Monday, 20 February 2012

The Battle of Ledbury

Even though I was unable to attend the biggish game, I did help organise it, and thus claim the right to blog about it!

The rural area.
It seems that a great time was had by all – which is the main thing! Due to drop outs, the two table set-up was reduced to single large table; 18x6, with a 6x6 urban area as Ledbury, the rest was rural, with a long road heading toward the town.

The urban area.

The battle saw Fascist/Royalist forces (including BUF, the Shrewsbury School battalion and armed Morris dancers) take on an Anglican League/socialist coalition (including Canadians and Abyssinians!). The Fascist/Royalists launched a blitzkrieg along the road, while a force of cut-off BUF also battled through the town at the other end. The AL/socialists in Ledbury fought back bravely and both sides took heavy casualties, with machine guns, artillery and armour adding to the destruction.

BUF advance into Ledbury

The result was something of a stalemate – at best a pyrrhic victory for the Anglican League, who held the town but were severely mauled.

What will happen next? Did the Canadian ‘tourist’ (actually an anti-government spy) get rescued? Did the player who commandeered all the ladders for house-to-house fighting return them all? Only time will tell.

The Canadians counter-attack

Thanks to Rob and Tym for allowing me to bring you these smashing photos of the game, more details of which can be found here, here, here, here and in Rob’s blog here.

Royalist blitzkrieg!
Anti-government forces
Socialist armour gets a good pasting
Fascist HQ
Royalist steam powered improvised rocket battery
The manor takes a direct hit
I hope that any attendees who are reading this enjoyed the takeaway curry I organised for you. Here's to the next game!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Stand down chaps, stand down

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go up the spout, and so it proved today.

My participation in the big-ish game was scuppered due to the unfortunate lurgie that has gripped my family. And so instead of helping to umpire the game, I've spent the day on nursing duty.

This does however give me some time to take photos of some miniatures I had hurriedly painted in readiness for the big(ish) event.

Here they are, the newly uniformed and equipped Monmouthshire English company, now fully incorporated into the BUF Three Counties Legion.

All dressed up and nowhere to go...
Figures are Warlord Games (ex BEF) Belgians, with a Great War miniatures officer.

And to redress the balance a little, a support team for the Archenfield Amatuer Athletics Association, with one of those new fangled Czech LMGs.

This one is a Westwind 8th Army Bren gun team.

It's a damn shame that I couldn't get to the biggish game, but the health of my family is of course of far greater importance!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Countdown to the Battle of Ledbury

Regular readers of this blog will know that Giles and myself have been setting our VBCW campaigns in the Ledbury area. As things stand the royalist/BUF forces have been making small gains against the anti-government Anglican League’s push from Ross to Ledbury. The town is now under siege, although some of the besieging forces are cut off.

The scene is thus set for our first big(ish) game, where fellow VBCW gamers will gather this Saturday to settle the question of who controls this gateway to the Malverns once and for all!

The scenario (written by Giles) is :-

After a series of skirmishes, the BUF forces operating out of the Malvern Hills area have been pushed back towards the town of Ledbury in Herefordshire, south west of the Malverns. The BUF have incurred the wrath of the local LDVs such as the Malvern Hills Conservators (MHC) even though they (the MHC) are nominally supportive of the King in his court at Madresfield outside Malvern.

To make matters worse, the Anglicans operating out of Ross-on-Wye have decided to seize this opportunity to push the BUF back out of southern Hereford and link up with various factions operating in the region. Short of supplies and with rebellion behind them the BUF decide to consolidate their forces south west of Malvern requiring them to take Ledbury back for the King and Mosley.

The BUF forces are split into two groups:
• The first is about to break into the outskirts of Ledbury in order to quell local dissent and make their way back to their bases around Malvern to re-supply. They are now short on fuel and ammo. They face urban combat for the first time.
• The second is a newly despatched force from Bromyard that is approaching Ledbury for their first combat and need to overcome the outer defences and then join up with their fellow Blackshirts in Ledbury itself.

The defenders of Ledbury are fewer in number, but have the benefit of prepared defences, and better supplies. Royalist forces may choose which side to fight on depending on their history/background(err on the side of the BUF), Anglicans and Reds on the side of the Ledbury defenders

The action takes place on two tables:

1. This represents the BUF having penetrated the outer defences and engaged in urban combat.
2. This represents the new BUF forces from Bromyard having to fight their way into Ledbury.

Events on Table 1, will influence events on Table 2

Table 1 - the 'urban' game

Table 2 - the 'rural' game (seperated from table 1 by the railway line)
Players have been given a number of clues (and the odd red herring), based on fictitious newspaper reports (partially based on the pre-game writings of some of the participants):-

The Hereford Clarion – Evening Edition

Ledbury remains defiant!

Despite increasing BUF gains in the east of the county, anti-government forces holding the town of Ledbury have refused to surrender their arms and pledge loyalty to the King.

The forces of the Anglican League have garnered considerable local support, with bands of rebels from the Malvern Hills gathering under the Anglican banner. However government forces, while partially cut off from their headquarters, have pledged to ‘clear out this next of vipers’ and return the market town to royalist control.

The Anglicans are said to be gathering reinforcements from far and wide, while the BUF Three Counties Legion and their allies King Offa’s Legion are similarly bolstering their forces. Fighting has intensified in the area in recent weeks and Ledbury, once the picturesque gateway to the land of Edward Elgar, now bristles with barricades and sandbags.

Will the town fall without a fight, or will the battle be long and bloody? Only time will tell?

Mystery scarecrows

More strange straw effigies have appeared in the Ledbury region this week. Sinister scarecrows have sprung up in a number of fields and allotments. In an intriguing development, one particularly frightening mannequin appeared at the top of the Herefordshire Beacon. A note bearing the legend ‘King Twiggy will not stand idly by’ is said to have been attached to this creature.

Malvern stirs

The chaos of civil war in Herefordshire has been further muddled by forces from across the border in Malvern. The Malvern Hills Conservators, although avowed supporters of the King, have famously fallen out with the BUF in recent times.

However, it should not be assumed that the MHC will naturally spring to the defence of Ledbury, for rumours abound of a split between the Conservators and the Anglican League following the loss of Colwall.

On a more exotic note, the former Emperor of Abyssinia, living in exile in Malvern for some considerable time, has showed his hand by declaring is defiance against ‘all forms of fascism, be it in my own country or that of my gracious host.’

It seems that Herefordshire will not only resound with the hearty yells of the British yeoman, but also the war chants of the African warrior!

Traffic news

The county-wide highways improvement scheme continues, with much disruption to traffic entering Herefordshire. Drivers of large vehicles wishing egress into the county should beware of large delays and diversions.

Despite the threat of fighting, gas works are continuing along the high street of Ledbury. Motorists should expect disruption.

Stoke Edith girl crowned Miss Herefordshire

The coveted title of Miss Herefordshire has been won by Ms. Edith Blistford of Stoke Edith. Ms. Blistford, 46, wept with happiness as she was crowned at a glittering ceremony at Eardisland village hall. ‘I’ve never been so happy’ sobbed the former blacksmith’s assistant.

However critics of the competition have blasted Ms. Blistford’s victory, especially after judges admitted that she won the swimsuit round hands-down. ‘It was so one-sided,’ complained one onlooker, ‘she was easily the youngest contestant there.’

Ledbury latest: Reds flock to the defence!

Forces loyal to His Royal Highness have pledged to ‘seek out and destroy all traces of the red menace that dares to disrupt our quaint countryside’ today, after reports that at least two columns of communists are en-route to join the defenders of Ledbury.
Sources in the Midlands have confirmed that the Red Brigades of the Stourbridge Socialist Party and, from further afield, the Canadian Socialist Army are already on the march, intending to join the growing ranks of ‘traitors and rebels’ that are manning the barricades at the beleaguered town.

