Marrion’s Men #7: Captain, Sussex Yeomanry

Another Mitrecap Miniature, as promised in my last post.

I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of painting this one. The challenge chiefly lay in getting the colour of the tunic right.

Here’s why: the tunic is a shade of blue that seems to be difficult to define. The Barlow and Smith book on the Sussex Yeomanry Cavalry has the following description:

“The tunic was a double-breasted Indian Army pattern in a special bright dark blue superfine cloth – virtually the same shade as the facings on the obsolete khaki Full Dress which showed up the black braiding more distinctly.”

Right: the officer in ‘bright, dark blue’

Yes, a special bright dark blue. Sounds a bit like describing ‘a dull, shiny green’ or ‘a vivid, drab yellow’! R.J. Marrion’s artwork uses a palette which further beguiles. It seems to be a dark blue but with a velvety green tinge, the highlights themselves being turquoise.

Some assistance came in the form of a single photograph I discovered of headgear worn I believe by the Sussex Yeomanry historical reenactment group. One of these caps is a dead ringer for the cap seen on my figure and Marrion’s cover illustration. Sure enough, the colour appears to be a green-tinged blue – something approaching a dark teal colour. So, I went with that in mind and mixed my own colours.

Sussex Yeomanry headgear, possibly reenactment equipment. What appears to be my figure’s cap is to the right, albeit without the officers gold around the edge of the peak.

This cap is described in the following way:

Officers wore an army blue forage cap with black patent leather peak and chin strap; the peak was edged 3/4 inch in gold embroidery for field officers and 1/2 inch for troop officers. The cap had a gilt badge and buttons, a yellow band and yellow piping in the crown seam.

The braid threw up another puzzle. Marrion appears to clearly show it as being a lighter version of the same greenish-blue as the tunic, but the text by Barlow and Smith very clearly state it to be ‘black’, describing “five loose loops of black plaited chain gimp cord across the front, with olivets and Austrian knots at the outer ends“. I’ve gone with Barlow and Smith on this as they seemed very clear on this point and painted them black.

The overalls appear to be more simply a dark blue; “Blue overalls with a single broad yellow stripe…“. Marrion’s illustration also seems to reflect this blue colour as being distinct from the ‘special bright dark blue” of the tunic. All this fussing over the colour might seem ridiculous as I’m aware that under the camera lens, the blue of the tunic and the blue of the overalls look the same. All I can say is that they do look like the subtle but distinctly different shades that I intended them to be to my naked eye!

The collar was very unusual. It was described as being yellow, which even a quick glance will contradict. It appears to be totally dark blue or black. However, this is a consequence of lots of black braid; “Yellow collar, edged all round with similar (i.e. black) braid, traced inside with black cord to form 16 eyes on the yellow centre.” I confess, I didn’t paint the full 16 eyes, I managed 13 in total, all the tip of my 00 brush and my unsteady hand would allow!

“A gold oak-leaf lace pouch belt on blue Morocco leather with gilt buckle tip and slide (no breast ornaments) black leather pouch with gilt Royal Cypher and crown on the flap.” Unfortunately, the pouch belt had none of the engraved patterns of the Tradition South Notts Hussar that I painted in 2019, so it appears as a plain yellow-gold. Likewise the pouch itself, so I’ve vaguely approximated the cypher and crown design.

This Full Dress uniform was approved by royal submission on 3 April 1909, rejecting, incidentally, a previous dragoon design created by the renowned military artist Harry Payne. White wrist gloves complete the uniform which was reserved for Levee or ceremonial occasions only.

This figure came in an attractive little red box, although my other Mitrecap figures are in a bag instead. A particular challenge I perhaps could have done without however is that Mitrecap figures are cast without a ‘peg’ under a foot to assist with standing or fixing on to a plinth. Consequently, I’ve drilled the leg and inserted my own improvised metal peg for stability – he’s not going anywhere! Otherwise, I’ve been most impressed with this Mitrecap Miniature and I look forward to painting more.

Marrion’s Men #6: Officer, Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry

Well, it’s been over a year since I painted my last figure in the Marrion’s Men series of 54mm Yeomanry figures based on R.J. Marrion’s illustrations, but recently I posted on the unexpected discovery of another. This was a figure from the excellent Tradition of London shop, a captain of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry.

Though not identical, it closely matched the figure seen on the back cover illustration of #6 in the Army Museums Ogilby Trust series – “Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1782-1914.” My figure’s doppelganger can be seen below right on my copy of the book, with his foot on a milestone and nonchalantly smoking a cigarette.

The Tradition figure’s notes state that it depicts an officer of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry (DLOY) from 1909 in Field Dress. 54mm high in metal, the figure comes from their Squadron Range and was designed by Alan Caton (who sadly passed away in 2015). The pose differs very slightly from the Marrion illustration – the foot rests on a wooden box; the sword and sabretache are missing; and the right hand now rests on a knee instead of holding a cigarette.

Otherwise, the uniform details match very closely indeed and the figure is indisputably inspired by Bob Marrion’s fabulous illustration.

Barlow and Smith’s book on the DLOY includes a photograph which, in turn, must have been the inspiration for Bob Marrion’s original artwork. It features someone looking much like our officer on horseback in 1900. He is identified as being Major J. Rutherford. I like the idea of the continuity of inspiration that has gone on behind this figure.

  • 1900 – Major Rutherford is photographed on horseback in Hightown Camp.
  • 1983 – Artist Bob Marrion uses the photograph as a template for an illustration.
  • 1990-2000? – Sculptor Alan Caton casts the master of a version of Bob Marrion’s drawing.
  • 2020 – Marvin paints Alan Caton’s brilliant figure for his collection.

The above caption reads: Fig.14 Major J. Rutherford in Mounted Field Dress at Hightown Camp, 1900. He wears the new service felt hat and the original pagri is just visible. The 1896 serge frock is worn with Undress white belt and slings, and the pantaloons have gold stripes; knee boots. The sabretache with gold ornament, introduced about 1895, can also be seen… (see also back cover, figure on right.)

Instead of the “gold stripes”, Tradition’s notes state they should be yellow. Given that Barlow and Smith state that “from 1903, the gold lace stripes on the overalls and pantaloons were replaced by yellow cloth“, my 1909 captain having yellow stripes is correct and, from a purely visual point of view, I do like the bright colourful contrast to his otherwise dark blue uniform.

The slouch hat was headgear which became popular following its appearance in the Anglo-Boer War of 1898-1902. Worn by the Imperial Yeomanry, amongst others, it may have been the lack of cork available for more foreign service helmets which led to its widespread adoption. Barlow and Smith offer a few words on our officer’s uniform and specifically his slouch hat.

During the annual training at Hightown in 1900, the slouch hats were served out for wear with the drill and working kit. The DLOY were one of the first yeomanry to wear this headgear on home service. The hat was of drab felt with at first a blue pagri but this was quickly replaced by a leather strap. The 1896 pattern serge frock… now bore shoulder chains for all ranks and brass collar badges…

Those colour badges appear to be gold with a red rose in the centre, according to Marrion’s illustration. So I’ve taken that as my guide and reproduced a tiny scarlet splash of the Lancastrian red rose in the badge.

The usual alder wood plinth and engraved plaques set the figure off nicely. It came with it’s own metal stand of a brickwork floor but I wanted to maintain the plinths I’ve used throughout the series:

Though I confess to accidentally dating him to be a year later than Tradition’s stated 1909! This matters not, I’m sure.

I confess to being very pleased with how this figure has turned out. What’s more, the painting of it was done quickly and with (for me) a relatively minimum amount of fuss. Sometimes simple uniforms can be strangely all the more difficult to get looking really satisfactory, I find, but this one seemed to come together nicely.

Tradition do a nice line in 54mm yeomanry figures, thanks to Alan Caton, and I confess to having my eye on one or two others (although no more are apparently based on Bob Marrion illustrations). I painted a nice figure of theirs last year depicting a man of the South Notts Hussars.

