Friday, 19 October 2012

Abyssinia 1935-1936

Time, I think, for a few more photos.

The Italian invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) is a fascinating campaign. The Abyssinians were essentially a Nineteenth Century tribal army that Emperor Haile Selassie was trying to modernise with machine guns, Regulars, a few aircraft and even Hitler was intending to send 37mm Pak ATGs. About half the Italian forces were Fascist militia, the Blackshirts, accompanied by a few newly raised conscript divisions and a core of native forces from Eritrea, Libya and Somaliland, called Askaris.

Whilst well armed compared to the Abyssinians, with CV33 tankettes and lots of aircraft, the Italians were operating in very hostile, roadless terrain against a stubborn and proud warrior army that had recent memories from 1896 of wiping out the last Italian invasion. The Italians were cautious and their leaders inept and it took the liberal use of  air-dropped mustard gas to break the Abyssinian resistence.

The Abyssinian army consisted of a recently created Imperial Guard, a provincially raised regular army called the Mahel Safari, and the Chitet or levée en masse of all able bodied men. The Mahel troops were all rifle armed, but with just about anything that fired a bullet. Machine guns were very limited and one army of about 5-6000 had none. Likewise artillery was short and included pieces taken from the Italians forty years earlier. The Chitet were usually armed with swords, spears and shields with some firearms (probably never more than half), most of which were museum pieces.

 My first figures represent the Mahel Safari and are mostly Empress, with the odd Askari Miniatures from USA, and Irregular and Bicorne.

My army in all it's glory!
A Browning MG, indicating that this unit probably belongs to one of the more powerful Rases, or Kings.

 This chap sports the Abyssinian cockade on his sun helmet, red, yellow and green- no Bob Marley jokes please!
 The traditional warrior dress was all white(ish), including jodpur like leggings and cloaks. This man is a Bicorne Miniatures figure from their 1896 range.

 The flag of the Mahel Safari, featuring St George slaying the Dragon.

 The bearer is an aristocrat, richly dressed in highly decorated red and black; even his rifle is decorated, probably with inlaid semi precious gems.  An Empress command figure.
 The Emperor encouraged his army to adopt modern uniform which many did, in various khaki shades, either locally made or just traditional clothing dyed with tea, roots, etc.
 This shows the wide variety of uniform worn. The lead officer on the left has adopted western dress.

 These men represent the more modern elements of the army; the greybeard on the left was probably at Adowa in 1896. Figures by Empress.

More warriors in both traditional and modern dress.

There are several makers of Abyssinian figures. The nicest are Empress who do both Mahel and Chitet plus some lovely command types; Askari do those too plus Imperial Guard. Traditional types, meant for 1896, are available from Bicorne and Irregular. Bicorne are alright and do both rifle and traditionally armed warriors but crucially have the only MGs produced; I am planning to convert some Italian Askaris with LMGs into Abyssinians at a later date. The Irregular figures are frankly not great, although the spear and sword types help fill out the Chitet warbands; the riflemen are awful but again serve as fillers and at least have the virtue of cheapness.

There are Chitet and Italian Askaris in the painting queue which I may get done by Christmas?!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Dutch Grenadiers and Kurassiers 1831

Here are some photos of my first Dutch units for the Ten days campaign in 1831.

Dutch Grenadier Afdeeling

Raised in 1829, this two battalion "Afdeeling" guarded the royal palaces, and was present in Bruxelles at the start of the uprising and went on campaign in 1831.

 Here is one battalion. The pre-war four company organisation was dropped in favour of six, with two "Flankeur" or light infantry companies.
 The figures are modified plastic Victrix French Guard Grenadiers.
The cap plate has had the eagle removed with an attempt to add a Dutch sunburst; the bearskin had a visor added but I couldn't make one, so stuff it....... 
 The Flankeurs replaced the bearskin with a shako; these are Perry French Line heads.
The jacket/coat was red with lots of gold chest lace, but since the Dutch campaigned in greatcoats despite the summer heat you can't see it.
 Command group.
Officers are just showing the red and gold coat.

3 Kurassier Afdeeling

 The Dutch Carabinier regiments post 1815 adopted cuirasses, just like the British Lifeguards, but retained their French style carabinier helmets.
These are Perry plastic French cuirassiers, with the carabinier head sans any Napoleonic insignia and with putty/filler shoulder rolls added.  
 I did this unit first due to figure availability, however the Dutch cautiously kept their heavy cavalry in reserve during the campaign and they didn't see action; ho hum!
 Command group, but no standard as I hadn't discovered one at the time; to be rectified now. Incidentally, nevermore of the Grimsby Wargames Club made all my Dutch colours and they can be found as free down loads on their website.
 A trooper showing the additional shoulder rolls.

Belgian War of Independence 1830-32

Standard of the Dutch Grenadiers  

 My wargaming has always looked at the more obscure, rather than mainstream, and you can't get much more obscure than the Belgian Independence campaigns from 1830 to 1832.

 In 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars, the countries we now know as Belgium and the Netherlands were united under a Dutch king, Wilhelm I. The Dutch-Belgian army formed a major part of Wellington's army at Waterloo, and contrary to much derogatory comments (particularly from British sources) performed very creditably.

 That army disappeared in reforms in 1816/17 that created a Prussian style force with multi-battalion infantry regiments, known as "Afdeeling", literally divisions. It included four Swiss (who existed but had not been used in 1815) and a Nassau unit although Nassau had been given independence in return for adding Luxemburg to the Dutch crown. There was conscription and the units were mostly recruited and served in their home towns. The cavalry arm was the least changed by the reforms and contained cuirassiers, light dragoons and lancers. The artillery existed as field and horse batteries as well as fortress/militia units.

 Further reforms in 1829 abolished the Swiss and Nassauers but raised a two battalion (Dutch) Grenadier unit and two Jager battalions that still exist today as the Dutch guard regiment.

 Due to the population difference the Belgians formed the majority of the infantry and cavalry, but with an overwhelmingly Dutch cadre and command structure and the Dutch kept the majority of the artillery. The Dutch king distrusted his Belgian subjects and kept them under economic and political control with strong pro-Dutch laws and policies and almost all senior army officers and government officials and ministers were Dutch.  

 Not surprisingly, the Belgians weren't happy and political agitation came to a head in August 1830 when the king visited Bruxelles/Brussels. What started as an anti-Dutch riot developed into a rebellion and the army were unable to regain control of the city. The Belgian troops initially remained loyal but when it became clear that this was not just some civil disturbance, and with the encouragement of revolutionary agitators, they deserted en masse. Political volunteer corps sprang up and took over most of Belgium, in the process arresting many bands of Dutch officers and NCOs wandering the countryside trying to get home.

 The Belgians then found themselves in a state of apparent liberty, but with no real army to defend themselves, whilst the Dutch king was unable to restore control as the greater part of his army had disappeared; this lead to a stalemate that was occupied by much diplomatic activity as the Great Powers tried to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, both sides tried to raise new forces with the Dutch striking first in August 1831 when they launched a re-conquest campaign known as the  Tiendaagse Veldtocht, or Ten days Campaign.

 This campaign is what interests me and for which I will provide further threads. 


Well, as a taster here are some 54mm Gladiators I painted recently. The cruder castings are by Irregular but I can't remember where the others came from. The rules are based on "Rudis" from the '90s.


Thracian again

Secutores again
Samnis or Samnite
Another Retiarius

Lightly armed Thracian

contra retiarii

Apologies/Mes excuses

I can't believe that it is nearly 2 1/2 years since I posted, but the outside world has a way of interfering with "real life".

This meant I have been shifting back and forth from France to the UK due to work and that looks like continuing for a bit longer; none of this has been helped by trying to DIY/bricolage the whole of our house at the same time!

Still, and bizarrely, my wargaming has actually increased largely through getting involved in 19th century European Ironclad naval stuff with the Central London Wargamers in Euston and the absolutely brilliant A Very British Civil War (AVBCW) gamers doing an imaginary 1930s civil war.

I have also started assorted other projects on Abyssinia 1935, Belgian War of Independence 1831, French colonial in Dahomey and Tonkin and the Cuban Bay of Pigs 1961, all in 20-28mm. I also succumbed the other day and bought some new Warlord 28mm French and Indian Wars figures so that is more to paint (and I had resisted that period for about 30 years, sigh).

Finally, in 54mm (1/32nd), I have started the American Rebellion (AWI for those on the wrong side of the pond) following the new HaT SYW Prussians, who will provide the British infantry element , along with other IMEX and Call to Arms figures,that has been missing from manufacturers lines for a few years. 

In the next couple of weeks I'll put some photos up and some blurb too.