Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Victorian history of Blackadder characters... and others

The series 'Blackadder Goes Forth' contains various references to the military of the Victorian era that I thought would be fun to put into my games.

The first thing to be sorted is the early career of General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, who seems, at the time of the First World War, to be in his 50s or maybe early 60s (indeed, consulting the discussions of his medals on his wiki page, it is suggested Melchett may first have served in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879). This would put his likely date of birth around 1857-60, plenty old enough to be an officer in 1890-95, the period between the Atlantis campaign (1890-1) and 'Rivets and Whimsey' (1895). So, 'Captain Melchett' perhaps? There's somewhere to start... I had imagined that perhaps he could serve in an infantry regiment (perhaps the Trumptonshires, or maybe the Great Western Rifles), but on reflection a Guards Regiment seems a better idea - maybe one of the fictional Guards Regiments from the lists...

Edmund himself, we're told, first saw action with the 19th/45th East African Rifles, at the Battle of M'boto Gorge, in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso, actually in West Africa; perhaps the 19th/45th EAR were stationed in Nigeria) in 1892. Thus, he's too young to have served in Atlantis. In the book of scripts 'Blackadder, the Whole Damn Dynasty' however, there are hints that other Blackadders besides our WWI hero have joined the British Army; so I've hypothesised an uncle for Edmund, 'Uncle Eddy', who would be born about 1864, enlisted 1884, and at the time of the Atlantis campaign would be a Lieutenant. It is perhaps to this inspiring uncle that we can attribute the later Edmund's desire to join up and see the world.

There must of course be a Private Baldrick, born around 1865, who I decided for no really good reason should be called Thomas, known as Herbert.

I also thought it would be nice if other British sitcom characters could appear; (Lance-)Corporal Jones from 'Dad's Army', approximately 70 in 1940, would have been born around 1870 (his wiki page claims it was 1870 and he joined up as a drummer-boy in 1884), and would have been old enough to go to Atlantis - as a private, of course, he didn't make Corporal until the South African Wars, I don't think. The photo shows him in a not-very accurate parade uniform, perhaps even that of a fictional regiment... As both General Melchett and Corporal Jones display medals from their previous service, it might be fun to work out if they served in the same theatres at all...

On the piece of paper that these notes are derived from, there is also the note "unexpected Japanese attack on Poole Harbour". This probably relates to the idea of having Melchett command a company of the 'Great Western Rifles'.

Underneath that it says:
*Defence of Walmington-on-Sea?
I suspect that might be from the threat of Prussian invasion.

Hmm. Curiouser and curiouser.

(all photos in this post copywright BBC, used without permission under fair use conventions)

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