Sunday, 17 December 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Autumn Big Game 2017 (PART FOUR)

"Good news!" Cousin Verity of the Verity LDV had gatecrashed the Commanders' Conference, grinning from ear to ear. "I've made a little local truce with Councillor Cracknutt!"

Mid-sentence, the Bishop's jaw dropped open. Just as he had been about to outline his plan for the inevitable destruction of the Royalist forces....somehow he managed to recover his composure. Commandant Lasalle looked equally thunderstruck. There was a low growl of disapproval from the gathered Anglican staff officers. Loud firing and the sound of explosions from Storm Leader Giles' "Rural Redoubt" told everyone that he was already under sharp attack from the "true traitor", Captain Morgan, and his forces. The issue was clearly in substantial doubt.

"A deal authorised by his commander, Storm Commander Giles, presumably? Or is Councillor Cracknutt equally as insubordinate?" The Bishop gave Verity his best stern look.

"Oh no" grinned Cousin Verity, oblivious. "Just between us. We thought we'd have a crack at those Communists, you see, instead of each other. Giles has no idea of the plan just yet."

"Sacre bleu!" Commandant Lasalle exploded into a volley of gallic oaths.

"Well," said the Bishop, "then at least we are not bound." As if on queue, the LEAF's mortar fired another round, dropping neatly into Councillor Cracknutt's much beloved section of hockey stick waving schoolgirls. A sharp shriek told the conference it had found at least one target.

"M'sieu..." Commandant Lasalle was clearly struggling to contain himself as he sought to persuade Cousin Verity. "M'sieu.......les Noirs.......c'est un opportunite d'or! C'est l'opportunite de la guerre entiere!" He gestured towards the scattered command maps, illustrating the hopelessness of Councillor Cracknutt's tactical position. "Cet offre de n'est pas fou - il est desespere!"

Verity looked stubborn, insisting mutinously, "Well, we both want to have a crack at those Commies.".

"Have you not this morning taken the Oath of Stubborn Loyalty, sir? And are you not," enquired the Bishop icily, "a relation of staunch Captain Verity, true Anglican and courageous allied commander of the Forces of Ludlow in our past engagements?"[1]

"That's so," shrugged Cousin Verity, still grinning. "But, don't you know, I've always been rather the black sheep of the family?"

The Bishop sighed. Verity was clearly unpersuadable. Without the co-operation of the still unengaged Verity LDV, all of the Anglican plans for the complete destruction of the Royalist forces were unworkable. Commandant Lasalle had thrown down his kepi in disgust, and was busy jumping up and down on its flattened khaki remains in a vain attempt to control his anger.

The Command Telephone rang. It was Storm Commander Giles' Signals Section, now passing on an authorised offer of temporary truce. The gathered staff officers burst into laughter, joining in a spontaneous chorus of "Robin Hood....Robin Hood...."[2]

"Well, I'm not going to fight Cracknutt...." Cousin Verity shuffled backward, pouting.

The Bishop raised his crozier, calming the assembled staff. "It's no good, I'm afraid. It is, as it always has been, in the Hands of God. The Verity LDV will left wheel and head towards the ungodly forces of Winter's Communists. We shall maintain a watching brief upon this so-called temporary truce, for as we all know, the word of a Fascist can hardly be said to be the word of a gentleman...."

And so it was that, having spent all morning marching towards Councillor Cracknutt's forces, the Verity LDV spent all afternoon marching towards Comrade Commissar Winter's forces - as it turned out, in an ultimately vain attempt to "get into action".

But more of Cousin Verity and LDV later, for all eyes were now focussed on the staunch left flanking Brichester LDV, the Anglican's first line of defence against the forces of the Faithless Communists. The Command Conference adjourned to the upstairs rooms of the Gardener's Cottage for a better view of the new battlefield.

"Goodness, sir" A staff officer was straining through his binoculars. "Goodness me. I really do believe that Winter's going to try it."

A long shot of the afternoon battlefield. As the Brichester LDV deploy in the right foreground (supported
by a section of Ludlow Infantry on the cricket field behind) the slavering hordes of Godless Communism
gather for one almighty infantry charge across endless open ground. In the right background can be seen
Captain Morgan's last reserves, the Hereford Police Watch Committee, reinforcing the North Herefordshire
 LDV's continuous attacks against Storm Commander Giles WYRD forces.
A horde of Communist infantry - all that Winter could muster from his own forces - appeared over a slight crest and began a long distance charge towards the dug in Brichester LDV. Comrade Gollumroo's field gun unlimbered to provide artillery support, but his infantry seemed suspiciously more sluggish in advance. ("Oh yeth, yeth, vethy good, this way we don'th get shot up like Winter's lot, yeth....we justh blow things up from a safe distance, oh yeth, hehehehe...mebbe I take over aftersh....hehe.....")

"Three platoons against three platoons, sir. No roads, and an awfully long way to go, too....all over open ground against troops behind hard cover. I don't fancy Winter's odds at all." There was a murmur of general agreement amongst the Anglican staff. "And of course we can use our Somua in support, Verity's on his way, and all of our platoons are still in reserve...."

A sudden buzzing alerted everyone to the source of Comrade Commissar Winter's confidence - a ground attack by the hitherto unknown Red Air Force! [3]

The Red Air Force introduce themselves to the Hereford VBCW. Below can be seen the Brichester LDV
deploying into strong positions within a walled enclosure, and the Bishop's Somua in support.
Disaster! A strafing attack on the Brichester LDV causes ground casualties, but the Red Aircraft
is riddled by return fire. As a 1/1 scale ground observer passes a silent commentary upon
proceedings, the Red Aircraft turns over and starts to dive downward, on fire and out of control.....
The smoking remains of the Red Aircraft. The forces of Storm Commander Giles take a minute's break
from their woody warfare to observe the results of the Brichester LDV's firepower.
The Bishop eyed the smoking remains of the once proud Red Air Force. "That" he said, "would seem to be that."

But still the Communist infantry came on, no doubt conscious of Winter's NKVD machine guns behind them. (although the Ecclesiastical Intelligence Service have since discovered that the NKVD machine guns were also positioned behind Winters himself.)

"Je crois que le NKVD - c'est preferable, n'est-ce pas?" joked Commandant Lasalle, as the Brichester LDV opened up on the advancing horde.

"They shall come on in the old way." said the Bishop. "And we shall see them off in the old way. I think I can leave this with you, my dear Commandant. I have a sermon to write."

And so it was that the afternoon was dominated by two great battles : the forces of "the true traitor", Captain Morgan, in a heavily forested death struggle with Storm Commander Giles on the right, and the forces of the faithless Winters against the gallant Brichester LDV on the left. As Councillor Cracknutt hurried to support his Storm Commander (encouraged by the LEAF's Behemoth Destroyers warily shadowing his armoured forces from behind, just in case), Cousin Verity slogged across the battlefield by way of promised aid to Brichester. Save for the engagement of the LEAF Somua in support of the Brichester LDV, and the readying of reserves, it could be truly said that the Bishop's forces remained "the calm, still centre of a turning world".

