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Dorstone Barricades Stormed by Golden Valley Heroes – Sir Gilbert’s latest triumph

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Once again, Sir Gilbert Hill (Bart) has been forced to abandon the tranquility of rural life and lead his Volunteers, simple folk and humble but embued with an enquenchable determination to secure their freedom against any that threaten it, against the wicked interventions of an alien demagogue.

In order to secure the peace and independence of his valley, the noble knight determined to re-establish lawful authority in Dorstone which has been occupied by a rabble of criminal elements.

 

Dorstone in the hands of criminals who do not shrink from using the most precious possessions of the inhabitants in a desperate bid to deny Sir Gilbert

Dorstone in the hands of criminals who do not shrink from using the most precious possessions of the inhabitants in a desperate bid to deny Sir Gilbert

 

 

 

 

 

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Hoorah for Freedom – Sir Gilbert’s Volunteers arrive to bring hope to the people of Dorstone. Here we see the Bulk Importers Section, supported by a mortar and, in the background, the anti-tank bombers

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At the opposite end of the village, Sir Gilbert’s ally approaches

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More examples of the pitiless misuse by the hoodlums of innocent villagers’ property to make barricades

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Colourful advertisments by the roadside remind all of more peaceful times

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Armed criminals rush to oppose the advance of Sir Gilbert’s Labourers and Artisans section

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A brave sight – the Golden Valley Volunteers advance. Far left, the Labourers and Artisans; in the centre, the Abbey Dore Police Volunteers, supported by the anti-tank section; to the right, the Bulk Importers and Freddie Pitt-Bulstrode and his mortar section

 

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A sight to stir the blood – the arrival of Sir Gilbert himself, alongside his latest recruits – the POUM Ladies Heavy Weapons section, recently returned from Spain

 

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The Police Volunteers advance bravely against the cowardly criminals, cowering behind their shameful barricade. In close support, the anti-tank team and Restitution Trevelyn, the mortar spotter

 

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The Artisans and Labourers swarm over hedges and sweep towards some quaking enemy

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On the Volunteers’ fight flank, the Bulk Importers advance

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The Bulk Importers stream forward whilst, in the background, the anti-tank team make their first, heroic attack on the enemy’s monstrous armoured car

 

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In the centre, the Police Volunteers, sorely depleted by the cowardly defenders, are reinforced by two of Sir Gilbert’s aides, Monsieur Samson Picardy and Mr Barry Glissade. Mr Glissade, in addition to his duties with the Volunteers, is also a newspaper reporter and has provided these notes. Moving up in support – the POUM Ladies

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An overview of Sir Gilbert’s dispositions. Whilst his Artisans have destroyed an enemy section to their front, a large force of so-called Royalists has appeared to their left. In the centre, it can be seen how the relentless pressure from the Police section has reduced the enemy defending the makeshift barricade.

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Sir Gilbert’s armoured section finally move into action on the extreme left. They had been delayed due to the time required to raise steam in their boilers. However, they soon make their presence felt against the so-called Royalists

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Withering fire from the POUM Ladies helps to sweep the enemy from the barricades

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The Bulk Importers, their ranks largely made up of raw recruits after losses in previous battles, advance courageously against immensely strong enemy positions

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Drama in the centre as the anti-tank team make continuous attacks on the enemy behemoth and finally effect its total destruction. Despite the tragic striking down of team member Nanny Pankhurst, her heroic colleague “Mad” Wullie McSpaniel pressed home the attack with total success

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As “Mad” Wullie completes the destruction of the enemy armour, the POUM Ladies continue to rake the barricade supported by the Police

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A close-up of the centre where the inevitable defeat of the enemy looks certain

 

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Charge…! The Police storm the barricade, supported by M. Picardy and Barry Glissade. The enemy are defeated and routed

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At the other end of the village, heavy weapons keep Sir Gilbert’s ally at bay

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Confusion in the centre of the village as the criminal hierarchy realise the game is up

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VICTORY – as the Golden Valley men leap the barricade and take the village….

FOOTNOTE: Nanny Pankhurst. As her inert body was carried from the field, it was observed there were slight signs that she yet lived. Dr Bill “Tiny” Savage was summoned. The burly, nineteen stone doctor took out his stethescope and knelt beside the stricken herroine. He reached to undo the top button on her sturdy gabardine macintosh amd that was the last thing he was aware of for the next 15 minutes until he woke up sitting propped against a tree with Nanny Pankhurst waving a bottle of smelling-salts under his nose. “Dr Savage,” she said, “No man has ever dallied with my buttons and no man ever will. Now let me attend to your black-eye.”

Much later, when Violet Ironsides, 2nd-in-command of the Ewyas Harold WI section congratulated Nanny on her amazing survival, she was told:

“Miss Ironsides, in battle, never underestimate the value of whalebone-reinforced corsetry.”

Battle of Bredwardine Bridge

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News of shady manouvering amongst the various seedy factions that support the usurper – fascists, misguided aristocratic ladies and eccentric countryside pressure groups, for example – forced Sir Gilbert Hill to once again turn reluctantly from his benevolent and paternalistic care of his dependents and followers. Although contrary to his fervent desire for peace, he did not shirk his duty when the necessity for armed intervention became evident.

The strategically important bridge at Bredwardine was under threat from the enemy and Sir Gilbert, ably supported by those staunch allies the Bishop of Ludlow and the Reverend Captain Verity, made haste to deny free passage of the bridge to his sinister foes.

Initial deployments

The field was split by the river Wye and both sides had forces on either side.Sir Gilbert and the Anglicans deployed with the Bishop of Ludlow to the west and Captain Verity and Sir Gilbert to the east. Sir Gilbert’s role was to rush men in motor transport to the bridge whilst his armoured section held off Lady Maud’s platoon. Captain Verity was to move through the woods and buildings on Sir Gilbert’s flank and complete the securing of the bridge. The Bishop of Ludlow was to crash through the Malvern eccentrics and take the west end of the bridge, crushing any BUF between himself and the forces of Captain Verity and Sir Gilbert on the eastern side. This plan was made by Sir Gilbert in his customary authoritative style. His allies offered suggestion for minor changes that Sir Gilbert graciously accepted. The plan proceeded smoothly and with total success. Free passage of the bridge was denied to the usurper’s ghastly minions.

The usurper’s forces deployed the detestable BUF platoon, led by the infamous and equally detestable “Captain” Arrowsmith, west of the river accompanied by the reactionary, decrepit eccentrics from the Malvern Hills. To the east, they deployed the colourful force of Lady Maud, a brave but misguided aristocrat of the old school.

Sir Gilbert's First Section begins its successful race for the bridge, supported by the steam armoured car. Opposite, Lady Maud's force approaches tentatively.

Sir Gilbert’s First Section begins its successful race for the bridge, supported by the steam armoured car. Opposite, Lady Maud’s force approaches tentatively. In the background, the fascists slither forward.

Sir Gilbert's 1st Section

Sir Gilbert’s 1st Section

Lady Maud's armoured car crawls forward

The forces of the Bishop of Ludlow prepare to strike righteous fear into the hearts of the Malvern decrepits

The forces of the Bishop of Ludlow prepare to strike righteous fear into the hearts of the Malvern decrepits

The disorderly Malvern throwbacks, with some support from godless BUF infernal machinery

The disorderly Malvern throwbacks, with some support from godless BUF infernal machinery

BUF running-dog, fascist hyenas begin there short stay on the bridge

BUF running-dog, fascist hyenas begin their short stay on the bridge

 

 

BUF armour supported by eccentric units of the Malvern eccentrics

BUF armour supported by eccentric units of the Malvern eccentrics

 

 

Sir Gilbert's magnificent, modern, motorised force advances. The force is led by the 1st section, dashing for the bridge in their van. They are spported by the steam-powered armour and the WI section, advamcing on foot to cover the flank

Sir Gilbert’s magnificent, modern, motorised force advances. The force is led by the 1st section, dashing for the bridge in their van. They are supported by the steam-powered armour and the WI section, advamcing on foot to cover the flank

Lady Maud's armoured car deploys to oppose Sir Gilberts steam car.

Lady Maud’s armoured car deploys to oppose Sir Gilbert’s steam car

The Bishop of Ludlow's mighty machines prepare to smite the foe

The Bishop of Ludlow’s mighty machines prepare to smite the foe

Sir Gilbert's 1st Section deploys fpr action, su[[prted by the stam car. In the background, a fascist wasves flags

Sir Gilbert’s 1st Section deploys for action, supported by the steam car. In the background, a fascist waves flags

Sir Gilbert's attack proceeds according to plan

Sir Gilbert’s attack proceeds according to plan

Sir Gilbert's steam tank single-handedly holds off the massed might of Lady Maud's attack

Sir Gilbert’s steam tank single-handedly holds off the massed might of Lady Maud’s attack

Lady Maud's ladies advance towards Sir Gilbert's WI section

Lady Maud’s ladies advance towards Sir Gilbert’s WI section

A detached section of Lady Maud's advances towards Sir Gilbert's 3rd section - the Welsh gangsters Nationalists

A detached section of Lady Maud’s advances towards Sir Gilbert’s 3rd section – the Welsh gangsters Nationalists

Fascist hooligans creep across the bridge, supported by an armoured quadricycle

Fascist hooligans creep across the bridge, supported by an armoured quadricycle

Sir Gilbert and allies complete the denial of the bridge to the enemy

Sir Gilbert and allies complete the denial of the bridge to the enemy

Sir Gilbert, as ever. on the front line, is handed an important message by his butler

Sir Gilbert, as ever on the front line, is handed an important message by his butler

Sir Gilbert's 1st section in hand-to-hand combat with the fascists at the bridge. They may lack fine uniforms but the men of 1st section more than make up for this with their fighting spirit

Sir Gilbert’s 1st section in hand-to-hand combat with the fascists at the bridge. They may lack fine uniforms but the men of 1st section more than make up for this with their fighting spirit. In the foreground, Mad Wullie McSpaniel seeks to come to grips with the enemy armour

On Sir Gilbert's right, the ladies of the WI prepare to halt the advance of Lady Maud's platoon

On Sir Gilbert’s right, the ladies of the WI prepare to halt the advance of Lady Maud’s platoon

The defeated BUF hooligans retreat ater their drubbing at the hands of the 1st section. The beastly, squat form of the BUF tank sits immobile, trapped between Sir Gilbert and The Bishop of Ludlow, The bridge is denied to the usurper's lackeys and Sir Gilbert and allies triumph once again

The defeated BUF hooligans retreat ater their drubbing at the hands of the 1st section. The beastly, squat form of the BUF tank sits immobile, trapped between Sir Gilbert and The Bishop of Ludlow, The bridge is denied to the usurper’s lackeys and Sir Gilbert and allies triumph once again

Minor Skirmish at Longtown

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Reports of aggressive intentions towards the Golden Valley Protectorate by some of Sir Gilbert’s neighbours were received by him more with sorrow than with anger. He was well aware that many of his fellow land-owners and minor aristocrats were inclined to behave like spoilt children (he’d been to school with most of them, after all). So he determined on a response which mixed firmness with understanding.

The high standard of training and readiness attained by The Volunteers was amply displayed by the speed and efficiency with which this modern, fully motorised force mobilised and moved out to confront the misguided delinquents, now in arms and foolishly challenging Sir Gilbert in the vicinity of Longtown. The Volunteers were  joined by two platoons of enthusiastic (if deluded) chaps calling themselves “socialists”. Ranged against them were the forces of Sir  Giles Clive, an amiable nonentity and Lady Bramton Bryn, a forceful lady, led astray by a combination of inadvisable reading and weak intellect.

 

The Volunteers arrive, fully motorised and eager to get to grips

The Volunteers arrive, fully motorised and eager to get to grips

 

 

A platoon of "socialists" advance up the main road in theirarmoured wagon, towed by an armoured steam engine

A platoon of “socialists” advance up the main road in their armoured wagon, towed by an armoured steam engine

 

 

On the right, more "socialists", known bizarrely as Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists. move up on foot

On the right, more “socialists”, known bizarrely as Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists. move up on foot

 

 

 

Some of Lady Bramton's "gels" form up in defence

Some of Lady Bramton’s “gels” form up in defence

 

 

Lady Maud's section prepares to vadvance

Lady Maud’s section prepares to advance

 

 

 

A scarecrow? Or a sentinel of the sinister Twiggy Mommets? Sir Gilbert's platoon will need to be careful

A scarecrow? Or a sentinel of the sinister Twiggy Mommets? Sir Gilbert’s platoon will need to be careful

 

 

 

The worst news for a modern, fully motorised force...!

