Sunday 31 July 2016

What next with my Napoleonics?

Now that I have the bit between my teeth, I am determined to renovate, varnish, and base some more of my Napoleonic figures. The choice has fallen on my Dutch-Belgians, and they are currently on my work table awaiting my attention.

I have enough 'new' figures to add two more units (i.e. regiments) to my existing Dutch-Belgian army, and once they are added it will boast enough figures to form a purely Infantry Division (i.e. no Cavalry or Artillery at present) and a spare Infantry Regiment.

The figures are all wearing white trousers and Belgic shakos, and from a distance (quite a distance!) will pass muster as US Infantry for the War of 1812 ... which makes them useful if I ever want to re-fight any of the battles from that war.

To keep me 'in the mood' for all things Napoleonic, I have just finished reading C S Forester's THE GUN ..

... and have just begun DEATH TO THE FRENCH.

I've read both books before, but as I enjoy Forester's writing, it has been a very enjoyable experience to re-visit them.

Saturday 30 July 2016

Shetland Islands War Memorial, Lerwick, Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands War Memorial is situated just across the road from Lerwick Town Hall. It comprises a tall cross on a cross-shaped plinth.

Each of the sides of the plinth has a pair of cast plates which bear the names of the dead of the First World War, listed in alphabetical order under the name of the Shetland parish they came from.

The Memorial is flanked by two later stone walls, each of which has a pair of cast plates bearing the names of the dead of the Second World War from each parish.

In front of the memorial is an inscribed paving slab in memory of Lieutenant William Bruce VC.

It is interesting to note that Lieutenant Bruce was not a Shetlander (he was born in Edinburgh), but his father – Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Murison Macrae Bruce of the 4th Punjab Infantry – was a younger son of William Arthur Bruce of Symbister, Shetland. The Bruce family was one of the so-called County Families of Shetland.

William Arthur McCrae Bruce was born on 15th June 1890 in Edinburgh. He was educated at Victoria College, Jersey, and then at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. After he had passed out and gained a commission, he joined 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force).

The regiment served on the Western Front in 1914–15, and it was during the Battle of Givenchy that Lieutenant Bruce won his Victoria Cross.

The citation was included in the London Gazette on 4th September 1919, and states:
The late Lieutenant William Arthur McCrae Bruce, 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force), Indian Army.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. On the 19th December, 1914, near Givenchy, during a night attack, Lieutenant Bruce was in command of a small party which captured one of the enemy's trenches. In spite of being severely wounded in the neck, he walked up and down the trench, encouraging his men to hold on against several counter-attacks for some hours until killed. The fire from rifles and bombs was very heavy all day, and it was due to the skillful disposition made, and the example and encouragement shown by Lieutenant Bruce that his men were able to hold out until dusk, when the trench was finally captured by the enemy.
The Victoria Cross was presented to Bruce's mother by the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, Major General Sir Alexander Wilson, on 13th March 1920. One of the Houses of Victoria College, Jersey, bears his name, and ex-pupils of the College bought the VC when it came up for sale in 1992. They presented the medal to the school, and it is currently on loan to the Jersey Museum.

Friday 29 July 2016

Where are they now? Finished and waiting to be added to my collection!

Since last Friday I have been slowly but surely renovating, varnishing, and basing the Minifigs 'S' Range Prussian Napoleonic figures that I originally painted nearly fifty years ago.

The figures had not suffered too much damage in storage, but they did need a bit of renovating before they were varnished. They are now gloss varnished (a process that seems to lift even the dullest of colours) and based on MDF bases that have been painted with Humbrol matt Grass Green enamel paint.

I am now able to add them to my existing collection of Napoleonic figures, and I intend to use them to form the first of my Prussian Infantry Divisions.

Thursday 28 July 2016

HMS Caroline

Whilst Sue and I were on our most recent cruise, we stopped in Belfast and our ship – MV Azura – was moored not far from where HMS Caroline is currently docked.

Although we did not have time to visit this important ship, I was able to take quite a few photographs.

