Today I attended another 1938 Very British Civil War Big Game, hosted by the excellent chaps Giles and JP. This was the second such event, and the Battle Report of the previous one can be found here.
Here a battle report and a pile of photos of some really nice armies. I had a great time, and it was great to see everyone- some new faces and some old friends.
|BUF Cavalry advance supported by South African Royalists|
Ledbury, in Herefordshire has been a thorn in the side of
the government forces since their aborted attack on it- the so-called Battle of
Ledbury (hence forth known as the First Battle of Ledbury). The Government has
determined that retaking the town was a high priority in order to increase
stability in the county.
|BUF heavy tank waiting to advance at the spearhead of the Government attack|
On the morning of the battle the force of the Government
forces drew up, ready to attack the Anglican held town. The attack was to
commence on two fronts, with the first being carried out by a large force of
highly mobile mounted cavalry troops, supported by artillery, two tanks and a
number of motorised infantry in trucks. A significant force of seasoned South
African colonial troops added backbone to the assault.
|A royalist standard bearer leading the Royalist forces into battle.|
They were attacking against a portion
of the town held by Anglican League troops, supported by Socialist Militia from
Birmingham (that's me!). The Anglicans had an antiquated Great War era tank, and an armoured
truck, while the Socialists had a pair of Trachanka armoured cars.
In addition, the Government
forces were attacking on a second front, sending a strong force of British
Union of Fascist troops, and Royalist Army troops against a section of the town
sparsely defended by an Anglican Force.
|Socialist convoy ready to seize the initiative. Poor planning and supply problems hamper the advance.|
The attack began badly for the Anglicans and Socialists; The
Government forces seemed to have solid information about their battle plans,
while poor communication and misunderstandings hampered their own deployment.
Added to this chronic supply problems, and the Socialists found themselves
struggling from the outset. When the Platoon Sergeant’s car ran out of petrol
blocking an important bridge, it through the Socialist Battle plan into
disarray as troops attempted to carry out their battle plans without much hope
|Government cavalry advance rapidly through the farmland around Ledbury|
The Government forces cavalry deployed rapidly across the
fields, crossing with ease terrain that would have hampered vehicles and
infantry. Luckily for the Anglicans the Government artillery was less
effective, being hampered by poor deployment.
|Poor deployment makes the Royalist artillery less effective that it might have been. |
The BUF tanks struggled to breach the hedgerows and ford the
river, but when they eventually did there was little the Anglicans and Royalist
could do against it, as their own guns were ineffective against the enemy
armour. At this point the Socialist withdrew in good order to a line of prepared
defences and trenches, and awaited the Government attack.
|Another experimental weapons- Cavalrymen using anti-tank lances.|
Government casualties would almost certainly have been high,
if at that moment news had not reached the Anglicans and Socialists that the
battle for Ledbury was over. The
Anglican forces on the other front had crumbled before the onslaught of the BUF
and Royalist. The forces of the Government were pouring into the town through
the breach, and the defenders had effectively been encircled!
|Strange locals dressed as scarecrows waylay the BUF- Quite why, no one was sure!|
The Socialist commanding officer was Professor Winters, a History scholar who
studied medieval warfare. Knowing that his forces were trapped, Professor
Winters decided that he had to try to break out and leave the Anglicans to
their fate. He ordered his troops to gather in one place, abandon their
vehicles and make their way on foot across the fields. The trachankas were to
provide a rear-guard as far as the river.
BUF heavy cavalry and a force of South African Regulars
blocked the Socialists path. Professor Winters saw an opportunity to test a
theory he had been harbouring for some time: How bayonet armed man can emulate
late medieval pike men to defeat cavalry. Ordering his troops to fix bayonets
and leave the safety of their entrenched positions, he had them race towards
the Government lines. The BUF cavalry responded by eagerly charging into the
Socialist, cutting a bloody swathe through their ranks. Initially it looked
bleak for the socialists, but as the Professor ordered more men into the melee,
the socialist numbers began to tell, and the cavalrymen began to fall one by
|The platoon sergeant leads the Socialist in a valiant- if fruitless charge.|
At this point the South Africans, witnessing what looked like a giant rugby
scrum, couldn't resist getting stuck in, and charged into the melee. Despite
their best efforts, the fight started to turn in favour of the Socialists,
even though there were heavy casualties on both sides. It looked like Professor Winters’
theory might prove vindicated, and that the socialists might manage to break
out of the encirclement, but then disaster struck: A large body Government
forces arrived from Ledbury, completing the trap.
|BUF cavalry cut down the first wave of Socialists desperately trying to break out.|
Professor Winters managed to escape by hiding under a bridge
until the Government forces had moved off, but his entire force was captured or
killed by the Government forces. The Commissars of the Birmingham Socialist
Collective have arrested the professor. He had been stripped of his command and
faces a trail for incompetence and desertion. Ledbury itself fell, and the
Anglicans were in Herefordshire were dealt a stinging defeat.