Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wellington’s veterans in the New World

As mentioned in my New Year’s resolutions, I have been planning a new project in 28mm. So here is the first step in a range of figures which I hope will be as appealing to others as the period and wars of South American Liberation are to me. In summary, perfect small scale and colourful battles from the end of the Napoleonic wars.

Straight off the boat from Britain and Ireland, this was the first of the British Legions to fight in the wars of Spain (pre-dating the British Legion of the Carlist Wars by nearly 20 years). 

These 5000 veterans of Wellington’s disbanding army were a mixture of mostly English, Scottish and Irish soldiers, who were to constitute the elite troops of Simon Bolivar’s Patriot army. They fought in all the decisive battles of the wars of Liberation in the North: starting in 1818 in Venezuela, and Colombia, and finally after 6 years of hard fighting to the decisive battles in Peru in 1824.

Simon Bolivar valued these troops highly for their grit and espirit de corps, and their graveyards and memorials are testament to their effort and sacrifice on the battlefields of South America. Needless to say they captured my imagination, and hence I set about getting them sculpted up in 28mm.

This first unit packs include a command pack, marching, advancing, and skirmishing/firing line figures, all with covered 1816 issue Prussian style British Shakos. This is more than enough to capture the variety of poses and configurations for representing this unit on the table top.

I have had some good input directly from Terry Hooker on the accuracy of the uniforms, plus reference to many period prints as well as the very useful book on the subject from Grenadier Productions. The figures themselves are compatible in scale to Perry Miniatures.

These figures will be quickly followed by Spanish and Gran Colombian/ Patriot infantry, then artillery and cavalry. The next two units of Spanish and Gran Colombian Infantry are already at an advanced stage. These will be available for sale in the very near future, and in the following days you can follow the progress of these over at the main site for Orinoco Miniatures (the name for the new range). http://orinoco-miniatures.blogspot.cz/

Certainly I am very interested to hear your feedback on these, and requests/suggestions for any particular units from the Liberation wars that you would like to see me do next. Please do pass on links to this and news of the range to your friends.


Friday, April 26, 2013

The Battle of Prague 1757

The weekend before the club made the trip to the Salute show in London, I had to drive Mrs.Goose out to a retail outlet on the east of Prague. Now a lot of this area is grim, with one or two industrial estates and a very large incinerator (which for navigation purposes can more or less be easily seen from most points in the city).
There are though some untouched open areas on the site of the main Prussian attack during the battle of Prague, which are situated in the Sterboholy district (this would be Sterbohol in any of the old Austrian maps of the battle).

Battle of Prague, 6 May 1757 - Attempted envelopment. 
Source : The Department of History, United States Military Academy

Sterboholy is at the southern end of a low rise/hill that runs south for a couple of kilometres from Malesice (Maleschitz) . It was on the line of this that Browne relocated the right wing of his army to face the Prussian flanking manoeuvre by the General von Schwerin.
Here is a view from the Austrian positions on higher ground overlooking the plain on which the Prussians approached.
The old story goes that von Schwerin mistook the green landscape in this district for meadows, when in fact the area was a patchwork of drained fish ponds, water meadows and streams. As the Prussians ploughed through the fields they quickly became bogged down in the mud, whilst the Austrians surveying the scene from drier heights opened up a murderous artillery barrage upon them. 

Here are the water meadows passed over by the Prussians when attacking the Austrian position
 The Prussians would have attacked from right to left in these pictures
As you can see the fields are still drained by numerous stream beds, and often flood after heavy rain.

It was during this point that von Schwerin was hit by a cannonball and killed outright.

Memorial to General von Schwerin on the battlefield at Steboholy

If the Austrians had held their ground here they would have won the day. They held the commanding grounds, with well-placed artillery and secure flanks. Unfortunately for them, around the same time as von Schwerin’s death, General von Brown (this blogs patron) was mortally wounded and carried back into to Prague (to die from his wounds days later)
The memorial to von Browne on the battlefield
With effective command passed to junior officers, the Austrians decided to attack the weakened Prussians, but in doing so opened up both their flanks. The Prussian brigades under General Bevern saw the opportunity and poured infantry through the gap on their left flank to the north, while the Prussian cavalry under von Ziethen did the same to their south. Their flanks turned and with the Prussians pushing at them again form the centre, the Austrians crumbled and fell back within the walls of Prague.

 The Prussians attacked up the rising ground here towards the Austrians (roughly in the direction of the chimney in this photo)
Above you can see the ground the Prussians marched over coming from Dolni Pocernice (Unter Pocernitz)

Though the Prussians won the day (just), they did not have enough troops left to storm the city, and their now depleted numbers would be completely routed the following month at the Battle of Kolin by General Daun (a post I promise in the coming months once I get a chance to drive back out to Kolin to take some pictures). This more or less put paid to Frederick the Great's attempt to snatch Bohemia away from the Austrians, as he had done with Silesia. For the rest of the Seven Year's war the Prussians were on the defensive, and it was only the inability of the Austrians and Russians to effectively cooperate in the east which saved Prussia.

Today there is a small memorial to the fallen of the battle on the site of the main Prussian attack, the fields around full of horse paddocks.

You can get here easily by bus from the last metro station on the green line, though a car is obviously better.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda"...


Royal Dublin Fusiliers at Gallipoli

A short post as way of remembrance on ANZAC Day for all the Aussies and Kiwis who fought and survived, or died in many wars. It is the memory of the Gallipoli campaign which automatically springs to mind, where the ANZACs pitted themselves against "Johnny Turk" in a misjudged campaign as bloody and pointless as it was iconic.

Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers landing on the beaches at Gallipoli, 25th. April 1915. 

It also has some resonance in Ireland, as along with the ANZACs fought the 10th (Irish) Division), including two battalions of the Royal Munster Fusilier's (mostly from my home town of Cork), and also included regiments from Ulster, Leinster and Connacht. They landed and fought at Suvla Bay, and the disarmingly named "Chocolate Hill".

The Munster Fusiliers received almost 70% casualties on 25th April 1915, as they were landed on Cape Helles under a hail of Turkish machine gun fire. Those that survived, or landed later, shared the Anzac's privations, clinging to the rocks at the end of the Dardenelles, and as an old Irish song (The Foggy Dew) laments "and their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves or the fringe of the great North Sea"

My family have a closer connection to the ANZACs as well, my Grandmother's cousin (so I suppose my cousin too), was the middle-aged parish priest of Osborne Park, Perth in 1941 when war with Japan started.

As most of the lads in his parish joined up, he thought he should go with his flock, so enlisted as well at the tender age of 46 as an Army Chaplain. He was first generation Irish born in Hobart, his father having served in the Australian artillery in WW1

Typical of the cliche about the crazy Irish combat chaplains, he survived the war, though I am sure many of his flock did not. One story about him recounted that the closest he got to his maker during the campaign was when he was running up some hill in Papua New Guinea, a nervous recruit behind him slipped and fell and his gun went off, the bullet grazing the top of his ear. It might even be true. Anyway, this fine chap, at the grand age of 67 jumped on a boat in Australia in 1961, and sailed for 6 weeks all the way to Cork just to marry my young parents, which gives a bit of light after all the loss of war.

Given the day I think it fitting to end with Ataturk's compassionate memorial quote for the war dead at Gallipoli:

 "Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Salute 2013

Bloody Lobsters again!

After a 2 year hiatus, an expanded squad from the Prague Wargamers Club reached the shores of Salute. Through an orgy of frenzied shoppers, I managed to sneak in a few snaps of some nice games indeed. Details can be found at length in all the other blogs written about the day (I'm sure I'll eventually work out who put on what games).

The social highlight of the day was of course meeting up with fellow bloggers, and it was especially nice to meet "Sidney" (Roundwood's World), Fran (The Angry Lurker) and Ray "Sand bags" Rousell (Don't Throw a 1), as well as other members of Posties Rejects and many other bloggers (there were a lot at the meet). Again, I can't emphasize enough how many of my favourite bloggers have been a great inspiration for getting in to new periods, and getting on with painting the lead. I think blogging in general has been a real boost for the hobby.

Anyway, first up in the nice games sweepstakes was this impressive Peninsular War scenario in 54mm game put on by Victrix. It seems that 54mm (or even 40mm) is the new 28mm, whatever that means; it's a bit like 'black is the new yellow...' Very nice display, though gaming in this scale requires the prior purchase of a large mansion, with attached stables and gaming hall...

There was, as with my last visit in 2011, a Very British Civil War display game. Now this is all very silly/alternative history stuff, but very nicely presented . Still, all I could think of when looking at it was "the Trumpton Riots...." (who remembers that song ;-)

One of the 2 or 3 games which I thought upped the standard on the day was the 40mm Alamo game put on by Gringo 40's. Great terrain and buildings, and the same high standard with the figures. The Alamo church itself was spot on (I should know as I've stood in the original).

One of a number of American Civil War games on the day. This one was notable as the terrain of Little Round Top looked quite nice.

A very large World War 2 display game based in Normandy 1944. The details of the town were the winner here, as was some of the scenery, especially the river. Unfortunately WW2 tanks and figures are not actually that appealing to look at for me (damn that camouflage, give some redcoats anytime).


The other big winner of the day was the enormous Waterloo game. When I walked towards this thing (for how else could one describe such a spectacle), I thought "well, that looks like an interesting 15mm display." Oh, how wrong; the table was stuffed to the gills with nicely painted 28mm figures, thousands of the little devils. Now more than a few were still in stovepipe shakos, but this is easy to forgive when you appreciate the full game, along with accurate models of the two farms. No surprise really that it was the show winner (or so I have been told).



The wee Corsican himself handing out a few cooking tips...

In terms of the other game that had a touch of the "wow" factor, it had to be the siege/battle in Medieval Japan put on by Oshiro Model Terrain. Not crowded with figures as the Waterloo game, but full of a nicely created Japanese town.

The other game that caught my eye was a nice quirky game around the siege of Troy, put on by the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp. Again, a very nice display game, and the members from the Antwerp club a truly a nice and friendly bunch of people; top marks!

Where's Helen???

As the frenzied shopping showed no signs of abating, I joined in, and left for Prague, bag stuffed with some nice Front Rank reinforcements and a stack of Perry Plastic Austrians for our upcoming Austerlitz game, some Monmouth Rebels from Reiver castings to double as Vendee Rebels, French Consular Guard from Trent Miniatures, British Napoleonic Royal Marines from Grubby Tanks/Britannia, and that lovely 28mm Dutch windmill and some bridges from Grand Manner. New Perry Plastic AWI British and Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors soaked up the last few Shekels.

Salute is also great for books and rules and general inspiration for projects beyond the current lead mountains, so purchases below have them lined up for me. The next three for end year, start of next, are below (though they will most likely keep me going through all of 2014), wish me luck...: