Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Not very sharpe recollections

"ee by gum 'arper get the lads in the back rank to run about a
a bit to fool the frogs 'int thinking we're a whole battalion!"
In my early teens I borrowed a copy of The Recollections of Rifleman Harris from the local library. Back then (in the dawn of time) this was one of the very few books on the Napoleonic wars available to the public at large. I’ve never looked at a copy since but my own recollections are that it was quite heavy going because of the 19th century style of prose

Much later in the 90s I very much enjoyed the BBC serialisation of the Sharpe novels although I never got on at all with actually reading them. Sharpe was an excellent programme in its day although it is of course a bit dated now. The early episodes did suffer somewhat from a lack of extras in the battle scenes but the spirit of the Napoleonic wars seemed to shine through. Perhaps it’s time for a remake with CGI?

My own version of the 95th rifles has now been made up to 24 figures and completed in line with my other units. I think they look quite smart and the 6 figures I recently painted blend in well with the original 18 figures painted by Matt G. All the figures in this unit are vintage Hinton Hunt ones that I assembled from different sources over the last ten years. They’re just waiting now for a chance to go over the hills and far away.

29 comments:

Vintage Wargaming said...

If you didn't get on with reading Sharpe I would heartily recommend CS Forester's splendidly titled "Death to the French" aka "Rifleman Dodd" in the States - said to have inspired Cornwell to write his Sharpe series but a very different animal. If you haven't read it give it a go. His other Peninsular War novel "The Gun" is worth reading, if you can get over the appalling casting of Gregory Peck and Frank Sinatra in the film. Mind as a Hinton Hunt collector you may be quite used to appalling casting...

Rob said...

I like the figures and the Duke certainly needs some reinforcements. The 95th were good but I don't think they were any more effective than any other first rate light infantry unit - their performance at Waterloo shows they were not infallible. Personally I find the 95th 'hype' has turned me against them, not helped by Sharpe who is like Marmite to Napoleonic fans - I love Marmite but not Sharpe. However they did produce some wonderful memoirs.

Stryker said...

"Boom-boom" (that's for the joke not the gun!)

Stryker said...

Rob - I guess the 95th have had a bit too much hype but they're still a 'must have' unit for most British wargame armies, along with the Scots Greys of course.

Matt said...

Excellent additions and an admission of a guilty secret. I have in fact read ALL the Cornwell books. I also read "Death to the French" for balance!

Stryker said...

Matt - I'm impressed!

Rob said...

Scots Greys? Another over-egged unit but, on the wargames table this really all about aesthetics as immediately identifiable units do have their attraction. Personally - all of this is of course just personal preference - I like armies that are more uniform so the same figures can represent almost any troops as it cuts down the number of units required for a representative look.
Death to French - now that is a good book, why can't they make a film of that?

Stryker said...

Rob - it has been pretty much impossible for me to build a realistic OOB for this project as I can only use what I can find. It's clear from the available vintage HH figures that war gamers in the 60s and 70s were in favour of British rifles, RHA, Scots Greys and grenadiers of the Imperial Guard! Much harder to find are French fusiliers and Austrian and Russian infantry which one would have thought would have been produced in greater numbers. It would be interesting to know (in a nerdy sort of way) how many of each type were produced by Hinton Hunt but of course we never will.

Arthur Harman said...

It was Cary Grant who played the British Royal Navy officer in The Pride and the Passion. Gregory Peck - who played Horatio Hornblower in another film - would have been far better casting. But it's an entertaining film, despite taking some liberties with the book, and Sophia Loren is gorgeous....

Stryker said...

Arthur - I must have been quite young when I saw the film as I don't really remember Sophia Loren. However I do remember that that rather large gun seemed to move and wobble as if it was made out of balsa wood!

Conrad Kinch said...

Alan Mallinson's Hervey books are well worth a look.

Stryker said...

Thanks Conrad - I've seen some of these titles so may put on my Christmas list!

Mark Dudley said...

Part of the attraction of doing classic Napoleonics is that your army can have the famous and exotic units of the period, be led by your very own Napoleon, Wellington or a General Mack with his map of Ulm, without worrying to much about historical reality.

Stryker said...

Mark - that's so true, you never know where it will lead next (just like Mack and his map!).

lewisgunner said...

I would suggest that most of the orders and collections built were for either Waterloo or the Pensinula. Neither of those theatres exactly featured Austrians, Russians, or indeed Bavarians and Saxons. I recall people did have French armies that included a 'Confederation Division' that featured one battalion of each German type. At a convention in Southend in 197? a chap was selling some guard horse artillery and a battalion des Princes...I bought the horse artillery, foolishly missing the combined battalion.
There were Russian and Austrian armies around...clearly they featured in the huge Leipzig game that Hinton put on with hs mates. At school I recall boys with Russian and Austrian armies, but I am not sure they amounted to full forces and generally allied with each other ir the Prussians. It was a lot harder to do the forces that did not have drummers or standard bearers or dismountable cavalry, but I suspect that it was a matter of relative popularity and that was driven by the overwheming popularity of British armies.

Stryker said...

Roy - that's interesting, perhaps there are more 'other' nation HH armies around than I thought. Of course my own army back then was Prussian not British and I'm not sure why I chose it!

mojoworking said...

Nice looking Rifle battalion, I have mine on the back burner awaiting re-touching and re-basing.
Re Napoleonic fiction I would highly recommend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Brigadier Gerard short stories. A bit dated now but they have a period charm. I also suspect they may have inspired George McDonald Fraser's Flashman series to some extent.

Mark Dudley said...

My armies were French made up of Minfig/Alberken/Hinton Hunt. British using Minifig/Alberken and a small Austrian force using Hinton Hunt.

I think I went for Austrians after playing a game with Mike Embree who had a rather nice Austrian army.

I still many if these figures and they form the cadres for my new classic Napoleonic collection.

lewisgunner said...

Ian, was it was because you instinctively liked 'alles in ordnung' ? The Prussian mass of black looks very neat and tidy .
Roy

Stryker said...

Roy - I think it was just because the Hinton Hunt catalogue listing looked so intriguing with "jackbooted riflemen" and "Ulan lancers" etc.

One other book I did read and enjoy later on was Delderfield's "Seven men of Gascony".

the Archduke said...

I once met a guy who claimed to have been the historical advisor for the Sharpe TV series. I asked him why historical realism played so little part. He said that the director always listened politely to his advice, but then explained to him succinctly that reality would make for rubbish TV. I'm with you, Ian, in holding out for CGI remakes. I share your views on the hype about certain units. I guess you have to remember context. The Greys were an untried unit, while the 1st battalion Rifles are said to have been somewhat traumatised by watching the 42nd being cut to pieces at Quatre Bras. Could have been a talking point in their sandpit as they watched the cuirassiers. Anyway, love your complete rifle battalion.

Stryker said...

Thanks Nigel, good to hear from you.

I wonder if some of the Peninsular veterans thought "about bloody time!" when they saw the Greys in action. I guess in reality veteran units probably tried to avoid too much excitement on the battlefield prefering to let the newbies get stuck in. Perhaps it's the green units that should get the +1 for morale?

mojoworking said...

I have too many riflemen in my leadpile, some will end up in the spares box, especially the ones in the prone firing position, which came as part of an ebay lot, and I personally find unusable in a wargaming context.

As a aside, John Tams, who played Daniel Hagman in Sharpe, (well respected as a folk musician in the area where I was born and raised) happens to be married to my younger sister's best friend from her schooldays. But we've never met, I don't get back there much since my parents passed away.

Stryker said...

That's quite a claim to fame - I really like his adaptations for the Sharpe themes!

the Archduke said...

Hear hear in respect to John Tam. His songs make a great backdrop to a wargame. I like your idea of plus 1 morale for new units, Ian. My rules have a morale score which stops units rallying from pursuit. In practice it only seems to work on British cavalry...

Lee said...

Always great to see the Rifles on the table Ian, lovely unit. The 95th trained down here at Shorncliffe under Sir John Moore and there is a very realistic and accurate memorial to them at Hythe, featuring 2 full size riflemen sculptures, I really must get a picture for the blog.

This internet image shows just the head of one of them:

http://gb.fotolibra.com/images/larger-thumbnails/351979-rifleman-sculpture-close-up-of-head.jpeg

Stryker said...

Hi Lee - yes you must take some photos!

Mark Dudley said...

Speaking of Brigadier Gerard. Anyone remember this film from the 70s.

https://youtu.be/Fjwb2WhoVqY

Wellington Man said...

Lovely brushwork, Ian, as always. I'm yearning to get a British army underway.
Best regards
WM