As the fourth year of Suburban Militarism on WordPress comes to a close and a New Year looms, it’s a time for reflection. Swedish Napoleonic cavalrymen; Ottoman Turkish artillerymen; Serbian and Austrian infantry of the Great War; Belgian Carabinier cyclists; 28mm Yeomanry figures based on illustrations by Marrion; Saxon Cuirassiers and not forgetting some Napoleonic Poles back in January.
So, here’s a brief pictorial overview of some of the figures painted over 2018.
Looking forward to 2019, I know well enough by now not to forecast my painting plans in any great detail as distractions lead me on to other unforeseen areas over the year! However, currently demanding my attention are:
My Ottomania project – now well under way with the artillery corps progressing nicely;
The Great War project – I have a number of excellent kits I intend to tackle as I continue to develop my WWI collection;
You’ll never guess what came through the post today. A couple of weeks ago, I complained about missing out on eBay on a Dorset Miniatures 54mm figure, another one for my “Marrion’s Men” series of yeomanry.
Having been outbid, I was surprised to see the same figure quickly re-listed. Presumably, the original winner found themselves unable to commit to the purchase for some reason. I’m delighted to confirm that I subsequently won the figure – all of which makes for a happy me!
So, I’ll be painting up this 1852 officer of the Yorkshire Hussars at some point. In the meantime, the lack of any finished figures appearing on this blog of late is not down to a total lack of endeavour on my part. Those Pegasus’ French WWI infantry are proving incredibly time-consuming. I’m creeping forward with them, so more on those whenever I finally get something worth sharing…
In what, for the time being, will be my last post on my series of R.J.Marrion-inspired figures, I present an officer of the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry in Parade Dress from the period 1905-1914.
This figure is based on an illustration by R.J. Marrion appearing on the cover of #4 book in Barlow and Smith’s series on “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914”; the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry.
The figure arrived through the post partly base-coated and with its own plinth…
I re-primed it with some matt black paint and got started…
54mm is still a new scale to me and I found painting this figure surprisingly challenging, getting the shade and colours to my satisfaction was like dabbling in alchemy. I made a good number of revisions and I think I’m satisfied with the result. Even attaching the figure to its new plinth involved some drilling, fashioning a short metal pin and some glue; such practical activities are never my forte but it’s worked – it remains upright!
The Barlow and Smith book describes the uniform in the following detail:
The scarlet serge frock
…the new serge frock was entirely scarlet except that there was a trefoil in mixed silver and red cord on the cuffs and similar cord all around the collar forming eyes below the top edging. On the collar were white gorget patches with a central horizontal red stripe and a lozenge-shaped button near the ends of the patch.
There were shoulder chains on scarlet backing and a scarlet waist band or self-belt secured in front of the lowest button. The frock had patch and pleated breast pockets and patch pockets below the waist; five silver lozenge-shaped buttons down the front, a smaller lozenge button on each breast pocket flap and one on each shoulder chain.
I’ve painted the trefoil and collar cord white and scarlet, the former standing out better to the eye than the prescribed silver.
The blue overalls
The Overalls were dark blue with double silver lace stripes mounted on scarlet cloth, showing scarlet edges and a blue light between the stripes. Wellington boots in dismounted duty with box spurs.
That was all a little too detailed for my liking, even on a 54mm figure. My stripes are basically silver with some kind of red in there too – and that will have to be sufficient!
The forage cap
Barlow and Smith have a close-up picture of the cap (above) featuring a different badge post-dating the ‘three sprigs of heather’ which features on my figure. It describes the cap thus:
In about 1905 a very striking staff pattern, peaked, forage cap (Fig. 27) was introduced for the officers. It was scarlet, with a white band and piping in the crown seam, and a black chin-strap held by two silver lozenge -shaped buttons. The black patent leather peak had a silver-braided edge for the field officers. A silver badge of three sprigs of heather was worn.
It’s certainly a striking feature. Again on my figure, for the silver edge on the peak, I’ve opted for white with a touch of silver so that it stands out more cleanly.
The pouch belt and pouches
“In about 1902 a pouch with solid silver flap and red leather box was introduced (Fig. 15); it had oak leaf engraving on the flap and the same device as [the previous] cloth-faced pouch, but with the King’s crown all in gilt, entwined and reversed. This pouch was probably introduced for general wear, such as church parades in order to save the embroided type for levees.”
