Mary Seacole and the Crimean War

March 8th is International Women’s Day.

Today’s offering, left over from the FEMbruary figure challenge, is Mary Seacole the Jamaican nurse or sutleress who supported British troops during the disastrous Crimean War.


Mary Seacole as sculpted in 28mm by Martin Baker,  special  figure at the Other Partizan 2016
A quick wipeover with brown Acrylic and wipeoff with cloth before it dries brings out the details of the figure (a technique known as “pewtering”)
Rear view of this figure with  fine clothing details.

Conversion possibilities for other Mary Seacole figures

Whilst Florence Nightingale figures are fairly scarce, Mrs. Seacole figures are even more so.

Before I found this smaller 28mm figure I was a bit stumped about where to find a suitable larger figure to convert. I was considering a conversion of a 54mm Queen Victoria figure.

Until I found the 28mm figure, I was considering converting this rather stern looking Queen Victoria 54mm casting from Dorset Soldiers into a suitable Mary Seacole figure.

The other alternative I have found in 54mm is an old bashed Britain’s aged civilian lady sitting down, set 5028,  who arrived oddly repainted in a job lot of scrap figures. She could easily paint up as Mother Seacole.

A possible conversion figure for Mother Seacole, this seated 54mm  lead civilian woman from Britain’s Ltd.  Already repainted from a job lot, she arrived appropriately with a roughly repainted nurse figure.  Military nurse figures would make a good  future FEMbruary blogpost.

The other figure that looks fit for conversion is a OO HO twenty mm Airfix female figure from their superb Wild West pioneer Waggon Train set, sadly now out of production but available secind hand online. One of the figures has a potential  look of a tiny Mary Seacole.

The central female civilian from the Airfix Waggon Train set has a Mary Seacole look about her. To her left is a another female  figure from this OO HO 20mm set, a useful gaming figure who crops up in gaming scenarios as the Governor General’s Daughter, Daughter of the Regiment etc (and usually armed with a handy pistol). Not quite painted yet.


I had no plans to complete this 28mm Mary Seacole figure in this FEMbruary 2018 challenge as I had enough targets already. She will be painted at some point during the year or next FEMbruary! When I get around to painting this 28mm miniature figure, there are many useful illustrations of her and an interesting story behind her National Portrait Gallery portrait.

To read more about Mary Seacole (1805 -1881) and her British Hotel in the Crimea, a good place to start is her Wikipedia entry


Useful colour and details from her portrait that have been used on the small metal figure.

Mary Seacole’s  gravestone in London has recently been restored. Her autobiography is still in print, a Penguin Classic. There are lots of Mary Seacole book and web resources, many of them aimed at children, thanks to her inclusion and retention with Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell in the Primary school History curriculum in Britain.

Punch Magazine at the time dubbed her “Our Own Vivandiere“. Daughter of a Scottish soldier and a Caribbean mother, Mary was born in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars. Mary Seacole topped the Top 100 Black Britons in a recent 2004 poll.

She might not have many tiny metal figures,  however Mary  Seacole now has a fine new 10 foot high statue by sculptor Martin Jennings in London, complete with a cast of the ground of the Crimean battlefield where she had her base.  It is believed to be the first statue in the UK to honour a named black woman.

It is inscribed with words written in 1857 by The Times’ Crimean War correspondent, Sir William Howard Russell: “I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.”

Mary Seacole is also celebrated at  the Florence Nightingale Museum in London. She  features on their  website with some interesting contemporay Crimean prints shown.

More about International Women’s Day

and the ‘Celebrate the Ladies Month’ March challenge on the Cupcakes and Machetes  blog, featuring a range of blog links from  reading female authors to others painting more female fantasy miniatures projects.

Reading more of Emily, Charlotte, Ann (and Branwell) Bronte’s juvenile fictional worlds of GlassTown, Gondal and Angria to look for further gaming scenarios probably counts as my literary contribution to reading female authors.

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

I was quite amused searching through for Seacole figures to find this accidental head and shoulders portrait. 🙂

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN 8 March 2018 on International Women’s Day 2018.

Featherstone100 – Donald Featherstone Centenary 20 March 2018


March 1918 Late War German Infantry in 15mm by Peter Laing from my collection.

20th March 1918 is an important date in WW1 anniversary terms as the shock troops of German storm troopers stood trained, in position and poised ready to roll through Allied lines on the dawn of 21 March 2018 – Operation Michael, The Kaiserschlact or the Kaiser’s Day.

Thousands of British and Allied troops were surrounded, killed or taken prisoner. My eighteen year old Maternal Great Uncle  serving with the British Fifth Army was killed several days later in this confused fighting. Only stubborn Allied resistance by scratch regiments like his and logistics – the Royal Naval Blockade of Germany starving it of war materials – saw this German knockout blow rapidly  run out of fuel and men.

Events of the Russian Revolution in 1917  through to the 3rd March 1918 – the Treaty of Brest Litovsk between Bolshevik Russia and Germany – released thousands of German troops from the Eastern Front back to the Western Front.

A more joyous event – Donald Frederick Featherstone was born on 20th March 1918.

** Some newspaper obituaries have him listed as born on 12 March 1918 but other newspaper obituaries and his death certificate listing says he was born on 20th March 1918.

That makes Tuesday 20th March 2018 the late Donald Featherstone’s Centenary anniversary or #Featherstone100.

As he came into the world, Allied victory in the Great War stood in doubt. He often said in interviews, that he chose the Tank Regiment on enlistment in 1939 because of all his family stories about the slaughter of Poor Bloody Infantry  in the trenches.

How can we best celebrate in our own small gaming ways the Centenary and life of  a man who changed my hobby life – man and boy – for the better, as he did for many gamers of a certain age?

Like many others, I owe a lot to Donald Featherstone.  Many were the warm and richly deserved tributes and obituaries on Don’s death aged 95 in 3 September 2013.

I’m  glad a Featherstone gaming weekend happens each year with Don’s lucky dice as the annual prize.


My best Featherstone moment this year  was tracking down at the BBC archives and receiving a PDF of the almost illegible typed and hand annotated talk scripts of two Donald Featherstone radio talks.  As John remarked, I may have been the first person to read these since Don Featherstone in 1962/63. I have passed the copyrighted transcripts to John Curry for future use and publication through the History of Wargaming Project.

I have also been tracking Don Featherstone through the newspaper archives

Daily Herald March 21 1961 – almost a nice 43rd birthday present!

How should we best celebrate the Centenary of Donald F. Featherstone? 

1. Read one of Don’s many books?

Plenty of military history titles as well as his wargaming books to choose from. Reprints are available through the  History of Wargaming Project set up by John Curry.

2. Play a Featherstone inspired game?

Plenty of scenarios in his books across all periods. Plenty of his simple “Back of postcard” rules on  my blog or in his books.

3. Watch the great little short video with Don and John Curry on YouTube


4 Listen to a podcast by Don about his WW2 experiences  from Bovington Tank Museum

How amazing that the author of the handtyped 1960s Wargamers Newsletter and BBC Radio talks  should be recording a podcast and only missed the games blogging age by a few years.

5. Do a Featherstone themed conversion such as finishing my Airfix footballer to saloon girl conversion?


Don was famous for his homecasting or his conversion of one available figure into many others.

This inspired many others and does still today including Rod MacArthur who had the privilege of gaming and figure making with Donald Featherstone and Tony Bath  from 1960 onwards





#MARCH-ing bands aside, my Featherstone footballer turned wildwest showgirl is my current unfinished work in progress. #MARCH

Arguably every gaming day is a Featherstone day for many gamers, every day that we use a version of his rules, read his books or do our hobby thing, especially if you were inspired by Donald Featherstone’s books out of the library as a child, we celebrate his life, his hobby and his work.

What might you do to celebrate Donald Featherstone’s Centenary or #Featherstone100?

I’d love to hear your #Featherstone100 plans or your #bestFeatherstonemoment through your blogs or my comments page.

“The pleasure does not begin and end with the actual playing of the war-game. There are many pleasant hours to be spent in making model soldiers, painting them, constructing terrain, carrying out research into battles, tactics and uniforms …” Donald Featherstone, War Games 1962. Wise words indeed!

The very library book that started it all for me – used in my Airfix ACW game last year.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 3 March 2018 (Centenary of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk)










Snow and Ski Troops



Inspired by Tradgardmastre’s snow pictures!

It has stopped snowing where I live and stormy winds and rain  have replaced the snow clouds. The snow is beginning to melt but not before I found one of my Britain’s style ski Troops in my toy soldier collection. Not sure if he is an original or a repair or recast, certainly he has been repainted.

Many of my Airfix 1:32 German Mountain Troops from childhood have long since disintegrated, one of those sets where the plastic turned  brittle and crumbled fast. The newer Airfix replacements (available recently) that  I have bought are not yet painted. So this solitary metal Ski trooper, picked up in a job lot of metal figures, stands in for them.

Skielober 1811by Johannes Senn,  depicting Norwegian Ski Troops (Wikipedia Source)

There is an interesting section on Ski Troops on Wikipedia, including some references to Norwegian Ski troopers in Napoleonic times. Napoleon’s Troops famously were famously routed by winter weather in 1812, the Germans again in 1942.

Apart from the disastrous British involvement in the Norway Campaign of 1940, I was not aware of much mountain warfare in WW2. I knew that the Finns fought successfully against the Russians  for a time in 1939/40. I always thought that this Britains Ski trooper in white snow suit represented in sets 2037 / 2017 was based on these  brave Finnish troops.

Reading the Wikipedia entry

I was surprised to learn of Australian ski Troops fighting Vichy French in the mountains of Lebanon in WW2. Equally I was surprised to discover Greek WW2 ski Troops

I thought that my tiny 15mm Peter Laing WW1 Italian Alpini with their great feathered cap  might disappear into the snow, so rescued them and sought out my Britains 54mm Ski trooper.

Peter Laing 15mm Italian Alpini Troops in the Snow (F772)

Peter Laing did do a WW1 French Chassueur D’Alpin along with Soviet and Finnish ski troopers in their WW1 Russian Civil War range but sadly I never bought any of these.

Somewhere I have some fine Atlantic Alpini OO/HO WW2 Italian Mountain Troops, a great set with a truculent mule as well. Recently Waterloo 1815 have issued Alpini and US Mountain troops.

Winter War in Napoleonic Times 

In my  IBooks I have stored an interesting short PDF by George Falco de Mats or De Mas called Winter War in Napoleonic Times – unfortunately I cannot find a link or URL – with interesting pictures of  ski scouts.


Picture from Winter Warfare in Napoleonic Times PDF by George Falco de Mats / Mas




The author George Falco De Mats / Mas’  photographs in the PDF from the Kongsvinger Museum also show an ingenious sledge cannon and a Norwegian 1808 Jäger uniform

There are some excellent reenactor pictures of Norwegian Napoleonic era ski troops here in superb costumes:

This whole area of the Napoleonic Wars is unknown to me. Thankfully Wikipedia has a summary:–09

“The Dano–Swedish War of 1808–1809 was a war between Denmark–Norway and Sweden due to Denmark–Norway’s alliance with France and Sweden’s alliance with the United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. Neither Sweden nor Denmark-Norway had wanted war to begin with but once pushed into it through their respective alliances, Sweden made a bid to acquire Norway by way of invasion while Denmark-Norway made ill-fated attempts to reconquer territories lost to Sweden in the 17th century. Peace was concluded on grounds of status quo ante bellum on 10 December 1809.” (Wikipedia source)

There was also a Norwegian war of independence in 1814 between–Norwegian_War_(1814)

“The English Wars (Danish: Englandskrigene, Swedish: Englandskrigen) were a series of conflicts between England and Sweden with Denmark-Norway as part of the Napoleonic Wars.

It is named after the most prominent region of its other main participant, the United Kingdom, which declared war on Denmark-Norway due to disagreements over the neutrality of Danish trade and to prevent the Danish fleet falling into the hands of the First French Empire.

It began with the first battle of Copenhagen in 1801 and its latter stage from 1807 onwards was followed by the Gunboat War, the Dano-Swedish War of 1808-1809 and the Swedish invasion of Holstein in 1814.” (Wikipedia source)

Lots of interesting Napoleonic conflicts that I have not heard of before, beyond Copenhagen, the sources being mostly not in English and ones which I have not seen on a gaming table. There are some interesting gaming blogs on this subject.

I was unaware of English involvement in the Swedish- Danish / Scandinavian Wars.

George Falco De Mas /Mats refers to a book available in reprint Narrative of The Conquest of Finland by The Russians which is a dispirited free download PDF on Google Books; it looks an interesting book.

Short Google Books extract – Sir John Moore later escaped home with his small British army.

Published in 1854 around the time of the Crimea this refers to the events of 1808-9.

Imagine Napoleonic British troops and Royal Navy  in action in support of the Swedish  King Gustavus  against the Russians. Apparently the ‘mad’ Swedish King Gustavus would not let the British troops land and even arrested Sir John Moore, according to a brief entry in Jenny Uglow’s In These Times.

I will see if I can find the original URL or link of the PDF by George Falco De Mas or DeMats; until then I have cut and pasted some of  the photographs onto the blog, suitably credited.

Blogposted by Mark, Snow-Man of TIN, 2 March 2018




My World Book Day Choice 2018 #worldbookday



My World Book Day choice is a book called Codebreakers, a  highly readable book on Room 40 and WW1 Codebreaking by James Willie and Michael McKinley (published by Ebury, 2015).

Codebreakers is a very interesting book on WW1, picked up in my local branch library (childhood habits die hard!) but certainly worth buying in paperback.

The book covers  WW1 code breaking, cryptography, Room 40 and Naval Intelligence.

It covers naval and submarine warfare, Zeppelin raids, the Western Front and Ireland. It also features German espionage and sabotage in America and the legacy of WW1 codebreaking, after the interwar lapse, with  the transition to WW2 codebreaking and breaking the Enigma codes at Bletchley Park.

Some remarkable characters are involved like Blinker Hall and larger than life authors who wrote in fictional form about their wartime espionage exploits such as  A.E.W. Mason, author of The Four Feathers

I should imagine there are probably lots of gaming scenarios in this book for different people, although building spies and  (lack of ) Signals Intelligence  into games can be a challenge.

The book covers less familiar areas such as the Middle East and after the Russian Revolution. An interesting passage on Lawrence of Arabia, desert codes, telegraph wires and railways on page 249 in Codebreakers is  featured here on my occasional railway and gaming related Sidetracked blog.

It looks like there are several other similar titles out there on WW1 code breaking too, well worth buying or ordering through the library.

So that is my World Book Day Choice for 2018 – what are other gamers and other  people reading?

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, World Book Day 1st March 2018.