Thursday 30 September 2021

Trooper of the 5th Cuirassiers Regt. Sommariva

That’s what it says on the Hinton Hunt painting instruction sheet for AN.73 Austrian Cuirassier (mounted) charging so that's what my next unit will be.

As I painted the test figure, I realised that it's very similar to the Austrian Dragoon figure in the unit I painted last year, basically the only difference is the addition of the cuirass and the removal of the carbine and wooden stake.

When this unit is finished, I will have a full brigade of Austrian Heavy Cavalry which the Allies are going to need if they’re to stand a chance against all that French Guard Cavalry.

Saturday 25 September 2021

Taking the high road (Off Topic #31)

We spent last week in a holiday cottage on the banks of Loch Ewe on the northwest coast of Scotland. We’ve been living (or more correctly ‘staying’ in the Scottish vernacular) north of the border for nearly five years now but I’m still blown away by the sheer beauty of the Highlands each time we venture out.

Bonny Scotland - the view east from Mellon Udrigle (no I didn't make that name up).

Until we arrived at Loch Ewe, I had no idea of the significant part it paid in WW2 as the base for the Arctic Convoys, where the ships assembled before heading out on the dangerous route to Murmansk in Russia. The Loch banks still contain many relics of that activity of 80 years ago which, of course was fascinating to me (not sure if Mrs S was so pleasantly surprised).

This was just a few hundred yards from where we were staying and appears to be a base for some sort of gun-mount.
These concrete blocks were originally used to anchor the submarine nets at the mouth of the Loch (old git is for scale).

This is the remains of a jetty near the position where the anti-submarine booms would have been.

A serious looking gun position near Aultbea (again the old git is for scale).

There is a small Russian Arctic Convoy Museum in Aultbea which is worth a visit if you’re driving the North Coast 500 and need a break from tailing all those camper vans. The exhibits tell a lot of personal stories from the participants in the convoys, explaining the incredible conditions that the sailors had to endure at sea during the Arctic winter.

This model in the museum had been made by the son of one of the crew of HMS Honeysuckle. I like the way he has modelled it with ice covering the decks.
'The worst journey in the world'

As the route home on Friday took us to Inverness Mrs S indulged me by agreeing to a visit to Fort George. Although I’ve been to Culloden a couple times before I had never made it to Fort George and I’m really glad that we finally got there because saying it’s impressive doesn’t really do it justice.

The imposing entrance to Fort George.
There are quite a few cannon dotted around but none of them are original.

Fort George sits on the banks of the River Ness and was built by the British following the Jacobite Rebellion to control access to the Moray Firth and inland to the Great Glen. It is a huge construction based on a Star design that remains virtually intact. It took 22 years to build and was said to have cost the equivalent of a whole years’ Scottish GDP (the modern equivalent would be the cost of five Trident nuclear submarines).

Mrs S took this rather arty looking photo - how does she do that?
A member of the old git Home Guard on lookout - who do you think you're kidding Mr Jacobite?

Mrs S thought that was a bit of an overreaction by the British, but I explained to her (patiently) that King George was understandably just a little paranoid that the Jacobites would have another go unless he cracked down hard on them. The main point of the fort was to prevent the French from sending troops, money or supplies to the Highlanders as they had during the 45.

These flags on display in the Highlanders' museum were carried by the 79th Cameron Highlanders at Waterloo and the bag-pipes were thought to have been played there too. I like seeing such tangible links to the past.
Some of the barrack blocks - they looked quite cosy.

I had no idea (until we got there) that Fort George was still an active military base being home to the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The accommodation blocks (improved from the original 18c ones) are neatly laid out in the centre of the fort around an impressive parade ground. There is also a very good Highlanders’ Museum which as far as I could work out houses exhibits on every one of the Highland Regiments except the Black Watch (who have their own museum in Perth).

An unusual sight in Scotland - the Union flag flying over Fort George.

I would say that Fort George is an absolute must for any history buff/wargamer wandering the Highlands but allow yourself at least 3 hours to look around (they do a great bacon butty in the café and a nice cheese & tomato bloomer for veggies - vegans can pick out the cheese).

To visit Fort George you must book in advance.