The worst news for a modern, fully motorised force…!

 

 

 

Nothing else for it but to debus and use shanks' pony

Nothing else for it but to debus and use shanks’ pony

 

 

 

Sir Gilbert's WI section prepare themselves for the advance on foot

Sir Gilbert’s WI section prepare themselves for the advance on foot

 

 

 

Meanwhile, in the centre, busloads of infantry move in support of the steam engine

Meanwhile, in the centre, busloads of infantry move in support of the steam engine

 

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Sir Gilbert's Steam Armoured Section leads The Voluntees advance. To gain maximum traction in the muddy conditions, the Tank deliberately proceeds in reverse, contrary to scurrilous rumours from the enemy

Sir Gilbert’s Steam Armoured Section leads The Volunteers’ advance. To gain maximum traction in the muddy conditions, the tank deliberately proceeds in reverse, contrary to scurrilous rumours from the enemy

 

 

 

Lady Maud's section advance to contest the large farmhouse with the "socialists"

Lady Maud’s section advance to contest the large farmhouse with the “socialists”

 

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Slight confusion as Sir Gilbert's sections debus and form up

Slight confusion as Sir Gilbert’s sections debus and form up

 

 

 

Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists steadfastly advance, determined to uphold Sir Gilbert's rights

Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists steadfastly advance, determined to uphold Sir Gilbert’s rights

 

 

 

In the centre, the "socialists" gain the centre of the village and deploy the armoured truck to hold the position

In the centre, the “socialists” gain the centre of the village and deploy the armoured truck to hold the position

 

 

 

Lady Bramton's reserve section and artillery support

Lady Bramton’s reserve section and artillery support

 

 

 

Sir Gilbert, surrounded by his staff and accompanied by Marlborough, the dog,, emerge from the trees, ready to impose his iron will on the proceedings

Sir Gilbert, surrounded by his staff and accompanied by Marlborough, the dog, emerge from the trees, ready to impose his iron will on the proceedings

 

 

 

The "socialists" head for the large farm

The “socialists” head for the large farm……..

 

 

 

....to be met by Lady Maud's section. Close combat...!

….to be met by Lady Maud’s section. Close combat…!

 

 

 

With debussing complete and perfect order restored, Sir Gilbert's formidable, modern platoon moves off

With debussing complete and perfect order restored, Sir Gilbert’s formidable, modern platoon moves off

 

 

The action in the centre is fierce as more "socialists" enter the fight for the farm and members of Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists advance on their right

The action in the centre is fierce as more “socialists” enter the fight for the farm and members of Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists advance on their right

 

 

 

Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists break through the massive hedge in front of the church

Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists break through the massive hedge in front of the church

 

 

Lady Bramton's HQ section deploy.

Lady Bramton’s HQ section deploy

 

 

Sir Gilbert's platoon advances in perfect open-order. he steam tank has now turned to face forward

Sir Gilbert’s platoon advances in perfect open-order. The steam tank has now turned to face forward

 

 

Members of Sir Giles Clive's platoon advance against Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists

Members of Sir Giles Clive’s platoon advance against Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists

 

 

Sir Gilbert's new anti-tank team, Mad Wullie McSpaniel and Nanny Pankhurst, storm forward in search of prey

Sir Gilbert’s new anti-tank team, Mad Wullie McSpaniel and Nanny Pankhurst, storm forward in search of prey

 

 

Victory at the farm enables the "socialists to consolidate their position in the centre

Victory at the farm enables the “socialists” to consolidate their position in the centre

 

 

The "socialists"  miners section lead the advance through the centre of the village

The “socialists” miners section lead the advance through the centre of the village

 

 

In the face of Sir Gilbert's inexorable advance on the left, Lady Bramton orders the withdrawal of her baggage

In the face of Sir Gilbert’s inexorable advance on the left, Lady Bramton orders the withdrawal of her baggage, covered by the reserve section and artillery

 

 

Sir Gilbert's steam tank causes casualties in Lady Bramton's HQ as his platoon exerts irresistible pressure on Lady Bramton's platoon

Sir Gilbert’s steam tank causes casualties in Lady Bramton’s HQ as his command exerts irresistible pressure on her  platoon

 

 

Ferocious fighting in the churchyard between Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists and Sir Giles' men, skulking behind the gravestones

Ferocious fighting in the churchyard between Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists and Sir Giles’ men, skulking behind the gravestones

 

 

The "socialist" miners press on in the centre

The “socialist” miners press on in the centre

Looking across the battlefield with Sir Gilbert's platoon in the foreground, the "socialists" (still with their distinctive omnibuses) in the centre and on the far right, Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists

Looking across the battlefield with Sir Gilbert’s platoon in the foreground, the “socialists” (still with their distinctive omnibuses) in the centre and in the distance, on the far right flank, Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists

 

 

A chaotic scene in the centre with the "socialists" following up the retreat of Lady Bramton and coming under fire from Sir Giles' armoured car. Mad Wullie McSpaniel can be seen rushing to where the fight is fiercest

A chaotic scene in the centre with the “socialists” following up the retreat of Lady Bramton and coming under fire from Sir Giles’ armoured car. Mad Wullie McSpaniel can be seen rushing to where the fight is fiercest

 

 

Sir Gilbert's platoon advances in perfect order, sweeping all before it

Sir Gilbert’s platoon advances in perfect order, sweeping all before it

 

 

The "socialists" have the upper hand in the centre. On the right, Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists battle for the church with Sir Giles' men and on the left, Sir Gilbert has total control

The “socialists” have the upper hand in the centre. On the right, Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists battle for the church with Sir Giles’ men and on the left, Sir Gilbert has total control

 

 

Tressell's Enlightened Philanthropists continue to press Sir Giles, despite encountering fire from a heavy machine gun

Tressell’s Enlightened Philanthropists continue to press Sir Giles, despite encountering fire from a heavy machine gun

 

 

Lady Bramton's artillery, covering her platoon's retreat, engages Sir Gilbert's police section

Lady Bramton’s artillery, covering her platoon’s retreat, engages Sir Gilbert’s police section………..

 

 

....and inflicts the only casualties suffered by The Volunteers during the engagement. Despite this, Sir Gilbert's platoon comes forward in fine style

….and inflicts the only casualties suffered by The Volunteers during the engagement. Despite this, Sir Gilbert’s platoon comes forward in fine style

 

 

As night falls, Sir Giles' armoured car manages to stem the flood of the "socialist's" advance in the centre

As night falls, Sir Giles’ armoured car manages to stem the flood of the “socialist’s” advance in the centre

 

And so ended the skirmish at Longtown in which Sir Gilbert achieved all his aims. His misguided neighbours were shown the error of their ways but not destroyed or humiliated – they may be wrong but they are still “our class”.

 

The “socialists”, whilst also being misguided were able to experience the benefits of fighting under the leadership of an experienced and skilled campaigner in Sir Gilbert. There is hope that they may renounce their wrong-headed politics and return to their station as honest sons of toil.

 

Small Ordnance Discharger (Elastic Powered) is added to The Volunteers’ Inventory

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The Battle of the Frontiers taught the Volunteers many lessons. One of the main ones was an appreciation of the power of artillery and mortars. They were much impressed by the work done by the field gun which was seconded to them by their allies. Although they have not been able to add such a weapon to their inventory, its value has inspired the agile minds that are so ubiquitous in the Golden Valley.

 

The newly finished Small Ordnance Discharger (Elastic Powered) is admired by Miss Temerity Ping and Mrs Fiona Cadwallader-Herring of the WI

The newly finished Small Ordnance Discharger (Elastic Powered) is admired by Miss Temerity Ping  (right) and Mrs Fiona Cadwallader-Herring, both of the WI

 

A combined effort of the Women’s Institute, the Pontrilas Boy Scout troop and Bernard Beetle, the undertaker, has resulted in a magnificent extempore weapon – a grenade-throwing giant catapult. Known as the Small Ordnance Discharger (Elastic Powered), the original design was by the Scout troop, the frame constructed by Mr Beetle and the elastic from the WI.

 

Miss Ping consults the not inconsiderable SOD (EP) manual

Miss Ping consults the not inconsiderable SOD (EP) manual

 

The WI have declared that they would like to donate this weapon to the Wormbridge, Abbey Dore and Pontrilas morris men. As Violet Ironsides, the WI standard bearer said:

“We felt so sorry for them in the last battle – running round jangling their bells and waving their little sticks in the air. Now they can twang our elastic and really let the enemy know they mean business.”

 

Grenade launcher 1

 

once again, thanks go to the  agile mind and nimble fingers of Tim Peterson for providing this wonderful scratch-built madness

 

“Mad” Wullie McSpaniel – Tank Hunter

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Mad Wullie 4

The local rat-catcher, “Mad” Wullie McSpaniel, a Scottish gentleman, has been missing for over a month. His disappearance caused a little interest but frankly, compared to the momentous events involving the Golden Valley Volunteers, it was of minor significance. Mad Wullie was not a member of any of the Volunteers’ units. “Ahm no a joiner” he said when questioned about his reluctance to get involved. And then he disappeared.

His reappearance has been of more interest. It transpired that his wilderness month was not a wasted one. Still less, was Wullie attempting to avoid danger. On the contrary, he had applied his unusual brain to the problem of tackling armoured vehicles. He was aware of the difficulties the Volunteers had experienced in their last battle when faced by BUF tanks. In fact, they had no answer to the armoured threat. Until Wullie set to work.

After a month of punishing work and experimentation, Wullie reported to Sir Gilbert and revealed the results of his labours. It was a manually delivered anti-tank bomb. The innovation that Wullie had perfected was a sticky casing that enabled the bomber to attach his bomb to the target and make good his escape before it exploded. A good part of the month that Wullie was absent was spent in unsticking himself from various surfaces and items of equipment. It wasn’t until he developed a skin for the bomb that covered its adhesive surfaces, that he was able to escape from his workshop and tell the world, via Sir Gilbert, of his invention. It is known as a Manually Attached Device (MAD) in recognition of its inventor’s nickname and Mad Wullie himself has been appointed the Volunteers’ first MAD man.

"Mad" Wullie practices his technique

“Mad” Wullie practices his technique

 

Wullie displays his bulging bag of bombs

Wullie displays his bulging bag of bombs

 

Wullie perfects his evasion manoeuvre

Wullie perfects his evasion manoeuvre

 

A big “Thank You” goes out to my old Canadian chum, Tim Peterson for providing and painting the figure for Mad Wullie. He read of the Volunteers’ problems against armour in the last game and set to to rectify the omission of an anti-tank capability in their OOB.

You can find plenty of Tim’s excellent work here . He’s the editor and major contributor.

Thanks Tim

The Battle of The Frontier – Golden Valley in Peril

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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

Sir Gilbert’s tranquil borders, under threat from the BUF . Defensive positions prepared in advance to counter any fascist incursions

The final moments of before the tranquility is shattered by sounds of war

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 oserver

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

The 2nd section (Ewyas Harold/Pontrilas WI) stand ready in reserve. Sir Gilbert and his HQ are in the background

Waiting for the enemy

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 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

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

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

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

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

The BUF threat opposite the Anglican League

Meanwhile, the BUF advance in the centre crept menacingly forward.

An intimidating sight

An intimidating sight

Resolutely opposing the behemoths, the stalwart British bobby…!

Rifles against tanks

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

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

Faces to the enemy, the 4th section re-deploys

The fascist juggernaut approaches

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

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

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

Anglican infantry and armour move against the threat to the right flank

A solid support - the Anglican tank moves up

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

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 cavalry take the Herefordshire hedges in their stride

BUF infantry continue to advance on the Anglicans

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

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

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 right flank

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

Facing down the cavalry
The left flank holds firm

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

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

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

Tank and Armoured Car vie for supremacy in the centre

BUF cavalry seek cover from the Armoured Car's deadly HMG in the woods

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:

“General Advance….!”