There’s something of the rakish, derring-do anti-hero about our Lancastrian captain. I can imagine Imperial Rebel Ork creating a clever character portrait and back story for this man.

And that’s not all – there’s more. I’ve only gone and won another figure for my Marrion’s Men series! It’s a figure which I’ve found on eBay and which I was outbid on some time ago! More on this anon but below are the display in my house of all my Marrion-inspired 54mm yeomanry with two prints of Bob Marrion’s artwork alongside.

A Field Day!

It’s a Field Day for my Lace Wars legion! At the suggestion of Suburban Militarism friend and follower Markus Sharaput, I thought I’d parade my 2020 vintage War of the Spanish Succession troops as an indication of overall progress:

The Royal Scots – “Damn forward fellows with a bayonet!”
The Regiment de Champagne advance with typical French elan.
The Foot Guards convincingly demonstrate that frilly lace is no defence against hot lead.
Right back at you! The 1st Poitou let loose a shattering volley in reply.
Ooops, looks like somebody forgot to load and is hastily putting it right…
The Foot Guards prepare to halt the onward advance of the Champagne.
The Regiment de Montfort in action. Their black flag reminds me that I really need to get around to finishing something…
Patiently awaiting a flurry of lead ball are men of Sankey’s Regiment.

Well, the good news for the French is that reinforcements are on their way! As I type this, another regiment of white-coated Gallic infantry is already well advanced with paint. More on that anon…

Big Wigs

I’ve been happily painting up another French infantry regiment from the War of the Spanish Succession. As these near completion, I’ve also been casting my eye over some other figures from the same Lace Wars period which could nicely enhance my collection.

The figures I have in mind are from Strelets’ Court and Army of Peter the 1st (aka the Great), some of which (above) I used for this year’s FEMbruary challenge which included the Empress Catherine, two ladies of court, an officer and some guards.

The figures I’m planning to paint this time are described by Plastic Soldier Review as being:

Boris Sheremetyev (1652-1719)

Perhaps Peter’s best commander.


Baron Pavel Shafirov (1669-1739)

“Another senior government minister who became a privy councillor. He successfully negotiated a treaty with the Ottoman Empire but eventually fell from grace.


‘Officer of Cavalry’

“Carrying a very short, stubby sword and apparently wearing a cuirass under his coat, so perhaps an officer of cavalry?

You may note that I’ve removed his odd-looking “very short, stubby sword” so that he simply stands to attention. Helpfully, the end of his scabbard is hidden under his arm, so the absence of a sword won’t be a problem.


To accompany these ‘bigwigs’, I’ve assigned some additional guards to be painted also:

Part of the attraction for painting these personality figures is that they offer some possibilities for creating personalities of an imagi-nation of some sort. I’ve been thinking of how my burgeoning collection of early-18th century armies could be used to game the military travails of such an imaginary nation. Indeed, I have a specific nation in mind, but more on this perhaps in a future post…

Before and after: another Russian musketeer awaits attention with the brush to join his comrade.

More Soldiers of the Sun King

After a brief hiatus, I’ve been dipping into the Strelets Lace Wars figures once more by adding the Sun King’s army with another French Regiment. Introducing the Regiment de Poitou, which in the Blenheim campaign consisted of a small battalion in Prince Isenghein’s Brigade.

They wear the usual white-grey coat with blue cuffs, white gaiters and a tricorne with yellow trim. I think they make a nice contrast to their sister regiment, the de Montfort.

Regiment de Poitou
Regiment de Montfort

I’ve used the other loading and firing figures which came with Strelets French Fusiliers (Early War) box, using the same two figures to further emphasise the regimental distinction.

I’m pleased with my officer figure who carries a spontoon. This figures fully justifies the “Lace Wars” label with his exuberant wig, frilly white neckerchief, white fur trim on the tricorne and lacy sleeves. Unfortunately, I seem to have yet to paint his white gloves which remain a distinctly less-than-foppish-dandy shade of black. I’ll reach for the brush soon to put that right!

