++++++ TSAF Toy Soldier Air Force official Air Ministry photograph, Gondal. ++++++
++++++ Passed By Censor for Publication. ++++++
New Flying Banshee FLB Mark I has undertaken successful air trials in the skies over Gondal.
This new Dive Bomber Biplane variant of our previous Biplane is undergoing Air Trials at one of the TSAF field air stations.
TSAF Air Ministry Spokesman: “Our new Flying Banshee aircraft Mark I is designed to terrify ground forces or shipping from the air and smash the enemies of Gondal through aerial bombardment.”
TSAF Test Pilot and Squadron Leader “Lucky” Haworth: “Its rugged construction is designed to withstand the rigours of dive bombing targets on land or sea. It has recently completed some successful bombing trails from an undisclosed island air station. It can also operate from small island airstrips or forest clearings.”
This stocky Banshee Biplane variant is a development of our previous dive Bomber monoplane, pictured alongside it.
“The Flying Banshee FLB Mark I is a bit of a powerful beast to fly and has quickly became known to trainee or inexperienced pilots as the FLaB (or Flies like a Brick).”
Details of its armament, experimental wing whistles and performance are not yet being made public.
+++ TSAF Air Ministry communication ENDS +++ +++++++
Back to the Man of TIN blog
My regular blog readers might recognise the Moshi airplanes adapted for use with 54mm Toy soldier figures. If H.G. Wells had incorporated the Aerial Menace into his 1913 Little Wars rules, they might have looked a little like these biplanes or monoplanes.
Upper wings were added from three layers of stiff card, curved edged card scrounged from our household recycling, originally trainer sock packaging.
Stout struts were added using balsa wood, much in the model of the Curtiss Hellcat Dive Bomber variant. This machine will be in use in garden game scenarios so needs the ruggedness. Not elegant but sturdy!
Two drawing pins hold the dip or angle on the main top wing / struts. This part was a bit of a pig!
Masking tape gives a doped canvas feel to the wing and also adds the fake top flaps. Plenty of super glue used throughout.
Currently Test Flight or Interbellum Silver.
Status: Not yet on Active Service. So far we have not applied Gondalese or Gondalian Air Force markings or decals at this test flight stage.
Gondal is one of the North Pacific island Imagi-Nations invented by the young Emily and Ann Bronte that we have fast forwarded a Century into the future from its Bronte Juvenilia origins (set in Napoleonic, late Georgian and Regency / early Victorian British Empire period) through to the interbellum 1920s and 1930s.
Amongst the growing ground crew you can see some recent conversions or repaints to become ground crew including LAC Leading Aircraftswoman “Penny” Farthing, a former Britain’s Land Girl or farm worker.
Old childhood plastic Starlux Engineers in Khaki ground crew overalls work on the Banshee biplane. Oiling up the plane, wearing the stylish new TSAF Gondal Air Ministry issue Blue helmet, is a Crescent Mine detector figure repaired and rebooted from a broken lead figure donated by Alan at the Duchy of Tradgardland.
Airfield Defence: Britain’s gun, pound store soldier sandbags and mix of old and converted Britain’s and homecast Air Force and Navy figures, Gondal being a proud island nation. Barbed wire is from spiral bound notebook wire after recycling a used small notebook.
Slowly building up suitable airfield accessories in 54 mm.
The planes now need a suitable adjustable altitude flight stand for garden gaming use.
The Banshee aircraft name was stimulated by the unlikely names of the Fantasy Name Generator aircraft names
I was intrigued by references to a Bronte regiment called the Bloodhounds.
The Bloodhounds are one of the intriguing Regiments of the Bronte family’s Imagi-Nations and Paracosmic world, a fictional European colonised Regency / 19th Century West Africa known as Glasstown and Angria. The tales were started off amongst the four Bronte children by the gift of wooden toy soldiers from their father Revd. Patrick Bronte.
The Bloodhounds were an Angrian Regiment, first commanded by Colonel Henry Fernando di Enara.
When Enara “the Tiger” became H.F. Etrei or Baron of Etrei (a savanna province of Angria) and the Angrian “Secretary at War” in Verdopolis c. 1839, the commanding officer or Colonel of the Bloodhounds post was taken by Colonel Nicholas Belcastro.
One of its infamous privates is Captain Henry Hastings, formerly national poet and soldier hero of Angria of the 19th Angrian Infantry. Hastings was court-martialled for shooting Colonel Adams, his commanding officer and defecting to Paris and the enemies of Angria, leading an uprising of Revolutionary French troops and Ashantee warriors against his former Angrian home.
Much of the surviving fragments of the Bronte Imagi-Nations stories such as Angria are told through different documents to create a more complex and realistic fiction – fictional or factional sources such as letters, diary entries, different narrators, poems, newspaper reports etc.
What brother Branwell Bronte wrote about Angria and its characters, Charlotte would also respond to or develop in her own writing or counter-writing.
Included amongst these “documents” in Charlotte Bronte’s 1839 Angrian novella Henry Hastings are these official Army type letters or fictional court-martial documents:
Rather than being executed, in view of his previous service, Hastings is encouraged to turn King’s Evidence on his former enemy or rebel colleagues (the King being Zamorna, the King of Angria naturally).
Hastings is expected to inform against other exotically named outlaws and allies of Northangerland such as the Renegade Angrian and leader of French forces Hector Mirabeau Montmorenci, [Lord] George Frederick Caversham and the native tribal Ashantee leader, Quashia Quamina Kashna. Barras, Dupin and Bernadotte are the names of real French Revolutionary figures.
These outlaw forces were present at the Battle of Westwood, 1837, in the Angrian Civial War, by which time Henry Hastings had defected and was fighting for the enemy against Zamorna the King of Angria and Hastings’ former 19th Angrian Regiment, Zamorna’s or the Devil’s Own.
If Hastings informs on his former Angrian renegades and collaborators, the death sentence for treachery, murder and desertion of Henry Hastings will be commuted to being stripped of his rank and transferred from the 19th to the Bloodhounds “under the grinding yoke of Colonel Nicholas Belcastro“.
Rather than the outrage of such military men as his commanding officer Colonel Hartford that Hastings “should have been shot when caught, as you’d shoot a dirty girning wolf”, others officers of the 19th such as Major King take a different view:
Charlotte Bronte is good at reflecting and pondering on the politics and rivalry amongst the army and different political rivals. She would be the only Bronte child to see the chaotic mess of the Crimean War in 1854-55, just before her untimely death.
This court martial document and speech seems realistic enough, especially for a young female writer at the time. Interestingly, as far as I know, unlike Jane Austen with her Royal Navy brothers, Charlotte Bronte and her family did not have close relatives in the army or navy.
Charlotte is also accomplished (almost in modern screenplay fashion) at using different characters for multiple viewpoints of the same situation. Here, Henry Hastings, reviled for killing his superior officer Adams, puts his own case or view of the situation to his sister, Elizabeth Hastings. Elizabeth is the mysterious heroine of the surviving fragments of the Bronte novella Henry Hastings.
Bronte scholars often read these Angrian fragments and ‘ juvenilia’ for insights into how each of the Bronte sisters developed into the a writer of their later, more finished works such as Jane Eyre.
In later more enlightened times, desertion and change of character amongst veterans would be seen as possible Battle Shock, Shell Shock, fatigue or PTSD. Drink also had much to do with Hastings’ fictional downfall, something that sadly affected his co-creator Branwell Bronte in real life.
Interestingly, Branwell Bronte suggests that (his main pseudonym / character persona) Henry Hastings feels that his Commanding Officer of the 19th, Lord Hartford, dislikes and has bullied and blocked his advancement in the past: “My Commander [Hartford] thought it expedient that a farmer’s son [Henry Hastings] should not shame by his advancements the pampered ignorants of Eastern Aristocracy [of Angria].
One intriguing reference to the Bloodhounds we mentioned in our last blogpost:
One of the Angrian’s most infamous infantry regiments are The Bloodhounds (Glen, p. 501) led by the Italian ‘Tiger’ Enara:
“A host of Dark whiskered and bearded warriors such looks of savage and relentless ferocity I never held before …
their great Raven banner bore in silver blazonry the single emphatic syllable. “DEATH” at their head … accompanied by 8 vast liver coloured dew lapped red eyed bloodhounds held in leashes stood the second commander of the Army Colonel Henry Fernando Enara.” (Excerpt from Branwell Bronte, Angria and the Angrians).
Zamorna had some unusual generals including Henri Fernando di Enara, an Italian known as ‘the Tiger’, whom he created Baron of Etrei and Governor of this Angrian savanna province of Etrei. He eventually becomes Angrian Commander in Chief, rather than second in command.
The Brontes refer to Enara’s campaigns against Zamorna’s or Angria’s enemies as a “tiger hunt”, a hunt not of but by ‘The Tiger’ Enara.
