‘For Orange and the States. The Army of the Dutch Republic, Part I: Infantry.’ It sounds familiar, but…

By Marc Geerdink-Schaftenaar.

You probably heard of the battle of Fontenoy. If you have, you probably heard of the British and French officers greeting each other and inviting the other to open fire first. You might be able to mention other events that happened at that battle. And you may even remember that there were Dutch troops present as well. But what was their role in that battle? What was their role at all in the War of the Austrian Succession? Now that you mention it: what did the Dutch do in the 18th century anyway?

The army of the Dutch Republic sounds familiar, and it should: we are talking about one of the major European powers of the 18th century. Or well, at least it was still during the WAS. I mean: any country with a mere three million inhabitants that can bring 100,000 troops in the field, that’s quite something. But when you look for books on uniforms, uniform plates, or just a painting, you’re not going to find much.

I’ve written more articles in the past, and given several lectures, all for a select audience. I’m an active re-enactor and living history enthusiast, and my idea has always been that information should be shared. So I’ve written several documents on diverse topics that are easily available for everyone. Several years ago, I wrote an article on the Scots Brigade of the Dutch Republic for Skirmish Magazine. It was because of that article that I was contacted through Facebook, and asked if I wanted to write for Helion and Company. That was an offer I could not refuse. The subject I immediately had in mind was the army of the Dutch Republic, and specifically between 1713 and 1772. It’s a subject of which there is little to find. There are several reasons for that, which I go over in my book, and that’s too bad really, because the 18th century is a turbulent episode in the history of the Republic: it was a time when the country was deeply divided between Orangist and Republican factions, it lost its position as a leading European power, there was social unrest… and there was an army. And an interesting one at that!

So I started doing research, caught up on my reading, and sought paintings and illustrations to accompany the text. Not an easy task, also because I am married, have four kids and a fulltime job as a teaching assistant. Deadlines were missed, emails were sent… But once my writing gained momentum, the manuscript for part one, about the infantry, was ready, and I’m proud that my book is now available: For Orange and the States. The Army of the Dutch Republic, Part I: Infantry. As you can see, the title explains immediately what the book is about.

Copyright: Erny van Wijk.

Part II by the way, on cavalry, artillery and specialist troops, is well under way. Although I believe these books will fill a hiatus, I must stress that this is a well-intended attempt at bringing to light information on the uniforms of the States’ army in the 18th century for the first time. I don’t pretend to have written the definitive work on Dutch 18th century uniforms, but I do hope it will inspire others to either do more research themselves, or the works on Dutch military history, such as the books of Dr O. Van Nimwegen, will be translated for an international audience.

About my book: I’ve written the book, keeping in mind that most readers will have at least some knowledge about 18th century military history. Therefore, there are no elaborate descriptions of battles, except for the specific roles the Dutch troops played in them (like at Fontenoy). Nor will several military terms be explained. But for the history buff, there is a lot to find, such as eyewitness accounts and previously unseen images and information.

In the future, I plan to write more on the Dutch army of the 18th century and the Napoleonic era, and, if I can find the time, begin making uniform illustrations again. I hope you enjoy the book, and be sure to look out for Part II, which is planned to be published next December.

Order your copy of For Orange and the States. The Army of the Dutch Republic, Part I: Infantry here.

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Bill Braham Memorial Essay Writing Competition

The annual Bill Braham Memorial Essay Writing Competition is run by the Pike and Shot Society in conjunction with Helion and Company, the prominent military history publishing company and sponsors of the competition.

The Pike and Shot Society is an international organisation promoting the study of the military history of the Renaissance and Early Modern world. For The Pike and Shot Society this period covers the years between 1400 and 1721, a time-span that covers approximately from the introduction of early firearms to the abandonment of the pike as a front-line battlefield weapon – the time of pike and shot. The society is run entirely by, and for the benefit of, its members.

The society’s coverage includes the Wars of the Roses, the Italian Wars, the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the English Civil War and the War of the Spanish Succession. Outside Europe the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the Samurai of Japan and the armies of the Persians and Moghul Indians all come within the Society’s ambit, as do naval clashes such as the Spanish Armada, the Anglo-Dutch Wars and the Mediterranean conflicts between the Christians and the Ottomans.

As sponsors, Helion and Company will be providing a first prize of £100.00 worth of Helion Publications and the P&SS will provide a one year subscription to the Society. Second prize will be a one year subscription to the P&SS.

Competition Rules.

