Monday, 15 April 2013

Radio Gaga! The Battle of Marcle Ridge

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In which what was initially going to be a small bash at Giles’ place quickly turned into a two-table scrap of Big Game proportions at the village hall!


In planning the game, Giles and I decided to once again set the action around the Much Marcle area, this time focussing on a local landmark, the TV transmitter at Marcle Ridge. As this transmitter wasn’t erected until the 1960’s, we changed the scenario so that the Royalist/Fascist forces had built a radio transmitter on the site and the dejected Anglican League was now obliged to destroy it.

With the sudden increase in players (us local VBCW nuts were joined by some of Giles’ Warhammer chums) and a second table on the cards, we quickly knocked out another scenario, in which workers at the nearby cider factory had been shanghaied into the royalist ranks. In order to keep these reinforcements from joining the defence of the station, the rebels also had to keep them occupied by attacking the factory. A full background was therefore written thus:-

The second battle of Ledbury saw a battered and dejected Anglican League force retreating back towards Ross-on-Wye. Luckily for them, the so-called Diocese of Archenfield was spared a further royalist/fascist onslaught as government forces, mindful of rebel groups still lurking in the Malvern Hills, concentrated on consolidating their gains.

As the Anglican League withdrew from Ledbury, a half-hearted BUF pursuit was bravely countered by a small rear-guard of Malvern Hills Conservators at Little Marcle. Soon a poorly-defined front line was established among the fields, villages and hills between Ledbury and Ross, with the landowners sandwiched in the middle switching allegiances as they saw fit.

This gave the local Anglican League leader, Brigadier Gideon Langnecke, time to reassemble, re-train and re-equip his forces while the government dawdled. He also began an effective propaganda campaign, made easier by the increasingly heavy-handed royalist rule over the county. Langnecke turned the unknown whereabouts of the Bishop of Hereford, the King’s attempt to gain possession of the treasures of Hereford Cathedral and the massacre of Twiggy Mommet protestors to his advantage, spreading discontent throughout Southern Herefordshire.

The royalists, mindful of the growing Anglican-fuelled discontent in the county, decided to indulge in a spot of counter-propaganda and, moving through the porous frontier between royalist and rebel areas, set up a radio transmitter on Marcle Ridge: a steep and narrow hill running north-south near the village of Much Marcle that overlooked the Ledbury-Ross road.

Soon the airwaves over Archenfield were being swamped with government speeches, royal proclamations and exhortations by Prime Minister Mosley for all rebels to lay down their arms. Langnecke’s work was being undone and the already precarious morale of his troops was plummeting.

He resolved to capture the transmitter – a task complicated by the fact that workers at the cider factory in Much Marcle had been pressed (pun intended) into service as a Royalist militia, reinforced by the South African rugby players who had taken part in the 2nd Battle of Ledbury. Langnecke therefore planned to keep this militia busy with a show of force at the factory whilst simultaneously advancing on Marcle Ridge up the gentler eastern side. Thus a patrol was sent out to disperse the small squad guarding the transmitter before both sides returned to their headquarters to report the situation, leaving the ridge unoccupied.

The scene was set for the next battle in Herefordshire – a battle for the hearts and minds of the county!
The players were briefed and asked to build a force using a platoon generator, and a couple had also taken the trouble to write some background: namely Roo for his South Africans and Gavin A for his Anglican League:-

Gavin A: 
My Anglican squad(ies) will be will known as Verity’s Van-guards*, led by Rev R R Verity, formerly newspaper editor of the Worcestershire Regiment, who, in all Christian conscience, could not support either the adulterous King or the godless Mosley despite most of the rest of the former regimental neighbours siding with that faction. As an “associate member” of a regiment, Verity understands the need for war as a last straw, which for Verity himself came when the BUF commandeered the vicarage in the village of Norton as accommodation for several of the nearby barracks’ ladies of dubious reputation, making him homeless in the process. A day’s walk over the Malvern Hills to the other side (figuratively and literally) saw Verity accept the shilling (and accompanying Lee Enfield) of the Bishop of Hereford in the Ledbury area. He hopes that his newspaper editing skills will come in handy for countering the insidious propaganda of the BUF and “King”, if the Anglicans ever capture this radio tower that is…
*Their first duty as a newly formed squad was to guard the cattle and farm-produce railway vans at Ledbury and Tarrington stations… the nickname stuck.
Reequipped following the 'skirmish' around Ledbury to suit both the English climate and continuing conflict the Pretoria Rifles Platoon led by Major GJ 'Stokkies' Joubert have decided to continue to fight for the King.  Always up for a scrap some of the Platoons cooks and Orderlies have stepped into the ranks to create a somewhat inexperienced 3rd section (replacing casualties suffered in their first combat)  For some reason the Herefordian local ladies rather like the strange accents and bronzed torsos so the attractions of staying outweigh the adventurous undertaking of trying to return home.  So much so one rather accommodating individual known locally as 'Lady Welly Top', who 'welcomed' the entire platoon over a single weekend, was convinced to recreate the Regimental Standard, albeit with some local twists.
Roo also volunteered to scratch build the radio transmitter site: 
In the site of a long abandoned shallow quarry in towards the crest if the ridge the Royalist forces had established their small transmitter station consisting of a Nissen hut, radio shack and privy.  The transmitter itself being over 30ft high was originally intended as a temporary solution but the necessity of getting construction material to the top of the ridge and the 'enlistment' of a local father and son electrician (perfectionists both) and Frank 'the shovel' Evans ensured the site was built to last.  Scant attention was made regarding security, a mere couple of slit trenches, mere scrapes in the earth and the recycling of some locally appropriated barbed wire serving to keep out any unwelcome visitors.
So table 1 would represent Marcle Ridge – a raised area running along the length of the table, one side heavily wooded and the other flanked by a farm.

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The dastardly Captain Arrowsmith and the BUF (played by Richard and Scott) would fight over the station with an Anglican League force led by Tym and Anthony.

Table 2 represented the cider factory and the orchards and open countryside around it.

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Langnecke and the Reverend Verity (me and Gavin A) would demonstrate outside the factory, held by Roo South Africans and Gavin H’s Stowford’s Pressed militia.

The Battle

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The Rev'd Verity's platoon deploys
So once again I will present to you a perspective of the battle from table 2, where Gavin A and I decided to fulfil our brief by simply keeping the royalists busy and keep them from marching off to support their fascist allies at the ridge. Our plan was to advance and cause as much mayhem as we could, luring them into thinking that an assault on the factory was underway.

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Langnecke's platoon deploys
Should they counterattack, then we would pull back and still them busy. Should we be able to actually capture the factory, then all the better!

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Defending the cider factory
Rev. Verity’s platoon (2 sections of militia, a section of Welsh nationalists, a sniper, mortar/spotter team, LMG team and an armoured tractor) arrayed in the open countryside. My (Langnecke’s) platoon (3 sections consisting of the Archenfield LDV, Archenfield Amateur Athletics Association and Ex-Serviceman’s Temperance Society militia, 2 tankettes, sniper, HMG team, LMG team and a horde of Twiggy Mommet protestors) advanced along the road and through the orchard at right-angles to Verity.

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Langnecke advances
Facing me, Joubert’s South Africans lined the stone factory walls and let loose a withering fire as soon as my forces came into range, halving the number of Temperance Leaguers. My MGs responded in kind, but while causing a few jitters, did little damage to the well-entrenched enemy.
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Joubert's boys hold firm
Meanwhile Verity’s troops advanced slowly under sniper and mortar fire, especially the mortar spotting team that had taken shelter behind an abandoned royalist roadblock and was directing a somewhat ineffective counter shelling.

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Verity's cautious advance
Slowed down but protected by the orchard, my LDV now joined the firing line against the South Africans, relieving the battered Temperance Leaguers who retired behind the tankettes and HMG, which continued to rake the stone walls despite near-continuous jamming.

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LDV advancing through the orchards
The Athletics team was sent to my extreme left, where they dug in along a hedgerow in order to either to threaten the defenders’ flank or wait in reserve as conditions dictated, The scarecrows plugged the gap between them and the orchard, loosing off whatever firearms they had while the remainder waited impatiently for an excuse to charge with their scythes and pitchforks.

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Athletes and scarecrows move up
While Langnecke grappled with the South Africans, the Stowfords Pressed men held their mostly shotgun armed militia in reserve, happy to keep Verity occupied with their longer range weapons  (including some wonderfully effective speculative mortar fire) from the factory buildings. With his spotters cut down by sniper fire and his unsupported advance section similarly blasted away by the defenders, the Reverend ‘s advance began to stall. His armoured tractor reached the defence works and began to rake the South Africans but was severely rattled by return fire.

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Verity's men under fire
The Pressed men’s mortar continued to wreak havoc, eventually landing squarely into the HQ group, blasting Verity, his command team and mortar into right-reverend little pieces! Luckily his remaining force passed their morale tests and, picking off bits of vicar, continued to advance and fire, keeping the factory defenders occupied.

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Perched on the chimney high above the factory, the South African sniper duelled it out with my sniper, ensconced up an apple tree. Both marksmen scored accurate hits, but neither managed to wound the other and continued to exchange shots from their eyries until the end of the game!

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South African rout
By now my forces’ fire finally began to tell on the South Africans, forcing their infantry sections to rout. Their positions were taken up by their command team and elements of the Stowfords militia, who would have also felt the sting of Anglican wrath, had every single piece of automatic weaponry not jammed at the same time! I bought the Athletes out of cover to help deal with these reserves (In retrospect I should have taken advantage of their longer range and used them and the scarecrows against the Stowfords militia much earlier on in the game), but by now the sun was setting and it was time to pack it in and put the kettle on.

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Athletes finally get going
We called the overall result a draw. The royalists had held the factory, but we had achieved our objective of keeping them off table 1. However news from that front was far from encouraging, for the BUF had managed to gain and hold the radio station. The Anglican League had fought with tenacity, but had been unable to dislodge the fascists from the ridge, which in itself had proved to be a difficult barrier to surmount. (Rich's account can be found here.)

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Action from table 1
Despite the outcome we had had yet another smashing days gaming! The participants were gentlemen all, the terrain was amazing, the catering was top-notch, rules were discussed and dissected and much fun was had by all. More photos can be found here, while umpire Giles’ view of things can be found here, here and here.

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More fighting on the ridge
I’ll leave the last word to Roo, AKA Stokkies Joubert :-
Communications have been sent home to South Africa calling for volunteers to restore the ranks of the recently formed Kings Own Pretorian Springbok Rifles (A volunteer legion of South Africans serving the King).  Badly mauled during the recent attack on the Westons Cider Factory the roster showed only two squads available for duty.  Stokkies Joubert has sworn to avenge his fallen comrades and has resigned his official commission to allow him to lead the Legion on to glory.  Determined to furnish his legion with artillery and suitable transport for a mechanised formation his scouts have been scouring local auctions for suitable items.  The search for a sniper worthy of the title may take a little longer however!

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The radio station remains in fascist hands


  1. A very nice write-up of what sounds like a really enjoyable game.

    I do admire the research and attention to detail you put into your scenarios. I think it pays off in the end result.

    1. I'm glad you like it sir - thanks for your encouraging comments!

  2. Wow great looking game guys! That radio station you built looks so good!

  3. Great game report, sir! Excellent scenery and figures. i really like the radio station.

  4. Thanks guys! I can't claim credit for the radio station, as it was scratch built by recent vbcw convert and new gaming buddy 'Roo'.
    It is rather good though isn't it?

  5. That is a great report and looks like a wonderful game. I love the radio station


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