Sunday, 3 January 2021

Some British Cavalry

These chaps started out as some Perry Plastic American Civil War Cavalry (link to the Perrys' shop here). They're nice sculpts, of course, because they're Perrys', and easy enough to work with, but they are only 4 to a sprue (you get 3 sprues in a box) and they come with head, body, legs and left arm all as a piece so 'out of the box' there's not much variation going on. You can add different hats (the sprues come with slouch hats and those little caps that might be called kepis or might be forage caps but what do I know?) and right arms (a selection of right arms is provided so you can give your cavalry swords, pistols or a few other options - there's a bugle-arm and an open hand for holding a banner pole) but that's it.

Here comes the Cavalry... I shall have to look at the lists of Fictional British Army Regiments but an early contender is (Prince Rupert's Own) 43rd Regiment of Horse. Mainly because it's the only fictional cavalry regiment I can recall off-hand. 

We all know by now that if you have a red coat and  Pith Helmet you must be British, so I painted their jackets red and stole a dozen Pith Helmets from some some Wargames Factory Zulu Wars British Firing Line troops (no link as it seems these don't even exist any more) that I have lying about. I also tried swapping some arms but the Perrys' are a bit smaller so it wouldn't be possible. The uniforms are also different but I wouldn't have cared - I'd paint over any details that didn't fit anyway. The cavalry minis have plain sleeves and the infantry minis are sculpted with a kind of pointed cuff surrounded by some curlicue like the following image:

British Infantryman, Anglo-Zulu War, c.1879 - don't know the source as I found it on Pinterest and can't read the signature, sorry. It may say 'Girard '69'. It may not.

Anyway, the majority of my British Infantry look something like this (but with white Pith Helmets, and also blue rather than green cuffs, as they're the 'Royal North Surrey Regiment', and 'royal' regiments had blue cuffs). Had the two sets of arms been compatible sizes I'd have maybe had to scratch off the cuff detailing for the cavalry, and paint something suitable for the infantry - but it was not to be, the arms were too different in scale.

So, back to the cavalry. I gave them red jackets and painted a white band around their cuffs - what I think are referred to as 'jampot' cuffs. I painted the troopers' helmets khaki and left the officer's white. Though the uniforms are ahistorical I don't really care - they're close enough for my purposes as generic 'British' cavalry of the broad period 1870-1885.

I have an Officer (white hat and sword), I painted a Sergeant's stripes on the arms of a chap with a pistol, I gave one a bugle and another a staff for some kind of unit flag (these last two options are included on every frame). There are 6 regular troopers here, most with unsheathed swords, but one with a pistol.

At the back are two chaps who don't, as yet, have right arms. What I'd like to do is give these two VSF-y weapons - preferably, something that can be used as a lightning gun or galvanic projector (or what might be called, in a sci-fi context, a 'laser-rifle'). My plan at the moment is to use the two spare arms for holding the unused banner-poles. These are open-handed right arms supplied one per frame.

The two chaps who will hold the Lightning Guns, to my broken old eyes anyway, somewhat resemble Christopher Plummer and Sean Connery. 

Two of the cavalrymen, destined for life as Galvanic Dragoons, probably. Sorry about the terrible picture, I'll try to get a better one...

This I think will be enough to give the unit a bit of VSF clout, but also allow me to field 10 perfectly normal British cavalry if necessary. However, what I don't yet have is the Lightning Guns. I shall have to try to bodge something together as I did with my UNIT force (whose Sergeant Benton carries a peculiar device constructed from bits of sprue). However if I can find a source for something suitably laser-rifle-y, perhaps I can use that instead.

Of course I also need to fix up the flag for the flagpole. Maybe it's time to flesh out the early history (and iconography) of (Prince Rupert's Own) 43rd Regiment of Horse...

Whoever I decide these chaps are, I guess I'll be statting them up for GASLIGHT and IHMN.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Back to the Future 2, I suppose


A few pics - not very good ones I'm afraid - of some Terminators (WIP) for the slowly-moving co-operative project at Lead Adventure Forum, the Legion of Lead (mentioned in this post earlier this year).

The idea is, most of us have some Space Marines lying around somewhere and if we build a SM Chapter co-operatively, we can all add a little and make something big. So, I've donated some un-needed Termies to the project (I've got an Ultramarine army, and these guys have Dark Angel iconography, so I figured I could re-puropse them). It's really not a great shot and you can't see the bit I'm proudest of - my freehand Chapter Icons are, if I say so myself, "not terrible" and that's something, coming from me. I wish I were better at painting but dodgy eyes and shaky hands do not a great painter make.

Veteran Brothers of the Legion of Lead
I plan on adding a few more to this crew, at least as long as my pale green and dark olive  paints last out. My eldest (Orc not-so-Minimus-any-more) gave me some paints for Christmas so I've got a decent 'leaden' paint now... I hope I can get on with these and add a few more Tactical Marines and maybe Scouts to the mix. Maybe I'll even be able to use them in a game!

Saturday, 25 July 2020

More flaggy goodness (but no pics yet)

In possibly the greatest news about anything that has ever happened (possibly a slight exaggeration) Scrontch's Flag Designer (link) has had an upgrade and now has some new symbols.

A hammer-and-sickle, skull-and-crossbones, clenched fist, lion rampant, dove and bull's head 'charges' (as I believe they are called) have now been added to the set.

This opens up more flaggy possibilities, especially for socialist factions for VBCW (pretty obviously) but also I would think for more general military and heraldic purposes. A long time ago, for instance, I mentioned Captain Cadman and the 'Fighting 43rd' Regiment (here and here... 10 years I've been going on about this now!), and how my kids (who are now grown up, Orc Minimus is now 22 and living in a different city with his fiance; Orc Minissimus (Minunculus?) is celebrating his 18th birthday today) were members of the 43rd Leicester Scout Troop ... this lead me to a consideration of the 43rd (Prince Rupert's) Regiment of Horse and its potential heraldry.

I will no doubt be experimenting with various new designs. In the meantime, just letting you know about this momentous occasion!

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Back to the Future

I don't really have anywhere to post about 40K. This blog was originally about VSF, then some VBCW crept in, and just Imagi-nations stuff in general. So this is probably the place for it. But I may as well admit that this blog is just 'everything that isn't Sword'n'Sorcery'.

I haven't been visiting LAF (link) much lately. I haven't been painting, I haven't been playing, I've just been messing about with flags and alternative histories. I have at least 3 unplayed games lying about (GASLIGHT and In Her Majesty's Name for VSF, Setting the East Ablaze for Back of Beyond) that I'd like to take for a spin but I just don't get round to it.

What I have done recently is get the paints down again and do some work on the piles of lead, pewter and plastic in the loft. This has lead to me actually completing my Space Marine Battle Company (at least, as near as damn it). I have painted six Tactical Squads of Ultramarines (with some alternative Sergeants and special/heavy weapons troopers should I want to take Plasma Guns or Heavy Bolters in lieu of Flamers and Missile Launchers); 2 Devastator Squads (I had to bodge a Missile Launcher Marine with some wonky parts and some broken guitar string); and one Assault Squad (the other Assault Squad is waiting on having its ammo pouches and holsters painted brown - the last thing I have to do for the 100 battle-brothers of the 2nd Company of Ultramarines). I still need to finish a Command Squad and I don't have eight Rhino transports for them but I've done all the troops and that gives me a certain satisfaction. As 9th Edition is being released now, and as I started this during 4th Edition, it has taken me a while, and probably the army is unplayable (I gather there are now Super-Marines now called 'Primaris' Marines but I don't know anything about them, except they're 'better'), but ho-hum.

I rewarded myself with a visit to the LAF and found something that I had missed on many of my last visits. About three years ago, some of the lunatics over there decided to co-operatively build a Space Marine Chapter (link here). This would have colouring and iconography derived from the forum - the Chapter's colours would be based on those of the forum and the Chapter Icon has been taken from the artwork on the forum. The letters 'LAF', possibly in Greek form (lambda alpha phi, λ α φ ) would also form part of the Chapter's iconography in some way.

I love co-operative world-building. I'm always trying to do it, whether that's the Atlantis Campaign I was involved in, or the as-yet unsuccessful attempt to run a Ruritania Campaign. Over on my fantasy blog I've attempted to get involved in a variety of co-operative world-building ventures and even tried to start some.