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Russian Artillery

For quite a few years now I have wanted to find enough Russian gunners to field a battery or two of guns. Finally, I have scraped some together although they are the DK version of Hinton Hunt gunners as the real things are rarer than hen’s teeth.

The figures are:
2 x RN70 Officer, pointing, holding map
2 x RN71 Gunner with porte-fire
2 x RN72 Gunner ramming home
2 x RN74 Gunner holding hand spike for traversing
The guns are by Newline Designs

The limber rider is a vintage casting of RN76 Artillery Driver riding on DK versions of draught horses H/1 and H/2. The limber is an unknown make I had hanging around.

One of the things that has always impressed me with Roy’s Hinton Hunt armies is that he has a limber for every model gun – and there’s loads of them! I have determined to field at least one limber per army and hopefully over time a few more than that.

It’s been a nice break to paint these gunners after a year so far spent painting cavalry but there are already more horses undercoated and waiting on the painting desk.

Sunday 5 September 2021

Napoleon and all his friends (plus a relative)

It's taken me a few years but I finally have all the French Personality figures and Generals finished so I thought I'd better catalogue them here for posterity. All the figures were painted by me unless otherwise credited.

FN/224 French General in cocked hat (mounted)
FN/350 NAPOLEON, in hat and riding coat (on horse FNH/10)
FN/351 PRINCE MURAT, in plumed "lancer" cap and fur trimmed braided coat (on horse FNH/11)

FN/352 EUGENE DE BEAUHARNAIS uniformed as Colonel of the Chasseurs a Cheval (on horse BNH/11)
FNH/353 MARSHAL BESSIERES in uniform as Colonel General of Cavalry (on horse FNH/10) - painted by Tony
FN/354 MARSHAL NEY with riding coat worn over his shoulders (on horse BNH/10) - painted as Marshal Grouchy

FN/355 MARSHAL DAVOUT, in marshal's uniform raising his hat (on horse FNH/4) - the painter is unknown

FN/356 MARSHAL MASSENA, in marshal's uniform (on horse FNH/10)

FN/357 MARSHAL SOULT in uniform of Colonel-General of Chasseurs (on horse FNH/10)

FN/358 GENERAL JUNOT, in uniform of Colonel-General of Hussars (on horse FNH/11) 

FN/359 GENERAL LASALLE, in pelisse, hat and full trousers (on horse FNH/11)

FN/360 GENERAL DORSENNE in uniform of Colonel General of Grenadiers (on horse FNH/10)

FN/361 GENERAL NANSOUTY in Cuirassier General's uniform with cocked hat (on horse FNH/10)

FN/362 GENERAL BARAGUAY d'HILLIERS, Colonel General of Dragoons (on horse FNH/10) - uniform painted blue by mistake!

FN/367 GENERAL CAMBRONNE, in Generals' uniform and cocked hat on foot, with drawn sword and waving arm. 

FN/371 Aide de Camp, holding letter (on horse FNH/13)
WN.30 MARSHAL PONIATOWSKI, in Lancer cap and flowing fur cloak (mounted) pointing

I suppose I'll have to get a shift on now with Wellington and his chums.

Wednesday 1 September 2021

General Junot, Duc d’Abrantes

Junot first came to the attention of Napoleon during the siege of Toulon and went on to distinguish himself in the campaign in Italy. It was there that he received a head wound that was said to have changed his character making him unpredictable and rash.

In common with many of the other French officers he hated campaigning in Egypt and alleviated the boredom by duelling. After one duel where Lannes, Murat and Bessieres acted as his seconds they were all reprimanded by Napoleon who said they were “like silly crocodiles fighting in the reeds”. This didn’t go down too well with any of them, but Junot had to be sent home with a resulting wound.

FN/358 General Junot, in uniform of Colonel-General of Hussars (on horse FNH/11)

He was sent to Spain in 1807 and created Duc d’Abrantes for capturing Lisbon but the humiliating defeat at Vimiero blotted his copy book further with the Emperor. The final straw came with his failure to pursue the Russians after the battle of Smolensk in 1812 and a furious Napoleon determined that he should never receive a marshal’s baton.

He returned to France in disgrace and is believed to have committed suicide, dying in 1813.