Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Papelotte: The Mapping Done

Map with roads

The location of my Papelotte footprint will require careful revisiting. I'm happy with it's notional position but the orientation will require adjustment I am guessing. It's a great excuse to revisit my photos from when I was there. In any case, I enlarged the grid map on my print out and inserted the roads. All roads will be carved into the surface to some extent but much shallower than the sunken roads marked with the lines above. Of course, it will be utterly arbitrary just how sunken they will be and as can be seen, most are not. The roads and their indentation are according to Adkin.
Crops, hedges and trees
I have generally stuck with Adkin's hedge lines but have included trees and crops from the 1777 map by the Austrian cartographer Joseph de Ferraris - map 78 held by the Royal Belgian Library. I have not been slavish in following Ferraris' inclusions, erring toward Adkin's minimalist inclusions. I am not building a static model of Papelotte and its immediate environs but rather a table-top for wargaming on. Nevertheless, with nothing more to go on, crop lines are marked by Ferraris and this will do. He included a lot more hedges and areas of cultivation down to vegie patch plots which I may include once I have the Papelotte model precisely placed. The central cluster of trees I am taking to be an open orchard and the five specimens along the south eastern road to be shade trees. Of course, a lot can change in 38 years.

When the time comes to model the foliage I will have to decide which are crops, types and growth and which are fallow. I will provide for movement through them - probably using removable sections. I just need to think long and hard about what products to use in replicating them.

Papelotte: My Mini Waterloo Begins

Image c/- Hovels - the completed Papelotte
I had made my first purchase of figures for 1815 maybe even as long as ten years ago and always knew I'd get there. As a 1/20 troop scale player, I was never considering taking on the whole battle - I have a mate who is - so I have taken to recreating the fight for Papelotte in 28mm. Several things attracted me to this part of the Waterloo battle. It was largely defended by 'Allied' units rather than British. As I have been playing the British in my Peninsular armies for years, I fancied a uniform change and on the eastern flank the large British element was less in evidence. Papelotte was and remains very much the forgotten and largely ignored stronghold. It is also like La Haie Sainte and Hougemont, a battle within a battle.

Hovels also make a ripping looking resin model of the farm complex which is next on my list. I have seen many a Waterloo game this year but I want to represent the ground as accurately as I can. I have really locked onto the desire to recreate the ground and now that I have mastered the intricacies of synthetic fur and spray guns, there's no stopping me.

Scanned image taken from Adkin's incomparable Waterloo Companion
First stop was my trusty Adkin's Waterloo Companion to select the topographical area I wanted to fight over. I have half developed an involved scenario for the game (to be published on-line at a later date) which takes into account the rest of the battle ranging around Papelotte with likelihood and consequences affecting play on the Papelotte table-top. With this in mind, I have revisited an initial selection and have now determined the field.

Calculating the dimensions of the Hovel's Papelotte model 290x736mm) as my starting point. The farmhouse footprint on the map is 3mm wide so using 1mm = 100mm I drew what will be 900x900mm squares on Adkin's map in an arrangement to best capture the features of my scenario. I then up-scaled them to 5mm grid paper. At this time I only want the contours to cover the rise and fall of the ground. My next step will be getting medium thickness ply board cut to measure and purchasing the Styrofoam sheets, working on 8-10mm thickness.
The contour-only sketch map of my table-top to be

I learnt from my Lewes foam terrain that I have to be mindful to build into the stepped levels to achieve the even flow of the slopes. I will use cans of expanding spray foam to in-fill the rise and fall. After that, I will carve in the roads and then cover (glue) the surface in as thin a gauze as I can find before adding synthetic fur where appropriate as well as numerous crops and features to represent an area under heavy cultivation. 

Total calculated area taken from the breakdown dimensions provided on-line

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Uniform Guide: 7eme du Hussards 1815

I'm not maintaining that this post is a definitive reference point for the uniforms of this regiment. I'm really just a painter of miniatures who wanted to know how to paint this fabulous regiment of hussars. There appears some contradictory information out there from the colour of shako to the dolman for 1815 which is very confounding. It remains frustrating how unhelpful individual books and guides can be and my recent purchase and greatest hope from Andre Jouineau's Histoire & Collections (French Hussars 2. From the 1st to the 8th Regiment) stops short at 1812 and there is no other edition I can identify in English or French to plug the gap. Sacre Bleu! This article is about what I found which informed my choices of representation. I hope it may prove useful for others.

My figures are all Perry's French Hussars - my second foray into plastics for 28mm. Helpfully, they come with a painting guide but like this posting, it is only a guide. For the 1815 campaign dress, they have elected to refer to the green shako, blue dolman and red overalls. Being more inquisitive, I decided to check the choices and regrettably for me, their representation is not definitive. I'm going to first concentrate on the main points of divergence.

DOLMAN & PELISE (blue for colonel and green other ranks)
I am assuming the dolman will largely be reflected in the pelisse also. In most depictions, the dolman for this period (when represented) is referred to as green, rather than blue. Philip J. Haythornthwaite maintains in his Uniforms of Waterloo (Blanford Press, 1974) that both dolman and pelisse were green. Similarly, John Rafferty's Painting Guide to Napoleonics Part Four: French Line Hussars and Chasseurs (Active Service Press) has them as dark green - though this is a simplified guide and does not delineate through our period. Clive Palmer's illustration of a 7th hussar trooper depicts a green pelisse worn as a jacket in Mark Adkin's Waterloo Companion (Aurum Press 2001) who perhaps conversely maintains (pp 245) the 7th dolman was blue. The dolman is not visible in Palmer's illustration but there may be a conclusion to be drawn that they believed the dolman was blue but the pelisse to be green? I rate Adkin as a suspect source as he also has the overalls in blue - clearly contrary to any other source and Palmer's illustration. Bukhari & McBride's Napoleon's Hussars (Osprey Men-At-Arms 76) have the dolman and pelisse dark green in their leading reference table but do not specify any time period.
Marbot's shako, pelise & dolman
A cautionary note is the difference between dark green and dark blue is not great and may have led to confusion in general. The actual dolman purported to be that of the commanding officer, Colonel Marbot, appears to be (to me) dark blue with grey fur trim. It is housed at the Musée de l’Armée and can be seen on-line at the website Waterloo 200. Confusingly, the text accompanying the image claims the dolman and pelisse to be dark green - I can assure you that I do not suffer colour blindness but there can be curious anomalies in even digital photography and dark green and dark blue may be confused.
Due to the long standing adoption of dark green for previous campaigns and because it is cited in the majority of references, I have elected to represent my rank and file in the dark green dolman and pelisse. Due to the habit of officers to differentiate themselves from their troopers, my Marbot will have his dolman and pelisse blue. For me, this will be the best fit against what might otherwise be seen as contradictory evidence.
The collar and cuffs for all are red and the lace yellow for other ranks and gold for officers. The buttons are gold for the officer pelisse and dolman and likely brass for troopers. The pelisse is trimmed with grey fur for the colonel and black for other ranks. Jouineau has the pelisse lined white (sheepskin).

GILET (VEST) (Red with yellow/gold lace)
The sleeveless gilet vest or waist coat is rarely seen, being worn beneath the dolman but is shown scarlet (bright red) in all depictions for all ranks including Marbot's surviving gilet.

Again, much inconsistency with the overall trousers of the 7eme. Perry's and many images have the trouser in red with a yellow stripe. Haythornthwaite has it in green and as a general principle it is usually consistent that French hussar regiments overall trousers matched the dolman and pelisse which the name 'overall' usually suggests. Whilst Adkin departs from everyone with the blue reference, Palmer's illustration has it in green with a red stripe and presumably brass buttons. Whilst sometimes green, grey, blue or even red, Bukhari & McBride refer to the 1812 regulation green overall trousers. They also cite breeches (differing from overall trousers) as scarlet - which is universally applied in all references and illustrations (thank goodness). McBride has illustrated Brigadier-fourrier in green trousers with red stripe for 1807-8. Nevertheless, the sheepskin leather inside reinforced lining and cuffs of overalls were often tailored to imitate the traditional Hungarian breeches and boots and it seems reasonable to imagine the trousers would have been in red also.  So, I will have both red (with yellow/gold stripe) and green (with red stripe) throughout my unit to represent retention of previous issue. 
Leather lining, cuffs and shoes and boots were always black and stirrups steel with nickle or silver plate for officers.