So, a co-operatively-built Space Marine Chapter is right up my alley. I still have a few random Marines knocking about from my many ebay purchases building the Battle Company over the last 15 years or so, so I plan on donating a few to the cause and painting them up as members of the Lead Legion, a Chapter hailing from the Lead Mountains of Attica. Here's my take on the painting scheme anyway, with a little excerpt from the forum pages to hopefully show how the colours relate.

Space Marine originally from the Bolter and Chainsword Space Marine Painter, here -

I've simplified the Chapter Icon even further than the proposed version on the LAF thread. I really hope there are some transfers still in existence, because I don't fancy painting that 10 or 20 times if I don't have to. I might be able to paint a white circle to put the transfer over though!

This will I hope keep any further itch to paint Space Marines satisfied, for a little while at least.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

More on my current favourite British Regiment

Before anything else, I have to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to the Morse, Lewis and Endeavour blog and particularly the information pertaining to Season 5, Episode 4, here, without which I wouldn't have been able to spot the reference to 'Hi-De-Hi', or identify the painting.

So, watching Endeavour again... the episode (called 'Colours') where Morse has to solve a murder on an army base - the Cowley Barracks of the South Oxfordshire Regiment, where Sam Thursday, son of Morse's superior DI Fred Thursday, is a soldier. The background is that the regiment is being both amalgamated and transferred from Oxford to Germany; one of the motifs of the episode is of loss, symbolised here by the literal end of an era.

It's a very densely-textured episode, featuring as it does references to Roderick Spode and Everard Webley (their potential connections to the Very British Civil War are outlined here), along with vaguer allusions to Lady Penelope from Thunderbirds, as well as references to It Ain't Half Hot, Mum, The Likely Lads, and Hi-De-Hi. There are also thinly-disguised versions of Unity Mitford (AKA Charity Mudford) and Malcolm X (AKA Marcus X).

But it's the South Oxfordshires that I'm interested in at the moment. There are... problems... with the military history as presented in the show. What we know is that the regiment has a long history. The episode is called 'Colours' and though there are at least two potential strands or themes of the narrative that are being referred to in the title, the most obvious is a reference to the Regimental Colours. There is an early shot of Colonel MacDuff (known as 'Mac'), one of the officers, looking at the Regimental Colours. The shot shows battle honours including Waterloo, Kabul, Mons, Somme, Djebel Djaffa Pass, Medjez Plain, Longstop Hill. We can't see all of the flag and at no point do we see other honours, though generally we'd expect a similarly-sized list (six-eight items, with perhaps more elsewhere) in the corresponding portion of the the flag that we don't see.

Still from the episode, taken from
These honours and the years in which the battles were fought can be determined as follows (I'm assuming that the named battles are all the 'known' battles of that name, and there isn't an unknown Battle of Waterloo in WWI, a Battle of Mons in the Napoleonic Wars or anything like):

Waterloo – June 1815
Kabul - (could be any of several battles)
Mons – August 1914
Somme – July-November 1916
Djebel Djaffa Pass, Medjez Plain, Longstop Hill – April-May 1943

The illustration below is actually from from the 24th Foot (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment, and shows in general terms what might be expected on a Regimental Colour flag of an Infantry Regiment in the British Army. Here, the battle-honours are paired across the halves of the flag with a device in the middle and we can therefore assume on the South Oxfordshires' Regimental Colours, some similar layout is in place. The flag of the South Oxfordshires seems to me to be dark blue rather than green (though it is not entirely clear). Different regiments had different traditional coloured flags and this is normal variation one might expect to find, though in general, only regiments with 'Royal' in the title were supposed to use blue.

Regimental Colours of the 24th Foot (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment, from

Other statements in the episode show that the South Oxfordshire Regiment also fought in the Korean War, 1950-53.

On climbing a grand staircase in the main building, Morse is involved in a conversation with a historian, Dr Laidlaw, who is researching the history of the regiment. Morse passes a painting on the stairs. Dr Laidlaw says it shows "Drummer Hawkins, the boy who saved the Colours at Mboto Gorge". The painting itself was created for the show by excerpting a piece of a painting of the Battle of Isandlwana (sometimes the name is spelled Isandhlwana), fought in South Africa in 1879.

