The Robin Hood Rifles

By second group of rifle volunteers, the Robin Hood Rifles, have now been given the plinth and plaque treatment. The final result is pleasing enough, but I’ve struggled a little to get the rifleman’s green uniform to my satisfaction. My first attempt looked fine enough but the highlights were too bold and made the uniform look far lighter in shade than it would have been. The next attempt is the one you see now. The highlights are more subtle but the shade of green isn’t quite to my satisfaction, although I maintain it looks closer to the original versions seen in the museum than appears in these photos.

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After some deliberation, I’ve reproduced another rifle range scene, given that this is the only location where these volunteer riflemen might be conceivably discharging their Martini-Henrys!

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I chose some different figures from the Perry Miniatures sprue and /or  glued them in different poses to further differentiate them from the Cheshire Greys. This has allowed me to depict a sergeant making a suggestion to his officer, gesturing to men in the firing line.

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The officer, meanwhile, is using his field glasses to observe the hits (or misses) on the targets some 300 yards away.

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There are two other Rifle Volunteer Corps that it’s my intention to represent. However, they will require slightly different figures to the ones I’ve been using hitherto from the Zulu War British Infantry box (although the figures are indeed still from Perry Miniatures). I’m not certain whether I shall launch into one of these straight away or take a breather from rifle volunteers and tackle some other figures. I shall reveal my intentions in the next post! Till next time,

Marvin

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Merry Men

With the final touches having been applied to my Cheshire Rifle Volunteers, I’ve pressed on with another batch of Victorian volunteer riflemen. There’s certainly plenty to choose from, there being a large number raised after 1859. A number of Rifle Volunteer Corps were known by names which evoked their origins in some way, such as the Post Office Rifles or the Artist’s Rifles.

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Men of the Robin Hood Rifles in the 1880s.

The volunteers that I’m painting however were known by their county’s association with a local outlaw; Robin Hood. Like their namesake, the Robin Hood Rifles were dressed in green, and not just any green; Lincoln Green, of course!

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Victorian uniforms of the Robin Hood Rifles on display in the Mercian regimental museum, Nottingham.

The figures are already all but finished and here they are so far. From the photos below, it appears that my shade of green scarcely matches the real thing (seen in my photo above). In my defence, I can only state that they do look far closer in shade with the naked eye! Having already ordered an engraved label for them (see last post), I’ll next start work on the plinth that they will stand on.

A little history: The Robin Hood Rifles during the Victorian era

The Robin Hood Rifles began life when a few friends decided to form a rifle club in the Spring of 1859. Captain J G Simpkins of the RHR recalled:

“When in the spring of 1859, the spirit of alarm or resentment, caused by the addresses of the Colonels of the French Army to the late Napoleon, spreading rapidly through the country, resulted in the formation of a volunteer corps throughout England and Scotland. I, seeing nothing officially was being done in Nottingham and having some knowledge of drill and military organisation, suggested to a few friends that we should unite and form a rifle club, so that in the event of a corps being formed we might be in a sufficient state of efficiency to form a nucleus. At a meeting of Magistrates and Deputy Lieutenants, His Grace The Duke of Newcastle, the then Lord Lieutenant with whom I had communicated, said, if such were formed the name it should bear, whether that of “Robin Hood Rifles” or “Rangers”, he thought should be one of local or county association. This was the first public meeting or suggestion of the name.

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Just six men were on the roll when the 1st Nottinghamshire Volunteer Rifle Corps first paraded on the green of Nottingham Castle. That figure rose to more than 400 within a few months at which point they became formally known as the “Robin Hood Rifles”.

The Robin Hood Rifles later had the honour of representing their country abroad in a shooting competition in 1863. They also enjoyed being inspected by Queen Victoria on multiple occasions where they received high praise from the Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of Cambridge, amongst others.


Meanwhile, it’s time for me to get these riflemen where they belong; on the rifle range!

Soldiers in Cigarette Cards: Part 1

When I was in my teens, my uncle would occasionally take me along to a ‘cigarette card fair’ which took place in a church hall. From the late 19th century up until the 1940s, cigarette packets would come with collectible cards. Card series topics could be anything from Household Hints, to Birds, to Association Footballers, or (of course) on military topics. Amongst the very earliest series was a set on the then ongoing conflict of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904.

Naturally, my interest in military history burning bright even in my teens, I chose to collect card series on military topics. Such sets as my meagre financial resources would stretch to included the following (years of issue in brackets);

  • Military Headdress (1931)
  • Regimental Colours and Cap Badges (1910)
  • Drum Banners and Cap Badges (1924)
  • Military Uniforms of the British Empire Overseas (1938)
  • Uniforms of the Territorial Army (1939)
  • Colonial & Indian Army Badges (1917)
  • Infantry Training (1915)
  • War Decorations and Medals (1927)

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I’m not sure whether these are particularly collectible today, if at all, but for me they are an interesting source of information, often with beautiful illustrations, on a variety of military-related topics. After reviewing some of these sets, I’ve decided to use this blog to start showcasing some of the best military ones I’ve discovered in storage.

To begin with, some Yeomanry and Volunteer regiments. I’ve mentioned in the last post how Yeomanry regiments have captured my interest of late, particularly with the installation of some of my figures in the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum last month. Player’s 1924 “Drum Banners and Cap Badges” series depicts a good number of Yeomanry regiments. My selection of cards from the series include:

  • Sherwood Rangers (Hussars)
  • Dorset Yeomanry (Royal Field Artillery)
  • Queen’s Own Royal Staffordshire Yeomanry (Hussars)
  • Derbyshire Yeomanry (Armoured Car Company)

The Derbyshire Yeomanry is a regiment I mentioned in my previous post. In fact, I’m surprised to realise that in recent years I’ve visited the collections of all of these regiments!

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Drum banners and cap badges of the Derbyshire Yeomanry (left) and Sherwood Rangers (right)
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Drum banners and cap badges of the Staffordshire Yeomanry (left) and Dorset Yeomanry (right).

Being all hand-drawn, the detail and skill in each card is impressive and must have taken some time to produce. It is interesting to note the variety of colours and designs used in just these four examples. The Staffordshire knot in the cap badge is an iconic symbol of that county and the Sherwood Rangers make use of oak leaves and acorns as a connection to the forest after which they are named. Two of the regiments have been converted from mounted cavalry after the First World War to alternative arms. The 14 most senior Yeomanry regiments had the honour of remaining mounted on horses as traditional cavalry, but the Dorsets have (by the time of the release of this 1924 set) been converted to Royal Field Artillery and the Derbyshire Yeomanry are shown as being an Armoured Car Company in the Tank Corps.

More references to Yeomanry regiments by Players could be found in their similar “Regimental Colours and Cap Badges” series of 1910, including this one of the Norfolk Yeomanry. As with the “Drum Banners…” series, note the excellent quality of the very detailed illustrations.

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 London Yeomanry Regiments: Left is the cap badge and guidon of the Westminster Dragoons (County) and  right is the drum banner of the Rough Riders (City)
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Guidons and cap badges of the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry (left) and the Norfolk Yeomanry (right).

 

And finally, continuing the volunteer regiments theme, Players also produced this set in 1939, depicting “Uniforms of the Territorial Army“. Once again, I think the illustrations here are excellent, and the line drawings of related buildings or architectural features compliments the image and subject perfectly.

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The Castlemartin Yeomanry were from Pembrokeshire and famously helped secure the capture and surrender of a French invasion force in 1797 gaining the first ever yeomanry battle honour “Fishguard”, quickly ending the last invasion of the British mainland. Shown in the splendid 1797 uniform, Pembroke Castle is sketched in the background.

The Sherwood Rangers uniforms I’d also seen at the The Queen’s Royal Lancers and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum, the ancient Major Oak of Sherwood Forest is shown in the background.

Likewise, the Robin Hood Rifles were a volunteer rifle corps whose uniforms I saw on display last year in the Nottingham Castle museum (see my pics below). The background on their card shows the grand Exchange Buildings on High Street.

The Post Office Rifles are a regiment that’s been on my mind with regards to modelling some figures using perhaps some Italeri British Zulu War Infantry. The image is based on a contemporary depiction of their marching off to Egypt in 1882 and winning the first Volunteer overseas battle honour. The background image appropriately depicts pyramids and camels.

Finally, the Lovat Scouts are a yeomanry regiment which served with distinction in the Anglo-Boer War. As a Highland regiment they were attached to the Black Watch and later formed two companies of the Imperial Yeomanry and the card depicts them in pith helmets and khaki worn during this conflict. A typical Boer farmhouse is shown in the rear of the illustration.

Next time in this series:  Two superb sets on the topics of overseas British Empire uniforms in the 1930s and, one of my favourite sets, British military headdress.

PLEASE NOTE: Suburban Militarism is a non-smoking blog (and always has been). I’m glad that the cigarette companies don’t produce these today, however – I would be buying the packets for the cards and throwing away the cigarettes!