SHAKO (green) and COLPACK (black with red bag)
There appears to be little dispute that the last iteration of the hussar shako - the rouleau shako - was green, but the shade is often referred to a light green. This design of shako was not apparently ever regulation issue but immensely popular from 1812. Marbot's rouleau shako is green but much faded no doubt from use in all weathers and for being over 200 years old which may be the source for this reference. I am inclined to think that a richer mid-green is more likely for the bold uniform of a hussar but still lighter than the dark green dolman and pelisse.
At its centre is the tricolour cockade with yellow/gold lace from the cockade to the pom-pom. The pom-poms were red for the first squadron (sometimes also plumes), green for the second and blue for the third as pictured above as per the 1812 regulations onwards. Several on-line pictorial references have curious yellow or white pom-poms which I am dismissing as inaccurate but Marbot's is gold. The 7eme fielded only three squadrons at Waterloo. The top band is in regimental lace (sometimes shown as black leather reinforcement) with a double band and scrolled lace work on the Colonel's. The back of the shako had black leather reinforcement. The chin scales are brass.
Not the 7eme but the 5eme - note pom-pom.
It appears the elite company of the first squadron retained their black fur colpacks with red bags and regimental lace. Whilst I accept that shakos and colpacks may have had oilskins for the wet season and on campaign in general, I do not believe men went into battle in anything less than their most magnificent kit unless belting down with rain at the time. The colpacks by 1815 may have retained their plumes for parade (red) but I believe they are more likely to have retained the solid red pop-pom in the field such as depicted in Knotel's 1812 example (above). As such, I am pruning the Perry plastic plume back to its pom-pom for my hussars.

Belts and straps were all white buffalo hide for troopers with black leather cartridge box. Officer cartridge belts and straps were red with gold edging and I opt for red leather cartridge box seen below (reproduction) but with gold options. This image was taken from the Empire Costumes site and I defer to their sources being better than mine.
Scabbards were steel, swords were steel-bladed, brass handled and black gripped. Buckles were brass. Scabbards might be brass with a black mid-section for officers and trumpeters.
Barrel sashes were all broad banded red and yellow affairs.

By 1815 more decorative versions had all but given way to simple black leather carriers with a simple brass eagle and the regimental number 7 beneath it. Given the foul weather of the previous day, I will depict some with their plain black oilskin covers. Officers may have had the more decorative wreathed versions in gold, bordered gold on green by 1815. Trumpeters carried reverse sabretache colours (red). 
The 7eme Hussars definitely took their gold plated Eagle on campaign for Waterloo as per Napoleon's orders. Curiously, their Eagle for the return of the Emperor was that of the old 23rd Chasseurs a Cheval which was previously commanded by their Colonel Marbot who seems to have retained it. According to Wise & Rosignoli Flags of the Napoleonic Wars (1) (Osprey Men-At-Arms 77) they were mounted on a blue staff as before and beneath flew the square tricolour standards (not a guidon) with gold chords and blue cravat.
The standard measured 55cm square with comparatively paler blue and red fields than the 1812 issue. Like all cavalry standards theirs was bordered on all edges with a gold fringes and a single row of gold laurel leaves. The obverse side bore the gold lettering (on black cloth, sewn onto the silk): L'EMPEREUR/NAPOLEON/AU 7eme REGIMENT/DE HUSSARDS. The reverse bore the battle honours: JENA/EYLAU/FRIEDLAND/WAGRAM.
PORTE-AIGLE (flag bearer)
This honour was assigned to a Lieutenant of the Elite Company from the first squadron with at least ten years service. In keeping with my approach to the colpacks, my Porte-Aigle will wear overall trousers but in red (scarlet) and a colpack with pom-pom but no plume. His mount will have an officer shabraque.
Not the 7eme: note elite co. porte-aigle on a trooper shabraque. The 7eme would be with colpacks.

