Cracker Battery in the Snow

Nothing says ‘Christmas’ quite like a 7 pounder artillery battery in the snow. My bizarre and distinctly unseasonal Christmas decoration is finished with this display showing Cracker Battery, Christmas Artillery of the Christmas Corps.

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You may notice that Cracker Battery have taken time out of their gunnery practice to build a snowman. The Snowman was crudely and quickly made by yours truly but I think it looks decent enough. The carrot nose was made out of the end of a cocktail stick.

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“Nothing like a bit of team building” as their officer Captain Fortune-Fisch advises.

You may also observe that there’s also a small pile of snowy projectiles ready for loading; these are somewhat over-large calibre snowballs. No doubt Bombardier Partihatt will carefully sculpt them to size before loading.

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You may notice that I’ve painted their cannon a nice light shade of blue. I must say that Revell’s sprue was perfect. The cannon came together so perfectly that I didn’t even need to apply any glue, it just snapped together with engineered perfection.

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Oh, wait. Looks like it’s started snowing again…

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It’s a suitably seasonal scene, I like to think. I promise not to bring it out until at least early December! In the meantime, I’m adding a handful of Carolling Hussars as well, so I may share progress on those in due course.

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Christmas Crackers

Yes, I know it’s only just turned November, but I want to talk about Christmas, dammit! Just like the painfully over-eager High Street shops, for me early November is a time of preparation. For Suburban Militarism it is also the time when a handful of figures are painted up to join their brethren in the Christmas Corps in readiness for a seasonal duty.

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A Carolling Hussar

This prestigious group of model soldiers take their turn for a tour of duty on the mantelpiece as part of the household’s December Christmas decorations. In previous years, the following troops have been created:

With the Christmas Corps now comprising two slowly growing regiments of infantry and two also of cavalry, I thought it about time to add some suitably seasonal artillery to help the season go with a bang. Therefore, I am introducing:-

  • Cracker Battery of the Christmas Artillery!

I’ve remained consistent with the range of figures that I’m using. Revell’s sublime Seven Years War soldiers have provided all the figures so far. Up to about a year ago, the cavalry and infantry sets were becoming extremely rare until Revell reissued them in combined boxes of either Prussian and Austrian infantry or cavalry. This terrific development has pleased many. However, Revell only ever produced one set of artillery figures; the Austrians.

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And what a set it was! Superbly detailed sculpting and terrific poses. Unfortunately, Revell have not reissued this set, nor I believe have any plans to, leaving 7YW wargamers desperate for artillery support. The old 1994-era boxes of Austrian artillery are now as rare hen’s teeth and going for a tidy sum whenever boxes do crop up. So I’m very lucky to have sourced this box for a reasonable fee for the Christmas Corps.

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Men of Cracker Battery awaiting paint.

The Austrian artillery wore a light brown uniform but I wanted something with a just little more colour than that but different to the other regiments in the . So, I’ve elected for navy blue coats, red turnbacks with straw-coloured waistcoat and breeches; coincidentally this is also the colour of Prussian artillery during the 7YW.

Here’s how they are looking so far (with a biography of each man in the battery).

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Cracker Battery; Christmas Artillery:

1.Captain Rupert Fortune-Fisch

The officer of the battery is well-educated and the perfect gentleman. A keen interest in mathematics greatly assists in the accuracy of his guns. His tricorn hat is adorned with a sprig of Broom, a feature particular to the Christmas Artillery. This is a tradition which goes back to when they were said to have ‘swept away’ the enemy at the Battle of Broombriggs Farm. At this action, low on ammunition, their cannons famously took to firing off brandy-lit Christmas puddings at the enemy.

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2.Battery Sergeant Major Fred Cheaptoy

A stalwart of the battery and the Captain’s most dependable man. No one knows gunnery drill better than Cheaptoy. Although he knows the drill, BSM Cheaptoy sees his role as purely supervisory, seldom getting involved with any actual physical work.

