The Royalists are on the offensive and the Welsh are digging in as Fascists and Anglicans clash over a vital bridge – yes, it’s time for the next Herefordshire Big Game!
Only two tables this time, but with some spectacular scenery, including Roo’s amazing hill, and some brand-new river sections. The table I gamed on (and thus dominates most of this AAR) represented the hill dominating the nearby railway junction at Titley – vital if the rebels were to gain control of the rail line.
The other table represented Bredwardine Bridge – one of the few road crossings over the River Wye. Whoever held this crossing would cut off or liberate the Royalist enclave sandwiched between nationalist Wales and the rebel Golden Valley Protectorate.
|The other side of the hill|
In order to represent the shortages that must have been affecting all sides by now, each player picked an event card before the game started. Some cards inflicted a lack of vehicle fuel or larger calibre ammunition, while in balance others provided a ‘top up’ option.
|The King's Colonials|
The Titley table was a continuation of the last big game, which saw the Welsh pushing the Royalists off a portion of the hill, dubbed Big Round Top, while the loyal King’s Colonials held on to Little Round Top. Therefore a platoon of Welsh and Colonials started off on the hill, separated by the road bridge over the railway.
|Royalists along the river|
Coming up to reinforce the Welsh was an Anglican League platoon, including sections of Chinese missionaries (left stranded in the UK whilst undergoing theological training when war broke out). Coming up to support the colonials were two Royalist platoons, including my reinforced Herefordshire TA.
|My Territorials deploying|
Eschewing the unreliable militia, this time I opted to field three TA infantry units, one of which was a cyclist section, and a section of mounted Yeomanry. Backing up this force was a Vickers Medium MkII tank, a sniper, Boys anti-tank rifle team and a mortar, complete with motorised armoured spotting vehicle.
The Royalist plan was for the Colonials to hold the attention of the Welsh with their artillery, whilst the newcomers would attempt to get around the hill and cut them off before the Anglicans got into gear. To their credit, the Welsh immediately confounded this by making the first aggressive move and taking the fight to the Colonials, advancing an armoured car along the bridge, followed by a section of Welsh infantry.
|Welsh A/C advances|
They also slowed my advance along the left flank, sending down an armoured car and a team of Morris Dancing tank killers and giving my tank commander pause for thought. Further up the hill the Welsh infantry and an HMG team lay in wait, stubbornly refusing to be rattled by my inaccurate mortar fire that was bursting harmlessly around them.
|Morris Dancing tank killers|
I was at least keeping them busy while the Colonials dealt with the armoured car menacing them with a well-aimed artillery round. My Territorials also kept the Welsh now lining the bridge occupied. Under enemy fire I had brought up my cyclists and cavalry along the railway line through the centre with an eye to moving under the bridge and appearing at the defender’s rear.
|Colonials work their way around the Welsh|
However the Anglican reinforcements were getting closer more quickly than anticipated and, while the other Royalist platoon was still crossing the river to deal with them, the Colonials advancing around Big Round Top seemed to have the matter in hand.
|Territorial Cyclists and Yeomanry|
Therefore my cyclists dismounted to return fire from the Welsh on the bridge and cover the Yeomanry as they pulled back.
|My slow advance along the flank|
With my tank, mortar and sniper resolutely failing to soften up the Welsh defenders on the left, my veteran infantry section paid a high price for a probing action at the base of the hill, being whittled down to just two men before even getting the chance to shoot back.
|Reinforcements square off|
I knew I had to abandon any idea of splitting my platoon for fancy flanking actions and concentrate on these defenders, using weight of numbers if necessary. Meanwhile the Anglican reinforcements were grappling with their Royalist counterparts.
|Massing for the attack|
Therefore the cyclists and cavalry mounted up and retired along the road to join the rest of the platoon, who had at least managed to punish the Morris Dancers for their gaiety, leaving the road clear for the Vickers to roll forward as the Welsh armoured car hastily reversed back up the hill.
|Chinese and Welsh under mortar fire|
My mortar still failed to damage the dug-in Welsh defenders, but was at least overshooting enough to land shells into the ranks of the Anglican Chinese who had arrived to shore up the defences.
|King's Colonials cross the bridge|
With my TA slowly advancing on the left, the Colonials over and under the bridge on the right and the other Royalists making their presence felt along the river, not even the arrival of the Anglicans on the hill could save the position and it was only a matter of time before the Royalists would triumph.
|The rebels pull back|
The rebels thus decided to retire in good order to Welsh-held Kington while they were still in reasonably good shape. Titley junction was once again safe in Royalist hands.
|Vickers and spotter vehicle|
Being engrossed in the battle for the hill, I missed most of the action at Bredwardine, but it appeared that the first half of the battle saw both sides jockeying for position. The BUF, supported by the Malvern Hills Conservators (on a rare field trip away from the Malverns) reached the all-important bridge first, and parked their tank on it to make the point.
|BUF at Bredwardine|
While a platoon of Royalist ladies squared up to Sir Gilbert’s men, the Anglicans attempted to dislodge the BUF with a pincer movement, at one point ramming the MHC’s ‘tricycle of death’. However at the end of the game the BUF (with the aid of a strange mobile pillbox) held on to the bridge and could claim a narrow victory, although this remains open to debate.
|Fighting at Bredwardine|
So the rebels have been unable to consolidate and move on to capture Titley Junction, while the Royalists bordering the Black Mountains have been given a temporary lifeline for as long as the BUF can hold Bredwardine Bridge. Will the other border parishes swing to the Royalist cause? Has the Anglican’s dream of opening a supply route by rail been dashed? Will the forces of the King be able to maintain momentum? Well, that’s for the next Big Game!
My platoon didn’t actually advance very far, with the exception of some to-ing and fro-ing in the centre, and most of the time didn’t actually manage to hit anything, but it was still another cracking day’s gaming! The players were gents all round, and much fun was had!
|Royalist mobile guns|
The thread on the VBCF.
Giles’ accounts – part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
The latest in the annals of Sir Gilbert Hill
Some photos from the end of the game:-