HMS Caroline seen from the starboard side

HMS Caroline seen from forward on the port side

HMS Caroline seen from astern

HMS Caroline's replica 6-inch guns, which are mounted towards her stern

HMS Caroline's forecastle area

HMS Caroline's replica 4-inch guns

HMS Caroline's Bridge and Spotting Top

HMS Caroline's replica 4-inch forecastle guns

HMS Caroline was a C-class Light Cruiser. She was built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, and was laid down on 28th January 1914, launched on 29th September 1914, and completed in and commissioned on 4th December of that year.

Her characteristics were as follows:
  • Displacement: 4,733 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 420 ft (446 ft overall)
    • Beam: 41.5 ft
    • Draught: 16 ft
  • Propulsion: 8 boilers, 4 x Parsons independent reduction steam turbines producing 40,000 shp and driving 4 propellers
  • Speed: 28.5 knots
  • Complement: 325
  • Armament (as built): 2 × 6-inch/45 Mk XII BL guns (2 × 1); 8 × 4-inch/45 Mk V QF guns (8 x 1) ; 1 x 13-pdr QF gun (1 x 1); 4 × 21-inch torpedo tubes (2 x 2)
  • Armament (by 1918): 4 × 6-inch/45 Mk XII BL guns (4 × 1); 2 x 3-inch/20 cwt Mk I anti-aircraft guns (2 x 1); 8 × 21-inch torpedo tubes (4 x 2)
  • Armour: Belt: 3 to 1 inches; Decks: 1 inch; Conning Tower: 6 inches
In 1916 HMS Caroline was part of 4th Light Cruiser Squadron and took part in the battle of Jutland. In 1917 HMS Caroline was fitted with a forecastle runway for launching an aircraft, but this was removed in late 1918. She was paid off in February 1922, and became the Training Ship for the Ulster Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve two years later. Except for the period between 1939 and 1945 when she acted as the administrative centre for the escort ship stationed in Londonderry, she remained in that role until 2008. In 2011 she was decommissioned and handed over for preservation as part of the National Historic Fleet.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

I have been to ... the Battle of Jutland exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

As the weather remained good, Sue and I decided to take a trip to Greenwich so that we could visit the Battle of Jutland exhibition that is currently on display at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

We drove to Greenwich Park, and managed to find a parking space near to the Observatory and not far from the statue of General Wolfe.

We then walked downhill towards the back entrance of the museum. Before going in we decided to sit for a while in the sun near the colonnade that runs from the main part of the museum to the Queen's House.

This gave us a magnificent view of the Observatory ...

... and of General Wolfe's statue.

Having had a rest, we made our way to the back entrance of the museum, passing on our way the Titanic Memorial Garden ...

... and a huge 'ship in a bottle' model that has recently been installed near the entrance.

Entrance to the museum is free, and after passing through the main doors we were greeted by a member of staff who directed us towards the exhibition. This was located in one section of the ground floor in the main hall.

The room at first appeared to be very badly lit, but this had been done to add emphasis to the individual exhibits.

The first exhibit that you come to tells the story of the naval arms race between Britain and Germany, and shows each of the battleships and battle cruisers built by the two nations up to the start of the Great War.

The largest exhibit in the room was a massive model of one of Admiral Beatty's 'Big Cat' Battle Cruisers.

The only other large ship model in the room was of a British Destroyer.

Around the walls were a number of large-scale plan drawings, paintings, and battle ensigns.

Most of the rest of the exhibits were of a more personal nature and included the medals awarded to Rear Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot ...

... as well as other medals, an account book, and assorted relics of the ships and men that fought at Jutland.

There was also a very poignant display about some of the people who fought in or were affected by the Battle of Jutland.

As we left the exhibition, we saw a small cabinet that dealt with the cultural importance of navies in European society during the run up to the outbreak of the Great War.

It contained a magnificent toy model of an ironclad battleship, the like of which I had never seen before.

This exhibition is well worth seeing if you are going to visit Greenwich but in my opinion it is not worth making a special trip just to see it.