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3. Corporal Frederick Faketache

This is the man trusted with the lighted portfire (well, once it’s painted…). No one else in the battery can be relied upon so dependably to actually fire the cannon when told to do so, and NOT beforehand…

Before he does apply the fuse, Corporal Faketache cries out “have a cake!”, at which point new recruits take a bite out of their regulation ration of Christmas cake only to scatter crumbs in shock as the gun noisily discharges. Old hands know better and cover their ears. Traditionally, the warning call was “have a care!”, but years of standing near loud cannonades has badly affected both his hearing and his memory. It is precisely this deafness which prevents any premature firing of the gun.

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4. Bombardier Joseph Partihatt

Bombardier Partihatt can be seen below engaged in his favourite duty, carrying the ammunition over to the cannon. This involves much strength but little brain; a task in which Partihatt is perfectly suited. What’s that in his hands, you enquire? A white cannonball? Not so; the Christmas Artillery only ever fire snowballs, of course!

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5. Gunner William Dredfuljoak

Good old Bill Dredfuljoak is the battery comedian, always ready with a quip or an amusing anecdote, even (or especially) when limbs are being severed and heads are being detached by counter-battery fire. Below, he adopts a nonchalant stance so typical of the man. When in action, if the battle reaches a crisis point, he can often be heard being implored by his Captain to “shut up, man and for pity’s sake get a move on with that bloody sponge!

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6. Gunner Johnny Tweezers

Johnny has a stick. Johnny likes to use his stick to move the cannon left or right. That’s about all there is to say about Johnny Tweezers. However, as a bass-baritone, Gunnar Tweezers sure holds a good note during the singing of any Christmas carols. His loud vocal is said to ‘boom like mortar fire’.

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7. Wheeler Thomas Plasticfrogg

Wheeler Plasticfrogg might appear at first sight to be adopting a super-hero pose below. He is in actual fact rehearsing his key role in the battery which is basically wheeling the gun into position. Plasticfrogg takes his job very seriously and the sight of him exercising by stretching and moving imaginary cannon wheels about is a common sight during off-duty moments. BSM Cheaptoy considers him “a bit too-bloody-keen.”

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So that’s the men of Cracker Battery. The Revell set still leaves me with enough figures for two more similar sized batteries to add to the brigade in future years and even provides some horses and drivers delivering ammunition.

In other news, I have purchased and extremely cheap lighted church model to also appear in my seasonal display on the mantelpiece with Cracker Battery. I may paint this up to appear more visually appealing too, perhaps a coloured roof or white walls.

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Although Captain Fortune-Fisch is pleased as punch with the location of his new billet over the Christmas period, the local parson may not be quite so enthusiastic…

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Talk Christmas artillery

No artillery battery is much use without a cannon, so I’ll post an update on that once that’s been painted and assembled. I am also making plans for the final display, which I will also post on at a later date.

Once more – my apologies if this ridiculously early Christmas-related nonsense has made anybody queasy…

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Festive Flags!

Having recently completed my Christmas cavalry figures for the household’s festive display, I still had two last figures to do. My young daughter, upon seeing these new figures on the mantelpiece, asked if I needed some flags designing for them. She had previously designed the flags for my two Christmas infantry regiments, the 1st Noel and the Yule Grenadiers. I readily agreed and set to work on two flag bearing figures for each regiment whilst she worked on their guidons.

They are now complete and her designs are below:

The Carolling Hussars have a flag with a pleasing design featuring a green background with musical notes top and bottom (Christmas carols!). Some holly and a snowflake motif complete the flag. The Christingle Dragoons’ blue guidon meanwhile bears an image of a Christingle; – i.e. an orange with a central red ribbon, some sweets on cocktail sticks and a lighted candle. Perfect!

And here are the flags now being carried by their flag bearers over the fireplace:

The Christingle Dragoons:

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The Carolling Hussars

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And with that, I’m all set for the Christmas holiday. News of my military modelling intentions over the Christmas period to follow!

The Christingle Dragoons

Having completed the Carolling Hussars recently, I’ve been working on the other regiment for my Christmas decorations; the Christingle Dragoons.

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The dragoons are Revell’s Austrian Dragoons of the 7 Years War. I’ve painted some a few years ago as the Prinz Savoyen Dragoons, so I know they’re an impressive set. My only quibble is that the beautifully sculpted horses for these dragoons seem to be a significant few ‘hands’ higher than the hussar horses in comparison (see below)!

