Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Tribute to Byron: Robert Combe, VC in Greyscale

For my Tribute for Byron I decided to do a figure for him that also marks the upcoming centenary of the Canadian Corps' attack on Vimy Ridge. 

My work has had me and my team creating a series of five documentary videos featuring Saskatchewan's involvement in the Great War. It showcases our archival collections and allows us to provide a focused perspective on the war as seen from the Canadian prairies.

We started out back in 2014 to mark the outbreak of the war, and next month, on April 12th, we will be screening the fourth video, focusing on 1917, at a gala event here in Regina. The work (and politics) surrounding this project is is one of the reasons why I've not been as active during this Challenge, but it's been very worthwhile and I'd be lying if I said I didn't love the work. If you're interested in seeing them, here is a link to the first three in the series.

One of the historical figures in our 1917 documentary is Lt. Robert Grierson Combe of the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion. Combe was a pharmacist from Melville Saskatchewan who volunteered as part of the first Canadian Contingent to go to France. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant, served in the 2nd Division, and saw action at St. Elois, Mount Sorrel, The Somme,  and the battle of Vimy Ridge. He was killed leading his men near Acheville in an action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. 

From the London Gazette:

On 3 May 1917, south of Acheville, France, Lieutenant Combe steadied his company under intense fire and leading them through the enemy barrage reached the objective with only five men. He proceeded to bomb the enemy, inflicting heavy casualties and then, collecting small groups of men, succeeded in capturing the objective, together with 80 prisoners. He repeatedly charged the enemy, driving them before him, but while personally leading his bombers he was killed by a sniper.

The Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan holds Robert Combe's personal papers along with his Victoria Cross.

For this figure I eschewed using colour entirely and returned to the familiar ground of my WWI greyscale project.

This 28mm figure is from the excellent Great War miniatures range. It's of a Commonwealth officer firing a signal flare. He is wearing an officers' cut uniform, but with covered steel helmet. I dug out my old recipe of greyscale paints, painting him in a variety of warm and cool greys.

It was nice to come back and tuck into the old technique again, and it made me look wistfully at the stacks of WWI figures I still have to complete for this project.  Ah well, that's why we call it a hobby, eh? ;)

There you go Byron, I hope you like him. Thanks so much for all your help with the Wednesday crew and for all the wonderful figures you treated us with during the Challenge.

ByronM: Thank you very much Curt!  Not really sure what to say beyond that, I never expected anything for helping, I just wanted to help out in this cool event you started.  Thank you for having me and thank you again for the very cool figure it will go with my WW1 collection nicely.  It is very nice to have a grey scale figure from the person who started me painting grey scale.


  1. Your grey scale is briliant and this is a very fitting tribute indeed!

  2. Fantastic and evocative figure and a wonderful tribute to a Hero

  3. Amazing work dude, great stuff.
    And those videos are amazing. I know it has been quite the...adventure at work, but well done man, you should feel proud!

  4. A great tribute to a Canadian hero. I had forgotten how evocative your grayscale work can be.
    I have some leave coming and I look forward to watching those videos.

  5. Beautiful work Curt and nice to have the local connections.

  6. Wow, lovely stuff. I'm reading about Third Ypres at the moment and will watch your videos.