Napoleon’s Waterloo Army, Uniforms and Equipment — Review

My goodness, where to start with this book. Firstly, it is a heavy tome, weighing in at 1.86 kgs so after sitting with it in the lap and reading through it, it does get a little uncomfortable. This is definitely a book for reading at the desk, which has the added advantage of making it easier to take notes as you do read through it, you will mostly likely refer to the information jam-packed in the book if researching or looking for some specific information on a French regiment present at Waterloo.

Napoleon’s Waterloo Army — Uniforms and Equipment by Paul L Dawson is published by Frontline Books. It was published on 2 October 2019, contains 696 pages of information and 250 illustrations on the Napoleon’s Waterloo Army (ISBN: 9781526705280).

Paul Dawson is an historian and author who has specialised in the Napoleonic Wars, writing about the French Army, mostly around the time of Waterloo. His other volumes with Frontline include:

  • Battle for Paris 1815
  • Marshal Ney At Quatre Bras
  • Napoleon and Grouchy
  • Waterloo: The Truth At Last
  • Napoleon’s Imperial Guard Uniforms and Equipment
  • Napoleon’s Imperial Guard Uniforms and Equipment

The volume on “Napoleon’s Waterloo Army” to some extent extends the volume “Waterloo: The Truth At Last” and covers the troops that fought at Ligny, Quatre-Bras and Waterloo. The author has based his research and writing on thousands of pages of French archival documents and translations. The written information is backed by many photographs of original artefacts. The photographs have been supplemented with many colour illustrations and paintings by Keith Rocco, well known to many military historians, wargamers and modellers. This book is the most complete study of Napoleon’s field army of 1815 that I have seen.

There are 23 Chapters and an Appendix, as well as Bibliography and Endnotes, Introduction, Acknowledgement and Foreward in this book. In addition, from page 427 to 447 there are 21 pages of Keith Rocco Paintings covering various troop types within the French army. I keep turning back to those pages and looking again and again at those paintings.  The rest of the book is structured into the following chapters:

  1. Clothing the Army
  2. Remounting the Cavalry
  3. The Armée du Nord
  4. Logistics
  5. Headquarters Staff
  6. 1st Corps
  7. 2nd Corps
  8. 6th Corps
  9. 1st Cavalry Division
  10. 2nd Cavalry Division
  11. 3rd Cavalry Division
  12. 5th Cavalry Division
  13. 3rd Cavalry Corps
  14. 4th Cavalry Corps
  15. Support Troops
  16. Imperial Guard Heavy Cavalry Brigade
  17. Guard Light Cavalry Brigade
  18. Young Guard Cavalry
  19. Guard Infantry
  20. The Young Guard
  21. The Artillery and Support Troops
  22. Clothing and Equipment of Napoleon’s Last Army
  23. What Happened to the Men?

The Appendix deals with the 1815 Dress Regulations.

To write this book, Dawson has delved into the:

  • National Archives, Kew, London
  • Archives Nationales, Paris
  • Service Historique Armée du Terre, Paris
  • Personal record boxes of a number of personalities of the time
  • Officer’s records
  • Correspondence Hundred Days
  • Prisoners of War
  • Imperial Guard regimental boxes
  • Line infantry regimental record boxes
  • Light infantry regimental record boxes
  • Line cavalry regimental boxes
  • Artillery record boxes
  • Imperial Guard regimental muster lists
  • Line and light infantry regimental muster lists
  • Line cavalry regimental muster lists
  • Line artillery regimental muster lists

along with more recent works and digital sources.

The volume of research that is in this book is staggering and the information provided on the clothing and equipment of the armies appears quite complete with reasonable assumptions and reasoning behind the assumptions where necessary.

