Monday, 22 October 2018

SELWG 18 Report

Yesterday I went to my second show of the year by going to Crystal Palace Sports Centre and SELWG 2018. It seems that even at this time of year, the weather was very sunny and warm. Not a bad for an autumn day but it always seem to be so on SELWG day. With a few coppers from the war chest with my small list of things to buy, off I went.
I was hoping to be there by eleven but with heavy traffic I did not arrive until 11.20 am. The half hour drive took me an hour.
Once I had brought my ticket I looked around the concourse and small hall, which I always do at SELWG. There did not seem to be many people around as I made my way to the Bring & Buy tables. At this point you are usually being pushed around as it is always busy but not this year. There was a load of goodies here from books to models but nothing for me so I thought that I would come back to it later on in the day.
So off I went to the main hall. Here there seems to be a few more people but still room for you to see all the trade stands and what was on offer. But it was once I was half way round I suddenly realised that there we no trade stands selling 20mm HaT figures or much 20mm accessories for the battle table.  I am beginning to think that I am the only person still playing with 20mm wargames, as there were loads of 28mm stuff to no end. But just like last year there were a few traders tables still vacant and a couple of gaming tables.

So on to the games. The game that caught my eye was in the small hall from the Shepway Wargamers doing a demonstration game from The Lords of the Ring, “War in Middle Earth” in 28mm. As you can see from the pictures there were loads of figures in this game all well painted with a very good layout/table.

Next up was this lovely model from the Maidstone Wargames Society “Zeebrugge 1918”. The picture shows the ship H.M.S Vindictive landing a force of sailors and Royal Marines on the mole at Zeebrugge in 28mm.

There were also a lot of participation games this year and they all seemed to be very busy which is great for the hobby. For me the show was a little disappointing as I could not get my HaT French command figures, so the money has gone back into the war chest for Skirmish 2019.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

British Heavy Cavalry Sword 1796 Pattern

The Pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry sword was produced from 1796-1821, and it is one of the most iconic swords of the Napoleonic period. The sword was used by all regiments of British heavy cavalry regiments. The Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards, Dragoon Guards and Dragoons and even used in the King’s German Legion Dragoons, throughout the Napoleonic Wars. The 1796 heavy cavalry sword played a big part at the battles of Salamanca and Waterloo. The Swedish and Portuguese also adopted the sword in their cavalry.

The British 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword was copied from the Austrian Pallasch sword of 1769 in their heavy cavalry regiments. It was John Le Marchant, a cavalry officer who had already designed the 1796 light cavalry sabre, saw the Austrian sword in action during the low Counties Campaign from 1793-95. His first design was rejected by the board of general officers to arm the heavy cavalry with a straight sword but when they finally agreed to use a straight sword, he suggested at the Austrian sword was to be used as a design.
The 1796 pattern sword was technically a backsword which is a sword with a straight blade with one cutting edge with the opposite back edge of the blade was thickened for most of its length to git the blade added strength. The steel blade was 35 inches (890 mm) in length it had a single broad fuller on each side. The grip was of ribbed wood bound with cord and covered in leather. The iron back-piece of the grip had ears which were riveted through the tang of the blade to give the hilt and blade a very secure connection. The hilt had a disc guard pierced with two semi-circular and six oval holes, with a single knucklebow and two slim 2 inch (51 mm) long langets extending from the front of the guard. The langets were often removed on the left hand side of the guard to reduce wear to the uniforms. The modification also made it more comfortable to wear on horseback.

Officer Sword
The sword was often modified by its owner as the point was originally a ‘hatchet point’, a curved diagonal front edge similar to that of the Japanese Katana sword, but most were changed to a ‘spear point’, which was more common at the time. (Due to the sword's broadness this type of point would be very poor at piercing heavy clothing or rolled cloaks, making a thrust a largely unprofitable exercise)
This was done in order to improve the sword’s ability to thrust. They are a very large number of spear-pointed swords that exist with 33 inch (840 mm) blades converted from the original 35 inch (890 mm) blade with shorter modified scabbards to match.
The sword was carried in an iron scabbard with wooden liners. The scabbard hang from the trooper’s waist via the sword-belt sling attached to two loose suspension rings.
In the Household Cavalry there were several sword types with the standard trooper’s blade with a bowl hilt which was similar to the officers’ pattern, with the hilt in brass with a brass scabbard as for the Life-Guards, or iron with iron scabbard for the Horse Guard. Most cavalry troopers used the blades like bludgeons and the guards as knuckle dusters. 

The cavalry officer John Gaspard Le Marchant, who was later to be killed leading a brigade of British heavy cavalry to victory at Salamanca in Spain 1812, wrote that the British cavalry were prescribed a method of sword fighting where the cut was emphasised above the thrust. This method had some advantages which were thought to outweigh the fact that cuts tend to be less fatal than thrusts. The cut is a more instinctive blow than a thrust, and in melees the average cavalryman will tend to cut even if his sword is more suited to the thrust. Also cuts can be directed to any part of the body, whereas thrusts must be delivered to the torso or head if they are to have a reasonable chance of striking home. Lastly an enemy incapacitated by a cut to a limb, particularly an arm, is as useless in battle as if he had been killed. Given that the cut was the preferred method of sword fighting in the British cavalry, then it would be logical that swords optimised for cutting should be adopted, which is indeed what happened.

Another description with the use of the sword was made by Sgt.Charles Ewart of the 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys) while capturing the Imperial Eagle at Waterloo.
“It was in the charge I took the eagle off the enemy; he and I had a hard contest for it; he made a thrust at my groin, I parried it off and cut him down through the head. After this a lancer came at me; I threw the lance off my right side, and cut him through the chin upwards through the teeth. Next, a foot soldier fired at me, then charged me with his bayonet, which I also had the good luck to parry, and I cut him down through the head; thus ended the contest.”

Painting of Charles Ewart at Waterloo