|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".
Friday, 4 December 2015
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").
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)
"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?