Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Bombardiers de la marine

With two French infantry battalions completed it was time for a vignette! The bombardiers de la marine formed a navy unit created in the early 1680s to provide experienced sailors who could also handle the mortars in the bomb ketches that the French had developed to bombard port towns on the Barbary coast. In 1692 two companies were officially formed, situated in Brest and Toulon and comprising 50 men each. A few years later a third company was raised to be stationed in Rochefort. The three companies were part of the Artillerie de Mer and so remained under navy rather than army control, although there was a short period where the two branches of artillery were combined. In 1764 the companies were reorganised into two brigades, of around 100 men each; however the old 3 company organisation seems to have been reinstated 10 years later. I have not been able to find detailed information about the campaigns that the bombardiers participated in, but assume that they were deployed wherever the French navy operated and they certainly arrived in America at some stage.

Followers of the Perry Miniatures range may recall that the French grenadier figures that were in the first release of French troops were sculpted with bags hanging off their bearskins. Alan Perry then said that this was a mistake and he was remastering the figures so they didn't have the bags. By this time I had already bought some of these figures and decided I wouldn't send them back to be replaced if I could find a use for them. The Osprey MAA has an illustration of the bombadiers which clearly shows a bag on the bearkin. So I decided to make a small vignette of the bombadiers guarding some stores or ammunition. This was also a way of using up the 2 grenadier figures from the standing infantry command pack that also had bags on their bearskins. The only part of the uniform that I suspect may be wrong for the bombadiers is the plume on the bearskin - this isn't present in the Osprey illustration. But, frankly, who cares and I quickly decided I couldn't be bothered to carve the plumes off. Out of the possible colours I thought red would look best, and to be honest I think the red plumes give the figures a bit of a "lift" anyway. I had no sources of information for the drummer, but thought it best to keep him in the dark blue coat and add the standard drummer's lace. The blue paints used were Foundry's "Napoleonic French Blue 65" palette, with an final subtle highlight of Foundry "Deep Blue 20 C". The woodwork on the barrels was painted with a base coat of GW "Scorched Brown" given a wash of Winsor & Newton dark brown ink, then highlights of Foundry "Spearshaft 13 A and B".

The crates and barrels are from Warlord, save for the larger barrel which is Renedra. The Renedra barrel looks ok now it's painted, but I found the two plastic halves didn't fit together properly. The Warlord crates are resin - you get a variety of sizes in the pack. Only one of the crates seems to have anything resembling a lock (the silver bit on the topmost crate), although I suppose that may just be a bit of surplus resin. The round base is a drinks coaster that I bought with Peter Haldezos in Wellington! I have 4 of the standing grenadiers left over - if anyone can think of another use for them then please let me know, otherwise I'll just paint them up as more bombardiers!

4 figures. Painted January 2011.


Ray Rousell said...

Great paintjob, the figures look very nice1

Doc said...

Beautiful figures, great vignette. Would these guys have participated with the Americans (and on numerous other ocassions) in clearing out that ratsnest of Islamic pirates in Morocco? A worthy endeavour and well dressed for the ocassion!


Furt said...

Wow! Beautiful indeed.


Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Very nice vignette Giles and as always really well painted and interesting background material.


AD said...

This is a unit I haven't known much about it -- thanks for sharing the historical background.

The figures, of course, look fantastic. Very nice set.

paulalba said...

Excellent as usual Giles,
That is 1 dangerous looking soldier standing beside the drummer. He looks like he means business!
Don't know how you can remember all the different colour combinations you use!

Bluewillow said...

lovely little piece Giles , well done!