After some weeks of relative quiet and calm since his resounding victory at Strangford, weeks which Sir Gilbert put to good use strengthening his volunteers with men and matériel, news of ominous threats to the peace of the Golden Valley began to circulate. To the east of his domain, Anglicans, Royalists, Fascists – even, it was suggested, Socialists, were jostling for power and control. There was talk of an accord between Anglicans and Royalists to hand over the person of the wretched Bishop of Hereford. Sir Gilbert had no interest in the bishop or of who owned his person; if he needed religious expertise, he could call on the ever-co-operative Bishop of Monmouth. What did interest Sir Gilbert was news of Fascist forces operating on the edges of his territory. This violation of the pastoral perfection could not be tolerated. Sir Gilbert prepared to defend hearth and home.
Sir Gilbert’s tranquil borders, under threat from the BUF . Defensive positions prepared in advance to counter any fascist incursions
The final moments of peace before the tranquility is shattered by sounds of war
Sir Gilbert moved his Volunteers with lightning speed to confront the fascists and soon they, in conjunction with an Anglican League detachment, were in position to halt the enemy in their tracks.
Sir Gilbert’s 1st Section (The Golden Valley Labourers and Artisans) and 4th Section (The Abbey Dore Division Police Volunteers) stand ready, supported by the Mk1 Steam Armoured Car and Miss Violet Ironsides, the artillery observer
The 2nd section (Ewyas Harold/Pontrilas WI) stand ready in reserve. Sir Gilbert and his HQ are in the background
Waiting for the enemy
Sir Gilbert and his ally were in position not a moment too soon. A sinister sound was heard – the unmistakeable rattle of tank tracks…! The squat grey monsters lurched into view, one coming directly down the road towards Sir Gilbert’s 4th section whilst two others moved against the Anglican League positions. Behind the tanks came trucks loaded with infantry. Things looked uncertain for the Volunteers and the Anglicans. They had very limited capability against armour. Would they be swept aside?
BUF armour and infantry advance against Sir Gilbert’s positions
BUF artillery is also deployed in the centre whilst more tanks are seen on the right, advancing towards the Anglicans
Sir Gilbert’s Anglican allies holding the right of their joint position
The centre of the Allies’ position. Restitution Trevelyn, artillery observer, is in the circular emplacement whilst behind the barricade are concealed an Anglican sniper and anti-tank rifle team
Emboldened, perhaps, by the proximity of the renowned Sir Gilbert himself, the Anglican League commander decided to advance two sections of infantry towards the oncoming fascists.
Anglican League infantry move up
Ranged against them were BUF infantry and tanks – the latter bristling with cannon and machine guns.
The BUF threat opposite the Anglican League
Meanwhile, the BUF advance in the centre crept menacingly forward.
An intimidating sight
Resolutely opposing the behemoths, the stalwart British bobby…!
Rifles against tanks
Yet more examples of overwhelming BUF strength appeared on Sir Gilbert’s left – the thunder of hooves heralded the arrival of BUF cavalry.
Mounted support for the BUF
Under threat from armour, infantry and cavalry, the 4th section made a controlled withdrawal.
Faces to the enemy, the 4th section re-deploys
The fascist cavalry approach the 1st section
As the BUF tank forced a temporary withdrawal of Sir Gilbert’s men in the centre, fascist infantry began deploying behind the cover it provided.
The BUF seek to consolidate in the centre
Restitution Trevelyn, Sir Gilbert’s artillery observer, saw his chance. Signalling to the Anglican gun which had been seconded to The Volunteers, he brought down a storm of fire upon the deploying enemy infantry. The cover of their vehicle availed them little as shells crashed into their ranks.
BUF infantry cower before the storm of steel
On the right flank of the Allies, the Anglican League infantry moved to support its heavy machine gun which was faced by a mixed armour and infantry attack from the BUF. Also hurled into the fray was the formidable Anglican tank, its comforting presence lifting the morale of the League defenders.
Anglican infantry and armour move against the threat to the right flank
A solid support – the Anglican tank moves up
Faced by the apparently unstoppable tank and the advancing BUF cavalry, Sir Gilbert’s 1st section retired along with the 4th section. The GVR Mk1 Armoured Scout Car (Steam) remained in support, it’s HMG ineffective against the armour but a real deterrent to the cavalry. If only the car could survive the attentions of the tank…! As a sign of Sir Gilbert’s confidence and support of his men, Wrench, the Volunteer’s Standard Bearer rushed to the centre of the action, accompanied by Doctor Bill “Tiny” Savage, the Volunteer’s medical man.
