Friday, 4 December 2015

Feature - Of Matters Behemothic (1)

The Reverend Duff-Postin, Military Secretary to the Bishop, cooly surveyed the collection of experts ranged around the table. The Armaments Sub-Committee was assembling for another long session. Immediately to his right, his dour but ever efficient Assistant Military Secretary, the Reverend Alan Brooke. Beyond him Mr Dibnah, of the Dibnah School of Advanced Steam and Steel Studies, being distracted by the constant card shuffling of his own neighbour, Staff Captain Maskaleyne, principal of the Maskaleyne College of Camouflage and Martial Illusion. Immediately to his left, Professor Lindemann, of the world famous Lindemann Institute, ignoring such trivialities to speed-read yet more advanced scientific papers, passing them backwards and alternately to his own assistants, Mr Wallis and Doc Van der Graaf of the Bluecoat School Physics Department. Chief Engineer Scott of the Ludlow Sappers & Miners (on secondment from the Ludlow Scottish) growled and stared impatiently out of a taped up window. Here, in a cramped Nissen hut at the centre of the Ludlow Industrial Park and Experimental Proving Grounds, the Bishop's armaments experts mingled with new technical staff sent from France as part of their generous "Lend Lease to Ludlow" programme.

That fact was, as Duff-Postin was the first to acknowledge, that the catastrophic loss of Lt. "Cadgze" Pidgeon and his Renault R-35 tank in the closing stages of the Battle of Bredwardine Fords had hit them all hard. The R-35 had stood up to everything Arrowsmith's multi - turreted Behemoth could throw at it, only to be felled by a late and unsporting flank shot from Storm Leader Giles' underpowered Vickers Medium Mk.2.(note 1). Muttering darkly at the unfairness of it all, the horde of technical experts from Renault had hastily returned to Paris, being replaced with even more numerous group of experts from the up-coming French subsidiary of Schneider et Cie., the Societe d'Outilage Mecanique et d'Usinage d'Artillerie ("SOMUA").

The remains of the Anglican R-35 after the Battle of Bredwardine Fords.
If Renault's experts could not do better than this, they knew that
their future lay only in manufacturing "family cars".
Duff-Postin called the meeting to order. It was time to look to the future, to tank improvement and reconstruction. He cleared his throat.

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild it."

Nods of agreement from the experts of SOMUA.


"Mellieur! Le mieux !"


"Le plus fort."

"And this time, perhaps, camouflaged?" Staff Captain Maskaleyne arched an eyebrow, having complained of the drab green monotone of the destroyed R-35. In the rush to see the tank into service, his wishes had been overruled. He cut his constantly shuffling pack to reveal yet another Ace of Hearts.(note 2)


"Mais oui!"


"Le plus lourd...."

"...An' wi' a bluidy big cannon and nae one, but two, heavy machine guns,  mind..." interjected Chief Engineer Scott.

"Thank you, Scotty." Postin smiled as the French interpreter struggled to translate.

"Gentlemen, it may be said again in the future, but the time is now. We have the technology. We have the capability. And, by the Grace of God,  we will rebuild our Anglican armour."

The assembled experts bent forward over the Bishop's technical specifications, and fell into lengthy discussion...


(1). See the Big Game Report of the Battle of Bredwardine Fords, below.

(2). Staff Captain Maskaleyne, as the country's foremost stage illusionist, is renowned for his ability to shuffle and cut cards. Yet lately, all that he has been able to produce at "the reveal" is the Ace of Hearts. What can this mean?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Breaking News - Wings over Hereford

A mixed squadron of Handley Page Heyfords, Herefords and Hampdens (which ‘ardly hever ‘appens, according to Leading Aircraftsman Doolittle) today carried out an experimental aerial reconnaissance over the occupied Cathedral City itself, reports the “Ludlow Leader”. Taking off at dawn from their secret landing strip in Shropshire (with the kind co-operation of the Shropshire Free State) and led in person by the famed Wing Commander Daring, the Independent Air Force squadron encountered no opposition as it undertook extensive reconnaissance and photography duties.
Wing Commander Douglas "Dauntless" Daring
The Fascist Anti-Aircraft defences were either in a poor state of repair, or Captain Macaroni and his Fiat CR32 were having an off day [note 1]. All our aircraft returned safely. “I counted them all out, and I counted them all back in.” boasted Leading Aircraftsman Doolittle.
Handley Page Herefords and Hampdens swoop low over unseasonal Herefordshire haymakers
 Local farmers blame Captain Arrowsmith for "climate change" (amongst many other things),
or point to the ungodly kidnap and continued detention of "their Bishop" as the reason
 for their poor harvest and the accompanying rise of "Mommetry".
The opportunity was taken to deliver thousands of information pamphlets (courtesy of Staff Captain Gallup) to the good citizenry of the Herefordshire capital - reminding all of Captain Arrowsmith’s alien choice of allies, murderous aversion to British dogs, and bad habit of parking his Behemoth on the double yellow lines in High Town.
Information Leaflets being delivered over  occupied Hereford. The parched nature of the countryside is evident.
An aerial photograph of All Saints Church, High Town. Arrowsmith's Behemoth
has either been towed away by Hereford's Traffic Wardens (an onerous endeavour)
or has been carefully camouflaged.
“It was just a little jaunt.” murmured Group Captain Daring, in the self - deprecating manner that the bar staff of “The Feathers” Hotel have grown accustomed to over these last few weeks. “A piece of cake, really. Some loops around the Cathedral tower, a barrel roll over the BUF Barracks in Whitecross Street, a full squadron 'V for Victory' formation over the White House and Market Square, and then back home in time for pink gins and popsies.” 
Leading the "V for Victory" formation over Hereford, Group Captain Daring gives
local residents a re-assuring wave. Their liberation is coming!
WW1 veteran Daring confirmed that the Ecclesiastical Intelligence Service had taken delivery of the reconnaissance photographs, which will no doubt be subjected to the most detailed analysis. Whatever the Anglican High Command may choose to do in the future as a result of this information, Ludlow - and Hereford itself - will always remember "The Daring Raid" [note 2].
(1). For the previous activities of Captain Macaroni and his Fiat CR32, see the Big Game Report on the Battle of Eardisley below (September 2014 Big Game).

(2). With due respect to the Leading Aircraftsman in need of elocution lessons, it could hardly be known as "The Doolittle Raid". Apparently, that is half a world away and some time in the future....

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Special - MAJOR Straitt-Jackett

It may be another coup for the Bishop's famed Ecclesiastical Intelligence Service. Or it may simply be that the Rev Duff-Postin consulted "Who's Who" in the Bishop's study. However the information has been obtained, we can now confirm [with thanks to Alan and Rita] the true biography of the new "Royalist" leader at the Battle of Bredwardine Fords, masquerading throughout the day of battle as a mere "Captain".

"Miles Straitt-Jackett :
Born 1879, only son of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward 'Loopy' Straitt-Jackett and the Hon. Felicia Straitt-Jackett (nee Warming-Knightley). Educated at Mr. Thrashem's Academy for Young Gentlemen. Joined Army 1897. Served in Sudan, Gold Coast, Basutoland, Matabeleland.

Despite never hearing a shot fired in anger Major Straitt-Jackett served with distinction during World War 1, commanding 13th (Colonial) Field Kitchen Unit stationed in Bulawayo.  He was present at the Tsetse Valley Incident when a crowd of rioting Native miners were subdued by volleys of plum duff hurled by his cooks, for which action he was awarded The Order of the Yellow Buffalo (2nd Class).