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Like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza… OK, so the Christingle dragoon’s horse (right) is rearing up but it appears quite a bit taller than the squat Carolling Hussar’s mount?

As with the Carolling Hussars, I’ve based the uniform design on a real 7 Years War regiment; the Prinz Karl Chevaulegers of the Saxon army. This regiment was named after Prince Karl of Saxony (Duke of Courland) and took part in a number of key battles in the war (Breslau, Leuthen, Torgau, etc.).

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Prinz Karl Chevauleger uniform

My Christingle Dragoons are named after a curious symbolic object used in Christian Advent services. The Christingle apparently originated with a German Bishop called Johannes de Watteville in 1747, but it took until the 1960s for it to become a British custom which has since grown in popularity. My first encounter with it was a few years ago when daughter first attended a local Christingle service on Christmas Eve.

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A Christingle

The Christingle is usually constructed with an orange, a candle, a red ribbon, some cocktail sticks and sweets. I suppose, on reflection, an orange uniform with red facings might have been more appropriate!? Never mind, I think green, red and white are good Christmas colours.

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Just as I did with the Carolling Hussars, I’ve also added a little tinsel to their tricornes; red tinsel for the hussars and gold for the dragoons. Also, you may notice that I’ve painted a small orange and candle Christingle motif.

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I fancy that some more festive decorations could improve my Christmas cavalry still further. Perhaps some extra tinsel, a mini bauble or some glitter around the base?

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Taking aim at a plump turkey for the regimental Christmas dinner…

But my “contribution” to the household Christmas decorations won’t be complete until I finish off the two flag bearers for the two regiments. My girl has designed the flags for my two Christmas infantry regiments in previous years. I’m awaiting her designs for the cavalry flags while I am finishing off the two figures themselves. I asked her to make the designs in the swallow-tailed shape of British light cavalry regiment guidons. I’ll share the finished figures in due course!

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Christingle Dragoons and Carolling Hussars

I need to talk about Christmas. I know – it’s far too early to do that, but I need to make some preparations, you see? A feature of the season, for Suburban Militarism at least, is the tradition of painting some suitably seasonal soldiers to parade on the mantelpiece among all the tinsel, Christmas cards and decorations.

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Yule Grenadiers in a snowy scene
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Men of the 1st Noel Regiment of Infantry

In previous years, I’ve exclusively painted soldiers from Revell’s Austrian Infantry of the 7 Years War. These troops have been painted purely for decoration in bright colours and the seasonal army so far consists of two infantry regiments. The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot were the first figures I produced some years ago. The Yule Grenadiers followed a couple of years ago. I’ve been quietly adding a handful of men to each of them each Christmas time.

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The Carolling Hussars

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This year, I thought I’d expand the seasonal army with the addition of another arm; the cavalry. Using Revell’s 7 Years War Austrian Dragoons and Prussian Hussars, I am creating the beginnings of two Christmas cavalry regiments;

  • The Christingle Dragoons
  • The Carolling Hussars

For the past week, I’ve been working on four figures from the Carolling Hussars using Revell’s Prussian Hussars. The uniform I’ve chosen is based upon a real regiment, the Puttkamer Hussars of the Prussian army. Originally named the White Hussars, they took on the name of their colonel Georg Ludwig von Puttkamer (who was subsequently killed at the brutal battle of Kunersdorf).

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A Puttkamer Hussar

I thought the Puttkamer Hussar’s all-white pelisse looked suitably wintry for my seasonal hussar regiment. For the ‘light blue’ dolman and overalls, I selected the colour turquoise. To add a little festive cheer to that all-black Mirleton headgear, I’ve glued on a little piece of tinsel!

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A Carolling Hussar in full charge, tinsel plume catching the sunlight…

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I haven’t painted Revell’s Prussian Hussars of the 7 Years War before now. They are as finely sculpted as other Revell cavalry I’ve painted such as the Napoleonic Life Guards.