In a previous post about the third figure in my series of Marrion’s Men, I mentioned the very kind lady who is the widow of the original owner of these wonderful figures. She unexpectedly forwarded to me a couple of swords which had been found lying around which she hoped would suit the one that I was missing. Although it wasn’t quite right for the Sharpshooter figure, it has proved perfect for this WCYC figure and nestles under the crook of his arm perfectly. For all I know, it may even be the original sword which came with this figure.
Quite honestly, it feels good to finish some of these figures which were once started by her husband but which, unfortunately, he was unable to complete during his lifetime. Of course, we figure painters ultimately know that we will never finish painting our stock and the hope must be that the ranks of the unfinished find their way to those who will appreciate them to the utmost, as has certainly been the case with this yeoman.
Postscript: “the one that got away…”
Incidentally, I spotted another figure by R.J. Marrion which had recently come up for auction from the same stock as this WCYC figure. It’s yet another figure from the Sussex Yeomanry, which was the first book in the Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force series. I’ve already painted one from the cover of this book, but this one got away from me. I was bidding against a collector with seemingly bottomless pockets and my own bid, which was already much higher than I’d readily admit to my wife, was more than easily trounced by his first offer – which he then bolstered with another just in case! He needn’t have worried; I’m far from a wealthy man. Sometimes, it’s a good thing that my first love remains cheap plastic 1/72 scale figures…!
Interestingly, this new figure was not from Dorset Miniatures, as all have been previously, but produced by Mitrecap Miniatures. So it seems that Marrion’s yeomen have appeared under the guises of various manufacturers.
I made some enquiries directly with Dorset Model Soldiers, the successor firm to Dorset (Metal Model) Soldiers which manufactured the Trumpeter and other figures in this range of yeomanry from the Marrion, Barlow and Smith series. The new owner only acquired the firm a couple of years ago so could tell me little more but suggested that my sculpted figures are “likely to be the work of Giles Brown, the previous owner”. Whoever it was, my attempt at painting this figure stands as a kind of humble tribute to their very fine sculpting.
The third in my series of 54mm figures inspired by Robert Marrion’s illustrations is another figure from the 3rd County of London Sharpshooters. Featuring on the front cover alongside my first figure (the trumpeter), the officer wears Camp Church Parade Order as seen circa 1905.
The figures which I managed to source on eBay sadly were without the sword which appears in the RJ Marrion illustration. No matter as I sourced a couple of 54mm scale swords for my men to lean on. They came in their scabbards and so I had to slice off the rings. I had to also cut off the end off to shorten the sword into a size which would fit between his hands and the ground.
OK, so maybe my sword looks a little, ah, short and somewhat stocky. Not so much a rapier, more of a cutlass! Ah well, it’ll have do until something else better comes along…
There are two figures and I’ve based them both. One of them is still awaiting an engraved plaque to place at the front.
There is one more figure that I’m currently working on in this series of figures – more on that in a future post. After that, I’m simply waiting for any more of these figures to pop up, assuming that there were any more made from this range. Given the fact that I’ve sourced two figures from a single book cover alone, and that the number of books in the Ogilby Trust sponsored series numbered 15, one has to assume there are more out there somewhere…
I previously posted on mounting my ‘Lost Sharpshooter’ figure, the first of my Marrion’s Men series. With the latest delivery of more alder wood bases, I’ve been able to start mounting my other Robert Marrion-inspired 54mm yeomanry figures. The first to get the treatment is my sergeant from the Sussex Imperial Yeomanry.
As before, I’ve placed a brass plaque front and rear detailing the regiment and the rank / year of the figure.
When I last posted on this figure, it was still awaiting the riding crop held in the left hand. In the event, the crop required chopping in two pieces and positioning delicately in place. Thankfully, the glue is just about holding this delicate item precariously in place!
I previously wrongly identified what I thought were three bullets in the bandolier. This is incorrect. These items I now believe to be leather fixings which allow the top half of the bandolier to fold over and cover the bullets. I’ve added a dash of paint to cover them over.
That’s the second of my Marrion’s Men done and dusted, and I’m rather pleased with him. The next one is awaiting the addition of accessory and will be featured in a future post.
I’d like to introduce the third figure in my series of R.J. Marrion-inspired 54mm yeomanry figures. It’s another figure that appears on the front cover of the “3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters)” book which was wonderfully illustrated by the late Robert Marrion.