  1. All essays should be on a military topic within the defined boundaries of the Society’s research period, which is 1400 to 1721.
  2. Any essays outside this period will be rejected.
  3. The closing date for the essay will be 31 December 2018 and any entries received after this date will be entered into the next year’s competition.
  4. The result will be announced on 31 March 2019.
  5. The essay must be written and submitted on Microsoft Word.
  6. The essay must be written in English.
  7. All essays must be between 2500 and 3000 words long excluding references, bibliography, notes and a word count must be provided with each entry, and all pages should be numbered.
  8. Any essay longer than 3000 words will be rejected for the competition.
  9. Where a quotation is used, or author referenced, it should be marked in the text by a superscript number and these can either be referenced in end page notes or a full set of notes at the end of the essay. Notes are excluded from the word count.
  10. A list of all reference sources (book, article or online) must be provided at the end of the essay.
  11. Any evidence of plagiarism will result in the essay being disqualified from the competition.
  12. The decision of the judges will be final.
  13. The Judges will not be allowed to submit any essay.
  14. On submitting the essay, the writer automatically gives permission to the Pike and Shot Society to publish the essay in the Society’s magazine (first publication rights only).
  15. On submitting the essay the writer automatically gives permission for their contact details to be passed to Helion and Company.

In judging the competition weight will be given to primary research and originality, but other judging criteria will include a structured approach, good grammar and syntax, as well as fluency and the ability to engage the reader.

Entries should be sent to the following email address: PSSMemorialEssay@gmail.com with full contact details for the author.

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Next to Wellington: General Sir George Murray. The Story of a Scottish Soldier and Statesman, Wellington’s Quartermaster General

By John Harding-Edgar

Every now and then, but increasingly rarely, at least as far as Napoleonic history is concerned, an opportunity arises to bring to the surface the story of a man whose role was of significant, but thus far overlooked, importance. As Quartermaster General in the campaigns against Bonaparte, General Sir George Murray has long been recognized by military historians as perhaps the most trusted and valued of Wellington’s senior officers. But his own extraordinary life and sensitive personality has never been explored.

One of the duties of a QMG was to report on a regular basis back to Horse Guards, Britain’s military HQ, on the actions and progress of a campaign. Accompanying Murray’s official reports and his seemingly endless correspondence with Allied Generals, were letters to his politician brother and socialite sister, each one focusing on the elements of his life that were of interest to them; in his brother’s case, the political background to what was happening all over Europe and the seeming impossibility of defeating an enemy vastly superior in numbers, and in his sister’s the descriptions of the places through which the army was passing and philosophical musings on the destructive forces that were ruining the lives of the local populations.

Murray, by Heaphy 1813. (National Portrait Gallery)

Such are the primary sources which underpin the military period in the life story of Murray, Wellington’s effective Chief of Staff in the Peninsular War. More notebooks, letters and political papers, and contemporary newspaper reports provided the material for the continuation of his life after Napoleon’s defeat.

I came to write the story of Murray, my four greats Uncle, initially as a small project to amuse the family. It was at the last Wellington Congress at Southampton University that I was encouraged to bring the story to a wider audience. My family had always maintained that Murray was not just a hugely successful soldier, the most decorated of his generation after Wellington himself, but for forty years was his best friend and the only man received into his full confidence.

My research into the Murray Papers at the National Library of Scotland and other libraries enabled me to access the full story of Murray’s life, building on his military service in Ireland, The Low Countries, Egypt, and the West Indies, up to the moment when the Wellington / Murray partnership really commenced at Copenhagen in 1807. Murray was more than a successful and indefatigable soldier; he was a modern military thinker and politician who served Wellington as his Colonial Secretary. It is the story of a fascinating life of military, diplomatic and political and personal experiences played out against the backdrop of the Napoleonic threat.

Wellington, by Heaphy 1813. (National Portrait Gallery)

Lady Louisa Erskine’s risky flirtation (perhaps adulterous, we shall never know), with Murray in Paris after Napoleon’s defeat led to years of social difficulties, court actions, and costly damages. It shaped the rest of his life. His sensitive loyalty to her never wavered as he stood by her through more than 5 years of living a double life, fathering an illegitimate daughter and ultimately marrying and supporting Lady Louisa through recurrent illnesses.

Murray stood to shoulder to shoulder with Wellington from the bombardment of Copenhagen, through the Peninsular War, in the Occupation of France after Waterloo, in the House of Commons, and as Master General of the Ordnance. The two men remained totally loyal to one another throughout 40 years of immense upheaval.

