Thursday, 23 November 2017

Hereford1938 AVBCW Autumn Big Game 2017 (PART ONE)

The day of the battle dawned bright and clear, as days of battle tend to do. After a short interregnum to campaigning [1] as the contending parties gathered their respective strengths, the gallant Bishop of Ludlow now renewed his "A49 Thrust" southward towards Herefordshire's "second city" - LEOMINSTER - in careful co-ordination with the "Socialist (Very Broad) Front" forces of Captain-Commissar Winter, survivor of the Second Battle of Ledbury, which forces were intent on breaking the long-standing "Government" siege lines around the Socialist/Welsh Nationalist stronghold of KINGTON.

The headlines of Ludlow's various morning newspapers told their own story:








Anticipating the ever-present BUF Behemoth of Captain Arrowsmith [1] in the path of his "A49 Thrust", the Bishop of Ludlow had, since the Battle of Brimfield, taken much good advice from a number of the more forward thinking senior officers of the British Army (inevitably discharged by Edward on his accession) who had been previously responsible for the Army Experimental Mechanized Force exercises in 1928 - 1933. Accordingly, in the few weeks since the "Two Bishops' Victory" at Brimfield, a new Ludlow offensive force had been assembled under conditions of strictest secrecy at the Bishop's Industrial Park and Experimental Proving Grounds - the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force (aka the supremely aggressive sounding "LEAF").. Regular listeners to the Bishop's Broadcasting Service will already be familiar with the Steve-Austin Somua (now in a re-engined Mark II version), the LEF's "Crusader" armoured trucks, and even the tiny and unarmed "Locust" armoured observation vehicle of the LEF's Mortar Support Platoon [2]. To this the Bishop had added a "Gnat", a small armoured vehicle carrying an AT rifle, together with two examples, as purchased from "Elstree Industries", of an entirely new class of weaponry - the fully tracked "Behemoth Destroyers".

A "Gnat" class Anti Tank Rifle Carrier of the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force...
...followed by Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force Behemoth Destroyers, manufactured by Elstree Industries.
Whether it be pure chance - or the product of BUF cowardice - will be a matter for future historians. As the day of battle dawned bright and clear, it became apparent that Captain Arrowsmith and his famed behemoth were nowhere to be seen (it is suggested by "Government sources" that Captain Arrowsmith was 'conducting staff conversations with Mussolini", but the Ecclesiastical Intelligence Services know better). Facing the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force was instead a motley collection of "Government" forces under the overall command of Storm Leader Giles, last seen at The Battle of Bredwardine Fords and recently seconded from the infamous BUF "Three Counties Legion" to the command of the grandiosely titled "Wyvern Defence Force" (aka "Wyrd Force").

The market power of the Ludlow groat ["campaign cash" rules were being used for the first time and the LDVs had to be "persuaded" to support a faction, such persuasion usually involving the distribution of "alms to the needy", as the Bishop persisted in calling it], obviously combined with the impressive appearance of the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force, had brought two LDV platoons to the Anglican cause - the newly arrived (and rather scary) "Brichester LDV" (James) and the "Verity LDV" of Cousin Verity (Gavin), apparently a relation of the staunch Captain Verity, a notable Anglican commander at The Battle of Bredwardine Bridge. To the west, on the battlefield of Kington, Captain-Commissar Winter had recruited a single LDV, that of Comrade Gollumroo (the precise origin of this surname will be revealed in due course).

On the "other side of the hill", however, the logistical strain of seeking to hold back the tide of righteous anger against "the Government" right across the County of Herefordshire had finally become apparent : Storm Leader Giles had managed to recruit only two LDVs to support his "Wyrd Force" and cover both fields of battle - taking the central position himself, Giles positioned Captain Morgan and his Hereford LDV (Craig) to defend the lines at Kington, while Councillor Walter Cracknutt and his Wormelow Tump LDV (Alan) were deputed to defend the Brimfield/Berrington A49 area.

"Nom d'un chien!" Commandant Lasalle, as ever commanding the French supplied forces of Ludlow, could hardly contain his excitement, bouncing up and down on the box seat of the Command Car. "C'est cinq a trois. C'est un desastre pour les noirs!!" (the Commandant's most polite term for the black uniformed BUF). In a bloodthirsty gesture, he slowly drew a finger over his throat. "C'est fini, mon cher!!"

"Now, now, my dear Commandant" the Bishop sighed."Let us not be too hasty. There is much work to be done. It is all in God's hands."

As if to confirm the Bishop's caution, a pile of intercepts and messages arrived from the Ludlow W/T van. The previous intelligence from the EIS was confirmed : Sir Alan McGuffin, the disgruntled Chairman of the Herefordshire Golf Club, had produced a behemoth of his own to line up with the forces of Captain Morgan on the fields of Kington, while Councillor Cracknutt had acquired a "little Italian tank" to stiffen the A49 Berrington defences. News that Comrade Gollumroo had added an armoured car to his own forces did little to dispel the new air of caution at Anglican HQ [the new "campaign cash" rules had allowed a small pre-game."auction of additional forces" to be held, while Sir Alan McGuffin and his behemoth were a "Special Umpire Bonus to Craig for getting his Platoon Roster in first - and in good order]

Sir Alan McGuffin and his Behemoth. The Club Committee are reading the instruction manuals while
Sir Alan's chauffeur, McCavity, is already revving the engine. Sir Alan's butler, Macaddie, has been
press-ganged into acting as "loader" notwithstanding his polite objections to "manual work".
It definitely pays to get your Platoon Roster in early!
The brave commander of Ludlow's lead Somua stood tall in his turret, waving a gloved hand forward.

"Come on, chaps!" he shouted. "Onward to Leominster! For the County, the Constitution, and the Archbishop of Canterbury!".

The Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force clanked southward down the A49, flanked by a slow moving Brichester LDV on the left [James had the misfortune to have drawn the "Doctor Alzheimer" sealed character envelope, and his forces were somewhat hampered by being both very elderly and very forgetful], and an equally slow moving Verity LDV on the right (open countryside unsuitable for Cousin Verity's lorries and armoured car).

Thus, secure in numerical and technological advantage, the brave Anglican advance from Brimfield began....

The Somua leads off the Ludlow forces from their A49 start line. Behind follow the
Command Car and three Crusader armoured trucks. In the field to the right are the
Gnat AT Rifle and the Ludlow mortar, while further right flank the Behemoth Destroyers
in support of Cousin Verity's forces.
At the other end of the B49, Storm Leader's Wyrd Force faced off against the Bishop. The crew of the solitary
 armoured car are already quaking at the appearance of the Somua; the Storm Leader places his faith in an
 Anti Tank Gun and MMG covering the road. A party of sailors hug the hedgeline, while,  to the left, the
 Armed Schoolgirls of the Wormelow Tump LDV prepare to advance. Councillor Cracknutt is reputedly "most
fond" of every member of his section of schoolgirls. 
The Brichester LDV deploy in the sideroad to the front of the Brimfield Cricket Club and the left of the Bishop's forces. 
[1]. There was no Autumn Big Game 2016. The Spring Big Game 2017 was a "special County event" centred around the Hereford Golf Cup Challenge. This despatch therefore takes place shortly after the "Two Bishops' Battle" at Brimfield
[2], Regularly misidentified by - an obvious misnomer - "Government Intelligence" as "a tank". It was an unintentional benefit of the Ludlow Experimental Armoured Force's debut that "Government Intelligence" mis-identified everything that was tracked as "a tank" : an early example, switching time and reality lines, of the well recorded "Tiger-mania" of Normandy 1944.

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