Monday, May 14, 2007

Camel Corps

As promised - after an extended session at the painting table yesterday I managed to finish the basing for the Camel Corps, I then completed another company of British Infantry, and painted up two units of Dervish Cavalry... a good day! Pictures of the latter soon, but in the meanwhile as promised some pictures of the completed Camel Corps unit. These are Peter Pig castings from their Sudan range, and are 15mm.

Despite my pessimism I'm really happy with the way these guys have turned out, testament I think to the quality of the sculpting as these guys were very easy to paint... I also think they look like they mean business, don't they!? J

History/Background (the following from this excellent
web site): In the Sudan campaign of 1884-85 Wolsey tried two innovations - a river column of whale boats (similar to the Red River Campaign of Canada where he won his fame), and a flying desert column of camel mounted troops.
The idea of a camel corps did not originate with Wolseley, but the Sudan was the first time a camel corps figured into the major plans of the British army. It formed part of what was known as the "Desert Column" which was to be a self-sufficient force of cavalry, artillery and infantry. Though not all infantry involved belonged to the Camel Corps, the four regiments that comprised the newly raised unit were to be the backbone of the force.
In October 1884, the Camel Corps was officially divided into four regiments. They were:

~ Guards Camel Regiment: commanded by Lt. Colonel E. Boscawen - 23 officers, 403 men; 1st, 2nd 3rd Grenadier Guards, 1st and 2nd Coldstream Guards, 1st and 2nd Scots Guard, 100 Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI).

~ Heavy Camel Regiment: Lt. Colonel R.A. Talbot - 24 officers, 430 men; 1st and 2nd Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards, 2nd, 4th, 5th Dragoon Guards, 1st, 2nd (Scots Greys) Dragoons, 5th and 16th Lancers.

~ Light Camel Regiment: 21 officers, 387 men; 3rd 4th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 15th, 18th, 20th, 21st Hussars - this unit was used solely to guard supplies..

~ Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment: G. H. Gough - 26 officers, 480 men; 1st South Staffordshire (38th), 1st Royal West Kents (50th), 1st Black Watch Highlanders (42nd), 1st Gordon Highlanders (75th), 2nd Essex (56th), 1st Sussex (35th), 2nd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (46th), 3rd King's Royal Rifle Corps, Rifle Brigade, Somerset Light Infantry, Connaught Rangers, Royal Scots Fusiliers.

Tactics/Use: Contrary to popular opinion the Camel Corps never used their camels for cover, nor did they ever fight mounted as cavalry. From the very beginning they were conceived of as a mounted infantry force, and fought as mounted infantry. In a memorandum dated 27th October, 1884 and signed by Redvers Buller, the following guidelines were issued: "The soldiers of the Camel Regiments will fight only on foot. They are mounted on camels only to enable them to make long marches. The camel is a good traveller; but he is a slow mover. He cannot be managed as easily as a horse, and he cannot be mounted, or dismounted From, with great rapidity. The men of the Camel Corps must therefore trust slely to themselves and their weapons when once they have dismounted, This cannot be too strongly impressed upon the men. " (Colville, II, p.240. The Black Watch in Egypt and the Sudan..)

When under attack the Camel Corps dismounted and lashed its camels' knees together, thus eliminating the need to keep "horse-holders" back per regular mounted infantry. The camels were placed In "a compact formation under guard" (see below) and the main force would march away to battle so as to keep the camels From being brought under fire.

British Soldier with two camels, Camel Corps, Egypt, 1st Sudan War, c1885. NAM 1963-11-194-2


  1. *sigh* . . . are you to debunk all of my favorite Colonial myths?

    Well, I will trust your information but not get rid of my "camel cover" since it looks so neat.

    -- Jeff