25 March 2015

Gallipoli: Simpson and his donkey

Gallipoli: Sgt Simpson and his Donkey: 

Painting of a legend sells for $220 000

On Donkeys in WW1 and the truth behind the legend

SOLD: Simpson and his donkey was auctioned in Auckland.

The son of the medic (Erroneously named as Simpson in the above painting) depicted in an iconic Gallipoli painting was present when it sold at auction for $220,000. International Art Centre director Richard Thomson said it was a rare offering that represented the heart of the Anzac tradition.

"When you look at this painting, you really do get some understanding of the absolute hell the Anzac soldiers went through at Gallipoli," he said.

Ross Henderson, whose father Richard Henderson was depicted in Simpson and his Donkey, said it was his first time "coming to one of these events" and he was not placing a bid. The buyer's identity was not revealed.

In 1917, Horace Moore-Jones was thought to have painted six versions of Simpson and his Donkey and the one sold on Wednesday night was the last to be in private hands.

Although the painting is named after Simpson it actually depicts Henderson's father, a Waihi-born New Zealander who took over as a medic after Simpson was killed. The painting was based on a photograph of Henderson taken by another New Zealander at Gallipoli, James Jackson.

Ross Henderson said he preferred the daylight version of the painting. "This one is very sombre."
(see below)

The painting captures the bravery of Simpson who used donkeys to ferry wounded soldiers, under heavy fire, back to medical posts on the beach at Anzac Cove in 1915. It is rumoured that he saved between 150 to 300 wounded soldiers. This has been difficult to substantiate from contemporary records. Never the less, he showed incredible bravery under fire.
Source: Stuff.co.nz

Another version

From Wiki: The Real Simpson:

John "Jack" Simpson Kirkpatrick (6 July 1892 – 19 May 1915),

Served under the name John Simpson, a stretcher bearer with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I. After landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915, he obtained a donkey and began carrying wounded British Empire soldiers from the front line to the beach, for evacuation. He continued this work for three and a half weeks, often under fire, until he was killed, during the Third attack on Anzac Cove. Simpson and his Donkey are a part of the "Anzac legend".

Simpson was born on 6 July 1892 in South Shields, Tyneside, in the United Kingdom,] the son of Robert Kirkpatrick and Sarah Kirkpatrick (née Simpson). He was one of eight children, and worked with donkeys as a youth, during summer holidays.

At 16 he volunteered to train as a gunner in the Territorial Force, and in early 1909 he joined the British merchant navy. In May 1910 Simpson deserted at Newcastle, New South Wales, and then travelled widely in Australia, taking on various jobs, such as cane-cutting in Queensland and coalmining in the Illawarra district of New South Wales. In the three or so years leading up to the outbreak of World War I, he worked as a steward, stoker and greaser on Australian coastal ships.

Simpson enlisted in the Australian Army after the outbreak of war apparently as a means of returning to England, probably dropping "Kirkpatrick" from his name, and enlisting as "John Simpson", to avoid being identified as a deserter. He was accepted into the army as a field ambulance stretcher bearer on 23 August 1914 in Perth. This role was only given to physically strong men.

Simpson landed on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915 as part of the ANZAC forces. In the early hours of the following day, as he was bearing a wounded comrade on his shoulders, he spotted a donkey and quickly began making use of it to carry his fellow soldiers.He would sing and whistle, seeming to ignore the bullets flying through the air, while he tended to his comrades. The donkey is usually remembered as being called 'Duffy', although it has also been known as 'Abdul' or 'Murphy'.

Simpson and the donkey.jpg

Simpson and his donkey

Colonel (later General) John Monash wrote: "Private Simpson and his little beast earned the admiration of everyone at the upper end of the valley. They worked all day and night throughout the whole period since the landing, and the help rendered to the wounded was invaluable. Simpson knew no fear and moved unconcernedly amid shrapnel and rifle fire, steadily carrying out his self-imposed task day by day, and he frequently earned the applause of the personnel for his many fearless rescues of wounded men from areas subject to rifle and shrapnel fire."

One of the paintings by Horace Moore depicting a man and a donkey, formerly thought to be a portrait of Simpson, now known to portray Henderson.

On 19 May 1915, during the Third attack on Anzac Cove, Simpson was struck by machine gun fire and died. At the time of his death, Simpson's father was already dead, but his mother and sister Annie were still living in South Shields. He was buried at the Beach Cemetery.

The painting of Simpson and his donkey, sometimes titled The Man with the Donkey, has immortalised his deeds at Gallipoli and been widely reproduced as sculptures and memorials. It was painted from a photograph by Horace Jones, a New Zealand artist who took part in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force's Landing at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. He made at least six versions of the painting.However, the photograph he worked from is not of Simpson but of a New Zealand school teacher, Dick Henderson, who was a stretcher bearer in the New Zealand Medical Corps at Gallipoli.

It is commonly reported that following the death of Simpson, Henderson took over his role and used the donkey Murphy to repeatedly rescue wounded soldiers from the battlefield (he was later awarded the Military Medal).The photograph that Moore used, of Henderson with the donkey wearing a Red Cross band around its muzzle, was taken by Sergeant James G. Jackson of the NZMC on 12 May 1915, a week before Simpson's death.

In descriptions of the paintings and derivatives over the years, there has been confusion over the name of the donkey which has been mainly called Murphy, but occasionally Duffy or Abdul as well. Even Simpson himself was sometimes called Murphy. Interviewed in 1950 by the Melbourne Argus, Dick Henderson said the legend that Simpson was called Murphy was incorrect and he wanted to clear up the matter. He said Simpson found the donkey wandering on a shell-torn beach and had named it Murphy.

Henderson and the donkey - the photograph used as source for the painting

The theme of the paintings has appeared widely down the years and a variation of it (drawn from a sculpture) was included on three postage stamps issued in Australia in 1965 to mark the 50th anniversary of Gallipoli – on the five penny, eight penny and two shillings and three pence stamps.

Murphy the donkey has been widely recognised also, and in 1977 a donkey joined the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, being allocated the regimental number MA 0090 and assigned the name Private Jeremy Jeremiah Simpson. In 1986 the donkey was permanently adopted as the official mascot of the corps.

In May 1997 the Australian RSPCA posthumously awarded its Purple Cross to the donkey Murphy for performing outstanding acts of bravery towards humans.

The "Simpson" legend grew largely from an account of his actions published in a 1916 book, Glorious Deeds of Australasians in the Great War. This was a wartime propaganda effort, and many of its stories of Simpson, supposedly rescuing 300 men and making dashes into no man's land to carry wounded out on his back, are demonstrably untrue. In fact, transporting that many men down to the beach in the three weeks that he was at Gallipoli would have been a physical impossibility, given the time the journey took. However, the stories presented in the book were widely and uncritically accepted by many people, including the authors of some subsequent books on Simpson.

The few contemporary accounts of Simpson at Gallipoli speak of his bravery and invaluable service in bringing wounded down from the heights above Anzac Cove through Shrapnel and Monash Gullies. However, his donkey service spared him the even more dangerous and arduous work of hauling seriously wounded men back from the front lines on a stretcher.

A popular silent film was made of his exploits, Murphy of Anzac (1916). The story was also an episode of the anthology television show Michael Willessee's Australians (1988). There is a song about him, "John Simpson Kirkpatrick", on the album Legends and Lovers by Issy and David Emeney with Kate Riaz (Wild Goose Records WGS344). There is another song about him, called "Jackie and Murphy" on the album "Vagrant Stanzas" by Martin Simpson.

There have been several petitions over the decades to have Simpson awarded a Victoria Cross (VC) or a Victoria Cross for Australia. There is a persistent myth that he was recommended for a VC, but that this was either refused or mishandled by the military bureaucracy. However, there is no documentary evidence that such a recommendation was ever made. The case for Simpson being awarded a VC is based on diary entries by his Commanding Officer that express the hope he would receive either a Distinguished Conduct Medal or VC. However, the officer in question never made a formal recommendation for either of these medals. Simpson's Mention in Despatches was consistent with the recognition given to other men who performed the same role at Gallipoli.

In April 2011 the Australian Government announced that Simpson would be one of thirteen servicemen examined in an inquiry into "Unresolved Recognition for Past Acts of Naval and Military Gallantry and Valour".

 The tribunal for this inquiry was directed to make recommendations on the awarding of decorations, including the Victoria Cross. Concluding its investigations in February 2013, the tribunal recommended that no further award be made to Simpson, since his "initiative and bravery were representative of all other stretcher-bearers of 3rd Field Ambulance, and that bravery was appropriately recognised as such by the award of an MID

Mules and Donkeys in WW1:

Donkeys and Mules laden with water on a Gallipoli beach

The often overlooked but never forgotten story of the Donkey and Mule in the Great War. 
Information from Jill Mather Gallipoli’s War Horses, Waler Book Trust 2014

Stories about mules and donkeys are hard to come by.  They are the forgotten ones, simply a means to an end.  However without them a soldier’s life in the trenches, help for the injured, and travelling the desert and battlefield would have been impossible.

The Army Mule

Mules required less food than horses.  They were more tolerant of extreme heat and cold, and they could go for longer periods without water, critical in battle where clean water was so scarce.  Mules were proven to be more resistant to diseases and disease-bearing insects, very low maintenance and seldom needed shoes.  Less than half the mules died from infected bullet holes compared to the percentage of horses killed. 

 The first ship of animals departed in November 1914, and in the four half years of war 287,533 mules and 175 jacks were purchased.  Mules were branded on their near hindquarter with a 2 inch broad arrow and a letter or symbol denoting their origin.  13,000 Spanish mules were considered especially fine.

War Correspondent Charles Bean on a Mule, Gallipoli

An astounding mule story tells of the mule travelling down the soft steep hillside when the earth began to give way.  He tossed his handler to safety, freed his load of mail (a highly prized reminder of home), and was then swept away to his death.  Nobody knew how he managed to save the mail and his handler, but all agreed he deserved a medal.

Mule trains were hitched in threes, 15 to 20 long, always travelling at a trot and under fire.  When a mule was hit he was unhitched, the ammunition boxes rolled off him, and the mule train just carried on, often 14 to 16 hours a day.  The Missouri mule was recorded with 64 mules being loaded with 100 kilograms EACH in just 14 minutes!  Because of this very high prices were paid for quality mules. Mules died alongside the horses and soldiers.  There was no way of digging a hole for dead mules so many were thrown into the sea washing up like submarine periscopes and reportedly panicking the Navy. 56,000 surplus mules were sold after the war.

The Army Donkey

Moses, the donkey mascot of the New Zealand Army Service Company. (Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association: New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013143-G. Alexander Turnbull Library

Gallipoli History: Donkeys were routinely loaded with at least 3 times their own body weight.  Pictures and stories show donkeys carried food supplies, clothing, pots and pans, and of course water while all around them guns still fired, usually under the cover of darkness.  Summer was harsh and hot.  Water, always rationed, came from Malta red with rust, tasted terrible, and was often laced with chemicals designed to kill the enemy.  Wells on Gallipoli were often polluted or dry, so any interruption of the donkeys was considered a crisis.  The Gallipoli winter climate was especially hard on donkeys that do not do well in wet muddy conditions.

Donkeys were used to convey the wounded, so large groups of donkeys sporting Red Cross headbands were held in readiness.   Grazing was poor and donkeys scavenged for whatever was available.  Plant poisoning was common.  Most donkeys were the large Egyptian breed, known for its gentle nature.  Donkey trains sometimes up to 200 animals, in lines of four, were led by an Egyptian handler.  

Donkeys were invaluable pulling the sick and injured up the steep hills and gullies, as an accidental slip by the heavy horse ambulances led to man and horse tumbling down the steep slopes.