The challenge for me was to produce something for two differing sets of readers. In my research I tried to steer a path between the detailed requirements of academics and military historians who may look to the book for new material on the challenges faced by Murray in his QMG role, and his part in the numerous military actions in which he was involved, and the more general and personal biography that was crying out to be written for a more general reader. The military historians have always been interested in Murray as a general who had a unique ability to read Wellington’s mind and put his plans quietly and effectively into operation, and who developed the QMG role into something never seen before in the British Army. They have used the material in the Murray Papers to illustrate and support views on military actions. Nobody, other than the military historian SGP Ward whose unpublished research recognised Murray’s importance, has worked with the more personal material of equal interest which together with the military papers gives us the full story of the life of Murray.

The more closely I researched the events in which Murray and Wellington were involved throughout their 40 year friendship, the more it became apparent that the fit between the two men gave the Peninsular Army the edge that eventually enabled it to expel the French from Spain and Portugal. This in turn resulted in a mutual loyalty that lasted throughout some eventful political years, into old age, when they were still discussing how best to defend these islands. They knew it was impossible to hide their frailties from one another, and disagreed on some fundamental issues, but that never dimmed the mutual respect and loyal friendship each had for the other. There was a recognition that, as a pair, they could take on enemies and opponents with a good chance of success, even when the odds seemed stacked against them.

Next to Wellington: General Sir George Murray. The Story of a Scottish Soldier and Statesman, Wellington’s Quartermaster General is now available here.

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Tigers at War: The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. 25 Years in Front-Line Modern Conflict

By Michael Scott

Tigers at War is the remarkable story of the infantrymen of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, the Tigers by nickname, who, since the end of the Cold War and fall of the Iron Curtain, have served on the front line in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as the many small wars and brush fires across Africa, Asia, and Europe. The Regiment’s unstinting and courageous service around the globe reflects Britain’s political and military engagement on the world stage over the last quarter-century, and the Tigers emerged from the Second Gulf War (2003-09) with the distinction of having won more gallantry decorations for valour than any other regiment in the British Army.

Michael Scott, himself a Colonel in the Tigers, has had exclusive access to draw upon the personal testimonies and photographs of the infantrymen in his Regiment to vividly capture their day-to-day experiences of modern warfare. In gathering reminiscences with which to illustrate the narrative, it was requested only that individual officers and soldiers should record what they remembered as being ‘particularly memorable about their operational experiences’, so as not to unduly steer or encourage any to focus upon matters that did not naturally come to mind. The basis of this approach was to seek to collect as broad a base of reminiscences, as objective and uninfluenced, as possible.

Drawing thus upon the testimonies of the Tigers, Michael Scott captures in vivid detail the infantrymen’s day-to-day experiences of war. Embroiled in conflicts often too dangerous or sensitive for reporters to cover, these soldiers – most of them young, many without any previous experience of warfare – have kept ongoing records of the drudgery, excitement, anxiety and horror involved in fighting violent and often unpopular wars against ruthless and resourceful enemies. All have risked their lives, and many have died. Others have been recognised and awarded for their courage, resourcefulness and gallantry – in Iraq Private Johnson Beharry became the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross in 23 years. With these intimate and revealing glimpses of life in the modern army, the author paints a sweeping portrait of a new generation of soldiers – grunts, gallants and heroes – and the sacrifices made.

This work is thus essentially a contemporary history of British military intervention, in the quarter-century, post-Cold War, viewed through the unique perspective of a single infantry fighting regiment, the Tigers, and the narrative is richly illustrated with the personal reminiscences of the officers and soldiers involved. Despite 24-hour rolling media coverage of modern conflict few understand what is demanded of the contemporary infantryman – what it’s like when one’s day job includes grenades, bayonets and night operations. Now, in Tigers at War, we have an expert insider’s compelling, exciting, sometimes terrifying picture of real life in the modern British infantry.

However, Tigers at War is not just the story of a battle-hardened regiment, but something more extraordinary, the triumph of men against long odds, in near-impossible circumstances. Writing as a serving, senior officer and from a position of exclusive access to the soldiers whose tales of courage, restraint and fortitude provide an unforgettable portrait of one of Britain’s finest fighting regiments, Michael Scott paints a picture of a remarkable band of warriors. Thought-provoking and profoundly perceptive, as a piece of contemporary military history this book, in its inspiring story of courage, discipline and selfless comradeship, will open eyes to the stirring realities of life at the tip of the bayonet.

A compelling and absorbing narrative, the book serves also to mark the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the latest incarnation of this remarkable, and quintessentially English infantry regiment, which reaches back over 445 years of unbroken regimental soldiering in the service of the crown, and spanning the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I to Queen Elizabeth II.

Tigers at War: The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. 25 Years in Front-Line Modern Conflict is available to order here.

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From Reason to Revolution Conference, 29 April 2018

By Andrew Bamford.

