I mentioned in Part 1 of this series on my imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia doesn’t have its own army, but employs regiments from all round Europe, particularly those that starred in my all-time favourite war film, Barry Lyndon.
In the film our protagonist Redmond Barry has his first taste of battle in just ‘a skirmish against a rearguard of Frenchmen who occupied an orchard beside a road down which the English main force wish to pass’. The narrator goes on to say that though this encounter is not recorded in any history book, it was memorable enough for those who took part.
This is one of the most powerful scenes in the film, aided by a spine-tingling soundtrack of the fifes and drums playing The British Grenadiers:
It was therefore only natural that the Barrayat of Lyndonia’s first hire would be Barry’s unit, the fictional Gale’s Regiment of Foot, using the exquisite 1/56th scale figures made by Minden Miniatures (which are available through Fife and Drum).
Headed by Lt-Colonel Charles Gale, the regiment’s officers include the Irish adventurer Captain Grogan, the foppish Lieutenant Jonathon Fakenham and his particular friend Lieutenant Freddie, whose surname is not disclosed in the movie.
Somewhere in the ranks, of course, will be Private Redmond Barry. He joined Gale’s Regiment of Foot after being tricked into a duel back home in Ireland. Captain Grogan has now taken young Barry under his wing.
Lieutenants Jonathon and Freddie will later provide Barry with an intriguing opportunity to improve his status in life. But I’m not going to give anything away – you’ll need to see the movie to find out exactly how this happens!
In the movie, the regiment has no grenadiers, but I added these simply because I liked their colourful and intricate mitres so much – and what better reason could there be than that?
The movie also depicts the drummers wearing tricornes instead of mitre caps, but I kept to the latter, again because I like them so much, and also because that’s the way the Minden Miniatures drummers come anyway.
And here’s another chance to listen to those drummers. This is a company of the Kilwangen Regiment led by the ramrod-straight Captain John Quin, with whom the young Barry is later tricked into the duel that leads him to join the army:
A note on my army organisation
The unit organisation and basing of my army are not designed for any particular set of wargames rules, though they do bear somewhat of a resemblance to the regiments portrayed in Charge! Or how to play wargames.
One of my criteria for this project was that instead of having lots of small regiments, I wanted a smaller number of really big regiments.
So each regiment of foot has 54 men, along with additional individually based officers, standard bearers, sergeants and drummers, bringing the total number to over 60 figures.
There’s no attempt at historical organisation in these units. Instead, each regiment of foot is split into just three companies.
As the authors of Charge! Or how to play wargames wrote, ‘since an infantry battalion of three companies can be handled in exactly the same way, and can be put through exactly the same manoeuvres, as one of six or eight, there seems little point in having any more’.
The 18 rank-and-file men in each company are based on three 45mm-wide bases, each containing 6 men arranged in two ranks (thus each man having a frontage of 15mm).
This basing system provides the flexibility that I can split the regiment up if I want for varying rules, for example into three separate 18-man regiments.
I also decided not to pursue historical accuracy when painting my figures. Instead, I tried to depict my soldiers as they appear in the movie, lovingly recreating the historical inaccuracies and all.
So if someone tells me that my British belts are the wrong colour, that my French have the incorrect flag, or that the turn-backs on my Prussians should be red instead of white, I can point out that my figures aren’t supposed to represent real British, French or Prussians, but rather Kubrick’s take on them!
Go to Part 3 of this series to meet le Régiment des Royal-Cravates.
Go to Part 1 of this series on the army of the Barryat of Lyndonia.