 To escape the bitterness of slaughter donkeys were often used in games, races and wrestling matches for light relief.  Pets on the battlefield gave men a link with home.  They were something to care for and a welcome change from guns, bombs, lice and dirt.  Even officers were known to have them despite rules to the contrary.  

Donkey races on the Western Front

After Egypt donkeys and mules classified unfit or over 12 years old were destroyed and their manes and tails shaved and sold. Many were even skinned to produce more leather for supplies. Some numbers say of the 34,000 or so donkeys used only 1,042 survived.  This was greeted with disdain and sadness by the soldiers who had sought solace with their donkey friends.

Despite the burden placed on mules and donkeys their participation was taken for granted and sometimes even contempt. Many soldiers told tales of the donkey and mule having a “sixth sense”.  Whilst may lives and loads were saved stories abounded of how mule and donkey handlers became frustrated.  It was widely known that they simply do not respond to harsh treatment, and in fact file the grievance away for future reference.   

A kick by a donkey or mule was considered as deliberate as it was accurate. It is still known by some of the best horse people that you SHOULD train a horse the way you MUST train a mule or donkey.  The donkey and mule remain under appreciated beasts of burden in many parts of the world, but have been thankfully replaced by machinery in most war zones.  Their importance in the war was largely unsung, but certainly never unimportant.

23 March 2015

Chunuk Bair: My Turks go over the Top and the ANZACs arrive

WW100: My Turks go off to war, and the first ANZAC troops line up on my workbench

Sam rings me today: "Are you ready for some more Gallipoli models? 
A few guys have pulled out, and we have a deadline looming"

 "How many have you done ?"
" Ten."

"How many more can you do ?"
" Another Ten."

 "...or twenty."

More silence

" Maybe thirty... "

Bewildered Turks fleeing a spectre of an ANZAC soldier

"I'll bring them to you tonight..."

 So a few quick snaps before these Turks that have been languishing on my workbench go off to Gallipoli and the tender ministrations of Mustapha Khamal.

"How many has Scott done?"
"Fifty ! "

"Fifty ? "

Ok, some ANZACs this time. 

Sam realises I am pushed for time, with a friends wedding and stag do to organise (best man at my ripe old age) , family birthdays and on call commitments. 

So: Wounded and kneeling ANZACs, and sundry lost or discarded equipment now on my workbench. 

Quick flash removal job. Yay! Slice my finger with a scalpel blade. 
...That's when you get for being lazy. Get out the dremel. 
... Buzzz...flash begone!

Mix Araldite (Yeugh!) 
Heads on, leave overnight to cure.
Arrange in sorry looking pile of wounded and kneeling soldiers.
Paint case happens to have bright red splatters of ink from a previous job on it, 

Or was it my blood? 
Or was it theirs?

Lead soldiers tumbling off balsa blocks...

I think back to this afternoon:  

Saw an 88 year old lady in my surgery. Have known her for 15 years. Used to be a keen painter, but she no longer has the energy. Buys the paint and the canvas, but just can't get started. 

We always end up talking art or painting. Told her about the WW100 project, showed her a few bits from blogs on my desktop PC. 

She gets all choked up. "Such waste, such waste. Thousands of them... Such waste..."

So raw is the wounds of Gallipoli still in the psyche of New Zealanders. 
This event has defined our lives, her life, 

Such waste. Such waste.

15 March 2015

Ship Cove, George III's Naval Guns and Captain Cook

A Brush with Capt Cook and George IIIs Navy

Ship Cove: Queen Charlotte Sound 2015

I recently had to opportunity to visit Ship Cove in New Zealand's Queen Charlotte Sound for the second time.

As per my previous visit I was with a group of 40-odd 11 and 12 year old children on a school trip. A lightning visit is was too. Consisted mostly of a  quick lunch, after which I led a half-an-hour tramp (hike for non-Kiwis) up to a waterfall in the stream that Capt Cook watered his vessels from. A brief brush with history, you could say.

On the way there and back a bief look around the memorial, attend to a sprained ankle, and then off fishing...

First details of the Memorial, as story in itself:

British explorer James Cook first brought his vessel, the Endeavour, into this bay in the Marlborough Sounds, in January 1770. Cook himself named the bay Ship Cove and returned to it on four subsequent occasions in 1773, 1774 and 1777, mostly to rest his crews and refurbish and provision his ships.

Captain James Cook spent a total of 328 days exploring the New Zealand coastline during his three voyages. The initial purpose of Cook's voyages was to observe the Transit of Venus in Tahiti and then search for a great southern continent which was believed to exist - Terra Australis. Cook was to return to Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound, on five separate occasions. He spent over 100 days there, as it provided safe anchorage, food and fresh water and timber for repairs to his ship. 1

Cook's First Voyage involved a six month long circumnavigation of Aotearoa/New Zealand. His ship, the Endeavour, sailed into Ship Cove, on 16 January, 1770. He described it as a "very snug cove" and recorded that: "The number of Inhabitants hardly exceeds 3 or 400 people, they leive (sic) dispers'd along the Shores in search of their daly (sic) bread, which is fish and firn (sic) roots for they cultivate no part of the lands".  (Journals of Captain Cook, 6 February, 1770)

Cook's Second Voyage involved two ships, the Resolution, commanded by Cook, and the Adventure commanded by Lieutenant Tobias Furneaux. They left from Plymouth in England on 13 July 1772 and met at Ship Cove in May 1773, but lost contact with each other after they left Queen Charlotte Sound and later both visited the Marlborough Sounds area separately.

Cook later learned that ten men from the Adventure had been attacked and killed at Wharehunga Bay, Arapawa Island. While it was expected that Cook would seek revenge for the killings on his return (third) voyage, he did not, and acted with commonsense and restraint.

Attempts were made by the Europeans to introduce various animals. Furneaux liberated a boar, and a sow and a pair of goats were released on Arapawa Island. Rats, chickens and more pigs were also introduced to New Zealand by Cook's ships. Cook put a ewe and a ram ashore at Ship Cove and was disappointed with his failure to introduce sheep: "Last Night the Ewe and Ram I had with so much care and trouble brought to this place, died, we did suppose that they were poisoned by eating of some poisonous plant, thus all my fine hopes of stocking this Country with a breed of Sheep were blasted in a moment." (Journals of Captain Cook, 23 May 1773)

The Europeans left potatoes, and turnips as well as other vegetables. They also brought serious diseases to Maori, including tuberculosis, and venereal diseases.

During this Second Voyage, Cook recorded that some Maori families were living near their ships and supplying them with fish. He acknowledged that their fishing methods and expertise were superior to those of his own countrymen. Cook left the Marlborough Sounds on 7 June 1773, but he returned to Ship Cove again in November, leaving on 25th November, to return in October 1774, still on his Second Voyage.5

Cook's Third Voyage commanding the Resolution and accompanied by the Discovery, included a stay at Ship Cove "in our old station" in February 1777 to refresh and refit the ships. Captain Cook was 47 years old and clearly weary with the demanding and dangerous voyages and dealing with the various peoples of the Pacific. He began to behave less tolerantly and on 14th February 1779, over-reacted to a theft in Hawaii, which resulted in a fight in which Cook was killed.

During his three voyages to New Zealand, James Cook mapped the outline of the country with considerable accuracy. His observations of Maori culture, and natural history, combined with the observations recorded by his men provide a rich source of information and his comments on the abundance of whales, seals, timber, and flax encouraged British interest.

At the instigation of Robert McNab, minister of lands and a historian of late 18th and early 19th-century New Zealand, this monument commemorating Cook’s association with Ship Cove was erected, and inaugurated by the Governor, Lord Liverpool, on 11 February 1913.

Not a great deal of time to explore the historical aspects, but I took a moment to pause at the memorial to his visits to the area, and get a few snaps.

