The Remount Section gets a visit from the Lead Vet

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I was lucky to be contacted through the Man of TIN blog comments by toy soldier collector John Forman who asked if I could use some Broken Britains from his collection. Otherwise I’m told they would probably end up in the bin!

I hate old toy soldiers being scrapped.

Not knowing what lead wreckage I might be letting myself in for, I said yes and a small box arrived a week or two later.

Inside were a dozen or so  play-bashed Britain’s lead soldiers and five cavalry from the 1930s to 40s that had belonged to John’s father as a boy. They were then played with by a young John in the 1960s. That’s how they got so battered and armless.

Many of the infantry had arms missing or broken bases and rifles. The cavalry  horses also had missing legs.

Time for a trip to the Lead Vet Department (or my work desk)

I started work on the two Khaki Yeomanry Cavalry Territorial Army figures (Britain’s Set  No. 159). Identified in the excellent photoguide The Collector’s  Guide to Toy Soldiers by Andrew Rose  (Salamander, 1997),  these were produced from 1908 to 1940.

A hole drilled carefully and slowly into the damaged horse leg allowed me to insert a small piece of wire to reattach a detached hoof. Superglue  instant adhesive helps set this quickly.

On a missing leg, a longer piece of wire inserted into a hole drilled into any remaining leg section gives a wire former or wire leg shape to take epoxy putty  (Greenstuff or  Milliput).

In my case, I opted for building up a new leg with masking tape. This can then be sealed and coloured with paint.  (Some of my family have allergies to Milliput).

If you have no suitable wire, a paper clip will do, bent and snipped to a suitable length.

A broken leg on a real cavalry horse would mean it would have to be swiftly shot. On the lead ones, it might mean the melting pot. Hopefully at the Lead Vet Surgery and Remount Department, they might be saved this fate.

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Been in the Wars, horse and rider – missing Sword arm, missing leg.
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Missing hoof reattached. Tail armature fixed. Rider’s neck repair visible.

If broken off,  the tail can be reattached in the same way with drilling and pinning.  I have put wire armatures in (or tailatures?) I can then create a (Fimo or Sculpey)  Polymer Clay or masking tape tail section and attach this. Alternatively,  Dorset Soldiers sell replacement tail castings.

One of the riders had a loose head, repaired in the traditional way with a matchstick. This needed to be reattached and secured with glue.

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The detached and damaged front right hoof reattached. Masking tape over the area hides the join.

The new  secret weapon of my life as the Lead Vet – a 1mm drill bit in a hand drill or pin vice, bought from Prince August.

The figures and repairs need to be robust enough to be used in gaming, both on the gaming table or in the garden. I may well put the cavalry onto bases to make them more robust.

New recast arms and heads have been ordered from Dorset Soldiers at  50p a new arm. Horse legs and tails can also be ordered. http://dorsetmodelsoldiers.com/casting.php

The repaint will depend on how badly worn each figure is. Where I can, I like to retain the original Britain’s or Johillco paint job, even if it is only preserving small details like the face. These particular horses will need a little paint patching up, the figures less so.

On very badly worn figures, I clean and overpaint  with Gloss acrylics to get that straight out of the box or factory look back again. I think it restores a little martial pride!

These men and horses will parade and maybe even fight again on my tabletop or in my garden.

Nothing wasted?

Even the tiny drill curlings and scrapings of lead swarf get saved up in a small pot. When I next do some home casting, I can add a little bit of Britain’s lead DNA to the metal mix for some new castings.  A touch of vintage … something old, something new etc.

Being lead figures, now wash your hands after drilling.

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The same pin technique on a Britain’s Zulu with broken leg and base. Note the saved lead swarf
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The pin vice drilling into the hand section of a Britains Guardsman to add a new wire rifle barrel. For a future blogpost, rearming the infantry with replacement weapons!

I shall feature the completed Remounts in a future blogpost, along with how I went about rebasing and repainting the more damaged Britain’s cavalry and veteran playworn infantry that John Forman sent.

A fellow Peter Laing collector Ian Dury has kindly sent me an article from an old Military Modelling article on repairing very badly broken Britain’s cavalry, which I shall feature in a future blogpost.

Two welcome gifts, repaid to the steadfast tin or lead soldiers by restoring them to playable condition. Huzzah!

Previously on the Remount Section on Man of TIN blog

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/the-remount-department-1-army-blue/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/the-old-toy-soldier-remount-department/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/ashantees-or-zulus-reborn/

Blogposted by the “Lead Vet” or Mark, Man of TIN, 2 May 2018.

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15mm Peter Laing 19th Century Figures

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Attractive 19th Century 15mm Peter Laing figures

I have acquired second-hand a few dozen of these attractive 19th Century infantry from Peter Laing’s 15mm range, now commercially unavailable as the moulds have vanished.

With the tall shakos or tall kepis with the ball crests and long frock coats, they look mid 19th Century Crimean to Austrian  / Franco Prussian Wars. I think they are probably supposed to be French or Sardinian infantry, but they also look like French Foreign Legion 1850s.

They could be 15mm Peter Laing Crimean French (and dual use Franco-Prussian French with tall kepi)

F814 French Infantry advancing

F815 French infantry drummer

F816 French officer

F817 French standard bearer

 

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With almost Napoleonic shakos, they would do well as Imagi-Nation troops for the Bronte juvenile fiction of Angria, Gondal and Gaaldine. I have enough spare standard bearers for alternative flags and nationalities.

I would be interested to hear from other Peter Laing collectors if they have or recognise these figures as mid 19th Century French.

Some other figure suppliers have similar tall shako / kepis.

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Interesting post about Franco Prussian War French Infantry (in French) that reminds us that the 150th anniversary is only 2 years away (1870 / 2020). This will no doubt generate more gaming and historical interest in the FPW. The Austro-Prussian War anniversary was I suspect slightly overshadowed by the 1916 WW1 anniversary events.

http://pacofaitlezouave.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/le-fantassin-de-1870.html

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 21/22 April 2018.

Sidetracked by WW1 Southwest Africa desert railway scenarios?

https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com/2018/04/16/german-colonial-railways-southwest-africa-ww1/

Crossposted from my occasional Sidetracked blog by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 17 April 2018.

Away From The Western Front WW1 history blog

IMG_3368Away from the Western Front is a two year project (2017-2019) funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional grants from the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (Gertrude Bell Memorial) and the Centre for Hidden Histories. The project is being run by the ‘Away from the Western Front’, a registered charity.

https://awayfromthewesternfront.org/about-us/

Lots of information here on some unfamiliar aspects of WW1 from Africa to China, the Balkans, Gallipoli, Salonica and across the Middle East. Fascinating stories here. A WW1 Centenary website to watch for an alternative to the more familiar coverage of the Western Front.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, April.

 

 

Portuguese War Memorial WW1

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Unusual shaped headstones of Portuguese troops at the Portuguese War Memorial, Richebourg, France  (Image: Centenary News Twitter source)

The contribution of Portuguese troops during the Spring Offensive, Operation Georgette and the Battle of The Lys of March and April 1918 was commemorated by the French and Portuguese Governments today at the Portuguese War Memorial on the Western Front.

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Photo on Centenary News Twitter Feed 9 April 2018
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Joseph Zimet’s photographs on Twitter 9 April 2018

Interesting photographs taken by Joseph Zimet @josephzimet on Twitter.

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Close up of Portuguese troops at the ceremony  @josephzimet on Twitter

April 9th 1918 / 2018 is obviously an important day in Portuguese army history, as set out in The Portugal in WW1 Wikipedia entry: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portugal_during_World_War_I

April 9 1918: The Battle of La Lys, as it becomes known in Portugal, or Operation Georgette or the Battle of Estaires to the British, starts with a heavy artillery barrage from the Germans, followed by a German offensive with intensive use of lethal gas. The German Sixth Army deploys eight divisions (about 100,000 men), supported by intensive artillery fire. Against the force, the Portuguese have 20,000 soldiers and 88 guns. As a result, the Second Division is annihilated during the battle. The Portuguese CEP loses 327 officers and 7,098 soldiers, about 35% of its effective fighting capacity. The survivors are sent to the rear, some of the units being integrated into the British Army later on.

During this battle, one of the most courageous acts in Portuguese military history is perpetrated, as private Aníbal Milhais (also known as “Soldado Milhões” [“A Soldier as good as a million others” in his commanding officer’s words]) defends the retreating allied forces with nothing but his machine gun, allowing them to fall back and regroup. Once he runs out of bullets, he escapes the battlefield.

After defeating two German regiments and forcing the remaining German forces to go around him (they find it impossible to defeat what they believe to be an heavily armed post), he gets lost along the way, having to eat nothing but the sweet almonds his family had sent him from Portugal for three days. Lost and exhausted, he is able to rescue a Scottish major from drowning in a swamp. The major leads him to the Allied camp and tells of Milhais’s deeds.   (Infomation source: Wikipedia)

More about the Portuguese Expeditionary Forces in WW1

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Expeditionary_Corps

Plans for a memorial in England were recently suggested here  http://www.centenarynews.com/article/memorials-for-a-king–country-plans-for-tribute-in-uk-to-portugals-fallen

56,500 Portuguese troops were sent to the Western Front, of these approximately 2,100 were killed, 5,200 wounded and 7,000 taken prisoner.

The Portuguese Fireplace is an unusual Memorial of Canadian and Portuguese troops on forestry duty in the New Forest.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Fireplace

There is a small amount of information about the Portuguese Army in Britain and Western Front in WW1 on the Imperial War Museum website.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205305030

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A curious handful of junk shop find, painted Airfix WW1 British figures in sky blue. 

I knew that the Portuguese Army of WW1 fought in French sky blue coloured  British Army cut uniforms with unusual fluted steel helmets from a comment on  some sky blue painted Airfix WW1 British figures I had posted online in 2016.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/obe-repaint-figures-1/

I couldn’t remember where I had seen coloured illustrations of such troops, it wasn’t in my usual reference of  Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour. Instead I found a page on Portugal 1917-18 in Andrew Mollo’s Army Uniforms of World War 1.

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Portuguese Uniforms  in Andrew Mollo’s Army Uniforms of WW1

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Uniform notes in Andrew Mollo’s book

Modellers and gamers should be able to adapt WW1 British Army figures with steel helmets or soft caps into suitable Portuguese troops.

Aly Morrison featured some beautifully painted Portuguese WW1 conversions and colourised photographs of WW1 Portuguese troops.

http://alystoysoldiers.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/partizan-2018-few-more-portuguese.html

Including a superb colourised photo of some drummers and Portuguese troops marching

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An interesting bit of WW1 history that I knew little about.

Remembering many gallant Portuguese soldiers 100 years on.

http://www.remembrancetrails-northernfrance.com/history/nations-in-war/the-portuguese-in-the-great-war.html

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN 9 April 2018

 

 

 

Peter Laing 15mm Bulgarian WW1 Infantry

 

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I have bought the odd small mixed lot of gaming figures recently online because they contained small caches of 15mm Peter Laing figures. Now that the moulds are missing, this is one of the few ways to acquire new Peter Laing figures.

Amongst one lot was a small group of about a dozen WW1 Russian Infantry figures with rolled greatcoats F759 and officer F760  but  all painted brown with unusual black and white cross-gartered boots.

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Ahead of many other makers, Peter Laing produced 15mm WW1 figures of many of these nations.

A quick check in Military Uniforms of The World in Colour suggests that the original owner painted them as WW1 Bulgarian Infantry. They needed basing and some of the paint touching up, whilst about half of them have no fixed bayonets.

An unusual choice of figure. I had to go and look up which side the Bulgarians fought for in WW1  – with Germany and the Central Powers from 1915  – and against whom.  After a period of early neutrality, courted by both sides, they joined the Central Powers and fought initially against the Serbs, then against other Allied troops including the British on the stalemate of the Macedonian / Salonika Front.

“The Kingdom of Bulgaria participated in World War I on the side of the Central Powers from 14 October 1915, when the country declared war on Serbia, until 30 September 1918, when the Armistice of Thessalonica came into effect.” (Wikipedia)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgaria_during_World_War_I

The unusual leggings are called Opankers and a dull brown woollen uniform was already in use amongst other ranks.

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Bulgarian Infantry information in Military Uniforms of the World in Colour

During basing and flocking, I managed not to obscure the well painted opanker leggings too much.

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Bulgarian troops in WW1 with distinctive foot gear (Wikipedia public domain image source)

So these Bulgarians were  part of the army that invaded and pushed back the Serbian army, whose soldiers  that Marvin at the Suburban Militarism blog has been  beautifully  painting recently, albeit in slightly larger 1:72 plastic figures.

https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/soldiers-of-serbia/

Alongside the painted Peter Laing Bulgarians were some unpainted original figures of  Russian infantry and others in peaked caps that may be British, Russian or other figures.

With Peter Laing  figures details being so slight at 15mm size, there are a range of similar looking figures in similar helmets or soft and peaked  hats which are almost interchangeable with some suitable painting.

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Unpainted Peter Laing WW1 Russian infantry, F759 and officer F760, the originals of the Bulgarians and an artillery figure with shell British A703? Russian A728? German A711?

A suitbale painting guide for these figures as Russian WW1 infantry can also be found in the same uniform guide.

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Russian and Serbian infantry from Military Uniforms of The World in Colour.
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Useful uniform notes on WW1 Russian Infantry.

Amongst some of the other mixed figures were these artillerymen, one type medieval and the other Russian fur hatted artillery men.

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A749? Soviet Gunner kneeling with fur hat, flanked by medieval range A904 kneeling gunner.

There were also a couple of machine gunners. Not sure which nation or side the left  hand figure represents, the right hand figure may well be ANZAC machine gunner Fseven five two.

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With so few of these Russian figures it is difficult to know whether to paint the remaining nineteen unpainted infantry as Russians.

Alternatively I could paint most of them as Bulgarians  to make a small Bulgarian skirmish force of about thirty to thirty five figures to fight my British pith-helmeted infantry in a Macedonia or Balkan scenario, aided by the WWI Turkish infantry that I have.  The two uniforms are pretty close anyway to paint and use interchangeably with a bit of gamer’s licence. I may keep one figure back to use as a future mould original and one to paint as a Russian figure.