Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
I can while away many an hour trawling through the British Pathé archives, especially clips of interwar Herefordshire, such as these…
Hereford May Fair, 1920's (silent)
A smashing clip showing the citizens of Hereford enjoying the delights of the May Fair, situated in an absolutely heaving High Town. The rides shown include the swing seat, dodgems, merry-go-round etc.
National CC Championship, 1922 (silent)
The National Cross Country Championship, presumably held at the Racecourse, judging by the gas works in the background.
National CC Championships, 1925 (silent)
Another National Cross Country Championship race.
The Three Counties Show, 1925 (silent)
Footage aplenty of the Hereford Bull at the Three Counties Show in Hereford, before it moved to its permanent home at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern.
Time Consecrates & Cuts, 1926 (silent)
The Archbishop of Canterbury (Randall Thomas Davidson, 1st Baron Davidson of Lambeth) visits Hereford to commemorate the 1,250th anniversary of the Diocese. Footage includes a procession of civic dignitaries up Broad Street and clergy and choristers emerging from the Bishop's Palace.
The Chief Scout, 1928 (silent)
Sir Robert Baden Powell takes the salute as he attends a rally of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in Hereford.
A procession of civic dignitaries make their way through a crowded High Town as they revive the 'Beating the Bounds' ceremony - the ancient custom of marking out the boundaries of the city.
The last section of this film features Mr C H Leake on his Hereford farm and his home-made astronomical telescope.
Various shots of historic buildings and picturesque scenes around the county.
Footage of the Kington sheep market, including the auctioneer practising his trade.
Herefordians gather as Queen Mary arrives in the city to dedicate the new George V playing fields, unveiling a plaque from the comfort of her car.
Monday, 28 May 2012
|The valley from the Welsh perspective|
The table represented the valley - dotted with buildings, fields and defence works, hemmed in by rough hills and with the river and a railway line running along its length. The royalists' aim was to advance along the length of the table and roll up the Welsh barring their path.
'Captain Bigglesmay', 'Ciderfella' and I took the role of the royalists, while Giles, ‘Swiper Esq.', Tym, and some of his chums played the Welsh nationalists.
The aim of the day was to try out the 'Went the Day Well?' rules in anticipation of the next Evesham Big Game. While ‘WTDW?’ is designed for platoon level (30-40 figs approx.) games, we played here with much bigger formations (over 100 figs per player). Tym also introduced a fog of war element borrowed from the Principles of War rules, in which each platoon was initially represented by a large piece of card. The opposing player had to successfully 'spot' this card to reveal the actual formation and put figures on the table (with an automatic reveal when the formation closed in on said opponent). Each side also had some 'phantom' cards, which would reveal nothing if successfully spotted.
|Note the 'fog of war' cards|
The Herefordian forces took the right flank and consisted of a platoon of BUF (2 infantry units, HMG, RASE motorised unit, tank busters, armoured car and command), a Blackshorts platoon (3 infantry, HMG, anti-tank rifle, 2 improvised armoured vans and command), volunteer famers (2 shotgun units and 2 groups of scarecrow protestors, 1 with firearms) and a platoon of militia (3 infantry, an improvised armoured van and 'Roaring Meg'). I also had the use of an armoured train, the arrival of which I had to dice for at the start of each round.
|The BUF advance|
|Blackshorts advance amid the wreckage|
|Armoured train arrives while the farmers deploy|
Back on my right flank, the BUF occupied the vacated defence works while the scarecrows began to clamber up the valley side. The Welsh had somewhat reformed and presented a formidable second defence line, with HMGs, artillery and mortars (perhaps my opponent wasn't so dissatisfied after all!). Luckily the BUF advance was aided by a heavy fog (event card) which reduced visibility and thus dampened the fire of the Welsh big guns.
|The Welsh withdraw to new positions|
In the centre, the Blackshorts were exchanging lively fire with the Welsh in the trenches and adjoining building. With supporting fire from the train and roaring Meg (which, after two misfires, scored a direct hit on the building!), the nationalists' backbone began to crumble. By now the Blackshorts finally had the Salopian support they required to press their advantage, with a veritable horde of GPO units crossing the bridge to engage the centre.
|The central defences bombarded|
Charging the trenches
While the Catholics, save the occasional mortar shot from the Welsh, were still in the dark about the composition of their foe and continued to probe along the left flank, on the other flank the BUF and farmers began to shoot up the Welsh from their new positions. The Welsh HMGs were quickly silenced, while the farmers and scarecrows kept the artillery occupied with a largely inaccurate fire while their comrades continued to gather for a new assault.
Dealing with the 2nd line
|The trenches are captured|
|The Welsh withdraw|
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
The Hereford City Municipal LDV has received some more reinforcements today in the form of the ‘Pressmen’: private militia of Bulston’s - makers of premier Hereford cider.
With the county in the grip of civil war, apple scrumping is rife – not to mention the hijacking of delivery lorries and drays that still travel in and out of Bulston’s various cider factories and depots despite the troubles. To combat this, the board of directors have ploughed some of the firm’s profits into training and equipping a unit of volunteers from throughout the business.
Fruit thieves, prohibitionists and black market cider sellers beware, for the Pressmen are on patrol!
(Figures mainly Musketeer LDV with two converted Aritzan Foreign Legionnaires)
(The following to be read with clipped BBC pronunciation to the stirring notes of the British Pathé theme tune)
The sleepy town of Hereford has awoken to the jolly melodies of that star of radio, stage and screen George Frimby, who has returned to his native soil to do his bit!
Following a successful career in entertainment, the Herefordshire Hollerer has joined the local Hereford City LDV as morale officer, bringing his trademark banjolele and prop lamppost with him. Far from the music halls of London, the Tupsley Troubador is now entertaining the troops with his cheeky numbers, such as ‘With My Little Stick of Dynamite’, ‘Work Camp Laundry Blues’ and ‘When I’m Breaking Windows’.