Add caption
For the uninitiated, the only real explanation required after the attached image is perhaps that a Marechal des Logis is a sergeant and the ranks progress from top left, reading down from left to middle to right columns. Lace is regimental.
Years of service were also indicated by red woolen chevrons fixed to the upper left sleeve of the dolman and pelisse as follows: 1 for ten years, 2 for fifteen years and 3 for twenty years service.  The image is taken from the very useful napoleon-series website:

1809 7eme trumpeter: reverse dolman and vandykes
The shabraques, consistent with most French cavalry were sheepskin for rank and file (black for trumpeters and white for all others) and a cloth for officers which for a change is universally referred to and depicted green. The plain regimental cloth officer shabraque is regulation and bore the number of the regiment in the corners but senior officers preferred the leopard skin. The vandykes on the other ranks shabraque; however, are shown sometimes green, sometimes red and blue when presenting the regiment in that colour.  Bukhari & McBride have it that the 'scallops' (vandykes) were in the regimental colour - so for me that's green with perhaps red (reverse) for trumpeters.
The Hungarian bridle was black leather and is universally depicted as such but the portmanteau straps are 'natural leather' or brown. The stirrup leathers are either depicted black or brown, white by Jouineau and red for officers. The saddle and pistol cups, pouches and straps concealed beneath the shabraque were brown or natural leather. It is likely the girth strap and others may also have been and so I opt for the brown leather stirrup straps also. As a separate harness array, the black bridle should not necessarily dictate the other harness. Note that Jouineau has all harness as black. Most buckles and fixtures were white metal and copper - akin to brass in appearance. The bit was steel.
The portmanteau was in the regimental colour (green for me) with lace border at the ends and the regimental number centre also in regimental lace.

Knotel for 1810: note old plumed shako
Depicted by Knotel (for 1810) and others wearing reverse colours, showing red dolman and pelisse with green cuffs and collar and black fur trim. If modelled, a regular company trumpeter may have a plume which after 1810 was green over red. In some examples, regimental lace is retained. I'm representing two trumpeters across my three squadrons: one elite company and the other regular. Whilst the trumpeter's colpack appears in black more often, Richard Knotel has one impression in white with red bag for 1811. There appears room for much speculation here. As already discussed, sheepskins are black with reverse (red) vandykes.
Elsewhere I have found on-line depictions of a regular company trumpeter with imperial lace in regular regimental dress with shako and no plume (see right). It appears consistent with the artwork from Andre Jouineau's Histoire and Collections publications but I can't guess which one it could be or I'd have it already. Referring to Rigo (for 1809) Jouineau has an elite company hussar with colpack (black) with reversed colour bag (green). The portmanteau was in reverse colour (red). Trumpet chords were green and yellow for imperial livery but otherwise have been depicted throughout the Napoleonic wars as red, green, gold or yellow and red. I have yet to decide on my choice but will most likely adhere to imperial for line company and yellow and red for the elite company trumpeter. The agony of choice.

Trumpeters as was normal in French cavalry service were mounted on greys and aside from regimental affectations, the remainder of the regiment were mounted more variously on everything from champagnes to duns, from bays to black.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Waterloo: A Commemorative Dinner

Today, 200 years ago the Emperor Napoleon issued his last pre-battle bulletin and tomorrow, the Armee du Nord pushed off into Belgium. The anniversary of the next three battles concludes this coming Thursday with Waterloo but I held my remembrance dinner last night being the last weekend before the main event. As I live in Australia, it hasn't proved possible for me to attend the event itself so I took it upon myself to hold a small soiree down-under. I am handy enough in the kitchen and took Friday off work to shop and prepare.

Following a day of miniature wargaming Napoleonics (1815 of course) the table was set. The dinner was in three representative courses after aperitifs and plenty of plonk as follows:
Cream cherry
  Beetenbarsch (East Prussian) - first course
white wines
Beef Wellington with Brussel Sprouts, baked Dutch cream aardappel, Dutch carrots and French beans
red wines
Tricolour cream sponge with French vanilla ice cream
more white wines
Cheese board including Danish Blue, Red Leicester, Brie with water crackers

It was a candle-lit dinner for six centered around my great friends Grant (pictured above) and Stu with whom I accompanied to Waterloo in 2012, Stu's wife Wendy, my Mother and my lady Julia. By the end of a very long but highly enjoyable evening, we demolished two bottles and one magnum of French Champagne, four bottles of red, four bottles of white, a rose and a good quantity of sherry and calvados.

Unlike an army of social media enthusiasts, I do not photograph food - I have to draw a line somewhere. Even if I say so myself, the Beef Wellington (my first) was a great success, as was the Beetenbarsch and the image below was taken before sweets. Oh, and yes if you were wondering ... we have all been taking today very slowly after a late start.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

In The Beginning ...

I just loved these booklets as a child. More commonly known as Action Transfers, this particular booklet was from the Patterson Blick Instant Picture Book series and I think I had about three copies between 1972-75. This truly is a generational thing as I have never seen them since.
Together with Ladybird books, these were a fabulous introduction to major historical events (particularly military history) and fueled my young passion for Napoleonic warfare.
They were, and would still be a great introduction for the young to history - we really have lost something in recent years. The images contained within have stuck in my mind ever since - the power of imagery can never be over-estimated. I still get a silly thrill when I look at them - such memories.
 I'm hoping the link attached enables any of you like minded enthusiasts to take a similar trip down memory lane.

There are many like it ... this one is mine.

My shot taken in 2012
 Getting all nostalgic this month for some reason. My great mates and colleagues Grant and Stu joined up with me in May 2012 to hit a series of museums and battlefields. We were touring mainly for the WWII campaign trails of Market Garden and Overlord but on our way through Belgium naturally we had to stay at Waterloo. I hadn't been there since a child and in three trips to the UK in the last ten years or so, this was my first visit to Western Europe. Grant had to meet up with us from Australia but it was a short flight from Afghanistan for Stu and I, via Dubai.
Unlucky General at Waterloo 2012

Saturday, June 6, 2015

My 10th Hussars: And a plastics critique

Thanks to my usual mid-winter cold (every year without fail) and what I reckon was a psychological breather, these figures took me a month longer than they should have. A brief trip to Nauru didn't help either and I was off to such a strong start too. These British 10th Hussars for 1815 represent nothing more than an emotional homage to this year's 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. Fired up as I was in February, I have not achieved all that I thought I might have by this time and am now reconciling my efforts to a more realistic goal by the weekend preceding the great date. I have in the process derailed most of my other long term and major projects (except Lewes for which I have been finishing my scenery). What the hell ... this is a hobby and it's about self indulgence anyway isn't it?

Foundry Hussars - right without moustache
I was six years old when my Father was transferred to his post in the UK in the early 70's. All my school mates at Crofton Primary were right into Airfix and I thought Napoleonic solders looked amazing. I collected the Ladybird Books, the Action Transfer book and let my imagination go wild. I freaked out at the Madame Tussauds Trafalga exhibit and my brother and I harassed my parents every time we were in Paris to attend the Hotel des Invalides - and I mean every time.
When I first started experimental painting of my plastic figures in my early teens, it was Napoleonics. My first structured wargames were using Donald Featherstone rules for Napoleonics. My return to wargaming and stepping into 28mm figures with my great mate Grant was through Napoleonics and The Grand Manner. I met my other long time wargaming mate Matt thanks to Napoleonics and it's a period which, even after an active absence of years is one I will always return to.  For me, it started and ends with the battle of Waterloo. If only Bernard Cornwall could have left it there ... but I digress.
Foundry squadrons with command.

My representation of the 10th Hussars at Waterloo is a particularly studied one as my previous research posting might indicate. I'll let my choices speak for themselves through the photography but I want to talk about painting plastic figures. My 10th is very much a representation of squadrons (four) - two with the old Foundry metals and the other two with the new(ish) Perry Brothers hard plastic miniatures. I got hold of the Foundry figures off Matt years ago in a trade but needed another 12 troopers to make up the regiment in 1:20 representative scale. I saw the Perry's at a wargames convention and decided to give it a go.
Plastic Perry squadrons

Let me be up-front - I have hated painting these plastic figures. I admit, I'm unused to it for a start and have been cautious with them.  So much so that I even went and bought the ridiculously overpriced Citadel white spay undercoat to avoid what happened to me anyway. The undercoat acted like blotting paper - absorbent and totally unsuited to my wash painting technique. This made them more complicated and time consuming to paint because I had to apply block painting and dry brushing.
Perry plastics left - Foundry metals right.

Some people may like this about these figures but they are also incredibly detailed - too detailed. Maybe this is fine for six-figure or eight-figure units but a total pain in the numbers I require. Don't get me wrong - I like a detailed sculpt and am fussy about my paint jobs but these buggers were just more than I wanted to commit to. I mean, hussars are difficult enough as it is. Every detail imaginable is present and credit to the masters, they left nothing out. I just found myself holding my breath every time I turned to them and then exhaling when I returned to the old Foundry sculpts; that even included when I was detailing the shabraques.

Command got a shave too.
I work for a living and as I age, my output is slowing as my attention to detail increases. Given these factors, I at least now know that I can afford to spend the money on quality metal figures simply because my output is so slow. As it happens I have bought some of the Perry French Hussars but I only intend to build two squadrons of the 7th for Waterloo. I am also going to try my hand painted undercoat approach for them to see it that improves matters. Even if so, my foray into plastics has been temporary and I doubt I'll bother again.

Happiest with this moustache removal of all three.
I suspect when the anniversary passes this month, my Napoleonic figure fire will die down once more and I can return to Lewes full time so to speak. I still have some unfinished FPW 15's on my table, an observer unit for my 20mm 1941 Jock Column and two unfinished 1/72nd bi-planes but who can say what I'll paint/build next. 

No Painting ... Just Shooting

Just got back from a brief stint to the Republic of Nauru: a geographically isolated Pacific island where I was delivering some training for work. Whilst I'm not obsessed (any more than the next man that is) I did manage to get a bit of war-tourism in as this island was occupied by the Japanese armed forces in WWII as a supply and staging post.
It was never taken by the allies due to the pinnacle rock and reef rock formations which ring it - we couldn't get a landing craft in. Once isolated after the demise of the Japanese fleet; however, the strategic use of this place died away and the occupiers together with many of the remaining inhabitants were reduced to effective starvation.
The original inhabitants were shipped all over the occupied islands as labour and I can't imagine they were particularly well treated. In turn, apart from starvation the island was subjected to bombing by the allied air forces en route to Japan and their islands groups. Cruelty met by cruelty in turn.
What images can't convey is the humidity and heat of the tropical zone. This was an overcast day bringing much relief but we were soaked through, inside and out. It's once here you can also start to appreciate the plight of the Japanese soldier - the rank and file often pressed into service under a harsh regime, forced to fight in harsh climates and in turn dealt with heartlessly by us. Everyone in war seems to me a victim one way or another - makes me ponder who gets anything out of it.
These anti-aircraft guns were a real find. Miraculously well preserved remaining where they were originally sighted. Fixed in concrete positions with underground tunnels - sometimes steel lined. It didn't take much imagination to see them blasting away at the passing bombers. I wonder if they ever claimed anyone: obviously they weren't hit.
Before I left, I ordered a spare part for my band-saw - a wheel tyre. It has been over a fortnight now and they have informed me it still hasn't shipped for them to on-forward it to me. They say necessity is the mother of invention and whoever first phrashed that statement really knew what they were talking about. I taped the broken pieces back together and refitted the make-shift tyre, spooled the saw blade back on an I am now back in businesses. My hussar bases are cut and the figures are going on today. Not before time.