The Household Cavalry Museum: Day Trip #17

What to do when the girls of my household are in London to see a musical leaving me in the capital city with a few hours to kill until they come out of the theatre? Why, visit a military museum, of course!

I decided that I’d walk down to Horse Guards Parade and take a look around the Household Cavalry Museum which is housed within the buildings there. Horse Guards was subject to some redevelopment in 1758 resulting in the Life Guard being based at the site, a tradition that continues to this day. In the 19th Century, the Duke of Wellington as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army used Horse Guards as the British Army HQ. In the 20th century it shamefully was allowed to become an enormous civil service car park, but it reclaimed its dignity and eventually reverted back to its original purpose as a parade and events ground in the 1990s.

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Horse Guards Parade on the day of my visit. The entrance to the Household Cavalry Museum is centre, left of the three archways and just behind a statue of Field Marshall Wolseley.

The entrance fee is £8 which, though modest enough, is slightly more than many of the other military museums I’ve visited (many of which are free), but for London that’s positively cheap!

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On entry, I soon found the display of the modern-day Full Dress uniform for which the Household Cavalry are famous worldwide. The uniforms are based on a 19th century-style heavy dragoon with polished steel cuirasses. The two regiments of the Household Cavalry have distinctively different uniforms; the scarlet tunics and white plumes of the Life Guard and the navy tunics and red plumes of the Blues and Royals. The colours of these regiments are a tradition which goes back a long way. For the Blues and Royals, their uniform harks back to the Horse Guards of the late 17th century.

Also in this contemporary display were the instruments of the mounted band. It was terrific to see the polished kettledrums and drum banners of a regiment which still uses them even today.

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The Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) has a lineage that goes back to the distinctly un-royal cuirassiers in the Parliamentarian Army in the Civil War (known as ‘Haselrigge’s lobsters’). An example of this type of armour is on display.

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In the early 19th century, Wellington’s Household Brigade performed a famous role in the Battle of Waterloo, comprising both regiments of the Life Guard and the Royal Horse Guards. The Royals (the 1st Dragoons who would later merge with the Blues) took part in the same general charge as part of the Union Brigade, in the process capturing a French Eagle. Helmets from this charge were on display. The images below show a Royals helmet top and a Horse Guards helmet below:

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Back in 2016, I posted on a series of cigarette cards featuring British cavalry uniforms, one of which included this trooper below of the Royal Horse Guards in 1815. The same helmet but with the crest and plume in place can be seen.

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A life-sized model reproduced the moment that Captain Alexander Kennedy Clark of the Royal Dragoons captured the French Eagle of the 105th Line. An original heavy dragoon helmet with horsehair plume could be viewed close up in a cabinet too. Great for comparison with my own 1st Royal Dragoon figures painted for the Nappy Cavalry Project a few years ago.

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My figures of The Royals. British Heavy Dragoons by Waterloo 1815.

After Waterloo, the British Army enjoyed an unprecedented period of peace in which Britain and it’s forces were largely pre-eminent and unchallenged on the world stage. This allowed the army to explore more extravagant uniforms of immense grandeur, often without such indulgence ever being exposed to the proving ground of hard campaigning. With the prestigious Life Guard and the Royal Horse Guard regiments, this trend reached particularly exuberant proportions in the realm of headdress, as can be seen below in this 1832 Life Guards helmet with its outrageous bearskin plume.

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Life Guards helmet, 1832-43.

The plume can be seen to be protruding slightly further forward on the helmet seen above compared to the design that it succeeded shown below.

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Life Guards helmet, 1817.

This older 1817 design replaced the iconic, though short-lived, Waterloo helmet. The new design’s astonishing plume had its drawbacks, however, and apparently unbalanced the riders who wore it, hence the 1832 redesign. It must have nonetheless been a terrific sight in Full Dress occasions such as parades or reviews.

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My aforementioned series of British cavalry uniforms on cigarette cards also pictured this helmet on a trooper of the Horse Guards in 1818.

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Another version of this style of bear-crested ‘Romanesque’ headdress was this version worn by the 1st Dragoons, ‘the Royals’. There are notable differences, however. The helmet has been ‘Japanned’ in a black lacquer and has ornate gold-coloured leaf designs featuring on both the sides of the helmet and on the chin scales.

