Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Battle of Bredwardine Fords - October 2015 Big Game





FOOLS!” Captain Arrowsmith’s black gloved hand smacked downward in frustration, the BUF’s battle maps and carefully stacked plastic counters scattering wildly within the confines of his cramped Forward Command Post (codename : “Robin’s Nest”). Storm Leader Giles, loyally standing to attention, promptly disappeared beneath a shower of “Advance!” and “Destroy!” marker arrows, while the Royalist, Captain Strait-Jackett, cowered backward from Arrowsmith’s overwhelming rage. “FOOLS!”

“I say….” began Strait-Jackett.

A wild-eyed Captain Arrowsmith stared at him with contempt. “We had the Bishop this morning! The Bishop - on the hip - at last! The Ludlow Expeditionary Force, isolated and alone, without their promised Socialist allies [unfortunately, the planned Socialist player had to pull out of the Big Game at the last moment]. Scratch forces on each of his flanks, without tanks or heavy weaponry - a shambling crowd of Hereford Mommets on the right, and Lady Rita’s unblooded novices on the left! The Wye at its lowest in living memory, easily fordable along its length! And yet, and yet….still you FAIL ME!”

“I say, just a moment now….” said Strait-Jackett.

The Battleground at Bredwardine Fords [with bridge], and a familiar advance : Arrowsmith in the centre with the Behemoth in the lead, Storm Leader Giles to the right, Captain Strait-Jackett to the left. 
FOOLS! Arrowsmith screamed. Storm Leader Giles, standing rigidly to attention while trying to shake the last “Exterminate!” marker from his over-sized epaulettes, now disappeared beneath a shower of black hearted spittle.

“You…” Arrowsmith’s gloved forefinger stabbed derisively at Captain Strait-Jackett’s chest. “You! Bringing the Cheltenham Ladies College to a battle! Royalists! Is that the best De Braose, your so-called Lord of the Marches, can do? Advancing across the Wye - straight into Lady Rita’s concealed firing line! Cowering in a copse with casualties all around you! Reduced to waving hockey sticks at the enemy!”

“I say, I mean, weally…..” said Strait-Jackett.

The end of the battle for Captain Strait-Jackett's Royalists - decimated by the gallant Lady Rita's firing line.

Cheltenham Ladies College Hockey Team in happier times - on a goodwill tour of Canada at the start of the VBCW
“And you!” Arrowsmith turned on his heel contemptuously, gloved forefinger shifting target. “Storm Leader? Advancing like a geriatric snail, more like, not an overwhelming storm! An entire section wiped out by those damned scarecrows - before your tank got into action at all!” [Giles had rolled a “1” at an early moment, and bogged down, causing a ripple effect on his carefully dressed infantry line. An advanced section had been decimated by Anglican fire.]

“Leader.” Storm Leader Giles clicked his heels, staring ahead impassively. He was sure he would dry off. Eventually.

“I say, I mean … weally, if you’d just let me say….”


“I say, I weally must insist”. Strait-Jackett’s slight lisp betrayed his tension. “It’s not our fault, you wuff fascist fellah-me-lad, it really isn’t. The Cheltenham ladies were just part of my force - and truly, I can’t help it if the Gas Street Irregulars stop orff for a bit of casual looting, I weally jolly well can’t. [Alan had also rolled low at an early stage]. And that Lady Rita’s a truly gallant filly, don’tcha know? But that’s not the trouble now, is it?” Strait-Jackett was finally hitting his stride. “Point is, the County’s agin us of late, all that stuff about Davros and “Dar-leks”. Lady Rita and the Mommets might not have risen to assist the Bishop, otherwise [see note 1 below]. You’d have had him then, three to one. And I might not have been there last time - but who let the Dar-leks out, hmmm, hmmm?”

The Leader of the Mommets advances to the aid of the Bishop. The day was to prove
that Herefordshire Mommetry was not to be trifled with.
“Oh, I know what you say.” Arrowsmith’s rage had turned to icy contempt. “I know what all you damned Royalists say about me, behind my back. The sniggers, the carping, the criticisms. The “he’s going like Foy, just you wait” whispers. The “not even a Grammar School boy” stuff.  I’ve heard them all, believe me.”

“Professor Schwartzmangler’s Awwowsmith-Syndrome?”

“Never mention that name to me! Never!”

“Staff Captain Gallop does, often enough. 9pm sharp, after every evening news broadcast. He reads out the whole of Schwartzmangler’s stuff, even interviews him, on the Bishop’s Broadcasting Service…”

“A banned organisation! Traitors! Subversives! And I told you never to mention that name!”

“He’s wrong, sir.” Giles intervened, trying to change the delicate subject.

“Of course he’s wrong, Snail Leader!” sneered Arrowsmith. “I don’t need you to tell me he’s wrong! Regulations strictly forbid it! Anyone found listening to the Bishop’s Broadcasting Service will pay for it with their lives! We’ve already shot every patient in the Leominster Village Hospital because Matron made the mistake of tuning out the Home Service! The blind, the halt, the lame - and for good measure, the deaf!”

“Not about that, sir. About the battle.” Giles floundered on nervously, greatly daring. “See, it was the Behemoth wot done it, sir, not us. The Behemoth wot done us in. And not them cannon and multiple machine guns and heavy armour an’ all…it was the crew. Your mailed fist - shattered. Shattered at the very moment we needed it the most.” Giles trailed off, losing courage. “Anyway, that’s wot happened, sir.”

The Behemoth in the early stages of the Battle of Bredwardine Fords. Big gun, multiple machine guns, heavy armour, and the morale of the crew is high - so far.
Arrowsmith reeled back, tortured not only by the estuary tones of Giles’ whining vowels, but by the stunning truth of his revelation. The Behemoth! His one true love! Sat atop it’s customary position on the crest of Bredwardine Bridge [in fact, it was supposed to be a ford, but we re-used the bridge model] stolidly withstanding everything the Anglican R-35, the Anglican MMG and Lady Rita’s mortar could throw at it, seeing off Staff Captain Cruft’s multiple bomb dog attacks [some outstandingly lucky BUF cards and dice, as will shortly be revealed], advancing unscathed through multiple road side bombs [more lucky dice, grr….], only for the crew finally to crack beneath that hail of infantry fire! His Behemoth, hurt and confused, retreating in a panic! The Great Arrowsmith - betrayed by his own Behemoth! There must be revenge!

“You’re right, Snail Leader!” snarled Arrowsmith, smashing fist to palm. “Just this once, you’re right! And now I’m going to do something about it. Show you all that that there is a penalty for failure! A firing squad! Two firing squads! No, wait…engineer! Assemble a technical squad! Immediately!”


“A curious day, Duff.” The Bishop sniffed. “Sweaty cassock time, this morning, I’m not ashamed to say it. A no-show from those socialists, and Lord Reith’s mysterious Scientific Adviser having nothing to do in the absence of the anticipated Dar-leks. But near victory by lunch, and then….well, we’d better visit the advanced platoon before dusk turns to night. Apparently it can do so quite suddenly round here, you know. A stroll to the ford?”

“Indeed, sir. But at least that Scientific Adviser had a word with Professor Lindemann before he left. Lindemann seems very pleased with what he learned.” The Rev Duff-Postin shouldered the Ludlow Great Standard. “I’ll gather up Commandant Lasalle from the Command Car. He’ll want to see the troops, make sure the sentries are posted.”

The LEF early in the battle - RNVR Rocket Batteries in the centre, Ludlow Scottish MMG following up, Lt. Pidgeon's R-35 on the right flank. On the left flank, just visible, is Lord Reith's Scientific Adviser (and transport) watching out for the return of any BUF "Dar-leks" and any consequent infringement of the BBC's copyrights.
Shortly thereafter, the three fell into automatic step along the tarmac approach to the ford [bridge]. “Well, we didn’t quite make the breakthrough, chaps.” said the Bishop. “Couldn’t really expect to, in all the circumstances. Sir Gilbert will have to do without us for just a little longer. But we did more than survive…” [see note (2) below]

“Certainement, mon ami”. Commandant Lasalle, a graduate of St. Cyr, stiffened suddenly, eyes righting and snapping into a brisk salute. “For the most part, certainement.”

The party was abreast of a burning R-35, the body of its gallant commander, Lieutenant “Cadgze” Pidgeon, laid out respectfully alongside. Pidgeon, the conqueror of the Malvern Hill Conservator’s Quadricycle of Doom and all-round hero of the earlier Battle of Bredwardine Bridge, had bravely traded blows with the Behemoth for hours - an unequal struggle - only to be felled by a treacherous flank shot, late in the day, from Storm Leader Giles’ slowly advancing armour (a Vickers Medium Mk.1).

The loss of the brave Lt. "Cadgze" Pidgeon His R-35 disappears in a fireball.
“La Legion meurt mais ne se rend pas.” whispered Lasalle, as Postin lowered the Great Standard respectfully. The Bishop murmured a heartfelt prayer. Of all the elements that had contributed to the Anglican defence - the rockets, the gallantry of Lady Rita in her first battle, the straight shooting and sheer bloody mindedness of the Mommets, the usual staunchness of the Loyal Ludlow infantry and the busy machine gun of the Ludlow Scottish - the valiant actions of Pidgeon and his Renault R-35 had proved crucial.

“You better watch this bit, sir.” counselled Postin. But a few yards on, and the bloodied bodies of Staff Captain Cruft’s carefully trained bomb dogs littered the roadway. “Arrowsmith truly rode his luck with this lot.”

“Nom d’un chien.” murmured Commandant Lasalle.

[The height of the battle, around lunchtime. The Behemoth, suppressed by furious Anglican fire, mute and helpless on the bridge. The Bishop had sent in the Anglican secret weapon, a party of bomb dogs trained by Staff Captain Cruft since the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge for precisely this eventuality - confident that the Behemoth would fail its “suppressed” recovery roll, and in any event, holding an ace, the Bishop would move first in the succeeding turn. The dogs would crash into and destroy the Behemoth before it could even fire, and the waiting LEF infantry could rush and hold the ford (bridge) for an unlikely victory against the odds. But a delighted Arrowsmith had rolled high on his recovery roll, then pulled an unexpected Joker from his own hand to take his turn first, fired all of his many machine guns with extraordinarily high dice, and a canine massacre had resulted. With it went the Anglican’s hopes of a decisive breakthrough at Bredwardine.]

Send on the exploding dogs! The LEF Secret Weapon is revealed as Staff Captain Cruft's finest take on the Behemoth. It is but moments before the massacre.....
“Such a cur, that Arrowsmith” said the Bishop. “Machine-gunning a pack of dogs….Staff Captain Cruft will be inconsolable.”

“Volunteers, every last one of them, sir.” Postin commiserated. “Turned out of their homes and lost by their owners in the refugee crisis. Knew the Fascists only have use for Alsatians and Dobermanns, rather than true British breeds. You should have seen those paws shoot up in the air when the Staff Captain gave them a chance for a special mission. Tongues were hanging out at the prospect, I tell you. Now careful here….”

The roadway was smashed and bent at crazy angles on both sides - the residue of Lady Rita’s double roadside bombs exploding each side of the Behemoth as, wildly confident after the dog massacre, it had sought to advance beyond the ford [bridge].

“Extraordinary” said the Bishop. “To survive the bomb dogs, and then this. The Behemoth was leading a charmed life, alright.”

“Until the crew cracked, sir. There’s only so much even a veteran Fascist can take.” [Numerous “Jumpy” and “Suppressed” markers had appeared on the Behemoth during the course of the day, only to be successfully reduced on the BUF Recovery Phase - but by the end the Behemoth was reversing under not just a “Jumpy” marker, but also a “Suppressed”, “Running Away” and then (this had never happened before) a “Double Running Away” marker. Chased by continuing fire, the Behemoth had no hope of recovery before the end of the Big Game.]

A unique documentary shot. The Behemoth's driver, crazed by repeated bombardment, finally cracks. Run away ! Double Run away!
A Loyal Ludlow legionary appeared out of the rolling smoke at the end of the Bridge [or ford. By the end of the Big Game, the First Section of the Legion was holding onto one end of the ford, with BUF infantry on the other, the stilled and terrified Behemoth between the warring factions as the Fascists first threw grenades, and the Anglicans prepared to return in kind]

The End of the Behemoth - beached and broken on the Bridge [ford]. The 1st Section of the LEF hold one side, BUF infantry hold the other. There is to be a fierce but inconclusive exchange of grenades, but the battle is drawn.
“Holding on, Bishop” the infantryman confirmed. “But Arrowsmith’s up there, doing something to the Behemoth.”

The command party peered through the smoke and fog of war, dimly discerning the outline of Arrowsmith’s gilt braided command cap and black leather coat. With the small arms rattle and explosions of battle dying away, all that could be heard was the screaming and gibbering of the crew within the Behemoth.

“What the devil’s he up to now, sir?” puzzled Postin, as an unearthly blue light reflected through the smoke, illuminating a crouching Arrowsmith and a party of engineers atop the huge tank. “Oxy-acetylene torches? Cutting them out through that infamous heavy armour?”

“Mon Dieu.” breathed Commandant Lasalle. “Un diable, c’est sur.”

“He’s not cutting them out, Postin.” the Bishop whispered, as realisation slowly dawned. “There’s a penalty for failure, remember? [see note (3) below] He’s concentrating on the hatches. He’s not cutting them out at all. It’s an iron coffin. He’s sealing them in.”

The Bishop raised his Crozier of Solomon solemnly, incanting a prayer for the condemned crew.

Atop the Behemoth and mistaking the gesture, Arrowsmith rose abruptly from his crouch, snapping into his customary stiff armed, gloved salute.

“We shall meet again, Bishop” growled Arrowsmith to himself, amidst the now muffled crewmen’s screams. “We shall most surely meet again.” His gold rimmed spectacles glowed with reflected fanaticism. “And next time, next time, I promise you, Bishop…next time, there WILL BE NO WEAKNESS!

Arrowsmith subsequently demonstrates his customary salute to  recruits at the BUF Barracks, Whitecross Street.

(1). The historic origins of the Herefordshire Mommet movement are to be found here. The alliance between Arrowsmith and Davros was assuredly an event likely to rouse Herefordians against the BUF generally and Arrowsmith in particular, not to mention incur the ire of Lord Reith of the BBC. It may be that, upon the redundant BBC Scientific Adviser reporting back to Bush House after the Battle of Bredwardine Fords, Lord Reith will consider that Arrowsmith has been insufficiently punished for his earlier breach of BBC copyrights. For the origins of Arrowsmith's alliance with Davros, see the "Battle of Bredwardine Bridge" broadcast below.

(2). Attentive listeners to the Bishop’s Broadcasting Service will recall that the Anglicans have been seeking to cross the River Wye at Bredwardine in order to link up with Sir Gilbert Hill’s Golden Valley Invincibles and thereby cut off a large part of South Herefordshire from Royalist/BUF influence. After the Bishop’s bloody draws with the forces of Arrowsmith and his running dogs, first at Bredwardine Bridge and then at the Fords of Bredwardine, Sir Gilbert (who was himself fighting running battles in Dorstone on this day) and the Anglican C-in-C (moustaches somewhat singed, having had his T-26 shot out from beneath him at Kinnersley) may be forced into a strategic re-think. Or each may re-double their efforts to cross the Wye, perhaps elsewhere, or with better equipment. Only time will tell….

(3). Similarly attentive listeners may wonder how the Bishop and Postin knew the exact words earlier used by Arrowsmith within his ultra-secure “Robin’s Nest” command post. Storm Leader Giles’ blind loyalty is unquestioned, but what of the Royalist Captain Strait-Jackett, so maltreated by Arrowsmith? Or is it possible, perchance, that the Bishop’s famed Ecclesiastical Intelligence Service have successfully placed a deep penetration agent within BUF HQ?

(4). Miscellaneous Weaponry and Casualty Returns - The RNVR Rocket Troop had a more successful day at Bredwardine Fords. Having failed miserably at the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge (2 infantry casualties), the Rocket Troop made a satisfactory return at Bredwardine Fords (7 infantry casualties), albeit, widely scattered as the casualties were, this was nowhere close to being decisive. Otherwise, the LEF suffered surprisingly few casualties itself - a few from First Section of the Loyals, as they advanced under MMG fire towards the ford (ok, bridge) in the late afternoon, a few from Second Section earlier in the morning. On the very last move, however, as the firing died away elsewhere in the knowledge of a certain draw, the entirety of the RNVR Rocket Troop crews (acting as a pistol armed infantry reserve after the firing of their rockets) were lost to a spiteful long range MMG massacre by an enraged Storm Leader Giles. These, and the destruction of “Cadgze” Pigeon’s R-35, were the principal Ludlow losses of the day. There is now an urgent need for a replacement for the lost R-35 - an application is being made to France’s “Lend Lease to Ludlow” programme. The Bishop’s 75mm gun, finally re-bored (see the notes to the Battle of Eardisley broadcast, below) may also have to make an appearance at the next encounter, as the RNVR recruit and re-train new rocketeers….

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff! I have duly added a link to this onto my post.