4 June 2016

Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby


The good Colonel Burnaby, armed with his double barrelled shotgun which caused
such controversy back in England, prepares to close the gap in the line.


Anyone even remotely interested in the campaigns in the Sudan would be certainly be familiar with the larger than life figure of Fred Burnaby.  Reputedly the strongest man in the British army at the time, stories abound of his feats of strength as well as with his wit (he was an extremely clever fellow) all about Victorian society of the time.

I have been looking at finally basing this excellent rendition of the famous, larger than life character Fred Burnaby for sometime.


The figure is from the much under-rated Redoubt Miniatures Sudan range and shows our good hero resplendent in Matinee Coat and double barrelled shotgun preparing to do his bit for Queen and Country!  He is accompanied on the base my another fine Redoubt Bugler who also happens to have a drum on him as well.  Hope he is drawing double wages.




Amongst some lovely Connoisseur Miniatures Camel Corps dismounted troopers


The Colonel was painted by my good self some years ago and the Bugler was through my good friends at DPS - thanks Herbert.  Wonderful job.


His death at Abu Klea was genuinely mourned by both the army and the nation.  It was the catalyst for 5000 word obituaries in "The Times" and poems from the nations artistic society such as the following:



Come listen to my story boys,
There's news from overseas,
The Camel Corps has held their own
And gained a victory.

Weep not my boys for those who fell,
They did not flinch nor fear,
They stood their ground like Englishmen,
And died at Abu Klea.

No more our colonel's form we'll see,
His foes have struck him down.
His life on earth alas is o'er
But not his great reknown.

No more his merry voice we'll hear,
Nor words of stern command,
He died as he had often wished,
His sabre in his hand.

Weep not me boys for those who fell,
They did not flinch nor fear,
They stood their ground like Englishmen,
And died at Abu Klea.

Now Horseguards Blue both old and young,
Each man from front to rear,
Remember Col Burnaby at sandy Abu Klea.
And when Old England calls her Blues to battle soon or late,
We shan't forget how soldierly the Colonel met his fate.

Weep not me boys for those who fell,
They did not flinch nor fear,
They stood their ground like Englishmen,
And died at Abu Klea.






 He was also rumoured to be the person referred to in the famous poem Vitai Lampada by Sir Henry Newbolt about a young schoolboy cricketer who grows up to fight for the Empire in Africa line "The gatling jammed and the colonel dead"



There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night -
Ten to make and the match to win -
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red, -
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; -
The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

This is the word that year by year
While in her place the School is set
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind -
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

Of course the "Gatling" referred to is either a "Gardner" or 'Nordenfeld" but you get the picture.
The famous poet Andrew McGonagall  wrote a wonderful poem on the Battle of Abu Klea which you could read  here.

Frederick Burnaby painted in 1870 by James Jacques Tissot - copyright The National Portrait Gallery London
For those who would like to read an interesting account of Burnaby I highly recommend visiting
Great British Nutters - a highly entertaining blog with a wonderful write up of our good friend.


Redoubt do make some very nice figures that compliment my Sudan collection quite well.

A few more Sudan pieces I have been working on to follow as well as some more clarifications on the fantastic rules queries we are receiving.

22 comments:

  1. Lovely piece Carlo, Redoubt do have some gems hidden away .
    We certainly knew how to breed these characters!
    Graham

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    1. Thanks Graham. Appreciate your comments and admiration of a past generation of adventurous gentlemen anywhere. Yes, I have heard that the castings can be variable in recent times however fortunately I have a stack of figures from over fifteen years ago awaiting painting. Quite sad really - I will never be rid of the lead pile.

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  2. A splendid rendition of a fabulous character, bravo Sir.

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    1. Thank you Michael - lovely figure and quite characterful. Very much captures him well I think.

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  3. Nice addition to the crew Carlo, I have the same figure however only on a single base....the shotgun is an impressive addition to the armoury however from memory it was seen as a terrible weapon to use on people and got a lot of bad reports for the ungentlemanly manner of wounds inflicted on the intended targets.

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    1. Cheers Nathan. Yes indeed it was the centre of a bit of a scandal. In fact Burnaby later stated when back in the Sudan that he wish he still had the double barrelled shotgun with him to get himself out of a few prickly situations.

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you Gordon. Always nice to see a figure cone together on the table after a decade of procrastination and distraction :-)

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  5. A great post, and some wonderful figures!!

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    1. Cheers Phil - always appreciated.

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  6. What a wonderful post: let's drink to Fred Burnaby, a great character who died a hero.

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    1. Thank you very much Jim. I always knew he was a larger than life character from my own readings on him for the Sudan however the first poem was new to me in its entirety, though I had heard bits of it quoted in various books. Loved his indifference to anyone trying to stop him doing what he wanted to do, always for the greater good if Quen and Country.

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  7. Excellent to see him. Now we need to work out some special rules for him..

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    1. I am sure yourself and Gerry are working on them now as I type!

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  8. Burnaby of the Blues, a larger than life character in every way. Nicely done, Carlo!

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    1. Thank you very much AJ - larger than life indeed. I like the fact that Redoubt made this casting a good 2- 3 mm larger than their standard 28mm figure quite on purpose as well.

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  9. Great stuff Carlo. Got the same mini myself. I like your paint job better!

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    1. Thanks Michael - it is a lovely figure. Interestingly there are quite a few wonderful little figures in the Redoubt Sudan range which I have used in the collection.

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  10. The following comes to mind. The characters, say Burnaby, have a potential of 2 influences. The first is in the elan of the troops he is leading. I would try something like.
    Attached to unit, lower the range band by 1, or +1 to the firing dice roll, or +2 to the melee dice roll. The other side of the coin is the risk of doing so.
    So, if fired upon when with a unit, there is a chance he may be wounded. You would do the same when in melee.
    The beauty of this is that all commanders can have different characteristics with different risks. This gives each "general" a unique character.
    The other thing I potentially like is that if a general is attached, and he is famous for winning for want of a better description, there is a chance that an enemy charge falters due to the presence of such a character. Again there are risks to be defined for doing so.
    But this is my approach.
    I'll be the general at the back, shouting encouragement and ducking!!

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    1. Love it Gerry. I always encourage "House Rules" with any of these style games and I think this would be perfect. Write it up mate in a final form and it can most certainly be seen as an optional rule for sure.

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  11. Totally agree with Gerry (hope you are keeping well) as we have similar personality traits for our campaign. Melee, firing and artillery specialists, and scouts (extra reaction move of 3" for inf and 6" for cavalry if triggering an ambush and trying to get away). Also heroic status which means you can take a wound 67% of the time instead of 50%. We also allow 4 to 6 points(3 + d3) to be spent on number of wounds (max 3), level of individual melee (max 3), and one point for a special skill as above (max 1). All this enables players to personalise their commanders.Food for thought and the campaign book. Happy Sudan adventures.

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    1. Sounds like a cracking good idea mate. It adds so much flavour to a campaign to have Commanders with these extra capabilities.

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