I should say that these are ‘figures’ plural asthere are two of them, these identical twins coming as a pair in a single purchase from eBay. My figures appear in a much lighter shade of green under the camera lens, appearing a little more akin to the illustration to the naked eye.
“For Camp Church Parade Order, the officers wore the green forage cap, the green serge frock, Full Dress overalls, brown leather wrist gloves and the Sam Browne belt (as seen on the front cover).
I don’t know about a ‘camp’ Church Parade Order – it looks pretty macho to me…
The Robert Marrion illustration shows the officer resting his hands on the pommel of his sword, which is out of its scabbard. Initially, I thought that the sculptor no doubt faithfully recreated this sword but, unfortunately, as both my figures are missing this item, they must have got lost. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that in the illustration the officer’s hands come up to the top of his belt. On the figure, however, the hands come to rest quite a bit lower meaning that the sword will have to be trimmed significantly short. So, I then mused that perhaps there was no sword, but then the empty scabbard suggests otherwise. An oversight on the part of the otherwise impressively talented sculptor, perhaps?
Despite resting their hands upon air, the figure still looks convincingly as though the officer is merely folding his hands, in my opinion. But I’m going to go with the sword to match the illustration and I have secured a 54mm scale alternative for their “Infantry Pattern” sword which, with a little trimming, I hope might act as a substitute.
You will notice that this officer of the Sharpshooters is a decorated soldier. On his chest, Marrion has depicted two medals. From the book cover, I could see that one is clearly a Queen’s South Africa Medal with bars, suggesting that he served in the Anglo-Boer War as part of the regiment’s initial incarnation as the 18th, 21st and 23rd Battalions of the Imperial Yeomanry. On 23 July 1901, the 3rd County of London Imperial Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) was formed from the veterans of these Boer War Imperial Yeomanry battalions.
After a little research, the other medal on my figures’ chest I now believe to be the King Edward VII Coronation Medal, a slightly oval-shaped medal awarded in 1902 to celebrate said monarch’s coronation with Queen Alexandra. It was awarded to “...service officers who were present at the coronation ceremony, performed extra work in its preparation, or who were involved in the coronation parade.” Interestingly, the date of the coronation which was printed on all the medals – 28th June 1902 – is incorrect. The king had to postpone the coronation until October when he’d recovered from an emergency operation for appendicitis.
With the exception of my original Sharpshooting Trumpeter, the remaining figures have all come from a lady who is selling off her father’s impressive collection of figures. I politely enquired after the missing swords for these figures and through the post a week later, completely unexpectedly, was a wonderful handmade card from the gentleman’s widow.
Within her charming card, she had included a couple of swords that she had discovered loose amongst her late husband’s large collection. One weapon was quite suitable for one of these two figures, although it also appears to be an absolutely perfect fit for my next Marrion Man, who was also missing his sword…
It was a very generous act indeed by the lady. It’s a sad and sobering activity to observe; the selling off of a husband and father’s old model soldiers. As the army dissipates, it’s old commander having passed away, it is a vision of the (hopefully still very distant) future, when my own stock gets dispersed by my own spouse and daughter in a similar manner, hopefully to another grateful collector. Ah, but enough of such maudlin musings. Many a soldier I plan to add to Suburban Militarism’s army yet!
My Sharpshooter officers are both currently still standing in a blob of Blu Tack, patiently awaiting smart basing of the type that their fellow sharpshooter received a week ago. The final based and labelled figures, hopefully even with swords to lean upon, will be presented in a future post!
Blu Tack is a poor way to present one of R.J. Marrion’s finest yeomen. But until now, Blu Tack is all I’ve had to keep him standing upright. I’ve previously recounted as to the long history of this trumpeter figure. Having been lost for so many years – and then foolishly mislaid again for a couple more – once he did finally return, I had to admit to him that I’d in fact given up all hope and thrown away his original wooden base. He was naturally outraged at my lack of faith.
And so, by way of apology, I’ve sourced something altogether more respectable for my straying Sharpshooter. I like to think that it presents my humble tribute to artist Robert Marrion in a far more suitable manner than a blob of Blu Tack.
The nicely turned wooden base is made of unvarnished alder wood from a purveyor in eastern Europe (on collection, my local Post Office teller gave my poor wife quite a grilling, not many Ukrainian stamps pass through these parts and what’s more you can’t be too careful what with that poisoning in Salisbury…).