I’ve not fussed with the shade of grey-white worn by the regiment and I think they look better for it. At John of Just Needs Varnish suggestion, I’ve staggered the two ranks in the firing line, front firing rank to the left and rear loading rank to the right, so the bases still line up;


The loading pose:


The firing pose:

I know that Strelets are working hard on the production of more WSS boxes including the very recent release of French grenadiers and marching musketeers. Some British cavalry masters have already made an appearance on their website too. Distribution in these troubled times remains a problem however, so modellers and wargamers may have to be patient for a while yet.

Another Marrion’s Man?

My “Marrion’s Men” series features 54mm yeomanry figures whose sculpting appears to be based closely on illustrations by the great military artist R.J. Marrion. All of these illustrations are featured on the covers of a series of books called “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914”, all of which were published between 1980 and 1992.

It now seems I may have discovered another 54mm yeomanry figure seemingly inspired by Bob Marrion’s illustrations from this series. This figure could be said to have been hiding in plain sight, being still freely available for sale from Tradition of London! The figure is of a yeoman from the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry.

Officer, Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry by Tradition of London.

Number 6 book in the series is on the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry by L. Barlow and R.J. Smith. Bob Marrion’s illustration of this officer appears on the back cover, alongside a sergeant and a mounted kettledrummer.

The authors state simply that it depicts “an officer in Field Dress in 1900”. The illustration itself is based on a photograph appearing inside on Page 14 showing a Major J. Rutherford wearing the same uniform while mounted.

“Fig. 14. Major J. Rutherford in Mounted Field Dress at Hightown Camp, 1900. He wears the new felt hat and the original pagri is just visible. The 1896 serge frock is worn with Undress white belt and slings and the pantaloons have gold stripes; knee boots. The sabretache with gold ornament, introduced about 1895, can also be seen.”

The pose on Tradition’s 54mm figure is not identical but is very similar and the uniform appears to be the same in all details. There’s no sabretache and sword (not to say any cigarette in hand either), also the stone distance marker on which the officer nonchalantly places his foot has been replaced by Tradition by a wooden box.

Despite all that, I think the clear and unmistakable similarities mean that for me it still qualifies as a newly identified “Marrion’s Man”.

Order placed with Tradition of London! 🙂

Mounted (and Unmounted) Infantry

This is just a short update being as this is the very last day – indeed the very last hours – of the ‘paint what you already own’ challenge by Ann’s Immaterium blog. I’ve not completed them to deadline, but considering they were started after I’d first finished Napoleon’s Old Guard mid-month, I’ve made good progress.

Detail on these HaT figures is a little vague here and there, but I’ve done my best to pick out as much as I can. Never HaT’s strongest point, the horses sculpting are acceptable rather than great, but they’ll do.

The Imperial Mounted Infantry would have looked a little rough and ready. In a muted painting style, I’ve tried to hint at this dusty and threadbare chic and also aim to add a little dust on to their boots when basing.

A private of the 90th Foot in the uniform of the Imperial Mounted Infantry.

Retaining his regimental tunic, he wears corduroy riding breeches, a leather bandolier instead of a belt, riding boots with spurs and carries a Swinburne-Henry carbine.


In my squadron, I’ve included representatives from some of the different regiments which supplied 1st squadron, Imperial Mounted Infantry with troops: mostly the 24th Foot (green facings) and the 80th, (red with yellow collar tabs), but also a few from the 3rd Foot (buff), and the 13th Light Infantry (dark blue).

The mounted poses look perfect for vedettes and scouts, a key role of the MI. Virtually all of their fighting would have been done on foot as infantry, so it’s good there’s some nice dismounted poses too.

This rediscovered old box of figures seems to be missing five horses and until I find replacements, some will have to remain ‘unmounted mounted infantry’:

“Which way to the remount depot…?’

So, they’re not based yet and I may even stall that process until I find some extra horses for them but I’ve glued some on to spare off-cuts of plastic card ready for when I do! At least, after nearly a decade, these accidental equestrians have finally been painted!

Hopefully, an improvement from my first attempt?

Foot Soldiers on Horseback

Sorting through my piles of unpainted plastic men in the loft, I came across a box of figures which I’d forgotten about completely. These were amongst the very earliest figures I’d bought when I first decided to attempt painting 1:72 scale plastic figures back in 2011/12.

It was a box of HaT’s British Mounted Infantry of the Zulu Wars. I’d clearly had a little go at putting some paint on some of them but had abandoned progress at some point, possibly when I moved house. Some paint was more or less in the right place but there was none of the painting techniques which I’d gradually developed since then – no black lining, no shading and no highlighting either.

I’d also been a bit lazy with the colour of my facings, opting solely for the 24th Regiment’s green. In reality, the Mounted Infantry drew its men from across many different regiments and the troops retained the tunics and buttons of each meaning their individual regimental facings could be any colour.

Mindful of the April challenge by Ann’s Immaterium, I thought it might be about time to have a proper go at this neglected box. Whether I’ll get them painted by the end of the month is now very debatable but at least I’ll be making a start on them. I seem to be missing a horse from the set, but otherwise it’s all there.

Coincidentally, I had been re-reading some of my many books on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879:

  • “Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift” by Ian Knight
  • “Blood on the Painted Mountain” by Ron Lock (about the battles of Intombi, Hlobane and Khambula)

From these books, I had been refreshing my knowledge of the Imperial Mounted Infantry before I’d even discovered these HaT figures. The formation had a tough time of it during the Anglo-Zulu War. With a chronic lack of regular cavalry available in South Africa, they were much in demand, being active in many encounters with the Zulu all over the country. 1st Squadron suffered particularly badly at the disaster of iSandlwana.

First off, I needed to prime them. For years I’ve painted with Vallejo Acrylics but with these figures I was still using the old Humbrol enamel tinlets. So, I attempted to remove any loose enamel paint (which by and large seemed very well attached to the figures). I then painted them in PVA white glue to a) act as a primer and, b) cover over the enamel. I’ve heard that acrylic paint can react badly to enamels. I’m not sure of this at all but I thought that the PVA would also at least form some sort of a barrier between them.

After that, it was on with the black primer paint and I’m ready to finally finish off what I’d started nearly a decade ago! I’ve made some real progress over the weekend so a report will follow…


For those who may be interested, here are some of my other favourite books on the Zulu War which I’ve collected over the years and which I’d recommend:

  • “The Washing of the Spears” by Donald R. Morris. The seminal work on the conflict which brought it to 20th Century popularity. Never intended to be an academic work, it has been eclipsed now by modern research but is still an astonishingly rip-roaring read throughout all its hefty 672 pages.
  • “Zulu Rising” by Ian Knight– Ian Knight’s most recent book on Isandlwana/Rorke’s Drift and packed with the detailed knowledge and passion of many years research. It is particularly strong in its understanding of both Zulu and Natal’s black history and culture.
  • “Fearful Hard Times” by Ian Knight. Focusing on the less well known actions of Number 1 Column including the battles of Nyezane and Gingindlovu, and the siege of Eshowe.
  • “The Zulu War: A Pictorial History” by Michael Barthorp. The first book I read on the conflict including many great contemporary photographs. I met Major Barthorp a few times – a wonderfully kind and very generous man to this teenage history geek.
  • “They Fell Like Stones” by John Young. Detailed lists and information on units and casualties for each battle. Great for data nerds like yours truly!
  • “Black Soldiers of the Queen” by P.S. Thompson. About the Natal Native Contingent in the conflict, providing a great understanding of these seriously undervalued and overlooked African soldiers who fought and died for the British cause.

Strelets Standing Soldiers: Napoleon!

Having showcased the Old Guard figures in my last post, as promised I’ve now painted the head honcho himself – L’empereur Napoleon Bonaparte!