On the right, The Battle in the Woods. Fascists vs Cricketers and Policemen
On the left, the Communist Horde meet Professor Campbell's Marvellous Mechanical Man in close combat.... the long files of the Verity LDV advance forward in support. Cousin Verity's "Lunchtime Purchase" of
The News of the World 1938 Competition Winners infantry section can be seen towards the top of
the photograph, denoted by their outsize patriotic flag.
"News, gentlemen?" The Bishop had emerged from the Gardener's Cottage towards the late afternoon, the first draft of his sermon satisfactorily completed. The Anglican staff officers gathered round.

"It seems that Captain Morgan has bought it, sir - sometime earlier this afternoon. The North Hereford LDV then came under the command of a NKVD Commissar, but it seems he went west shortly thereafter. Goodness knows what's happening within those woods really; seems that Storm Commander Giles has been wounded, too [4]. Councillor Cracknutt's forces are just going in now."

"Any infractions of this afternoon's truce ?"

"None at all, sir. A pleasure to deal with Cracknutt, especially after Comrade Gollumroo. I don't think I could have coped with much more of that slobbering..."

"Yes, I see. And how fares Brichester?"

"Heavy casualties, sir. Gollumroo's 18 pdr has been particularly effective this afternoon. But rock solid, Brichester, and the first wave of the Communist charge has been decimated. I don't think Winter can have a lot left, frankly. And the Verity LDV are now finally moving into the front line, relieving Brichester's positions. We still have all of our forces in reserve, of course, but the light will clearly go very shortly. The Reds are obviously played out."


"What ho, Bishop!" A cheery wave from Cousin Verity, continuing his tradition of insouciance as he sauntered past. "Just off to take on those Commies, a little later than I thought, but there we are. Ta-ra now!"

It was but a minute later, and but a 100 yards down the roadway, that the sky darkened directly over Cousin Verity and his entire Headquarters Section, including his medic and Standard Bearer [5]. The Bishop saw Verity glance up in surprise and shock, just as he and the entire Verity HQ disappeared in a blinding flash and roll of explosive thunder and smoke. Comrade Gollumroo's 18pdr had struck once again, leaving the Verity LDV leaderless. Hehehe...yeth! [6]

"The judgment of the Almighty" murmured the Bishop, regarding three pairs of smoking Lobbs' boots and Verity's empty suede loafers rather dubiously. "One of you staff chaps will have to take over command of that LDV...."

But night was already falling. The twin battles of the afternoon were coming naturally to an end. On the right, Councillor Cracknutt's fresh forces finally expelled the last remnants of the North Herefordshire LDV from the Rural Redoubt. On the left, Comrade Winters had finally run out of Communist lives to throw away heedlessly, and Comrade Gollumroo's "second wave" seemed disinclined to make any forward progress. As the remains of the Royalist forces retired southward in some kind of order, the Battle of Berrington Approaches was over.

But not for the evening editions of Ludlow's newspapers, which could add yet more dramatic headlines:







Postcript: The groaning figure of Storm Commander Giles lay on the makeshift operating table set up in the grand dining room of Berrington Hall, now a casualty clearing station. The BUF Surgeon Commander eyed his thigh wound dubiously. "This will never do" he said to the assembled medical team. "We'll have to cut off those damned green tights before anything else..." Giles levered himself up on one elbow. "Don't put me out! No anaesthetic! I've got to report to de Braose before anyone else gets the chance! It's a matter of life or death!" He groaned and settled back once more. A nurse approached  with some surgical scissors. "Now, now, Commander, this will only take a minute...."

The lights went OUT. The operating theatre was plunged into utter darkness. "I'm afraid its the electricity company, Surgeon Commander" muttered one of his juniors. "What with the collapse of the Bank, they've gone right ahead and cut us off......"

[1]. The staunch Captain Verity had fought alongside the Ludlow Expeditionary Force and the illustrious Golden Valley Invincibles of Sir Gilbert Hill at the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge.
[2]. In the famous Ludlow musical hall version, of course : "....loved by the bad, routed by the good, Robin Hood, Robin Hood...." Pantomime hissing upon each stage entrance of "Robin de Giles" is considered de rigeur. A "long run" of every revival is always predicted - and inevitably achieved.
[3]. The first use of battlefield air power since Captain Arrowsmith's Fiat CR32 at the Battle of Foy. The famous Anglican 366 Squadron are, of course, well known in the skies above Hereford, but have yet to make a battlefield appearance.
[4]. It seems that Storm Commander Giles was wounded in the left thigh. Wags in Ludlow put the wound slightly higher and rather more central, but the EIS have discounted this rumour. While sniggering, of course.
[5]. While this may be taken as a traditional sign of "bad omen" in the 1/60 scale VBCW world, in the 1/1 scale VBCW world it arises upon an opaqued artillery template being placed directly over the heads of the immediate target. Comrade Gollumroo's 18pdr had saved up one last surprise....
[6]. Comrade Gollumroo (Roo) must clearly have temporarily forgotten the rule that "HQs cannot be deliberately targetted by artillery". With no protest from Cousin Verity (Gavin), however, the Bishop (Clive) found his biography of Nelson at the Battle of the Nile truly diverting reading...
[7]. According to the scenario, each of the main factions (Socialist, Royalist/BUF, Anglican) had their own "bank" with which to pay LDVs that had been recruited in the morning session. However, one of the Banks was to "fail" at the end of the game, leaving the relevant LDVs without payment. A simple dice off between Comrade Winters (Rob), Storm Commander Giles (Giles) and the Bishop of Ludlow (Clive) at the end of the afternoon determined that Royalist Bank of England had catastrophically failed and the British Pound was now worthless. Truly not a lucky day for Giles...

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Autumn Big Game 2017 (PART THREE)


As the Bishop contentedly tucked into his beef and horseradish sandwiches, followed by a substantial slice of fruitcake [1] and cup of honest English tea, even as Storm Commander Giles tried out his karaoke "Robin Hood" impression deep within his dark and bosky den [2], the umpires met.

["We've got to do something", said Umpire Clive, puffing anxiously on an umpteeth cigarette. "The whole thing's just too unbalanced now, and we've all afternoon to go." Umpire Roo agreed, but in a strangely hesitant and non-committal fashion. A variety of options were considered, none of which found ready agreement. "Well" ventured Umpire Clive reluctantly, "I suppose we could ask Rob (Comrade-Commissar Winters) if he wouldn't mind, just to help us out, you know, kind of becoming completely over-confident after his early victory at Kington, putting aside the long standing Anglican/Socialist anti Fascist alliance for a while, and having a go at everyone from the flank?" At this suggestion, a very strange thing happened. Umpire Roo's body suddenly shortened and spasmed, his skin greyed, eyes growing to blood shot and jaundiced saucers, his hair fell out to a mere wisp, and suddenly the mishapen result was chittering: "Oh yeth, yeth, oh yeth..." It was Comrade Gollumroo in the flesh. "Oh yeth, my precious...we'd decided thath, we were going to do thath anywayth...." The appalling vision slimed and skittered back into the Hall, leaving an astonished Umpire Clive to contemplate the likely afternoon's play...]

The headlines of Ludlow's various afternoon newspapers now screamed their own story:








"It seems to me" said the Bishop, carefully wiping the very last crumb of delicious fruitcake from his lips, "that we can still achieve the victory...."

