Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Camel Corps - Britian's Special Forces

It would be another 32 years before T. E. Lawrence developed modern Guerrilla warfare - and another 60 years before the Special Forces idea would come into its own.

In 1884 it was no less than revolutionary. It had the 'ol Skool' in fits of apoplexy and The Duke of Cambridge (no not William) called it 'outragious'...

The Desert Column was simply an innovation. British Troops had never operated on camels before, and even more - there was no repository of expertise in the British army at that time on which to draw. Wolseley, it is said, had thought long and hard about what king of troops would be needed for the desert march. They would have to be men who were extremely fit and adaptable, preferably with combat experience. They would be deep inside hostile and unfamiliar territory, facing a fanatical enemy of unknown, but vastly sperior strength. One false move would result in the same situation that had done for Hicks...

The above is an extract from one of my favourite books on the subject of the Sudan in 1884...Michael Asher's excellent, "KHARTOUM...The Ultimate Imperial Adventure"...

I will focus on my recommended library in a later I have decided to post images of those 1100 or so gallant fellows who volunteered to dash across such inhospitable terrain - as part of Wolseley's first 'Special Forces' unit - and save Gordon and the 30 to 40 thousand inhabitants of KHARTOUM!

This picture postcard journey will start with images of some 54mm figures...then a few images I have collected over the past few years - I have included some of my images of the superb HaT figures - and end with a few links to some excellent Camel Corps painted figures...

Go Strong into The Desert is a great source of information...

Here are a few other great links for your interest...

I'm updating my links list - on the right too as there have been simply hundreds on new colonial postings...also adding a few new titles (17th & Bengal Lancers)...Alan and Taran should be pleased!

All the best to you all



  1. I love the illustration of the officer standing on the camel using his telescope. If the camels I have meet are anything to go by the next sketch will be of bad tempered beast walking off and him on his derriere!

  2. Hi Matt

    It's supposed to be an image of General Buller standing on a camel to observe the Sudanese before the Battle of El Teb...

    As I recall he fell on his derriere when he came up against the bad tempered lads in SA...

  3. Great...I´ve yet to get to grips with my Hat camel corps bods.
    The 54mm...are they yours?

  4. "I love the illustration of the officer standing on the camel using his telescope."

    Me too! I'm going to have to see if I can scratch build one... :o)

  5. Thanks lads

    @ Paul - no these are just images I picked up from the web...all my 54mm are Nappy's...

    @ me thinking now too...HaT's Colonial Officer with the telscope should do the trick...but has the wrong uniform...mmmmm

    Now where is that sharp knife!

  6. Great job! Added to my blog!