A good friend of the renowned Major Denis Bloodknock, Major Straitt-Jackett joined the B.U.F. in 1935, in the mistaken belief it was a book club.

Interests : Cricket, Lepidoptery, Taphophilia. He also has a large collection of cheese labels." 

The investigative journalists of the "Ludlow Leader" are hot on the trail of Major Straitt-Jackett. Why did he pretend to be "Royalist" during the recent engagement, when he had in fact joined the B.U.F. as far back as 1935? Why did he not reveal his true rank to Captain Arrowsmith, and thereby take command of the battle of the Fords? Do these now revealed deceptions indicate that Major Straitt-Jackett was playing a "greater game", and was indeed the Anglican agent within the BUF "Robin's Nest" bunker? [see Note (3) to the Battle of Bredwardine Fords broadcast, below] 

Or can it be that Major Straitt-Jackett is the leader of Moseley's well-known "secret consumer initiative", designed to check upon the competence and probity of Fascists throughout the land? Can Arrowsmith survive such an investigation, or does he face disgrace? And given Major Straitt-Jackett's expressed interest in taphophilia, is disgrace even the worst that Arrowsmith can now expect? 

The "Ludlow Leader" will no doubt reveal all in due course....

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Battle of Bredwardine Fords - October 2015 Big Game





FOOLS!” Captain Arrowsmith’s black gloved hand smacked downward in frustration, the BUF’s battle maps and carefully stacked plastic counters scattering wildly within the confines of his cramped Forward Command Post (codename : “Robin’s Nest”). Storm Leader Giles, loyally standing to attention, promptly disappeared beneath a shower of “Advance!” and “Destroy!” marker arrows, while the Royalist, Captain Strait-Jackett, cowered backward from Arrowsmith’s overwhelming rage. “FOOLS!”

“I say….” began Strait-Jackett.

A wild-eyed Captain Arrowsmith stared at him with contempt. “We had the Bishop this morning! The Bishop - on the hip - at last! The Ludlow Expeditionary Force, isolated and alone, without their promised Socialist allies [unfortunately, the planned Socialist player had to pull out of the Big Game at the last moment]. Scratch forces on each of his flanks, without tanks or heavy weaponry - a shambling crowd of Hereford Mommets on the right, and Lady Rita’s unblooded novices on the left! The Wye at its lowest in living memory, easily fordable along its length! And yet, and yet….still you FAIL ME!”

“I say, just a moment now….” said Strait-Jackett.

The Battleground at Bredwardine Fords [with bridge], and a familiar advance : Arrowsmith in the centre with the Behemoth in the lead, Storm Leader Giles to the right, Captain Strait-Jackett to the left. 
FOOLS! Arrowsmith screamed. Storm Leader Giles, standing rigidly to attention while trying to shake the last “Exterminate!” marker from his over-sized epaulettes, now disappeared beneath a shower of black hearted spittle.

“You…” Arrowsmith’s gloved forefinger stabbed derisively at Captain Strait-Jackett’s chest. “You! Bringing the Cheltenham Ladies College to a battle! Royalists! Is that the best De Braose, your so-called Lord of the Marches, can do? Advancing across the Wye - straight into Lady Rita’s concealed firing line! Cowering in a copse with casualties all around you! Reduced to waving hockey sticks at the enemy!”

“I say, I mean, weally…..” said Strait-Jackett.

The end of the battle for Captain Strait-Jackett's Royalists - decimated by the gallant Lady Rita's firing line.

Cheltenham Ladies College Hockey Team in happier times - on a goodwill tour of Canada at the start of the VBCW
“And you!” Arrowsmith turned on his heel contemptuously, gloved forefinger shifting target. “Storm Leader? Advancing like a geriatric snail, more like, not an overwhelming storm! An entire section wiped out by those damned scarecrows - before your tank got into action at all!” [Giles had rolled a “1” at an early moment, and bogged down, causing a ripple effect on his carefully dressed infantry line. An advanced section had been decimated by Anglican fire.]

“Leader.” Storm Leader Giles clicked his heels, staring ahead impassively. He was sure he would dry off. Eventually.

“I say, I mean … weally, if you’d just let me say….”


“I say, I weally must insist”. Strait-Jackett’s slight lisp betrayed his tension. “It’s not our fault, you wuff fascist fellah-me-lad, it really isn’t. The Cheltenham ladies were just part of my force - and truly, I can’t help it if the Gas Street Irregulars stop orff for a bit of casual looting, I weally jolly well can’t. [Alan had also rolled low at an early stage]. And that Lady Rita’s a truly gallant filly, don’tcha know? But that’s not the trouble now, is it?” Strait-Jackett was finally hitting his stride. “Point is, the County’s agin us of late, all that stuff about Davros and “Dar-leks”. Lady Rita and the Mommets might not have risen to assist the Bishop, otherwise [see note 1 below]. You’d have had him then, three to one. And I might not have been there last time - but who let the Dar-leks out, hmmm, hmmm?”

The Leader of the Mommets advances to the aid of the Bishop. The day was to prove
that Herefordshire Mommetry was not to be trifled with.
“Oh, I know what you say.” Arrowsmith’s rage had turned to icy contempt. “I know what all you damned Royalists say about me, behind my back. The sniggers, the carping, the criticisms. The “he’s going like Foy, just you wait” whispers. The “not even a Grammar School boy” stuff.  I’ve heard them all, believe me.”

“Professor Schwartzmangler’s Awwowsmith-Syndrome?”

“Never mention that name to me! Never!”

“Staff Captain Gallop does, often enough. 9pm sharp, after every evening news broadcast. He reads out the whole of Schwartzmangler’s stuff, even interviews him, on the Bishop’s Broadcasting Service…”

“A banned organisation! Traitors! Subversives! And I told you never to mention that name!”

“He’s wrong, sir.” Giles intervened, trying to change the delicate subject.

“Of course he’s wrong, Snail Leader!” sneered Arrowsmith. “I don’t need you to tell me he’s wrong! Regulations strictly forbid it! Anyone found listening to the Bishop’s Broadcasting Service will pay for it with their lives! We’ve already shot every patient in the Leominster Village Hospital because Matron made the mistake of tuning out the Home Service! The blind, the halt, the lame - and for good measure, the deaf!”

“Not about that, sir. About the battle.” Giles floundered on nervously, greatly daring. “See, it was the Behemoth wot done it, sir, not us. The Behemoth wot done us in. And not them cannon and multiple machine guns and heavy armour an’ all…it was the crew. Your mailed fist - shattered. Shattered at the very moment we needed it the most.” Giles trailed off, losing courage. “Anyway, that’s wot happened, sir.”

The Behemoth in the early stages of the Battle of Bredwardine Fords. Big gun, multiple machine guns, heavy armour, and the morale of the crew is high - so far.
Arrowsmith reeled back, tortured not only by the estuary tones of Giles’ whining vowels, but by the stunning truth of his revelation. The Behemoth! His one true love! Sat atop it’s customary position on the crest of Bredwardine Bridge [in fact, it was supposed to be a ford, but we re-used the bridge model] stolidly withstanding everything the Anglican R-35, the Anglican MMG and Lady Rita’s mortar could throw at it, seeing off Staff Captain Cruft’s multiple bomb dog attacks [some outstandingly lucky BUF cards and dice, as will shortly be revealed], advancing unscathed through multiple road side bombs [more lucky dice, grr….], only for the crew finally to crack beneath that hail of infantry fire! His Behemoth, hurt and confused, retreating in a panic! The Great Arrowsmith - betrayed by his own Behemoth! There must be revenge!

“You’re right, Snail Leader!” snarled Arrowsmith, smashing fist to palm. “Just this once, you’re right! And now I’m going to do something about it. Show you all that that there is a penalty for failure! A firing squad! Two firing squads! No, wait…engineer! Assemble a technical squad! Immediately!”


“A curious day, Duff.” The Bishop sniffed. “Sweaty cassock time, this morning, I’m not ashamed to say it. A no-show from those socialists, and Lord Reith’s mysterious Scientific Adviser having nothing to do in the absence of the anticipated Dar-leks. But near victory by lunch, and then….well, we’d better visit the advanced platoon before dusk turns to night. Apparently it can do so quite suddenly round here, you know. A stroll to the ford?”

“Indeed, sir. But at least that Scientific Adviser had a word with Professor Lindemann before he left. Lindemann seems very pleased with what he learned.” The Rev Duff-Postin shouldered the Ludlow Great Standard. “I’ll gather up Commandant Lasalle from the Command Car. He’ll want to see the troops, make sure the sentries are posted.”

The LEF early in the battle - RNVR Rocket Batteries in the centre, Ludlow Scottish MMG following up, Lt. Pidgeon's R-35 on the right flank. On the left flank, just visible, is Lord Reith's Scientific Adviser (and transport) watching out for the return of any BUF "Dar-leks" and any consequent infringement of the BBC's copyrights.
Shortly thereafter, the three fell into automatic step along the tarmac approach to the ford [bridge]. “Well, we didn’t quite make the breakthrough, chaps.” said the Bishop. “Couldn’t really expect to, in all the circumstances. Sir Gilbert will have to do without us for just a little longer. But we did more than survive…” [see note (2) below]

“Certainement, mon ami”. Commandant Lasalle, a graduate of St. Cyr, stiffened suddenly, eyes righting and snapping into a brisk salute. “For the most part, certainement.”

The party was abreast of a burning R-35, the body of its gallant commander, Lieutenant “Cadgze” Pidgeon, laid out respectfully alongside. Pidgeon, the conqueror of the Malvern Hill Conservator’s Quadricycle of Doom and all-round hero of the earlier Battle of Bredwardine Bridge, had bravely traded blows with the Behemoth for hours - an unequal struggle - only to be felled by a treacherous flank shot, late in the day, from Storm Leader Giles’ slowly advancing armour (a Vickers Medium Mk.1).

The loss of the brave Lt. "Cadgze" Pidgeon His R-35 disappears in a fireball.
“La Legion meurt mais ne se rend pas.” whispered Lasalle, as Postin lowered the Great Standard respectfully. The Bishop murmured a heartfelt prayer. Of all the elements that had contributed to the Anglican defence - the rockets, the gallantry of Lady Rita in her first battle, the straight shooting and sheer bloody mindedness of the Mommets, the usual staunchness of the Loyal Ludlow infantry and the busy machine gun of the Ludlow Scottish - the valiant actions of Pidgeon and his Renault R-35 had proved crucial.

“You better watch this bit, sir.” counselled Postin. But a few yards on, and the bloodied bodies of Staff Captain Cruft’s carefully trained bomb dogs littered the roadway. “Arrowsmith truly rode his luck with this lot.”

“Nom d’un chien.” murmured Commandant Lasalle.

[The height of the battle, around lunchtime. The Behemoth, suppressed by furious Anglican fire, mute and helpless on the bridge. The Bishop had sent in the Anglican secret weapon, a party of bomb dogs trained by Staff Captain Cruft since the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge for precisely this eventuality - confident that the Behemoth would fail its “suppressed” recovery roll, and in any event, holding an ace, the Bishop would move first in the succeeding turn. The dogs would crash into and destroy the Behemoth before it could even fire, and the waiting LEF infantry could rush and hold the ford (bridge) for an unlikely victory against the odds. But a delighted Arrowsmith had rolled high on his recovery roll, then pulled an unexpected Joker from his own hand to take his turn first, fired all of his many machine guns with extraordinarily high dice, and a canine massacre had resulted. With it went the Anglican’s hopes of a decisive breakthrough at Bredwardine.]

Send on the exploding dogs! The LEF Secret Weapon is revealed as Staff Captain Cruft's finest take on the Behemoth. It is but moments before the massacre.....
“Such a cur, that Arrowsmith” said the Bishop. “Machine-gunning a pack of dogs….Staff Captain Cruft will be inconsolable.”

“Volunteers, every last one of them, sir.” Postin commiserated. “Turned out of their homes and lost by their owners in the refugee crisis. Knew the Fascists only have use for Alsatians and Dobermanns, rather than true British breeds. You should have seen those paws shoot up in the air when the Staff Captain gave them a chance for a special mission. Tongues were hanging out at the prospect, I tell you. Now careful here….”

The roadway was smashed and bent at crazy angles on both sides - the residue of Lady Rita’s double roadside bombs exploding each side of the Behemoth as, wildly confident after the dog massacre, it had sought to advance beyond the ford [bridge].

“Extraordinary” said the Bishop. “To survive the bomb dogs, and then this. The Behemoth was leading a charmed life, alright.”

“Until the crew cracked, sir. There’s only so much even a veteran Fascist can take.” [Numerous “Jumpy” and “Suppressed” markers had appeared on the Behemoth during the course of the day, only to be successfully reduced on the BUF Recovery Phase - but by the end the Behemoth was reversing under not just a “Jumpy” marker, but also a “Suppressed”, “Running Away” and then (this had never happened before) a “Double Running Away” marker. Chased by continuing fire, the Behemoth had no hope of recovery before the end of the Big Game.]

A unique documentary shot. The Behemoth's driver, crazed by repeated bombardment, finally cracks. Run away ! Double Run away!
A Loyal Ludlow legionary appeared out of the rolling smoke at the end of the Bridge [or ford. By the end of the Big Game, the First Section of the Legion was holding onto one end of the ford, with BUF infantry on the other, the stilled and terrified Behemoth between the warring factions as the Fascists first threw grenades, and the Anglicans prepared to return in kind]

The End of the Behemoth - beached and broken on the Bridge [ford]. The 1st Section of the LEF hold one side, BUF infantry hold the other. There is to be a fierce but inconclusive exchange of grenades, but the battle is drawn.
“Holding on, Bishop” the infantryman confirmed. “But Arrowsmith’s up there, doing something to the Behemoth.”

The command party peered through the smoke and fog of war, dimly discerning the outline of Arrowsmith’s gilt braided command cap and black leather coat. With the small arms rattle and explosions of battle dying away, all that could be heard was the screaming and gibbering of the crew within the Behemoth.

“What the devil’s he up to now, sir?” puzzled Postin, as an unearthly blue light reflected through the smoke, illuminating a crouching Arrowsmith and a party of engineers atop the huge tank. “Oxy-acetylene torches? Cutting them out through that infamous heavy armour?”

“Mon Dieu.” breathed Commandant Lasalle. “Un diable, c’est sur.”

“He’s not cutting them out, Postin.” the Bishop whispered, as realisation slowly dawned. “There’s a penalty for failure, remember? [see note (3) below] He’s concentrating on the hatches. He’s not cutting them out at all. It’s an iron coffin. He’s sealing them in.”

