Sunday, October 28, 2007

King's Royal Rifle Corps: second batch

I finished the second half dozen figures today so only have six more to finish the unit. Hopefully, I will get them done this week. This batch includes the bugler and the last one will contain the officer.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

King's Royal Rifle Corps: first batch

I finished half a dozen of these today. They are the first Sudan figures I have completed for nearly two months. Now they are done I am glad I went for the green jackets as they look different. I used to have an Osprey on the Zulu war which had a picture of the 1879 KRRC uniform in it but I sold it on eBay earlier in the year so I based the uniform on a cigarette card illustration of the uniform of the 1880's.

THE KRRC had 610 men in the 1st Brigade, under Buller, so, at my 1:33 scale, that would make 18 figures, one of the bigger British units. This batch includes a sergeant and the the next group, which is under way, includes a bugler. TSATF rules make no use of musicians but the Perry figures are too good to ignore.

The unit which fought in the Sudan was the 3rd Battalion which had been moved from South Africa to Malta. It was from here that it was called up to fight in Egypt in 1882. In South Africa during the Zulu War it saw action at Ginghilovo, Hlobane (where Buller won his VC), Kambula and Ulundi (where it was also under the overall command of Garnet Wolseley). It stayed on in Africa for the 1st Boer War, now under the command of its CO in the later Egyptian and Sudan campaigns, Lt Col Cromer Ashburnham. It was engaged at Laing's Nek, Ingogo and Majuba Hill.

For an enjoyable novel about this, not very well remembered, conflict with the Boers read John Wilcox's Last Stand at Majuba Hill.
Let's hope Wilcox manages to get his hero, Simon Fonthill, into the Sudan!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Green or Grey?: The King's Royal Rifle Corps in the Sudan

The reason that I haven't painted anything for the Sudan for a bit is that I had intended that my next British Unit, after the Naval Brigade, would be the King's Royal Rifle Corps (formerly the 60th foot: the Royal Americans of Napoleonic wars fame). However, I have run into a problem as regards their uniform.

The recent Perry uniform guide in Wargames Illustrated showed them as wearing the same grey uniform as the other troops, except with their usual black leather equipment. I started to paint the 18 figures I needed in this way. Then I picked up the Mahdist Wars Source Book from TVAG and there it said "Marling mentions that while in Egypt after Tel-el Kebir the 60th rifles wore green serge jackets". Then it mentions a print of the Battle of El Teb at the Royal Engineers Museum at Chatham which shows them wearing green jackets with red collars, Black trousers and white helmets. The Donald Featherstone Osprey, Khartoum 1885 says the same thing.

Now "Marling" is Lieutenant (later, Colonel Sir) Percy Scrope Marling VC of the KRRC who served with the mounted infantry (why don't the Perries make a mounted infantry pack?), won his VC at Tamai and published his memoirs Rifleman and Hussar (London: John Murray, 1931).

Here is his grave in All Saint's Church, Selsley. He died in 1936.

Now my thinking has gone as follows: both the Osprey and the Savage and Soldier article reprinted in the Mahdist Source book are fairly old items (around ten years). Also, the uniforms worn in Egypt in 1882 were different from those worn in 1884 (line troops wore red in the Egyptian campaign, for example). If new uniforms were going to be issued specifically for this campaign then surely they would have been issued to everyone? I would also have thought that the Perries research would have been more up to date.

Yet, there is a quote that says that when the KRRC arrived in Suakin from Egypt they wore "stained and tattered fighting kits" which indicates that they were not, in fact wearing the new uniforms (introduced in January 1884).

So, on balance, given the existence of the coloured print in Chatham (I am going to try to get hold of a reproduction of the print from the Royal Engineers Museum) which, interestingly shows all the other troops, accurately, with grey coats (as opposed to most contemporary paintings which show the red home service uniforms in a bit of artistic licence) then I think I will go for the dark green uniform.

The black, rather than green, trousers are, again, a bit of an oddity. Whilst during the Napoleonic Wars the 60th foot wore grey trousers (as opposed to the 95th's green) I can see no evidence that their trousers would have been a different colour from their jackets and indeed, later photographs of the KRRC in the Boer War show them wearing jackets and trousers of the same colour (even though it is well know that the green of their jackets was so dark as to almost look black).

The white helmet is odd but not unknown (the Royal Marines had white helmets in the Sudan) although earlier in the Zulu War the Rifles helmets were dyed khaki (with tea, usually).

I think the final decision was made for me this evening when I painted up the base colour of one of my riflemen as green. He just looks better! Of course it will be a fiddle painting the other five figures green when I have already done their black belts but the rest will just need a quick coat over the top.

Maybe now I will actually get going again.

Finally, here is my grandfather, Hadden Perceval Bowen Harris, in his King's Royal Rifle Corps uniform thirty years later. He soon got bored with all that infantry rubbish and joined the Royal Flying Corps where he learned to fly and ended up working for AVRO, after the war.