Sir Gilbert’s b utler Wrench, bears the Volunteer’s standard to the thick of the action
Meanwhile, on both flanks, the BUF continued to advance.
BUF cavalry take the Herefordshire hedges in their stride
BUF infantry continue to advance on the Anglicans
In the centre, Sir Gilbert played his last card against the all-conquering BUF tank – he ordered forward the morrismen bomb throwers.
the morrismen bomb throwers advance
But miraculously, the danger was, if not averted, certainly reduced to a manageable level. Because the Anglican League anti-tank rifle team, displaying courage and skill in equal proportions, scored a devastating hit on the rear of the tank as it moved against the Volunteers police section. Although it continued to fire its cannon and machine guns, it was unable to move…!
The heroic anti-tank rifle team disable the fascist tank
With the tank disabled, Sir Gilbert’s infantry were able to stabilise their front. Reinforcements in the attractive shape of the 2nd section (Ewyas Harold/Pontrilas WI) moved forward.
The Volunteers advance on the left flank
At this point the 1st section (Artisans and Labourers) were able to show their mettle. Roger Gently, the section lewis gunner poured effective fire on the BUF infantry which had advanced behind the tank. At the same time, the Armoured Scout Car (Steam), opened up with its HMG against the fascist cavalry and emptied many saddles. The tide of battle was swinging away from the BUF and in favour of Sir Gilbert and his League ally.
- Facing down the cavalry
The left flank holds firm
Despite taking crushing losses to its infantry, the BUF deployed an HMG in the centre and this succeeded in exacting some revenge by driving the Anglican League infantry into the path of the tank guns advancing on the BUF left.
The fascists cling on in the centre
Sir Gilbert’s attached field gun continued to exact a terrible price from the BUF infantry.
The field gun in action
A battle for armoured supremacy continued on the right with the disabled BUF tank trying vainly to knock out the Armoured Car whilst it decimated the BUF infantry and ensured that the BUF cavalry, which had retreated to cover, did not attempt to advance again.
Tank and Armoured Car vie for supremacy in the centre
BUF cavalry seek cover in the woods from the Armoured Car’s deadly HMG
With the BUF in the centre reduced to a single HMG and damaged tank and the cavalry held in check by the Armoured Car, Sir Gilbert gave the order the Volunteers had longed for:
First to move were the 1st section, scrambling through and over hedges as they sought to get to grips with the BUF’s reluctant cavalry. The Armoured Car moved in support.
Disregarding the danger from the BUF tank, the Armoured Car advances
The morrismen also seized the initiative and advanced upon the damaged tank.
Tank hunters in full cry
The BUF survivors in the centre and their right began to stream away, led by the cavalry who had no stomach for facing the Armoured Car.
Cavalry take to their heels
The Volunteers 1st section, although unable to catch the fleeing cavalry, press on to secure the flank.
1st section secures the left
A solid bastion to anchor Sir Gilbert’s left flank
2nd and 4th sections join in the advance
In the dying moments of the day, a lucky shot from the fascist tank damaged the Armoured Car –
A minor misshap
but this had no effect on the outcome of the battle and indeed was more than balanced by a simultaneous hit by the field gun on one of the BUF tanks on the other flank. In fact, the damage to the Armoured Car was soon being put to rights by the boilermakers of the GVR in the Pontrilas engine sheds.
BUF tank hit by field gun. It sustained damage to its weapons
And so resulted a magnificent vistory for Sir Gilbert and his ally.
Once again, superior martial skill, courage and genius had taken Sir Gilbert to victory over great odds. The sanctity of his peaceful domain was secured and potential disturbers of that tranquility have been sternly warned of the inevitable consequences of bearing arms against this great and good man.
Read more about the battles on all three tables (yes, even those ones with inconsequential squabbling) here:
On the VBCW forum: http://vbcf.freeforums.org/herefordshire-big-game-8th-march-2014-t2695.html
Jon’s Overview: http://hereford1938.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/swap-shop-herefordshire-big-game-8th.html
Giles’ definitive account, there’s five or six posts here so don’t miss any: http://hereford1938.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/swap-shop-herefordshire-big-game-8th.html