Carbine Cavalrymen

I confidently announced in my last post on the Nappy Cavalry Project that my next regiment from the HaT Swedish Cavalry box would be the Smaland Light Dragoons. I then promptly picked up the Scanian Carabineers and began work on that regiment instead. I’m a bit like that. Capricious.

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A Carabineer, ( Carabinier or Carbineer) was originally a French word intended to indicate cavalry armed with carbines, a lighter firearm than the longer musket. Although originally a concept for light cavalry, it seems that Carabineers were frequently equipped as medium or heavy cavalry. Napoleon’s French Carabiniers were eventually armed with a brass-lacquered cuirass, and the British version, called the Carabiniers, were otherwise known as the 6th Dragoon Guards, technically a medium-heavy cavalry formation.

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Anyway, the Swedish Scanian Carabiniers were a heavy cavalry formation and were distinguished by their very broad-brimmed bicornes and tall white plumes. They had separate uniforms for undress (yellow uniform) and service dress (blue uniform). I’ve opted for the latter for my figures.

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Just the two poses, one with carbine in hand (appropriately):

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…and the other figure with sword drawn:

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At least I get to paint a different horse after the previous 24 Swedish cavalrymen required the very same duo of horse figures! Apparently, the standard Napoleonic Swedish cavalry horse would barely pass as a pony, today. However,

“…the Cuirassier Corps and the Scanian Carabineers – the two Swedish heavy cavalry regiments – were to have horses exceeding 1.45m in height. Any colour of the horse was generally accepted, but for the heavies – the Cuirassiers and Carabineers – they had to be of dark colour.”

So, some dark-coloured mounts are required. They will be next up to paint, although – truth be told – I’ve a few other things on the painting table at the moment competing for my attention…

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Swedish Carabineers (2)

 

 

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Marrion’s Men’s Medals

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.

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I should say that these are ‘figures’ plural as there 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.

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A group of Sharpshooter officers c.1904, a number of whom are wearing the same green uniform and forage caps with yellow piping and metal shoulder scales. Others are wearing a khaki serge coat.

Sharing the same cover with the Trumpeter that I painted previously, this new figure is an officer dressed in ‘Camp Church Parade Order’. The authors state that;

“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…

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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.

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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.

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Queens South Africa Medal with three bars for “Cape Colony”, “Orange Free State” and “Transvaal”

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.

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Sharpshooter officer wearing his QSA and King Edward VII Coronation Medals.
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My figure doing the same…

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.

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Wonderful padded fabric card of a Guardsman musician, handmade by a very kind lady who is the widow of a model soldier collector.

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…

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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!

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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!

For now, best wishes

Marvin

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Officers seated on the front rank wearing the green uniform of my figures.

Marrion’s Men #1: Trumpeter, 3rd County of London (Sharpshooters)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Satisfied with my new base, I’ve ordered some more and (presuming it’s arrival doesn’t send the post office staff rushing for the phone to call MI5), I should soon be in a position to present my next in my series of Marrion’s Men – the already 99% finished sergeant from the Sussex Imperial Yeomanry!

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.

Marrion’s Men: Sussex Imperial Yeomanry

Another figure related to the late artist Robert Marrion has been on my painting table. Following on from the 54mm Sharpshooter that I posted on recently, I’ve been painting another chap modelled on an illustration by R.J. Marrion. It can be found on the front of Book One of the “Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914” series. The illustration depicts a sergeant of the Sussex Imperial Yeomanry in Service Dress c.1905.

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As with the Sharpshooter, it is a figure wearing khaki, Stohwasser gaiters and a slouch hat. This form of Yeomanry dress was increasingly common at this time in the wake of the harsh lessons learnt out on the veldt during the Anglo-Boer War. He is a sergeant (with the stripes to prove it) and carries a riding crop casually in his left hand. Other distinctions include metal shoulder chains and a leather bandolier within which the sculptor has even faithfully reproduced the three bullets seen in the drawing!