The inaugural From Reason to Revolution series conference took place on Sunday 29 April at York Army Museum. Fans of Century of the Soldier will know that the conference tied to that series has become an eagerly-anticipated annual fixture, and after an opening event attended by over 40 people it seems as if its eighteenth century equivalent is set to follow suit.

For anyone not familiar with the York Army Museum (http://www.yorkarmymuseum.co.uk/), it’s worth including a word about our hosts. Housing the regimental museums of the Yorkshire Regiment and the Royal Dragoon Guards, the museum occupies a purpose-designed underground space in the centre of York and is a perfect example of a modern museum that still retains a traditional collections-driven ethos. Perfect for fans of the From Reason to Revolution series, the collection is heavy on items from the eighteenth century and the Napoleonic Wars, with artefacts relating to campaigns stretching from Dettingen to Waterloo. The main museum gallery also houses an area for talks and lectures, which was taken over for the conference, and a mess table from which our buffet lunch was served, so that the whole event could take place in one room.

Our theme for the conference was ‘Command and Leadership’, which was explored in a variety of different ways by eight speakers whose papers took in the armies of France, Austria, Portugal, and Britain (and touched in passing on those of Prussia and the Netherlands too), and whose geographical remit encompassed North America, Europe, and Africa. Our speakers themselves were an international bunch, with Yves Martin joining us from France and German scholar Tobias Roeder making the slightly shorter trip from his current position at Clare College, Cambridge.

We began with a panel looking at lower-level leadership, with a focus on ideas of expertise and professionalism. Will Raffle’s paper on New France explored the tensions between local expert knowledge and professional officers from the mother country, taking as its case study the campaign for Oswego in 1756. Tobias Roeder looked at the Habsburg officer corps during the eighteenth century and the tensions between the dictates imposed by the profession of arms on the one hand and the social expectations of a gentleman on the other. Lastly, Mark Thompson looked at a little-known body of men from the Peninsular War in the shape of the Portuguese Army’s corps of engineers. Although larger than the British Royal Engineers when the war began, the role of this corps has been largely overlooked by Anglo-centric historians.

After a buffet lunch and the chance for a guided tour of the museum, proceedings resumed in the afternoon with the first of two panels with a more specific chronological focus. This consisted of two papers looking at the opposing commanders in the Jacobite Rising of 1745, which threw up some interesting parallels between two young royals who were both obliged to rely on their own charisma and force of character to address difficult and complex military situations. For Charles Edward Stuart, Jacobite Prince of Wales, the challenge was to create an army from scratch out of a collection of self-willed and self-opinionated individuals. Arran Johnston’s paper looked at how he did this, but also at the tensions that were inherent in the Jacobite command structure. Conversely, Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, inherited command of an army of regular troops but one which had its morale at rock bottom after defeat at Falkirk. Jonathan Oates looked at how Cumberland was able to restore order and self-respect to his command, and take it on to victory at Culloden.

Our final panel jumped forwards by a half-century, to look at the events of the French Revolutionary Wars. Carole Divall began by looking at the Flanders campaigns of 1793-1795, considering the problems faced by generals on both sides and concluding that all would have been far better off had their respective political masters left them to it. Jacqueline Reiter, by contrast, looked at someone who was both general and politician in the shape of John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, and her paper on his role in the 1799 Helder Campaign both restored a reputation as a brigadier unfairly sullied by Sir John Fortescue but also considered the tensions caused by his dual role as subordinate general on the one hand and senior cabinet minister on the other. Finally, Yves Martin looked at the three very different personalities who successively commanded the French Army of the Orient in Egypt, providing very illuminating pen-portraits of three larger-than-life characters each with pronounced strengths and weaknesses.

The proceedings of the conference will be published next year, and it is hoped to launch them at a second conference which, in contrast to this one, is planned to take a look at the armies of the era from the bottom up showcase new work on the lives of ordinary soldiers.

In closing, it is necessary to thank again our hosts at York Army Musuem who did everything they could to make us welcome, to the Society for Army Historical Research (http://www.sahr.org.uk/), which generously sponsored the event, to the chairs of the three panels, and to all eight speakers.

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Helion at Salute, London Excel 14 April 2018

Plenty of books for browsing!

Friday 13 April dawned chilly and cloudy, but after a tremendous effort from our events manager, Andy Miles, we had the van loaded virtually to its roof with lots of goodies for Salute, including three ranges of wargames figures. As some of you who visit us on the show circuit will be aware, we now carry not only a large range of our books to the shows, but also a number of figure ranges, including Bicorne (28mm English Civil War), Boot Hill (28mm Alamo/Texan War of Independence), Company D (28mm American Civil War) and Warfare Miniatures (28mm late C17th/Great Northern War). With Bicorne already attending Salute, we have the other three ranges ready to go plus as big a selection of books as we could manage.