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It’s an imposing piece of headgear, though another piece I discovered was arguably even more so. It was a headdress which I had been hoping to see up close for a long time. Described by the museum as a ‘bearskin cap’, this particular specimen was worn by a captain of the Life Guards at the coronation of the Prince Regent in 1821 and reflected the obsession that the would-be King George IV had with Napoleon’s recently defunct Imperial Guard.

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The grenadier badge is a direct reference to Napoleon’s grenadiers. The ‘comb-over’ plume is made of swan feathers. Once again, another of those cigarette cards depicts this headdress. In fact, it reproduced the exact same coronation headdress on display in the museum, describing the illustration as “an officer of the Life Guards in the full dress uniform worn at the Coronation of George IV”. Notably, the artist has wrongly envisaged a direct copy of the French version with a shorter swan plume, a front plate and other Imperial Guard details, different to the original shown in the museum.

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It would hardly be the Household Cavalry museum without plenty of cuirasses on display. Below is the cuirass worn at the same coronation as the bearskin cap. It’s quite a curious shape, quite elongated, which I suspect may have made being mounted for long periods uncomfortable.

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The difference in cuirass shape can be clearly seen when compared to the version below;

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For ceremonial occasions, cuirasses could be incredibly ornate. The black lacquered cuirass in the photo below was worn exclusively for the state visit of the Russian Tsar in 1814, no doubt deliberately resembling the Russian cuirassiers’ own black versions. It was interesting for me to discover that cuirasses were therefore being worn by the Life Guard, albeit briefly, pre-dating Waterloo. I’d always assumed that the regiment’s encounter with the French cuirassiers had been the instigator of a relationship between the cuirass and the Household Cavalry.

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There was a particularly nice display relating to Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby of the Royal Horse Guards. To the Victorian public, Burnaby was a famously heroic character; the epitome of the recklessly brave Victorian adventurer. Being a member of the Victorian Military Society, he was already familiar to me and I have encountered a number of accounts of the man and his life. Burnaby was larger than life in every sense; being 6ft 4in tall, immensely strong and 20 stone. In the Victorian era such vital statistics was particularly impressive. As sense of the man’s still considerable stature could be gleaned from standing near his uniform, cuirass and boots.

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Feats of his astonishing physical strength and endurance was subject to many anecdotes. Most of all, his adventurous and impetuous spirit guided him through many solo adventures across Central Asia, Spain, the Balkans and Russia at a time when being in the Royal Horse Guards meant limited exposure to direct military action.

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Finally, desperate to see some combat, Burnaby took an unofficial appointment in the 1884 Sudan campaign. He subsequently died in desperate hand-to-hand fighting at the Battle of Abu Klea. One wonders whether his ceremonial cuirass would have proved of real value in such fighting? The boots displayed above were the same ones he was wearing when he was killed in the act of recklessly engaging the famously fierce Sudanese Hadendoa warriors virtually single-handed. The knife and it’s scabbard seen above are Sudanese weapons found on the field of battle where he lay. The book is a copy of “A Ride to Khiva”, Burnaby’s own popular account of his astonishingly daring trip to the distant silk road city which was then a newly acquired part of the Tsar’s empire.

Nearing the exit, I saw a poignant exhibit from aftermath of the IRA bombing of the Blues and Royals near Hyde Park in 1982. Four soldiers and seven of their horses died in the atrocity. The ornate dragoon helmet on display has been grotesquely damaged and deformed by the blast, a sobering reminder of just how far removed the smartness and beauty of traditional British army ceremonial uniforms are from being appropriate military equipment in the modern era. With the story of the wounded horse Sefton, it was also a reminder of how much appalling suffering cavalry horses must have endured through the ages.

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To conclude with, a few more images of uniforms through the ages included in which is Lord Uxbridge’s artificial leg! Uxbridge was Wellington’s 2nd in command at Waterloo and in command of the Allied cavalry (he even recklessly joined the charge of the Heavy Brigade).

Recently, I also encountered another exhibit relating to a member of Wellington’s senior staff when I saw Lt-General Picton’s top hat displayed in the National Army Museum. Just as Picton’s hat reminded me of a famous scene in Dino De Laurentiis’ superb film “Waterloo”, so this leg also made me recall another scene from it; when Uxbridge (played by Terence Alexander) tragically loses his leg to a stray cannonball at the very conclusion of the battle:

Uxbridge: My God sir, I’ve lost my leg.

Wellington: My God sir, so you have!