Taking the first chapter, “Clothing the Army” as an example, Dawson discusses the cost of clothing the existing army, as well as the additional costs for the new regiments. He looks at the material used for various items on uniform, the colour of those materials, arguing colour differences. For example, he examples a sample of Aurore cloth from 1823 noting that “Aurore has been shown by many artists to be a shade of yellow, when in fact it is a vivid shade of dark orange”. A colour photo of the cloth is shown as well. He looks at all the cloth used for various items of clothing, and at the end of the chapter, I knew more about the cloth used in the Armée du Nord than I ever thought I would learn in my lifetime.

If you are at all interested in the Armée du Nord uniforms and equipment, then this book is an indispensable addition and an absolute must to be added to your bookshelf. Very highly recommended.

French Armoured Cruisers, 1887 – 1932 — Review

John Jordan, well recognised for his many books on ships over the years, has penned with Philippe Caresse, a volume on French Armoured Cruisers from the late 19th Century to early 20th Century (1887 – 1932).

The armoured cruiser was like other cruisers, with long range and designed to project naval power to the colonies and elsewhere but it was designed with heavier belt armour, so able to stand up to any ships except battleships.

The role of the armoured cruiser was taken by the development of the battlecruiser, and as a result the armoured cruisers dropped in importance, but lasted until 1922 when the Washington Treaty effectively scuppered them and set a 10,000 ton limit for cruisers and a maximum 8″ guns for main weapons.

Jules Michelet at Tanjung Priok, Dutch East Indies

Who doesn’t love the shape, form and style of the French ships around the turn of the last century? Funnels fore and aft, tumblehomes and really, a transition to the steel warships of the 29th Century.

The Jules Michelet to the right here was one of the French armoured cruisers of the time, with her sister ship, Ernest Renan, built for speed. It is also one of the vessels covered in the book. As with all the ships covered by this book the section commences with a general discussion of the vessel and how it came to be. There as a profile and plan drawing of the vessel, drawings of the bridge deck, layout of the magazines, main guns with detail, the Barr & Stroud 2-metre rangefinder, the torpedo tubes, secondary armament and so on. The authors then go on to describe her sister ship, the Ernest Renan and cover the differences between the two vessels. Further drawings of the Ernest Renan follow.

The authors also cover the specifications of the ship including size of main guns (194mm or 7.6″), medium guns, ATB guns and torpedo tubes. Displacement (in this case, 12,600 tonnes), protection, crew and so on. Each the the vessels is also illustrated with many contemporary photographs of the times from the collection of Philippe Caresse.

Vessels covered are:

  • Dupuy de Lôme
  • Amiral Charner class
  • Pothuah
  • D’Entrecasteaux
  • Jeanne d’Arc
  • Dupleix class
  • Gueydon class
  • Gloire class
  • Léon Gambetta class
  • Jules Michelet and Ernest Renan
  • Edgar Quinet and Waldeck-Rousseau
Armoured Cruiser (le croiseur cuirassé) Dupuy de Lôme

There is also a section in the book on organisation and the Great War 1914-1918 and it aftermath.

French Armoured Cruisers — 1887 – 1932 by By Philippe Caresse, John Jordan and published by Seaforth Naval on 4 September 2019, is a large format book of 272 pages with 240 illustrations, ISBN: 9781526741189.

If you have any interest in the development of modern steel warships and their history, or indeed the French Navy of the 19th and 20th centuries, this book is a must. I have never been disappointed with John Jordan’s works and this book is so well illustrated by contemporary photographs from Philippe Caresse, the book is, quite simply, almost impossible to put down.

Well recommended!

Damned Historical Fiction – Sub-Roman British and Arthur!

I knew it would happen. I was reading David Pilling’s Ambrosius for my midnight read with a glass of Dr. Feelgood before retiring for the evening. I thought I could control the urges but the addiction was too strong.

We’ve been in Enhanced Community Quarantine here not for 37 days with at least 9 more days to go, but also with many rumours that the government will extend for an additional two to four weeks.

So in those evening hours, after a glass and a read and just before drifting off to sleep, one’s mind turns to thinking about … Sub-Roman British.

I’m thinking, “it can’t be too hard and won’t require many figures, after all I have a fair spares box from the Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start project which interestingly is a project I started one year ago, then got distracted with some ships.

So, I thought that I could use the the left-over Ostrogoths from that project and use them as your fairly generic hairy barbarian types. That project also provides some barbarian cavalry and archers as well. Once the post returns to normal I would just need to get a few Late Roman types for some of the cavalry and the more Roman looking infantry. Of course that purchase would need to wait until post is flowing freely in the Philippines again and Baccus 6mm recommences moulding. The Anglo-Saxons for the Viking project can be re-purposed. In the Sub-Roman Britain time they were all basically dense warband in wargaming terms. In the Viking times, they had become a little more organised and had a few warband but must were densely packed spears. Voila, instant transformation.

And I was going to eave it there, honest guv’nor, I was.

I started to read book 2 off Pilling’s Leader of Battles Series and started to think back to the Sub-Roman British of Ambrosius’s time. The same army would do for Ambrosius or Artorius, however, why not reproduce Vortigern’s army as well?

And if I cam going to do Vortigern’s, perhaps I should consider the hairy Scots, the Irish, Welsh and Picts of the time. Yes six armies would make a lovely campaign set again, with Ambrosius and Vortigern sometimes combining to see off the Scots and Irish, at other times facing each other across the field of battle.

So, another project to plan and an excuse to rifle through the leftover boxes on the weekend to see what I really need to purchase later to complete this set.

What is worrying is that there are three more books in the Leader of Battles series following. Still, I am resisting the urge for Artorius to travel to Gaul and assist against the Visigoths … I would need more figures for that and as a responsible wargamer I could not consider doing that … yet!

Battle of Playa Honda

I received a nice comment on a recent article in Thomo’s Hole so went and had a look at that bloggers blog. The blog is Subli. The author is Rosalinda and she is writing about the the Philippines – its history, its culture, and its people.

A couple of days ago she posted Olivier van Noort and other early Spanish-Dutch conflicts in the Philippines. OK, so that was going to be too much for me to ignore so I had a read., as I knew the Dutch hovered around this area, they had a colony on what is today Taiwan for example so I was not surprised they were involved in the Philippines as well.

Olivier van Noort sailed into the Pacific and on to the Philippines during the Eighty Years’ War between the United Provinces and Spain. He was one of many captains who fought the Spanish in these waters (and at the entrance to Manila Bay as well) with Galleons. The Spanish were similarly equipped with Galleons and some Galleys. I need to do  a lot more research on the vessels involved as this particular war and location is not within my usual area of reading.

The area of modern Botolan (in the province of Zambales) was known in those days as Playa Honda. There were three known minor conflicts during the Eighty Years’ War between the United Provinces and Spain held in Playa Honda in the Philippines. All the battles were won by the Spanish. The first battle occurred in 1610. The second, the most famous, took place in 1617. The third battle took place in 1624.

Interest piqued, now for some bright, shiny searching! Oh, and do stop in to Subli, there is some interesting posts in that blog, particularly about early Philippine history.

I Hate You Little Wars TV – 1st Manassas (Bull Run)

There I was, happily minding my own business, preparing some World War 2 1/285 scale aircraft for painting, planning then to move on to my 6mm Anglo-Saxons, and then perhaps off to something nautical, perhaps 1/1200 scale galleys or modern vessels when Little Wars TV presents First Manassas. They show the battlefield, then discuss the tactics and Gen. McDowell’s performance. Just have a look at this.

Now I am getting an almost uncontrollable itch to paint 6mm American Civil War figures. Of course, to do that, I would need to purchase some 6mm American Civil War figures as I do not have any in the lead pile. English Civil War, Ancients, Napoleonics, World War 2 and Cold War figures in stock aplenty but no American Civil War figures. I have several sets of rules on the bookshelf, lots of reference works but no figures.

I hate you Little Wars TV. I must resist!

Currently Reading — December 6, 2019 — Battle of Manila

Current reading is from the series, History of Terror. This covers the period of the Allies liberation of the Philippines, and Manila in Particular.

