Sunday, December 30, 2012

Royal Artillery, Second Afghan War

Royal Artillery 6-horse team

I needed to give my British troops some more fire-power. I have used the Foundry colonial artillery limber and crew and Empress Miniature's excellent 7lb and 9lb guns and gunners from their Zulu War range.

This set must surely have been inspired by Richard Caton Woodville's famous painting, "Saving the Guns at the Battle of Maiwand".

Gunners riding limber

Gunners aiming 9lb Field Gun

Gunners aiming 9lb Field Gun

7lb field Gun

The officer is from Perry Miniatures Sudan War range.

Mounted officer, Royal Artillery

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Army Medical Service circa 1880

The Army Medical Service was formed in 1873. It was not particularly successful or popular and in 1898 it was reformed again to become the Royal Army Medical Corps.

I wanted to use the Perry Sudan War medics set for both the Sudan War and Indian/NW Frontier service. The uniforms depicted in the following images are fairly accurate for the Sudan.

In India and Afghanistan they may have worn khaki. However I'm assuming at the time of the Second Afghan War they were probably still wearing Home Service uniforms with the addition of the ubiquitous Foreign Service helmet.

Thanks to Jeff Lower who helped me with the red trim and arm badges.

Christmas Night over Laguna Niguel

Once again, we were given a beautiful California sunset on the evening of Christmas, rounding off a lovely family celebration.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Longest Day

I recently came across some information on one of my favourite games from 1980: Avalon Hill's "The Longest Day". This is a huge game, even by the standards of the time, with 1,500 counters and 7 mounted map boards of the whole D-Day theatre.

I played this a couple of times with my old gaming friend, USMC Gunnery Sergeant Columbus O. "Sonny" Williams.

I just found a source for some replacement counters. In place of the monotone originals with "German" style graphics, the counters use lots of colour to distinguish Divisions and add more contemporary graphics for the AFV's. If I ever play this again, the new counters will make unit organization and cohesion much easier.

Here is the download link:

J. M. Constancias is listed as the contact person for this organization. Should J.M. ever read this, a very big Thank You is in order for refreshing this venerable game.

Here is a small sample of the excellent counters art:

A full size laminated map is available from AH General, together with a DVD containing many articles from "the General" magazine, plus rules, charts, etc. Here is the link:

If you decide to produce counters for yourself, this site has some excellent hints on how to do it:

Imperial Infantry, Second Afghan War 1878-80

Imperial Infantry, Second Afghan War 1878-80

I have been intrigued by an illustration entitled "Route Marching 2nd Battalion Queen's 1879 Peshawa, India". This shows British infantry in the transitional khaki tunic with home service blue trousers with red stripe and covered foreign service helmet. The 70th (Surrey) Regiment of Foot and the 2nd Battalion The Queen’s (Second) Royal, Regiment of Foot, were both in Afghanistan at this time and the illustration could be of either regiment, despite the title, and they were ultimately amalgamated.

With these illustrations in mind, I asked Carl Robson to swap the Perry Sudan War infantry head with covered helmet, with the Pontoonier Miniatures British Infantry body. This was from expert advise I received from Ethan "Mad Guru" Reiff to create the "definitive" British infantry from the Second Afghan War. Ethan encourage me to commission the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot of Maiwand fame. I wasn't sure how this experiment would turn out, so in deference to the memory of the 66th, I asked Carl to paint the Queen's instead. I am very pleased with the result. The swap enables the figure to carry the correct equipment for this war and to have an appropriate helmet. 

The pouches were black leather, not the white shown below, but this gives an idea of how the equipment looked.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the Alamo (2004)

I just finished watching the "The Alamo", the 2004 movie version of the epic siege of February 23 to March 6, 1836. This was entirely due to the patriotic fervor of my favourite Texan, 2nd Lt. Kris Floyd, USMC. After discussing the battle over Thanksgiving, I sought out and watched the movie. I am astonished I missed it and very glad to have made amends. This is an excellent dramatic and historical telling of the tale. Billy Bob Thornton in particular is excellent as David Crockett. His character and personal charm comes through loud and clear. This is the Crocket of "Three Roads to the Alamo" by William C Davis, an excellent book on the background of all the protagonists.

