Here is the second story in the Sergeant Pierre la Duc saga…
This short piece written by Jack Scruby is from Volume 1, Number 2 of Table Top Talk (January 1962).
Viva La Duc!
– Mike Taber – July 2004
In the first issue of Table Top Talk I told the story of the Immortal Sergeant La Duc – a superb French light infantryman who won fame by killing off ten of my British soldiers single-handed while under the command of Homer Delabar during the years we spent fighting Napoleonic war games.
Shortly after this fight, I ran across a plate on Russian infantry of 1812, and there pictured in their green coated glory was a figure of the 37th Russian Jagers: I decided this might be the unit that would stop La Duc and his men, and secretly I made six Russian Jagers with Sergeant Vladamir as their leader.
The Sergeant was an “old timer” with white beard, and his “history” showed that he was at least 60 years old, and had been with the 37th Jagers for almost 45 years – and he looked the part, and of all the men. I had made for my 54mm Napoleonic army, I thought him the best.
Came the night that Vladamir was to make his debut on the battleground at Faria’s Farm… In the center of my Allied army there were the ruins of a chicken house, and this appeared to be the perfect spot for Vladamir and the Jagers to hide out, and by using the “split move” to exact a huge toll upon the advancing French. And better yet, who should
be approaching the chicken house but Sergeant La Duc and his lads, bent on occupying it also. SWEET REVENGE AT LAST!
I beat Homer to the chicken house, and safely placed Sergeant Vladamir where I was certain he was well hidden from enemy musket fire. I figured that on the next game move he would spring out, kill a Frenchie, and then duck back under cover.
Homer took the countermove, and then with a scream of triumph – after looking directly over La Duc’s musket barrel – let me know that Vladamir could be SEEN and was automatically, DEAD. I looked down La Duc s barrel myself, and sure enough, there as big as life, was Vladamir’s head! Thus died old Sergeant Vladamir in his first battle, without firing a shot!
From that game onwards, Vladamir and the 37th Jagers NEVER DID ONE DAMN THING RIGHT IN ANY WAR GAME THEY WERE EVER IN! They were always killed off early in the battles, they had the foulest luck one could imagine, and eventually I put them in “reserve” and didn’t use them.
Today, Sergeant Vladamir sits on a shelf above my office desk. I still love this old character, but I can never look at him without remembering his story, and how lost his life ingloriously in a chicken house!
Editors Note: I’ve tried to locate Sergeant Vladamir, but have had no luck – he may still be with the Scruby Family, but if he is, it may be in some long forgotten box – but we shall never forget him – Long live Sergeant Vladamir!
UPDATE: I thought that I had updated this article, but while transferring from the HistoriFigs I discovered that I had not updated the status of dear old Sergeant Vladamir. We have good news to report; Sergeant Vladamir has been located and redeployed the the state of Wisconsin! His transfer was processed a couple of years ago (can’t remember the exact date) – I spotted the veteran in a photo of some figures Wendy Scruby was offering for sale, and well, now the sergeant and four of his fellow soldiers have been transfered to duty station HistoriFigs…