When the Japanese invaded, the then colonial masters, the Americans, had declared Manila an open city to prevent damage and human casualties.

When the Americans along with support from local guerrillas moved on Manila to liberate it, the Japanese commander, Yamashita, ordered Manila to be fiercely defended. What followed was a liberation, almost building by building. However it was the Japanese treatment of the local population that was most horrific with estimates of 100,000 civilians being slaughtered. There is no true count however and other estimates are higher.

Review to follow when I finish reading this book. It is available from Pen & Sword however if your curiosity is already peaked.

Images of War – M12 Gun Motor Carriage – Book Review

A few days ago I finished reading Images of War – M7 Priest – Book Review so naturally the next to move onto was the big gun, the 155mm gun propelled in the M12 Gun Motor Carriage. Like the volume on the M7 Priest, this was written by David Doyle and contains 142 pages of photographs and text of the M12, T6 Prototype and the T14 (the ISBN is 9781526743527 and it was published on 12 December 2018 by Pen and Sword Military)

The M12 development started in 1941, despite having met early opposition. The development work was based on using the M3 Medium Tank chassis and the prototype, T6, was mounting a French made M1917 155mm gun. To accommodate the large gun, it needed to be rear mounted which meant the engine had to be moved forward, to a position just behind the driving compartment.

The vehicle also required a hydraulically-operated spade at the rear to stabilise the firing position due to the gun’s recoil.

When production commenced, three different war surplus weapons were mounted depending on availability:

  • the French built M1917
  • the US built M1918
  • the M18917A1 which had a French gun tube and a US breech

As with his coverage of the M7, David Doyle has written and provided a great coverage of this vehicle with the book covering the following:

  • The T6 Prototype
  • The M12
  • The T14
  • The M12 in Combat
  • The M12 Preserved

This last chapter is quite interesting as well as if contains many close up photographs, in colour, of the restored M12 that is preserved and displayed at the US Army Field Artillery Museum, Fort Sil, Oklahoma. It has been repainted to replicate a wartime vehicle, “Adolf’s Assassin”, an M12 that was assigned to Alpha Battery, 991st Field Artillery Battalion in North-Western Europe toward the end of the Second World War.

While only 74 of these vehicles were sent to Europe (along with the M30 ammunition carrier – also illustrated), they were very successful in their combat role and really paved the way for the future of 155mm SPGs present in almost all armies during the Cold War.

As with all books in the Images of War series, there are many photographs of the vehicles highlighted. In the case of those volumes looking at one particular type of vehicle, the photographs provide so much detail useful for modellers in particular. In this case there are 61 pages of close up colour photographs making this volume a must for any serious modellers of World War 2 tracked artillery.

The images are not just of the vehicles in static positions but rather include “action shots” taken during the Second World War in particular.

Well recommended, especially for the modeller of fighting vehicles, not only for the images of the M12 but also for many photos that could provide inspiration for diorama building.

Images of War – M7 Priest – Book Review

Recently I looked at the Images of War volume covering the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps by Ian Baxter. in the same parcel of books from Pen and Sword Military in the Images of War series, I received a volume on the M7 Priest. This was written by David Doyle and contains 143 mostly of photographs of the M7 (the ISBN is 9781526738851 and it was published on 4 February 2019)

The M7 was the American 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage produced during World War II. This self-propelled artillery was produced in great numbers with over 4,000 of all marks produced. It was used by 16 different countries and was in service during World War II, the Korean War, the 6-day War and Yom Kippur. While most were produced over the period 1942 to 1945, they continued in service in various countries into the late 1960s.

The M7 was named “Priest” as in part it was a replacement for the British 25-pdr self-propelled gun known as the “Bishop”.

David Doyle has written and provided a great coverage of this vehicle with the book covering the following:

  • Baldwin Locomotive Works T32
  • American Locomotive Works M7
  • Federal Machine and Welder M7
  • Pressed Steel Car Company M7B1
  • Howitzer Motor Carriage M7B2
  • Field Use
  • Appendices covering:
    • Priest Contracts and Deliveries
    • General Data
    • M2A1 Howitzer Specifications
    • The Armoured Field Artillery Battalion

As with all books in the Images of War series, there are many photographs of the vehicles highlighted. In the case of those volumes looking at one particular type of vehicle, the photographs provide so much detail useful for modellers in particular.

The images are not just of the vehicles in static positions but rather include “action shots” taken during the Second World War in particular. Due to the M7 lasting in service into the 1960s there are also some terrific colour photographs of theM7 in field use.

Well recommended, especially for the modeller of fighting vehicles, not only for the images of the M7 but also for many photos that cold provide inspiration for diorama building.

 

 

 

Images of War – the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps – Book Review

Another volume in the Images of War series landed on my desk a few months back. This one covers the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps by Ian Baxter. It is published by Pen & Sword Military in the Images of War series with 128 pages of rare photographs from Wartime Archives (ISBN: 9781526722393, published on 8 January 2019).

The Deutsche Afrikakorps (DAK, known simply as the Afrika Korps) was a Corp that was welded into an effective fighting machine by its general, Erwin Rommel. German troops were sent to North Africa to support, or rather prop-up, the Italian forces present in North Africa, the forces which had been bloodied to the turn of nearly 400 tanks destroyed and 130,000 troops casualties or captured by the British and Commonwealth Forces under General Richard O’Connor.

The Second World War in North Africa was a war of movement, of forces pushing forward and stretching their supply lines to the limits only to be followed by a strong counter-attack and retreat where the counter attackers move forward and stretch their supply lines. The oscillations repeated.

Rommel melded the Italian forces with the German reinforcements into an effective fighting Corps and then applied the blitzkrieg tactics that had worked so well in France to the deserts and wadis of North Africa. This continued until the eventual arrival of American forces pinned the Germans and Italians between two larger armies.

Baxter’s book covers the full range of German armoured vehicles that saw action in North Africa over the period 1941 to 1943 covering not just the panzers, and there was the full range from the Panzer I through VI, but also the Sturmartillerie equipment along with half-tracks, armoured cars, motorcycles and so on.

The book’s contents are:

  • Introduction
  • Desert Blitzkrieg, 1941
  • Attack and Retreat, 1942
  • Destruction in Tunisia, 1943
  • Appendix I – Order of Battle
  • Appendix II – Panzers Operational in Africa, 1941-1943
  • Appendix III – Heavy and Light Armoured Vehicles in North Africa, 1941-43
  • Appendix IV – Halftracks Operational in North Africa, 1941-43

The illustrations throughout the book commence with photographs of Panzerkampfwagen II (Pz.Kpfw.II) and Pz.Kpfw.III being unloaded from ships on the docks in North Africa. The background of some of these photos is also interesting, sometimes more so than the foreground for the hint of life in the German Army at the time,

The book then goes on to illustrate Pz.Kpfw.I; Pz.Kpfw.II; Pz.Kpfw.III; Pz.Kpfw.IV; Pz.Kpfw.V (Panther); and Pz.Kpfw.VI (Tiger) in service in North Africa, along with photographs of some of the personalities. What is also apparent in many of these photographs is the quantity of extra paraphernalia carried by these vehicles in the desert, strapped to the sides of vehicles. Photographs also shw vehicles that have been knocked out or are being repaired or repainted.

As well as the panzers, there are many photographs of the armoursed card, half-tracks, prime-movers and the like with the Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Sd.Kfz.231, 232, 233, 234, 234/1, 234/2, 234/3, 263); Leichter Panzerspähwagen (Sd.Kfz.221, 222, 223, 260/261); and the many variants of the halftracks, the ubiquitous Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd.Kfz.251 and 250) being illustrated. Also included are some of the artillery tractors, the Horch, Marders, motorcycles, self-propelled guns and the like.

