Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Battle of Bredwardine Bridge (March 2015 Big Game)

The Bishop sighed heavily, settling back into the armchair within his familiar wood panelled study, grateful to have returned home to some comforts after the hard rigours of Welsh Border campaigning. The fire in the study grate glowed and crackled, casting shadows against the unseasonably early onset of dusk. The Bishop adjusted his prince-nez, sighed, and settled down to an evening of the eternal paperwork.

“As darkness fell so quickly…..” The Bishop glanced about, empathising entirely with the young tank commander’s report “… was necessary to pull the Renault R-35 over to the verge, and request our lorried infantry support to do likewise.”

The Bishop shared the keen disappointment etched into every line.

“The early onset of dusk denied to us the opportunity to meet the Fascist Armoured Behemoth on advantageous terms, specifically, as we were approaching it at high speed from behind, to pump a stream of high velocity/deep penetration shells straight up its capacious but invitingly defenceless rear.”

The Bishop tutted reprovingly. Clearly this young tank commander was a Frenchman. Or worse, an old Harrovian.

“Having bivouacked for the evening and posted sentries, nothing further was heard of the Fascists beyond, about midnight, a lengthy bout of engine revving and some equally loud snarling. As dawn broke on the following day, it became apparent that, loosely encircled by the gallant Sir Gilbert to his front and our own forces to his rear, Capt. Arrowsmith and his Fascist contingent had used the cover of night to withdraw from Bredwardine Bridge. We ourselves therefore retired in good order past the shattered and abandoned equipment of the Malvern Hills Conservators, setting up camp at the Rose & Crown. Such completed our part in 'Operation Plump Rump'.”

It hardly seemed three weeks ago, and yet it was. It had taken the Bishop and his immediate officers that long to make their circuitous return, travelling by sealed Pullman through the disorder of Welsh Nationalist territory to the Shropshire Free State, and then on to the peace and calm of the Episcopal Enclave of Ludlow.

A knock, and around the wood panelled door appeared the broad shoulders of the Bishop’s standard bearer and chaplain, the Rev Duff Postin. The epitome of muscular Christianity, Postin had captained the country’s wrestling team at the 1930 Empire Games.

“Digest of the press, sir. Pretty useful stuff.”

“Duff.” The Bishop nodded. “What have you got?”

“Well, Captain JFC Featherstone was complimentary in “The Express”. Same with Liddell-Bath in “The Daily Herald” and Colonel Scruby in “The New York Times”. General agreement as to our victory at Bredwardine. The ‘Ludlow Leader’ came out with a particularly strong headline…”


The Bishop shrugged, re-living the sharp whistle of the falling mortar bomb, the shattering blast of the explosion. “A providential escape, Duff, but a desperate last throw from the Conservators. Targeting me personally. By that time, mid - afternoon, I mean…”

“..their mortar team was broken and dying…” agreed Postin.

“..and their Heavy Machine Gun. Crew almost entirely gone.” said the Bishop.

“Not to mention their Morris Armoured Car. Two hits, and both its Bren and Boyes guns smashed beyond repair. Useless.”

“Quite. Plus - their first section of infantry were splattered all over the first cross-roads, the remnants hiding behind the burning remains of that infernal Armoured Motorcycle.”

“Not that it provided much cover, sir. Not once the Renault R-35 had run it over and set it on fire.”


The Bishop and his Chaplain paused thoughtfully.

“In fact, sir, if the rest of them hadn’t hidden away in the upstairs of that Manor House for most of the game, well, the Malvern Hill Conservators would have been quite wiped out. You should see this…”

  …from ‘Pigtails and Petticoats”, sir, some kind of American magazine for young ladies. Apparently, their correspondent couldn’t understand why most of the Conservators’ infantry took to hiding in the upstairs section of the Manor House rather than face up to us, even their crack bicycle troops. Appears there was a dolls collection, a dressing up box and lots of soft toys up there…..”

The Bishop harrumphed loudly.

“And then there’s this, sir, from the rather strangely titled ‘Doctor Who Magazine’….”


“Unbelievable.” The Bishop harrumphed again. “Sir Gilbert, God bless him, dismissed the advance intelligence reports of those Armoured Motorcycles with five heavy machine guns as simply too futuristic for our Civil War, and yet the BUF and their lackeys fielded not one, but two of them - and that Behemoth, and then this Dalek thing….”

“Lead to lots of recruits, though, sir. Hundreds of fanboys flooding into Ludlow anxious to have a crack at a Dalek. Keen as Mr Colman’s mustard, ready equipped with combat jackets and rucksacks, just not so great at the personal hygiene. And those strange middle aged men with long scarves and floppy hats carrying bags of jellybabies shouting ‘You shouldn’t be here” every time they bump into each other. Best of all….”


“Intellectual property lawyers from the British Broadcasting Corporation, sir. Legions of sharp suited sharks, absolutely merciless. They’ll tear Arrowsmith limb from limb if they capture him before us - then smile and order themselves an extra frothy cappuccino by way of celebration. Apparently the BUF reverse - engineered the Dalek without permission, without even a by-your-leave, from Bush House. Lord Reith is quite furious.”

“I’m sure he is. The Corporation has to guard its independence even more jealously these days. But talking of reverse engineering……”

“Yes, sir. You’d better look at “Arms and Artificers”:


"I was promised so much more, Duff. Devestating fire power delivered from the back of not one, but two, Dennis trucks."

"'Resolution', sir. And 'Retribution'. So the Royal Naval Reserve boys named them. I know what you were promised, sir. That strange chap Lindemann, you know, the one who brought us this Russian "Katyusha" technology in the first place; apparently he's blaming the battery commander. says he's got a replacement in mind for the next engagement".

"Mmm....." The Bishop flipped the page and brightened. "Well, at least our technical review was better than the Conservators....."

“Yes, sir. The Vehicle Licensing Board. Obviously, the Conservator’s own armoured motorcycle is a write off; the one they loaned to Arrowsmith’s fascists disappeared into a crowd of Sir Gilbert’s folk and was last seen under close quarter umbrella attack. Even if it survived, the Board can’t understand how a motorcycle can take five machine guns, heavy all-round armour, a crew of three, and still be able to corner.”

“I’m concerned, Duff. We were always told those Malvern chaps and the BUF were the deadliest of enemies, and yet there they were at Bredwardine fighting shoulder to shoulder. And sharing their engineering achievements before the battle….”

“Worrying indeed, sir.”

“To be able to shrink their technology - from the Behemoth with its heavy gun, co-axial machine gun, further machine guns in independent turrets - to the size of a motorcycle, well….”

“I know, sir, I know. Talking of miniaturisation, though, you really should take a look at the latest from the American Psychiatric Association….


The minutes of a symposium of the American Psychiatric Association were today published [AP wire, Chicago] in relation to the late events of the Civil War proceeding in England. The appearance of extremely large tanks with huge numbers of weapons in the ranks of the British Union of Fascists field armies, particularly under the West Midlands command of the notorious Captain Arrowsmith, was unanimously considered to be the product of a psychiatric disorder. “It is a classic over-compensation complex” said Professor Ike Schwartzmangler of Idaho University. “Extremely well - documented. Bluntly, any middle aged Fascist who obsesses over size and weaponry clearly has a very small….. [cont. page 93]”

The Bishop and the Reverend Postin rocked with laughter.

“They might be on to something there” gasped the Bishop, finally.

“As we might, sir”. The Reverend Postin resumed his seriousness. “Whatever the origin of the BUF armour, I’ve set up a study group under Staff Captain Cruft on how we could best deal with them next time. The initial results look promising. And the reports flooding in from unaligned parishes suggest that Arrowsmith’s alliance with Davros and his Dalek technology is costing the BUF a great deal of support. Herefordians don’t like foreigners much, and having a bald best chum from Skaro with wires coming out his scalp, well…….Staff Captain Gallop suggests that the Arrowsmith popularity index is well down right across the County. The time could be ripe for a diplomatic approach to some local waverers....”

“Mmm….” the Bishop nodded. “Let me think on that, Duff. In the meantime, I think a small celebration might be in order.”

“Indeed, sir?”

“Indeed. Let us cast our cares aside for a moment, let us abandon the strictures of office for an evening, let us toast the success of the Combined and Constitutional Patriots at the Battle of Bredwardine Bridge, and let us indulge in a small glass of sherry!"

“I say, sir, steady on.....don't you know I've signed The Pledge?"


A View of the Battlefield - Bredwardine Bridge in the Centre. The LEF advance in the right
foreground whilst Arrowsmith's BUF and their running dogs for the day, the Malvern Hill
 Conservators, advance in the centre and left foreground.
The LEF at its starting line positions. The Bishop and the Rev. Duff Postin can be seen with their
 HQ Command Car to the right. In the centre are the newly raised rocket batteries and RNVR crews.
Another new acquisition, an R-35 tank delivered as part of France's "Lend Lease to Ludlow"
 programme, leads off. The infantry are fully lorried.

The Opposition ! At the start of the game, the Bishop faced the Arrowsmith Armoured Behemoth, a BUF Dalek(!) just behind, a Morris Armoured Car (rear centre), and 2 heavily armoured Quadricycles of Doom (5 MGs each), plus infantry support. In truth, the Bishop's solitary R-35 began to look even smaller than usual.
The LEF "park the bus" and commence the pre-agreed Anglican strategy, "Operation
Plump Rump". Under the threat of the "rockets in being", Arrowsmith must surely hasten
 his Behemoth towards Bredwardine Bridge, leaving the Bishop to destroy the MHC
and then take Arrowsmith from the rear - ouch !
Arrowsmith falls into the Anglican trap. The Behemoth and the BUF Quadricycle of Doom both turn left and
head for Bredwardine Bridge, where they shall shortly meet the forces of Sir Gilbert. The Fascists and their
running dogs for the day, the MHC, are now hopelessly split. Arrowsmith adds to the confusion by advancing
his cavalry across the road on a "great swan" between the forces of the Bishop and his Anglican ally, Captain
 Verity. The cavalry will spend the engagement doing nothing more than being sniped at by all and sundry.
Having cranked their launcher systems to maximum elevation, now is the moment for the Ludlow RNVR.
The Bishop gives the order : "Let the missiles fly !". Net result (after much measuring and dice throwing)
 - two dead MHC infantry. A poor return for all the Bishop's technological efforts.....
But the Bishop's tank force is inspired! Having already beaten the MHC's Morris Armoured Car into a state of
disarmed submission, here the R-35 bursts onto the junction and rams the MHC's Quadricycle of Doom. But
a moment later, the QoD explodes, the fireball incinerating its three crewmembers (responsible for driving and
 firing its five machine guns simultaneously). Lt. "Cadgze" Pidgeon, the R-35 commander on temporary
 secondment from the French Foreign Legion, is on the edge of  his seat with excitement....
A hasty snapshot of the crossroads at the LEF's moment of triumph. Most of the MHC (including their
crack bicycle troops) have either been destroyed or taken refuge in the "Black and White" Manor House in 
order to play with teddy bears. There is now nothing to stop the R-35 completing "Operation Plump Rump"
 but a solitary MG armed Dalek, already retreating nervously away. A full section of LEF infantry are 
mounting up to support the R-35, leaving the MMG of the Ludlow Scottish to continue
 covering the junction with fire.
A message from Sir Gilbert. He has Arrowsmith pinned on the crest of Bredwardine Bridge, unable
 to maneouvre. The BUF QoD is under umbrella attack (to be finished off by the sticky bombers behind
 the hedge if necessary). Now that the MHC have been destroyed, would the Bishop's R-35 tank
 commander care to have the honour of completing the carefully planned "Operation Plump Rump"?
 "Mais certainment!"exclaims Lt. Pidgeon with relish, just as night fell suddenly....

Anglican writers subsequently memorialised the end that Arrowsmith would have met -
 but for nightfall (Look, we've only booked the Hall until 5, ok, and we've got all the
 clearing up to do.....). In this Boy's Own Account, the patriotic cover artist has replaced
 the R-35 with a Matilda Mk.2, and solved the problem of depicting Arrowsmith's
 massive Behemoth within the confines of A5 by simply replacing it with an Skdfz 221.
But the despairing fist of Arrowsmith and his inevitable fall from Bredwardine
 Bridge is, of course, accurately depicted.....

Sir Gilbert's view of the action, complementary to and corroborative of the Bishop's own account, can be found hereA three part and extensively illustrated battle report by Sir Ed Ward-Glear, leader of the Malvern Hill Conservators, begins here. Ward-Glear's war photographer and personal pilot are clearly to be commended, even if the accompanying editorial has a tendency to the partial. Taking such editorial approach to the extreme, however, should you wish to partake in an extended "Should have gone to Specsavers!!" advert in the snarling company of Captain Arrowsmith, please see his Fascist propaganda broadsheet, clearly compiled while licking his wounds, to be found here.

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