This figure with eight bloodhounds on leashes seems more out of a fantasy catalogue than a toy soldier one!
Appropriately Enara has dark brows and dark Italian features and for commander of a regiment with Raven banners, Enara has four raven haired daughters Maria, Gabriella, Giulietta and Francesca.
Another new reference in Charlotte’s novella gives further clues to the Bloodhound’s exotic appearance and uniform:
Hastings’ trail, like all nine days wonders, had sunk into oblivion. Hastings himself was gone to the Devil or to Belcastro, which is the same thing.
He had actually marched bodily out of [the regional capital] Zamorna, in the white trousers, the red sash, the gingham-jacket of a thorough going Bloodhound, as one of a detachment of that illustrious Regiment under the command of Captain Dampier.
To the sound of fife, drum and bugle, the lost desperado had departed, leaving behind the recollection of what he had been, a man: the reality of what he was, a monster.”
(‘Henry Hastings’, Charlotte Bronte: Tales of Angria, edited Heather Glen, p. 286-7).
This exotic sounding uniform sounds a little like the Los Colorados troops in the Osprey uniform books on the colourful troops of the Latin American Wars.
But Gingham? Gingham!
Gingham today sounds more Judy Garland than military garment, but I had a distant memory of a uniform plate of soldiers wearing Gingham.
I found it in Uniforms of the American Civil War by Blandford, another of my childhood library borrowing favourites.
Gingham has also appeared recently as a check pattern on Manchester United’s 2012/3 football strip.
The Bloodhounds seem to have had an exotic, almost Zouave-like uniform with sashes and beards.
Gingham could be striped as well as checked – and in a host of colours, red, green, blue. So which colour Gingham to choose for the Bloodhounds?
And which figures and scale will I choose? I have no Peter Laing 15mm zouaves, but Airfix ACW or British Commandos work well in OO/HO for Zouaves. In 40mm or 54mm I may adapt or convert figures from Homecast or Prince August moulds or use some bearded Timpo ACW figures.
Gingham will of course be a challenge, just like tartan, to paint on figures!
Whilst most of Branwell Bronte’s Glasstown and Angrian tales are reprinted in expensive academic volumes, I will have to rely on whatever campaign scenario and uniform clues I can glean from Charlotte’s more easily available and affordable books. I will update or add details as I discover them.
Blogposted by Mark, Mr MIN Man of TIN, April 2017.
I am still slowly piecing together the complex history of four sibling’s imaginary lands and islands.
Christine Alexander the Bronte scholar has imaginatively sketched in where the kingdom of Angria should be, seen here in close up:
There is no map by the Bronte family for the Gondal sagas, set partly on Gondal, a fictional island in the North Pacific which seems to be based largely on Yorkshire. So I drew a rough outline one.more detail will be required for when I set some skirmish gaming scenarios there.
So that is where the map is roughly based on the four North, East, South and West Ridings of Yorkshire.
The Bronte sagas are rather lush and overblown, a bit Gothic and tediously muddled in parts. After all it is their Juvenilia. Some of their adult novels have survived better (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre etc) with their Byronic brooding charcters, mad wives from slave islands in the attic, gothic houses, etc. All quite difficult to take seriously though. At least Jane Austen took the mickey in Northanger Abbey out of the fashion for Gothic novels and the products of a fevered girlish or literary imagination.
I like the fact that it was a box of wooden soldiers that kick started the Bronte sagas.
Often seen as early science fiction or RPG material, a paracosm or alternate world, if the Bronte family had been born at the end of 19th Century and played with tin or lead soldiers then I’m sure it would have been more Floor Games and Little Wars … like another famous science fiction author, H.G. Wells.
There is a charm in the Mad Geography of inventing tropical pacific or African coastlines and islands but making them all moodily, ruggedly, mistily like the wild Yorkshire landscape that the girls knew.
In the next week or so I hope to post a potted history of each of the Bronte’s Imagi-nations.
I find the Bronte juvenile sagas and poems hard going because they were never published in their lifetimes, never edited and probably never meant to be read outside the family. Lots of events and character detail is implied, not stated or written down. The tiny books were split up and sold off by dealers. Usually scholars look at them for clues to the origin of their published novels and characters.
For the Gondal and Gaaldine sagas, the prose stories by Emily and Anne seem to have vanished and only really Emily’s poems to and from different characters remain. I think the longest surviving sister Charlotte may have destroyed the most Gothic / romantic sections with multiple partners, affairs and children out of wedlock parts of them.