Some of the goodies on display at the Victrix stand.

Some of the goodies on display at the Victrix stand.

The journey down to London Docklands went like a dream, and we were setting up by early afternoon. We were helped by a special guest, none other than Tom Cooper, who edits our acclaimed @War series of books. The challenge is always working out how best to fit a van full of goods into the space available for maximum effect, particularly as we sometimes vary what we take to a particular show. For example, we want to make sure we had plenty visibility for the wargames figures for Salute, which has a particularly international range of visitors.

Happy browsing!

The system at Excel worked really well, with us able to drive the van right up to our allotted display space. So, by 3:30 PM, we were done and dusted, ready for a rest, and then in the evening a spot of dinner with Tom to talk about a huge range of interesting projects he has lined up for the @War series in the next few years!

Our new wargames display headers making for a professional and colourful display.

After a good breakfast at the hotel, Andy and I were on the stand for 8:30 AM, joined soon after by Tom, and our colleagues Charles Singleton (editor, Century of the Soldier series) and Andrew Bamford (editor, From Reason to Revolution series). Primed for what we hoped would be a throng of visitors, we were not disappointed. Soon after 10 AM, the opening of the show, the stand was full of visitors, and this didn’t really slow down until the middle of the afternoon.

Plenty of books for browsing!

It was great to see lots of old friends at the show, including Peter Dennis and Andy Callan running a paper soldiers game showcasing the forthcoming War of the Spanish Succession figures, which we will be publishing for this autumn.

Perry Miniatures previewed their Agincourt cavalry ‘three-ups’. Marvellous sculpting!

Peter also premiered some of the 2019 paper soldier projects on our stand, which created a huge amount of interest. These include 16th Century Italian Wars, Zulus and the Napoleonic Peninsula range – Napoleonics are probably our most requested paper soldiers! Mark Allen, figure painter and illustrator extraordinaire, was also on hand, passing over artwork for the forthcoming book on the Battle of the White Mountain, for the Century of the Soldier series.

Some of the goodies on display at the Victrix stand.

Visiting the shows gives us a great opportunity to talk directly with the people who read and use our books, and it’s always wonderful to discuss ideas, and get feedback on our publications.

Our new ‘donut stand’ featuring various painted display figures and paper soldier previews. It attracted plenty of attention!





The figure ranges created lots of interest, and it was nice to link up with Nick Futter, owner of Boot Hill, and Barry Hilton of Warfare Miniatures, too.

With the team working hard, each of us also had enough time to be able to take a look at the show. Plenty of fantastic games, and also some eye-catching figure displays, particularly (and purely biased, due to my own interests!) the Victrix stand with some of their beautifully painted 28mm plastic Ancients, and the Perrys previewing their 28mm Agincourt mounted knights in ‘three-up’ format. Amazing!

All in all we had a superb day, met many old friends and made lots of new ones, and look forward to Salute 2019!

Some of the forthcoming War of the Spanish Succession paper soldiers in action.

Italian Wars paper soldiers, due to be released in 2019.

Peninsular War paper soldiers, due out in 2019.

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Thomas Jackson’s Eventful Life

By Eamonn O’Keeffe

Son of a Walsall bucklemaker, Thomas Jackson (1785/6-1859) guarded King George III at Windsor Castle and Weymouth while serving in the Staffordshire Militia before losing a leg as a Coldstream sergeant during the 1814 storming of Bergen-op-Zoom.

Forced to retire from his trade as a plater due to old age and ill health, Jackson composed an account of his military adventures in 1846, intending to leave ‘a record of my history’ for the benefit of his children and their descendants. However, with the assistance of a local Yeomanry officer and the financial generosity of his ‘fellow townsmen’, Jackson was able to publish his Narrative the following year.

‘The Attack on Bergen-op-Zoom’. From James Grant, British Battles on Land and Sea, Vol. II. (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1873)

The result is a remarkable but largely unknown account of life in the Napoleonic-era British army. Indeed, until now, the Narrativehas never been reissued since its initial printing 170 years ago; only a handful of original copies survive in university and research libraries in the United Kingdom and North America.

Yet despite its relative inaccessibility, numerous past historians have recognised the Narrative’s value; excerpts of Jackson’s prose, including his evocative descriptions of barrack-room life, have frequently been quoted in histories of the Napoleonic-era British Army. Australian scholar Neil Ramsey, who examined scores of British soldiers’ narratives in a recent monograph on military memoirs, singled out Jackson’s story as meriting ‘far wider attention as one of the most harrowing accounts of war’s miseries to be written in the nineteenth century’.