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Barlow and Smith’s book describes the uniform in the following manner:

“…Service Dress consisted of the slouch hat… A khaki serge frock with blue collar wearing brass badges, blue shoulder straps and a trefoil in blue on the cuffs, four patch pockets with small brass buttons on the breast pockets, and five brass buttons down the front. A light shade Bedford cord breeches with blue piping, brown Stohwasser gaiters and ankle boots; a web bandolier.”

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The slouch hat had a leather band for a pagri and a “small, bright blue emu feather plume”. The blue shoulder straps described above were replaced by ‘shoulder chains with blue backing’ for Service Dress in 1905, which helps to confirm the date of this figure.

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The Sussex Yeomanry had their genesis back in 1793 when Revolutionary France declared war on Great Britain. The regiment then came in and out of existence in various guises over the 19th century until finally disbanded in 1875.

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The crisis of the Anglo-Boer War led to the British army recognising an urgent need for the kind of rapid mobility that mounted forces could provide. This resulted in the hurried creation of the Imperial Yeomanry in early 1900, capable of serving overseas. The Sussex Imperial Yeomanry was one of the yeomanry regiments formed as part of this emergency response.

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“Yeomanry Scouts on the Veldt” by Lady Butler. Imperial Yeomanry of the Boer War bearing close similarity to my Sussex Yeoman.

You will notice that my Yeoman is missing his riding crop, held in his left hand. Being a delicate item, I’ve decided to fix this on only when I’m able to place him on to a proper base. This may take a few weeks before I source an appropriate one.

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I’m reasonably satisfied with my painting for this figure although it took a few attempts until I was happy with the colour of his ‘light-coloured’ Bedford cord riding breeches. My sergeant is wearing leather wrist gloves which are a tad lighter in shade than I’d prefer but otherwise look okay. The Stohwasser leather gaiters are a blend of Vallejo’s Cavalry Brown and Red Leather paints with a black wash.

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I’m still feeling my way a little with what is still only my 54mm scale figure. I’m happy to retain my painting ‘style’ even for this scale. It may not be the most effective way of presenting them, but the figure retains that certain ‘Suburban Militarism’ identity as a result.

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There’s another Robert Marrion inspired figure still awaiting paint to make it a trio of ‘Marrion’s Men’. I’ll be still on the look out for any others, of which I’m convinced there must be a number more somewhere. In the meantime, I’ve got other 54mm scale Yeomanry figures awaiting attention for whenever I next get the urge.

And a Little More of Marrion’s Men…

My previous post was published somewhat “prematurely” by an absurdly over-eager WordPress. This meant that was not able to add the few more photos of my painted lost Sharpshooter that I intended. So, with apologies for splitting the topic over two posts, here they are…

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In keeping with Mr Marrion’s original illustration, I’ve used similar, though different, base colours for the tunic (Vallejo English Uniform Brown) and the cord breeches (Vallejo Khaki). I mixed my own colour for the Stohwasser gaiters using Red Leather and Burnt Umber. For the green facings, I used Vallejo Black Green and for the trumpet cord / aiguillettes I used Vallejo’s warmer shade of Deep Green.

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Getting the three yellow stripes that appear on the folds of the Pagri was tricky as the definition on the metal was vague, so I simply did my best. Note the green stripe running down his breeches.

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So, as I indicated in the last post, he’s now just awaiting his fancy wooden base to arrive. More on that another time, but I do promise that’s it on my Sharpshooter for now!

More of Marrion’s Men

Some weeks ago now, I posted on a 54mm figure which had been lost many years ago – then found – lost again – and then found again! The figure was of a trumpeter belonging to the 3rd County of London yeomanry, also known as the Sharpshooters. This figure was a direct copy of Robert Marrion’s illustration on the cover of the Sharpshooters book from the Smith and Harris’ “Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force” series.