Battle of Isandhlwana by  by Charles Edwin Fripp,  link -
This painting, and Dr Laidlaw's explanation of it, unfortunately create more problems than they answer.

Let's start, as many things do, with the Battle of Mboto Gorge.

This is a battle first mentioned in Blackadder Goes Forth. In it, Edmund, then with the 19/45th East African Rifles, saves the life of Douglas Haig, later commander of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War.

This imposes a certain structure on when the Battle of M'Boto Gorge can have been fought. According to the scripts, Blackadder and Haig haven't seen each other since (in Blackadder's words): "'92, sir. Mboto Gorge". Captain Darling asks if the Mboto Gorge was "...when we massacred the peace-loving pygmies of Upper Volta and stole all their fruit?" (the original has the typo 'pigmies' here). Blackadder's reply is "No - totally different Mboto Gorge" but his (and General Haig's) later references to pygmies and fruit salad demonstrate that this is just defection on Blackadder's part; it is the same Mboto Gorge. This accords relatively well with what we see of Blackadder, and his other statements that he spent his early career fighting "colonial wars", and "Fifteen years of military experience perfecting the art of ordering a pink gin and saying 'do you do it doggy doggy?' in Swaheli...". So, the likelihood is Blackadder spent a lot of time in Africa. He served, apparently, with the 19/45th East African Rifles. Due to frequent references to Sudan, we can also speculate that Blackadder was there, during or after the Mahdist War there (a sprawling series of conflicts lasting from 1881-99). We know (from real history) that Haig also served in Sudan, and (because he says so) Melchett was also there.

According to the Blackadder Wiki, this Edmund was born in 1871, and joined the army in 1886, and the Battle of Mboto Gorge took place in 1890 (link), though why they have information that contradicts the scripts is unclear - I'm following the scripts on this one, as the primary source (even if the narrators are somewhat unreliable). But I would think the general lines are pretty well established. Blackadder should be born around 1871 (probably not more than a couple of years either way) because in 1917 he shouldn't be more than 50 and preferably somewhat less. However, he must have been a soldier by 1892, by his own admission, and must (independently) have had a career of around 15 years prior to 1914. So, perhaps, his career should be reconstructed as something like 1892-1907, in Upper Volta, Sudan, and British East Africa, followed perhaps by retirement from the army and being called up again in 1914.

All well and good. General Haig's real career doesn't include being in Africa in 1892. He joined the army in 1885, and was posted to India the following year with the 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars. He did not return from India until November 1892, and then came back to England. But he was at least in the army at the right time.

But here's the rub of it all. The painting, purportedly of a battle fought in 1892, shows British soldiers in red coats. There is a young drummer who 'saves the Colours'. None of this can really stand, for various reasons.

The biggest problem is that in 1892 (or even 1890, if the Blackadder Wiki is to be believed), British soldiers didn't wear read coats on campaign. The last battle fought by the British in red coats was the Battle of Gennis (or Ginnis) in the Sudan, fought on 30 December 1885. This was less than a year after Haig joined the army, and before he had been given an overseas posting. In  short, Haig cannot have been at a battle where British soldiers wore red coats. By using an illustration of battle of 1879 to stand for a battle of 1892, the show ignores the fact that in the intervening 13 years the British army had gone over completely to khaki uniforms.

Also, Isandlwana itself was the last engagement at which boy-drummers served (though the youngest drummer killed at Isandlwana was 18; apparently a 16-year-old drummer was also present, but no 'boy' drummer as pictured in the painting - he looks about 12). So the idea of a young boy saving the regiment's Colours in 1892 is unfeasible.

Finally, British regiments ceased carrying Colours into battle after the Battle of Majuba Hill (South Africa) in 1881. The practice was unofficially reinstated in China 1900-01 during the Boxer Rebellion, in the context of a large multinational force (British, Japanese, Russian, French, American and German troops all served there) when identification of units was difficult; also, it was decided that hanging flags on gates or other captured positions was prudent, to identify locations taken by the allies in order to prevent other allied units assaulting the same positions.