Obvious to the military enthusiast is a trio of naval guns at the memorial, and an anchor atop the plinth. I snapped a few photos, intending to research the guns a bit better.

 I have come up mostly empty-handed this far. All that I can figure out was that they do not appear to have been left there by Cook, but were placed there at a later date, if you can go by the historical photographs. This one from the 1920s or 30s:

I have been able to figure out that 2 of these are (probably) 12 or 24 pounder SBML (Smooth Bore Muzzle Loading) naval deck guns, sometimes used for shore emplacements. The current replacement carriages appear to be a bit makeshift, and they have no wedges for elevation.

The 3rd (and longer cannon) is seemingly devoid of markings, and seems to have been immersed in water for some time, and has damage to the muzzle. All three are cast iron cannons, which would date them to the 18th Century.

The 2 better preserved guns bear the Royal Cypher of George III, and are of the Armstrong design, rather than the later Blomefield. This places their date of manufacture somewhere in the last 5 decades of the 18th Century, or 1st decade of the 19th. This does fit with the time Cook explored the Pacific in his Endeavour and Resolution. Placing them at the memorial has proven historically accurate then.

Barrel Top Markings: The barrel has an embossed cypher: A crown above a stylised mark of a 3, G and R entwined. This indicates 'George Rex' and is the royal symbol of King George III who reigned from 1760 - 1820. Many of these and the later Blomefield design were used in the Napoleonic wars, and were standard English Navy issue guns.

George III had by the mid 1810s succumbed to mental illness (now though to be due to porphyria), and his son George, the Prince Regent had been granted Regency powers in 1811.

George III's long reign was marked by a series of military conflicts involving his kingdom and much of the rest of Europe. Early in his reign, Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years' War, becoming the dominant European power in North America and India.

However, many of its American colonies were soon lost in the American Revolutionary War, which led to the establishment of the United States. Later, the kingdom became involved in a series of wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, which finally concluded in the defeat of Napoleon in 1815.

My photograph of one the southernmost gun at Ship Cove

Comparison gun cypher from a gun in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (nicked off the net)
(Happy to credit photographer if requested)

Below the crest is a broad arrow signifying British government ownership of the weapon.

The design of the guns, specifically that of the knobs/butts or buttons lead me to believe they are therefore Armstrong or Armstrong-Frederick designs rather than Blomefield (See my reasoning below) . I did not have time to take photos of other distinguishing aspects such as manufacturers marks on the trunions, much to my frustration. I would love to learn more about the history of the Ship Cove cannon.

I have tracked down two similar guns, with a fascinating history of their own:

The Johnsonville guns (clicky)

These guns (Johnsonville/Trentham) appear to be the of a different (and later) manufacture though.

The Ship Cove guns are missing the quoin or aiming/elevation wedge.

On the deck of a ship the gun would have been restrained with ropes to control the recoil

Armstrong and Blomefield:

In 1722, John Armstrong became the English Surveyor General of Ordnance. He was a man of immense energy who controlled the development of British ordnance over the next 20 years. He set about improving upon, and adding his own stamp to, the standard designs developed by Borgard.

By 1725 he had developed a complex series of proportions which governed the dimensions of every section of the cannon. Gone was the craftsmanship and decorations of the last century. What was left was a cast iron brute which could be cast to the same specifications by any foundry.

NPG 5318, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough; John Armstrong

Armstrong (standing with the seated Duke of Marlborough)

Some minor modifications were made to the Armstrong pattern in 1753 under the guidance of Charles Frederick as Surveyor General, and thus creating the Armstrong-Frederick pattern gun. The Armstrong, or Armstrong-Frederick was finally supplanted in 1794 by the Blomefield pattern gun.

All in all, the Armstrong was a successful and resilient design and it was still present on British warships as late as 1808.

Armstrong's design for naval guns

Blomfield design - note the redesigned button with a loop
This gun is also mounted on a metal garisson type carriage vs the naval carriages above.

