Sir Gilbert Hill’s activities are of the highest import and so he has been persuaded to give an occasional account of his fascinating and vital contribution to the ongoing struggle in the current Civil War, particularly as it effects his home county of Hereford.
The contributions to this diary are variously made by his secretary, Miss Fragrance Sweetmeat and other members of his staff, often from Sir Gilbert’s own dictation.
The Lady Qelhatat O’Flynn, Official Wife Number Seven is now comfortably accommodated in a pleasant suite of rooms in Sir Gilbert’s country house. Her husband, Chief Kansan O’Flynn, has been unaccountably absent since news of her arrival in England reached him. Undeterred, she has been exploring her surroundings and has found great contentment in the sylvan calm of Sir Gilbert’s Great Park. Her foremost pleasure is to perform her wild, native dances against the backdrop of the ancient trees, always accompanied by her bodyguard of hand-picked young warriors.
The bodyguard have been making new acquaintances in their adopted home. A chance meeting with the Wormbridge, Abbey Dore and Pontrilas Morris side almost resulted in catastrophe when a friendly hobby-horse approached the bodyguard suddenly. Spears were raised and then lowered by the timely intervention of the accordionist whose playing distracted the body guard at the crucial moment.
Soon, the guard and the Morris men were firm friends and great jollity ensued.
The Golden Valley is agog with expectation of more exotic and exciting glimpses into the strange ways of the new arrivals.
A message from Liverpool, taken by Wrench the Butler, contained surprising news for the Hill Enterprises (Dominions and Colonial) Loyal Volunteers Section’s leader, Chief Kansan O’Flynn. Entirely unexpectedly, one of his wives, The Lady Qelhatat O’Flynn, Official Wife Number Seven, had arrived in England. Leaving Official Wives One to Six to care for Chief O’Flynn’s thirty five children, she had followed her man to the wars.
As Chief O’Flynn was digesting the implications of this news, particularly regarding his plans to make friends amongst the Ladies of Hereford (already many of the WI section were considering transferring their affections from the POUM mortar crew) The WI and POUM he received more disturbing details from Wrench. The Lady Qelhatat had not travelled alone. She had brought her mother. Sole Official Mother-in-Law Tapiwa Onwuatuegwu was a Wise Woman. Possibly as a result of that wisdom, she was the only surviving Official Mother-in-Law. When her daughter became the Chief’s seventh wife, there were six other Official Mothers-in-Law, all hale, hearty and optimistic. Within a few short months, all had died, apparently from natural causes.
Chief O’Flynn had doubts about how his mother-in-law would react to his plans for the Ladies of Hereford. Chief O’Flynn, known to friends and enemies alike as The Lion Hearted, The Buffalo Chested, The Crazy Hippopotamus, was strangely nervous in the company of Sole Official Mother-in-Law Tapiwa Onwuatuegwu.
Unaware of these undercurrents, Sir Gilbert sent his man Stirrup to collect the distinguished, if unexpected guests. “ Take the yellow Packard, Stirrup, the ladies will like that.”
At a recent ceremony, Sir Gilbert Hill, selfless defender of Herefordshire’s Golden Valley, welcomed the latest addition to his hard fighting platoon. From the heart of Africa willing volunteers have flocked to the aid of the Mother Country in her hour of strife, none less than Sir Gilbert’s cheerful estate workers. Hill Enterprises (Dominions and Colonial) Loyal Volunteers Section is the first drop in the first trickle of the impending flood of robust warriors who will swell the ranks of the Golden Valley defenders.
Sir Gilbert Hill, taking time out from his vital efforts in the Civil War, was visiting his cousin, Sir Rufus Pitt-Bulstrode, Squire of Much Rampling in Borsetshire. However, before he had time for a well-deserved snifter, he was made aware that all was not well in the Much Rampling area.
Apparently Sir Rufus, as chairman of the local Watch Committee, had got wind of a planned attempt by some political roughnecks to disrupt the annual fete in the neighbouring village of Little Bedding. Sir Rufus had to make an effort to prevent this happening; the local bobby at Little Bedding, Constable Gravy, had no chance of taking on the hooligans on his own. However, Sir Rufus could not call on any of his employees or tenants because they were all, so he said, vitally employed elsewhere.
Realising what was coming, Sir Gilbert, displaying his characteristic brio, offered to come to the rescue. “Don’t worry, old boy, I’ll send some of my people – they’ll put these scoundrels to the rightabout”. He gave instructions to his man, Stirrup to gather together a suitable group from amongst his followers and sent him off to do battle against whomsoever should disturb the Little Bedding peace.
Stirrup assembled the following from Sir Gilbert’s entourage and set out for the village.
Fragrance Sweetmeat, Sir Gilbert’s secretary
Roger Gently (Tenant farmer)
Marlborough, Sir Gilbert’s Dog
At the other end of the village, trouble was brewing.
Cecil Pimms (Leader) aided by:
Bert, Sam, Bill
PLUS 8 local ne’er-do-wells
This game was played with the Pulp Alley rules to see how they would work in a VBCW-era setting.
Answer? Pretty good. I’ve left out references to Pulp Alley rule devices such as “Plot Points”. As it happens, Stirrup, as the Last Man Standing would have harvested all the plot points if time (ie number of turns) hadn’t run out. So strictly speaking, the game was a draw. However Sir Gilbert, never one to limited by artificial constraints claimed the win and I’m not going to argue with him.
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.
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.
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.”
once again, thanks go to the agile mind and nimble fingers of Tim Peterson for providing this wonderful scratch-built madness
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.
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.
Ignoring, with difficulty, the morris men, Inspector Andrew glanced at Sir Gilbert who gave a slight nod.
Whereupon, Andrew gave a mighty blast on his Hudson’s Police Whistle which ushered in Sergeant Roger Roundly, leading the Abbey Dore Division Police Volunteers who Sir Gilbert had accepted in to the ranks of his force as the 4th Section.
Displaying great pride in their new weapons (they are armed with rifles except for Sergeant Roundly who is equipped with a sub-machine gun), the section advanced across the park to the accompaniment of many cheers; There was also a certain amount of good-natured mock insults from the Welsh Gangsters Nationalists and some of the 1st Section who on occasion have been accused of poaching and thus dealt with the police in less happy circumstances. Ignoring the crowd, the section gave a spirited demonstration of the tactics of Fire and Movement. They were unperturbed by the presence of the morris side, still performing at the other side of the park.
On the word of command from the sergeant, the leading riflemen gave a volley of blanks which had the effect of causing the morris men to rout precipitately from the field, accompanied by theatrical groans and laughter from the Gangsters Nationalists
Sergeant Roundly smartly halted his men in front of Sir Gilbert who, surrounded by his personal staff, acknowledged the police section with a dignified bow of his noble head.
Detective Inspector Andrew had been taking copious notes during the display and now ushered his men away from the audience and gave every appearance of delivering a very frank assessment of what he had seen. Apparently, he felt there was room for improvement.
This marked the end of the Field Day which all declared a huge success. Stirrup called for Three Cheers for Sir Gilbert and the Volunteers responded with a roar that would have turned Fascist spines to jelly, had there been any Fascists close enough to hear. The Volunteers then dispersed with morale high, looking confidently forward and ready for anything their disreputable enemy might throw at them.