Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Alfred Charles Gramson - 3rd East Kent Regiment, The Buffs.

100th commemoration of the end of The First World War. To the memories of Alfred Charles Gramson (my Grandfather) and his brothers Richard Gramson and Henry Gramson.

 Alfred Charles Gramson

My Grandfather Alfred Charles Gramson was twenty one years old when he signed up for 'Three Years with the Colours' on 9th September 1914. His Attestation papers, (a rare survivor of a fire at records office I am told), shows that he joined the 3rd East Kent Regiment - The Buffs. Regimental number G/2395 and his signature was witnessed by his Father. His service record shows that he was sent for training at Canterbury Barracks and embarked for France from Folkestone Harbour on 31st August 1915 recorded as 'B.E.F. France'.

His two elder brothers had already joined up in the (Queens Own) Royal West Kent Regiment (6th Battalion) .  Henry John Gramson (aged 31) and Richard Gramson (age 29). Richard is recorded as wounded on 6th November 1916, and eldest brother Henry was also listed as wounded on 22nd November 1916. 

The attack on Rainbow Trench, Battle of The Somme, October 1916.
37th Infantry Brigade were on the right, with 6th Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) and 6th  Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) as the lead battalions, 6th Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) and 7th East Surrey in support, attacked Rainbow Trench.
Little progress was made by any of the battalions. 6th The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) did manage to make it into Rainbow Trench but not in enough numbers to hold it, and on withdrawing the battalion had only 1 officer and 40 other ranks left uninjured.

My Aunt Vi who is now 92 recently told me that it was Henry who broke the news of Richards wound to my Grandfather Alfred shortly before Henry himself was wounded. Both returned to duty, 

Sadly Henry is recorded as 'Killed in Action' on 2nd July 1918. Duty location  is shown as 'France and Flanders' at the time of death his unit were serving on The Somme. He was 34.

Both my Grandfather and Richard survived the war, Richard being discharged in 1918. My Grandfather was given home leave on 10th October 1918 and was married to my Grandmother on 19th October 1918. He died in 1956, 2 years before I was born so it's been a real honour to discover his story and that of his brothers.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Diddy Dragoon Guards & 40mm shelf preview!

I got a fair bit of painting done while Shaz was away in the Uk, that and some good dog walks.I'm definitely feeling and looking far healthier since the move to Spain and my mental health is very much restored from the time when I began this therapy blog.

In 40mm I focused on completing all of the extra command figures for the four infantry battalions and then finished off the basing on sixteen voltiguers. I still need to work back through each battalion checking details - for example brass barrel bands on one unit need adding - but as you can see they make quite a formidable sight when viewed together. The British battalions are equally impressive, but I still need to paint the last four flank company for the last battalion so probably next week before they attend for parade here. They will be followed by the first of the French Chassuer a Cheval.

For the 15mm C&C project I painted six British heavy dragoons (British cavalry are of 3 blocks while French are of 4) , in a single session. They seemed to take no time at all, a 000 brush was used from start to finish on the figures, and a 0 brush on the horses, my method being to quickly pick out the colours being careful not to make mistakes that require time spent repainting or touching up. For example the dragoons arms were carefully painted leaving the lace work area black before adding fine lines in yellow to the fronts. belts were painted with a single dash of white paint and I find that leaving some black to add depth gives me the result I am looking for. I'm highlighting the Flat Red with Amaranth to give them a nice bright finish once satin varnished (two heavy coats), as these are intended very much as 'playing pieces' that will be handled quite a bit. I'd say a couple of hours max for these six cavalry and I'm pleased with them. I'm now applying the same method to French line infantry in campaign dress and I'll probably hack through quite a number of them over the next few days. You can see the first eight below, I have sixteen more sitting on washers to follow but I'm going to paint the four British 40mm's first over the weekend.

Sunday morning!
Further to the above, I painted the four British line to complete infantry phase 1 yesterday, save for some basing work etc. All of my 40mm's currently sit on shelves for easy access, I just need to give them a soft brush now and then to remove dust, but I do enjoy being able to handle them. This morning I took a few pics as an overview of where the collection stands to date.

15mm Dragoons by Blue Moon destined for the C&C board.
Blue Moon 15mm French line.

The French light companies.

Both French and British will be made up to 3 gun batteries.

Each French battalion consists of 35 figures plus 4 skirmishers ! 

French battalions each feature 4 grenadiers. The light company are separated to form a 16 figure skirmish line for the brigade.

British Battalions each of 29 figures. The heavy dragoons below will be made up to 16 figures and the battery to 3 guns and crews.