On exiting, I took a final snap of a statue situated right outside the museum door. The statue commemorates a former colonel of the Horse Guards, the esteemed Victorian Commander-in-Chief, Sir Garnet Wolseley. He is sitting astride his mount and looking out across Horse Guards Parade. Another colossus of Victorian generalship, Lord Roberts, is just yards away, mounted upon his own plinth.

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Glancing at my watch, I decided I still had plenty of time before meeting my wife and daughter. So I walked off down to the excellent Guards Toy Soldier Centre which is outside The Guards Museum and just off Birdcage Walk…

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The King’s Horse Guard (Nappy Cavalry Project Regiment #28)

My second regiment from HaT’s Napoleonic Swedish Cavalry is The King’s Horse Guard (Konungens Livgardet till häst). The box contains just the 1 pose of this regiment, reproduced in 3 figures which I’ve doubled up via the purchase of an extra box. So it’s not so much a regiment, as a squadron – but enough to guard a Crown Prince at any rate!

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Their horses are a chestnut-coloured selection of Swedish Warmbloods, a breed used by  today’s successor regiment to the Livgardet till häst in ceremonial duties. In Napoleonic times, any reasonable pony often would have had to suffice but I’ve been generous to this exclusive guard detachment and referenced their modern equivalents with this colour of mount.

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Having the same pose is not a problem with this group, I think. With swords drawn and advancing calmly at the walk, they look entirely like a guard regiment out on royal duty or parade. A more energetic action pose would have been less appropriate for these royal dandies.

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The unusual mid-light blue uniform (I’ve used Vallejo Andrea Blue) and distinctive headgear with white plume and facings make them a decorative addition to my project. It seems that selecting a shade of blue wasn’t just a problem for me. Regarding the modern regiment, Wikipedia says that;

The colour of the parade uniform worn by the cavalry was in the 1950s changed to match the officer’s “mid-blue” shade: (a slightly lighter colour) for all ranks. In the 1990s, the colour was again changed, apparently in error, to a royal blue colour. The shade for other ranks is now to revert to mid-blue, while officers will retain “middle blue, slightly lighter.”

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Before the regimental biography commences, I perhaps ought to ponder on which regiment to tackle next in the project. I’m determined to clear the box (at least at some point) and there are three regiments remaining: the Småland Light Dragoons, the Scanian Carabiniers, and the Skjöldebrand Cuirassiers. All look quite interesting… but I’ve randomly chosen the Småland Light Dragoons to be the 29th regiment in the project!

 

 


Biography: The King’s Horse Guard [Sweden]

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HaT’s own website contains a great overview of the Swedish cavalry during Napoleonic times including an extensive section by Björn Bergérus on the Horse Guards which I respectfully reproduce below.

Taken from an original text by Björn Bergérus, Stockholm, Sweden 2005-2006.

This unit originated in Finland (based in Borgå/Porvoo, very close to Helsinki). The unit was promoted to Guards’ status – Lätta dragonerna av Livgardet (The Light Dragoons of the Life Guards) – after the bloodless coup d’état of the Swedish king Gustavus III. In 1793 the unit was renamed Livhusarregementet (The Life Hussar Regiment), and in 1797 Livdragonkåren (The Life Dragoon Corps) and finally got the name Livgardet till häst (The Horse Guards) in 1806.

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Contemporary illustration of a 1798 uniform of the Konungens Livgardet till häst.

The unit was composed of three companies (later called squadrons) of 50 men each. When inspected in 1771 the commander found “that all dragoons were made up of Swedish or Finnish, all happy, well spirited and particularly beautiful people”.

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In the bloodless coup d’état by Gustavus III in 1772, the unit’s commander Jakob Magnus Sprengtporten took a force of some 1.000 men and sailed to Stockholm from Finland to support the king. Due to poor winds, however, he arrived only some two weeks after the successful coup d’état. The king was nevertheless very grateful and made 100 men of the unit into the King’s personal bodyguard to reside in the capital of Stockholm. Sprengtporten was also made the commander of both the Foot and Cavalry Guards. The new guard unit was given the name Lätta dragonerna av livgardet – the Light Dragoons of the Lifeguard. History tells that the old guard regiments – the Life Regiment and the Foot Guards – found it hard to regard the dragoons as their equals with resulting petty disputes between officers and even coming to blows between the troopers.

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Swedish king Gustavus III

In 1777 the two parts of the regiment – in Sweden and Finland respectively – were amalgamated to the Stockholm area, counting four squadrons of 200 men total. In 1793 the name was changed to Livhusarregementet – the Life Hussar Regiment. At the end of the 1790s the unit was reduced to two squadrons and the name changed to Lätta livdragonregementet – the Light Life Dragoon Regiment.