Gondal is set on a North Pacific island of four kingdoms. The other island Created by Emily and Anne Bronte is Gaaldine. Gaaldine is a South Pacific island or islands of six kingdoms, settled and interfered with by the ruling families, royalists and revolutionaries of Gondal, and presumably the original natives. I have not yet drawn the Gaaldine map.
For the GlassTown and Angria saga more prose remains, based loosely on a map of West Africa but with European offshore islands and Regency / Naplenoic era heroes. I have been skim reading some of the prose surviving sections for geographical clues to places to enrich the map, jumble of characters etc.
Troubled brother Branwell Bronte had more violent revolutionary and military storylines, often ones that had to be altered or revised by his sister Charlotte when he killed off characters whilst the sisters were away at work or school. Emily and Anne got fed up and invented Gondal and Gaaldine as their own kingdoms.
I like the Prisoner of Zenda type Ruritanian or even Fredonian aspects of the sagas.
If it all gets too complex I will fast forward the nations through to the mid to late Nineteenth century when the established characters have largely died off or been deposed.
Lots of Royalists and revolutionaries abound, as befits the Bronte family growing up in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars and new European nations forming and being fractured by revolutionary times throughout their lifetime. These were the times the Bronte family were born into and wrote through and into the late 1840s.
One of my Christmas highlights on TV this year was the BBC drama To Walk Invisible about the Bronte Sisters and the tragic story of their brother Branwell.
The opening minute or two featured a gothic or dreamlike sequence where the four children running through a great imaginary place or palace open a box of Waterloo Soldiers and then choose some, based on a real account of what happened when their father returned from a trip to Leeds with a box of wooden soldiers on the 5th June 1826.
This dreamlike sequence sees the children, their minds or heads imaginatively aflame, and their imaginations breathe life into or animate these wooden Napoleonic or Waterloo soldiers. Clever special FX brings these Waterloo toy soldiers to life (using actors rather than CGI) amongst these child giants.
Each Young Bronte chooses and names a different figure from amongst the Napoleonic sailors and soldiers including a Napoleon figure, Sneaky, Waiting Boy, Gravey and Wellesley (The Duke of Wellington). A reminder that the Napoleonic wars had finished only a few years before the children’s birth.
The figures go on to becaome characters in their imaginative worlds of GlassTown, Angria and Gondal.
You can see the programme on BBC I Player for the first few weeks of January 2017 – see the programme website.
Their shared imaginary worlds Angria and Gondal had their origins in the Glasstown Confederacy, an earlier imaginary setting created by the Bronte children.
Glasstown was founded when 12 wooden soldiers were offered to Branwell Brontë by his father, Patrick Brontë, on 5 June 1826.The soldiers became characters in their imaginary world.
Branwell came to our door with a box of soldiers Emily & I jumped out of bed and I snat[c]hed up one & exclaimed this is the Duke of Wellington it shall be mine!! When I said this Emily likewise took one & said it should be hers when Anne came down she took one also. Mine was the prettiest of the whole & perfect in every part Emily’s was a Grave looking fellow we called him Gravey. Anne’s was a queer little thing very much like herself. [H]e was called Waiting Boy[.] Branwell chose Bonaparte.
— Charlotte Brontë, The History of the Year (Wikipedia source: Gondal)
This record of events by Charlotte is well and pointedly used in dialogue in the opening section of the BBC’s To Walk Invisible by the child actors / the children portraying the young Bronte family. It reveals some of the rivalry and battles to come amongst the four surviving Bronte children.
The BBC screenplay / drama then skips almost 20 years later to around 1845 when the children are grown up, experiencing many difficulties in life and back together at home in their father’s parsonage in Haworth in Yorkshire (now a Bronte museum). http://www.bronte.org.uk
During December 1827 Charlotte suggested that everyone own and manage their own island, which they named after heroic leaders: Charlotte had Wellington, Branwell had Sneaky, Emily had Parry, and Anne had Ross. Each island’s capital was called Glasstown, hence the name of the Glasstown Confederacy.
The Paracosmsor Imaginary shared worlds created by the Bronte children offer interesting gaming scenarios, which I have written about in the blogpost mentioned below. It is however taking me a long time to piece my way through the rich but scatty and scanty piecemeal survivals from this “imagi-nations” in their maps, stories and characters of their worlds.
I hope to set some of my Napoleonic / 19th century onwards games in this setting.
So what is a Paracosm?
