Saturday 16 February 2019

Revisiting My Ottomania with an Indian Takeaway

I have on a number of occasions acknowledged the fact that my lifelong interest in the affairs of the Sublime Porte had its roots in Eric Knowles’s South East Asia naval campaign set in WW1. As the ‘new kid on the block’ I was given command of the smallest navy that would see service - in this case the Turkish - and so my interest in all things Ottoman was born. To this day I can still see the serried ranks of Janissaries deployed beneath the walls of Vienna when we undertook the refight of the siege of 1683. It was an impressive sight and it took the combined efforts of three other figure collections to match it on the day. Eric’s son Bill still has the terrain that was used to represent both the Turkish camp and Vienna itself.

Fast forward to the present day and I am sitting on a huge collection of unpainted 25/28mm late 17th and 18th century figures which means that the wherewithal to revisit this is certainly present. I should at this point state for the record that I have absolutely no intention of emulating the Vienna set up!

It has made me look long and hard though, at the unpainted Ottoman Turkish collection (amongst others) that Eric had built up and what I can do with it. Bill has already said that I can have this portion of the collection but as we have discussed, even in its unpainted form is far too large for my needs. I have a size in mind and this will also be the basis for the opposition - whatever that may eventually be!

Whilst I was pondering this thorny issue I had the occasion to visit a previously unknown second hand bookshop near to where I live. It proved to be a useful visit as I picked up a couple of titles of special significance for where my whimsical nature is currently residing....

I have read this in the past and it is a good primer for the subject. I had previously disposed of many of the books I owned on the earlier Ottoman Empire so a minor shopping expedition may well be on the cards!

The other title is one that I missed out on when it was out but have had a weather eye open for it ever since. I have always had an interest in the Indian subcontinent during the 18th century and this is is really the story of the East India Company. Eric had started on a collection of assorted native Indian troops - no Sepoys though - and so I am thinking that at some point he may have contemplated gaming the wars of Robert Clive. Given the size of his Ottoman Turkish collection I dread to think what his idea of a Moghul style army would have looked like!

A useful addition to the 18th century section of my library. 

All of the above factors and the continuing sorting of the lead mountain has really given me much to think about. Trying to guess what was in the mind of Eric with even a fraction of this collection is proving to be a challenging (and frustrating!) experience but I am honoured to have the opportunity to do so. I will be raising a couple of forces from his collection and I hope that this will, in some small way, help to preserve Eric’s legacy.


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

No end of inspiration then ;)
Many projects shall spring from these pages no doubt!

Paul O'G said...

How wonderful to get a glimpse into the deeper thinking of this wonderful collection

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

It has, and continues to be, a never ending source of fascination. Sadly Eric never discussed his plans for this lot with anybody and it has lain in storage since about 1990 by my reckoning.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

Most of my thoughts on the subject are speculative but Eric was certainly not short of ideas!

It has been a privilege to go through this lot and there is still more to come for the 18th century and as much again for WW2 in 20mm.

All the best,