[Clip of Frimby singing ‘Loitering ‘round the Lamppost’ to a group of bemused militiamen]
‘Our George’ got into a bit of trouble a while back, after his latest song, ‘Grandad's Flannelette Blackshirt’, was deemed too risqué by the authorities. And so at the risk of being labelled politically subversive, Frimby has returned to Hereford to make amends and will be accompanying his fellow defenders of Britain into their next battle – go get ‘em George!
|(George Formby miniature by Eureka)|
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
So I had an evening to myself and a copy of the Brink of Battle universal skirmish rules to try out – a small solo game was on the cards! While I had plenty of miniatures to game with, I lacked scenery (apart from a few scratch built walls) and a gaming table, so the floor would suffice.
But where in Herefordshire could this flat, featureless terrain represent? Why, the Lugg Flats of course!
The Lugg Meadows
Known locally as the Lugg Flats, the Lugg Meadows are a rare example of the ancient Lammas Meadow system. Lying on the River Lugg flood plain along the eastern flank of Hereford, these meadows are enriched with silt from the river during the flood season, allowing the growth of a particularly diverse flora which in turn makes for high quality hay.
Ownership of the meadows are split between various interested parties, ranging from local farmers to the Church, and the land is parcelled into strips or irregular shapes, with the boundaries of each area demarcated by ‘dole stones’ - pillars of stone set in the ground and carrying initials and dates of ownership carved upon them. This system of tenure has existed for centuries, avoiding the enclosure act.
Each year, from February 2nd (Candlemas) to August 1st (Lammas) the meadows are closed or 'shut up for hay', with no grazing permitted. Each owner takes his own crop of hay from his holding, and then the meadows are thrown open for communal grazing by livestock owned by ‘commoners’ living in the local area.
VBCW skirmish background
As mentioned above, some of the meadow is owned by the Church, but with the Bishop of Hereford gone, the local royalist authority has begun to cast coveting glances at the land. They are also keen to fall in with Prime Minister Mosley’s theories on the corporate state and the need to modernise British agriculture. Surely, they reason, such an archaic system such as the Lammas Meadow is an anathema to a forward looking 20th century nation?
As such the Bishop’s Lugg Meadow holdings have been confiscated in the name of the government and a brick wall is being built around the various parcels, swallowing up any intervening land (the owners receiving a paltry compensation). This new ‘enclosure’ has enraged the local farming community, and night-time demolition raids have taken place.
Reports of local lads, disguised as scarecrows and obviously influenced by the Twiggy Mommet protest movement, knocking down parts of the hastily built walls are widespread, and so the local constabulary has been tasked with patrolling the area. They are armed, but then again, so are the protestors…
With the main aim being to get to grips with the basic Brink of Battle rule mechanism, this was going to be a small-scale affair, with a standard force of 5 policemen defending the partially built walls against a horde of 10 ‘scarecrows’. The BoB rules allow a maximum of 500 supply points; determined by the number and quality (combat, command and constitution ratings) of troops, their weapons and traits; for small games, but I only ended up spending 200-300.
Force compositions were as follows:-
CBT 4 / CMD 5 / CON 4
Traits: Commander, Hardened
Gear: Revolver. Truncheon (counts as club)
CBT 4 / CMD 4 / CON 4
Traits: Burly, Stoic
Gear: Revolver. Truncheon (counts as club)
Constables Muggins, Jones and Clott
CBT 3 / CMD / CON 3
Gear: Rifle. Truncheon (counts as club)
Total supply points 242
CBT 4 / CMD 4 / CON 5
Traits: Commander, Dirty b’stard, Savage aspect
Gear: Rifle. Totem
CBT 4 / CMD 3 / CON 5
Traits: Burly, Savage aspect
Scarecrows x 8
CBT 3 / CMD 2 / CON 5
Traits: Savage aspect
Gear: Improvised weapon
Total supply points 306
The scarecrows had to drive off the police, the police had to defend the area from attack.
Round 1 - Police get the edge, but scarecrows play the ’break’ (losing the initiative gives you this option to break the sequence) and the commander moves and fires first, causing no damage. One of the constables returns fire, but his rifle jams. Three more scarecrows advance on the patrol, which moves to meet the challenge. Firing on both sides is desultory, although one policeman is hit and shocked.
Round 2 - Police get the edge again. Scarecrows activate their 2 riflemen, and two new scarecrows. Once more they play the break and fire first, but to no effect. The Police return fire and also miss. The Scarecrow veteran then fires, hitting and wounding a constable. All policemen within 3” must make a panic test. Two pass but the Inspector, made of less sterner stuff, fails and breaks.
Round 3 – Due to me leafing through the rules, the last 2 rounds have taken the best part of an hour, so time is running short. Therefore I decide to try a rout test (usually caused by a side having 25% casualties) on the Policemen…
The policemen flee the scene, leaving the scarecrows at liberty to demolish the walls. Will this force the authorities to rethink their policy, or will we see more skirmishes on the Lugg Flats?
Brink of Battle is a very nice set of rules. While at first glance they look rather complex (in common I think with a lot of skirmish rules) with the plethora of character and weapons traits, the basic mechanism of players rolling d10s against each other and adding the requisite CBT/CMD/CON value is easily picked up.
The use of action tokens, together with the ‘edge’ and ‘break’ factors, forces players to think tactically, while the detailed characteristics of each figure (working on a ‘what you see is what you get’ principle) adds character and variation to the game. However reference sheets and force rosters are essential, especially for new players!
I look forward to playing some more skirmishes, this time with a few more figures on each side, and exploring these rules further!