My interest sparked by scattered quotations in secondary works, I perused the Narrative during a visit to the British Library and soon chanced on Jackson’s fulsome description of John Lyster, the Staffordshire Militia’s veteran drum-major. Owing to my longstanding interest in military music, I immediately connected this detailed pen-portrait with a painting held by the National Army Museum in Chelsea, ‘The Staffordshire Militia on parade at Windsor Castle’ – the same image which now graces the book’s cover. Pleased though I was to have identified the drum-major featured in the painting, I could not help but conclude as I perused the memoir that Jackson’s lively account of his ‘eventful life’ deserved a far wider audience.

Although he played no part in the more famous Peninsular and Waterloo campaigns, Jackson’s memoir has much to offer students of military and social history, offering rare insight into militia service, military medicine, and life as a Chelsea pensioner. Indeed, Jackson provides one of the most detailed personal accounts available of the post-war experiences of a Napoleonic-era British veteran. While most military memoirs end with news of peace or discharge, Jackson goes on to chronicle his subsequent work as a coal merchant’s clerk, schoolteacher and plater in Walsall, describing his struggles raising a family amidst economic turmoil and cholera outbreaks.

‘The halt, c. 1815’ depicting the Coldstream Guards. Watercolour by Orlando Norie, 1854. (Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection)

Editing and annotating Jackson’s Narrative was a challenging yet rewarding task, requiring both command of the historiography of the relevant regiments and campaigns as well as detailed primary research. Recourse to the Staffordshire Militia and Coldstream muster rolls held at the National Archives in London enabled me to trace Jackson’s military career, while church records, censuses and local directories afforded insight into the author’s family and civilian life. This new edition of Jackson’s Narrativeincludes annotations throughout to correct errors, clarify unfamiliar terms, and identify the people and places mentioned in the text. Extensive footnotes also provide supplementary information to place the account in its proper context, unravelling the intricacies of the English militia system and the vicissitudes of the 1813-14 Low Countries campaign. Carefully chosen illustrations complement the Narrative‘s text while a series of maps helps readers follow Jackson’s home service, his experiences abroad in the Low Countries, and the 1814 storming of Bergen-op-Zoom.

‘The Upper Ward – Windsor Castle’. Print from W.H. Pyne, The History of the Royal Residences, Vol. I. (London: Dry, 1819)

Thomas Jackson’s account offers fresh and often sharply critical insight into life in the ranks. While many other soldier-memoirists recounted their wartime adventures with pride, his Narrative is tinged with bitterness and disillusionment. Despite glamorous descriptions of pomp and circumstance at Windsor Castle, the Narrative soon takes a darker turn, offering gut-wrenching descriptions of the bungled assault on Bergen-op-Zoom, the amputation of Jackson’s right leg and his subsequent year-long convalescence.  Embittered by the loss of a limb, the veteran ultimately felt degraded for having been a soldier, convinced he had been cast off by an ungrateful nation with a pittance for a pension. He recounts with obvious indignation the callous insults that greeted him on his return to Walsall in 1815. ‘Serves him right’, cackled a group of idling locals as they gaped at the homecoming soldier, limping along with his new wooden leg. In their eyes, Jackson was a fool to have ‘gone for a soldier’ in the first place.

Jackson’s account, often charming and enlightening, is an invaluable historical source and an eminently worthy addition to the canon of Napoleonic-era rankers’ memoirs. But ultimately the Narrative is one war amputee’s intensely personal tale of suffering and survival – a sobering reminder of the brutality of war and the human costs of conflict.

Narrative of the Eventful Life of Thomas Jackson: Militiaman and Coldstream Sergeant, 1803-15 (From Reason to Revolution) is available to order here.

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The Russian Army in the Great Northern War 1700-21: Uniforms, Organization, Materiel, Training and Combat Experience

By Boris Megorsky.

My friends and I started our group ‘Preobrazhensky Life Guard regiment, 1709’ back in 2003; we had done the same regiment in the Napoleonic period and now wanted something new that had been missing then. Despite Peter the Great being one of the most notorious figures of the Russian history, his times never attracted as many reenactors as early 19th century or Second World War or Medieval (same in the miniatures world). So we thought we’d step in and do something in a different way, compared to what we had done in Napoleonics.

Join your right hand to you muskets!

First, we aimed to study and then represent the drill strictly according to the period manuals and instructions at least at a platoon level. That meant manoeuvring and firing in four- or even six-rank formation; there are many aspects in Petrine tactics that inherited from the 17th century and that faded out by 1800s. Then, we concentrated on events in fortresses and castles and on naval battles – a pleasure that Napoleonic re-enactors rarely have. We did some historical tracking and 24 hour tacticals too. And we did our best to not to become a ‘classic’ re-enactment group consisting of a Colonel, Captain, NCO, flag bearer and a drummer with couple privates. We all were rank and files when we started and at certain moment friend of mine and myself were promoted to NCOs – these are still the highest ranks in our group; we dreamt of doing a full scale company however challenging it sounded and still sounds. Numbers are the issue, so we adopted an umbrella approach where

Admittedly, the GNW Russian foot unlikely formed pike blocks like this, but the photo went out nice. Photo by Stepan Sochivko, 2009.

we invite friendly groups from various locations who may not necessarily represent Preobrazhensky but who are willing to wear green and red coats (not the only possible but still typical colour for Petrine foot). Thus our formation at bigger events amounts to 20-40 uniform men from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Narva, Riga and other places. And we have pleasure to ‘fight’ our like-minded friends from Sweden and Finland who re-enact GNW Caroleans.

As a re-enactor I of course was first interested in uniforms, then in tactics. This interest eventually led me to more academic studies of Petrine siege warfare – the theme in which I now specialise. Two books and dozen articles have been published. I also became rather aware of source materials and studies on the GNW Russian military, both old and new. This is why I thought it was worth writing an overview book in English that would encompass recent results of various Russian scholars. A lot of new data was retrieved and printed in Russian after Angus Costam’s Army of Peter the Great (1993) or Hoglund’s, Salnas and Bespalov’s GNW Sweden’s allies and enemies. Colors and uniforms (2006) were published in English! Naturally, language barrier won’t allow the worldwide army of 1700s period lovers to read it all in Tsar Peter’s native language, so I hope my book will help.

What is special about the book? The reenactor in me wanted to describe in detail all pieces of uniform, equipment and weapons that were in use in the army, and to cover often overlooked evolution of uniforms and answer odd questions like: how did the fashion for grenadier caps evolve? Did they wear waist coats without coats and vice versa? Why is it inaccurate to illustrate scalloped pocket flaps? There is, of course, a voluminous appendix describing known regimental uniform colours.

Members of several societies under the flag of 2nd Company, Preobrazhensky Life Guards, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the battle of Poltava.

The scholar in me felt it was interesting to compare how tactical instructions and manuals were followed (or not). The combat experiences I gathered include not only conventional field battles but also sieges, small war and naval fights. Another appendix provides timeline of the war with (nearly) all possible combats where the Russians took part between 1700 and 1721.

The reader in me wanted to share what is now the modern view on Peter’s army organisation, of Russia’s pre-reform troops and of her efforts to raise new army and the navy. The bibliography of over hundred titles gives enough reference for further in-depth reading. By the way, many of those titles are available in downloadable copies (free and legal), so I can share them if you ask.

The Russian Army in the Great Northern War 1700-21: Uniforms, Organization, Materiel, Training and Combat Experience (Century of the Soldier) is available to order here.

‘Preobrazhensky Life Guard regiment, 1709’ website: http://peter.petrobrigada.ru/index_e.htm and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lgpp1709/

My articles on Academia: https://independent.academia.edu/BorisMegorsky

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What the Allied Air Forces Did in Sicily

By Alexander Fitzgerald-Black.

Castello di Lombardia from the northeast.

It was a hot and dry summer afternoon in Sicily. Most of the locals had already gone home to take in their early afternoon siesta. It was 2013, and I was part of a Canadian-American battlefield study tour. That day we were exploring the beautiful mountaintop commune of Enna, where Canadian and American troops met during the Second World War clash that brought destruction to the island 70 years before. We visited the Castello di Lombardia, an ancient fortress that dominates the terrain north and east of Enna. From atop the castle’s ramparts, we had an impressive view of the battle sites that marked the middle point of the Sicilian campaign. We could see Leonforte and Assoro, famous Canadian battlegrounds, and into the American sector near Nicosia. As we started back towards the touring vans, one of the Canadian army officers with the group asked me, “So, Alex, where’s the air force in all of this?”

He knew that I was working on my master’s thesis, a history of the Allied air forces during the Battle of Sicily. At the time, I had completed my literature review but had yet to dive deeply into the primary sources I had so carefully photographed in a visit to England on my way to Sicily. I consulted documents at the National Archives at Kew, the Air Historical Branch at RAF Northolt, and at

Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vs of No. 243 Squadron RAF undergo maintenance at Comiso, Sicily. Photographed over the tail section of an abandoned Messerschmitt Bf 109G of 6/JG53. © IWM (CNA 1029)

the University of East Anglia Archives in Norwich. But these documents remained unread files on my camera, laptop, and at least one external hard drive at the time. The best I could do was assure him that the air force was there, despite what some of the literature on the subject would have you believe.

