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AndrewE

Captain Souter 44th Foot, Gandamak 1842. 120mm Roll Call

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Well it's no wonder I take so long to get anything finished for group builds when I keep getting distracted by other builds.  Just finished this one today.  This is a 120mm resin and white metal kit Roll Call kit of Captain Souter of the 44th Foot at the battle of Gandamak, 13th January 1842.  The figure is painted with enamels for the uniform and oils for the face/hands.  Not sure about the snow effects. (my first try with "Scenic Snow") but reading the story of Gandamak below I think it needed some.

In 1839 the Army of the Indus, under the command of Sir John Keane, invaded Afghanistan taking Kabul on August 7th of that year. The pro British Shah Shuja was placed on the throne deposing Dos Muhammad, who was captured and returned to India with Keane and the larger part of the British forces.

Akbar Khan, son of Dos Muhammad, led an uprising against the British in Kabul, surrounding the garrison under the aged and ineffectual command of Major General William Elphinstone, who had not seen action since Waterloo 24 years earlier.

The troops became demoralised by the lack of leadership and continuing attacks. On January 6th 1842 Elphinstone finally agreed to evacuate the country and the 700 European troops, 3,800 native troops and 12,000 refugees began the withdrawal to Jalalabad under the terms of safe conduct.

The retreat was hampered by the large numbers of sick and wounded and no one in the column had eaten properly for some time. Many commanders initially refused to allow their men to wrap their legs and feet against the biting cold, which resulted in terrible frostbite and suffering, especially amongst the native troops.

It soon became obvious that Akbar Khan could not be trusted. During a horrendous withdrawal through high snow-choked passes of the Kyber-Pass road, Elphinstone's demoralised force steadily dwindled in numbers as they fell victim to snipers and knives of Afghan raiders. Men collapsed with exhaustion and either froze to death or were murdered by the harassing tribesmen.

By 13th January just over 50 men of the 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot, with only 20 muskets and very little ammunition, together with the remnants of other regiments and some Bengal Horse Artillery reached a defile in the Jagdalak Pass near Gandamak, and prepared to make a last stand.

As things became even more hopeless, Captain Souter of the 44th wrapped the Regimental Colours around his waist for safe keeping. Soon only Captain Souter and three or four privates and two civilians remained and were taken into captivity from which only Captain Souter survived.

The Afghans, considering anybody with such a finely embroidered waistcoat to be of great importance, eventually ransomed him back to the British, complete with his "waistcoat".

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I read about that episode a while ago and an interesting one it was too. Very nice figure indeed and magnificent facial furniture to boot.

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