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

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

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

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

1st section secures the left

A solid bastion to anchor Sir Gilbert's left flank

A solid bastion to anchor Sir Gilbert’s left flank

2nd and 4th sections join in the advance

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

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 sustaned damage to its weapons

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.

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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

Chain of Command – first try of new rules set

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Having heard and read a lot about this system from Too Fat Lardies I was pleased to accept an offer from longtime friend and gaming partner Dave Schofield to visit him at his place near Bournemouth. He’d played the rules a couple of times and, being someone who can soak up and understand rules quickly (quicker than me, anyway) he was the ideal person to give me an introductory game. I read the rules a few times in the weeks before the game and, true to form, didn’t really grasp how they may work.

A couple of days before the game, Dave sent me some pics of the layout with an outline of what the scenario was – very efficient..!

I arrived and, once I’d found my way into his very impressive wargames sanctum (complete with every necessary convenience for the comfort of the Gentleman Gamer), we settled down to the game.

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As an aside, Dave has done a lot of innovative work on his scenery including his lift off woods which give an excellent tree canopy effect but can be lifted of the supporting tree trunks so that troops can be easily placed and moved within the wood area.

Anyway, back to the game. It was US vs Germans, Normandy 1944. I had the US, a platoon of 3 squads plus support and he had a German platoon of similar strength. The game kicks off with the Patrol Phase. Each side has Patrol Markers (counters or some other marker), the number of which depends on the scenario being played and force morale. The scenario we played was the Patrol (it’s just a coincidence that the name of the scenario is the same as the markers and shows how easy it is to use confusing terms in wargames rules). These markers, usually 3 or 4 per side, are moved in turn by the players to establish “jump of points” for the deployment of the forces. They’re moved until the relative positions of opposing markers cause them to be pinned at which stage, jump off points are decided. These are marked by something unobtrusive such as an oil drum.

From now on, I’ll leave aside the rule mechanics and just describe how the game went, mainly from the perspective of the UScommander (me). The US were on the left of the photo above, the Germans the right. Both deployed in the centre of their baseline. Jump-off points, established during the Patrol Phase, are shown below:

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The US had first Phase and brought on a section at JOP (Jump-off point) 1 and moved it towards German JOP C. It quickly encountered a two man German patrol

First section encounters Garman patrol and engages it from cover. In the foreground, the boxes, sacks and barrels represent the JOP

First section encounters Garman patrol and engages it from cover. In the foreground, the boxes, sacks and barrels represent the JOP

The German patrol was targetted by the section’s rifle team (the BAR team having taken up a flanking positon in a wood) and one man was killed. The other was pinned but not killed.

Next, the US second section deployed in the centre in an attempt to command what looked like being the main action area.

Second section deplys from JOP 2. The burning tank was from some previous engagement or maybe the victim of air attack

Second section deploys from JOP 3. The burning tank was from some previous engagement or maybe the victim of air attack

Meanwhile, the Germans deployed a Panzer IV. Armour is deployed at the table edge – not from a JOP. This beast moved menacingly towards US first section who, without any a/t weapons apart from last-ditch, close assault bombs, were in a tricky position. The German patrol, however, must have welcomed the tank as its saviour…!

The menacing bulk of a Panzer IV alters the balance of power on my right.

The menacing bulk of a Panzer IV alters the balance of power on US right.

The first US section, in cover behind a hedge, feel distinctly uneasy.

The first US section, in cover behind a hedge, feel distinctly uneasy.

Meanwhile, the second section advanced in the centre to the main road.

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Relief for the first section appeared in the shape of a Sherman which made best speed to support the infantry in the face of the German tank.

Supporting Sherman with BAR team from the first section.

Supporting Sherman with BAR team from the first section.

The Germans laid down smoke to conceal the Pz IV and cover the advance of newly deployed infantry. Their senior commander also moved on-table.

German infantry supported by PzIV and concealed by smoke, advance upon the first US section

German infantry supported by PzIV and concealed by smoke, advance upon the first US section

First US section, with tank support, awaits the German advance.

First US section, with tank support, awaits the German advance.

More German infantry arrive in the shape of an MG42 team. They take up position covering the fields and hedges in the centre and engage the US second section.

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Meanwhile, the Sherman supporting the first section manouvers round the smoke and engages the PzIV. And misses…! The German replies with devastating effect, knocking out the Sherman and leaving the first section unsupported once more.

Tank battle. Sherman fires first to no effect. The PzIV replies with a decisive strike

Tank battle. Sherman fires first to no effect. The PzIV replies with a decisive strike

More German infantry deploy in the centre leaving a holding force opposite US section two. The rest move to their left flank to threaten US section one, now left without armoured support.

German infantry deploying in the centre.

German infantry deploying in the centre.

The German advance against first US section

The German advance against first US section

German scouts appear to the left of the Americans so the senior US officer deploys his third section to counter them. In turn, the Germans reinforce the scouts with a complete section.

Third US section deploys. In the field to their front is an MG42 team with a rifle team advancing along the road.

Third US section deploys. In the field to their front is an MG42 team with a rifle team advancing along the road.

In a desperate attempt to save the first US section, the platoon bazooka team springs an ambush on the PzIV…

Bazooka ambush

Bazooka ambush

………but this tank is a tough nut to crack. The ambush fails but the bazooka team make good their escape. Not so the first section’s BAR team which is destroyed by the tank.

Left without effective anti-tank support and no BAR, the first section retreats to the cover of the main road. A second Sherman arrives to give them support.

First US section retreats to the shelter of the stone wall and receives support with the arrival of a second Sherman. In the background, the second US section mill about ineffectively on the road

First US section retreats to the shelter of the stone wall and receives support with the arrival of a second Sherman. In the background, the second US section mill about ineffectively on the road

The German flanking move presses forward against the first section.

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The second Sherman engages the Pz IV and hits but with no discernible effect. Once again, the PzIV replies with savage efficiency and another Sherman is destroyed.

The puff of smoke rising above the tree tells the grim tale of another Sheran knocked out. The battered remnants of the first US section grimly await the coming onslaught

The puff of smoke rising above the tree tells the grim tale of another Sherman knocked out. The battered remnants of the first US section resolutely await the coming onslaught

There is a moment of hope for the first section when the platoon bazooka team makes another ambush at very close range but, depsite an obvious hit, the panzer appears unaffected. And this time, the bazooka team pay the ultimate price.

With the German tank and its support infantry at close range, the US men of first section make a last attempt upon the tank with anti-tank bombs. Although they bravely engage at close-quarters, the tank survives once more and so the US commander orders his platoon to retreat.

Survivors of first US section prepare to pull back.

Survivors of first US section prepare to pull back.

So the Germans won. In rules terms, the US morale had reached its limit and the platoon had to retreat, leaving the Germans the winners.

So, what about Chain of Command, the rules? Shooting, movement combat are all fairly straightforward. Command and control on the table a little more complex but the basic principles will be familiar to many players. A couple of phases should be enought to feel comfortable with them. Patrol, jump-off points and deployment are original ways to create a very satisfactory fog of war. The mechanisms are innovative and take a little getting used to. Dave pointed out that when a unit is deployed from a jump-off point somewhere well away from its own baseline, it didn’t mean they had miraculously landed there from the air. They’d always been there but the deployment was the first time they’d revealed their presence. This is even more important to grasp when dealing with the “ambush” rule. What takes most time, and probably several games, is using the Command Dice and Chain of Command Points to best advantage. The Command dice are used every phase so the basic function of them is quickly grasped. How to get the best out of them takes a little longer. The Chain of Command Points take a while to accrue and are not likely to be used that often so their effective employment – finessing their use as it were – will need to be learned through experience. For example, choosing to use them to end a turn can have a critical effect on the whole game. I think Chain of Command would be a challenge to play with several players but I have an idea that there are suggestions for how to do this somewhere on the internet. I’d like to have several one-to-one games before trying multi-player.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   edit: It’s been pointed out to me (see comments) that there are multi-player rules on page 102 sidebar. I can feel a “Doh..!” coming on…

I look forward to playing them again, preferably while I can still remember what I learned this time. By the time the game was over and my lads had thrown in the towel, I was beginning to get a reasonable grasp on the system and to realise it was a rules set I’d want to play again.