Lost and Found: RLS’ The Dumb Soldier 2019

What once was lost but now is found: my hardy heroic radio man returned at long last from the garden.

Lost and Found

Pottering around the garden gathering leaves before work, I spotted this lone warrior, left behind on duty months or years long ago after some forgotten garden game – just like the one in the Robert Louis Stevenson RLS’ poem The Dumb Soldier.

“Hallo? Hallo? Come in Base, over.”

His radio aerial was almost intact when I found him but now needs some repair.

Long has he been on duty reporting back to base on all he saw.

When he finally gets painted, he shall get rewarded for his long service with some corporal or sergeant stripes. I have marked his base up to remind me.

The Dumb Soldier poem can be found in my blogpost here:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/dumb-soldiers-the-past-and-future-of-garden-wargames/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/more-dumb-soldiers-in-the-garden/

Two of my recent beach find soldiers amongst other beachcombing finds.

This figure is one of mine, lost long ago. I have found figures before on beaches, as well as bought wrecked figures from metal detectorists and repaired them back to gaming use.

I’m not alone it seems in finding figures on beaches as this plastic pollution / beachcombing report from Cornwall Live website shows:

Cornwall Live gallery: Modern plastic beach soldier finds includes a copy of Matchbox US Infantry.

Whilst even more unusual are the well weathered and wave shaped, beach battered figures found on a beach shown on Etsy:

November 2019 Screen shot Magic SeaFox on Etsy

I recognise the Britains Kneeling Officer washed overboard from the Assault boat, two recent plastic clones of a (Matchbox) American and a China made Pound Store set German infantryman.

I wonder – What’s the most interesting thing that has turned up in your garden or on beach-combing trips?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 29 November 2019

More Dumb Soldiers in the Garden

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Wellsian illustration for RLS poem The Dumb Soldier  by Jessie Wilcox-Smith http://gutenberg.readingroo.ms/2/5/6/0/25609/25609-h/25609-h.htm

Being some illustrations of ‘The Dumb Soldier’ poem by Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) from  A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885), as featured in our recent garden games post:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/dumb-soldiers-the-past-and-future-of-garden-wargames

I was fascinated by the discovery by Tony (of the interesting  Tin Soldiering On blog) of this type of crude wartime or postwar hollowcast figure, the plastic pound store warriors of their day, buried in the garden of the house  he grew up in whilst digging the garden

He is about 54mm (2″) scale, I’m not sure where he has come from,  my parents moved into the house in about 1946 shortly after it was built and I have lived here all my life and can’t remember ever owning him as a child so he is a bit of a mystery, but he will stand guard on my painting tray from now on … it ties in with the age of the house which was built just after the war,  my mother and father moved in on his demob in 1946 I think . Tony, Tin Soldiering On blog

http://tonystoysoldiers.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/lost-and-found.html

So I was curious to see the same type of figure unearthed and turn up for sale on an online site and bought this “Dumb soldier” to go with several others that have turned up in joblots.

IMG_0326
54mm-ish WW2 or post war lead hollow cast, discovered in Bristol by Dave Hough, now in my collection. The pound store plastics of their day. Looks like it’s been buried a while ….

They are very similar in style to the crude moulded figures that I produced from vintage metal moulds.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/more-homecasting/

The Dumb Soldier Illustrated

First is a three page spread by British illustrator Hilda Boswell (1903 – 1976) in watercolours, from her illustrated version of a Child’s Garden of Verses,  published in 1963. The first two pages are a double page spread, broken down to page by page to see more details. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilda_Boswell

Archaeologists of the future might see this toy soldier burial as some kind of  strange ritual practice. (In my experience anything Archaeologists do not understand is linked to strange ‘ritual’ practice).

IMG_0366.JPG

IMG_0366

IMG_0367

Her “Dumb Soldier” looks much like the 1960s Herald Plastic Guardsman I grew up with, first introduced in the early 1950s as plastics steadily took over from lead figures for children. So this Herald figure could easily have been the model.

IMG_0060.JPG
One of my Britain’s Herald Guardsman (1950s-1970s) 

The other illustration in my collection is from the late Brian Wildsmith (1930-2016), a well-known British illustrator.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Wildsmith

I was amazed and pleased to see that his  1960s illustrated version of A Child’s Garden of Verses is  back / still in print (Blackwells, 2017). So you can own a copy too!

http://brianwildsmith.com/bw.about.html

IMG_0368.JPG
‘The Dumb Soldier’ poem from my old bashed family copy of RLS Child’s Garden of Verses with illustration by the late Brian Wildsmith.

Lost or deliberately buried in the garden?

My late Dad as a wartime child was given some ‘lost’ metal figures including a coronation coach dredged up from his father’s employer’s  garden pond, presumably unwanted by the previous, possibly careless child owners. Long lost again many years beforei was born,  I often thought of these treasures whilst launching amphibious assaults across our garden pond and then sometimes having to root around in the pond bottom mud for the heavier casualties.

I lost plenty enough small Airfix figures in the pile of builders sand we called a sandpit. Digging one into the lawn, however good his trench or fire pit, would have led to pretty quick decapitation by 1970s hovermower.

 

B.P.S BlogPostscript

I was amazed and pleased to see that Wildsmith’s 1960s illustrated version of A Child’s Garden of Verses is back / still in print (Blackwells, 2017). So you can own a copy too!

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 30th August 2017

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