For Christmas in 1955 I received two sets of Britains’ soldiers: Signal Corps Motorcycle Dispatch Riders from my grandparents and Royal Army Medical Corps Stretcher-Party with Nurses from my parents. Well of course I immediately wanted to play with them and to integrate them into my next battle - but how? I had already seen my toy soldier collection as my ‘Army’ with units and a General but in those days my General just took men into heroic charges - usually winning the battle but dying in the process. (In fairness, I was only nine at the time and thought that was how things were)
But to play with my new sets I now had to do things differently. My Dispatch Riders had to carry messages from my General to different parts of the Army and back again. So no more glorious charges for the General: now he had to stay put behind the fighting in one central place. My R.A.M.C. stretcher-bearers had to carry the wounded back to a safe place behind the lines where the two Nurses awaited. That also meant making a hospital. Well, a folded envelope with two Red Cross done with crayons did just fine. The point to this 1955 story is that I could no longer just fight battles: shooting, charging, defending and other exciting things - I had to interrupt the adventures at ‘the sharp end’ and also look after supporting my Army. From that time to this I have tried to ensure that all the Supporting Arms are represented in my collection, which is still my Army. What follows are a sampling of the units I have added over the years.
For years Britains’ ‘Boy Scout Signallers’ with their wonderful Semaphore flags sufficed but even though I had also been a Boy Scout that always seemed a little inappropriate. Fortunately, Dorset Castings came to the rescue and I was able to order from Giles Brown’s massive range the bodies and arms and heads to create the Signal Section of the 3rd. Brahmin Regiment. Now I had Semaphore flags and heliographs and signalling lanterns to use. Being Canadian I’m always trying to find ways to add more Canadian units to my Army. I discovered that pre-WWI that Royal Canadian Signal Corps was a mounted unit and so with help this time from the Soldier Pac Castings I had four mounted figures leading a pack mule carrying their Semaphore and heliograph equipment. (A note: any castings or conversions in the photos were done by the author).
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October - November 2020