Sir Gilbert’s Volunteers aka “The Golden Valley Invincibles”
Sir Gilbert Hill is a land-owner and gentleman farmer from just north of Pontrilas. He plays a leading role in the local community, always on hand to open fetes, oversee charities, dispense justice (he’s the local magistrate) and generally exert a firm, paternalistic influence. He’s well-liked in the Pontrilas, Ewyas Harold, Wormbridge, Abbey Dore area and regarded as a staunch defender of local interests.
Sir Gilbert’s own interests extend over the border into Wales and there he cuts a somewhat different figure. He is the majority shareholder in a company called Bulk Importers. Ostensibly an import/export company based in the Cardiff docks, BI is in fact a thinly disguised front for all manner of criminal activities and is now the main source of Sir Gilbert’s wealth. In the current political situation, the gangsters who form the BI’s workforce have decided to label themselves Welsh Nationalists and use this as an excuse to openly operate as an armed force. They are quite well equipped with weaponry thanks to their access to all manner of goods from the docks. There is a strong Italian element in this group – rumoured to have Mafia connections and on the run from Mussolini.
The Golden Valley Railway, a branch line running from Pontrilas to Hay and linked to main lines at either terminus, has become virtually Sir Gilbert’s private railway thanks to the civil war. It is now a vital part of his Welsh activities, linking both his spheres of interest and being free from any other controlling authority. He intends to keep it this way.
Although a man of tremendous energy and enterprise into his early middle years, he is now physically much reduced. A violent confrontation between his Cardiff gang and a similar group in Swansea (The Swansea Jacks) over which group should control Swansea and Port Talbot, has left him a cripple and confined to a wheelchair. Although still a determined and ruthless leader, he has become more eccentric in his appearance and some of his actions (eg see Women’s Institute Section, below).
As Britain descended into chaos and civil war, Sir Gilbert was quick to act to protect his interests. Using the slogan of “Defend Our Hearths and Homes” he called for volunteers to join him in creating an armed band to defend the locality. Although this was primarily to defend his interests in fairness he was also concerned that local people should fight to prevent being made victims by outside groups.
So far he has raised a platoon of 3 sections with extra help promised from the Wormbridge, Abbey Dore and Pontrilas Morris side.
His first section is made up from a mixture of farm and railway workers and the third section from some of his shady Welsh contacts. The second section is assumed to be a result of his increasing eccentricity and is made up of members of the Ewyas Harold/Pontrilas WI. When the women asked what they could do to help he responded by asking what they wanted to do. A group of them consisting mainly of women of an independent mien and from a variety of backgrounds said they just wanted to fight so they became the second section. What they lack in firepower they compensate for with a thirst for battle.