Rumour and counter-rumour had flooded into Anglican Headquarters over lunch. "The Reds", heedless of strategy and faithless to previous treaty understandings, were evidently "on the march", for their cavalry were already skirmishing forward under the outward pretence of "bringing a message for the Bishop".[4] Commandant Lasalle excitedly leaned forward over his stack of battle-maps. "Mai oui, M'sieu L'Eveque! C'est certainement! Voyez ici...."

His stubby finger traced out the Anglican options. On the right, having spent the whole morning marching, the Verity LDV were at last coming into a position to assault Councillor Cracknutt's forces. The LEAF Behemoth Destroyers, despatched at the request of Cousin Verity, were poised to destroy such armour as the Councillor had in support - the "Little Italian Tank" and a consistently "wheelspinning" (Not Very) Armoured Car - and then wheel round behind the LDV's sole (armoured) artillery piece, squeezing Councillor Cracknutt's forces into "a pocket of destruction" hard up against Storm Commander Giles' Rural Redoubt.

Or not, as the case may be. On the A49 itself, the hitherto unused infantry sections of the LEAF and a plethora of armour and armoured cars provided a ready alternative strategy. The heavily armoured Somua behemoth idled at the cross-roads, waiting for orders. An armoured car of the Verity LDV, and two armoured cars of the Brichester LDV were on hand to "lead a charge" down the road against the solitary "Wyrd Force" armoured car. Another round or two from the LEAF mortar would put paid to the AT gun and MMG (whose crews had already suffered losses), and the remaining infantry forces of Councillor Cracknutt and Storm Commander Giles (heavily engaged  in the Rural Redoubt, suffering enormous losses, against the forces of Councillor Morgan) would be fatally split asunder.....

"Mais les Rouges, M'sieu L'Eveque...." Commandant Lasalle chewed frantically on his cheroot, calculating time and distance. The two Platoons of Commissar Winters had a very long way to go before reaching the flank defences of the Ludlow forces; in any event, the defending Brichester LDV Platoon, already known to be stout hearted, were well dug in : a direct charge would cause appalling Socialist casualties."Non, c'est parfait." considered the Commandant finally. "Nous finissons contre les Noirs, et apres, les sales Rouges!"

Command Decision - the Bishop takes a moment to contemplate his options.
A flank attack by the Verity LDV, squeezing the "Government" forces into
a deathtrap, or an A49 charge, splitting them asunder ? Truly a moment of destiny.
Lunchtime was over....[and the post lunchtime auction of additional forces took place, using the new campaign cash rules. Cousin Verity invested in "The News of the World 1938 Competition Winners", a bowler hatted and umbrella waving infantry section; Commissar Winters supplemented his infantry forces with the BBC Light Entertainment Concert Party, and Captain Morgan, to demonstrate his absolute fidelity to his new masters went all in and spent the very last of his cash reserves on the well-trained Herefordshire Watch Committee]....and the Bishop had made his final decision.

[1] as prepared by Mrs Miggins. Regular listeners to the Bishop's Broadcasting Service will already be familiar with the daring escape from Hereford of this well known society confectioner, but newcomers can read the full tale HERE
[2] reportedly "in full costume", including a tiny tricorne and green tights. The Amalgamated Society of Music Hall Comedians would like to thank Storm Commander Giles for keeping them in business, and the whole of Ludlow in gales of laughter at the tale....
[3]. the Chancellor of All Ludlow, the Rev. Duff-Postin, had been conducting lengthy negotiations with the Socialist (Very Broad) Front, as recorded in detail HERE. It has since turned out that Eustace Spode safely evacuated the supposed "Little Hereford Pocket" (in order to attend the County Golf Challenge), while evidently the Rev Duff-Postin, when singing "The Internationale" with Comrade Red Robbo, was simply negotiating with the wrong type of socialist. In any event, the worthy Reverend's "detente" policy has undoubtedly collapsed by reason of Comrade-Commissar Winter's battlefield betrayal of the Bishop.
[4]. a flimsy excuse that stood no hope of being believed. The Red cavalry were nearly all mown down by Storm Commander Giles' MMG in any event, the few remaining, being unable to produce "The PASSWORD" were given a metal jacketed .303 Brichester LDV message from the Bishop to "Ogre" Winters. Thus perished the first of the Red attacks upon the Bishop's lines....

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Autumn Big Game 2017 (PART TWO)

The early part of "The Battle of Berrington Approaches" (as it has subsequently become known) was one of quiet maneouvre. The Ludlow forces captured the strategically important "A49 intersection" without incident, and the Bishop, as ever leading from the front, established his "Forward Command Post" in the grounds of the "Gardener's Cottage". While the Behemoth Destroyers, in support of Cousin Verity's LDV, stalked Councillor Cracknutt's "Little Italian Tank" and "(Not Very) Armoured Car" on the right flank, the Anglican mortar's firebase was established in the walled grounds of the Gardener's Cottage, and the weapon made ready to fire...
The Bishop's Forward Battle HQ at the Gardener's Cottage. To the left, the A49 intersection and the first
appearance of the Brichester LDV's secret weapon - Doctor Campbell's "Marvellous Mechanical Man".
In the distance, the forces of Councillor Cracknutt and an advance by the "Gnat" AT Rifle.
It was on the fields of Kington, however, that the true action of the morning took place. Whether suffering from a rush of blood to his (very bald) head, or whether McCavity, his chauffeur, had difficulty in selecting the correct gear, Sir Alan McGuffin's behemoth suddenly jolted into a very enthusiastic, but very solitary, charge towards the oncoming forces of Comrade Commissar Winters....

Fore! Sir Alan's armoured charge begins...but what are those chaps nearly under his tracks up to?
(Photographs Courtesy of "Red Star" Picture Agency)
a charge that lead to an unexpectedly swift disaster.....

Socialist (Broad Front) Terror Bombers in action!

Boom! The open topped Behemoth is grenaded into a smoking mess!
....the swift and explosive death of McCavity the chauffeur and the entire Club Committee (still trying to follow the instruction manuals, they had clearly not kept a watch out for insurgents) and the shameful capture of Sir Alan and a badly wounded MacCaddie. [1]

Nothing daunted by such an early reverse (indeed perhaps prompted by it), Captain Morgan immediately announced that he was in fact, beyond peradventure and without a shadow of a doubt, "An Outright Traitor" to the Royalist cause and promptly joined forces with the Socialist (Very Broad) Front!

[Craig read out the following "Umpire's Luxurious Sealed Envelope Character Instruction" :




DOGGEDLY LOYAL. “You have reached a deal with your Faction Commander and will absolutely honour it - without question, come what may - to the end of the day. I say, what a chap! We’re afraid you don’t get any bonuses, but then you don’t get any penalties, either. Well done!”


This is what you tell your Faction Commander and fellow players, but it is completely UNTRUE. You are in fact an OUTRIGHT TRAITOR. No-one knows this but you - not the present “Opposition” nor even the “Umpires”. Reveal yourself and join “the other side” when you wish at any stage during the course of the game after the first two moves by stating “My Luxurious Envelope has given me new instructions, and I am in fact a black hearted traitor who will now make common cause with the other side - bye, bye, suckers!”  If you shoot your former friends in the back at the same time, or otherwise act with ingenious evility, you will get extra Umpire acclaim.



Such a dramatic turn of events completely over-shadowed the methodical preparations of the Anglican forces for their own afternoon assault. The Bishop's mortar had begun popping away, despatching crew members of Storm Leader Giles' MMG and AT Gun at frequent intervals. It would only be a matter of time before both were destroyed, or pulled back out of action. On the right, Cousin Verity's LDV plodded on, getting ready to flank the forces of Councillor Cracknutt. On the left, the Brichester LDV happily ensconced themselves in a walled field redoubt, ready for anything...

And "ready for anything" was the watchword for lunchtime. Storm Leader Giles had blanched visibly as Captain Morgan had declared his traitorous intent, reducing the "Government" forces, already in a minority, to a mere six Platoons against (now) eighteen of the combined Opposition. Air Reconnaissance reported that the Socialists were "well beyond their seige lines, spilling over the Kington plains without the slightest opposition"[3]. Quite what Lord de Braose, Governor of the Marches, would make of such news in due course....Storm Leader Giles could feel the blindfold being placed over his eyes, the sharp words of command to the black-clad firing squad....and to make matter worse, Councillor Cracknutt was now to be heard muttering about "the necessity of an orderly retirement" and delivering himself of the opinion that "Bugger Christmas! This is all going to be over by lunchtime!"

Clearly, Lord de Braose was (as ever) completely out of touch, for Anglican radio intercepts promptly delivered to the Bishop his "Order of the Day", promoting the embattled Storm Leader to Storm Commander.[4] The newly promoted Fascist Leader, now under sharp attack on the right from Captain Morgan at the head of his enthusiastically traitorous LDV - and about to suffer a death-knell advance by the now overwhelmingly superior Anglican forces - did the only thing that he could, and promptly dived into the available tree cover.

A pre-game view of the A49 Battlefield - before the mountain to the right, by God's mercy, was excavated
from the table to leave a plain. Lacking the Alps, Storm Commander Giles intended to use the foreground woods
 as a "Rural Redoubt". This panorama also provides a fine view of the A49 itself, the Gardeners Cottage
(as quickly occupied by the Bishop), and the walled enclosure, as occupied by the Brichester LDV.
With the ashen faced Storm Commander reduced to playing "hide and seek", and Councillor Cracknutt's LDV about to perform their "orderly retirement" before the oncoming forces of the Verity LDV, what now for the future of the Herefordshire VBCW ?

[1]. Radio Moscow has broadcast that MacCaddie was killed along with the rest of the Behemoth crew. This announcement was clearly subject to be battlefield confusion, and premature. MacCaddie lives!
[2]. This was all supremely bad luck for Storm Commander Giles. The odds of a traitor appearing on the battlefield at all were 5%, and consequently, the odds of a traitor to the Fascist cause were somewhere around 1.25% - 2.5%.
[3]. As indeed they were. With the defection of Captain Morgan and the Herefordshire LDV, the Government now had no defending forces at all on the fields of Kington.
[4]. highly reminiscent, as it turned out (and using an example from the alternate timeline) of Hitler's promotion of von Paulus to Field Marshall at Stalingrad. No Storm Commander had yet surrendered to the enemy in Herefordshire's VBCW....could Storm Commander Giles now "hold out"?

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Autumn Big Game 2017 (PART ONE)

The day of the battle dawned bright and clear, as days of battle tend to do. After a short interregnum to campaigning [1] as the contending parties gathered their respective strengths, the gallant Bishop of Ludlow now renewed his "A49 Thrust" southward towards Herefordshire's "second city" - LEOMINSTER - in careful co-ordination with the "Socialist (Very Broad) Front" forces of Captain-Commissar Winter, survivor of the Second Battle of Ledbury, which forces were intent on breaking the long-standing "Government" siege lines around the Socialist/Welsh Nationalist stronghold of KINGTON.

The headlines of Ludlow's various morning newspapers told their own story:








Anticipating the ever-present BUF Behemoth of Captain Arrowsmith [1] in the path of his "A49 Thrust", the Bishop of Ludlow had, since the Battle of Brimfield, taken much good advice from a number of the more forward thinking senior officers of the British Army (inevitably discharged by Edward on his accession) who had been previously responsible for the Army Experimental Mechanized Force exercises in 1928 - 1933. Accordingly, in the few weeks since the "Two Bishops' Victory" at Brimfield, a new Ludlow offensive force had been assembled under conditions of strictest secrecy at the Bishop's Industrial Park and Experimental Proving Grounds - the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force (aka the supremely aggressive sounding "LEAF").. Regular listeners to the Bishop's Broadcasting Service will already be familiar with the Steve-Austin Somua (now in a re-engined Mark II version), the LEF's "Crusader" armoured trucks, and even the tiny and unarmed "Locust" armoured observation vehicle of the LEF's Mortar Support Platoon [2]. To this the Bishop had added a "Gnat", a small armoured vehicle carrying an AT rifle, together with two examples, as purchased from "Elstree Industries", of an entirely new class of weaponry - the fully tracked "Behemoth Destroyers".

A "Gnat" class Anti Tank Rifle Carrier of the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force...
...followed by Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force Behemoth Destroyers, manufactured by Elstree Industries.
Whether it be pure chance - or the product of BUF cowardice - will be a matter for future historians. As the day of battle dawned bright and clear, it became apparent that Captain Arrowsmith and his famed behemoth were nowhere to be seen (it is suggested by "Government sources" that Captain Arrowsmith was 'conducting staff conversations with Mussolini", but the Ecclesiastical Intelligence Services know better). Facing the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force was instead a motley collection of "Government" forces under the overall command of Storm Leader Giles, last seen at The Battle of Bredwardine Fords and recently seconded from the infamous BUF "Three Counties Legion" to the command of the grandiosely titled "Wyvern Defence Force" (aka "Wyrd Force").

The market power of the Ludlow groat ["campaign cash" rules were being used for the first time and the LDVs had to be "persuaded" to support a faction, such persuasion usually involving the distribution of "alms to the needy", as the Bishop persisted in calling it], obviously combined with the impressive appearance of the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force, had brought two LDV platoons to the Anglican cause - the newly arrived (and rather scary) "Brichester LDV" (James) and the "Verity LDV" of Cousin Verity (Gavin), apparently a relation of the staunch Captain Verity, a notable Anglican commander at The Battle of Bredwardine Bridge. To the west, on the battlefield of Kington, Captain-Commissar Winter had recruited a single LDV, that of Comrade Gollumroo (the precise origin of this surname will be revealed in due course).

On the "other side of the hill", however, the logistical strain of seeking to hold back the tide of righteous anger against "the Government" right across the County of Herefordshire had finally become apparent : Storm Leader Giles had managed to recruit only two LDVs to support his "Wyrd Force" and cover both fields of battle - taking the central position himself, Giles positioned Captain Morgan and his Hereford LDV (Craig) to defend the lines at Kington, while Councillor Walter Cracknutt and his Wormelow Tump LDV (Alan) were deputed to defend the Brimfield/Berrington A49 area.

"Nom d'un chien!" Commandant Lasalle, as ever commanding the French supplied forces of Ludlow, could hardly contain his excitement, bouncing up and down on the box seat of the Command Car. "C'est cinq a trois. C'est un desastre pour les noirs!!" (the Commandant's most polite term for the black uniformed BUF). In a bloodthirsty gesture, he slowly drew a finger over his throat. "C'est fini, mon cher!!"

"Now, now, my dear Commandant" the Bishop sighed."Let us not be too hasty. There is much work to be done. It is all in God's hands."

As if to confirm the Bishop's caution, a pile of intercepts and messages arrived from the Ludlow W/T van. The previous intelligence from the EIS was confirmed : Sir Alan McGuffin, the disgruntled Chairman of the Herefordshire Golf Club, had produced a behemoth of his own to line up with the forces of Captain Morgan on the fields of Kington, while Councillor Cracknutt had acquired a "little Italian tank" to stiffen the A49 Berrington defences. News that Comrade Gollumroo had added an armoured car to his own forces did little to dispel the new air of caution at Anglican HQ [the new "campaign cash" rules had allowed a small pre-game."auction of additional forces" to be held, while Sir Alan McGuffin and his behemoth were a "Special Umpire Bonus to Craig for getting his Platoon Roster in first - and in good order]

Sir Alan McGuffin and his Behemoth. The Club Committee are reading the instruction manuals while
Sir Alan's chauffeur, McCavity, is already revving the engine. Sir Alan's butler, Macaddie, has been
press-ganged into acting as "loader" notwithstanding his polite objections to "manual work".
It definitely pays to get your Platoon Roster in early!
The brave commander of Ludlow's lead Somua stood tall in his turret, waving a gloved hand forward.

"Come on, chaps!" he shouted. "Onward to Leominster! For the County, the Constitution, and the Archbishop of Canterbury!".

The Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force clanked southward down the A49, flanked by a slow moving Brichester LDV on the left [James had the misfortune to have drawn the "Doctor Alzheimer" sealed character envelope, and his forces were somewhat hampered by being both very elderly and very forgetful], and an equally slow moving Verity LDV on the right (open countryside unsuitable for Cousin Verity's lorries and armoured car).

Thus, secure in numerical and technological advantage, the brave Anglican advance from Brimfield began....

The Somua leads off the Ludlow forces from their A49 start line. Behind follow the
Command Car and three Crusader armoured trucks. In the field to the right are the
Gnat AT Rifle and the Ludlow mortar, while further right flank the Behemoth Destroyers
in support of Cousin Verity's forces.
At the other end of the B49, Storm Leader's Wyrd Force faced off against the Bishop. The crew of the solitary
 armoured car are already quaking at the appearance of the Somua; the Storm Leader places his faith in an
 Anti Tank Gun and MMG covering the road. A party of sailors hug the hedgeline, while,  to the left, the
 Armed Schoolgirls of the Wormelow Tump LDV prepare to advance. Councillor Cracknutt is reputedly "most
fond" of every member of his section of schoolgirls. 
The Brichester LDV deploy in the sideroad to the front of the Brimfield Cricket Club and the left of the Bishop's forces. 
[1]. There was no Autumn Big Game 2016. The Spring Big Game 2017 was a "special County event" centred around the Hereford Golf Cup Challenge. This despatch therefore takes place shortly after the "Two Bishops' Battle" at Brimfield
[2], Regularly misidentified by - an obvious misnomer - "Government Intelligence" as "a tank". It was an unintentional benefit of the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force's debut that "Government Intelligence" mis-identified everything that was tracked as "a tank" : an early example, switching time and reality lines, of the well recorded "Tiger-mania" of Normandy 1944.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Hereford1938AVBCW Spring Big Game 2017

News is percolating through to Ludlow of the recent tragic events at Hereford Golf Club. Thankfully, the Bishop does not play golf [1], nor does any decent-thinking clergyman.

The verdict of the Convocation of Ludlow (Ludlow's Upper House):
"We do not play golf."
For those of you (such as the Pretender Edward VIII) who enjoy such frivolous pursuits, an extended broadcast of the events of the day can be found from HERE to HERE.

[1] The 1/1 scale Bishop was umpiring on the Big Day....

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Spring Game 2017 Scenario

The Scenario for the Hereford 1938 AVBCW Spring Game 2017 has been published on the new, continuation, Hereford1938 AVBCW Blog. The Big Day for the Spring Game is set for 1st April 2017, and already places are filling up....

JP's blog, hitherto the central source for all information on the Hereford 1938 campaign, gives the news of some organisational changes "at the top", but the campaign continues. The continuation blog takes up where the original JP blog leaves off....

Thursday, 16 February 2017

"The Price of Kingship" - The Spectator, 4th December 1936

As set out in the VBCW Timeline, the story of King Edward VIII's relationship with Mrs Simpson only broke in the British press on 3rd/4th December 1936. Here is the full text of a leading article in "The Spectator", published on 4th December 1936, headed "The Price of Kingship":

"NO question, as every experienced journalist knows, is more difficult for a responsible journal to decide than the point at which a loyal reticence becomes a conspiracy of silence. The question has for months past been under anxious consideration in every newspaper-office in this country in a particular connexion. During that period the newspapers of the United States and of some of the Dominions have been printing millions of words on a subject on which the British Press has maintained an unbroken silence. Now silence is possible no longer. A sentence in the address of the Bishop of Bradford to his Diocesan Conference on Tuesday is unmistakable in its implications. Speaking, in reference to the Coronation ceremony, of the King's need for God's grace, Dr. Blunt, having manifestly weighed his words, expressed the hope that King Edward was aware of the need, and added "some of us wish that he gave more positive signs of his awareness."

To those who have lived through the reign of King George V that is surprising and disturbing language, and if the Bishop of Bradford had not specific grounds for his criticism of King George's son condemnation of his temerity would be universal. As things are the Bishop will be generally held to have rendered a public service. That it did not become him in particular to render it may no doubt be argued. There arc higher dignitaries in the Church and State to which the task more properly belongs. But no one who has read the leading articles, admirable alike in their firmness and their discretion, which the Bishop's address has inspired in some of the great provincial papers—most notably the Yorkshire Post— can long retain any doubts of the advantage of elevating discussion of the King's affairs, if discussion there must be, from the chatter of railway-carriages and drawing-rooms and clubs to the responsible columns of serious organs of opinion.

For whatever comment is so expressed will be reluctant, respectful and profoundly sympathetic. The King of Great Britain and the Dominions is the servant of his people. His life is not his own but theirs. It is ceaselessly spread before their gaze, and " the fierce light that beats upon a throne " is pitiless. In his self-sacrificing devotion to public duty King Edward upholds the highest traditions of his father, and with no such support and stay as his father drew from an ideal marriage. Set on his lonely eminence the King has a double claim on the affection and loyalty of his people. That claim, it is fair to add, has been honoured to the full. Never did a ruler of these realms ascend the throne more richly dowered. He succeeded to the privileges and obligations of a father who had been the very mould and pattern of a constitutional king, and a king whose unexampled hold on the loyalty and devotion of his subjects sprang before all things from their admiration of a family life which the highest and the lowest of his people could with advantage take as modeL It is to that tradition that King Edward is called on to be scrupulously true. The life of an unmarried king must necessarily in a measure be a life of solitude. None would dream of grudging him the fullest measure of such friendships as lesser men and women find part of the indispensable substance of a rounded life. None would willingly intrude for a moment into such privacy as the exigencies of his high station leave him. But the King, after all, has obligations that his subjects have not. In transferring to him unabated the confidence and affection bestowed on his father the people of these realms counted, and had a right to count, on that fulfilment of a spiritual and unwritten contract in which King George never faltered nor was capable of faltering. Noblesse oblige. Even in kingship there must be sacrifice. Both as prince and monarch King Edward has shown himself conscious to the full of that—never more than in the last few weeks, when his visit to his storm-tossed fleet and his tireless investigation of conditions in South Wales have identified him as never before with every section of his people. 

But something still further is asked of the King. Nothing more is charged against him than a friendship carried to the point of unwisdom with a lady who, till the decree granted in her favour six weeks ago is made absolute, is still married woman. Nothing need be said of that in itself. If it could be regarded as the King's concern alone every paper that has preserved silence so far would preserve it thankfully still. But what would be a private matter for a private citizen may have grave reactions when it involves a king. The person and personality of the sovereign is a factor of inestimable importance in the British Commonwealth of Nations. He is the supreme link between the Dominions and this country. In India above all, knowledge of the ground for any breath of criticism of the King-Emperor would have disastrous consequences. Demands almost as terrible in their rigour are made on the sovereign of these Dominions. They are not made lightly. There is no stint of generous sympathy with a King called on to observe standards set remorselessly high, which any of his subjects can transgress with relative impunity. But he is not asked for an unrequited sacrifice. If he so sets his course, and orders his associations, as to retain the homage and loyalty which the people of Britain and her Dominions have bestowed in their amplitude on his father, he has a reward as no other living man, and few in any age, could enjoy.

There may be something on which he sets an even higher price than that. If so, his decision would be received on public grounds with deep regret. On private grounds it could command nothing but sympathy and respect. Times change. The creation of new precedents cause no consternation. Restraints on a sovereigns choice of consort become increasingly distateful. But that question can be regarded as one for himself alone, in which his Ministers and his people have no part, is more than can be conceded. That is the price of kingship. The personality of the Queen and the mother of the King's children and heirs is a matter of supreme public concern."

VBCW The Far Right and the Air

Dr. Brett Holman of the University of New England (confusingly situated in New South Wales) and the author of "The Next War in the Air : Britain's Fear of the Bomber 1908-1941" (Routledge 2017) has published an interesting historical piece ("The Far Right and the Air") in his blog (Airminded : Airpower and British Society 1908-1941 (mostly)). It is well worth a read for a background to some part of VBCW aerial affairs, containing this graphic to illustrate the links between air development and a variety of British far-right groups (and individuals): 

Dr Brett Holman : "The Far Right and the Air"

Dr. Holman's article clearly covers the ground only up to the outbreak of our own Very British Civil War, and hence it does not - obviously - identify the notoriously air-minded BUF Captain Arrowsmith and his close relationship with Mussolini's Regia Aeronautica:

Air Support for Captain Arrowsmith's BUF at the Battle of Foy - a sure
sign of his inversely strained relationship with the Royalist RAF

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

What Would They Have Done ? Hereford City Council, November 1935

Hereford City Council (Mayor Philip Gwynne James) 9th November 1935

There is a useful convention amongst gamers of the "Very British Civil War" that "real life" people should not become characters in "the game". That does not stop speculation about the course that well-known individuals of the day, such as a Churchill or an Attlee, may have taken had they been presented with a constitutional crisis in the form of Edward VIII refusing to abdicate, accepting the resignation of Baldwin's Government, and then appointing Mosley as "the King's Prime Minister". The relevant question is always speculative: "What Would They Have Done?"

The same question, for the purposes of the Hereford1938 campaign, can be asked of those who were in local government at the time. Here is a particularly interesting photograph of Hereford City Council on Saturday, 9th November 1935, illustrating those local worthies who would have had difficult decisions to make in the event of a national Constitutional Crisis but a year later, in December 1936. 

1935's Mayor, Philip Gwynne Jones, sits in the centre of the photograph. To his left sits the Town Clerk, whom we know was the long serving Mr Feltham (Town Clerk, 1929 - 1960). The City Sword Bearer is in evidence, as are what appear to be mace or cup bearers (or "Liveried Men") in top hat and long-tailed uniform. Although, no doubt in a concession to "modernity", the City Councillors appear to have abandoned dress bicornes; and otherwise matters seems to have become slightly more "informal", relatively little has changed from a similar photograph of the City Council in 1915:

Although this photograph is labelled "1914-1915", the very large poster on the right (behind another "Liveried Man") calls upon the citizens of Hereford to "Remember the Lusitania", a liner which was torpedoed (with the loss of nearly 1,200 civilian lives) by the German U Boat, U-20, on 7th May 1915. A similar detail can be picked out from the 1935 photograph, taken only two days before Remembrance Day. Most of the Town Council wear "poppies" (probably the vast majority do, but in some cases they are hidden by their gowns), albeit it is clear that such "poppies" have not achieved the standardised design of today's Remembrance poppies. A number of medals are in evidence (particularly by the Sword Bearer), no doubt from the Great War.

As interesting, the faces staring out from the 1935 photograph are all (probably) deeply and immediately involved in a General Election Campaign (it is not known whether City Councillors at this point maintained the old tradition of standing on their own merits, or under a party label; whatever the case, no doubt the vast majority had a party affiliation). The following Thursday, 14th November 1935, the country went to the polls. The National Government, by now lead by Stanley Baldwin rather than Ramsay McDonald, enjoyed a substantial victory, gaining 429 seats in the House of Commons (Conservative, 387; National Liberal, 33; National Labour, 8; Nationalist 1) against a combined Opposition of 186 seats (Labour, 154; Liberal, 21; Independent Labour Party, 4; Nationalist, 2; Independent Nationalist, 2; Independent, 2; Communist, 1). The victory nevertheless masked, in part, a fall in turnout (down 5.3% to 71.1%), a fall in the number of Conservative seats (down 83 seats from 1931) and a swing to Clement Attlee's Labour Party (7.4%). It could not mask, however, the verdict on Ramsay McDonald's decision in 1931 to form a National Government at the expense of the non-Conservative parties - McDonald lost his own seat at Seaham (County Durham - losing by more than 20,000 votes to Emmanuel Shinwell), and the Leader of the National Liberals, Sir John Simon, only won his constituency (Spen Valley in the West Riding of Yorkshire) by a slender 642 votes. Both parties were effectively destroyed in the 1935 General Election (after a short interregnum, Ramsay McDonald's son, Malcolm, assumed leadership of National Labour upon his victory in the Ross & Cromarty by-election in 1936; the defeated candidates included the Unionist, Randolph Churchill, son of Winston) : the National Labour Committee was wound up just before the General Election of 1945, and the National Liberals "merged" with the Conservative Party, at least at constituency level, in May 1947 (the "Woolton-Teviot Agreement"). The "official" or "opposition" Liberals continued after 1935 under Sir Archibald Sinclair; its former leader, Sir Herbert Samuel, having lost his seat at Darwen (Lancashire), while Clement Attlee's Labour Party was confirmed (with a gain of 102 seats) as the Official Opposition.

All this, of course, was about a week in the future for our 1935 Town Council. How they reacted to the 1935 General Election news is unknown, just as how they would have reacted to the VBCW events of December 1936 and following. We do know, however, the names of the Mayors of Hereford during the VBCW period:

Mayors of Hereford during the period 1935-1945

1935 : Philip Gwynne James
1936 : Louise H. Luard
1937:  Frederick William Allcock
1938 : Harry Percy Barnsley
1939 : Harry Percy Barnsley
1940 : Harry Percy Barnsley
1941 : Harry Percy Barnsley
1942 : R.C. Monkley
1943 : R C. Monkley
1944 : T. Powell
1945 : C.G. Marchant

and can only wish them well in their future VBCW dealings with Lord de Braose, appointed "Governor of the Marches" in 1937 by an unrepentant Edward VIII, and particularly Captain Arrowsmith, the notoriously snarling leader of the BUF's Three Counties Legion.

Real Life Notes : notwithstanding a huge amount of (mostly ill-advised) re-organisation over the years since 1935, there remains today a Mayor and Council of Hereford, still operating from the same Town Hall -

January 2014 - The Mayor and Lady Mayoress wait on the inside steps of the Town Hall
for a distinguished visitor, surrounded by the Sword Bearer (who has by now acquired a
fetching busby in place of the former top hat) and  the"Liveried Men", mostly
 with the usual maces/cups (but now one with a halberd). This is the kind of
 uniform detail needed by the Hereford1938 VBCW modeller!
Greeting HRH Princess Anne on the steps of the Town Hall. The very same steps as the 1915 photograph, but a visit that may very well not have taken place had the VBCW actually occurred some seventy years earlier....

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Great Constitutional Crisis - and the Press

A notorious "gentlemen's agreement", brokered by Lord Beaverbrook, kept the news of the King's relationship with the twice married Wallis Simpson out of the British press until extremely late in the timeline, i.e. 3rd/4th December 1936. The Continental and American press had displayed no such reticence ("King Will Wed Wally!" predicted The New York Journal on the eve of the Simpson divorce in October 1936; "King's Moll Reno'd in Wolsey's home town!" read another American publication immediately after the event). A sermon on 3rd December 1936 by the Bishop of Bradford (aptly named Blunt) broke the dam of self-imposed censorship, and Fleet Street and the provincial press quickly took up their positions:

"The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Daily Herald (after some equivocation) and The Manchester Guardian all proclaimed for the 'constitutional solution' : that the King had either to renounce Mrs Simpson...or abdicate, as did the entire provincial press, with the exception of The Western Mail, and The Spectator. The Daily Mail (whose lead story was headlined "The People Want Their King"), the Daily Express, the Daily Mirror and, rather surprisingly, the non-conformist News Chronicle plumped for a morgantic marriage, as did the New Statesman, with a difficult to follow argument about Mrs Simpson not being Mrs Simpson at all, since her first husband was still alive, so did The Tablet and the Catholic Herald."
                                                          The Thirties-An Intimate History, Juliet Gardiner

Friday, 27 January 2017

VBCW Herefordshire Churches

While Herefordshire's Country Houses are centres of organisation for many of the different VBCW factions within the County, its central Cathedral and 265 outlying churches have particular and obvious importance for the Anglican League. Luckily, a complete database of these historic centres of VBCW resistance (with plentiful photographs but, strangely, without a single mention of their importance in the great struggles of "Hereford 1938") is now available here.

Regular listeners to the Bishop's Broadcasting Service may, for now, be particularly interested in the Church of St Michael's, Brimfield, desecrated by the ungodly Stokkies Joubert at the recent Battle of Brimfield, but now (God be praised!) safe again in Anglican hands. As the victorious Bishops of Lichfield and Ludlow advance deeper into Herefordshire, further church based broadcasts will no doubt follow! 

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Spode "Theatre Map"

An interesting exhibition of de-classified enemy artefacts is now to be found in the foyer of the Ludlow Theatre, reports a special edition of the "Ludlow Leader". Amongst the helmets, Mauser K98 rifles, tattered black shorts and other detritus abandoned in retreat by Spode and his Royalist allies on the field of the Battle of Brimfield, a "theatre map" liberated from Spode's own (overrun) command tent is of particular interest:

Spode's personal "Theatre Map"
Spode's "Theatre Map" may be helpfully contrasted with the "Situation Maps" previously published in the "Ludlow Leader" and analysed in detail in previous broadcasts : see here and here. Ross on Wye, the historic centre of Anglican resistance in Herefordshire (under the command of the charismatic General Jermingham) is helpfully illustrated, as is Pontrilas and Abbey Dore, the home of the Golden Valley Invincibles, commanded by Sir Gilbert Hill. The County of Herefordshire is put in its geographical context, with large areas of neighbouring Monmouthshire (Monmouth, Raglan and Chepstow) being shown, as well as parts of Gloucestershire (the Forest of Dean). The River Severn, scene of the famous Severn Valley campaign, traces its way west to east along the bottom of the Theater Map. It's tributary, the River Wye, ascends south to north.

But wait ! Why does the "Theatre Map" not feature the north and west of the County? Where is Hay on Wye, Leominster, Mortimer Country, the Malverns, Brimfield, indeed Ludlow itself?  Some suggest that the Theatre Map was to guide Spode on a southward march in the event of a coup against the Royalist Governor of the Marches, Lord de Braose, to be mounted by none other than the notorious Captain Arrowsmith and his Three Counties Legion. Others (and this is the majority opinion) suggest a less conspiratorial explanation : Spode simply has no idea where he is.

The Great Constitutional Crisis - and the VBCW

A short timeline of events in 1936/1937 that reduced Great Britain to another Civil War, and form the (alternative) historical background to Herefordshire 1938:

20 January 1936: King George V dies and Edward succeeds him as King.

August 1936: Mrs Wallis Simpson joins the King and other guests for a summer cruise along the Yugoslav, Greek and Turkish coasts. Photographs of the King and Mrs Simpson together are widely published in the American and Continental press, with much speculation about their relationship. Wallis’ American husband, Ernest Simpson, had moved out of their matrimonial home in July.

October 1936: Wallis Simpson installed in a house in Regents Park rented for her by the King.

20 October 1936: The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, confronts the King for the first time over his relationship with Mrs Simpson. The Prime Minister asks the King to conduct the affair more discreetly and to persuade Mrs Simpson to put off her impending divorce proceedings against her husband, but to no avail.

27 October 1936: The Simpsons' divorce case is heard at Ipswich Assizes and a decree nisi is granted. Six months must pass before the divorce becomes absolute; Wallis will then be free to remarry.

16 November 1936: The King sends for his Prime Minister. He tells Baldwin that he wishes to marry Mrs Simpson. Baldwin says that whoever the King married would have to become Queen, and the British public would not accept Mrs Simpson as such. If the King wished to marry Mrs Simpson, he would have to abdicate. If the King wished to remain on the Throne and marry Mrs Simpson against the advice of his ministers, the Government would be forced to resign. A constitutional crisis is about to erupt.

VBCW : King Edward VIII and Prime Minister Baldwin
25 November 1936: The King sends for his Prime Minister again. He wishes to explore with Baldwin the idea of a morganatic marriage to Wallis Simpson, in which he could still be King but she would not be Queen, merely his consort. This would require new legislation in both Britain and the Dominions. Although Baldwin immediately tells the King a morganatic marriage would not be acceptable, the King requests the Prime Minister to further explore the proposal.

27 November 1936: Baldwin raises the issue of a morganatic marriage in the Cabinet, which rejects it outright. It is also then rejected by the governments of the Dominions. The leaders of the Opposition parties in the House of Commons similarly inform Baldwin that they cannot support the King’s marriage to Mrs Simpson, whether morganatic or otherwise.

2 December 1936: Another royal audience for the Prime Minister. Baldwin tells the King that none of his Governments, domestic or Imperial, are willing to agree to a morganatic marriage, and that the King now has three choices: to finish his relationship with Mrs Simpson, to abdicate, or to marry against the advice of his ministers and precipitate the resignation of his Government.

3 December 1936: The story breaks in the British press. Wallis Simpson leaves for France in order to escape the resulting furore. The King tells Baldwin he wants to broadcast an appeal to the nation, putting his problem to them. He hopes this might sway public opinion in favour of his marrying and remaining King. Baldwin states that such a broadcast would be constitutionally impossible.

7 December 1936: The King summons Baldwin to a further audience at Buckingham Palace. Buoyed up by the support of “The King’s Party” of politicians and aristocrats, the King calls Baldwin’s bluff. The King informs Baldwin that he sees no reason to give up his affections for Mrs Simpson or the Throne, and thus would do neither. The Prime Minister tenders his resignation, which is accepted. The remaining Ministers within the Government surrender their seals of office that evening.

10th December 1936: After days of frantic political manoeuvring in which the Leader of the Opposition, the Labour Party’s Clement Attlee, and the Leader of the Liberal Party, Sir Archibald Sinclair, successively refuse the opportunity to form an alternative Government, the King turns to Winston Churchill. Churchill, an old adversary of Stanley Baldwin on the Conservative benches and a prominent member of “The King’s Party” in the preceding days, knows that he has the support of only about 40 members of his own party, and no hope of persuading Attlee or Sinclair to his side. Churchill recognises that any new Government will face inevitable and almost immediate defeat in the House of Commons, followed by a very difficult election campaign in which the Conservative Party will be at least badly divided, perhaps destroyed. The prospect of a Labour Government looms. With a heavy heart, Churchill tells the King that he cannot serve as his Prime Minister.

11th December 1936: In a move of breathtaking political audacity, but reflecting secret negotiations that have been going on for some time, the King sends for Sir Oswald Mosley, a former Member of Parliament and (Labour) minister, now Leader of the British Union of Fascists. The King appoints Sir Oswald as his new Prime Minister, notwithstanding that he is no longer an elected Member of Parliament and that the BUF has no elected representatives in the House of Commons. The constitutional convention that the King’s First Minister is a member of the House of Commons is ignored; the Speaker of the House of Commons is arrested upon a trumped-up charge. Surrounded by senior BUF officers, Mosley stalks into the Chamber waving “the King’s Commission” and delivers a powerful speech, ranting against “the old gang” and supporting the King. Wallis Simpson returns from France and is installed in the King’s week-end retreat at Fort Belvedere.

12th December 1936: Outraged by the King’s tactics and Mosley’s extremist politics, frustrated by the King’s refusal to dissolve Parliament and call an election, members of all sides in both the House of Commons and House of Lords walk out of Parliament behind Churchill and Attlee, sparking major protests against the King and Mosley across the country. The rump Parliament sits on, with those not taking their seats as a protest being recorded as merely absent, and the Mosleyite Government presiding over those representatives who were pro-monarchist or who felt it might still be possible to influence events through what remained of “the usual channels”. The country descends into serious disorder. The King subsequently makes a series of BBC broadcasts in an attempt to calm the public mood, including a famous “Christmas Message”, but these have only a temporary effect upon a populace watching their constitutional democracy, and the “traditional rights of Englishmen”, being destroyed.

VBCW. Churchill and Attlee walk out of Parliament in protest at the King's tactics. The pain of publicly opposing his Monarch is etched across Churchill's face.
February 1937: Faced with increasing civil unrest, the King grants approval for the raising of Auxiliary Constabularies, equipped and structured along military lines and financed by the War Office, who were “to assist and support the regular police authorities in disbanding militant organisations and restoring order”. Such an autocratic gesture is entirely counter-productive, sparking further protests even in previously quiet parts of the country.

12th May 1937: Edward VIII’s Coronation Day. Shots are fired at Edward VIII’s closed car as it turns into Parliament Square on the way to Westminster Abbey. Pandemonium ensues. In a panic, the Metropolitan Police Auxiliary (made up predominantly of BUF members and known as ‘Mosley’s Legion’) begin firing randomly into the crowd. The Guards Regiments lining the route fire on the Auxiliary, and as the King’s car roars off to safety, Parliament Square becomes a battleground. Senior officers restore order only slowly.

13th May 1937: Martial law is declared. Habeas corpus is suspended as Mosley rushes a “Defence of the Realm” Act through the rump Parliament. All major cities are brought under a curfew. On the basis of murky claims of an “Officer’s Plot” and that they had been the ones to open fire on their King, the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards are disbanded. Baldwin is placed under house arrest. The Auxiliaries are given greater powers, and orders under the new “Defence Regulations” to hunt down and detain “enemies of the King”. The Archbishop of Canterbury abandons Lambeth Palace and flees to Canterbury Cathedral. As all the various factions within the opposition arm and fight back, Great Britain descends into its own “Very British Civil War”.

King Edward VIII and the Archbishop of Canterbury in less troubled times.
Notes: Passages in normal type reflect historical events. Passages in italics are based on the first VBCW Sourcebook, co-authored by Dr. Rob Jones, Steven Mortimore and Simon Douglas, and published by Solway Crafts and Miniatures. A little further “embroidery” has been added as appropriate, with only one change: the VBCW Sourcebook has Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson fleeing for their own safety to Madresfield Court, “a stately home near Worcester” in May 1937. As this would bring them uncomfortably close to Herefordshire at a very early stage of the VBCW, it has been thought that this was merely a “cover story” put about to confuse the King’s enemies. Being only too aware of the disastrous historical precedents set by Charles the First in an earlier Civil War (who left London and moved his court to Oxford), and buoyed up by the staunch support of Mosley and his Metropolitan Police Auxiliary, the King and Wallis actually remained in London at the start of the VBCW. On 3rd May 1937, Mrs Simpson's decree of divorce had been made absolute; exactly a month later, on 3rd June 1937, the King finally married Wallis in a "closed and gloomy" Westminster Abbey.