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Finally, as with all my other Christmas figures, I’ve depicted them riding in snow (…deep and crisp and even)! My 11-year-old daughter has previously designed flags for both the Yule Grenadiers and the 1st Noel Regiment. On seeing my Carolling Hussars, she immediately requested that she design their colours too. To do this, I might need to attempt a conversion of one of the figures (not a skill of mine!), as Prussian hussars didn’t carry colours into battle during the 7 Years War and therefore don’t appear in Revell’s kit.

With Advent looming, I’ve already begun four more figures for the other Christmas cavalry regiment; the Christingle Dragoons. More on those figures soon. Hopefully, they should be ready in time to take their place on the mantelpiece here at Suburban Militarism, alongside hand-picked representatives of the Carolling Hussars, the Yule Grenadiers, and the 1st Noel infantry.

Who once said “Christmas isn’t Christmas without model soldiers”? Well, it might have been me…

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The Men that Fought at Minden

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The men that fought at Minden, they ‘ad buttons up an’ down,
Two-an’-twenty dozen of ’em told;
But they didn’t grouse an’ shirk at an hour’s extry work,
They kept ’em bright as gold.
Rudyard Kipling, Barrack Room Ballads, 1895

Now my Russian Cuirassiers have joined their mounted colleagues in the Nappy Cavalry Project, I can now at last turn my attention to my figures intended for the BFFGMFP.

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RedBox British infantry. Note the drummer wearing light grey at the front.

These marching figures are from RedBox’s British Infantry of the 1745 Culloden campaign. The box information suggests that these figures are suitable for campaigns stretching from the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion right through to the 7 Years War (1756-63). A fellow figure painter on Benno’s Figures Forum indicated he was interested in the battle of Minden in particular and it got me thinking of the Kipling poem at the top of this post. (No chart hits for me going through my mind of a morning as I take the bus to work – it’s Rudyard Kipling!)

But this post isn’t about Minden, or even Rudyard Kipling either. It’s not even about Richard Simkin, late-19th century military artist and painter of the Battle of Minden depicted at the top of this post. Instead it’s about David Morier, an Anglo-Swiss painter of the 18th century. My painting guide below for the BFFGMFP comes from Morier’s own illustration of the 17th Regiment of Foot, circa 1750:

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Private, 17th Regt. by David Morier c.1750s.

The regiment that I’m painting will be based on this contemporary image of the 17th Regiment of Foot. In 1751, the British army regiments became numbered in order of seniority. Prior to that date, it was the custom for regiments to be simply named after its colonel. At the time of the 1751 change, the 17th was known as ‘Wynyard’s Regiment of Foot’. The 17th Foot later became known as The Leicestershire Regiment (after my home county).

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Morier’s portrait of his patron, the Duke of Cumberland

Morier’s paintings were made under the patronage of the then Commander-in-Chief of the British army; The Duke of Cumberland (aka ‘Butcher’ to his opponents). David Morier carefully depicted many regiments in Cumberland’s army at the time, as well as some landscape paintings including perhaps his most well-known work; “An Incident in the Rebellion of 1745” (presumably catchy titles weren’t his strong point). This painting happens to be the box art used on the cover of the RedBox figures I’m painting for BFFGMFP!

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The Battle of Culloden, oil on canvas, David Morier, 1746.

The Duke of Cumberland was the son of King George II. Despite his victory at Culloden, he rarely showed any great skill at generalship and his general incompetence in the 7 Years War led to his removal from command, notwithstanding his regal position. With Cumberland’s demise, David Morier had lost his patron. He nonetheless exhibited equestrian portraits throughout the 1760s. Like myself, it seems that Morier was a prolific painter of cavalry! Here are some examples of his regimental cavalry paintings:

Tragically, he later fared rather badly – possibly as a consequence of the decline in royal patronage, ending up in London’s notoriously foul Fleet prison for debtors where he died in 1770, aged 65.

By 1760, the year of the Battle of Minden, the Duke of Cumberland had already been removed from command and David Morier was embarking on his (presumably unprofitable) equestrian exhibitions for the Society of Artists. However, ‘the men that fought at Minden’ would have still looked much as Morier had carefully depicted them some years before.

Hopefully, I can do his paintings some justice with my own figures. With all that scary detail on the figures though, I’m feeling none too confident at the moment!

Festive Forces

Ah, did I mention Christmas in my previous post?

Yes, it’s that time of year again where seasonal decorations go up in the house and I parade one of two regiments comprising my Household Christmas Infantry Brigade up on the mantelpiece. I usually paint a handful of these figures to add to the growing regiments as well, just to get me properly in the Christmas spirit. Last year, the elite Yule Grenadiers took a tour of duty.

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Men of the Yule Grenadiers

This year the honour of taking a tour of duty on the mantelpiece returns to the 1st Noel Foot Guards; photos of their latest seasonal appearance to follow in the coming days / weeks.

 

 

Featured Figures: Frederick the Great’s Musketeers

…and continuing with my 7 Years War era Prussian infantry showcase, the final two regiments are the Kalckstein and the Braunschwieg (or Brunswick to anglicise it) Regiments. Being musketeers, these are all sporting the tricorne hat (the third option of headgear that came with the HaT sets). Again, all uniform and flag information came from the excellent 7 Years War Project website.

Firstly: the Brunswick Regiment:-

 

…and the Kalckstein Regiment:-

 

Featured Figures: Frederick the Great’s Grenadiers

Whilst making good process of putting together my Victorian artillery battery, I’ve had the wind taken out of my sails by a mild seasonal cold. Somewhat enervated, I felt unable to pick up the brush and do justice to any figures, so instead thought I might give some exposure to some finished figures hitherto overlooked on the blog.

In 2014, I spent the better part of six months painting figures from HaT’s then newly released Prussian Infantry range. I did post at the conclusion of this project in November 2014, but the photos were inadequate and I kept meaning to produce better ones. The HaT figures came with a choice of headgear: tall grenadier caps, fusilier mitres or musketeer tricornes. Naturally, I thought I’d paint all three! In fact, making use of five boxes, I created four regiments of nearly fifty figures each.

Some trivia: Never mind those lofty grenadier caps, Frederick the Great’s father was obsessed by having the tallest grenadiers, apparently cherry-picking the very tallest soldiers from other regiments for his Grenadier Guard, regardless of their soldierly qualities…

Next post in this series of Frederick the Great’s 7 Years War infantry regiments – The Munchow Fusiliers.

But here is the first regiment, the prestigious Grenadier Guards with their spectacular gold caps.

The Yule Grenadiers

So this is Xmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And what have I done? Mostly lots and lots of Napoleonic cavalry, of course! But also I contributed some figures to the very wonderful Benno’s Figures Forum Famous Waterloo Project, an international group build timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. At the very start of the year, I began with painting a number of Swedish Napoleonic infantry  and artillery by HaT. And not forgetting lots of day trips out to various military museums across the UK; from many provincial regimental museums, to mighty coastal defence fortifications, and even a visit to Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory herself! (And did I mention a direct relative of mine once served on HMS Victory in the 19th century? That’s another story…)

With the Nappy Cavalry Project finished, and my day job now finished until next week, I’m winding down to Christmas with a traditional activity of painting of some entirely fanciful “Christmas infantry”. Essentially, Revell’s 7 Years War Austrian Infantry set gets painted in bright seasonal colours that are up to their ankles in snow (deep and crisp and even!), sometimes even with a little tinsel in their hats. Up to last year, I was painting the 1st Noel Infanty Regiment, but this year I’ve painted a new regiment in different colours; the Yule Grenadiers! As a final flourish, my young daughter designed their flag on computer. I think she’s done a particularly great job this time with the Yule Grenadiers ‘colour’; on a green background there’s a Xmas pudding with a Yule log, a cross, holly and some mistletoe occupying the four corners. Here they are occupying the ivy-bedecked mantlepiece as part of their Yuletide tour of duty:

So, all in all, it’s been a terrific year’s modelling here at Suburban Militarism. Here’s looking to the New Year with some new painting challenges and projects (of which, I’ll post about in the next week or so). Until then, my sincere wishes to all for happy, healthy and, most importantly in these troubled times, a peaceful Christmas time and New Year.

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear