Sunday 30 April 2017

Talavera and French Eagles

So one club night just a few weeks before this year's Talavera refight one of the members gave me a 28mm French Eagle standard that he didn't need. This got me thinking if there was a way to use this with my British forces for the Battle.

So we all know that a certain Richard Sharpe captures a French eagle at Talavera, but back in the real world the first eagle captured by a Brit in the Peninsular was taken by the 87th Regiment of Foot from the French 8th Line at the Battle of Barrosa on 5 March 1811, almost two years too late.

Some further digging on the interweb turned up some other information that I had not seen before, apologies I can't remember from where, which gave me scope to produce a British line infantryman clutching an eagle to use in our battle.

So here he is, and the information I dug up.

Talavera (Very nearly Two Eagles and several fanions)

At the battle of Talavera on July 27th-28th 1809 the honour of capturing the first
French Eagles in the Peninsular war very nearly went to the 29th Worcestershire
Regiment and perhaps they did, who knows? The 29th recorded by Wellington as
“The best regiment in the army” took part in the repulse of Ruffin’s French division at
the critical point in the battle. Advancing to the front alongside the 48th
Gloucestershires to plug a gap in the line, the 29th charged, routing the French 24th Regiment and capturing their eagle standard, and wheeled into the flank of the
French 96th Regiment, whom the Gloucestershire boys had just put to the rout. The
official dispatch states that both eagle standards were captured by the 29th, but that
one was destroyed in the melee and the other, when found, was missing the eagle
from the top; it having been unscrewed (a method which the French employed in
time of peril) and possibly spirited away. There is conjecture over whether this eagle
was, in fact, taken, but all that is known is that the surviving eagle standard was
presented to Wellington (Sir Arthur Wellesley as he still was then) and he returned it
to the regiment, since when its whereabouts are unknown. Perhaps it, or even the
eagle which surmounted it, will reappear one day.

The Initial report from the battle told of "five colours or eagles" being captured at Talavera: The two already mentioned and three more by the King’s German Legion.
Certainly these were not eagles or perhaps even colours, which provides a mystery.
However we have the words of Marshal Jourdan who confirmed in his writings at the
time that the “Pretended flags or standards that Wellesley glories in having taken or
destroyed. They are nothing more than small flags (fanions) placed at the right and left of
each battalion to keep the ranks aligned and that are thrown away by those who carry them when they have to use their weapons.” The whereabouts of these remain unknown.

Friday 21 April 2017

Those magnificent men in their flying machines.

Early in 2016 a Friday night game at New Buckenham introduced me to Wings of Glory by Ares Games, specifically the 1/144th scale WWI version. Given my interest in aviation, the simplicity of the game mechanism and the pre-painted ready to play aircraft I was hooked. It was then I discovered the history of the game, moving from one manufacturer, Nexus Games where it was called Wings of War, to it's present location with Ares Games. The good news was all the rules and playing pieces were compatible with each other, the bad was that stock of gaming pieces was normally quite low  and therefore could be expensive on the second hand resale market.

I then found and joined the Wings of Glory Aerodrome forum which has proved to be a goldmine. The levels of knowledge, skill, friendship and outright generosity displayed by the membership is outstanding. An enquiry about the sizes of basic, but hard to get, game component pieces, with a view to making my own led to me receiving offers of spares and surplus parts from several members all at no cost. I was amazed by this. So now armed with some playing pieces it was time to get some aeroplanes.

I was after Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF) SE5a aircraft which of course were one of the uber rare original Nexus models and was available occasionally for stupid money on a certain auction site. So plan B and at last years Salute show I bought three metal SE5a kits from Red Eagle Miniatures which are apparently the old Skytrex range. These were constructed, with some tips from the forum and painted up as aircraft from 56 Squadron RFC/RAF.

Since then several "official" aircraft have been purchased from various sources and many game played including several against my wife, one of which I finally won. I have also met up with forum members to help demo the game at a couple of wargaming shows and will be doing so again this weekend at Salute, whilst trying to avoid the temptation of buying into the WWII version of the game.

Medieval Diversion

Some time in late 2015 or early 2016 a club night discussion led a lot of members to consider building retinues to play Osprey Publishing's Lion Rampant wargame. By this point I fancied painting something other than napoleonics and as essentially a skirmish game this seemed a good idea as not many figures would be required.

So now came the question what to do? A bit of digging around led to the decision to build my retinue based loosely around Sir Richard de Holbrook or his son Sir John de Holbrook who were knocking about in the reigns of Henry III and Edward I "Longshanks" so late C13th. Why these? well it is about the right period historically for retinue skirmishes and my mother's name was Holbrook so possible family connections.

Now for the figures, and after viewing other club members collections a purchase was made from Fireforge Games for a box of their Mounted sergeants and Foot sergeants. Assembly and painting commenced with the mounted troops and I discovered the joys of painting large areas of yellow, a consequence of picking the Holbrooks.

This is very much a background project with the napoleonics the priority so to date only the two units of horsemen and one unit of spearmen have been completed.

Thursday 20 April 2017


So it was early 2015 and I was about to commence on a journey into miniature wargaming. As mentioned before it was going to be 28mm Napoleonic and specifically British for the Peninsular War 1808-1814.

After more in depth chatter at the club it was decided I would start with the 3rd Division for the Battle of Talavera in 1809. So then came another list of questions to be answered, who makes the figures, what rules does the club use, how many figures would be needed and how are they based, what paints to use etc?

The most important answer I received was that the club used Shako 2 for napoleonics and that was how the members' vast collections of figures were based. But we were most likely to try Black Powder for the Peninsular games, but that was ok as the Black Powder rule set didn't fixate on basing so units based for Shako 2 could be used. So that meant eighteen figure infantry units for standard size battalions and a two to four figure base of skirmishers to represent the light company when deployed forward of the main body.

This led me to buy a box of plastic Perry Miniatures Napoleonic British figures which includes some riflemen, which I would need to represent the 5/60th Royal American Regiment of Foot companies which were attached to the Brigades I was to build. For the extra command figures I would need to make two Battalions from the box, an extra command sprue was purchased from Perry Miniatures along with a couple of extra sprues of riflemen.

A starter set of Vallejo paints (Napoleonic specific) were sourced on-line, with extra colours and the main box of figures bought from a FLGS (friendly local game store) in Norwich. For basing after initially trying to cut plasticard to uniform sizes I decided life was too short and ordered 3mm MDF bases from Warbases.

Now to decide who to start with, I decided on the Irish, specifically the 2/87th "The Prince of Wales's Irish" Regiment of Foot and the 1/88th "Connaught Rangers" Regiment of Foot. These were the two line regiments of Colonel Donkin's brigade of Major General Mackenzie's 3rd Division, the rest of the brigade was completed by five companies of the 5/60th. A couple of miniatures were completed as test figures, had been a while since I had done any miniature painting of any sort, and a painting night at the club allowed for much constructive criticism and pointers.

So that was it, up and running. Over the two years between then and now I have completed the whole 3rd Division and half of the 4th as well as enough artillery for three and a half two model batteries. Also just completed are the 14th and 16th Light Dragoon regiments of Major General Cotton's brigade. I have used figures from several different manufacturers to achieve this, see list to right, sourced on-line, at my FLGS and at wargaming shows.

2/87th Prince of Wales's Own Irish
3rd Division, Donkin's 2nd Brigade

1/88th Connaught Rangers
3rd Division, Donkin's 2nd Brigade

5/60th Royal American
Parcelled out to various brigades.
Five companies in 3rd Division, Donkin's 2nd Brigade

2/24th Warwickshire
3rd Division, Mackenzie's 1st Brigade

2/31st Huntingdonshire
3rd Division, Mackenzie's 1st Brigade

1/45th Nottinghamshire
3rd Division, Mackenzie's 1st Brigade

2/7th Royal Fusiliers
4th Division, Campbell's 1st Brigade

2/53rd Shropshire
4th Division, Campbell's 1st Brigade

14th Light Dragoons
Cotton's Brigade

16th Light Dragoons
Cotton's Brigade
Two Divisional commanders
Four Brigade commanders
two ADCs

Royal Artillery

Member of the 29th Worcestershires of the 2nd Division
capturing an Eagle of either the 24th or 96th Ligne Regiments.
See separate post Talavera and French Eagles.

To have a break from British but very much still allied, I completed two thirds of Pack's Independent Portuguese Brigade but that will be covered in another post.

For a lot more in-depth history behind these regiments and more, I would heartily recommend checking out JJ's Wargames blog, specifically his work on re fighting Talavera in 18mm later this year where he is providing all the units for both sides.

Tuesday 11 April 2017


So how did I get here?

As a child I was always interested in history and especially military history and so like many others boxes of Airfix toy soldiers were soon strewn about the house and garden. Then came modelling, first 1/72nd aircraft and some tanks etc then later 1/35th figures and vehicles for diorama building. Adulthood arrived and work, in my case still aircraft but this time in 1:1 scale.

At some point in my early twenties a fledgling interest in wargaming figures surfaced and some Battle Honours' 15mm Napoleonic figures were bought and painting commenced without any real thought as to what I would do with them when finished.

Jump forward twenty or so years, 15mm figures unfinished in the loft, and a couple of years after the arrival of a not so small bundle of joy (son) followed by a house move to a new town and I was looking for something to do in the evenings whilst my wife worked on her art and craft projects. Cue random internet searches and the discovery that there was a local, fifteen to twenty minutes drive away, wargaming club. Not only that but it was exclusively historical in its gaming.

So a quick email later and off I went on a Friday night to introduce myself. Half an hour later and I was crash landing gliders near the Orne river bridge east of Pegasus bridge in my first ever wargame. By the end of a very fun evening It was discovered that I was interested in the Napoleonic Peninsular War and the club needed someone to do British for this period in 28mm for a future game based on the battle of Talavera, if I was interested, no pressure. Welcome to the collective madness that is the New Buckenham Historical Wargamers!

That was just over two years ago and many fun Friday nights as well as Saturdays have been spent gaming with this bunch of nutters since, wargaming on a grand scale? oh yes. For myself almost two divisions of British completed along with a brigade of Portuguese, some medieval horse and foot for Lion Rampant and a collection of 1/144th aircraft for Wings of Glory (another group of very friendly nutters met via a forum). In the to-do drawers more napoleonics and some AWI I plan to use for Sharpe Practice.

So this is me and I'd best crack on.

Jabba (aka Tony)