It’s my submission for Ann’s Immaterium’s April Painting Challenge!

You’ll notice that I’ve thrown some sand down to act as an ersatz parade ground and pressed my 18th century country house into action once again (last seen acting as a St. Petersburg palace).

Forming a hollow square, my Old Guard are waiting to listen to him say a final farewell, prior to leaving for exile on the island of Elba.

Eventually, he appears before them, wearing his traditional bicorne hat and long grey coat. The emperor is visibly emotional. His voice, passionate and breaking, echoes across the parade ground as he begins…

You can now view the epic scene in this YouTube movie what I made:

Alternatively, the non-video version of my scene is below:


“Soldiers of my Old Guard, after 20 years I have come to say goodbye!”
(a dramatic pause ensues)
“France has fallen! So remember me!”
Très dramatique, non?
“Though I love you all, I cannot embrace you all...” (now, you wouldn’t catch Wellington saying that!)
“With this kiss, remember me!” (relief all round – it’s just the flag he’s snogging)
“Goodbye my soldiers!…”
“Goodbye my sons!…”
“Goodbye, my children!!!!”

The scene was brought to you with apologies to Orson Welles, Dino De Laurentiis and Rod Steiger. Any resemblance to actual films, past or present, is entirely intentional – The original, and in my view vastly inferior, scene is viewable on YouTube.

To help my painting of Strelets’ Boney, as a guide I settled on some portraits of him wearing a grey overcoat and the uniform of a colonel of the Chasseurs a Cheval. He seems to be consistently shown wearing a silver medal with a red ribbon, so I’ve reproduced that too.

Is it me, or does my Napoleon have more than a passing resemblance to Marlon Brando?

There was also the small matter of finishing my pioneer sergeant. Admittedly, it looks a little like he’s wearing a skirt with an apron but, given the size of his axe, I won’t be saying that to his face.

And with that, this submission for “Paint the Crap You Already Own” is complete. Needless to say, there’s plenty more I could get my teeth into and with some days left yet of April, I may yet even have a go at something else.

Until then, I say – goodbye my followers, goodbye my visitors, and goodbye my children!!!!

The Grumblers

Ann’s Immaterium has issued forth a challenge for the month of April – “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” The aim is to pitch into some of our collectively large pile of unpainted crap (aka our precious collections) and the restrictions of national lockdown are providing the perfect conditions to do just that.

Strelets Polish infantry on the march.

Rifling through my excessive mountain of unpainted kits, I randomly picked up one of a number of the Napoleonic ‘standing’ sets by Strelets that I own. There’s lots of these type of sets available from Strelets. They feature anything from Highlanders to Prussian Landwehr, all in poses which range between ‘order arms’, ‘shoulder arms’, ‘at ease’, ‘at attention’ or ‘on the march’.

I painted one of these sets last year, Strelets’ British Infantry Standing at Ease, painted as the 37th Regiment and, at my friend Pat’s suggestion, a platoon of the 95th Rifles;

Painting figures which are just standing around waiting seems a strangely appropriate choice in while in ‘lockdown’…

A little more space between these ranks I think to satisfy the criteria for social distancing.

So, I’ve picked up my “Old Guard at Attention” box which I bought in 2018/19.

So here they are, les Grognards – about 30 ‘grumblers’ – currently all standing to attention and stoically awaiting some paint.

Cleaned, primed and blue base coat applied…

I notice that Old ‘Boney’ himself is included in the box, so perhaps i will include him also? I think the aim was to provide the painter with the means of recreating the scene where Napoleon takes his leave of the Old Guard prior to going into exile for the first time on the island of Elba.

Soldiers of my Old Guard, I bid you farewell. For twenty years you have been my constant companions on the road to honour and glory!

NAPOLEON’S ADIEUX TO THE OLD GUARD AT FONTAINEBLEAU, 20 APRIL, 1814

So, here I go. I hope to post some progress reports if time allows.

“Au revoir, mes enfants!”