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1783 incarnation of the Lätta livdragonregementet uniform.

About 90 troopers from the regiment were present during the campaign in and around Swedish Pomerania (North Germany) against the French in 1805-07. The campaign was fruitless, as the troops eventually had to retire before a more numerous French foe. The commander Löwenhjelm and four troopers still got medals for bravery for a delaying action during a crossing of the river Elbe.

The regiment’s name was changed again in 1806 to Konungens lifgarde till häst – the King’s Horse Guard – or simply the Horse Guards.

The regiment also fought in the Russo-Swedish war of 1808-09. One squadron took part in a landing operation against Turko/Åbo that resulted in hard fighting that is said to have lasted for 14 hours. The commander von Vegesack writes of the Horse Guard that they “fought as a guard should fight; they have with the greatest manly courage endured the renewed attacks of the enemy and never fallen back a single step”. Many troopers were mentioned for their good conduct during this battle, like trooper no. 4 Lind, who had “shot nine Russians, and freed himself and five men of the militia from captivity”.

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Cornet Carl Fredrik Reinhold von Essen dressed in the uniform of the King’s Horse Guard, 1808. Painting by Carl Fredrik von Breda.

Later during the summer of 1808 a new landing attempt was made to cut off the Russian supply from their bases in the south of Finland. Three reduced infantry regiments, a battery of guns and two squadrons of Horse Guard took part. The landing force was soon engaged by the Russians, but could give support to another Swedish brigade at Lappfjärd under the Swedish General von Döbeln (immortalised by the Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg). After a successful engagement the Horse Guard could pursue the fleeing Russians. Von Vegesack then joined the main army and took part in the battle of Oravais close to Vaasa in Western Finland September 14th 1808. Here some 5-6.000 Swedes-Finns faced some 6-7.000 Russians – the only major battle of the Russo-Swedish war 1808-09. At first it looked good for the Swedish-Finnish, but the battle finally ended in a Russian victory.

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Contemporary print of the action at the captured the city of Umeå, Russo-Swedish War of 1808-09.

During the winter of 1808-09 four squadrons of the Horse Guard were stationed on the Åland Islands, between the Finnish and Swedish mainland. Here several small skirmishes took place with Russian Cossacks – often on the frozen ice between the small islands. During one of these events, a trooper named Kämpe of the Horse Guards (Kämpe meaning ‘fighter’ in Swedish – soldiers were often given these short “soldiers’ names” that were easy to remember) is recorded to have cut one Cossack in the throat and broke his lance. The Swedish defenders were eventually forced to retreat over the frozen waters from Åland to the Swedish mainland before the advance of more numerous Russians. The Horse Guards covered the retreat, and was engaged several times in small skirmishes with harassing Russian Cossacks.

In August 1809 a final Swedish push was made with a landing designed to take back the town of Umeå on the Swedish mainland. The Swedish force was composed of 7.000 men, more numerous than the defending Russians. Two squadrons of the Horse Guards were present, although fighting on foot. The Swedish command was as slow and hesitant, as the Russian commander Kamenski was eager and determined. The Swedish suffered from not having mounted cavalry as scouts and overestimated – as usual – the strength of the Russians. After some fighting the Swedish chose to retire and re-embark – the landing having been a failure. Five troopers of the horse guards nevertheless got medals for bravery.

With the peace in 1809 Finland was lost to Russia and made into a Grand Duchy under the Russian Tsar. A total of 24 medals of honour had been awarded to the men from the Horse Guard during the war.

The regiment was seriously decimated by the war – upon inspection the regiment had 95 horses present of which 34 were rejected for further service and about the rest they were said to be “very poor, due to serious fatigue, cold and – for the horse’s maintenance during the end of the campaign – a far too inadequate supply of food”.

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During the campaigns of 1813-14 the Horse Guard mainly served as escort and bodyguard to the newly elected Crown Prince of Sweden, the former French Marshal Bernadotte, now commander of the allied Army of the North. The Horse Guard also functioned as a recruiting base for dispatch riders. In Germany the regiment also got new beautiful light blue hussar uniforms made up by the fine tailors of Berlin.

