Those other finished figures again:

Just the sledge and horse to paint next and then – at some point – I will be putting the whole lot into some sort of scene (I could really use some of Pat’s diorama expertise here, but the plan ultimately is to use lots of snow…).

Remembrance Day 2020

On this Remembrance Day, this blog remembers Lance Corporal John (Jack) Neal of the 2nd Batallion, Leicestershire Regiment who was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Loos, 25th of September, 1915.

‘Over the top’ at the battle of Loos, 1915.

I first posted on my discovery of a connection with a great uncle who was killed in the First World War back in 2018:

Last week, a distant relative named Sandra kindly left a message on this blog. She is also related to Lance Corporal John Neal who is a mutual Great Uncle of ours, and who Sandra informs me was apparently known as ‘Jack’. Sadly, I don’t have a photograph of Jack Neal for the purposes of this post. I do however, have a picture of Sandra’s grandmother, Valeria (better known as Vera), apparently taken sometime in the 1930s. Valeria’s elder sister was Ada, my own grandmother. Vera would have been about 6 years old when the family received news of Jack’s death on the Western Front; Ada would have been ten.

Jack Neal’s sister, Valeria (Vera) looking very chic as a young woman.

I’ve started to build up a picture of the kind of background Jack would have experienced. He was named after his father, also called John Thomas Neal (my grandmother was named after their mother, Ada Catherine). Living in the city of Leicester, Jack was one of 16 children! Tragically, the majority died in infancy leaving only 7 to survive into adulthood.

A view of the street where the family lived during the 1911 census, from a picture taken in 1972 (University of Leicester). Aged 20, Jack was no longer living at home by now. If I’m correct, the house would have been the one that the people seen walking away in the photograph have just passed by. Ten family members were still living here at the time of the census. These houses were demolished soon after this photo was taken in the so-called ‘slum clearances’ programme.

It’s testimony perhaps to the kind of difficult living conditions that Jack would have experienced growing up as a working class young lad in industrial Leicester in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was all the more tragic, then, that he should survive only to be killed as a young man in his prime at the Battle of Loos, serving his country.

A list of the many siblings of Jack (John Thomas), my own grandmother Ada being underlined.

With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to severely disrupt public life, the act of remembrance has consequently been quite different this year. The Royal British Legion have created a Virtual Field of Remembrance where donations can be made to the legion and personal dedications ‘planted’ in the form of a virtual poppy.

Cuirassiers for Advent

“Fog-drams i’ th’ morn, or (better still) egg-nogg, / At night hot-suppings, and at mid-day, grogg, / My palate can regale”

1775 Maryland clergyman and philologist Jonathan Boucher

Continuing on in my development of the Army of Advent imagi-nation, I’ve come into possession of some more Hagen Miniatures figures. Having already developed some dragoons and hussars, I felt that the Army of Advent could really do with some heavy cavalry and Hagen’s lovely cuirassiers fitted the bill nicely.

The figures consist of two sets of x4 troopers and a command group featuring an officer, a trumpeter and a flag bearer. They all come in parts, so head, body and horse all need connecting together with delicately applied (or not) amounts of glue.

The question of what uniform I might paint came to me when I settled on a suitably Christmas-themed name for the regiment; The Eggnog Cuirassiers!

As any high-calorie loving alcoholic will tell you, an Eggnog is a milky, eggy drink with an added pep of either some kind of rum, bourbon or brandy, topped with a dash of lovely nutmeg. Apparently George Washington was a devotee and used to make his own 3-day old aged version. The egg and cream theme immediately put me in mind of the Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers with their yellow coats and cream breeches.

Yellow coat and cream breeches – perfect for an egg and cream themed regiment. With the dramatic contrast with the black cuirass, it’s a very attractive uniform.

Time to break out the yellow paint!