The Bishop raised his Crozier of Solomon solemnly, incanting a prayer for the condemned crew.

Atop the Behemoth and mistaking the gesture, Arrowsmith rose abruptly from his crouch, snapping into his customary stiff armed, gloved salute.

“We shall meet again, Bishop” growled Arrowsmith to himself, amidst the now muffled crewmen’s screams. “We shall most surely meet again.” His gold rimmed spectacles glowed with reflected fanaticism. “And next time, next time, I promise you, Bishop…next time, there WILL BE NO WEAKNESS!

Arrowsmith subsequently demonstrates his customary salute to  recruits at the BUF Barracks, Whitecross Street.

(1). The historic origins of the Herefordshire Mommet movement are to be found here. The alliance between Arrowsmith and Davros was assuredly an event likely to rouse Herefordians against the BUF generally and Arrowsmith in particular, not to mention incur the ire of Lord Reith of the BBC. It may be that, upon the redundant BBC Scientific Adviser reporting back to Bush House after the Battle of Bredwardine Fords, Lord Reith will consider that Arrowsmith has been insufficiently punished for his earlier breach of BBC copyrights. For the origins of Arrowsmith's alliance with Davros, see the "Battle of Bredwardine Bridge" broadcast below.

(2). Attentive listeners to the Bishop’s Broadcasting Service will recall that the Anglicans have been seeking to cross the River Wye at Bredwardine in order to link up with Sir Gilbert Hill’s Golden Valley Invincibles and thereby cut off a large part of South Herefordshire from Royalist/BUF influence. After the Bishop’s bloody draws with the forces of Arrowsmith and his running dogs, first at Bredwardine Bridge and then at the Fords of Bredwardine, Sir Gilbert (who was himself fighting running battles in Dorstone on this day) and the Anglican C-in-C (moustaches somewhat singed, having had his T-26 shot out from beneath him at Kinnersley) may be forced into a strategic re-think. Or each may re-double their efforts to cross the Wye, perhaps elsewhere, or with better equipment. Only time will tell….

(3). Similarly attentive listeners may wonder how the Bishop and Postin knew the exact words earlier used by Arrowsmith within his ultra-secure “Robin’s Nest” command post. Storm Leader Giles’ blind loyalty is unquestioned, but what of the Royalist Captain Strait-Jackett, so maltreated by Arrowsmith? Or is it possible, perchance, that the Bishop’s famed Ecclesiastical Intelligence Service have successfully placed a deep penetration agent within BUF HQ?

(4). Miscellaneous Weaponry and Casualty Returns - The RNVR Rocket Troop had a more successful day at Bredwardine Fords. Having failed miserably at the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge (2 infantry casualties), the Rocket Troop made a satisfactory return at Bredwardine Fords (7 infantry casualties), albeit, widely scattered as the casualties were, this was nowhere close to being decisive. Otherwise, the LEF suffered surprisingly few casualties itself - a few from First Section of the Loyals, as they advanced under MMG fire towards the ford (ok, bridge) in the late afternoon, a few from Second Section earlier in the morning. On the very last move, however, as the firing died away elsewhere in the knowledge of a certain draw, the entirety of the RNVR Rocket Troop crews (acting as a pistol armed infantry reserve after the firing of their rockets) were lost to a spiteful long range MMG massacre by an enraged Storm Leader Giles. These, and the destruction of “Cadgze” Pigeon’s R-35, were the principal Ludlow losses of the day. There is now an urgent need for a replacement for the lost R-35 - an application is being made to France’s “Lend Lease to Ludlow” programme. The Bishop’s 75mm gun, finally re-bored (see the notes to the Battle of Eardisley broadcast, below) may also have to make an appearance at the next encounter, as the RNVR recruit and re-train new rocketeers….

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Battle of Bredwardine Bridge (March 2015 Big Game)

The Bishop sighed heavily, settling back into the armchair within his familiar wood panelled study, grateful to have returned home to some comforts after the hard rigours of Welsh Border campaigning. The fire in the study grate glowed and crackled, casting shadows against the unseasonably early onset of dusk. The Bishop adjusted his prince-nez, sighed, and settled down to an evening of the eternal paperwork.

“As darkness fell so quickly…..” The Bishop glanced about, empathising entirely with the young tank commander’s report “… was necessary to pull the Renault R-35 over to the verge, and request our lorried infantry support to do likewise.”

The Bishop shared the keen disappointment etched into every line.

“The early onset of dusk denied to us the opportunity to meet the Fascist Armoured Behemoth on advantageous terms, specifically, as we were approaching it at high speed from behind, to pump a stream of high velocity/deep penetration shells straight up its capacious but invitingly defenceless rear.”

The Bishop tutted reprovingly. Clearly this young tank commander was a Frenchman. Or worse, an old Harrovian.

“Having bivouacked for the evening and posted sentries, nothing further was heard of the Fascists beyond, about midnight, a lengthy bout of engine revving and some equally loud snarling. As dawn broke on the following day, it became apparent that, loosely encircled by the gallant Sir Gilbert to his front and our own forces to his rear, Capt. Arrowsmith and his Fascist contingent had used the cover of night to withdraw from Bredwardine Bridge. We ourselves therefore retired in good order past the shattered and abandoned equipment of the Malvern Hills Conservators, setting up camp at the Rose & Crown. Such completed our part in 'Operation Plump Rump'.”

It hardly seemed three weeks ago, and yet it was. It had taken the Bishop and his immediate officers that long to make their circuitous return, travelling by sealed Pullman through the disorder of Welsh Nationalist territory to the Shropshire Free State, and then on to the peace and calm of the Episcopal Enclave of Ludlow.

A knock, and around the wood panelled door appeared the broad shoulders of the Bishop’s standard bearer and chaplain, the Rev Duff Postin. The epitome of muscular Christianity, Postin had captained the country’s wrestling team at the 1930 Empire Games.

“Digest of the press, sir. Pretty useful stuff.”

“Duff.” The Bishop nodded. “What have you got?”

“Well, Captain JFC Featherstone was complimentary in “The Express”. Same with Liddell-Bath in “The Daily Herald” and Colonel Scruby in “The New York Times”. General agreement as to our victory at Bredwardine. The ‘Ludlow Leader’ came out with a particularly strong headline…”


The Bishop shrugged, re-living the sharp whistle of the falling mortar bomb, the shattering blast of the explosion. “A providential escape, Duff, but a desperate last throw from the Conservators. Targeting me personally. By that time, mid - afternoon, I mean…”

“..their mortar team was broken and dying…” agreed Postin.

“..and their Heavy Machine Gun. Crew almost entirely gone.” said the Bishop.

“Not to mention their Morris Armoured Car. Two hits, and both its Bren and Boyes guns smashed beyond repair. Useless.”

“Quite. Plus - their first section of infantry were splattered all over the first cross-roads, the remnants hiding behind the burning remains of that infernal Armoured Motorcycle.”

“Not that it provided much cover, sir. Not once the Renault R-35 had run it over and set it on fire.”


The Bishop and his Chaplain paused thoughtfully.

“In fact, sir, if the rest of them hadn’t hidden away in the upstairs of that Manor House for most of the game, well, the Malvern Hill Conservators would have been quite wiped out. You should see this…”

  …from ‘Pigtails and Petticoats”, sir, some kind of American magazine for young ladies. Apparently, their correspondent couldn’t understand why most of the Conservators’ infantry took to hiding in the upstairs section of the Manor House rather than face up to us, even their crack bicycle troops. Appears there was a dolls collection, a dressing up box and lots of soft toys up there…..”

The Bishop harrumphed loudly.

“And then there’s this, sir, from the rather strangely titled ‘Doctor Who Magazine’….”


“Unbelievable.” The Bishop harrumphed again. “Sir Gilbert, God bless him, dismissed the advance intelligence reports of those Armoured Motorcycles with five heavy machine guns as simply too futuristic for our Civil War, and yet the BUF and their lackeys fielded not one, but two of them - and that Behemoth, and then this Dalek thing….”

“Lead to lots of recruits, though, sir. Hundreds of fanboys flooding into Ludlow anxious to have a crack at a Dalek. Keen as Mr Colman’s mustard, ready equipped with combat jackets and rucksacks, just not so great at the personal hygiene. And those strange middle aged men with long scarves and floppy hats carrying bags of jellybabies shouting ‘You shouldn’t be here” every time they bump into each other. Best of all….”


“Intellectual property lawyers from the British Broadcasting Corporation, sir. Legions of sharp suited sharks, absolutely merciless. They’ll tear Arrowsmith limb from limb if they capture him before us - then smile and order themselves an extra frothy cappuccino by way of celebration. Apparently the BUF reverse - engineered the Dalek without permission, without even a by-your-leave, from Bush House. Lord Reith is quite furious.”

“I’m sure he is. The Corporation has to guard its independence even more jealously these days. But talking of reverse engineering……”

“Yes, sir. You’d better look at “Arms and Artificers”:


"I was promised so much more, Duff. Devestating fire power delivered from the back of not one, but two, Dennis trucks."

"'Resolution', sir. And 'Retribution'. So the Royal Naval Reserve boys named them. I know what you were promised, sir. That strange chap Lindemann, you know, the one who brought us this Russian "Katyusha" technology in the first place; apparently he's blaming the battery commander. says he's got a replacement in mind for the next engagement".

"Mmm....." The Bishop flipped the page and brightened. "Well, at least our technical review was better than the Conservators....."

“Yes, sir. The Vehicle Licensing Board. Obviously, the Conservator’s own armoured motorcycle is a write off; the one they loaned to Arrowsmith’s fascists disappeared into a crowd of Sir Gilbert’s folk and was last seen under close quarter umbrella attack. Even if it survived, the Board can’t understand how a motorcycle can take five machine guns, heavy all-round armour, a crew of three, and still be able to corner.”

“I’m concerned, Duff. We were always told those Malvern chaps and the BUF were the deadliest of enemies, and yet there they were at Bredwardine fighting shoulder to shoulder. And sharing their engineering achievements before the battle….”

“Worrying indeed, sir.”

“To be able to shrink their technology - from the Behemoth with its heavy gun, co-axial machine gun, further machine guns in independent turrets - to the size of a motorcycle, well….”

“I know, sir, I know. Talking of miniaturisation, though, you really should take a look at the latest from the American Psychiatric Association….


The minutes of a symposium of the American Psychiatric Association were today published [AP wire, Chicago] in relation to the late events of the Civil War proceeding in England. The appearance of extremely large tanks with huge numbers of weapons in the ranks of the British Union of Fascists field armies, particularly under the West Midlands command of the notorious Captain Arrowsmith, was unanimously considered to be the product of a psychiatric disorder. “It is a classic over-compensation complex” said Professor Ike Schwartzmangler of Idaho University. “Extremely well - documented. Bluntly, any middle aged Fascist who obsesses over size and weaponry clearly has a very small….. [cont. page 93]”

The Bishop and the Reverend Postin rocked with laughter.

“They might be on to something there” gasped the Bishop, finally.

“As we might, sir”. The Reverend Postin resumed his seriousness. “Whatever the origin of the BUF armour, I’ve set up a study group under Staff Captain Cruft on how we could best deal with them next time. The initial results look promising. And the reports flooding in from unaligned parishes suggest that Arrowsmith’s alliance with Davros and his Dalek technology is costing the BUF a great deal of support. Herefordians don’t like foreigners much, and having a bald best chum from Skaro with wires coming out his scalp, well…….Staff Captain Gallop suggests that the Arrowsmith popularity index is well down right across the County. The time could be ripe for a diplomatic approach to some local waverers....”

“Mmm….” the Bishop nodded. “Let me think on that, Duff. In the meantime, I think a small celebration might be in order.”

“Indeed, sir?”

“Indeed. Let us cast our cares aside for a moment, let us abandon the strictures of office for an evening, let us toast the success of the Combined and Constitutional Patriots at the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge, and let us indulge in a small glass of sherry!"

“I say, sir, steady on.....don't you know I've signed The Pledge?"


A View of the Battlefield - Bredwardine Bridge in the Centre. The LEF advance in the right
foreground whilst Arrowsmith's BUF and their running dogs for the day, the Malvern Hill
 Conservators, advance in the centre and left foreground.
The LEF at its starting line positions. The Bishop and the Rev. Duff Postin can be seen with their
 HQ Command Car to the right. In the centre are the newly raised rocket batteries and RNVR crews.
Another new acquisition, an R-35 tank delivered as part of France's "Lend Lease to Ludlow"
 programme, leads off. The infantry are fully lorried.

The Opposition ! At the start of the game, the Bishop faced the Arrowsmith Armoured Behemoth, a BUF Dalek(!) just behind, a Morris Armoured Car (rear centre), and 2 heavily armoured Quadricycles of Doom (5 MGs each), plus infantry support. In truth, the Bishop's solitary R-35 began to look even smaller than usual.
The LEF "park the bus" and commence the pre-agreed Anglican strategy, "Operation
Plump Rump". Under the threat of the "rockets in being", Arrowsmith must surely hasten
 his Behemoth towards Bredwardine Bridge, leaving the Bishop to destroy the MHC
and then take Arrowsmith from the rear - ouch !
Arrowsmith falls into the Anglican trap. The Behemoth and the BUF Quadricycle of Doom both turn left and
head for Bredwardine Bridge, where they shall shortly meet the forces of Sir Gilbert. The Fascists and their
running dogs for the day, the MHC, are now hopelessly split. Arrowsmith adds to the confusion by advancing
his cavalry across the road on a "great swan" between the forces of the Bishop and his Anglican ally, Captain
 Verity. The cavalry will spend the engagement doing nothing more than being sniped at by all and sundry.
Having cranked their launcher systems to maximum elevation, now is the moment for the Ludlow RNVR.
The Bishop gives the order : "Let the missiles fly !". Net result (after much measuring and dice throwing)
 - two dead MHC infantry. A poor return for all the Bishop's technological efforts.....
But the Bishop's tank force is inspired! Having already beaten the MHC's Morris Armoured Car into a state of
disarmed submission, here the R-35 bursts onto the junction and rams the MHC's Quadricycle of Doom. But
a moment later, the QoD explodes, the fireball incinerating its three crewmembers (responsible for driving and
 firing its five machine guns simultaneously). Lt. "Cadgze" Pidgeon, the R-35 commander on temporary
 secondment from the French Foreign Legion, is on the edge of  his seat with excitement....
A hasty snapshot of the crossroads at the LEF's moment of triumph. Most of the MHC (including their
crack bicycle troops) have either been destroyed or taken refuge in the "Black and White" Manor House in 
order to play with teddy bears. There is now nothing to stop the R-35 completing "Operation Plump Rump"
 but a solitary MG armed Dalek, already retreating nervously away. A full section of LEF infantry are 
mounting up to support the R-35, leaving the MMG of the Ludlow Scottish to continue
 covering the junction with fire.
A message from Sir Gilbert. He has Arrowsmith pinned on the crest of Bredwardine Bridge, unable
 to maneouvre. The BUF QoD is under umbrella attack (to be finished off by the sticky bombers behind
 the hedge if necessary). Now that the MHC have been destroyed, would the Bishop's R-35 tank
 commander care to have the honour of completing the carefully planned "Operation Plump Rump"?
 "Mais certainment!"exclaims Lt. Pidgeon with relish, just as night fell suddenly....

