Thursday, January 27, 2011

Foundry's Rivals of The Raj - 1497 to 1941

Non-British Colonial Armies in Asia

I picked up this book in October when it was first released. The author is Peter Abbott who has written a number of other books for Foundry (notably Colonial Armies In Africa), Raider Games and Osprey. With the exception of the other Foundry book his work deals with subjects post 1900. Approximately 86 pages of the 196 pages of this volume deal with subjects from c.1850 or so to 1941.

It retails for £35.01 (why the 1 p?) from Foundry, although can be purchased for less during their regular sales or from other online vendors.

The cover

I have all the other Foundry publications, with the exception of the one on Tudor England. The quality of the publication is what we have come to expect from Foundry. The Foundry site  states:

The latest in our acclaimed military series of A4 sized hardbacks with traditional linen and gilt binding features the armies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Denmark, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, America, Belgium, Italy and Sweden!

Illustrations include 243 figures, 53 illustrations, 4 maps.

This book traces the developments in the structure, armament, and uniforms of the armies maintained by the imperial powers in Asia throughout the colonial period, with illustrative order of battle material wherever possible.The evolutionary development of the armies which maintained the colonial powers’ extraordinary ascendency in the East for four and a half centuries has seldom been surveyed as a whole, and certainly not in the kind of organisational detail included in this book.


Contents page 1
Contents page 2
There are no colour illustrations and, unfortunately, no illustrations of flags. I had purchased the book hoping for the latter. 

I have to say that I haven't read any other of the author's books despite owning his earlier Foundry book and an Osprey on WWI East Africa. I certainly don't have the knowledge to comment on the research regarding anything outside of India. On that basis, the book is a sound introduction to those areas I don't know anything about. I did notice that there is no information on Japan, as those forces will be covered in a subsequent volume, as will the British.

As regards SYW India, well I did have a few issues. These included:

  • Cross checking the source material was not always easy. Some of the internet sources were not current when I checked (the Danes in particular).
  • It was difficult to locate relevant information on occasion. For example, the only reference to the Goan Portuguese I could see was in captions, not the main text.
  • Important pictorial sources referred to were not necessarily illustrated. Again, in respect to the Danes the Tranquebar Dug - a rug made in India c.1740 illustrating Danish troops - wasn't illustrated.
  • I thought the 4 maps were pretty useless and that the space could have been better used (but that's just my opinion).
  • Lack of flag information.

What I found good about the book was:

  • The extensive background on the Dutch East Indies Company which I had only seen in a much more abridged form. There are 28 pages covering the period up to 1878 and 15 pages up to and including 1941.
  • There is also a good analysis of French uniforms in India (and how difficult it was to keep the troops provided with one). The treatment of De Bussy's army is short but very good, dealing with the changes in uniform, unlike another publication I keep threatening to review.
  • It consolidates a lot of information which can be difficult to find without extensive reading.
I will admit I was initially disappointed with the book when I first opened it. I had hoped it would answer all those questions I had about flags and uniforms. However, the more I reviewed the information contained within the more pleased I was.

Information on the period, is difficult to obtain and the author has done a very good job researching. He certainly includes some information on the Dutch I was not aware of. There is information omitted from the book that I have found elsewhere (again on those pesky Dutch!). Having said that, considering the uncertainty of uniform details and the immense size of the period the book covers the author has done a great job.

I would highly recommend the book as it consolidates a lot of information that is otherwise difficult to find. You may not always agree with the author's conclusions on a topic, but usually the information is there to form your own opinion. And a few colour plates, as with all in this series, would be nice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Interesting Books

I have been reading two books of interest on India.

The first is French Military Influence In India by Lt Gen Gurbir Mansingh, published in 2006 by United Service Institution of India.

There are 8 pages of colour, all of which have three pictures per page. There are some nice plates, but others are too small to appreciate the detail. There are 21 black & white plates and 4 maps. As usual with books published in India I find the b&w plates are a little dark and grainy.
Contents Page

The author, as with most Indian authors, has a great respect for Dupleix. Lally is only mentioned in one sentence in the entire book, as Governor of Pondicherry when it fell to the British. Five pages are devoted to De Bussy. It then deals with French mercenaries and influence up until 1839, ending with the Sikhs.