In a nutshell, that’s why I wrote Eagles over Husky. Although the Allied air forces played a critical role in the success of Operation HUSKY – the invasion of Sicily in 1943 – much of the literature disparages or downplays their efforts. Most campaign histories, like Carlo D’Este’s Bitter Victory or Mitcham and von Stauffenberg’s The Battle of Sicily, focus primarily on the army’s fight. These authors occasionally fly airplanes through their narratives and see the air force’s contribution through the army and navy’s fault-finding perspectives. I wanted to write a detailed account of the battle from the air force’s perspective. What I found was an overlooked air war that was just as critical to strategic success in Sicily as the boots on the ground.

Why were the Allies in Sicily? There’s an interesting story behind that, and you’ll find it in my book. The short version is that the Allies had a large military force in the Mediterranean at the end of 1942. They thought they could best employ it by defeating the Italians and opening the Mediterranean to Allied shipping in 1943. Doing so would entice Nazi Germany to dispatch forces to defend its

A Martin Baltimore of the Tactical Bomber Force of the North West African Air Forces, flying over its target by a road in Sicily, while bombing retreating German forces heading for Messina, August 1943. © IWM (C 3772)

southern flank, including an already overstretched Luftwaffe. As it turns out, the Allies accomplished these objectives with Operation HUSKY. In July 1943, the Luftwaffe wrote off more aircraft in the Mediterranean than in any other theatre of war.

For Operation HUSKY, the Allied air forces secured air superiority against a resurgent Luftwaffe and an Italian Air Force defending its homeland. Allied bombers struck the Italian homeland relentlessly and with effect, destroying ports and marshalling yards. The Italian capitulation in North Africa, coupled with direct threats to the homeland by land, sea, and especially the air, convinced the Italian government that Fascism in Italy had run its course. As the Germans and their remaining Italian allies made a final stand in Sicily, the Allies brought tactical air power to bear. Air power could not stop the Axis evacuation, but it could help the Anglo-American armies make the enemy pay for every stand they made. The result was another bitter Axis defeat following on the heels of Stalingrad, Tunisia, and Kursk. That’s what the Allied air forces did in Sicily.

Eagles over Husky: The Allied Air Forces in the Sicilian Campaign, 14 May to 17 August 1943 is now in stock and available here.

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The Revd G. A. Studdert Kennedy – Much more to him than Woodbines

By Linda Parker.

Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy became one of the most famous army chaplains of the Great War. He gained a place in popular imagination as ‘Woodbine Willie’, a popular and brave chaplain who gave our cigarettes with bibles and had a tendency to use colourful language in sermons.

Although Studdert Kennedy was a good example of an army chaplain, ministering to his troops in the front line, having the knack of communicating  with them  and winning a Military Cross, there was much more to his whole life and ministry and he achieved much in the years before his early death in 1929. Archbishop Temple said of him; “Many of us regard him as one of God’s greatest gifts to our generation.”

There had not been a biography of Studdert Kennedy since the 1970s and having recently completed a biography of the Revd Phillip ‘Tubby’ Clayton, with the encouragement of Duncan Rogers, I decided to use previously unused sources to tell the story of this remarkable priest at war and in peace. The structure of the book is mainly chronological but I departed from the narrative for several chapters describing particular parts of his ministry, such as his career as an author of vastly popular poems and books, his theological ideas of a suffering God and his fame as a charismatic and sometimes controversial speaker and preacher.

Although writing biography is difficult, I felt there was enough interesting material about Studdert Kennedy’s life to please readers who were interested in the life of poor parishes before and after the war, in military chaplaincy, inter war church and society and the popular literature of the war.

An author of biography has to be careful not to paint too rosy a picture of the subject. There were certainly those who criticised Studdert Kennedy in his life time. His speeches and written work were controversial in his attitudes to war, pacifism, socialism and marriage. He has also been criticised along with other Great War chaplains for helping to sustain military morale, a criticism which recent scholarship has disproved. Although I hoped I kept an open mind I agreed in many ways with his friend and theologian Canon Mozely who described Studdert Kennedy’s gifts as those of “Prophet, pastor and teacher.”

Information on my previous books on military chaplaincy can be found on the Helion website and my own website linda-parker.co.uk. My next projects involve the role of army chaplains in the Second World War.

A Seeker After Truths: The Life and Times of G. A. Studdert Kennedy (‘Woodbine Willie’) 1883-1929 is now in stock and available here.


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