Chiappa’s Military Bandsmen

Whilst enjoying a Christmas weekend at Calke Abbey recently, I caught sight of this mechanical organ with its soldier conductor. I always seem to find something related to my military interest at Calke! I particularly liked the brightly painted white and scarlet of the uniform and the bell shako with its sunburst plate.

The organ is by Chiappa, the company founded by a London-based Italian mechanical organ manufacturer, Giuseppe Chiappa. A little history can be found on this Shapcott family history blog.

Another carved Chiappa Bandsman – with a markedly different uniform design and colours.

It seems that for Chiappa and other organ manufacturers of the late 19th / early 20th centuries, carved soldiers in colourful uniforms were a popular choice or adornment with carvers apparently being given free reign on uniform design and colours in their carvings. Naturally, I think they look great!

Finally, it seems only appropriate to hear, as well as see, Chiappa’s marvellous mechanical military organ in action (apologies for the hopeless phone camera work…)

My Serbs are travelling to Serbia!

Suburban Militarism has received a communication from a nice fellow from Serbia enquiring about purchasing my Strelets WWI Serbian Infantry figures. He explained that he and some other colleagues are intending to create a display in Belgrade’s Military Museum on a key WWI battle involving Serbian troops (Cer or Drina were mooted).

From research the internet, Belgrade’s military museum looks extremely impressive and is located in a part of Belgrade’s ancient fortress, in the historical core of the city.

Building

Glad to help out with any military museum, I waived a fee for the figures and just requested a contribution for postage. Using a little spare underlay from a newly laid carpet at home, I fashioned a padded box for my troops safe transport over to their homeland. A little double-sided tape under their bases will hopefully keep them all in situ during transit.

By way of introduction, I’ve written a few words of greeting on the back of a postcard that depicts a man of the local Leicestershire Yeomanry cavalry.

Serbian infantry posted (4)

Serbian infantry posted (5)

Seems appropriate that, much like the liberating men of the Serbian army themselves at the end of the Great War, these troops are returning to their homeland as though from exile. Godspeed my Serbian lads (and perhaps lasses…)

And in other Serbia-related news, in an astonishing coincidence the BBC News website chose this week to include a story on Flora Sandes, a British woman who served in the front line with the Serbian army during WWI. Earlier in the year, I included a post on Flora Sandes and other Serbian soldier women who fought with great bravery in combat for Serbia in WWI. The BBC item also includes some information on the Salonica front during WWI and the nature of memorial commemoration of the fallen in the region. Well worth a read.

flora sandes
The BBC story on Flora Sands and the Salonica Front during WWI.

 

Romaika, 1772 and a Hunting Call

This is a progress report on those RedBox figures I’m painting for the Bennos Figures Forum Group Build 2017. The theme this year is for marching figures which represent the painter’s local area or country. For my part, I’m submitting 18th century British infantry figures painted as the 17th Regiment of Foot, which later became The Leicestershire Regiment.

There’s a lot of details on these figures and they’re not an easy paint. My approach is to just have fun and do the best I can. And the are fun to paint, despite the challenging detail. I’m hoping to paint the regimental flag (now that will be tricky!) and a drummer too. Aside from the contemporary painting by David Morier, I’ve been aided by the detailed description of the regiment at the time of the 7 Years War provided on the Kronskaf website. Inevitably, I’ve had to make some compromises due to the figure’s sculpting and scale, (not to say my abilities) but hopefully it will still provide a reasonable portrayal.

Today, I’ve added the ‘greyish white’ cuffs and turnbacks, the former being lined with a delicate blue edge. I’ve worked hard on that greyish white colour – not that you’ll be able to tell the difference from white on these photos! Here’s how they are looking so far, with lots of details still to attend to…

17th-regt-6

17th-regt-5

So why have I called this post “Romaika, 1772 and the Hunting Call”?

Well, I thought it would be nice to provide a musical accompaniment to the images of these figures; specifically I mean some of the regimental marches associated with the Leicestershire Regiment of which “1772”, “The Hunting Call” and “Romaika” are but three. The Royal Leicestershire Regiment website has this to say on this trio of quick marches.

This combination of three tunes has been in use since at least the beginning of the 20th Century: ‘Romaika’ is believed to be a Greek country dance tune and was authorised in 1882. ‘1772’ was an adaptation from an old English air of that period. ‘A Hunting Call’ is an old Leicestershire hunting song, originally used by The Leicestershire Militia.

Leicestershire is indeed renown, in England at least, for being a traditional fox hunting county which would explain the presence of the latter tune (formerly of the county’s militia). On YouTube, the Coldstream Guards can be heard playing these three Leicestershire Regiment marching tunes. Considering it includes a tune dating from ‘1772’ – what better music could there be to listen to whilst painting figures of the 17th Regiment from the very same period?