I did think about varnishing the base, or maybe adding some kind of colour to it but in the end I decided I liked the natural look best of all. No frills, just the figure.
The engraving was very cheaply sourced online and labels the figure nicely, I think. I’ve abbreviated the lengthy regimental title to 3rd CLY (Sharpshooters). On the rear of the figure there is another plaque detailing rank and date.
So, here’s presenting the first of my series of ‘Marrion’s Men’; a trumpeter of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters). In Drill Order, he dates from the early 20th century, just after the conclusion of the Anglo-Boer War, a conflict which inspired the formation of his regiment.
Using time off over the Bank Holiday period, I was emptying out some old magazines when I made a wonderful discovery. Let me explain…
About two years ago, my parents handed me a small metal figure in a little plastic bag which they had discovered deep in their loft. Knowing that it was probably one of my old model figures from my childhood, and furthermore well aware that I’m always painting soldiers nowadays, they brought it over.
It was a 54mm figure from Dorset (Metal Model) Soldiers Ltd, which I presume is the same company still going today but under the name The Dorset Model Soldier Company. I guess I must have purchased it from a Victorian Military Society fair in the mid 1980s. The bag also contained a square wooden plinth and a little green baize to mount it on. The figure was from a series called “Armies of the World” and represented a Trumpeter in Drill Order from the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) during the period 1902-1907.
I was particularly pleased to rediscover this figure as Yeomanry is a great interest of mine. Having (naturally…) the entire fifteen books from the terrific Ogilby Trust series; “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914″, I pulled out my copy of the 5th book in the series on said regiment to do some research.
There on the cover was the very figure I was researching – and, what’s more, in exactly the same pose! I guessed that the sculptor must have used the excellent Robert J. Marrion image on the far right of the cover as a guide, such is the similarity. Furthermore, the illustration in kind must have been based upon the trumpeter seen in the above photograph.
Finally, the figure came with a hand-written painting guide which, confirming the inspiration behind it, indeed recommended that for further details and colours I should see “No.5 in the series “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914”.
And then it was lost.
Gone. Disappeared. Vanished. The figure was last seen in a generic plastic bag. I threw the bag out but took care to remove the figure first. I’m sure I did. Didn’t I? All that remained was the little wooden plinth that the figure would have been mounted on. I searched everywhere for the figure, fruitlessly turning the house upside down for days. Appalled, I finally became convinced that I must have thrown it out by accident. Two years passed by…
…Until I discovered it yesterday! It turned up secreted at the bottom of a magazine rack. Heaven knows how or why it got there, and how it evaded my searches for so long. Now it has returned, I’m tempted to finally have a go at painting it. Heaven knows, I’ve got enough on at the moment, so it may be a little while yet before I make a start.
Trouble is, not only have I already clumsily broken the plume off (hastily re-glued), but I am now unable to locate the wooden plinth which ironically has possibly been thrown out after the figure was given up as lost. Never mind; I’ll fashion a replacement!
I now want to end by saying some words about R.J. Marrion, the artist who inspired the Trumpeter figure and illustrated for the entire British Yeomanry Force series. Bob Marrion was a former police officer, firstly a dog handler and then latterly, after injury, a police draftsman. He illustrated dozens of books and articles on the subject of military uniforms including the entire Ogilby Trust series on the British Yeomanry Force.
Sadly Bob Marrion passed away in 2015 to the great regret of many with an interest in and appreciation for military history, uniforms and artworks.
Tantalisingly, from this forum it is suggested that in the 1970s Bob Marrion even sculpted, or at least designed, his own Victorian-era figures under the name Olive Figures. Something to look out for, perhaps?
So painting this figure becomes, perhaps, a kind of belated personal tribute to the late Bob Marrion and his essential contribution to the hobby. What more appropriate way for me to do this than bringing to life a sculpted manifestation of one of his illustrations? Having not painted anything greater than 28mm, 54mm scale is something very different and so should be an interesting challenge.
Currently, I’m still finishing off the Zvezda Saxon Cuirassiers, which should be definitely finished some time this week, I reckon. After that, following what has been over 3 decades of being lost and found, I’d say it’s about time this lost sharpshooter – one of Bob Marrion’s artistic visions – was finally brought to life!