So, while at Isandlwana a red-coated drummer boy might be in a position to save the Colours (though there were no boy drummers at Isandlwana), the next year there were no boy drummers at all, two years later, there would be no Colours to save, and within seven years the only red coats were for parade-use. So a red-coated "boy who saved the Colours at Mboto Gorge" could only make sense if the Battle of Mboto Gorge was fought before 1880 - which we know it wasn't. As Dr Laidlaw is writing a history of the regiment, it's unlikely this was a slip of the tongue - though perhaps it was. Perhaps Drummer Hawkins saved the Colours at an earlier battle, and then went on to serve with the regiment for some time and fought at Mboto Gorge. But this looks like special pleading. The only alternative was there were two battles of Mboto Gorge, one around 1877 (with red coats, young Drummers, and Regimental Colours) and another, 15 years later, in khaki uniforms, with no boy Drummers, and no Regimental Colours, during which Blackadder saved Haig. But this too is unsatisfactory. Perhaps it is easier to assume that the Battle of Mboto Gorge was not where Drummer Hawkins saved the Colours, but this was instead a battle with red coats, drummer-boys and Regimental Colours, some 15-ish years earlier.

A very minor problem (because the colours, or even Colours, are difficult to distinguish) is that the Regimental Colours seem to be on a blue flag. It has already been mentioned that this is generally a feature of 'Royal' regiments, and no such designation is given to the South Oxfords. It is not, however, an insurmountable problem. Many regiments, forced to change the colours of their flags and cuffs after standardisation measures were introduced, later petitioned to return to their traditional regimental colours. Perhaps the (non-Royal) South Oxfords were allowed to retain a traditional blue. So, that isn't an overwhelming problem. But, in the portrait of Drummer Hawkins, we can just about make out that the cuffs of the soldiers standing near him are green. On the Isandlwana painting, the Colours flying in the background are also green (the Colours themselves are difficult to make out in the excerpted painting on the shadowy staircase - they could be blue or green). So... as far as we can tell, Colours and Cuffs don't match. This is not right - if the flag is actually blue, the cuffs of the soldiers in their red tunics should also be blue (whether or not the South Oxfordshires are a Royal regiment). If they are green, then the flag should also be green. However, at this stage, green cuffs were associated with Irish regiments. This is not again an insurmountable problem: the same argument could apply as for traditional green as for traditional blue. The 2/24th, whose Regimental colours I showed above, and was the regiment that actually fought at Isandlwana, used green cuffs and green Colours, without being an Irish regiment. What can't stand is blue Colours and green cuffs. It must be one or the other. But perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill here. I'm not 100% certain the Colours that Mac looks at aren't dark green after all. Just 67% certain. I will have to watch the episode once more, just to be sure...

One last thing. Throughout this post, I've referred to the South Oxfordshire Regiment, as that's what it's called in the programme. In previous posts referring to this episode (here, here and here) I've called it the South Oxfordshire Light Infantry Regiment. There is a reason for my assumption that the South Oxfordhire Regiment is a Light Infantry Regiment. Their cap-badge, which includes a hunting-horn type emblem, is that of a Light Infantry Regiment, reminiscent of, among others, the Durham Light Infantry (DLI).

Still from the show, taken from
The badge is visible on the Colonel's shoulder, as well as on Sgt Major (or is he a Colour Sergeant? I think perhaps he is) Davies' beret. It's also somewhat visible on the shot of the Colours as Mac looks at them at the beginning of the episode.

As such, I can't see that it could be anything other than a Light Infantry regiment. In 1968 - the year this series of Endeavour is set - several LI regiments, including the DLI, were amalgamated to form The Light Infantry, following the recommendations of the Defence White Paper of 1966, and this amalgamation is at least in the background of the episode, providing a sort of wistful and melancholy feel to proceedings.

Durham Light Infantry badge from
A comparison of the device on the Regimental Colours (the first picture in this post) with the badge of the DLI I think demonstrates that the badge has been copied quite closely, with the letters 'SO' in place of 'DLI', and the crown swapped for one more similar to that on the 2/24th Regiment Colours. It is also visible on a board outside the regimental headquarters, but I don't have a shot of that.

However - as I say, the regiment is never at any point referred to as a 'Light Infantry' regiment. For my purposes, I will assume it is, as I try to take up Dr Laidlaw's task of elucidating the history of the regiment, from the Napoleonic Wars to its amalgamation in 1968.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Oh, the Ruritanity...!

I'm re-reading Rupert of Hentzau (RoH) and making notes on things that seem appropriate.

On the general topic of uniforms in Ruritania, there are a few references, but with little detail. In Prisoner of Zenda (PoZ), we know that Rudolf Rassendyll wore the white uniform of the regiment of Cuirassiers, and that Fritz was similarly attired later. This is about the only direct information we have as to uniforms in PoZ (except to the odd reference to individual items of clothing such as caps or jackets, without giving further detail). I have written a little on the subject of Ruritanian uniforms before, most recently in talking about Cuirassiers here a few months ago.

Slightly later painting of Nicholas II of Russia in Cuirassier uniform -

Painting of French Cuirassiers, 1887, approximately contemporary with events of PoZ and RoH as I reconstruct the timeline - source:
The first reference to uniforms in RoH is that, when Colonel Sapt, as Constable of Zenda, turns out the company of Guards garrisoned at the castle (p.79), they are described as having "gay uniforms" that might make the women employed at the castle forget about their menfolk (p.83). Hope could have called the uniforms 'sober' or 'sombre' or 'dull', 'dashing', or any number of other adjectives. I'd contend that by "gay", he was trying to suggest bright, colourful, showy and maybe a bit frivolous. They aren't I think 'serious' uniforms. There is no other detail, but it does rather speak to my contention that uniforms in Ruritania should be chocolate-boxey, colourful rather than particularly practical.

It is not clear whether they are foot guards or horse guards. I don't have any miniatures for Ruritanian Guards (foot or mounted). I should possibly get some, at some point. If and when I do, I shall try to remember that their uniforms need to be 'gay'. What I think at the moment is that if they are indeed foot guards, they will not be in yellow (this will be the standard colour for Line Infantry), purple (which I intend to use for Artillery), pale blue (the tunic-colour for my Hussars), dark green (which I will probably end up using for a Jaeger regiment) or white (Cuirassiers). Perhaps pale green jackets (the one colour I definitely want to stay away from is red, because red tunics look British to me, even if they people in them are Danes... who also wore red tunics). What kind of miniatures I will purchase, I don't know, but Northstar (who have some great choices for minis of 1850-1900) do Danish Life Guards ('Livgarde' - infantry here and command figures here) that might serve. They wear bearskins (like British Guards, but with prominent crown badges) and greatcoats. They might make excellent Ruritanian Royal Guards. However, other Guards units are available - Ironclad's Grenadier Guards are pretty fine (infantry here and command figures here) and, if painted in some very different colours, might not look so British.

The second reference, that occurs twice, is to the uniforms of the huntsmen of Zenda. "One of them, the King's chief huntsman, Simon, gorgeous in his uniform of green and gold..." (p.99) delivers a message from the King to Sapt and the Queen. The context, and the fact that Hope does not capitalise 'huntsmen', unlike the 'Guard' at Zenda, is because they are as they seem - liveried servants, actual huntsmen, not for example Jägers. Later (p.216), Simon is again described, with a companion, as wearing "... the green and gold of the King's huntsmen". So we can conclude that this was a 'uniform' in the strict sense of a livery worn by all the huntsmen, rather than being a specific set of official clothing for Simon, as 'chief' huntsman. Again, though green is a perfectly practical colour for huntsmen, gold is not, so it may be suspected that the huntsmen were also decked out in slightly showy dress uniforms.

Though I've just said that these are real huntsmen and not part of a regiment of Jaegers, there's no reason not to posit a unit of 'Jägers of Zenda' or even 'King's Jägers', with a uniform of (probably dark) green, perhaps with gold frogging (or as it's called in German, ,,Husarentressen'', Hussar-bindings, a very Ruritanian word I feel). From the very beginning of the project to build some Ruritanian units, I have intended to have Jägers. They're a quintessentially ,,Mitteleuropa'' unit I think. However, I'm not going to find heavily-frogged Jäger miniatures, Austrian or Prussian, from either Northstar or Ironclad, as by the latter half of the 19th century frogging was not so much in evidence. For my purposes, I think I'll go with Prussian Jägers, though the Austrian ones do have natty hats (here). The 'gold' will then have to be accessories I think - cap-badges and the like (the Prussian Jägers wear shakos - some Ironclad here and some Northstar here). It's likely that I'll be able to find more VSF choice with the Prussian Jägers. I know for sure that Northstar do some zombie Jäger models (here) and generally I think the chances are higher with Prussians of being able to pick up VSF equivalents.

