Thursday, November 29, 2007


I can't avoid it any longer. There were two big Highland regiments at El Teb and Tamai so I have just put in an order from the Perries for the Gordon Highlanders which I will try and get painted up over Christmas. A big 22 figure unit. So now I will have to paint tartan. Giles Allison, on his AWI site, had a tutorial I think!

Not looking forward to it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Royal Marines Light Infantry: Painted 1

Well, I got three painted rather than the six I was aiming for this week, but that's because I did some more Spartans and some GNW Swedes.

They look quite striking with their white equipment and helmets, I think. I'll try and get some more done this week but it looks like I may have to go back to America on Saturday so won't be able to paint next weekend.

Monday, November 19, 2007

John Wilcox: The Guns of El Kebir

So, having done the Zulu War, the first Boer War, the Bepedi war and the Afghan War, John Wilcox is sending his Sharpe-like hero, Simon Fonthill, to Egypt in 1882. Surely, in the next book he will be interacting with General Gordon?

This next book comes out on December 27th and I may even order the hardback in advance so I can read it over the extended Christmas holidays! If only the Perries made the slightly earlier British infantry! Perhaps it's just as well they don't!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Next unit: Royal Marines Light Infantry

The next unit I'm going to do is the Royal Marines Light Infantry. There is no disagreement on the numbers in this unit; all the sources agree on 478 which is 14 figures at 1:33.

Stuart Asquith in his recent War in the Sudan 1884-1898 describes the RMLI as being dressed in undress blue with white helmet and black or white leather equipment. I'm not convinced by this and suspect it refers back to the earlier Egyptian conflict in 1882. There is a watercolor sketch in the Victoria and Albert Museum that shows them wearing grey. Crucially, Count Gleichen in his book With the Camel Corps up the Nile, describes them as being in grey uniforms with white helmets and equipment so that is what I am going for.

Two very small illustrations I found on the net seem to confirm the grey uniform. Firstly, this illustration from the official Royal Marines website; you would assume that they would get it right.

Secondly, this photograph of a number of Royal Marines outside their medical tent in Suakin in 1884. This looks like a grey not a navy blue uniform to me.

Given that they are light infantry I wanted them in rather more active poses and looking a little less regimented. They need a lot of work so I would think that it will take three weeks to get them done. Right, that's enough typing now I better get the rest undercoated!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Painted: 2nd Battalion The Princess Victoria's Royal Irish Fusiliers

Here is the completed unit. It looks rather small but they were a small force, less than 350 men!

The Royal Irish Fusiliers landed at Trinkitat in late February 1884 and immediately began patrols with the Black Watch and the 19th Hussars into the surrounding country. There could be a few imaginary skirmish scenarios here! On 28th February they moved out, with the rest of the Expeditionary Force, to head towards El Teb, bivoucing overnight at Fort Baker. The RIF made up the forward section of the right hand side of the square with the KRRC next to them in the battle the next day.

At Tamai, in Buller's second brigade, they formed the front left hand corner of the square. The square, whilst heavily engaged, managed to drive off the Beja with rifle fire before they came into hand to hand combat, unlike their unfortunate comrades in the first square.

The Second Battalion (former 89th foot) returned to England in 1884 and were replaced by the First Battalion (former 87th foot) who joined the river column in the 1885 campaign, but that's a whole new army!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Egyptian Infantryman

I finished my first Egyptian and apart from the amount of white paint I had to slap on he was quite easy to paint. I will continue to do a few a week until I have my first unit to keep some variety.

Beja in Ambush

I finished four of the Perries nice Beja in ambush figures today. I am going to do a unit of twenty just because I like the look of them. Sometimes the Perries make figures which are almost more diorama than wargames figures and I find that these are often their best, like the recent "French cuirassiers at rest".
The Alexander Korda version of The Four Feathers (1939) had a great scene where the Fuzzy Wuzzies (played by real Beja) materialise out of the rocks at night and silently move up to the attack.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Walk like an Egyptian

Perry Sudan figures don't come up on eBay very often so I was pleased to pick up a bunch of Egyptian infantry at a (not very big) discount. Well I saved £7 or £8 I suppose. I got six command figures, 12 marching infantry and a field gun.

I have undercoated one just to have a see how he goes. They will either be really quick to paint or a nightmare. Humbrol white often needs three coats, even over a pale grey undercoat and so it would be sensible to do the undercoat for the rest in white.

I work with Egyptians quite a bit and should be going back to Cairo in March. They vary in skin tone enormously but I think I will be going for caucasian looking skin for the Egyptian infantry, darker skin for the Bazingers and very dark for the Sudanese units. I will shade the Egyptians with darker colours and see how this looks.

2nd Battalion The Princess Victoria's Royal Irish Fusiliers

Depending on the sources there were between 334 (Asquith), 343 (Preziosi) and 350-400 (Featherstone) troops of the Royal Irish Fusiliers present before El Teb. At 1:33 this gives between 10 and 12 figures. I am going for the lower figure of 10. This is small for a TSATF unit as British units are supposed to be 20 figures but until I have played a game I won't know if this works or not.

The Royal Irish Fusiliers had been formed in 1881 from the 87th and 89th Foot and some local militia forces from Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan. Both regiments had been formed in 1793 as a result of the war with France. The 87th served in the Peninsula where they became famous at the battle of Barossa on March 5th 1811 when the first French Imperial Eagle was taken by Sergeant Masterman (and not Richard Sharpe!).

The 1st Battalion were with Graham in Egypt in 1882 and saw action at Tel-el-Kebir.

There are several sources which describe them as wearing the new grey uniforms and they are illustrated like this in the picture in the Royal Engineers museum in Chatham. I have already painted four figures in this uniform so only need to do another six which I will try to get done next weekend.

3rd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps

Here is the completed battalion. Figures given for the KRRC for EL Teb vary from 630 (Featherstone), 610 (Asquith) to 546 men and 19 officers (Preziosi). At 1:33 this would give 19, 18 or 17 figures. I have gone for the middle one mainly on the basis it would give two equal ranks.

The KRRC were at El Teb and Tamai comanded by Lt Colonel (brevet Colonel) Sir Cromer Ashburnham (1831-1917) his ADC was Lt Colonel William Lewis Kinlock Ogilvy (1840-1900). At El Teb four companies formed the rear of the right hand side of the square with the rest of the battalion inside the square. As a result of EL Teb and finding this formation rather unweildy for a force of over 2,500 men Graham, at Tamai formed two squares, one for each brigade which advanced in echelon. The KRRC formed the rear of the 1st Brigade Square.

Here is a single rifleman showing the KRRC's red piping on the front of the jacket, the cuffs and the collar.

This is my second completed British unit and I really enjoyed painting them. They were certainly much quicker to paint than the Naval Brigade; I got the whole lot done in three weeks. Next up is another 1st Brigade unit the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers.