Saturday, May 12, 2012

Camel Corps in the Sudan

Third figure from that pack of Newline Designs Sudan British figures (SUD05 - British Foot Advancing) I bought at Salute .. for this figure I decided to revisit a unit I've painted already in 15mm..  the Camel Corps..  

There's a fair amount of content - and some shots of the 15mm versions in this post [click here]


In summary though:
  • the Sudan was the first time a camel corps was used by the British army - all the men were volunteers.
  • the camel corps was part of, but not all of, a force called the Desert Column which included elements of all 3 arms; cavalry, artillery and infantry. Its objective was to cross the desert to Khartoum while the majority of the relieving force came up the longer Nile route...
  • The first contingent of the desert Column was composed of the Royal Sussex Regiment (the Orange Lillies!) and some mounted infantry. In October 1884 though, the Camel Corps was officially divided into four regiments. They were:
    • Guards Camel Regiment from the 1st, 2nd 3rd Grenadier Guards, 1st and 2nd Coldstream Guards, 1st and 2nd Scots Guard, and also from the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI).
    • "Heavy" Camel Regiment from the 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 from the 3rd 4th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 15th, 18th, 20th, 21st Hussars.The Lights never went with the Desert Column but were left behind to guard supplies.
    • Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment from the 1st South Staffordshire (38th), 1st Royal West Kent's (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.
  • The Desert Column eventually comprised:
    • 2 squadrons 19th Hussar
    • Guards Camel Regiment
    • Heavy Camel Regiment
    • Mtd. Inf. Camel Regiment
    • 1st Royal Sussex
    • Naval Brigade (they had a Gardner gun carried by four camels - how brilliant would that be to model!?)
    • Artillery/Engineers
    ..with each of the camel regiments comprising about 360-400 men... 
  • The Corps was disbanded after the campaign and all the men were returned to their home units, thought the British army did field further camel mounted units on an ad hoc basis (there was one at Ginnis apparently.....)
  • The uniform was as follows: White helmet with white pagri, grey tunic, yellow-ochre cord breeches, blue puttees, boots, waist kit, bandolier of 50 rounds, rifle, sword bayonet and scabbard, water bottle, and haversack. There were lots of variations though (and my guy has already deposited his bandolier somewhere safe..) I especially enjoyed the review in Savage and Soldier of what the Corps looked like when they returned to Egypt after the failed campaign - "Many patched their pants with red saddle leather or with sacking. Few had boots, and some wore red Arab slippers"

Full article here if you have an interest - it is a superb read and a primary source for me:

  1. Savage and Soldier article:
  2. This is fascinating - and what the 'interweb' is all about in my eyes: 


  1. Nice figure and basing; interesting unit too. Best, Dean

  2. Nicely painted, I like the blue/grey gaiters!

  3. Smashing - love the colours and variation on the traditional schemes

  4. "Tommy Atkins, mounted on Too Late, by Verbosity..." Very nice work! The Camel Corps has to be one of my favorite units from my favorite era.

  5. AJ - excellent!

    I had to look that up and found..

  6. Very nice work, and great period!

  7. Love the figure and the paintjob, well done!