Strange to say, this was also sitting in my library unread and rediscovered for me by Kris Floyd. I'm correcting that mistake and am now deeply immersed in the book.

The scene in which David Crocket plays his fiddle from the Alamo battlements as Santa Ana's national Mexican Army plays military marches with great bombast is an excellent touch. General Antonio López de Santa Anna is played very well by Emilio Echevarría. The entire cast is excellent with many great characterizations.

Thanks Kris for fixing this gaping hole in my education!

"Remember the Alamo"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Colonial Collection

Here are a couple of photos of the Imperial forces in their display cabinet.

Imperial Cavalry

Sikh platoons

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Punjab Frontier Force: No1 Kohat Mountain Battery

The Mountain Batteries that fought on the NW Frontier are themselves very colorful units. I have chosen the No.1 Kohat Mountain Battery based at Abbotabad under the command of Captain A C Fergusson, RA.

The next image is of an actual battery in action. It comes from the Victorian Wars Forum where it was kindly posted by Alex. Thank you Alex for this priceless old photo.

Peshawar Mountain Battery in Action, Kuram Valley, N. W.Frontier India

For my battery, I used the Wargames Foundry Sikh Mountain Battery. The steel gun is a 2.5 inch RML (rifled muzzle loader), also called a 7 pounder for the shell it fired.

Sikh gunners of No.1 Kohat Mountain Battery

No.1 Kohat Mountain Battery served with Lord Roberts at Peiwar Kotal and saw heavy action at Kabul during the Second Afghan War of 1878-80.

Sikh Mountain Battery gunner

Queen's Own Corps of Guides, Punjab Frontier Force: Cavalry

For the Mounted troops of the Queen's Guides, I used Perry Sudan Campaign figures, substituting swords for lances for the troopers. The Guides officer's silk pugree is more elaborate than most Imperial officers.

Queen's Own Corps of Guides, Punjab Frontier Force: Cavalry

Lieutenant Walter Hamilton, Queen's Own Corps of Guides

Lieutenant Walter Hamilton, Queen's Own Corps of Guides

Lieutenant Walter Hamilton, Queen's Own Corps of Guides

Jemadar Jewand Singh




Queen's Own Corps of Guides, Punjab Frontier Force

The Corps of Guides was raised in Peshawar by Lieutenant Harry Lumsden in December 1846, comprising one troop of cavalry and two companies of infantry, about 300 men in total.

Harry Lumsden 

The Corps of Guides was part of the Frontier Force brigade and it engaged in regular action along the North-West Frontier becoming an elite unit. The Guides was the first unit in the Indian or British Armies to dress in khaki. 
The designations of the Corps of Guides was:
  • The Corps of Guides (1846)
  • The Corps of Guides, Punjab Irregular Force (1857)
  • Corps of Guides, Punjab Frontier Force (1865)
  • Queen's Own Corps of Guides, Punjab Frontier Force (1876)
  • Queen's Own Corps of Guides (1901)

On the 3rd September 1879, without warning, Afghan soldiers attacked the British Commissioner's Residency in Kabul and were joined by the civilian population. 4 British personnel and 69 Indian troops faced thousands of Afghan soldiers and civilians. The Indian troops were 21 Guides Cavalry and 48 Guides Infantry under Lieutenant Walter Richard Pollock Hamilton. The British Envoy, Sir Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari, KCB, C.S.I. was killed in the attack.

The Guides fought desperately, charging out of the Residency to bayonet the crews of artillery brought against them. During one of these attacks Lieutenant Hamilton was killed. The Residency was set on fire and the buidlings started to collapse. 

The remaining Guides were commanded by Jemadar Jewand Singh (Guides Cavalry). The Guides rejected Afghan offers to surrender and after 12 hours of fighting the few remaining men fixed bayonets and charged to their deaths. Over 600 Afghan were killed in the action. Lieutenant Hamilton was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.

British officers of the Guides. Lieutenant Walter Hamilton VC stands on the right. 

My unit of Foot Guides uses Foundry figures. They have been painted based largely upon a print by Richard Simkin.

Corps of Guides (Infantry & Cavalry) - Richard Simkin

Queen's Own Corps of Guides, Punjab Frontier Force

Guides infantry in their distinctive poshteens