Last 4 British infantry for the time being.

The 12 x 60th Rifles with French 2nd Hussars beside them

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Painting 40mm British Napoleonic infantry - recording colours.

Yesterday I got a couple of good long painting sessions in, and the result was four more British Infantry completed. I'm really beginning to find my stride now with these 40mm figures and I have just four more figures to paint to complete the first four full Battalions. The decision to add four flank company figures per unit was taken mostly because I had the figures and that one unit (The Buffs) arrived with them already painted.

As I'll soon be turning my attention to rounding off the four large French battalions (35 figures per battalion including a mounted officer) I thought it a good idea to jot down a few colours for when I return to painting more Brits in due course.

The British redcoats are painted starting with Flat Red (all Vallejo paints used), then highlighted with Amaranth Red whilst still wet. The latter is a nice orange red and once fully dry I add a wash of red ink to add depth and shading, wiping the highlight areas as required. This gives me a very satisfactory redcoat. For officers I add some Orange Red to represent the better quality cloth.

White trousers had been a bit of an issue, I had been highlighting with Ivory but it was still too 'white' for campaign trousers. I have now settled on Light Grey highlighted with Sky Grey and this seems to give a much better look.

Everything is of course painted over a flat Black undercoat, the Vallejo paints being able to cover well over this. As I paint carefully picking out the details etc I find that I don't need to use black other than to touch up, but the black alone is a little flat and I have found that highlighting with Black Grey works really well on backpacks, shakos, bicornes etc.

Faces have been a little more problematic. I have now reverted to the two shades that I used for years on smaller scale figures, Light Brown base and a careful highlight using a size 000 brush and Flat Flesh, down the nose, dot in both sides of the nose, dot in above the lips, the chin and the cheekbones and ears. Recently I have started mixing in a small amount of red to the Flat Flesh and slightly highlighting the cheeks and beneath the lower lip and I must say I really like the impact this gives my 40mm faces, maybe too 'toy soldier' for some but I really like it. Previous attempts using various browns (on the Highlanders for example) resulted in far too strong a finish, the subtle 'rose' giving a finish I'm far happier with. Eyes I just try to add the whites with tiny single dots, sometimes I overdo it! I like to paint in teeth where figures are open mouthed.

Before I paint the final four British Grenadiers (?) ready for the Grand Review next week I'm going to paint the foot command figures for the fourth French battalion as you see. As I found a bare head in the spares box I decided to cut the sergeants shako from the face, file it flat then drill it out so that it sits on the bayonet, a minor conversion but gives him a slightly different appearance.

Pictures show before and after Vallejo Satin Varnish and as I found a few smaller scale figures in the spares box too I thought a photo illustrating the size of these 40mm figures might be fun. Image shows a Blue Moon 15mm, Hinton Hunt 20mm (I don't know where he came from, must have been when I was painting for Roy) and a 25mm Hinchliffe figure. The 40mm is interesting as I can't see him in the Sash & Sabre lists, he looks very Spanish to me, any ideas? Whatever he is he's a real character, cigar in hand.

Enthusiastic Frenchie!

After varnishing.

Little and Large!

Friday, 19 October 2018

A busy painting desk this week in 15mm & 40mm!

I'm home alone again for a week -well I have the dog and cat for company of course - but Shaz is back in the UK for a week with the kids and Gran children. She will be back on Thursday and once again will be bringing back some more hobby goodies in her suitcase. I'm planning to keep busy painting soldiers and getting in some long dog walks, my legs are aching this morning as yesterday I walked Poppy to the top of Monte Corona from where the views are magnificent, if I go again today I'll take the camera. It's rainy season here in La Safor Mountains, but the sun still shows it's face most days, today is dry and bright at 22 degrees.

 I have been quietly beavering away on a little background project for a month or so now, the aim being to replace the Commands and Colours blocks with individual 15mm soldiers. Some might recall the huge box of 'Blue Moon' Napoleonics that came with us to Spain 7 months ago, sufficient to replace every type of British and French block with a figure. You can see below progress to date, British infantry, line, light & rifles and the first of the French infantry. 4 blocks per unit, 3 in the case of rifles. I have 6 British heavy dragoons undercoated (3 per unit) and will then hack through loads of French line in campaign dress. When I tire of the demands of painting 40mm soldiers I find I can whack through 12 or so 15mm figures in a couple of hours painting session, which is quite rewarding.

I have no plans to do anything more than replace the blocks and play on the board just as it is, I much prefer the feel of such playing pieces and the visual impact, they are robust enough to be scooped up and knocked about a bit. As you can see all will be based on 6mm steel washers with the intention of storing them in boxes lined with magnetic sheet. This combination of board games and models is something I am keen to take further in the future and C&C offers an awful lot of potential.