Anglican writers subsequently memorialised the end that Arrowsmith would have met -
 but for nightfall (Look, we've only booked the Hall until 5, ok, and we've got all the
 clearing up to do.....). In this Boy's Own Account, the patriotic cover artist has replaced
 the R-35 with a Matilda Mk.2, and solved the problem of depicting Arrowsmith's
 massive Behemoth within the confines of A5 by simply replacing it with an Skdfz 221.
But the despairing fist of Arrowsmith and his inevitable fall from Bredwardine
 Bridge is, of course, accurately depicted.....

Sir Gilbert's view of the action, complementary to and corroborative of the Bishop's own account, can be found hereA three part and extensively illustrated battle report by Sir Ed Ward-Glear, leader of the Malvern Hill Conservators, begins here. Ward-Glear's war photographer and personal pilot are clearly to be commended, even if the accompanying editorial has a tendency to the partial. Taking such editorial approach to the extreme, however, should you wish to partake in an extended "Should have gone to Specsavers!!" advert in the snarling company of Captain Arrowsmith, please see his Fascist propaganda broadsheet, clearly compiled while licking his wounds, to be found here.

Feature - the Gallant Sir Gilbert

The Rev Duff Postin indulges his only known vice.

The Reverend Duff Postin, Standard Bearer of the Ludlow Expeditionary Force and Military Secretary to the Bishop, records:

"The Expeditionary Force is most fortunate to have an ally in the gallant Sir Gilbert Hill. A fierce patriot and anti - Fascist, the Expeditionary Force has long fought for the same strategic objectives as Sir Gilbert himself, and for the first time fought shoulder to shoulder with the "Golden Valley Invincibles" at the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge. Historical notes on Sir Gilbert's Volunteers can be found here together with an Order of Battle. Sir Gilbert occasionally holds a "Gala Field Day", much to the admiration of the locals of Pontrilas and beyond, and indeed much like our own Bishop's Victory Parades (of which there have, of course, been too many mention. Please see Parish Notice Boards for next performance).

Feature - the Herefordshire VBCW Campaign

The Herefordshire VBCW campaign is the brainchild of Giles and JP, who book the village hall for "Big Games", organise the players, provide the terrain (usually accompanied by a huge "impact piece" specially made by Roo), and generally take on the burden of running everything.

The County of Hereford during the VBCW. Ludlow, as indicated, is to the north, on
the Herefordshire/Shropshire border. The Ecclesiastical Enclave maintains good relations
with another VBCW geographical development, the Shropshire Free State.
JP's Hereford 1938 Blog can be found here. It contains the entire history of the campaign to date, plus useful links to other player's blogs and websites. The campaign (up to just after the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge) is most usefully illustrated in maps here. Giles' own blog is here, containing a great deal of general VBCW goodness - and much else besides! Anyone interested in the campaign as a whole, rather than simply the Bishop of Ludlow's own perspective (assisted by the omniscient Almighty as he is, of course), should head over to both blogs post-haste.

Prequel - Battle of Foy (March 2014 Big Game)

An unnamed cleric on the staff of the Bishop of Ludlow records:

"The Battle of Eardisley was not the first military engagement in which the Bishop and his gallant Ludlow Expeditionary Force took part. Some months before, moved to action by the capture and imprisonment of his friend and colleague, the Bishop of Hereford, our own Bishop lead the LEF into Herefordshire to take part in the historic - but disconcerting - Battle of Foy.

Historic, of course, in that defeat for the BUF was the end of Lord Foy as a fascist leader in the County. Forced to leave behind both his heavy equipment and his moustache on the field of battle, Foy was last seen escaping downriver by punt, never to re-appear.

Anglican Photofit of Baron Foy as he may now
appear - moustache regrown and in disguise as
a Leominster hop-picker and agricultural labourer.
Disconcerting, however, in that the Bishop quickly learned the realities of civil war in Herefordshire - black clad infantry charges ("Moseley and the King!), exploding pillar boxes and innocently parked but equally lethal merchants' vans, Socialist snipers (even whole platoons!) hiding in the upper stories of otherwise welcoming country hosteleries, bewildering order and counter-order, sudden truces with formerly sworn enemies, and the slipperiness in Spring (at least for cavalry) of modern railway embankments.

Notwithstanding the notable victory for for the forces of freedom and right in the County, our Bishop had cause for sorrow : the opportunity to release the Bishop of Hereford from his unlawful captivity was lost (well, it was on another table...). The Ecclesiastical Intelligence Service inform the Bishop that his colleague may have ceased to be in Royalist hands, only to fall into the clutches of one of the many Landowner's Protection Leagues.....

The 1:1 scale Bishop, appropriately clad in ecclesiastical purple, studies the dispositions of the Anglican C-in-C, Mort.
The 1/55 Bishop's LEF in "all round defence" against unseen BUF (to the front) and  Socialists (in the pub).
He had to grip his Crozier tightly at this stage of the battle - in the same way as the Bishop's ADC, the Rev. Duff-Postin, safeguards the Ludlow Standard. .
The Battleground at Foy - Fascists to the left, Anglicans to the right, Socialists in hiding everywhere

Fascist infantry crossing Foy Railway Embankment - the enemy of the Ludlow Light Lancers.
That's the Embankment, I mean, not the Fascists.
The Bishop also learned a bitter lesson about the amateur nature of his own volunteer force - the pride of the LEF, the Ludlow Light Lancers, managed to do nothing in the course of the day other than prance around looking smart, and then charged into the Railway Embankment in a hopeless muddle (encounter at charge rate, but too slippery to ascend, you do the math...). As a result, their Colonel was cashiered, to be replaced by a "reliable chap" by the name of Trimingham (as to the results of which, see below).

The Battle of Eardisley (September 2014 Big Game)

Colonel Trimingham “would have faced a court martial” - if he wasn’t already very, very dead

The day of the battle dawned bright and clear (because that’s what days of battle always do, except when a chance card is drawn, and hence it rained from Turn 1, but let us not get ahead of the story) as a dust stained and exhausted messenger (because that’s what messengers always are) handed the Bishop of Ludlow a note of the latest dispositions of the enemy infesting Eardisley.

The Battlefield at Eardisley with BUF Original Dispositions
To the left, in the cornfield, what appeared to be an entire Panzer Battalion imported by the Fascists from the recent events in Spain (“Oh, don’t worry”, said J., their commander, rather generously in the circumstances, “They’re really quite useless. Always getting blown up. Even the specially modified one with the autocannon. Don’t know why I bring them at all. Junk really, tin cans....”) supported by hordes of infantry within Eardisley itself. To the right, black clad BUF infantry cohorts lined the convenient hedgeline with reserves and cavalry behind. In the centre, a mortar spotter next to a behemoth of a tank (“2 heavy machine guns in subsidiary turrets, a co-axial heavy machine gun, and the main gun, all able to fire independently” snarled Captain Arrowsmith, the BUF commander, because Fascists always snarl….)

The Bishop of Ludlow gulped and turned to the Anglican Commander in Chief. “I do hope you have a cunning plan.”

“Indeed I do. Most cunning. Worthy of Schlieffen himself.” the Anglican Commander twirled his luxuriant moustaches with vigour and determination (because that’s what, etc. etc. - and it was Mort.)
“You will take the right. Move forward. Simon here will take the left. He will move forward. My forces shall advance simultaneously along the railway line in the centre, and then...”

The Bishop leaned forward. “And then?”


Watching his French uniformed troops file past in the advance, the Bishop sighed heavily. His only interest in these events was to find and rescue his episcopal colleague (and old classmate from Cambridge) the captured Bishop of Hereford. And yet here he was, committing the Ludlow Expeditionary Force to an attack on an obscure railway station garrisoned by the BUF, when all the intelligence reports suggested that poor Lulu (not a widely known nickname, from the old theological college days) was held by an independent Royalist faction. But there was nothing for it…..

The Ludlow Expeditionary Force in Advance on the Flank, to the right of the Anglican C-in-C's own forces.
The infantry trudged slowly across the open fields, leaving the LEF’s heavy artillery (a 75mm and a mortar) to unlimber and send their own observer teams scampering forward. On the road to the extreme right, the Ludlow Light Lancers trotted towards Eardisley junction. Their new Colonel, Albert Trimingham, advanced confidently at their head, accompanied by a personal bugler. Trimingham’s predecessor had been cashiered after the last engagement (The Battle of Foy, reports passim) when the Lancers had managed only to charge into a muddy and derelict railway embankment. Today would be very different…

The artillery began potting away. An early hit from the 75mm exploded a Fascist mortar team before it could even come into action, the Anglican mortar caused a few infantry casualties amongst the black clad legions, but it rapidly became apparent that the LEF’s artillery was bombarding with worn barrels - for every round aimed at Captain Arrowsmith’s cohorts unaccountably fell well to the left, and onto his Spanish Civil War allies (the perils of failing to hit on the die roll, and then scatter dice).

Suddenly, out of the clear blue skies (here we’re ignoring the weather results for dramatic effect) swooped a Fiat biplane, determined to halt the Anglican advance and proudly bearing the camouflage and markings of Il Duce’s Regia Aeronautica. Air power - an innovation in the Hereford campaign! Fascist treachery!

"Mussolini Aid" - Photographic Proof of Captain Arrowsmith's craven subservience to "Foreign Powers"

The Fiat CR32 lined up to strafe the packed infantry advancing along the railway line. The Anglican Commander in Chief blanched, fearful that his sophisticated strategy might be still born even at this very moment.

(“That’s eight heavy machine guns”, snarled Arrowsmith, throwing handfuls more dice into an already overflowing bucket. “Along the railway line.”

“Light machine guns, surely.” protested Mort. “Four of them.”

“Heavy.” snarled Arrowsmith. “And eight.”

 J intervened. “I’m not sure that’s quite correct, actually.”

“You’re absolutely right.” Arrowsmith regarded his Fascist colleague cooly, glasses glinting with fanaticism even when he wasn’t snarling. “Made a mistake, there. It’s four heavy machine guns - and four 20mm heavy cannon.”

Mort made to protest again, and then thought better of it.

 “Fair enough” said Mort.)

“No worries, Bish!” The cheery boys of the LEF dropped prone, raising rifles skyward. The light machine gunners attached to every section found their (miraculously appearing) AA tripods and motley mounts and took aim. “We’ll soon send that Captain Macaroni home” (look, they get away with this in Commando comics, ok ?)

A storm of small arms fire - not to mention casual xenophobia - ascended towards the clouds, (because small arms fire always storms, sometimes in a withering fashion), failing to hit the Fascist warbird but spoiling the pilot’s aim. His much vaunted 20mm cannon shells fell wide; his machine gun bullets caused few casualties. The biplane reared upward, uncertain how to proceed (a “Jumpy” marker duly appeared next to the flight stand).

“Take that, spaghetti muncher !” Cheers and taunts from the Anglican ranks as the Fiat circled uncertainly, then turned away from the forest of upraised fists and un-Anglican “V” signs and dived for home (a “Suppressed” marker had replaced the “Jumpy” marker). “Told you we’d do it, Bish !”

Now the LEF 75mm suddenly found its range, scoring a direct hit on Captain Arrowsmith’s multi gunned metal behemoth in the centre. At the LEF’s anxious HQ, hope soared that this thorn in the advance would finally be silenced, or at least forced into retreat. But as the smoke from the explosion cleared, it became clear that the behemoth was not only intact, but entirely unmoved.
(The BUF tank had passed its morale test with flying colours. “They’re veterans” snarled Arrowsmith. “Highly trained fanatics. In heavy armour. And supported by our Fascist standard. They laugh insanely at your paltry shells!”)

As if to demonstrate their new found confidence, a Fascist infantry section advanced over their covering hedge and into the adjacent meadow. Heading towards an old barn, the only cover in the otherwise featureless meadow, they presented a sudden but tempting target for the serried ranks of the otherwise unengaged Ludlow Light Lancers.

“Now Trimingham !” shouted the Bishop. “Now’s your time !”

Colonel Trimingham leads The Ludlow Light Lancers 
The Lancers advanced : walk, trot, canter, the lance pennons coming down in a row, a sword waving madly in the centre as bugle calls rang out in urgent succession. The once over confident fascists looked about uncertainly as the meadow thrummed beneath them, too far beyond the hedge to retreat but too weak to face cavalry in the open and now in open charge towards them…..

Or not.

Had they but known it, the gallant lancers had entered The Meadow in which Cavalry Cannot Charge Home (a sudden “Jumpy” marker had alighted next to the Anglican cavalry, preventing the final “charge” move). As the pride of the LEF wheeled and retired amidst much muttering - “I say, damned fine gallop, but I prefer sticking rabbits, me’self….Is that tea brewing over there, by any chance?” - the Fascist infantry levelled their rifles (“And the LMG !” snarled Arrowsmith) at the backs of the retreating cavalry in preparation for an entirely unexpected revenge…

But the Fascists were equally ignorant of their true location. For this was in fact The Meadow in which Cavalry Cannot Charge Home and in which Bullets Do Not Fly Straight. The storm of Fascist lead whistled harmlessly over the Lancers’ heads as Arrowsmith cursed his luck, stamping, and obviously snarling, with frustration (buckets of dice failed to turn up many hits, and even those failed the subsequent D6 rolls).

Now the cavalry performed a delicate minuet, wheeling yet again towards the Fascist line as the bugle sounded for the final charge. Again the familiar tempo of acceleration, the brightly pennoned lances dipping and khaki clad riders bending forward with eagerness…

Or not.

Post action reports suggest that Colonel Trimingham, always a stickler for appearances, thought it right to pause and “dress his lines” before completing his charge. This was, after all, the Meadow in which Cavalry Cannot Charge Home Under Any Circumstances. A bugle call sounded, and the charge shuddered to a halt but feet from the Fascist firing line, horses blowing and stamping as the BUF levelled their rifles yet again (The Lancers had called a charge, but the movement dice had been unkind, stranding them just an inch from the BUF cohort).