The largest scale that I’ve painted hitherto is 28mm, 20mm being my usual scale, and so 54mm is a big step up. I’ve enjoyed the new challenge of painting it. It’s nice to focus on one figure rather than a whole kit of them.

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My Robert Marrion Sharpshooter

I don’t think my painting technique is perfectly suited to these bigger scales, but I admit to being reasonably pleased with the result.

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And that’s not all.

I’ve discovered a seller on eBay who has been selling off her late father’s old stock of figures. Clearly, the chap was a fellow of good taste, his collection includes lots of 54mm figures, most splendidly painted with some soldiers still untouched. These have included yet more Dorset Model Soldier Company figures taken from the illustrations on the covers of Smith and Harris’  series. Namely;

Officer, Undress, c.1903-1905 – 3rd County of London (Sharpshooters):

Another figure (or rather 2 figures – they came as a pair) also from the cover of the 3rd County of London (Sharpshooters) book, this time being modelled on the officer in the all-green undress. Unfortunately, both figures are without the sword that the officer is supposed to be resting his hands on. He could nevertheless be taken for simply clasping his hand together.

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Sans sword: My officer nonetheless bears a close similarity to the RJ Marrion illustration.

Sergeant, Sussex Imperial Yeomanry, Service Dress, c.1905:

Another Dorset figure that I’ve come into is based on the very 1st book in the series on the Sussex Yeomanry Cavalry. It is the figure of the Sergeant on the far left wearing the bandoleer, Stohwasser gaiters and slouch hat. It’s a very impressive figure, I think, though some preparation will be needed as his riding crop remains attached to his right arm and there’s quite a bit of flash to remove.

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There is one other figure I’m expecting which will be similar to the Sergeant-Major second from left on the cover (wearing a khaki lancer-pattern uniform and red forage cap). Still currently on its way through the post,  this figures has a slouch hat instead of the red cap and photographs of the Sussex Yeomanry in this manner of Full Dress uniform can be seen in the Barlow and Smith book. So, it’s not strictly a Robert Marrion figure, but should, I imagine look similar to the one he illustrated 2nd left.

 

I’m intrigued to know how many of these 54mm model figures and of which regiments were made from the Yeomanry Force series. Having discovered three from the 1st and 5th books alone, I must assume that there are more from some of the remaining 13 other books.

Meanwhile, I’ve sourced a base for the trumpeter of the Sharpshooters that I’ve painted, which will hopefully come through the post in the coming week. Once properly mounted and presented, I will share in a future post. It seems that my humble tribute to R.J. Marrion is emerging as a long term ongoing project…

Mörner Hussar Regiment – Progress

Just thought I’d share progress on my latest Napoleonic cavalry figures – the Mörner Hussars. There are eighteen of these to keep me busy, but they’ve been coming along easily enough.

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My Mörner Hussar Regiment – coming along steadily

The entire group of eighteen figures are made up of just three poses. Here are the half-dozen figures which wear breeches and Hessian boots with a black fur-lined pelisse hung over the shoulder:

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The remaining dozen have blue overalls on their legs with black leather knee patches. They fully wear the pelisse and have the streamer wrapped around their Mirliton hat. Half of them are waving the sabre in mid charge:

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…and the remainder have sabres drawn but are advancing steadily at the walk.

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I went a little wrong on my painting of the figures wearing overalls, unsure of what I was looking at (overalls, breeches, or a mixture of both). This resulted in my repainting the legs twice over before I was sure I was correct. One or two swear words may have been uttered during this time.

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Hessian boots still require some work.

The breeches are made of buff leather, as are the crossbelts worn by the other figures.

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HaT have produced a nice, if not spectacular, set of figures. The yellow-topped mirliton looks pleasingly unusual. The streamer (or flamme) I think should be black with yellow trim on the side I’ve painted it, not yellow as I have them, but – well –  I’m sticking with it for now! The detail is a little hazy on the braiding but I’ve done my best to bring it out and the overall effect is OK, I think.

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Taken as a large group, I think they’ll look quite impressive when mounted. With the Mörner Hussars riders nearly painted, their herd of horses will take their turn under the brush. And when I’ve finally completed all that, I’ll share what will be the 27th regiment in my Nappy Cavalry Project!

Hej då!

Marvin.

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Voilà les Poilus: French WWI Infantry (1914)

You’ll be pleased to note that this will be the last of my ‘franglais’ titles for a while because the French infantry are all finished. After posting on the machine gun teams from this set, I hereby present the remainder of my box of Caesar French WWI Infantry from 1914 (apologies for the slightly dingy photos lacking in daylight – I hate this time of year):

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Yep, these Caesar figures are very impressive. The proportions are good and the sculpting and mould are too.

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The only downside is that the soft plastic has allowed the rifles to occasionally bend and I have been unable to put them back into the correct position without them just bending right back again! I wouldn’t expect that the poilu on the left below will hit a great deal at any range…

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Aside from the machine gunners, the box also came with a small group of infantrymen lying prone on the ground. I’ve placed these together on the same base in a kind of firing line. Half of them are loading and the other half firing from behind a small rise in the ground. Despite the cover, the German army will have an easier time identifying where they are thanks to the bright red kepi on their heads. Furthermore, the kepi will not offer much protection when the bullets fly. The dull, all-metal Adrian helmet is yet to be adopted…

The officer I’ve painted with a blue cover over his red kepi, which is I believe named the ‘Saumur’ version,  which was usual by the time of the Great War. He has binoculars in  a case; a sword, which was pretty useless in modern combat; and a revolver, which was more useful in close combat. He has been sculpted blowing a whistle, a nice touch by Caesar as it was a vital communication tool on World War One battlefields. He also has spurs on his ankles which horse riding company commanders such as captains or lieutenants would have had. My rank cuff stripes of gold lace have been too widely spaced, I reckon.

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French officer blowing a whistle. Would have been handy for refereeing duties during the 1914 Christmas Truce…

This nicely thought out set also came with an interesting ‘walking wounded’ figure. He has presumably received a bullet or shrapnel wound to the left arm and been subsequently treated at a dressing station behind the lines. On reflection, I might get a bit bloodthirsty and add a little seeping through red paint to one or two of them white bandages. Convincingly, they have had their backpacks and weapons removed prior to receiving their treatment at the front. Presumably, they will be transported off somewhere to convalesce – lucky buggers!

So that’s the Caesar French poilu ticked off; the third group of figures from the First World War. Going through my embarrassingly excessive collection of soldiers, I’m in the process of considering what to do next and will no doubt reveal all soon.

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En Avant!

I’ve had a challenging week requiring visits both to the doctors and the dentists which, given my hopeless ‘white coat syndrome’ is the stuff of nightmares, so far as I’m concerned. What was worse, due to home improvements and other commitments, I was unable to so much as lay a single brush on my latest figures until today!

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A little application of Daler-Rowney matt vanish will take some of the shine off their coats.

So, it is now well and truly “en avant” with my French early WWI poilus! These early WWI French infantry by Caesar stand already well advanced. There’s lots to paint, plenty to do to improve upon from what’s already painted and significant little details still to add, but they’re definitely getting there.

My aim is to create separate bases for all the standing or kneeling figures.

 

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I’m also developing two separate machine gun (mitrailleuse) teams with each group on a separate base.

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Infantrymen in position for the as yet invisible mitrailleuse…
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Beautifully painted Tuck Oilette postcard showing French infantrymen with a mitrailleuse. An officer stands to the right.

And finally there are also six figures all lying down, either loading or firing their rifles. These will be based all together, lying low on the ground whilst taking pot shots at the advancing Bosch in the distance.

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Hopefully, I might get time to push them towards final completion by the very end of the week. Well, possibly

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En avant!