I will admit finding the way the Order of Battle section was laid out somewhat confusing but this is a small gripe as there are many more authoritative sources of this information available to the researcher, historian, military enthusiast, wargamer or modeller.

This book would certainly be on interest to a wide spectrum of readers interested in the Second World War in North Africa and the Deutsche Afrikakorps in particular. It will certainly remain within easy reach on my bookshelves. Recommended.

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume II – Book Review

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume II, written by John Lambert and Al Ross deals with Vosper MTBs and US Elcos. It was published on 9 April 2019 by Seaforth Publishing, an imprint of Pen and Sword Books, is 256 pages long and has ISBN: 9781526747556.

Like volume I, this is a reprint of a book first published by Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, in 1994 the picked up by  Conway Maritime Press in 2002. It was reprinted again in April 2005 by Conway’s. This volume deals with sixteen Vosper MTB designs, and the US 70′, 77′ and 80′ Elco designs.

Also, as with Volume 1, there are copies of volume 2 from 2002 available still, new, for US $72.40 at various outlets.

Vosper was established as a company in 1871. They became famous for the unstepped planing hull-form they developed which was the basis of their Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) and Motor Gun Boats (MGB) for the Royal Navy in World War II. The original boats had a length of 68 feet and were based upon the prototype MTB 102, which survives to this day as a museum piece.

Vosper 70′ MTB in Admiralty Light Basic scheme with recognition star used in the Mediterranean

Vosper’s designs were copied by many, especially given the speeds they acheived with their planing hulls. Apart from MTBs and MGBs, Vosper also built high speed launches for the the Royal Air Force for the rescue of air crew who ditched into the sea.

Vospers were not only built in the United Kingdom but also in the United States under license.

The illustration here are some of the vessels illustrated with differing camouflage designs are taken from the book. Apologies for the quality, I photographed with my tablet and one hand and it is a heavy tome.

Elco 80′ PT Boat in Measure 33/7P

As with the previous volume, the detail, drawings, plans and photographs in this book are super. Al Ross had a reputation as a very fine draughtsman and it shows in his drawings throughout the volume. Lambert covers the details of the vessels, the equipment that was present on the vessels, selected weapon systems and additional data.

The table of contents, apart from the usual sections of Foreword, Preface, Abbreviations and the like covers:

  • Vosper Ltd
  • Elco – a short history
  • Vosper’s private venture (MTB 102) and Bloodhound
  • Vosper MTB designs 1938-39
  • The Vosper 45ft MTB Design
  • Vosper designs 1940
  • MTB 74
  • MTB 103
  • Vosper designs 1941
  • Vosper designs 1942
  • MTB 510
  • Vosper designs 1943-45
  • Vosper construction
  • The Elco 70ft PT
  • The Elco 77ft PT
  • The Elco 80ft PT
  • Licence-built Vospers
  • PT construction
  • PT camouflage
  • The Packard 4M-2500 marine engine
  • Selected weapons systems (0.5in Vickers machine guns; 20mm Oerlikons (single and twin); 9mm Lanchester machine carbine; 18in and 21in torpedo tubes; PT torpedo armament and the Dewandre turret)
  • Additional data covering US 20mm, 37mm and 40mm mounts and guns; Rocket launchers; Development of bridge and wheelhouse during the Second World War; Notes on operating the Royal Navy Packard engines; Free French Vosper MTBs; The Vosper survivors; and Restored Elco PT 617.

As with the first volume, the writing in the book is clear an easy to both follow and understand. It has been fascinating to read about these vessels, so much so that I am looking for similar works on Axis boats. It is a shame that the third volume mooted back in the 1990s never eventuated as it would have dealt with the British Power Boat 70ft MTBs and MGBs which were also very successful boats.

This also is a must have book for anyone interested in coastal warfare and a great companion to Volume 1. There is nothing I can think of that is really missing from this coverage. Best, along with volume 1, it is on special at the moment (23 July 2019)  at Pen and Sword.