By next Friday I hope to present the four completed 40mm British line battalions, just eight flank company to paint this week and they will be done. I painted the two standard bearers and a drummer to complete all of the command figures required, as said before each battalion will be of 29 figures including a mounted officer. Then it's back to the French, slotting in more 15mm's as and when I feel like it!

40mm figures by Sash & Sabre, 15mm figures by Blue Moon, all available in the UK from good old Andy at Old Glory UK.

Busy, busy!

Rifles to the fore, 3 blocks per unit.

The board is darker than shown here, but I might yet lighten the figure bases to match.

The light infantry are distinguished from the line by the loading/firing poses.

First French - in greatcoats to begin with!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

British cavalry on parade in Spain!

I have just finished the basing off this morning which completes the first eight British Heavy Dragoons. I do have another eight in the pipeline, but they will probably be pushed back until later in the year as my plan is to finish off all of the infantry of both sides first and then to paint the first eight of the line Chassuers a Cheval castings that I have here.

I'm pleased with how these turned out, I built the red up to a nice bright orange red highlight which seems to set them off. I did make one cock up, the trumpeters head was stuck onto another trooper and I failed to notice it until only yesterday when they were all based up and varnished! Shaz and I popped out for an afternoon drink and I was clearly pre occupied as she said to to me " You're still thinking about those heads aren't you?" I knew they had to be swapped and decided to go for it when I got home later, and it was with much trepidation that I prized the damn things off and stuck them back on again. Not perfect, but after a bit of cleaning up and retouching I was glad that I did it.

So here they are, I'm not which regiment they will represent yet. The breeches were repainted white and then washed over with a grey wash before highlighting with ivory, I think they look about right now. I'm trying to improve my horse painting method, still not 100% but getting better. I think they have real impact in 40mm scale, they are big chunky castings, and I thought it would be nice to show them with the Light Dragoons as this represents the British cavalry so far completed.

Next up are three more British command figures then eight line flank company, four per battalion to finish them off. This will give me four battalions each of 24 rank and file, 2 standard bearers, a drummer, a foot officer and a mounted commander. In addition there is the twelve figure unit representing the 60th Rifles. After that I need to just add a few more French command figures to complete five battalions organised as per the British, each of 29 figures total plus a unit of 16 Voltiguers. It's all starting to come together now slowly. I might then add more guns to bring the artillery up to battery strength of 3 guns per side. Further down the line I want to do a British Light infantry battalion and may well go with Perry Miniatures for these as they do really nice figures in loading and firing poses which will make a neat close order battalion. Perry's are somewhat expensive at £4.25 per figure (?) but I think they will be worth it.

Friday was 'Columbus Day' here in Spain, Spanish National day, the second public holiday of the week as Tuesday was Christians and Moors commemorations day! 12 public holidays a year here, and everything closes except the bars and restaurants of course. It's family time as generations eat and drink together in a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. Shaz and I booked for Paella at our favourite little bar, we have been in Spain now for 7 months and here in Ador for only about 4 months but we already feel like locals here and always get a warm welcome when we walk in to Ca Elsa. There is something very special about the warmth of the Spanish people that we love, everyone talks to you and smiles at you.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Heavy Dragoons underway!

To return to the painting of model soldiers - with my mind now pretty well made up as to how to proceed with the building of the wargame table - I have made a start on some Sash & Sabre British Heavies. A session yesterday followed by a nice relaxing Sunday morning session today has enabled me to paint the first four troopers. I found it a tad difficult obtaining solid reference material for these chaps, representing as they do a unit on campaign in the Peninsular war, pre1812 when the helmet would appear to have been widely introduced. Breeches for example are shown as buff, off white or frequently as depicted here in the blue grey overalls with riding boots. I may yet alter some details, the cuffs I think need lace adding as these are not cast wearing gloves. For now they're not too bad I think. I'll probably assemble and paint the next four before painting the eight horses together. I have another bag on order which will eventually bring them up to sixteen figures.

Whilst browsing Facebook yesterday I came across Steve Barber Models and his 'Commission a miniature' service. Steve is clearly a very talented sculptor of miniatures and his page featured the first of a 40mm commission of Napoleonic characters. I'm sure all of us 'Sharp' fans can guess who he is, and Steve informs me that he will be available for purchase in about a months time and others will follow in due course, although for now they are under wraps. I will definitely be down for a set of these.
Copyright Steve Barber Models.

Copyright Steve Barber Models.