Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman With 54mm Toy Soldiers

The 21st Lancers are surprised to find a hoard of Dervish warriors hidden in a donga.

Several days ago I decided to take several hundred of my Trophy Miniatures 54mm Sudan toy soldiers and set up a diorama of the Charge of the 21st Lancers at the Battle of Omdurman. I had received a batch of six new lancers that I had won in an auction in the UK and wanted to put them on display for awhile. Having 10 other of the lancers, I now have 16 of them, which gives me suitable "mass" to make a really good display.

I used a standard 6ft by 2.5ft table and covered it with an off-white muslin material that passes somewhat for desert scenery. I then added small bits of brown lichen and a little bit of dark green lichen to represent desert scrub bushes and to break up the all-white look of the table cloth. Finally, I added a couple of King & Country Egypt-Sudan buildings, large rocks and some Acacia trees (made from offcuts from plastic floral arrangements).

All of the toy soldiers are Trophy of Wales Miniatures. Unfortunately, the owner passed away and so too did his toy soldier business. The figures are no longer in production. However, there is an active marketplace for the figures on eBay.

I will let the picture captions tell the story of the battle:

Egyptian and Sudanese soldiers nervously await the outcome of the British cavalry charge.
Their backs are to the Nile River, so they have nowhere to retreat.

A battery of Egpytian guns support the infantry.
British officers command the Egytian-Sudanese troops and provide a calming presence.
An Egyptian colonel provides a report of the battle.

A view of the cavalry charge from the perspective of the British and their allies.
Off in the distance you can see the town of Omdurman.

Where did all of those Dervish come from? It's as if they sprung up from the ground!

Undeterred, the 21st Lancers charge forward to meet their fate.

The Khalifa views the developing battle from the safety of a building roof top in Omdurman.

A view of the battle from the Khalifa's point of view.
The Khalifa orders his cavalry to counterattack.
The Khalifa's Black Banner leads the way.

The Dervish cavalry surge forward... do the Dervish warriors on foot.

The Colonel leads the charge, but his horse goes down, hamstrung by the warriors.

One of the lancers spurs forward to rescue his Colonel.

A young subaltern named Winston Churchill, seeks fame and glory.

Young Winston Church, young man in a hurry, also rides to rescue his Colonel.

A Dervish warrior rises up unexpectedly from the brush and attempts
to hamstring Young Winston's horse to bring him down.

Two more Dervish close in on Churchill, who dispatches one of them with his Mauser pistol.

Sir Harry Flashman's horse is stung by a wasp and bounds forward, out of control, but this places him in the right place at the right time as he is positioned to skewer on of Churchill's assailants. Flashman will receive the Order of the British Empire for his, ahem, "bravery".

The history books tell us that there was a happy ending to this little episode
that was part of the greater Battle of Omdurman.
It was fun setting up this diorama in my Man Cave. I will probably keep it on display for several more weeks and then either move it to a side table, or pick up the figures and store them away. My Trophy collection includes Zulus and Pathans and even a few Boers, so there is plenty of grist for more dioramas in the future.


  1. Love your narratives to your games. Flashman! Always there at the right time. I'm interested in what rules you used for this game. My goto set for Colonial games is TSATF.

    1. It's just a static display or diorama rather than a game, although Bill Protz and I do play 54mm Colonials from time to time using a 19th Century variant of his BAR rules.

  2. Beautiful figures, you've built an amazing collection there.

    1. Thank you Brian. It's been over 30 years in the making.

  3. Jim!
    It's time to get our 54mms on the table for a Sudan game. Your place or mine in the next 60 days?

  4. Great stuff! I hope to post charge of the Heavy Brigade soon!