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 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 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?
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.
Ranged against them were BUF infantry and tanks – the latter bristling with cannon and machine guns.
Meanwhile, the BUF advance in the centre crept menacingly forward.
Resolutely opposing the behemoths, the stalwart British bobby…!
Yet more examples of overwhelming BUF strength appeared on Sir Gilbert’s left – the thunder of hooves heralded the arrival of BUF cavalry.
Under threat from armour, infantry and cavalry, the 4th section made a controlled withdrawal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, on both flanks, the BUF continued to advance.
In the centre, Sir Gilbert played his last card against the all-conquering BUF tank – he ordered forward the morrismen bomb throwers.
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…!
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.
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.
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.
Sir Gilbert’s attached field gun continued to exact a terrible price from the BUF infantry.
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.
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.
The morrismen also seized the initiative and advanced upon the damaged tank.
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.
The Volunteers 1st section, although unable to catch the fleeing cavalry, press on to secure the flank.
In the dying moments of the day, a lucky shot from the fascist tank damaged the Armoured Car –
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.
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
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