Monday 27 August 2018

Ronald Welch

The books of your youth are rather special. I was very taken with the historical novels of Ronald Welch about the Carey family and their soldiering through the ages. The first two I remember reading (and then re-reading many times) were Knight Crusader (set in the Third Crusade) and For the King (English Civil War). The front end papers had a family tree of the Careys, showing how they related to the various bools of the series, going through to WW1 (Tank Commander). I borrowed all those I could find (repeatedly) from my local library, and I think they were where my lifetime interests in history and military history either started or were confirmed. They certainly sparked my interest in the English Civil War, which even survived A levels.

They bore the unmistakable signs of extensive historical research, which is no surprise as their author, Ronald Felton (1909-1982, was history teacher who served as a tank commander in the Second World War and took his pen name from his wartime regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

They have been out of print for a long time and second hand were expensive and hard to track down. In the last five years Slightly Foxed have been reissuing them in a limited edition of 2,000 copies and last week I bit the bullet and bought a complete set. Expensive but worth it I think.

The complete list of the Carey Novels (in chronological order) is:

Knight Crusader
Bowmen of Crecy
Sun of York
The Galleon
The Hawk
For the King
Captain of Dragoons
Mohawk Valley
Escape from France
Captain of Foot
Nicholas Carey
Ensign Carey
Tank Commander

There is also an unpublished novella, the Road to Waterloo.

Other non-Carey novels included The Gauntlet and Zulu Warrior.

I've also had that particular thrill of now finding titles I had never seen at the time - last summer I found a Dalziel and Pascoe novel by Reginald Hill I had completely missed on publication.

I have the same feeling about these novels as I did when I discovered a few years ago that the TV series The Flaxton Boys, which I watched about the same time, had been in part written by Don Houghton, of At the Colonel's Table fame. Now I've thought about it again, I've just ordered the DVD from Amazon.

I'm sure some of you out there probably read these once upon a time. For the rest of you there is an undiscovered treat if you want to look into them. Written for children yes, but with a depth of historical background which still makes them satisfying adult reading.

They deserve to be better known.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Not exactly vintage but...

...can anyone help me identify the manufacturer of this range, and/or who sells them now?

They are 20mm figures and part of a larger range of Arabs and French Foreign Legion. I bought these as samples a few years ago from a seller on eBay, but when I tried to buy more they had a complicated system for ordering  from their listing which I couldn't get to work for me; when I tried to contact them to order more figures direct there was no response. I haven't seen them listed again since and I have no information about that original order.

My only other memory is that I think they had various other ranges, and described these as an old range.

Any helpful suggestions via comments gratefully received.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Georland - a bit of a rethink?

I realise it's been a very long time since I posted anything over on the Georland blog and the project has been firmly on the back burner for a while.

This has partly been because I had achieved that mythical state of "having finished" the S Range Franco Prussian armies I had intended to use for the project, and started on other things: then acquired quite a large number of additional S Range figures of various German states infantry and cavalry. This made me feel painting them up was another large project which I wasn't yet up to the challenge of starting.

So while I had (and still have) an intention to refight some of the Georland battles on the tabletop, it also dawned on me over quite a long period of time that maybe I didn't want to use the Franco Prussian figures after all for this. I am perfectly happy to have two good sized Franco Prussian War armies and use them just for that. I was influenced by this picture, a watercolour by George Keef in the Journal, entitled the Battle of Emburg (or Enburg, depending on your reading of the script)  dated 8 August 1873. A larger version of the picture appears at the bottom of the home page of the Georland blog.

The lines of red coated troops have brought me back to my original intention, which was to use my S Range Crimean armies, to achieve a similar look. I think the FPW option came about because George Keef's original soldiers were mainly semi round FPW figures, with the French providing the Georlan forces.

So while the Franco Prussian Germans will prove useful for some of the wars of the later Epochs, I am now thinking I might go back to British Crimean War figures for Georland, to achieve a similar aesthetic to this picture.

If I do choose to go this way I won't regard the FPW project as a sidetrack, as it stands on its own and without the interest in terms of Georland I doubt I would have got anywhere near as far with painting the figures, as I would have got distracted into something else. (And in fact while I have some further S Range Crimean Highlanders somewhere in the painting crew I also have some Hinton Hunt and Douglas British Crimean figures which will probably get attention before they do). I am unlikely to be happy using the Hinton Hunt and Douglas figures alongside S range ones, but will have to see. Also I have some very nicely painted Hinton Hunt Crimean Russian infantry somewhere which I must dig out sometime.

I also greatly enjoyed  assembling my collection of buildings from German railway scenery manufacturers, so I would also need to give some thought to whether to use these or the Russian style (and slightly larger scale) buildings I have instead.

It is all a bit hypothetical as I doubt anything will happen any time soon. I realise I need to do a fair bit of research for the Orders of Battle for any engagements I might want to refight, as although there is information in the scans I have of the last section of the Journal, they can be hard to decipher and may have lost some of their content to the scanner's margin settings.

But I think some good problems to have.

(I have also posted this update on the Georland blog).