Later, we learn some details of the uniform of Bernenstein. On the steps of the royal palace, he waves his "helmet" (p.264) while whipping a crowd into a chant of "God save the King!", and later that night comes a reference to his "heavy cavalry sword that belonged to his uniform of Cuirassiers of the Guard" (p. 297). This unit, I think we can assume, is the same as the Cuirassier unit whose white uniform Rudolf and Fritz wore in PoZ, and which is later referred to as being worn by Rudolf - "the white uniform in which he had been crowned" (p. 303). If the identification of the two Cuirassier units is accepted, then we know that they are a white-uniformed unit of horse guards.

I'm therefore sure that Rudolf, Fritz and Bernenstein are all at various times dressed in the white uniforms of 'Cuirassiers of the Guard', and I will definitely get some of those at some point, possibly from Northstar but I would definitely prefer my cuirassiers to wear a breastplate (as it's my understanding that this what makes them cuirassiers).

The only other mention of uniforms I can find in RoH concerns the police in Strelsau. Here, Rudolf notes, on encountering a mounted policeman, that "...the star on his collar and the lace on his cuff..."  marked him out as a sergeant (p. 159). It is not at all certain that these rank badges apply to anything other than the mounted police in Strelsau; Rudolf may know them from his previous visit when he spent some months there. But it is more likely that these badges pertain to all police (foot and mounted) for the whole country, and it may be that these rank markers apply to the army too, so a sergeant is perhaps marked out by (for example) three bands of braid or cord on his cuff and a star on his collar, or some such. This needs further consideration I think.

Anyway, the list of current and projected (ie, ones I have minis for and ones I want to buy minis for!) units for my Ruritanian army is:

Line Infantry - Northstar and Ironclad Prussian infantry, Westwind Zendarians: Yellow tunics, black trousers; ensign: gold eagle on black.
Hussars - Northstar Prussian Hussars (these I think should perhaps be 'Queen Flavia's Own'): Pale blue tunics, maybe blue trousers: ensign: red rose on gold.
Artillery - Northstar Prussian Artillery: Purple tunics, black trousers. I haven't decided on an ensign yet, possibly a crown (they may be 'royal' artillery), possibly gold on black, but I shall check the crew to make sure they don't have any badges (thinking about it, they may have eagles, in which case I shall have to make them some other colour than gold eagle on black, maybe black eagle on white).
Cuirassiers of the Guard - haven't decided which models yet, I really want breastplates. White tunics and trousers; ensign: as yet undecided.
Foot Guard - probably Grenadier Guard models, maybe from Ironclad. No decision on the tunic-colour yet but possibly pale green, as I'm running out of options; they may have a castle on their ensign as they could possibly be actual 'Zendarian' guard (as opposed to Strelsau or Modenstein or Hentzau or any other location, or the 'King's Guard' or anything else).
Jägers - probably Ironclad and Northstar Prussian Jäger models: dark green tunics with gold trim (possibly, yellow trousers); ensign: will depend on whether they have eagle badges, if so gold eagle on dark green looks about right.

The units I don't have are the ones based on things from the books. The units I do have are based on nothing. This is not really how this should work! The actual 'historically-attested' units will probably have to wait until I sort out the existing line infantry, Hussars and artillery I already have in my lead mountain. Only then will I get on to the units that we can be fairly sure (perhaps not the Jägers to be fair) actually existed in the Ruritania of Rudolf and his companions.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Return to Zenda (again...)

Sadly I have to report a crime - against history no less. A chunk of the Wikipedia entry on Ruritania has been removed. I shall of course argue for it to be re-instated, as soon as I can remember what my Wikipedia log-in details are.