Our Ledbury correspondent reports that morale is high among the defenders, although local commanders were visibly disappointed yesterday following an inspection of the town’s sewerage system. Anglican League authorities maintain that this was purely an inspection for sanitary reasons and not, as has been suggested, down to the fact that a senior officer accidently dropped plans of the defences down the privy last week.

Meanwhile the royalists in Hereford have assured worried citizens that plans are in motion to beef up the besieging force, including the famous BUF XII Legion, although this correspondent has yet to see any evidence of reinforcements.

Scarecrow festival seeks funds

Organisers of the annual charity scarecrow festival at Bromyard have issued a plea for donations.

‘Without adequate funds we will be unable to hold an event this year,’ said a spokesman, ’as the license fee for holding public events has increased significantly under the new regime.’

Anyone wishing to make a donation may do so by contacting this correspondent. Organisers have pledged to give their wholehearted support to whoever makes the largest donation.

Fuel shortage continues to bite

The shortage of fuel that has dogged the county since the beginning of the war is continuing to cause chaos along the highways and byways.

Supplies of oil and petrol began to dry up following the former Bishop of Hereford’s declaration for the Anglican League and Herefordshire came under blockade. Hopes that fuel would begin to flow again once the county was liberated proved illusory however. ‘I’ve never seen Hereford so free of traffic’ said one local, ‘it takes me next to no time to get to work, although the chances of being hit by a bike have trebled.’

As businesses turn from horsepower to horse power, farriers, carters and wheelwrights have reported a strong upsurge in business. ‘I’ve never been so busy’, declared a Withington blacksmith, ‘the horse is certainly king ‘round these parts!’

Ladder stolen

Much Marcle window cleaner Albert Figgis has issued a heartfelt plea for the return of his missing, presumed stolen, ladder.

‘I was out and about on my rounds when I popped into the Feathers Hotel for a restorative, prior to going to work on the rectory in Ledbury on Monday. When I came out, my bike was still there, but my ladder had gone!’

‘I’ve had the same ladder for over thirty years, man and boy,’ he said. ‘It’s like losing an old friend. I’ve tried to buy a new one but you can’t get ‘em for love nor money nowadays.’

Rail problems add to travel woes

GWR have announced that the Worcester – Hereford line will be closed due to a landslide at the Wyche Cutting, where the railway passes through the Malvern Hills.

Rail travel within Herefordshire is also restricted due to a number of broken down armoured trains, suspect packages and leaves on the line. Rail officials are confident that the trains and packages will be cleared within the month. ‘The leaves may take a little longer’, said a spokesman.

Missing tourist

A Canadian tourist has been reported missing whilst staying in the restless Ledbury region, it has been revealed.

Captain Corbett, on leave from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was believed to be travelling through the area as part of a motoring holiday through Wales and Shropshire. Planning to venture further south, fuel shortages forced him to temporarily pause his journey at a B&B near Colwall.

He was last seen attending the village fete, where witnesses report him sharing a flagon of cider with the leader of a travelling troupe of Morris dancers, who had been entertaining the crowd with their traditional dancing.

Police are currently attempting to ascertain Captain Corbett’s whereabouts and would welcome any information.

Black Country Blackshirts beat deadbeat Reds!

News has reached this correspondent of a decisive battle between the Stourbridge Socialists, who were last reported to be en-route to the Ledbury front, and the Wolverhampton BUF.

The Blackshirts, also believed to be on their way to bolster the King’s forces in Herefordshire, clashed with the socialists at Cradley and, according to one witness, gave them ‘a bostin good cogwinder’. The reds are believed to have retreated to Birmingham, leaving the Wolverhampton BUF victorious.

Rumours that the BUF have captured a number of socialist vehicles and are planning to use them in the oncoming battle of Ledbury have yet to be substantiated, but if true, will be a major blow to the Anglican League and their allies.
The build-up to the biggish game can be followed here.

I’ve never hosted or umpired a game before, so fingers crossed that all goes well!