Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Walking the dog through local Military History.

The other day I decided to take our dog Sam for a walk in nearby Tuakau. I was prompted in part by the fact it was around ANZAC Day (25 April) and I recalled a few years ago a speaker at a remembrance service mentioning a VC was won nearby during the Waikato war.

I have copied some info about the redoubt from the net, as well as a couple of aerial images that I was unable to achieve whilst visiting the site.

Alexandra Redoubt at the end of Alexandra Redoubt Road, on a commanding hill 100 m above Waikato River; historic reserve.

The name is after Princess Alexandra of Denmark who married Queen Victoria’s eldest son, the future Edward VII, in March 1863.

Rectangular work c. 50 × 20 m, with bastion defence at two corners covering all sides. A stone path within the parapet is an unusual feature.

Under grass; outstanding condition in public ownership; a surrounding cemetery has destroyed some or all evidence of external buildings and other features; 365 steps to river 

A contemporary view of the redoubt from the opposite bank of the Waikato River - much of the hill seems to have been cleared of vegetation back then; today, it has fully regrown and the staircase in evidence here no longer exists as far as I am aware

Above and below - aerial images showing the redoubt today


Following is a brief outline of how the VC's - there were two awarded for the action I recalled, as it turns out - were won. 

On 12 July 1863, as General Cameron led the 12th and 14th Regiments across the Mangatawhiri Stream and the Waikato War began, Colonel Alfred Wyatt marched the 300 men of the 65th Regiment past the Pukekohe East Church on the way to Tuakau to build Alexandra Redoubt. A plaque that stands at the gate of the redoubt cemetery states: ‘This Redoubt, constructed in July 1863 and garrisoned by the 65th Regiment was intended to protect General Cameron’s right flank on the Waikato River and ensure safe passage for the steamer Avon. A detachment from this redoubt was in action at Camerontown.’

Fighting near the redoubt began on the morning of 7 September 1863 as army supplies were being loaded at Camerontown, down river from Tuakau. A large contingent of some 200 Maniapoto warriors attacked the supply party, resulting in the death of several men as they tried to escape by canoe. Gunshots from the fighting at Camerontown were heard by the troops of the 65th Regiment. Captain Richard Swift, the officer in charge, ordered a march on Camerontown by a party of 50 men and officers.

Swift and his men marched seven miles through dense bush to be met by an ambush. The captain was wounded in the confrontation and died that same evening. Command of the party was then taken over by Colour Sergeant Edward McKenna. Fighting continued into the evening and then the men of the 65th set off for the safety of the redoubt. They were met by a large relief party, which had been sent to Tuakau from Queen’s Redoubt at Pokeno by Cameron. In all, approximately 50 Maori are believed to have been killed, while the 65th lost four men and a further four were wounded. 

The conflict, while small in the context of the Waikato War, was notable given the high number of awards given. McKenna received a commission and Victoria Cross. Corporal Ryan was also awarded a Victoria Cross, although he drowned before he could receive his decoration. Privates Bulford, Talbot, Cole and Thomas each received the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The events that occurred in the vicinity of the Alexandra Redoubt took place during a dark time in the history of Tuakau as hostilities between the government and Kingite forces reached boiling point. Local police historian Kenneth Brewer has written that the fortifications and the gravesites there today are a ‘significant feature of the district’s history and a mute memorial to those of both sides who died in the ensuing conflict.’

C/Sgt Edward McKenna, VC

Following are a few of the pictures I took myself of the redoubt and its environs:

Above and below, signage explaining the site and the walking track Sam and I followed

Memorial to soldiers of the 65th Regiment

Next several shots are from the bush walk, giving an idea of the type of terrain the Crown forces had to contend with fighting the native Maori tribes

View out over the Waikato River, which is New Zealand longest, and was navigable for quite some way - the British sent steam gunships by this route to aid in the Waikato War

A memorial to two brothers from the area who were killed in WW1

Plaque commemorating the 65th Regiment, who built and manned the redoubt

Several views of the redoubt, showing the layout and scale of the surrounding ditch etc

Memorial to five soldiers of the 65th Regiment and one of the 14th Regiment

View down the Waikato from the summit occupied by the redoubt, with the Tuakau bridge in the distance

Some more local history!

View from just down the road - the redoubt is on the hill to the right, overlooking the Waikato River.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Various 28mm Figures finished in the last few days

First up, a Bolshevik Lewis gunner for the Russian Civil War

Next are the command figures that came with the Hinterland Sailors. Their headdress made them impractical to use in the RCW, so I will have to find a use for them in the colonial/pulp collection...

Four 1920's ladies by Eureka - not sure what they can be used for but I just liked the look of the figures....

A lastly five left over "Elite" Bolshevik infantry by Brigade Games. I have painted them as per the troops shown on Trotsky's armoured train in the Netflix Russian TV serial "Trotsky"

Monday, 22 April 2019

A Few Random RCW Figures

Today being Easter Monday and the weather in Auckland not that great, I had the opportunity to spend many hours at the painting desk, and completed the following seven RCW figures, all by Copplestone.

They are still on the 10c coins I use to hold figures while I paint them, as I intend to put them in amongst other units or command bases when I finally get around to reinforcing this collection...although, the Red Actions rule set we have been using of late does require individually based commanders, so that may change.

There are four Bolshevik Heroines (the second of these packs I have painted) plus three standard bearers. The flags are suitably Proletarian looking ones that I found on the net 18 months ago when this project started.

Heroine One - Inspiring the Masses to Greater Sacrifice!

Heroine Two - Combat Leader

Heroine Three - More Inspirational Speech Making

Heroine Four - Looks like she comes from Siberia!

First Standard Bearer in flat cap

Second Standard Bearer wearing Schlem

Third Standard Bearer in Great Coat