The section removed is as follows:

Hope depicts Ruritania as a German-speaking, Roman Catholic country under an absolute monarchy, with deep social, but not ethnic, divisions reflected in the conflicts of the first novel.

Geographically, it is usually considered to be located between Saxony and Bohemia; the author indicates that the capital city, Strelsau, is reached by railway from Dresden. The distance and direction are not clearly stated, but to reach Strelsau from Paris the hero must pass through Dresden then cross the border and travel some 60 miles to the capital. It is probable that Hope had Prague in mind for Strelsau, described in the novel as second only to Paris in terms of desirability for an ambassadorship. In The Heart of Princess Osra, set in the 18th century, Hope refers to a palace "which stood...where the public gardens now are (for the Palace itself was sacked and burnt by the people in the rising of 1848)". In this novel, it emerges in passing that Jews were not then allowed to hold an interest in land in the capital.

Other, more recent authors have created homages set in Ruritania, such as Simon Hawke's science fiction re-working The Zenda Vendetta (Time Wars Book 4) (1985), John Spurling's After Zenda (1995) and John Haythorne's The Strelsau Dimension (1981).

Neither Hawke nor Spurling adheres to the Hope canon; their works show influences from the film adaptations. Hawke relocates Ruritania to the Balkans, and makes it smaller and more socially cohesive; Spurling, who places the country in the Carpathians, thus hinting at its being in fact the former Habsburg province of Transylvania—today part of Romania—introduces ethnic and linguistic divisions; Haythorne puts Ruritania on the Northern side of Czechoslovakia to Spurling's setting, in approximately the same location as Hope's original.

Hope's novels resulted in "Ruritania" becoming a generic term for any small, imaginary, Victorian or Edwardian Era, European kingdom used as the setting for romance, intrigue and the plots of adventure novels. It lent its name to a whole genre of writing, the Ruritanian romance, including the Graustark novels by George Barr McCutcheon. An early reference in a non-canonical story is the mention in "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client", a Sherlock Holmes short story from 1924, of an ocean liner named the Ruritania. In Evelyn Waugh's 1930 comedic novel Vile Bodies, one character is a deposed and maudlin "ex-King of Ruritania"; he is presumably the same figure who appears in several witty P. G. Wodehouse stories, mostly as the doorman of Barribault's Hotel.

Later authors develop the idea further. Ruritania inspired other fictional countries, such as Ixania in Eric Ambler's The Dark Frontier, Riechtenburg in Dornford Yates' Blood Royal and Fire Below, and Evallonia in John Buchan's Castle Gay and The House of the Four Winds, which share with the original the depiction of complex power struggles in which a visiting protagonist from a real country becomes deeply involved.

In 1970 Neiman-Marcus selected Ruritania as the subject of its annual fortnight, in which the arts, culture, and goods of a country are highlighted both in the store and through special events. Previous subjects included real countries including England, France, Italy and Denmark.

In the 1974 novel Royal Flash by George MacDonald Fraser, Ruritania is claimed to be a fictional country based on the (equally fictional) Duchy of Strackenz that borders Germany and Denmark, and the events of The Prisoner of Zenda were simply imitations of the adventures of Harry Flashman whilst in Strackenz.

In Uncanny X-Men #204 (April 1986), Nightcrawler rescued a New York businesswoman, Judith Rassendyll, from the X-Men's enemy Arcade; she subsequently learned that she was the hereditary queen of Ruritania and relocated there to claim her crown.

In 2006, Ignacio Padilla published La Gruta del Toscano (ISBN 84-204-7072-4), a novel in which Ruritanians discover a cavern in the Himalayas, somewhere on the border between China and Nepal. The cavern seems to be an earthly replica of Dante's inferno, and several expeditions try to reach its ninth circle, including one directed by "La cofradía de Zenda", a group of Ruritanian mountaineers. Part of the action is set in Strelsau, capital of Ruritania.

Ruritania is featured in the animated series Count Duckula, in which it is depicted as a popular ski resort, with competitions in winter sports held in the Ruritanian town of Danglegoggle.

Ruritania is mentioned in "The New Traveller's Almanac". In Back in the USSA, Princess Flavia of Ruritania marries into an alternate history Romanov dynasty.