There were no mistakes this time. Arrowsmith himself called down the storm of fire (“Well, this unit here can fire. And the LMG of that one, over there. Oh, and perhaps this one can do it, too…..”). A noisy fusillade, and the Bishop lowered his field glasses sadly. Every single cavalryman had gone down in an instant, riddled with fascist bullets, and of the Lancers there remained only a few riderless horses and the sad flap of Trimingham’s tattered personal banner with its solitary battle honour - “Foy Railway Embankment”.

Now it was the turn of the infantry, and with them the fate of the battle.

(“We can stand here” said Mort. “And die. Or we can charge forward. And die. But we could win that way.”)

Three sections of LEF infantry swallowed hard in unison, preparing themselves to dive over their hedge line and rush hard towards the fascist lines. One was being directed towards the old barn, squat and ancient in the middle of the meadow; the remainder were to head directly towards Eardisley station itself. To their left, the cherry bereted infantry that had stormed up the railway line prepared to join them; even further left, their wily Anglican allies (Simon) gripped their rifles hard and made ready…

At this crucial moment, The Bishop found himself next to the Anglican Commander in Chief.

“Look here” the Bishop said. “This charge thing. I’m still a bit worried about that multi turreted tank. With its damned heavy armour, and all.”

Such unexpected profanity betrayed the Bishop’s tension.

“Ooh, I wouldn’t worry,” the Commander in Chief waved a hand airily, his luxuriant moustaches now revolving in different directions. “I’ve got a sticky bomb team for that”.

The Lancers meet their end on the right flank - but in the centre swirls the Anglican charge and the BUF Behemoth.....

“St George! St George! St. George and the Right Reverend the Archbishop of Canterbury, Gawd bless him!”

The deep throated Anglican battle cry (because battle cries are always deep throated, even awkward ones with a ridiculous number of syllables) rang out as hundreds of men threw themselves forward over the hedges, desperate to cross the obvious killing ground.

 “St George and the Right Reverend the Archbishop of Canterbury!”

Deep within his BUF bunker, Arrowsmith snarled (this really is becoming rather tiresome - ed.) and clapped his leather gloved hands in delight. The resultant slushing sound was rather disappointing, even with the confines of the bunker. “Fools!” sneered Arrowsmith. “Fools! Fire with everything! At once! Alert the multi turreted behemoth! Make every bullet count! Infantry advance towards the barn! And get the message to our Republican allies for the armoured counter-attack! Or signal Skaro, at least!”

“Leader.” Arrowsmith’s adjutant clicked his heels in the Germanic fashion, releasing a carrier pigeon. This proved a schoolboy error within the confines of the bunker, as a cursing Arrowsmith (he really was becoming quite animated by now) had to shoo the flapping creature out the door. “Fools!”

The Bishop had been praying for most of the day, and now his prayers were answered. The dashing, roaring, Anglican attack had clearly unsettled the BUF infantry opposite, and their rifle fire scattered high and wide. A chattering LMG took out a portion of the LEF’s first infantry section, but the charge never faltered; not even when the three MGs and the main gun of the Fascist behemoth destroyed nearly all the remainder. The high speed contortions of the small but superbly trained crew within, loading and firing and loading again whilst rushing about amongst all those guns, clearly defied the physical laws of the universe.

 The LEF third section reached the barn safely, dashing within.

The high point of the battle was now upon the contending forces, and a sudden squeaking and squealing of tracks betrayed the start of the Fascist counter attack. The Panzer Battalion lurched forward from the cornfield (“They really are rubbish, honestly”, said J.); the behemoth roared into sudden life and out of its prepared position.

“Attack!” yelled Arrowsmith (in a snarling sort of way), wiping pigeon droppings from his epaulettes. “Moseley and the King! And take that barn over there! Moseley!”

But even as the Fascist armour rolled forward, their infantry in the crucial central sector shuffled uncertainly backward. The mass of Anglican infantry swamped the tanks, running past them towards Eardisley Station and safety. Covering BUF Cavalry retreated from the advancing Anglicans in a spate of wild uncertainty (“Jumpy” and then “Suppressed” Markers in succession, as a result of indirect 75mm and mortar fire).

The Panzer Battalion’s Command Tank shuddered suddenly to a halt, disabled. Another Panzer burst into flame, destroyed (“Told yousaid J.) by the sticky bomb team (“Told you” said Mort). Even the behemoth faltered, suddenly alone; looking down the barrel of the LEF’s 75mm to its front and conscious of the sticky bombers to its rear. The flanking BUF infantry refused the prospect of a charge into, and hand to hand combat within, the meadow barn (Arrowsmith groaned and gnashed his gold topped ivory dentures in frustration - poor dice rolling again !).

The sticky bombers raced toward the rear of the behemoth. The sweating LEF gunners rammed a copper bound round home, hastily cycling the long 75mm barrel downward and into direct fire mode. The gun commander raised his hand….

(A sudden cry from the Tidsley Junction table. Time! We’ve only got the hall for so long, you know! Time!)

As the battlefield fell strangely silent, the Anglican Commander in Chief and Captain Arrowsmith swapped notes by carrier pigeon. The Anglican infantry had taken the centre and were soon to sweep towards their objective of Eardisley Station; the flanking BUF infantry had failed to take the barn, the covering BUF cavalry were totally disordered, and the impetus of the armoured counter attack was close to exhaustion. While the forces of Arrowsmith & his Republican Ally were still intact, the end result could be calculated with some probability.

Capt. Arrowsmith shows the stress
of battle - and pigeon droppings - as
he concedes he must retreat.

(“A winning draw for you” offered Arrowsmith, ripping white spattered epaulettes from his shoulders in despair. Mort contemplated the situation closely as the Bishop looked on. “All right, then,” Mort said. “Fair enough.”).

As the black clad lines of BUF infantry filed away behind Eardisley, the behemoth revving noisily and reversing course to join the solitary surviving Panzer in orderly retreat, even as Arrowsmith’s black command Mercedes raced away in a cloud of dust, the Bishop thanked God for his stout allies, the direct intervention of the Almighty at critical points of the battle (those poor Fascist dice rolls), and the wise battle plan of the Commander in Chief. He’d always thought so. Honestly. The tired and sadly depleted forces of the victorious LEF gathered around him, raising their Adrian helmets in salute, cheering madly:

“Hurrah! St George and the Right Reverend the Archbishop of Canterbury! Death to Arrowsmith! We’ll get him next time! And present you with his dentures! Ludlow and the Bishop! Hurrah!

Having lost the shelter and security of Eardisley, Captain Arrowsmith must now face a long Herefordshire
 winter in the open - before the next Big Game. Those gold topped ivory dentures will soon be chattering
 faster than a gaggle of "Long Lost Friends" at the Hereford Womens' Institute. Oh dear, how sad.
We shall say a prayer for him, of course. Just as soon as we've finished toasting this nice warm muffin.....
(Note : the Ludlow Casualty Rolls reveal the high cost of victory. Aside from the massacred Lancers, almost two full sections of infantry were lost in the final assault on Eardisley. The remaining infantry section might now be promoted to veterans, but the LEF clearly require reconstitution whilst in winter quarters. The Bishop has received news of the completion of an Armoured Car Squadron in intended replacement of the lost Lancers. But he may have to return the 75mm to the workshops for re-boring of its barrel, and rely upon recently recruited Scots mercenaries to make up his heavy infantry losses. Only time will tell….)