Sunday, 22 April 2018


"I've received a very strange letter," said the Bishop. "Here, Rupert, you'd better take a look."

Colonel Rupert Lethbridge-Stewart, better known as "Big X" of the Ecclesiastial Intelligence Service, made a show of reading the strange missive. He had long deemed it part of his internal intelligence duties to have all the Bishop's correspondence steamed open and re-sealed before delivery, and was already familiar with its contents.

"Strange indeed," he said. There was no need for the Bishop to know. "Big X" read aloud:

FROM The Editor, Private Parts Magazine, A Secret  Location, Somewhere in London

Your Grace,

I know that you must be aware of our monthly investigative journal, as the ‘Church Times’ has, in the past, described us as ‘crude, lewd, and very rude’, while the Government’s Chief  Censor, Sir Attila Smashem, has called us ‘a filthy unpatriotic subversive little rag’. I am pleased to acknowledge both descriptions as accurate.

The reason for my letter is to pass on to you an advance copy of an article which, subject  to our secret printing press not being found by H.M.Government in the interim, will appear shortly in our magazine. I think you will find it interesting.

Yours faithfully,
William Tell (Editor)


Our undercover reporter, the intrepid Ivor Bignose, has recently uncovered startling news of the possible fate of Major Miles Straitt-Jackett, the noted Royalist commander recently reported killed at the Battle of Wigmore Hall. Readers may recall that the Major was said to have been ‘blown to pieces’ by a stray artillery shell, and was not seen after the battle ended, though an ambulance was seen leaving the area at high speed with a military escort. Here is Ivor’s report –

"Initially I watched the Special Hospital for Investigating Trauma at Woolwich for several days, managing to take a couple of poor-quality photographs of a mysterious individual, but was totally unsuccessful in trying to gain access to this high-security unit.

I then made my way to a nearby public house, "The Hand and Eye", which is a popular haunt of hospital staff. Masquerading as a wounded ex-serviceman selling matches, I struck up a conversation with a hospital porter, whom I shall refer to as "Igor". After numerous pints of "Old Dropsy", the man gradually became a little more talkative. Steering the conversation around to Major Straitt-Jackett, I showed him the photographs and asked if it was indeed the well known Government commander. Igor's reply was "mothly". When I asked him what he meant, he tapped the side of his nose in a knowing manner and said "We hath the technology, we can webuilth him", and cackled loudly.

I asked how this was possible and  ‘Igor’ belched loudly, and said ‘depenths how many bithts you’ve got’. Then he continued ‘Old Dr. Frank Enthstein wath lucky that lightning thtruck the hothpital generator when it did, all that exthra power’. By now ‘Igor’ was starting to ramble as  the eight pints of ‘Old Dropsy’ started to take effect, and he digressed into  ‘that power cut buggered up the wadio weport of the England game though, jutht ath we got the equalither against thoth Fwoggie bathdards’. At that point ‘Igor’’s eyes closed and his head drooped forward into his ninth pint of beer.

Just then the door burst open and a squad of BUF goons stormed in. After a nod from a man standing at the bar – a fascist spy no doubt – they strode up to me and hauled me roughly outside. It seems suspicion had been aroused by a match-seller’s ability to buy so many pints of ‘Old Dropsy’. Luckily, I just had time to hide the photographs where they could not be found without rubber gloves. When I awoke in a nearby alley some hours later I was thankful to find myself almost unharmed, apart from the two broken fingers, a fractured wrist, four cracked ribs, a black eye and three missing teeth.

Clearly H.M.Government have something to hide at this establishment. Can it really be that Major Straitt-Jackett is alive, or has been revived or even reconstituted somehow ? Only time will tell !"

"Big X" dropped the letter back onto the Bishop's mahogany desk. "That young reporter is very lucky still to be alive, I'd say. To my knowledge, the first photographs from the Special Hospital. The best we've been able to do is some detailed pencil sketches of their type of treatment...."

"....which, I have to say, has a very poor track record. Your Grace, I'd recommend that we keep a close watch on the Special Hospital for the Investigation of Trauma at Woolwich, and await developments...."

with thanks to Alan for the letter and article. All of Ludlow eagerly await developments in the strange case of Major Straitt-Jackett (Deceased?).

Sunday, 18 March 2018


The Bishop tapped the crisp manila folder atop his desk. Leaning forward, he stared evenly at his Chief of Intelligence, Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart.

"It would have been well, Rupert, had we had THIS rather earlier. Yesterday, it would have been vital intelligence. Now, well....." the Bishop's querulous tones trailed off into deep contemplation.

"It's no more than a historical artefact." Lethbridge-Stewart nodded. "I know, Bishop, I know. The fact is that many of our best agents risked their lives to deliver the Wigmore All Round Defence Plan into our hands. It's not their fault that the transmission times were so slow."

"Of course, of course". The Bishop sighed. "It's just that sometimes...."

"You'd like your information current ? Up to date ? Hot off the press, as it were ?"


The Colonel made a show of opening his bulging, leather bound briefcase. A flourish produced another manilla folder, clearly marked : "W/T intercept. BIG X - EYES ONLY". 

"There are some things that you can't know, Your Grace. For your own protection, as it were. And some things that you may wish you didn't know." The Colonel paused for effect. "Take this, for example. Our latest intercept from Comrade Professor Winter's Field HQ. Freshly decoded."


"Operation Hubris ?" The Bishop raised an eyebrow.

"The publication..." Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart cleared his throat. "The publication of Colonel Mustard's memoirs. The presses will already be running hot in Liverpool."

"No! Surely to goodness, Rupert, no! Even a godless Communist like Winters has more sense than that!"

"Merely a different frame of reference, Bishop. He'll be calculating that de Braose and the aristocracy in the County will be be unable to stand the resulting scandal. A Government in crisis. A revolutionary situation created. A power vacuum. The triumphant march of the great proletariat to the higher reaches of authority, that kind of thing. Or perhaps it was simply a reflex of revenge, a spasm of anger at the news of the Mortimer/Government alliance. Who can tell with a madman like Winters ?"

"And the Government ? Will they know of this ? Sir Barrington ?"

"They'll know soon enough, Bishop." Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart delved deep into his briefcase and produced another folder, marked "Agent Orange - Diary Extract - BIG X - EYES ONLY". "For the moment, however, Sir Barrington appears to be rather pleased with himself."

"Good grief ! His diary entry ! From yesterday, of all things !" The Bishop read eagerly:

The Mortimer Defence Plan has seen off all aggressors!

My old friend 'Himalaya' Joe reports that, with the help of a police flying column, he was able to hold off a Royalist/BUF assault before forcing them to the negotiating table.

It was agreed that, in return for the Royalists/BUF guaranteeing the neutrality and independence of Mortimer Country and for assisting us in defending against Red aggression, we would supply them with any surplus foodstuffs.

Despite the untimely demise of Straitt-Jacket, this agreement has held firm, with the Royalists duly taking the fight to the Commies. Ties were slightly strained when a section of Royalist sailors descended on the Mortimer Brewery with the intent of drinking it dry, but they were gently 'called time' by the Hereford Hunt Hussars, backed up by an armoured car (kept back in case of treachery and in no way bogged down in front of the Brewery).

Thus reinforced, I was able to look on from my vantage point at Wigmore Hall as the new alliance comfortably knocked the Reds for six. These godless rebels had already proved themselves incapable of defeating my forces in the area, despite outnumbering them three-to-one. Indeed their only accomplishment was the burning of the cricket pavilion; a building that can easily be repaired. The commander of 'Pavilion Force' will be suitably promoted for his gallant defence and courageous counterattack.

I gather from my friends defending my transmitter station that Radio Free Mortimer remains on the air after blunting a thrust from the Anglican League. In doing so they also kept them out of the grounds of Wigmore Hall and will also be duly rewarded.

The Hall never was never really threatened and so my staff were rarely troubled (much to the disappointment of the mortar crew) as the police and BUF took the brunt of the fighting on the approach road. The Chief Inspector will receive a glowing report from me and I daresay commendations will be in order.

We were able to rescue all of the livestock from the Brewery locale, but alas I'm led to believe that returns were low from the Transmitter. I have yet to learn the livestock returns from the Pavilion end.

So have I got into bed with the Royalists and BUF? Perhaps so. I would never side with the Reds. As for the Anglicans, whilst perhaps in pursuit of a noble cause, they have yet to approach me with a suitable offer. However, the door is not yet closed and my niece is still in search of a spouse..."

"A suitable offer ? A suitable offer ?" The Bishop sputtered. "The hand in marriage of my former ward ? The waiving of any dowry for Miss Nemone upon the conclusion of such a match ? The hand of Ludlow in eternal friendship ? No suitable offer ?"

"Yes." Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart returned the Bishop's goggle-eyed stare. "I'm afraid that the Shropshire Swain is overdue a stern talking-to, Bishop. Unlucky in love, unlucky on the battlefield, trailed coats and garden paths, that kind of thing."

"Well, I take everything back, Colonel. My profound apologies. This kind of intelligence could not be more current. Agent Orange?"

"One of Patchpole KC's staff, sir. I'd rather not say who."

Sir Barrington's Personal Household Staff. Who could be "Agent Orange" ?

"Of course. I quite understand." The Bishop tapped his nose. "Need to know and all that."

"Quite." The Colonel produced yet another manilla folder, on this occasion marked "Government Propaganda Broadcasts - MOST RECENT - PS - PERSONAL FOR BIG X - Do we really have to transcribe this guff ?", and started reading:

‘Government Troops yesterday assisted in repelling concerted attacks on Wigmore Hall in North Herefordshire by Communist and Anglican forces. Despite still suffering from wounds received at KINGTON, Storm Commander Giles led a relief column to the aid of the beleaguered Mortimer LDV garrison at WIGMORE HALL, and together they succeeded in halting the enemy advance.

Previously wary relations between the Government and Sir Barrington Patchpole KC were greatly improved when Major Straitt-Jackett’s Gas Street Irregulars managed to rescue ‘STANLEY’ and ‘NEVILLE’, the two eldest male offspring of the famous ‘FAT TED’, Sir Barrington’s favourite porker. The safe return of said offspring formed the basis of an agreement between Sir Barrington and H.M. Government, by which it was agreed that Mortimer Country should remain clear of all factions, whilst recognising His Majesty Edward VIII and supplying food resources as requested to Government forces. In return H.M.Government undertook to provide military assistance if requested by Sir Barrington, in the event of MORTIMER COUNTRY being threatened by any other faction.

A Government spokesman refused to confirm reports that MAJOR STRAITT-JACKETT was killed by a stray artillery round shortly after negotiating the agreement.‘

The Colonel closed the folder with a snap. "Not a word about Mustard's memoirs. No attempt as yet to prepare the people for what's bound to come. It looks like the Government and Patchpole have completedly under-estimated the long term effects of their alliance, Your Grace."

"I shall pray, Rupert." The Bishop waived his Chief of Intelligence towards the door. "I shall pray. It is all that can be done. Those Memoirs! The reputation of those ladies.....ruined! And not for politics, not even for politics! All for Fat Ted, Sir Barrington's pet pig!"

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Hereford1938 AVBCW - SPRING BIG GAME 2018

The scenario for the Spring Big Game 2018 (Burley Gate Village Hall, Saturday 17th March 2018, 10am - 5pm) has now been published on the Hereford1938 TNG Blog here. All those participating in or following the continuing AVBCW campaign should check in for the up to date news!

Thursday, 15 February 2018


Every Fascist leader needs a downtown HQ in their favourite colour(1). Herr Hitler started the trend with his infamous "Brown House" in Munich:

The Brown House, Munich
only to be quickly copied by Sir Oswald Mosley with his London "Black House", complete with Blackshirt "sentries" :

The BUF "Black House" situated at the Sloane Square end of the Kings Road
while Hereford's own Captain Arrowsmith, never one to miss a trend, soon requisitioned his own HQ in Central Hereford, the well known Residence Hotel:
The Residence Hotel before the VBCW, now requisitioned by the BUF.
Situated on the corner of Broad Street and King Street, both hard by the County Library and Museum and opposite the Cathedral Precinct itself, Hereford's own "Black House" soon acquired a notorious reputation, not only as Captain Arrowsmith's luxurious living quarters, but also as HQ of his plain-clothed "Special Investigation Directorate" (with accompanying heavily padded "interrogation suites" in the cellars):

The original view of the Cathedral from Captain Arrowsmith's office windows in the Hereford "Black House",
 formerly the Residence Hotel.

The reverse view. King Street can be seen on the left of the photograph, while the County
Library and Museum can be seen on the right.
With his ambitious plans to convert the now disused Cathedral(2) into a "People's Palace" (devoted to displays of Hereford's agricultural tradition and growing arms industries, together with his own glorification), Captain Arrowsmith moved quickly to improve his view, dynamiting the terrace of shops and houses that stood between his office windows and the Cathedral itself.
Fascist Town Planning  in action : the Terrace is no more.  Although by no means the only example of his notoriously destructive attitude to architecture, some eighty years on, locals still say that the open approach to
 Hereford Cathedral remains Captain Arrowsmith's chief legacy in the City.
Shortly after the completion of these works of "improvement", however, Captain Arrowsmith abruptly absented himself from his new "Black House". Quite why he chose to do so remains, to historians, one of the enduring mysteries of Hereford's VBCW. The traditional view, namely that Arrowsmith enriched himself at the Bank of England's expense, causing it's collapse and a hasty flight abroad for Hereford's fascist leader, had been subject to sharp criticism in both fact and fiction from the so-called "revisionist school" (see e,g, - "Arrowsmith : A Man Maligned?" ed. Putin & Trump, Pan Books [paperback, remaindered] "My Perfick Country Captain" ed Cartland, Mills&Boon). What is known, of course, is that the worldwide "Arrowsmith Hunt" became one of the great newspaper features of 1938.....


(1). That said - neither Mussolini nor Franco appear to have indulged. Perhaps their many palazzos proved sufficient for their needs.

(2). The Bishop of Hereford fell into captivity at the outbreak of the Hereford VBCW. The Dean & Chapter sought sanctuary in Ludlow. With the Government at war with the Anglicans (amongst many others), the Cathedral has been declared "closed for the duration" as a place of worship. 

(3).  Future timeline note..Modern day visitors to Hereford will search in vain for the Residence Hotel. In circumstances to be detailed in future posts, the building "met its end" before the conclusion of the VBCW, and the site is now occupied by a hastily built post war office block. Many thanks to the editor of "Hereford VBCW : Then and Now" for identifying the site and providing this up to date comparison image:

The site of the Residence Hotel as redeveloped. The City Library & Museum still stands in the centre of
this photograph, but substantial post VBCW development has taken place on either side. Still on the corner of
Broad Street and King Street, the place of the former "BUF Black House" has  now been taken by a rather
unprepossessing  and flat roofed office and shop complex. Nothing now remains to remind Herefordians
of Captain Arrowsmith's brief "reign" within their city. 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Autumn Big Game 2017 (PART FOUR)

"Good news!" Cousin Verity of the Verity LDV had gatecrashed the Commanders' Conference, grinning from ear to ear. "I've made a little local truce with Councillor Cracknutt!"

Mid-sentence, the Bishop's jaw dropped open. Just as he had been about to outline his plan for the inevitable destruction of the Royalist forces....somehow he managed to recover his composure. Commandant Lasalle looked equally thunderstruck. There was a low growl of disapproval from the gathered Anglican staff officers. Loud firing and the sound of explosions from Storm Leader Giles' "Rural Redoubt" told everyone that he was already under sharp attack from the "true traitor", Captain Morgan, and his forces. The issue was clearly in substantial doubt.

"A deal authorised by his commander, Storm Commander Giles, presumably? Or is Councillor Cracknutt equally as insubordinate?" The Bishop gave Verity his best stern look.

"Oh no" grinned Cousin Verity, oblivious. "Just between us. We thought we'd have a crack at those Communists, you see, instead of each other. Giles has no idea of the plan just yet."

"Sacre bleu!" Commandant Lasalle exploded into a volley of gallic oaths.

"Well," said the Bishop, "then at least we are not bound." As if on queue, the LEAF's mortar fired another round, dropping neatly into Councillor Cracknutt's much beloved section of hockey stick waving schoolgirls. A sharp shriek told the conference it had found at least one target.

"M'sieu..." Commandant Lasalle was clearly struggling to contain himself as he sought to persuade Cousin Verity. "M'sieu.......les Noirs.......c'est un opportunite d'or! C'est l'opportunite de la guerre entiere!" He gestured towards the scattered command maps, illustrating the hopelessness of Councillor Cracknutt's tactical position. "Cet offre de n'est pas fou - il est desespere!"

Verity looked stubborn, insisting mutinously, "Well, we both want to have a crack at those Commies.".

"Have you not this morning taken the Oath of Stubborn Loyalty, sir? And are you not," enquired the Bishop icily, "a relation of staunch Captain Verity, true Anglican and courageous allied commander of the Forces of Ludlow in our past engagements?"[1]

"That's so," shrugged Cousin Verity, still grinning. "But, don't you know, I've always been rather the black sheep of the family?"

The Bishop sighed. Verity was clearly unpersuadable. Without the co-operation of the still unengaged Verity LDV, all of the Anglican plans for the complete destruction of the Royalist forces were unworkable. Commandant Lasalle had thrown down his kepi in disgust, and was busy jumping up and down on its flattened khaki remains in a vain attempt to control his anger.

The Command Telephone rang. It was Storm Commander Giles' Signals Section, now passing on an authorised offer of temporary truce. The gathered staff officers burst into laughter, joining in a spontaneous chorus of "Robin Hood....Robin Hood...."[2]

"Well, I'm not going to fight Cracknutt...." Cousin Verity shuffled backward, pouting.

The Bishop raised his crozier, calming the assembled staff. "It's no good, I'm afraid. It is, as it always has been, in the Hands of God. The Verity LDV will left wheel and head towards the ungodly forces of Winter's Communists. We shall maintain a watching brief upon this so-called temporary truce, for as we all know, the word of a Fascist can hardly be said to be the word of a gentleman...."

And so it was that, having spent all morning marching towards Councillor Cracknutt's forces, the Verity LDV spent all afternoon marching towards Comrade Commissar Winter's forces - as it turned out, in an ultimately vain attempt to "get into action".

But more of Cousin Verity and LDV later, for all eyes were now focussed on the staunch left flanking Brichester LDV, the Anglican's first line of defence against the forces of the Faithless Communists. The Command Conference adjourned to the upstairs rooms of the Gardener's Cottage for a better view of the new battlefield.

"Goodness, sir" A staff officer was straining through his binoculars. "Goodness me. I really do believe that Winter's going to try it."

A long shot of the afternoon battlefield. As the Brichester LDV deploy in the right foreground (supported
by a section of Ludlow Infantry on the cricket field behind) the slavering hordes of Godless Communism
gather for one almighty infantry charge across endless open ground. In the right background can be seen
Captain Morgan's last reserves, the Hereford Police Watch Committee, reinforcing the North Herefordshire
 LDV's continuous attacks against Storm Commander Giles WYRD forces.
A horde of Communist infantry - all that Winter could muster from his own forces - appeared over a slight crest and began a long distance charge towards the dug in Brichester LDV. Comrade Gollumroo's field gun unlimbered to provide artillery support, but his infantry seemed suspiciously more sluggish in advance. ("Oh yeth, yeth, vethy good, this way we don'th get shot up like Winter's lot, yeth....we justh blow things up from a safe distance, oh yeth, hehehehe...mebbe I take over aftersh....hehe.....")

"Three platoons against three platoons, sir. No roads, and an awfully long way to go, too....all over open ground against troops behind hard cover. I don't fancy Winter's odds at all." There was a murmur of general agreement amongst the Anglican staff. "And of course we can use our Somua in support, Verity's on his way, and all of our platoons are still in reserve...."

A sudden buzzing alerted everyone to the source of Comrade Commissar Winter's confidence - a ground attack by the hitherto unknown Red Air Force! [3]

The Red Air Force introduce themselves to the Hereford VBCW. Below can be seen the Brichester LDV
deploying into strong positions within a walled enclosure, and the Bishop's Somua in support.
Disaster! A strafing attack on the Brichester LDV causes ground casualties, but the Red Aircraft
is riddled by return fire. As a 1/1 scale ground observer passes a silent commentary upon
proceedings, the Red Aircraft turns over and starts to dive downward, on fire and out of control.....
The smoking remains of the Red Aircraft. The forces of Storm Commander Giles take a minute's break
from their woody warfare to observe the results of the Brichester LDV's firepower.
The Bishop eyed the smoking remains of the once proud Red Air Force. "That" he said, "would seem to be that."

But still the Communist infantry came on, no doubt conscious of Winter's NKVD machine guns behind them. (although the Ecclesiastical Intelligence Service have since discovered that the NKVD machine guns were also positioned behind Winters himself.)

"Je crois que le NKVD - c'est preferable, n'est-ce pas?" joked Commandant Lasalle, as the Brichester LDV opened up on the advancing horde.

"They shall come on in the old way." said the Bishop. "And we shall see them off in the old way. I think I can leave this with you, my dear Commandant. I have a sermon to write."

And so it was that the afternoon was dominated by two great battles : the forces of "the true traitor", Captain Morgan, in a heavily forested death struggle with Storm Commander Giles on the right, and the forces of the faithless Winters against the gallant Brichester LDV on the left. As Councillor Cracknutt hurried to support his Storm Commander (encouraged by the LEAF's Behemoth Destroyers warily shadowing his armoured forces from behind, just in case), Cousin Verity slogged across the battlefield by way of promised aid to Brichester. Save for the engagement of the LEAF Somua in support of the Brichester LDV, and the readying of reserves, it could be truly said that the Bishop's forces remained "the calm, still centre of a turning world".

On the right, The Battle in the Woods. Fascists vs Cricketers and Policemen
On the left, the Communist Horde meet Professor Campbell's Marvellous Mechanical Man in close combat.... the long files of the Verity LDV advance forward in support. Cousin Verity's "Lunchtime Purchase" of
The News of the World 1938 Competition Winners infantry section can be seen towards the top of
the photograph, denoted by their outsize patriotic flag.
"News, gentlemen?" The Bishop had emerged from the Gardener's Cottage towards the late afternoon, the first draft of his sermon satisfactorily completed. The Anglican staff officers gathered round.

"It seems that Captain Morgan has bought it, sir - sometime earlier this afternoon. The North Hereford LDV then came under the command of a NKVD Commissar, but it seems he went west shortly thereafter. Goodness knows what's happening within those woods really; seems that Storm Commander Giles has been wounded, too [4]. Councillor Cracknutt's forces are just going in now."

"Any infractions of this afternoon's truce ?"

"None at all, sir. A pleasure to deal with Cracknutt, especially after Comrade Gollumroo. I don't think I could have coped with much more of that slobbering..."

"Yes, I see. And how fares Brichester?"

"Heavy casualties, sir. Gollumroo's 18 pdr has been particularly effective this afternoon. But rock solid, Brichester, and the first wave of the Communist charge has been decimated. I don't think Winter can have a lot left, frankly. And the Verity LDV are now finally moving into the front line, relieving Brichester's positions. We still have all of our forces in reserve, of course, but the light will clearly go very shortly. The Reds are obviously played out."


"What ho, Bishop!" A cheery wave from Cousin Verity, continuing his tradition of insouciance as he sauntered past. "Just off to take on those Commies, a little later than I thought, but there we are. Ta-ra now!"

It was but a minute later, and but a 100 yards down the roadway, that the sky darkened directly over Cousin Verity and his entire Headquarters Section, including his medic and Standard Bearer [5]. The Bishop saw Verity glance up in surprise and shock, just as he and the entire Verity HQ disappeared in a blinding flash and roll of explosive thunder and smoke. Comrade Gollumroo's 18pdr had struck once again, leaving the Verity LDV leaderless. Hehehe...yeth! [6]

"The judgment of the Almighty" murmured the Bishop, regarding three pairs of smoking Lobbs' boots and Verity's empty suede loafers rather dubiously. "One of you staff chaps will have to take over command of that LDV...."

But night was already falling. The twin battles of the afternoon were coming naturally to an end. On the right, Councillor Cracknutt's fresh forces finally expelled the last remnants of the North Herefordshire LDV from the Rural Redoubt. On the left, Comrade Winters had finally run out of Communist lives to throw away heedlessly, and Comrade Gollumroo's "second wave" seemed disinclined to make any forward progress. As the remains of the Royalist forces retired southward in some kind of order, the Battle of Berrington Approaches was over.

But not for the evening editions of Ludlow's newspapers, which could add yet more dramatic headlines:







Postcript: The groaning figure of Storm Commander Giles lay on the makeshift operating table set up in the grand dining room of Berrington Hall, now a casualty clearing station. The BUF Surgeon Commander eyed his thigh wound dubiously. "This will never do" he said to the assembled medical team. "We'll have to cut off those damned green tights before anything else..." Giles levered himself up on one elbow. "Don't put me out! No anaesthetic! I've got to report to de Braose before anyone else gets the chance! It's a matter of life or death!" He groaned and settled back once more. A nurse approached  with some surgical scissors. "Now, now, Commander, this will only take a minute...."

The lights went OUT. The operating theatre was plunged into utter darkness. "I'm afraid its the electricity company, Surgeon Commander" muttered one of his juniors. "What with the collapse of the Bank, they've gone right ahead and cut us off......"

[1]. The staunch Captain Verity had fought alongside the Ludlow Expeditionary Force and the illustrious Golden Valley Invincibles of Sir Gilbert Hill at the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge.
[2]. In the famous Ludlow musical hall version, of course : "....loved by the bad, routed by the good, Robin Hood, Robin Hood...." Pantomime hissing upon each stage entrance of "Robin de Giles" is considered de rigeur. A "long run" of every revival is always predicted - and inevitably achieved.
[3]. The first use of battlefield air power since Captain Arrowsmith's Fiat CR32 at the Battle of Foy. The famous Anglican 366 Squadron are, of course, well known in the skies above Hereford, but have yet to make a battlefield appearance.
[4]. It seems that Storm Commander Giles was wounded in the left thigh. Wags in Ludlow put the wound slightly higher and rather more central, but the EIS have discounted this rumour. While sniggering, of course.
[5]. While this may be taken as a traditional sign of "bad omen" in the 1/60 scale VBCW world, in the 1/1 scale VBCW world it arises upon an opaqued artillery template being placed directly over the heads of the immediate target. Comrade Gollumroo's 18pdr had saved up one last surprise....
[6]. Comrade Gollumroo (Roo) must clearly have temporarily forgotten the rule that "HQs cannot be deliberately targetted by artillery". With no protest from Cousin Verity (Gavin), however, the Bishop (Clive) found his biography of Nelson at the Battle of the Nile truly diverting reading...
[7]. According to the scenario, each of the main factions (Socialist, Royalist/BUF, Anglican) had their own "bank" with which to pay LDVs that had been recruited in the morning session. However, one of the Banks was to "fail" at the end of the game, leaving the relevant LDVs without payment. A simple dice off between Comrade Winters (Rob), Storm Commander Giles (Giles) and the Bishop of Ludlow (Clive) at the end of the afternoon determined that Royalist Bank of England had catastrophically failed and the British Pound was now worthless. Truly not a lucky day for Giles...

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Autumn Big Game 2017 (PART THREE)


As the Bishop contentedly tucked into his beef and horseradish sandwiches, followed by a substantial slice of fruitcake [1] and cup of honest English tea, even as Storm Commander Giles tried out his karaoke "Robin Hood" impression deep within his dark and bosky den [2], the umpires met.

["We've got to do something", said Umpire Clive, puffing anxiously on an umpteeth cigarette. "The whole thing's just too unbalanced now, and we've all afternoon to go." Umpire Roo agreed, but in a strangely hesitant and non-committal fashion. A variety of options were considered, none of which found ready agreement. "Well" ventured Umpire Clive reluctantly, "I suppose we could ask Rob (Comrade-Commissar Winters) if he wouldn't mind, just to help us out, you know, kind of becoming completely over-confident after his early victory at Kington, putting aside the long standing Anglican/Socialist anti Fascist alliance for a while, and having a go at everyone from the flank?" At this suggestion, a very strange thing happened. Umpire Roo's body suddenly shortened and spasmed, his skin greyed, eyes growing to blood shot and jaundiced saucers, his hair fell out to a mere wisp, and suddenly the mishapen result was chittering: "Oh yeth, yeth, oh yeth..." It was Comrade Gollumroo in the flesh. "Oh yeth, my precious...we'd decided thath, we were going to do thath anywayth...." The appalling vision slimed and skittered back into the Hall, leaving an astonished Umpire Clive to contemplate the likely afternoon's play...]

The headlines of Ludlow's various afternoon newspapers now screamed their own story:








"It seems to me" said the Bishop, carefully wiping the very last crumb of delicious fruitcake from his lips, "that we can still achieve the victory...."

Rumour and counter-rumour had flooded into Anglican Headquarters over lunch. "The Reds", heedless of strategy and faithless to previous treaty understandings, were evidently "on the march", for their cavalry were already skirmishing forward under the outward pretence of "bringing a message for the Bishop".[4] Commandant Lasalle excitedly leaned forward over his stack of battle-maps. "Mai oui, M'sieu L'Eveque! C'est certainement! Voyez ici...."

His stubby finger traced out the Anglican options. On the right, having spent the whole morning marching, the Verity LDV were at last coming into a position to assault Councillor Cracknutt's forces. The LEAF Behemoth Destroyers, despatched at the request of Cousin Verity, were poised to destroy such armour as the Councillor had in support - the "Little Italian Tank" and a consistently "wheelspinning" (Not Very) Armoured Car - and then wheel round behind the LDV's sole (armoured) artillery piece, squeezing Councillor Cracknutt's forces into "a pocket of destruction" hard up against Storm Commander Giles' Rural Redoubt.

Or not, as the case may be. On the A49 itself, the hitherto unused infantry sections of the LEAF and a plethora of armour and armoured cars provided a ready alternative strategy. The heavily armoured Somua behemoth idled at the cross-roads, waiting for orders. An armoured car of the Verity LDV, and two armoured cars of the Brichester LDV were on hand to "lead a charge" down the road against the solitary "Wyrd Force" armoured car. Another round or two from the LEAF mortar would put paid to the AT gun and MMG (whose crews had already suffered losses), and the remaining infantry forces of Councillor Cracknutt and Storm Commander Giles (heavily engaged  in the Rural Redoubt, suffering enormous losses, against the forces of Councillor Morgan) would be fatally split asunder.....

"Mais les Rouges, M'sieu L'Eveque...." Commandant Lasalle chewed frantically on his cheroot, calculating time and distance. The two Platoons of Commissar Winters had a very long way to go before reaching the flank defences of the Ludlow forces; in any event, the defending Brichester LDV Platoon, already known to be stout hearted, were well dug in : a direct charge would cause appalling Socialist casualties."Non, c'est parfait." considered the Commandant finally. "Nous finissons contre les Noirs, et apres, les sales Rouges!"

Command Decision - the Bishop takes a moment to contemplate his options.
A flank attack by the Verity LDV, squeezing the "Government" forces into
a deathtrap, or an A49 charge, splitting them asunder ? Truly a moment of destiny.
Lunchtime was over....[and the post lunchtime auction of additional forces took place, using the new campaign cash rules. Cousin Verity invested in "The News of the World 1938 Competition Winners", a bowler hatted and umbrella waving infantry section; Commissar Winters supplemented his infantry forces with the BBC Light Entertainment Concert Party, and Captain Morgan, to demonstrate his absolute fidelity to his new masters went all in and spent the very last of his cash reserves on the well-trained Herefordshire Watch Committee]....and the Bishop had made his final decision.

[1] as prepared by Mrs Miggins. Regular listeners to the Bishop's Broadcasting Service will already be familiar with the daring escape from Hereford of this well known society confectioner, but newcomers can read the full tale HERE
[2] reportedly "in full costume", including a tiny tricorne and green tights. The Amalgamated Society of Music Hall Comedians would like to thank Storm Commander Giles for keeping them in business, and the whole of Ludlow in gales of laughter at the tale....
[3]. the Chancellor of All Ludlow, the Rev. Duff-Postin, had been conducting lengthy negotiations with the Socialist (Very Broad) Front, as recorded in detail HERE. It has since turned out that Eustace Spode safely evacuated the supposed "Little Hereford Pocket" (in order to attend the County Golf Challenge), while evidently the Rev Duff-Postin, when singing "The Internationale" with Comrade Red Robbo, was simply negotiating with the wrong type of socialist. In any event, the worthy Reverend's "detente" policy has undoubtedly collapsed by reason of Comrade-Commissar Winter's battlefield betrayal of the Bishop.
[4]. a flimsy excuse that stood no hope of being believed. The Red cavalry were nearly all mown down by Storm Commander Giles' MMG in any event, the few remaining, being unable to produce "The PASSWORD" were given a metal jacketed .303 Brichester LDV message from the Bishop to "Ogre" Winters. Thus perished the first of the Red attacks upon the Bishop's lines....

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Autumn Big Game 2017 (PART TWO)

The early part of "The Battle of Berrington Approaches" (as it has subsequently become known) was one of quiet maneouvre. The Ludlow forces captured the strategically important "A49 intersection" without incident, and the Bishop, as ever leading from the front, established his "Forward Command Post" in the grounds of the "Gardener's Cottage". While the Behemoth Destroyers, in support of Cousin Verity's LDV, stalked Councillor Cracknutt's "Little Italian Tank" and "(Not Very) Armoured Car" on the right flank, the Anglican mortar's firebase was established in the walled grounds of the Gardener's Cottage, and the weapon made ready to fire...
The Bishop's Forward Battle HQ at the Gardener's Cottage. To the left, the A49 intersection and the first
appearance of the Brichester LDV's secret weapon - Doctor Campbell's "Marvellous Mechanical Man".
In the distance, the forces of Councillor Cracknutt and an advance by the "Gnat" AT Rifle.
It was on the fields of Kington, however, that the true action of the morning took place. Whether suffering from a rush of blood to his (very bald) head, or whether McCavity, his chauffeur, had difficulty in selecting the correct gear, Sir Alan McGuffin's behemoth suddenly jolted into a very enthusiastic, but very solitary, charge towards the oncoming forces of Comrade Commissar Winters....

Fore! Sir Alan's armoured charge begins...but what are those chaps nearly under his tracks up to?
(Photographs Courtesy of "Red Star" Picture Agency)
a charge that lead to an unexpectedly swift disaster.....

Socialist (Broad Front) Terror Bombers in action!

Boom! The open topped Behemoth is grenaded into a smoking mess!
....the swift and explosive death of McCavity the chauffeur and the entire Club Committee (still trying to follow the instruction manuals, they had clearly not kept a watch out for insurgents) and the shameful capture of Sir Alan and a badly wounded MacCaddie. [1]

Nothing daunted by such an early reverse (indeed perhaps prompted by it), Captain Morgan immediately announced that he was in fact, beyond peradventure and without a shadow of a doubt, "An Outright Traitor" to the Royalist cause and promptly joined forces with the Socialist (Very Broad) Front!

[Craig read out the following "Umpire's Luxurious Sealed Envelope Character Instruction" :




DOGGEDLY LOYAL. “You have reached a deal with your Faction Commander and will absolutely honour it - without question, come what may - to the end of the day. I say, what a chap! We’re afraid you don’t get any bonuses, but then you don’t get any penalties, either. Well done!”


This is what you tell your Faction Commander and fellow players, but it is completely UNTRUE. You are in fact an OUTRIGHT TRAITOR. No-one knows this but you - not the present “Opposition” nor even the “Umpires”. Reveal yourself and join “the other side” when you wish at any stage during the course of the game after the first two moves by stating “My Luxurious Envelope has given me new instructions, and I am in fact a black hearted traitor who will now make common cause with the other side - bye, bye, suckers!”  If you shoot your former friends in the back at the same time, or otherwise act with ingenious evility, you will get extra Umpire acclaim.



Such a dramatic turn of events completely over-shadowed the methodical preparations of the Anglican forces for their own afternoon assault. The Bishop's mortar had begun popping away, despatching crew members of Storm Leader Giles' MMG and AT Gun at frequent intervals. It would only be a matter of time before both were destroyed, or pulled back out of action. On the right, Cousin Verity's LDV plodded on, getting ready to flank the forces of Councillor Cracknutt. On the left, the Brichester LDV happily ensconced themselves in a walled field redoubt, ready for anything...

And "ready for anything" was the watchword for lunchtime. Storm Leader Giles had blanched visibly as Captain Morgan had declared his traitorous intent, reducing the "Government" forces, already in a minority, to a mere six Platoons against (now) eighteen of the combined Opposition. Air Reconnaissance reported that the Socialists were "well beyond their seige lines, spilling over the Kington plains without the slightest opposition"[3]. Quite what Lord de Braose, Governor of the Marches, would make of such news in due course....Storm Leader Giles could feel the blindfold being placed over his eyes, the sharp words of command to the black-clad firing squad....and to make matter worse, Councillor Cracknutt was now to be heard muttering about "the necessity of an orderly retirement" and delivering himself of the opinion that "Bugger Christmas! This is all going to be over by lunchtime!"

Clearly, Lord de Braose was (as ever) completely out of touch, for Anglican radio intercepts promptly delivered to the Bishop his "Order of the Day", promoting the embattled Storm Leader to Storm Commander.[4] The newly promoted Fascist Leader, now under sharp attack on the right from Captain Morgan at the head of his enthusiastically traitorous LDV - and about to suffer a death-knell advance by the now overwhelmingly superior Anglican forces - did the only thing that he could, and promptly dived into the available tree cover.

A pre-game view of the A49 Battlefield - before the mountain to the right, by God's mercy, was excavated
from the table to leave a plain. Lacking the Alps, Storm Commander Giles intended to use the foreground woods
 as a "Rural Redoubt". This panorama also provides a fine view of the A49 itself, the Gardeners Cottage
(as quickly occupied by the Bishop), and the walled enclosure, as occupied by the Brichester LDV.
With the ashen faced Storm Commander reduced to playing "hide and seek", and Councillor Cracknutt's LDV about to perform their "orderly retirement" before the oncoming forces of the Verity LDV, what now for the future of the Herefordshire VBCW ?

[1]. Radio Moscow has broadcast that MacCaddie was killed along with the rest of the Behemoth crew. This announcement was clearly subject to be battlefield confusion, and premature. MacCaddie lives!
[2]. This was all supremely bad luck for Storm Commander Giles. The odds of a traitor appearing on the battlefield at all were 5%, and consequently, the odds of a traitor to the Fascist cause were somewhere around 1.25% - 2.5%.
[3]. As indeed they were. With the defection of Captain Morgan and the Herefordshire LDV, the Government now had no defending forces at all on the fields of Kington.
[4]. highly reminiscent, as it turned out (and using an example from the alternate timeline) of Hitler's promotion of von Paulus to Field Marshall at Stalingrad. No Storm Commander had yet surrendered to the enemy in Herefordshire's VBCW....could Storm Commander Giles now "hold out"?