After the short war with Norway in 1814 the Horse Guards were stationed in Fredrikshald, Norway, for some two months together with other Swedish troops to guarantee the peace treaty, in which Norway accepted Bernadotte as their king, joining a union with Sweden that lasted until 1905.

Notable campaigns: Swedish Pomerania (1805-07), Russo-Swedish war of 1808-09, War of the Sixth Coalition (1813-14).

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Horse Guards of the Swedish King

Having despatched the Morner Hussars, the 27th regiment in my project, I have been turning my attention to one of the other four regiments in HaT’s Napoleonic Swedish Cavalry set; the Royal Life Guard.

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Immediately noticeable are their peculiar headdress with it’s woollen crest and turned up side which ends in a white plume.

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The colour of the uniform is a light blue, the exact shade of which seems to vary from illustration to illustration. Consequently, I’ve opted for what I thought was an attractive shade of mid / light blue from Vallejo called Andrea Blue.

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Just a mere 6 troopers with a single pose this time, so it’s a quicker process (each box only containing a token 3 of these figures). I toyed with the idea of twisting a few heads for variety but left them as they are as I rather liked the uniformity.

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The regiment is described on Plastic Soldier Review as being the Royal Life Guard. The regiment was called a number of names over its history but by 1806 was known as the Konungens lifgarde till häst or King’s Horse Guards.

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The Life Guards of Sweden are a successor regiment to the Royal Life Guard of the Napoleonic era. Today, in Stockholm, these ceremonially dressed troops can be seen acting as ceremonial guard and protecting the Royal Palace.

Much like the ceremony in London, the guard take part in their own regular Changing of the Guard. The colour of their uniform bears some similarity to the Napoleonic forbears that I’ve been painting.

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I am using the exact same horses from the HaT Swedish Cavalry box that I used for the mounts of the hussars, so I’m well familiar with them by now. Today, the modern mounted Life Guard have up to 75 Swedish Warmblood (chestnut/sorrel) horses in their stable.

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Unlike the British Life Guards, the Swedish variety accept females within their ranks.

These horses are specially bred by The Swedish Horse Guard Association which acts to maintain the traditions of the Swedish guards. I’m not certain whether their forbears in the Napoleonic period also rode this specific type of horse, that’s assuming that appropriate mounts could ever be found in time of war, but I’ve referenced this tradition by mounting my figures on horses of a similar colour. The finishing touches to these horses are still being painted on but I’ll share them soon in a coming post (with riders) when the whole lot are finished.

Trooping the Colour and a Postcard

Some weeks ago, I posted about the depiction of women in historical military uniforms showcasing some of my modest collection of trade cards and postcards on the subject. Through my letter box has come another of my ‘Girl Soldier’ series of pre-WW1 postcards; a Life Guard!

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This is most appropriate given that this Saturday was the day when lines of brightly coloured soldiers aren’t just seen on my painting table here at Suburban Militarism; they’re also seen on television parading for the Queen’s birthday – The Trooping of the Colour. Essential viewing for this military uniforms enthusiast!

Beats watching Game of Thrones any day, in my (eccentric) opinion.

Anyway; any viewer of the Trooping of the Colour ceremony might note that it’s not just men appearing in the parade.

 

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery which is made up of nearly equal numbers of males and females. Being a ceremonial artillery unit that is mounted on horses, women undertake tasks of a mounted regiment becoming farriers, saddlers or tailors, in addition to riding the horses and operating the six 13 pounder WWI-era guns.

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Certainly, the women of the King’s Troop RHA have proved themselves more than capable of performing their duties during The Trooping of the Colour. How long before we see women riding in the parade wearing the full cuirass of the Lifeguards or Blues & Royals, I wonder? Possibly in the not-too-distant future.

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I imagine that comic postcard illustrator Ellam would have scarcely believed it possible when he penned his “Girl Soldier” series for postcard manufacturer Ellanbee in the early years of the 20th century. It’s possible that the Girl Soldier series was intended to be absurd; ludicrous. Yet over 100 years later, women are an increasing presence in the British army latterly in combat roles and, therefore, in its ceremonial duties as well.

For now, then, the vision of a female Life Guard such as Ellam’s still remains an illustration. Or does it? Though there are no women in the Household Cavalry at present, for some time now there have been female musicians in both the Band of The Life Guards and the Band of The Blues and Royals, which come together from time to time, mounted or dismounted, as the Massed Band of The Household Cavalry and take part in the Trooping of the Colour. One can cite as examples WO1 E. Freeborn, Bandmaster of the Lifeguards. So the reality of the female Life Guard comes inexorably closer.