 General anatomy and terminology of a SBML Naval Gun of the 18th Century:

Once John Armstrong had finished his basic design for British artillery in 1725, there were only marginal changes to the template over the next 70 years.

That changed In 1780, when a 36 year old artillery captain was appointed as Inspector of Artillery and Superintendent of the Royal Brass Foundry. Thomas Blomefield, was 11 years old when he was sent to sea on HMS Cambridge  under a close friend of his father, Sir Peircy Brett. His naval career was short lived and in February 1758 he enrolled as a cadet at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

He was a talented student, gained the notice of his professors and passed out as a lieutenant eleven months later at age 15. He saw combat in the West Indies and Florida. He became aide de camp to General Conway, who was then acting Master General of the Ordnance and was retained in that position by his successor, Lord Townshend.

He resigned that high profile post to serve in the war in America. He was wounded in the head at Saratoga, returned to his duties as aide to the Master General of Ordnance. In 1780 he was appointed Inspector of Artillery and Superintendent of the Royal Brass Foundry.

At the time Britain’s military administration was virtually belly up. The nearly medieval system of military administration used by Britain was obviously incapable of supporting an army and navy engaged in a worldwide war.

Blomefield set about his task with energy. In his first year he condemned 496 new artillery pieces and unsuitable before they were sent to the army or the fleet. This represented about a quarter of the national production.

Around 1783, Blomefield set his hand to designing artillery. Apparently he was a dedicated experimenter and used his experiments to inform his designs. There are several key deviations from the Armstrong-Frederick pattern gun in the Blomefield gun.

First, it is much more simple in design. A lot of the more decorative features at the cascabel were done away with to ensure a uniform thickness of metal.

Second, an attempt was made to lessen the weight of the gun by trimming the thickness of the tube while retaining a strong breech. This is a theme one sees with cast iron guns probably culminating in the Parrot guns

Third, the chamber for the powder bag was a bit larger in diameter than the bore. This resulted in a better burn rate for the powder and hence a higher muzzle velocity.

Lastly, a loop was forged over the knob on the cascabel. Aboard ship, this enabled the breeching rope to pass through the loop rather than being looped around the knob. This subtle change enable shipboard artillery to be shifted much farther off the center line because it could be fired with the risk of snapping the breeching rope.

After 1794 the Blomefield pattern gun was the standard within the navy.

14 February 2015

Progress on the Turks

Gallipoli and The Turks: Diorama Progress report

I finally got a bit of time to progress the Turks I've built for the WW1 display in Wellington. Diorama to commemorate the Battle of Chunuk Bair.

Applied the first coats, and washes to the trousers and helmets helmets- starting to look like them Ottoman Gentlemen warriors now 

Have applied washes to uniform jackets now, pics to follow...


10 February 2015

Gallipoli Project: Becoming a Part of History

Gallipoli: A Century on: A Gamer and Modeler's dream: Becoming part of History (or the depiction there-of)

So this email arrives. Sir Peter Jackson of Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fame has sent out a missive. Ok, not no me directly, but to our wargames club. Via, via:

 A call to arms for gamers and modelers. Unfortunately limited to Kiwi Wargamers only !

He wishes to produce a large scale diorama in 54 mm depicting the Battle of Gallipoli. A milestone battle in WW1; where New Zealand, Australia and the UK sacrificed thousands of their young men in an assault on the Ottoman Turk mainland.It is to depict the Battle of Chunuk Bair.

 Imortalised in many movies now, (The Dardanelles Campaign and Gallipoli) is branded on the psyche of every Kiwi and Aussie. The war memorial in Wellington has had a complete make-over, and Sir Peter personally commissioned a 4000 54 mm miniatures from Perry in the UK to make up a diorama to commemorate the centenary of this battle. 

If you are in NZ and willing to help let me know and I can put you in touch with Rhys:

"Hi everyone,

Quick Summary: I am asking your help in organising wargamers around NZ to paint 4000  54 mm figures for a Gallipoli diorama in Peter Jackson's Great War Exhibition, the ANZAC Diorama.