“A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world. Paracosms are thought generally to originate in childhood and to have one or numerous creators. The creator of a paracosm has a complex and deeply felt relationship with this subjective universe, which may incorporate real-world or imaginary characters and conventions.”
The Bronte children’s world is a curious mixture of their native Yorkshire, exotic tropical West Africa (“Ashantee”) read about in books, recent historical figures like Wellington, Napoleon or xplorers like Ross and Parry
Commonly having its own geography, history, and language, it is an experience that is often developed during childhood and continues over a long period of time, months or even years, as a sophisticated reality that can last into adulthood.” (Wikipedia Entry: Paracosm)
Some interesting writers are listed in this paracosm article / Wikipedia entry – some I have never heard of or read but some more familiar ones such as Tolkein or C.S. Lewis.
Sounds like lots of gamers, their blogs detailing imaginary nations and games systems …
The Wikipedia entry on Paracosms also mentions Mark Hogenkamp’s 1/6th figure recreation of a fictional WW2 Belgium town in the Normandy period, after traumatic brain injury, documented in a book, art project and documentary film – http://marwencol.com/about/#about-marwencol
A similarly toy soldier or play restricted childhood created the inspiration Pete Shulman’s amazing clay creation and plastic kit decades long battlefields in America: http://www.peterswar.com/
Hopefully you will find the Bronte 2 hour one off drama To Walk Invisible as interesting as its opening toy soldier minutes.
Interesting comment by Jon Meech about the Bronte worlds as early RPG Role Playing Games.
Warning – if you are a historical wargaming purist, here follows a fantasy game reference alert!
To me “Angria or Gondal Rebooted” is a chance to jazz up some scrap / spare 15mm Napoleonics of various countries and manufacturers from recent job lots.
The Bronte family ‘tiny book’ works of their world fiction are similar to games write ups or wargames journals.
I found several interestingly titled articles on this interesting aspect of their work such as
The Bronte family juvenilia as inspiration for exotic gaming scenarios.
The Brontes created for their characters ( the Twelve young men) heroic scenarios that could be adapted for the gaming table.
Interesting scenarios for a range of small skirmishes can be found amongst the Bronte juvenilia stories such as this in Charlotte Bronte’s juvenile Two Romantic Tales.
Setting and terrain ideas to be sketched onto a gaming map:
A tropical island, unexplored, maybe a continent?
A. small natural harbour around ship under repair.
Travel through about two miles of the following terrain –
B. Cultivated grain fields, plantations of palm and almond trees
C. Olive trees groves
D. rice paddies / enclosures
Any of these (BCD) can be deemed impassable as required or require movement at half pace.
They can be random terrain scattered about or cluttered around a path.
Your characters: 12 named characters ( plus assorted ship’s crew if needed)
Your opponents: Twenty men ‘well armed’ – natives?
What happens next?
Here is the Bronte version of this Battle Narrative. Yours may end differently and be ‘game over’ for the adventurers.
The joy of gaming is that this story could have gone very differently. What if the natives won or captured some of the Twelve adventurers?
The characters in the Bronte juvenile stories are inspired by their imagination but also real people of the age.
Once the characters were established, the following scenarios are set out for the Twelve Young Men:
The Bronte family’s knowledge of the tropical realms of the expanding British empire was through books, atlases and periodicals like Blackwood’s Magazine.
The Ashantees were no doubt generic natives or tribesmen, but Britain did fight the first Anglo Ashanti war in west Africa (now Ghana) around 1824, news of which would have been in the Brinte’s reading matter. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Ashanti_wars
Whilst the real early Ashanti wars were fought over the slave trade and Britain’s abolition movement, one of the interests of gaming is to turn tables and see the Twelve Adventurers as imperialist invaders.
Thundering Cannon, naval Landing Parties, trumpets, war drums, wild wailing natives trying to repel the colonial invaders who man the walls in their city, burning fields, mountainous strongholds – this is the stuff of colonial gaming!
Exotic landscapes and terrain.
A releif party or news from England.
AW ‘Arthur Wellesley’ (based on the duke of Welkington, victor of Waterloo) as the Brontes had been born into the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.
Figures needed for gaming this Bronte period could be culled from a mix of Napoleonic and early Victorian figures versus any available natives.
Lots of interesting ideas here to develop into games scenarios.
Illustrations from the Ashanti Empire Wikipedia entry show an Ashanti warrior with a simple musket and powder horn.
Ashanti warrior c. 1824 Wikipedia source
Ashanti Chieftain c.1819 Wikipedia source
You can read more about the Brontes and their real and imaginary worlds at: