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Category Archives: Ronald “Ronnie” Bigsworth-Hill

Ronnie realises his potential (part 2 of his rise to glory)

Ronnie quickly made himself at home in the Chief Constable’s house. He knew how to appeal to the low tastes of Tremble and thus get the manservant’s approval, always a valuable skill when dealing with servants. On the first two nights Sir Albert reminisced a little about Lady Geraldine but his mind was obviously elsewhere. On the third night, the reason for his distractedness became apparent. He had a big decision to make about appointing a leader for a new command being formed in the Wiltshire force. After dinner he and Ronnie settled down in the drawing room. Tremble, obviously elevated by drink, was dismissed for the evening. Cigars were lit, whisky poured and Sir Albert came straight to the point.

“Ronald. I’m establishing a new unit here in Wiltshire. It’s a modern, mobile column, organised on military lines and of platoon strength. There will be heavy weapons support included and the whole command will be motorised. Most of the personnel is already allocated but the commander, yet to be appointed, will need to be active in securing some of the supporting weapons and transport…..”

“But this sounds like an Auxiliary Police unit,” interrupted Ronnie “I thought you couldn’t abide them…!”

“You’re right, Ronald; I can’t. Establishing this unit could be described as, let me see….getting your retaliation in first, perhaps? I propose to set up this force for two reasons. First, to have an efficient, modern, mobile force available to confront disorder whenever and wherever it  appears in the the South and South West. And second, to forestall any attempt to establish an Auxiliary police unit, in other words a para-military BUF unit, within my area.”

“Sounds exciting” said Ronnie

“I’m glad you think so because I’m about to offer you command of it.”

Ronnie was rarely lost for words but this development took him totally by surprise. “Me ? Me! But why? I’ve never been in the police. I’m also quite young. I’m flattered and delighted but also shocked and amazed.” He subsided into incoherent muttering and spluttering. He’d hoped Sir Albert may have something for him but this…!

“Ronald, men with the experience of genuine active service abound, thanks to the Great War. But they are no longer young enough for the rigours of command at the sharp-end. You are of the right age. And you combine unique qualifications that fit you for this role.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. You’ve seen active service, been under fire, seen victory and defeat. You’ve shewn (Sir Albert was of an age whereby he not only spelled ‘shown’ with an ‘e’ but also promounced it thus) courage and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. And, importantly, you are the son of Lady Geraldine.” Sir Albert paused, his face was expressive of deep emotion, or perhaps, chronic dyspepsia. “The job’s yours, my boy, if you want it. I’ll give you a day or two to think it over.”

At such times, it was a lottery as to which part of Ronnie’s heritage came to the fore.

“No need, old cock…sorry, Sir Albert. I’m your man; when do I start.?”

At that precise moment, somewhere in the disreputable part of an industrial town, in the snug of a sordid pub, Stanley Bigsworth’s left knee began to twitch. The old crook smiled to himself. “Go to it, Ronnie,” he thought. “That’s my boy.”

Sir Albert, initially taken aback by the immediacy of Ronnie’s reply, chided himself on his old-fashioned attitude. Young  Ronald was of the new generation- the Bright Young Things, the Jazz Age. Of course he’d make his mind up quickly – strike while the iron is hot; seize the day; grasp the nettle.

“Excellent. Ronald, you make me very happy. Right then; there’s work to be done. To begin with, this is what you need……

Ronald Bigsworth-Hill and the Wiltshire Police Flying Column

Ronald “Ronnie” Bigsworth-Hill son of an aristocratic mother and a travelling salesman father, has had a varied career since becoming involved with the current hostilities. As a Storm-Leader 2nd Class in the BUF, he did well in the successful Battle of Camrose but then was unfortunate enough to be at Robbleston Hall, the less successful minor action that followed. As one of the rearguard, Ronnie performed with distinction, continuing to engage the enemy with his sub-machine gun until he ran out of ammunition.

After which, he disappeared. Not wishing to spend an unspecified time as a prisoner of some dubious Welsh faction (and knowing that BUF prisoners rarely received gentle treatment), he made a speedy exit from the scene of battle, stole some clothes from various washing-lines and made ruthless use of his undoubted charm – particularly with the ladies – to get as far away as possible.

 Ronald “Ronnie” Bigsworth-Hill

Ronald “Ronnie” Bigsworth-Hill

Some weeks later, he arrived back in England via the Forest of Dean. It was his intention to make his way to Herefordshire and join his uncle, Sir Gilbert Hill. Sir Gilbert had raised a force to protect his interests in the Golden Valley and Ronnie felt confident his experience would persuade his uncle to welcome him into that force. The fact that Sir Gilbert was fighting on the opposite side to the BUF did not deter Ronnie in the slightest. He was no fascist, he was first and foremost, an adventurer, although in truth, he did love a sharp uniform. In fact, it was the uniform which led him to join the BUF. Once in the ranks, he threw himself into his soldiering and soon became an officer. In this, his part-aristocratic background helped as well;  the aggressively egalitarian and plebian BUF hierarchy were no less susceptible to a toff than anyone else.

Once back in England, Ronnie was able to relax and take stock of his situation. Meandering vaguely in the direction of Herefordshire, he found himself one night in a pub in Ross-on-Wye, sharing a few pints with a couple of off-duty coppers. If he’d chosen to, he could have reached his uncle Gilbert’s estate in the south of Herefordshire but something had prevented him making his way directly there although he didn’t know what it was. So, he was skirting round the borders of the county aimlessly and that was what brought him to Ross.

 

spiv

Stanley Bigsworth – Ronnie’s dad

 

The policemen were chatting about life in general and the situation in Herefordshire which they felt was unsatisfactory. They began talking about the possibility of moving to Wiltshire – they’d heard there was a new Chief Constable there who held views closer to theirs. Ronnie was only half listening to them until he heard them mention the new Chief’s name.

“Sorry to interrupt chaps”, he said “What were you saying about the new chief in Wiltshire?”

“Er, he’s got the right idea about what the police should be doing and he’s really got the right idea about these Auxiliary Police units – nothing more than a load of BUF hooligans.”

Ronnie wasn’t flustered by this unflattering reference to his old comrades; his BUF career was in the past and he had no problem in wiping it from his memory when it suited him and he certainly never referred to it when talking to chance companions in a pub.

“Yes, of course,quite so but what did you say his name was again?” he said casually.

“Sir Albert Brock, friend of The Kings and down from London”

Ronnie couldn’t believe his ears but kept his astonishment from showing. ‘Friend of The King’s’ maybe but also a very good friend indeed of Lady Geraldine Bigsworth-Hill, Ronnie’s mother. Old Bertie “Badger” Brock – who’d have thought it?

lady-geraldine-bigsworth-hill

Lady Geraldine Bigsworth-Hill

Never one to waste an opportunity or time, Ronnie decided his future lay in Wiltshire and, by the end of the evening, so had his companions. So next day, Ronnie, Ted Mundy (ex-Herefordshire police sergeant – ex as of that morning) and Stan Crowther (also recently ex-Herefordshire police – a constable, in his case) piled into Ted’s old Bedford van and headed off to Wiltshire.

They arrived at police Headquarters late in the afternoon and Ted and Stan immediately applied to join the force and, having documentary proof of their previous experience, were welcomed with open arms – trained policemen were a valuable commodity in these troubled times. They were a little taken aback to learn that Ronnie also had business at HQ but he was reticent about sharing the nature of it with them and they were soon too busy going through the formalities of their enrolment to concern themselves with him any more.

Ronnie, not without difficulty, persuaded the desk sergeant to send his card up to the Chief Constable – he was not persuaded that Ronnie really was a close family friend of Sir Albert but he thought it best not to take a chance. When, as seemed likely, the message came back that Ronnie was unknown to the Chief, the sergeant would know what to do. He relished the prospect.

Thirty years in the force enabled the sergeant to fix his expression as a blank mask when the message he received from on high was: “Sir Albert says send the young gentleman up immediately”.

 

sir-albert-badger-brock

Brigadier (Retd.) Sir Albert “Badger” Brock KCB

 

Ronnie was received very cordially by Sir Albert who was most anxious to have news of Lady Geraldine. Then over a couple of brandies, Ronnie told the tale of his recent exploits. Sir Albert harumphed mightily when he heard of Ronnie’s involvement in the BUF, an organisation the Chief Constable loathed with a passion. However, he intuitively realised that Ronnie was no fascist at heart and he was most interested in the active service the young man had experienced. He drew the meeting to a close with “Must get on; lot’s to do but let me have a think – I may have something for you, young feller. In the meantime, you must stay with me. I’ve got this great big house – goes with the job – with only me and the servants in it. Desk sergeant’ll tell you where it is. My man, Tremble, will look after you. You remember him? Been with me for years. Splendid fellow until 8 pm and then, of course, the effects of the wine – My Wine – take hold. Ah well, could be worse. Off you go then; I’ll see you later.”

Ronnie left police HQ with a strong impression that his fortunes were about to take a turn for the better……..

Dramatic Despatch from The Other Side of the Hill – Battle of Camrose

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Sir Gilbert's wayward nephew Ronald “Ronnie” Bigsworth-Hill

Sir Gilbert’s wayward nephew
Ronald “Ronnie” Bigsworth-Hill

A civil war can result in some uncomfortable situations. As an example, Sir Gilbert has had a letter from one of his nephews, Ronald “Ronnie” Bigsworth-Hill. Ronnie is the only son of  Sir Gilbert’s sister who formed an unhappy union with Ronnie’s father, a travelling salesman from North Shields. Bigsworth senior was a silver-tongued layabout whose main legacy to his son was a firmly held set of values that could safely be used as a definition for bigotry. Ronnie’s father, also called Ronald, left his wife and son to their own devices after fourteen years of tempestuous married life.

Ronnie soon attracted the attention of the police – he was an unsuccessful petty criminal with a violent streak – and was sent to a work camp in mid-Wales to learn how to become a better citizen. On his release, he stayed in Wales, finding intermittent employment as a labourer, before discovering an outlet for many of his dubious energies in the BUF. He joined the Sir Thomas Picton Cohort less than a year before the outbreak of the civil war and the combination of his violent criminal background, his extreme bigotry inherited from his father and the veneer of upper-class polish from his mother ensured a rapid progress through the ranks so that by the time the war had started, he had become a Storm Leader, 2nd Class.

Throughout his chequered life, Ronnie kept in touch with his uncle, Sir Gilbert. A man of undisputed probity, nevertheless Sir Gilbert has always had a buccaneering side to his character. Although superficially, the respectable minor aristocrat was worlds away from his errant nephew, he always kept a sympathetic eye on the young man’s progress through life. Sir Gilbert was, and is, never a man to let politics interfere with what he considers the best interests of him and his own and consequently the fact that his nephew is now fighting on the opposite side to that which Sir Gilbert supports doesn’t prevent him taking a benign interest in his nephew’s career. Therefore, it was with pleasurable anticipation that Sir Gilbert received a letter from his nephew that described the young man’s participation in his first battle:

Dear Uncle Gilbert

Guess what? I’ve been in my first battle! And jolly sporting it was I have to say. I’ll give you a swift canter through what happened and luckily one of my lads had his Kodak with him so there’s some snaps to show you as well.

Where should I start? Well, as you know, I’m a Storm Leader 2nd Class which is about the same as a Second Lieutenant in the old-fashioned army. I know you’re not too keen on the jolly old BUF and some of the fellows are a bit rough round the edges but then, so am I. My time in the work camp wasn’t totally wasted, I’ve had to put some of bad lads in  their place from time to time but they appreciate it and that’s how it is in the BUF; you earn respect, you don’t inherit it. No offense, old uncle – I don’t mean you.

So, there had been a major scrap nearby and our side didn’t do too well so, as usual, they sent for the Sir Thomas Picton Cohort – my lot – to sort things out. We were sent in to capture a useful bridge and a village beyond called Camrose. Here’s some photos.

You see that bridge? Well, we had to secure that, cross the river and assault the village on the ridge beyond. No problem for the Sir Tom Picton Cohort

You see that bridge? Well, we had to secure that, cross the river and assault the village on the ridge beyond. No problem for the Sir Tom Picton Cohort

A collection of local riff-raff defended the ridge. As you can see, they had some witches with them. Takes more that magic to stop the BUF

A collection of local riff-raff defended the ridge. As you can see, they had some witches with them. Takes more that magic to stop the BUF

Here we go, once more unto the breach and all that. The best Cohort in the BUF advancing on the enemy

Here we go, once more unto the breach and all that. The best Cohort in the BUF advancing on the enemy

And there's my lads..! That's me in the centre with my trusty Tommy gun and soaked to the skin after wading that river.

And there’s my lads..! That’s me in the centre with my trusty Tommy gun and soaked to the skin after wading that river.

Some support from our Loyal Landsker Legion (mounted). Also, and Old-Army tank from some posh sounding regiment actually manages to crawl forward.

Some support from our Loyal Landsker Legion (mounted). Also, an Old-Army tank from some posh sounding regiment actually manages to crawl forward.

Our Storm Commander crosses the river and we sweep on up the ridge.

Our Storm Commander crosses the river and we sweep on up the ridge.

The final moments - We advance on the remnants of the commie yokels

The final moments – We advance on the remnants of the commie yokels

So, we wiped the floor with them, of course. There was some whining about a pinko medic getting shot and the landlord’s daughter tried to get off with our lads in the middle of the fight. I don’t blame her – we’re a lusty crew but we know that victory brings all those rewards anyway so when I shouted “leave the tart for now lads, plenty of time when we’ve won the fight” they responded with a throaty roar and piled forward, driving the rebels before them like the sheep they share their houses with.

I still have hopes of persuading you to our side, uncle. I know you don’t sympathise with the communist and socialist rabble. In the meantime, wherever the fortunes of war lead us,

I remain

Your loving nephew

Ronnie (Storm Leader 2nd Class, Sir Thomas Picton Cohort, BUF).

Historical footnote: This report is based on a game fought at Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire with R. Mark Davies and his splendid band of gamers. They can be found online here:  http://wargamesasp.freeforums.net/