Following the appalling tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire last week, the Queen led a minute’s silence before the Trooping the Colour ceremony to remember the victims. Kensington and Chelsea council has asked the British Red Cross to help co-ordinate an appeal to support those affected and it has started an appeal to raise money. Various websites are also calling for donations, including the London Evening Standard Dispossessed fund, which has already raised over £1m. JustGiving also has a page specifically for firefighters.

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British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century: The 2nd Life Guards

A series of regular blog posts displaying images from “British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century”; a set of trade cards issued by Badshah Tea Co. of London in 1963. 


#15: The 2nd Life Guards

“Charles II formed the Duke of Albermale’s Troop of Life Guards in 1660. In 1788 they became the 2nd Life Guards and in 1922 they were amalgamated with the 1st Life Guards. Our illustration shows an officer in full dress of the Waterloo period.”

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Officer, 2nd Life Guards (c.1805)

Sites of interest about the 2nd Life Guards:

National Army Museum page on the 14th Light Dragoons (who later became the 12th Royal Lancers).

My painted versions of the 1st Life Guards wearing Waterloo-era uniforms from the Nappy Cavalry Project.

The Household Cavalry Museum website.

British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century: 1st Life Guards

A series of regular blog posts displaying images from “British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century”; a set of trade cards issued by Badshah Tea Co. of London in 1963. Appropriately, given my recent efforts at painting them, this one features the Life Guards in their uniform used after Waterloo.


#5: The 1st Life Guards

“This illustration shows an officer of the Life Guards in the full dress uniform worn at the Coronation of George IV. The present day style with the plumed helmet did not come into use until the 1870s.”

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Officer, Life Guards (c.1821).
Sites of interest about the Life Guards:

National Army Museum page on the Life Guards.

Household Cavalry Regiment website; a “labour of love — intended to be
of help to (and about) the Regiment”.

Site of the Household Cavalry Museum in Horse Guards, Whitehall, London. (One day, I WILL visit this too…)

British Army’s own web page on the Life Guards, still a functioning regiment to this day.

And, of course, there’s my own Waterloo-era Life Guards figures painted recently!

1st Life Guards (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #18)

My list of Nappy Cavalry Project regiments grows ever longer! In my recent post, I bemoaned my disaster with varnishing the figures. Essentially, what happened was that I was delighted with my horses up until I applied my usually reliable varnish coat. Something has tainted the varnish and the effect was to make my horses too shiny, too dark and to obliterate any shading details. Needless to say, I was a tad unhappy. A coat of fresh varnish has dulled the shine a little but the loss of subtle detail seems terminal.

Oh well, they will have to do. They are pleasing enough, just not quite as good as I felt they would have been…

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1st Life Guards (c.1815)

I’ve painted this set before as the Royal Horse Guards, of course and this set by Revell really is a terrific sculpt. The delicacy of the detail makes things tricky for the painter but ultimately rewards the patience needed to tackle it (varnishing horrors notwithstanding).

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Mark Adkin’s magnificent “Waterloo Companion” book states that the Life Guards were mounted on “large, black horses with manes brushed to the left to distinguish them from the Blues who brushed them to the right.” The manes appear to be brushed to the right of the horse, which makes them correct for Horse Guards but not ironically for Life Guards as stated on the box!

Anyway; enough pedantry, here are the photos:

Biography: 1st Life Guards [Great Britain]

This prestigious regiment has its origins in March 1660, King Charles II appointed Officers to three Troops of Horse Guards with the express intention that they protect the royal person. They saw action in wars against the Dutch and in the Monmouth Rebellion at the battle of Sedgemoor. In the 18th Century, the Horse Guards served in the Jacobite rebellions and the War of the Austrian Succession.

By 1788, only the 1st and 2nd troops remained in existence and, along with the two troops of Horse Grenadier Guards, were reorganised into two regiments; the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Life Guards. The 1st Life Guards fought in the Peninsular War and were present at the Hundred Days campaign, when they were attached to Wellington’s Household Brigade of heavy cavalry (alongside the Royal Horse Guards, the King’s Dragoon Guards and their sister regiment, the 2nd Life Guards).

The 1st LG got the chance to taste action prior to the battle of Waterloo in the torrential rain of the 17th June, skilfully assisting Wellington’s withdrawal after Quatre Bras. In one incident, they came to the aid of British light cavalry by successfully counter-charging French Lancers. Losses were light and they took to the field the next day with 255 sabres.

