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Sunday, December 20, 2020

55 years from Start to Finish - The Tennant Collection Completed!

This week I was privileged to receive a package all the way from the UK from Richard Tennant.  Over the last year he has been working to finish the last two battalions of his planned British and French Peninsular War armies of 1812-13.  Inside were a few other surprises as well!  55 years from the genesis of this project, Mr. Tennant has brought it to completion.  These were the final additions he had planned.  To see more about the collection, you can read about it and Mr. Tennant's extraordinary link to the wargaming hobby here:

My hands were literally shaking with excitement as I opened the box.
The first item to catch my attention was this incredible hand written indexed notebook with Mr Tennant's observations about the models and armies he was working on. 

Some award certificates were also tucked away, including one for the Rocket Troop (below) that I will reference later in this post.

Below the notebook and several reference catalogs were of course the miniatures...

and this extraordinary item, cleverly packed inside a wine tube, a 10mm battery and British infantry company carved from matchsticks!

I had to chuckle at this one.  Not only does it include some 54mm models, there is also a selection of modelling supplies, including an empty tube of Dutch toothpaste from which Dick makes his flags

The most anticipated item of course can be seen here and featured below: two 36 figure battalions of Spanish infantry, the 6th Regiment de Marina, and the Cazadores Voluntarios de la Corunna

Finally a selection of Dick Higgs 54mm figures, painted and unpainted

All of the contents are packed away under the Christmas tree for now, awaiting Christmas morning when I will unwrap all of the contents and examine them more closely as I prepare them for display.  In the meantime Mr. Tennant was kind enough to share some photos of the Hinton Hunt Spanish Battalions.  As usual his brushwork is just superb!
[Cazadores] Voluntarios de la Coruna

6 th Regimiento de Marine

Below are the army organizational charts.  While not specifically aligned to any one corps or battle, they contain recognizable and distinctive groupings characteristic of the French and British armies in the 1812-1813 period.

The Allied British army OOB

The French Army of Portugal OOB

 Mr Tennant was kind enough to include a summary of his efforts and influences towards the completion of this project, as well as other military history related endeavors over the course of his life:



Early influences
As a lad, I grew up in Southampton and had always been keen on toy soldiers. In
1963, when I was 19, I went along to the first National Wargames Convention at the
Cotswold Hotel, Southampton and ‘discovered’ the world of wargaming. Not only
that, but also realized that my hometown was a haven for the hobby. I bought Tackle
Model Soldiers This Way and managed to join the group run by the legendary Don
Featherstone. Through this local wargames club I also came to know such notables as
Neville Dickenson, Tony Bath, and Peter Gilder.
In 1969 we moved north to near Stockport. At the Manchester Model Soldier Society,
run by Harry Middleton, I came to meet Frank Hinchliffe and visited him several
times over in Meltham, Yorkshire.
Like everyone else at that time, I started with Hinton Hunt figures together with a few
early Miniature Figurines. I had met Marcus Hinton at a wargames convention in
1966 and started buying his figures. In this last year I have been painting my last
allied Spanish brigade. When they are finished, I will have created about 2,800
figures representing both an Anglo/Portuguese/Spanish Army and a French & Allied
Army of around 1812/13. Over the years they have won various painting
competitions at wargames conventions. In 2019 the collection was bought by a
collector in the USA.

Military History
I have continued to broaden my interest, concentrating on what is broadly described
as The Napoleonic Wars. I have accumulated a collection of period drill manuals,
diaries, histories and maps, besides more recent books covering the period. I have just
disposed of this library of around 570 books.
I also collected some medals, as well as a few representative pieces of muskets and
swords, from my period of interest.

Back in 1976 David Chandler and Peter Duffy started the British Commission for
Military History. They invited their fellow-wargamer, Don Featherstone, to be a
founder-member and bring along some of his contacts to swell the numbers. In 1977 I
became one of the 43 original members.

British Commission for Military History (

After my return to the UK in 2002 it was possible to participate more actively in
BCMH affairs. In 2006 I became the Honorary Treasurer during the ‘Richard Holmes
Years’, a position I held until 2013.
I attended the 2005 international congress of the International Commission for
Military History in Madrid and in 2009 headed the BCMH delegation to the
international congress in Oporto. In 2012 I ran the bicentennial battlefield tour of the
BCMH to Spain and Portugal.
In 2019 I was made an Honorary Life Member of the BCMH.

My wife and I have made extensive tours to the Peninsular War battlefields of
Portugal, Spain & Southern France, as well as a series in central Europe ( Austria,
Czechia, Southern Germany / Saxony and Poland ). These have been illustrated on
CD-ROM’s. Many of the photographs have been used by professional historians to
illustrate their books.

In 2008 I became a board member of the Peninsular War 200 organization, the
official British body to commemorate the campaigns of the period 2008-14 in
Portugal, Spain and the south of France. This was headed by General Sir Nick Parker.

I managed to have my first article published in Tradition magazine in 1971. In 1973 a
three chapter article was published in Military Modelling magazine. The Journal of
the Napoleonic Association published a four chapter article in 1989.
From 2005 I was a regular contributor in the bi-monthly magazine First Empire. My
articles are currently in the process of being included on the website The Napoleon
I have presented papers at the Wellington Congress and the Defense Surveyors’
Association Annual Seminar.

Having completed a study into the songs and music of Wellington’s Regiments, this
was complimented by the release of a CD Music of the Allies – from the Peninsula to
Waterloo, recorded on historic musical instruments, released by the Bate Collection
at Oxford University.

In 2009 I was recruited by Lt General Sir Christopher Wallace to be a Trustee of the
Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum in Winchester. This included being made an
Honorary Member of the regiment, awarded by the Colonel Commandant, General
Sir Nick Parker.

The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum | Winchester (

To mark the bicentenary of Waterloo we commissioned a £400,000 exhibition to
remodel some of the galleries, including the intricate restoration of the 25 square
metre diorama of the battlefield. The new galleries were opened by the Duke of
Wellington on 25th March 2015.

The Royal Green Jackets Museum Waterloo Exhibition goes permanent (

I stood down as a Trustee in 2019.

Since the death of Don Featherstone in 2013 I have been the President of the Wessex
Military Society, which he founded in 1975.

The article in Military Modelling referenced above titled the Rocketmen of 1814 can be seen here:


Click the link above to access the article

I am extraordinarily privileged to be the caretaker of this magnificent collection, but it was never my intention to let it be a static display item, nor do I consider myself a collector, but rather an active hobbyist and figure painter.  I have already begun the expansion of the collection, adding a few figures here and there to existing units, and new battalions that will incorporate the core of this collection into an expansion that includes the forces of Napoleon that invaded Russia in 1812.  To that end I will be adding the French Imperial Garde, elements of the Bavarian and Duchy of Warsaw formations, and of course, the Russians!  So much joy to be had and work yet to be done.


  1. Well done, David. This is a very fitting tribute to David Tennant: Napoleonic scholar, pioneering wargamer and gifted military modeller. As for the Spanish - just superb. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks WM. Getting to know Richard (Dick), has been a real treat and has shown me how much I still have to learn! I am forging ahead with my plans to expand the collection and have two battalions in the works right now. The Bavarians are coming along and I am well into the painting of the 2nd battalion of the von Kinkel Regiment. The 3rd Dutch Grenadiers of the French Imperial Old Guard are still in the prep phase, as I am meticulously repositioning each front leg, which requires snipping it from the base and reorienting the foot. I have to hold my breath and pray before each surgery that the metal won't snap! 24 are done and only twelve more to go before they can be primed for painting!

  2. You have a superb collection there as put together by Dick and I'm sure he's pleased that you're keeping them in tip top condition. Even better that you're putting them to good use on the table-top and sharing their adventures with everyone on your blog. Dick is one of the Old Guard of Hobby Wargaming and the photos of his collection in the Airfix Guide was such an inspiration to me back in the day - it's nice to see these legendary troops being handed on to the next generation.

    1. Thanks Rob. I am really looking forward to the days when our local group can gather again so that these troops can get a bit more exercise! I absolutely agree about the Airfix guide and the photos. That was what hooked me back when I was 12!

    2. 12 eh? Hmmm, I think I was a bit older.

  3. Is your table at home big enough to play a game using the whole collection. It would be wonderful to see it deployed for battle.

    The toothpaste tube is I assume made of metal. I am planning on making my next flag using the thin metal foil from a bottle of wine. I wonder if it will work ?

  4. Hi Mark. I could probably squeeze the whole collection on the table, but it would not be a very historical game, or that much fun either considering there would be no room for maneuver. One of the interesting things I am discovering, at least so far, is how spread out the troops were in the Peninsular battles, and some in Europe too. This notion we have of tightly packed troops from all of the period paintings, to some degree, is just artistic license. As I touch up more battalions the size of the engagements will grow however, and at some point will necessitate club games on a much bigger table!

    The Dutch toothpaste tube does apparently have a flexible metal core which makes for some fine resilient flag material. I prefer paper myself as it is easy to fold into nice natural looking creases, and after a layer or two of varnish, is quite strong.

  5. A splendid rounding up of a collection David...
    I look forward to seeing many more games from you... toys are after all ment to be played with.

    All the best. Aly

  6. David As mentioned in the comments on your original Tennant post,
    Thank to your post I now know who my Featherstone signed copy once belonged to -
    Enjoy dispakying and playing with this fabulous Tennant collection. They are splendidly painted. I enjoy having and playing with some of the late Stuart Asquith's Romans and Celt figures which he 'signed over' to me as their new General -

    1. Mark, Glad to see my blog helped solve a mystery. I see a couple of photographs of Mr. Tennant's work in the complete wargaming book. The windmill was in his collection as well I believe, but in the end we decided the terrain would just be too awkward and expensive to ship to the USA along with the rest of the collection. I will look forward to reading more of your work!

  7. You said that you had a special post coming; that is special indeed! So many interesting items already, with the biggest to come on Christmas Day!
    Great that you are going to not only keep this collection alive, but expand on it.
    Regards, James

    1. My family is worried about the expansion part, claiming in error that I have already usurped enough of the house for my hobby. :) In truth they are supportive of the old man's quirky hobby, but it is a good thing we have some extra garage/basement space!

  8. Loving the windmill but the artillery look glorious.

    1. Thanks Pete. I'm still looking for the perfect model, but it may not exist!