On parade! Foreign regiments of the 18th century French army

The French army included quite a few foreign troops, amongst them Swiss, Germans, Swedes, Scots, Italians, Netherlanders, and, of course, the famous Irish ‘Wild Geese’.

 

Lally

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I wanted to portray one of the Irish red-coat ‘Wild Geese’ regiments in my army, and so chose the Regiment Lally, which was renowned for its service in India. I liked the combination of red with green cuffs.

I had never really used the black undercoat method of painting before, but found it worked very effectively. The red coats  were quite difficult to do, however, as the red paint remained quite dull over the black undercoat.

The flags are by GMB Designs flags.  If I recall correctly, I reversed the colours of the quadrants in GMB’s version of the flag, which I felt were wrong.

foreign_lally_195626

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about the Irish Guards in the British Army of the First World war. This poem harks back to the days of the Irish Brigade in French service, even mentioning the colonel of the Regiment Lally:

WE’RE not so old in the Army List,
But we’re not so young at our trade.
For we had the honour at Fontenoy
Of meeting the Guards’ Brigade.
‘Twas Lally, Dillon, Bulkeley, Clare,
And Lee that led us then,
And after a hundred and seventy years
We’re fighting for France again!

Old Days! The wild geese are flighting,
Head to the storm as they faced it before!
For where there are Irish there’s bound to be fighting,
And when there’s no fighting, it’s Ireland no more!
Ireland no more!

The fashion’s all for khaki now,
But once through France we went
Full-dressed in scarlet Army cloth,
The English – left at Ghent.
They’re fighting on our side today
But, before they changed their clothes,
The half of Europe knew our fame,
As all of Ireland knows!

Old Days! The wild geese are flying,
Head to the storm as they faced it before!
For where there are Irish there’s memory undying.
And when we forget, it is Ireland no more!
Ireland no more!

From Barry Wood to Gouzeaucourt,
From Boyne to Pilkem Ridge,
The ancient days come back no more
Than water under the bridge.
But the bridge it stands and the water runs
As red as yesterday,
And the Irish move to the sound of the guns
Like salmon to the sea.

Old Days! The wild geese are ranging.
Head to the storm as they faced it before!
For where there are Irish their hearts are unchanging,
And when they are changed, it is Ireland no more!
Ireland no more!

We’re not so old in the Army List,
But we’re not so new in the ring,
For we carried our packs with Marshal Saxe
When Louis was our King.
But Douglas Haig’s our Marshal now
And we’re King George’s men,
And after one hundred and seventy years
We’re fighting for France again!
Ah, France! And did we stand by you,
When life was made splendid with gifts and rewards?
Ah, France! And will we deny you
In the hour of your agony, Mother of Swords?

Old Days! The wild geese are flighting,
Head to the storm as they faced it before!
For where there are Irish there’s loving and fighting,
And when we stop either, it’s Ireland no more!
Ireland no more!

stampIn 1995 Belgium and Ireland put out a joint stamp commemorating 250 years since the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745. The Irish Brigade, including the Regiment Lally, suffered many casualties in the battle at the Bois de Barry (or Barry Wood, as Kipling calls it in the poem above).

The stamps depict the memorial to the Irish Brigade in the village of Fontenoy, and also two Irish soldiers (though neither, unfortunately, are members of the Regiment Lally).

 

 

Marck

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The Regiment la Marck was one of the German regiments in French service, and was initially raised in 1682. King Louis paid them and furnished them with clothing, arms and ammunition.

German regiments generally wore lightish-blue coats, but were otherwise armed and equipped as French infantry.

My source for painting these figures was the illustration in John Mollo’s Uniforms of the Seven Years War 1756-63. I especially liked the combination of yellow and light-blue, which makes a nice contrast against the other colours in my army so far.

The drummer is wearing a white coat with black and white chequered lace.

foreign_la_marck_IMG_1913

In the back rank you’ll notice that Grenadier Hans Gruber is building up some Dutch courage just before the battle!

My next posting will cover the guards. And don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.

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