On the field of Waterloo, they were positioned with the rest of the brigade to the west of the road to Brussels. At 2:20pm, the 1st Life Guards and King’s Dragoon Guards charged the advancing French cuirassiers numbering some 780 sabres and, after some minutes of intense melee, routed them. Losses were heavy in the battle and their commanding officer Lt.Col. Ferrior was mortally wounded after allegedly leading the regiment in up to 11 charges throughout the battle. Assisting the great victory with such gallantry only added to the fame and honour of the prestigious 1st cavalry regiment of the British Army.

The 1st Life Guards merged with the 2nd Life Guards in 1922 to form a single regiment; the “Life Guards”, a regiment which remains in service even today.

Battle Honours: Dettingen, Peninsula, Waterloo.

 

 

Someone has blundered…

Disaster, if that’s not a gross hyperbole, has struck more than once at Suburban Militarism this week. Let me explain;

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“Urghh. What a week…”

Firstly, I took a day off work and planned a Suburban Militarism Day Trip on the train to visit the Staffordshire Yeomanry Museum. My train was approaching the station bang on time when it suddenly stopped just short. Apparently an unfortunate incident on the train (a passenger being sadly taken ill) meant a long delay and it only rolled up to the platform when 25 mins late. All of which meant that I would now undoubtedly miss my connection to Stafford! I trudged home dejectedly…

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“Where’s my train?”

My second disaster struck only last night. I had just finished my Life Guards horses and, feeling pretty pleased with them, I was ready to apply my trusty Daler Rowney matt varnish.

Unfortunately, my beloved Daler Rowney has sadly let me down! Instead of the crisp matt, I’ve now got a satin finish; gloss even. Worse; it seems to have made them appear darker. The fine shading details are totally lost and the shiny horses look terrible! I’m at a loss to explain why my varnish has so suddenly ‘gone bad’, but even a second coat after much more stirring has done nothing but made it worse. I’m not sure it will be retrievable even with a fresh pot of varnish. Needless to say, after all the hard work – (and these Revell Life Guards really were hard work) – I’m gutted.

turk-desperate
“Arrrgh! Noooo…my Varnish!”

What makes a trusted varnish go bad? Age? Answers on a postcard, please. Or even in the comments section of this blog. I’ll have another go when a fresh pot of varnish arrives through the mail and I will post the results; good or bad…

Ho hum. On a brighter note at least, I’ve at least been finishing off some more of my Quiberon Expedition figures; specifically, the Royal Louis Regiment. Pictures to follow (varnishing dramas aside).

Royal Louis
Lymington Museum depiction of the Royal Louis Regt.

 

Revell Life Guards update

No waffle – here’s how my Revell Life Guards are looking (sorry, photos seem a bit dark!). The horses will be next under the brush.

Oh, maybe just a little waffle, then. I’ve been looking through my trade cards and found an album of cards by non-cigarette brands. After the Second World War, as the production of card sets by tobacco manufacturers waned, confectioners and tea brands seem to have taken up the practice in their place. The artwork seldom seemed to have matched the fine quality of pre-war sets, but some were attractive nonetheless.

Being a prestigious and well-known regiment, the Life Guards featured regularly. Here’s a selection I’ve found just in my own collection:

Life Painting: Revell Life Guards

Last year, as part of 2015’s Nappy Cavalry Project, I painted some Revell Life Guards. Being somewhat contrary, for that particular project I chose to paint them as their sister regiment in the Household Division; the Royal Horse Guards (aka The Blues) – which you can view here. I enjoyed painting them so much that I immediately resolved to paint the remainder of the box as Life Guards too, possibly at some point in 2016.

Revell Royal Horse Guards
Royal Horse Guards (The Blues)

So that’s exactly what I’m now doing…

life-guards
Early stages of painting: Lots still to do, including their grubby faces!

I’d forgotten just how tricky these Revell guys are to do. Some of the detail is really tiny, and it seems especially so after painting Strelets figures. Already, I’ve gone through a number of troughs of doubt as to how they are progressing, convinced I need to re-do this or that, or even contemplating completely starting again. Hopefully, they’ll all turn out okay in the end!

Even though they are still in the early stages of paintwork, it’s interesting to compare the figures with their Royal Horse Guard versions from last year (see below).

life-guards-2

Updates on my progress to follow in due course!