I enjoyed this book which had a nice list of senior French officers in the service of different Indian Princely States. There was also a picture of the flags of the six French trained brigades in the army of the Nizam c.1790. I hadn't seen these before.

There are five pages devoted to the Portuguese and four to the Dutch. These two chapters contain very basic information.

It would have been nice for the book to be longer and for more colour illustrations.

The second, India's Free Lances by H.G Keene is an interesting book. It was first published in 1897 under the title Hindustan Under Free Lances 1770 to 1820. There are no illustrations in the reprint I have, published by Leonaur books in 2008.

It covers a lot of the same ground as the above book, but in greater depth. The first chapter is titled European & Asians and reflects the views of a European bought up with a Victorian view of the world. Some may find the opening chapter not to their liking considering some of the comments made, such as:

The rule that oriental multitudes cannot contend against the white man is one that may be taken to be universal... Whether due to climate, or to institutions, the ultimate victory always falls to the men of the West; and amongst immediate causes must be reckoned the inability of Oriental officers to lead.

Having said that, the author also expresses his high opinion of the "Oriental" as an individual warrior.

The first chapter dealing with the Free Lances is on Law & Sombre. Law was a French officer of Franco-Scot heritage who first distinguished himself in 1748 when the British fleet attacked Pondicherry. He fought on until 1761 when captured by the British. Sombre, whose real name was Walter Rheinhardt, was possibly born in Prussia and served under Law.Sombre described his countenance.He started his own mercenary army and was responsible for a massacre of 150 British prisoners in 1760.  He was never brought to justice by the British.

The book then details the careers of  11 other Free Lances whose careers had commenced by 1817, including Skinner of Skinner's Horse fame.


The book would have benefited from illustrations, at least in my opinion!

I would recommend both of these books.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hello Sailor!

Here is the first unit of sailors. I intend to use these as British, although they could be anything.

The figures are a mix of manufacturers. The ones with big guns are by Brigade Games and, not surprisingly are called Pirates with Big Guns.

From Brigade Games site

The officer and midshipman are from Black Scorpion.

An article in Military Modelling from 1997 has a solid (but not astounding) article on uniforms of HEIC naval officers.

Misleading article title - it deals with naval uniforms only

Officer c 1800  from Military Modelling article

As usual, painted by Peter, based by me ( basing isn't quite finished yet).

1896 picture of SYW engagement between French & British in India

Third Hindu Matchlock Green

Here is the picture of the third green with matchlock.

Looks good to me! Can't wait to get these cast... Again, great work by the sculptor!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wandewash Revisited

Furtherto my post of 22 January, here is a further picture of the fort at Wandewash and its surrounds. It may be of interest to some!

Some nice, if not quite accurate, pictures and another project!

Having explained in a prior post how my interest in SYW India started, I have been tracking down copies of Look & Learn magazine to rekindle the wonder I felt as a kid! Some may say it's my mid-life crisis. I would probably agree...But it certainly is cheaper than a sports car!


Plassey again
The pictures are nice, but not accurate - but what can you expect?

Fall of Calcutta

Clive relieves Calcutta
There are some beautiful pencil drawings in the magazine as well.

East India Docks
Having scanned (with eyes, as opposed to scanner) a few issues of the magazine now there is a real problem - although the art may not be accurate it is certainly inspirational. Mysore, Mutiny and Sikh Wars beckon.

Seringapatam 1799 - another favourite of mine.
So do the 1600s - inspired by this picture:

From a 1980 issue
The caption states that the scene is in 1675, and it has inspired me to put together Europeans for the period  using Warlord ECW plastics! A slightly more exotic take on an exotic theme perhaps?

I admit I am a metal snob, and these are the first plastic figures I have purchased. I was impressed with the quality, but the poses were a little limited. And they lack heft  : )

The beauty with this project is that the Europeans will be minor allied contingents for the Natives, so I won't need a lot! And surprisingly, uniform information, where there are uniforms, is easier to obtain!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Hindu Greens

You may recall that I am having some figures sculpted to fill holes in existing ranges. The sculptor has now finished the next two figures. They are armed with matchlock and are 28mm.

The firing figure isn't complete as yet and I will post a picture of it shortly.

I have now finalised discussions for these to be released commercially.


