Friday, June 11, 2010

Queen's birthday and WIP

Today the run into work was a dream as people started their long weekend early and the weather was kind. Thank you Your Majesty! So, let's celebrate the birthday of the head of state, who also happens to be the head of state of a bunch of other countries, some of whom happen to belong to trade groups that are economic rivals of ours; no conflict of interest there, of course.

What will happen when Australia inevitably, sooner or later, becomes a republic? Knowing our perverse affection for celebrating the underdog and heroic failure, it'll probably be some lame event like Burke & Wills day, celebrating a couple of mad Victorian era explorers who, woefully unprepared and after a comedy of errors, perished in the desert of central Australia. Hurrah!

Our national day, Australia Day, celebrates the first settlers arriving in Botany Bay in 1788; a bunch of convicts expelled from the mother country and marooned on the other side of the world. Hurrah!

Our unofficial national day which is gaining in popularity and growing national mythology is ANZAC day, which celebrates the 1915 landing of Australian and New Zealand (but also British, Indian and French) troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. That campaign was a balls-up from the start, with no detailed maps and therefore no idea of the terrain they were landing on which turned out to be sheer cliffs or steep bluffs riddled with narrow gullies, while further up the peninsula there was wide open spaces. Not only that, but with a bit of drive amongst the higher command the troops could have been off the beach and up the cliffs before the Turks could reinforce the high ground. But no; they spent the whole campaign more or less stuck on the beaches. When the inevitable was admitted, all troops were withdrawn with nothing to show, but a lot of useless deaths. Hurrah!

We could celebrate more successful, but less glamorous campaigns like General Monash's brilliant 1918 Battle of Hamel, in which he was one of the first generals anywhere to pioneer combined arms attacks utilizing infantry, artillery, tanks and airpower to achieve a breakthrough in the trench stalemate. Another interesting aside was the fact that it was the first time Americans fought in an offensive action on the Western Front and the first time (and probably last) they fought under foreign command. The 4th of July was selected as the start date for the battle in honour of the new allies.

We could also (and should, what's more) celebrate the New Guinea campaign of 1942/43 which showed how we could defend ourselves and not just fight in other countries' wars.

We also should find some way of commemorating other conflicts since 1918 without being dominated by the mythology of ANZAC day, especially as the death toll steadily mounts among Australians serving in Afghanistan, whatever one thinks of the validity of our being involved in that conflict. We can't make the same mistakes as we did during the Vietnam war.

Enough ranting; Below are some pictures of what's on the workbench at the moment. Too much, it seems! I'm steadily getting through my latest British Line battalion, painted up as the 50th Foot. I'll most likely then go onto my Revell rifles, painting them as the 95th and the 5/60th, then the Call to Arms foot artillery, Italeri horse artillery, light dragoons and hussars. In between, for a change of scenery, I might start my Spanish line troops, or keep converting my remaining French line infantry in greatcoats and paint my dead for morale markers

HaT line as 50th Foot. Kennington/SHQ officer

French head conversions; Metal bonnet de police and bare, bandaged head from Lancier Bleu and shako from Italeri line troops (naff poses and inaccurate uniforms, but great heads for conversions)

Dead Frenchies from Lancier Bleu. Also have British line, Highlanders, and Spanish. They also come with a few separate metal muskets, which may be useful for future conversions

Metal Kennington/SHQ early Spanish line troops

Later Spanish line. HaT production, a bit more lumpen, but should paint up OK

As you can see, my work space is not as neat as some of the others I've seen on blogs. A few of them resemble the USS Enterprise flight deck! I'm not that organised yet and probably never will be, which is probably why it's taking so long to complete my British project (that and the fact I work full time and have a family!)

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