One of my adventures in life is to be involved with Peter Jackson in creating the "New Zealand Great War Exhibition", which will open on Anzac Day this year and run through to Armistice Day 2018. It will be housed in the former Dominion Museum building in Wellington, behind the Carillon and the new Memorial Park. With both Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor doing the exhibits, and the historian Christopher Pugsley doing the Historical Curating, we know that this is going to best a best-of-world-class exhibition. However, with Peter being tied up until recently, completing the last Hobbit movie, we have an ambitious time frame to complete the work.

One of the displays that he is building is a diorama of the battle of Chunuk Bair, on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Over Christmas he has commissioned the Perry Twins to make 4000 x 54mm Turkish and New Zealand soldiers. We now have until late March to paint them. I am seeking your help to find about 100 good painters who are willing to paint about 40 figures each over the next two months. I have attached some images of some of the figures that the Perry's have produced, as well as the early version of the Turkish painting guide (note that there is at least one error in it, so it is not the final version). The Perrys have about 600 figures that they will dispatch this week as the first batch. Note that the figures are designed for a diorama of trench fighting on the hill-top, so many of the figures are climbing the slopes or through the trenches - hence the poses.

As with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, Peter wants all of New Zealand involved, so that it becomes an exhibition of New Zealanders, by New Zealanders. I think that this is a great opportunity to get involved in something very special, as well as a chance to raise the profile of wargaming clubs through local media articles.

Many of my wargaming friends here in Wellington have pitched in to provide me your names from around the country, as points of contact for the clubs, so can you please help in this venture? For a historical "feel good factor" my intention is to divide the country up into the WW1 recruiting zones: Auckland (everything north of Taupo), Wellington (south of Taupo and including Taranaki and Hawkes Bay), Canterbury (everything north of the Waitaki) and Otago (south of the Waitaki), with a one club coordinating the painting by all the clubs in that region. Roly Hermans is helping me get the news out to people through the NZ Wargaming forum and we will also establish a website that will be updated with painting progress and all the information needs for the painters and other interested parties. The painting guides will be available on the site for downloading.

If you can help with this, or can pass me on to someone who can, then I will be indebted to you. I am particularly seeking a volunteer person, or club, to honcho each region. That will involve the distribution of the figures to the other clubs and painters, monitoring progress, updating the website (you will have partial administrator rights), collection and the dispatch of the painted figures back to me. Please get back to me to either confirm your interest or to refer to someone who can help. If you are able to be the regional honcho, then a mailing address for the dispatch of the figures would be great.

The contribution of the clubs will be recocgnised in the exhibition and the website will remain as a record of the achievement.

Please help. This will be something that you will all be proud of when you visit the exhibition, perhaps during Call to Arms this year.

Rhys Jones
The Arm Chair General (for real)"

The official page: ANZAC DIORAMA

Last week I received my first 10 figures to build and paint. Quite strict instructions, as would be necessary for the uniformity of the look. The Kapiti Wargames club was allotted Turks for the first run. I received mine on Thursday, and have now assembled them:

Unassembled figures as they arrived from Perry

How do you do, Ottoman troops

Blurry picture from my phone, but you get the gist

Even worse one during the assembly process. Flash and mold lines cleaned, now for the Araldite. Yes. Araldite is recommened. 

How I hate you, Araldite. You are not even good for King Tut's Beard, if you haven't caught up with that saga yet: Here it is: Link to distraction about King Tut's Beard being broken off.

Dear Araldite. I hate you. Yours sincerely. Herman.

Finally assembled. Let the assault on Chunuck Briar begin. 
No, wait. We have to fill up those gaps first. 
At ease, men!

8 January 2015

Happy New Year to All!

Happy 2015

 - Yes I know it is 10 days into it already, but some of us worked through the festive season. Anyhow, best gaming wishes for everyone out there!

May you have a happy and victorious 2015 on the table-top