Battle of Wandewash - 22 January 1760

British officers consult with sepoys behind

Today marks the 251st anniversary of the Battle of Wandewash (in Tamil:.வந்தவாசி - Vandavasi)

French East Indies Regiment with sepoys in support (an old picture - and Hawkwood, I know the colours are in the wrong spots. That has been remedied!)

Wandewash was Lally's last play to defeat the British. He attempted to recapture the fort at Wandewash which had fallen into British hands. He feinted towards another British held fort at Conjerverum, hoping to draw the British away from Wandewash.

Map of the battle
Eyre Coote, in command of the British followed, as Lally turned and headed back to Wandewash. Coote realised his mistake and returned to Wandewash, which was now besieged by the French.

Sepoys with French NCO
The British army was approximately 4,150 foot, 1,280 horse and 16 artillery. The French army comprised 3,100 foot, 3,300 horse and 16 guns.

Coote was met with a charge by Mahratta cavalry, allies of the French. The Mahrattas suffered heavy casualties and disbursed. Lally then drew his army up to meet the British, leaving only 300 men surrounding the fort.

Article from Military Modelling
The battlefield was a flat plain, with some rice fields near the fort.

Fields at Wandewash today

The northern end of the field was dominated by Wandewash Hill or Mountain.

Wandewash Hill - Steeper than the above map would indicate

My gaming version -  too stylised?

Lally immediately took command of the 300  European cavalry and charged, only to be met with artillery fire ( I know a few gamers who use those tactics!). The French advantage in European cavalry over the British force of 80 troopers was lost in minutes.By the time the French cavalry rallied the battle was over and it covered the retreat.

British officer
Lally then ordered the Lorraine Regiment to charge the 84th foot. A melee resulted with the French routing. The Lally Regiment also broke under musket fire resulting in the French army routing. Bussy was wounded and captured whilst leading the Lally Regiment.
French officer

Eyre Coote

The French lost 600 men, 19 field artillery and 5 siege guns. The British lost 190 Europeans and 49 men of the Native Horse.

Regiment Lally - Crusader Miniatures
What of the scene today? Taken from an edition of the Hindu Times of January 2010:

...little is being done to protect the remains of the battle, the mutilated earthen walls of Vandavasi fort, the disfigured moat which serves as a storage for sewage and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a number of cannons scattered around the town.

Camel jingal in trouble - nothing to do with the battle at all!
I haven't been able to locate any contemporary sketches of the fort.Google Earth isn't much help regarding its status today. It would appear that you can see the watertank and ridge referred to on the map. There is also a lighter colour area in the approximate area the fort is positioned on the map, but after that resolution doesn't assist. The link is Then go to the north of Vandavasi which is marked and the Hill is easy to distinguish.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Moghul Tower

Here are some pictures of a Moghul tower made by Peter using Hirst Arts blocks.

The cupola is from a hobby store - doll's house section. The tower is a Pringles chip can! It is removable for transport and storage.

Peter has captured the red sandstone look perfectly. The pictures don't do the tone justice.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

My New Blog

I have set up a blog that I will post other non-Indian projects/ collections on. It can be found at;

At the moment there is only the introduction, but there are pictures of late Romans, Sassanids, War of 1812 and 6mm early Moderns to give an idea of what might be posted up!

Thanks Gents


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Native Rockets

Just a quick post for those of you who wanted to see some rockets. And there were more of you than I expected!

Figures by London War Room - now defunct  : (  These were among the better figures of that company.

Painted by Peter, based by me.

For nice scratchbuilt ones see

Bill The Bandsman's Bands

Surfing the 'net tonight I stumbled upon a company called Bill The Bandsman's Bands that make a wide range of 54mm marching bands. Included are some nice bands in theme with this blog.

Nellore Sepoy Band

Nellore Sepoys marching

1st Company De Bussy's Band

De Bussy's Topas Band
And a slightly later period:

Madras Sepoy Band 1800 - possibly my favourite!
Selling at US$297 per band for 14 pieces they are quite expensive, but do have a particular charm. Would I buy a set? Probably, but there are other projects to spend cash on at the moment! The turnaround, if out of stock, can be up to 120 days! Would I use them as a painting guide - not necessarily!

I have bands for my Portuguese and Moghuls in 28mm and will post up pictures once they are based.

The entire range of bands can be seen at: