Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Beau Geste Digest

Here's the latest information from the stylish Argentinians, some new releases for their Boxer Rebellion series, and a number of retirements from their XVIII century range

Italian infantry Jagers

Italian infantry Jagers, military band

I'd like to thank BG for emailing me the following interesting history of the Italians' involvement in China, along with a number of pictures which inspired these two sets

Even though Italian soldiers and sailors have served throughout the globe, it may come as a surprise to learn that Italians fought in China at the dawn of the twentieth century. A little over one-hundred years ago Italian servicemen, albeit in small numbers, were part of the international forces that fought the Chinese people and the Chinese Imperial Government in what became popularly known as the Boxer Rebellion

The rebellion was prompted by growing anti-foreign feelings among the Chinese people, exacerbated by a series of natural disasters. These anti-foreign feelings were generated by the activities of outsiders in China, including the work of Christian missionaries and a pattern of foreign governments seizing Chinese ports and territory. The anger of the Chinese people found expression in various secret societies, particularly the ‘I Ho Ch’uan’ (literally ‘Righteous Harmonious Fists’, a title which was transformed by westerners into the term ‘Boxers’)

By November of 1899, Boxers were attacking Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts throughout China. In January of 1900 the Italian legation joined with their American, British, French, and German counterparts to send identical protests demanding the suppression of the Boxers

Because Italy lacked territorial concessions in China, her Expeditionary Force had
no place of its own to disembark, nor any supplies waiting for them, so that they were forced to rely on help from the other allies. Various other deficiencies soon came to light. There was a shortage of doctors and hospital beds. Too few engineers had been included and more communications equipment was needed. Even uniforms were found to be inadequate; the Khaki summer uniforms made of linen
were not durable, so that they wore out quickly. Fortunately the troops had brought both their summer and dress uniforms, so with the approach of the winter of 1900-1901, they changed into their warmer blue uniforms
The Imperial Chinese government, headed by the Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi, was ambivalent towards the Boxers. On the one hand, previous dynasties had been threatened and even overthrown by such grass-roots organizations. On the other hand, the Boxers could provide a tool with which the government could threaten the foreign presence in China, while allowing the throne to deny official involvement

In the Spring of 1899, however, the Empress Dowager did not need the help of the Boxers to thwart Italy’s imperial designs in China. Italy’s goals were the same as all nineteenth century European (and Japanese) imperialists; to obtain sources of cheap raw materials for its growing industries at home and, in turn, overseas markets for the merchandise produced by these industries. To help secure these goals, Italy’s representative in China, Signor di Martino, demanded territorial concessions from the Imperial government. In particular Italy sought to obtain a lease on San Men Bay, located in Chekiang, one of only five remaining provinces which were not in the sphere of influence of a foreign power
Italy’s soldiers would need warmer clothing, as they accompanied other allied troops in punitive expeditions across the countryside. Armed with their 1891 model 6.5 Parravicino-Carcano rifles, the Italian troops must have seen their fair share of action (Bodin, p.34; Gooch, p.115. Keown-Boyd records that the Italian forces used both the Mannlicher Carcano 11mm and the Commission 8mm rifles, though this may have been the armament of the Italian sailors, as opposed to the arms of the soldiers of the Expeditionary Force). At this point in the war, the strategy of the allied commanders was to force the Chinese to the negotiating table by raiding the countryside, apprehending and executing any Boxers that they came across. It was not until 7 September, 1901, that the signing of the Peace Protocol of Peking officially ended the war, though the fighting had ceased long before
Admittedly, even if we include her Expeditionary Force, Italy supplied a very small fraction of the total allied forces that fought in the Boxer Rebellion. And her forces had more than their fair share of problems, some of which were out of her control, others which could have been avoided. But, overall, Italian servicemen displayed admirable courage in this conflict
by Paul V. Walsh
[ NOTE: This article first appeared in the pages of the now defunct AMICI NEL MONDO: Publication of theAssociation Militaria Italian Collectors International, Vol.XII, No.4 (July-August 2000), pp.15-20; Vol.XII, No.6 (November-December 2000), pp.4-9.] 

The company has announced that, although in the process of permanently retiring a number of its less popular ranges, it intends to retain the molds for all its military bands and will continue to produce them to order for as long as the existing molds remain usable

Speaking of retirements, the company is putting several [12 in all] 18th century sets out to pasture. You can see images of all of them below

As always, further details are available on the company's website. Happy hunting! 

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