A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: A Clash in the Landsker

Hello.  This is Huw Puw, reporting from the front line for the Fish Guardian.

Yes, that’s right; the Front Line.  It seems that following my numerous near-death experiences in reporting the campaigns of the Army of Cantref Cemaes, I am now the Fish Guardian’s subject-matter expert on the Front Line and my editor insists on sending me back to the Front Line as often as he can (as soon as he finds out I’m back in Fishguard, in fact)…

So once again, I found myself blindfolded and bundled into a car, then dumped in the field headquarters of a regiment of the Army of Cantref Cemaes.  Thankfully there were no cross-dressing nutcases to be seen, but there was a lot of sharpening of bayonets and swords going on, which was most worrying.  From asking around, I gleaned that the newly-raised Catrawd Waldo Williams was about to go on its first raid into the No-Man’s Land of the Landsker.  Colonel Lewis-Jones assured me that his men’s lack of combat experience didn’t matter, as they were going to go in with the cold steel and give those Royalists “A damned good taste of Welsh spunk!”

I wished him luck and requested permission to observe the attack from somewhere at the rear of his regiment…

Above: As dawn rises, the ‘Waldo Williams’ Regiment (known generally as ‘The Wallies’), with a company of the Llanfyrnach Armoured Regiment and a squadron of the Preseli Horse, advance on the isolated farm of Dyffryn-Conin.  The farm is to be used as a firm base for a further assault on the railway near Clunderwen.

Above: The locals enjoy the morning air, oblivious of the impending battle.  As is customary, the ladies wear traditional Welsh dress in case some tourists come past.

However, the Royalist garrison of Clunderwen Junction has been tipped off and is advancing to meet the enemy at Dyffryn-Conin!

Above: On the Royalist left flank, a long, drawn-out chord on an accordion splits the early morning air and chills the blood of all who hear it, friend and foe alike!  This of course, is the internationally-recognised signal that Morris is about to be perpetrated…  The Welshmen pray that it can’t possibly be true, but yes, the sound of clacking sticks, jingling bells and the sight of capering Silly-Bastards draws nearer and the Civil War in Pembrokeshire is plunged into new, unimaginable depths of depravity… The Bastards…

Above: In the Royalist centre, Lt Col Keir and the Slebech Castle Ladies College Cadet Corps provide the tactical headquarters and a rifle company for the Royalist force.  These young ladies are now hardened veterans of campaigns in England as well as Pembrokeshire and together with the cross-dressing lunatics of Y Merched Beca are giving me a deep-seated fear of anyone in a long skirt…

Above: On the right of the Cadets is a company of regulars belonging to the Royal Highland (Black Watch) Regiment and on the right flank is a ‘Storm-Wing’ of the BUF’s Sir Thomas Picton Independent Cohort, supported by an anti-tank rifle team and a Machine Gun Carrier from the 2nd KSLI.

Above: Suddenly, the thundering of hooves and the revving of engines announces a charge by the Preseli Horse!  Resplendent in their buff coats and steel helmets, the Welsh cavalrymen draw sabres and charge the hedgerow, screaming their war-cries; “Shwmae Mam!”, “Beth ydym ni’n ei wneud yma?!”“Peint i mi!”, “Rhedeg i ffwrdd!”…

The BUF watch the oncoming charge in disbelief: “Are they bloody mad, Sergeant?!  Don’t they know it’s the 20th Century?”  “I dunno Sir, but they’re not as mad as Private Pritchard; he’s a bloomin’ ‘ero, Sir!”  BUF Private Pritchard sprints forward to the hedgerow and lobs a Mills Bomb into the heart of the cavalry charge, cutting down two of the troopers before running back to the cheers of his comrades.  As they reach the hedgerow , the rest of the cavalry are wiped out by concentrated BUF rifle and Lewis Gun fire! [Private Pritchard’s heroics were the result of a random even card]

Suddenly finding their arcs of fire clear of friendly cavalry, the Welsh armoured cars open up on the hedgerow, cutting down a few Highlanders and BUF.  However, the Royalist MG Carrier returns fire and kills the driver of one of the armoured cars.

Above: Confident that her right flank is holding, Lt Col Keir orders her ‘gels’ to take up positions in the farmhouse, while she brings her tactical headquarters and heavy machine gun section up in support.  She does however, dispatch a medic to the right flank.

Above: But what fresh hell is this?!  As if one load of Morris-dancers wasn’t enough, yet another Morris-man scampers out of the farm stables, inflicting a Nerve Test on all nearby units… War is Hell… However, the young ladies of the Slebech Castle Cadet Corps prove to be made of steel and the terrifying apparition capers off to join his mates on the left flank. [Yep, another random event card…]

Above: Back on the right flank however, the Black Watch suffer a bit of a wobble as they come under heavy and accurate fire from the Wallies’ Glogue Company and one of the armoured cars.  Buoyed up with confidence, the Glogue Company runs forward to the cover of the barn, but many are cut down in the open before reaching safety.

Above: Back at the farm, the Wallies’ Llanfyrnach Company has occupied the stable-block and is raking the farmhouse with fire.  Colonel Lewis-Jones senses that his moment of glory has come… Dragging me and his personal standard-bearer along by the scruffs of the neck, he personally leads the Hermon Company through the farmyard gate and across the yard to assault the farm house!  Thankfully his grip on my collar eases off and I manage to take cover in the corner of the yard, behind the civilians (that’s me at the top-left of the picture above)!

Above: Having weathered the assault of the Morris Man, Lt Col Keir brings up her tactical headquarters and most crucially, her heavy machine gun to assist in the defence of the farmhouse…

Above: Veterans of the Great War will recognise the scene in the farmyard as the Cadets open up on the Hermon Company at point-blank range with pistols, rifles and heavy machine gun… The Colonel manages to reach the farmhouse with two men, but they are quickly cut down at the front door and the Colonel is forced to fall back, dragging his wounded standard-bearer with him.

Above: Meanwhile, over on the Royalist left flank, a duel has been taking place between another Royalist Machine Gun Carrier and the Wallies’ heavy machine gun section.  The carrier eventually gets the best of the exchange, cutting down two of the three Welsh machine-gunners.  Seeing their way clear, the Carew & Cresselly Morris scramble over the hedge and charge!  The accordion-playing reaches a new crescendo and the jingle of bells strikes terror into the hearts of all there to witness it!

Above: Despite the early Royalist success on the right flank, the continuous machine gun fire from the armoured cars and the Glogue Company is shredding the morale of the Black Watch and the BUF.  The anti-tank rifle meanwhile, seems utterly incapable of hitting anything.  However, the MG Carrier does sterling work in the anti-tank role and manages to immobilise the smaller of the two armoured cars.  Nevertheless, the infantry are jumpy and Lt Col Keir dispatches her Sergeant-Major and an additional medic to stabilise the situation.

Above: The cowardly BUF have finally had enough and pull back from the hedgerow, leaving the Black Watch to it, who are themselves cracking under the strain!  The Llanfyrnach armoured car crews scent victory and advance over the rather squishy remains of the earlier cavalry charge!  Hurrah!

Above: However, that Royalist MG Carrier is still lurking and bullets finally penetrate the paper-thin ‘armour’ of one of the armoured cars, killing the crew.  The second car pulls back and is soon followed by what’s left of the Waldo Williams Regiment…

But I survived, which is what really matters…

This is Huw Puw, reporting for the Fish Guardian while running as fast as I can back to friendly territory (and with luck, all the way back to Fishguard).

Models, Rules, Acknowledgements, etc

My sincere thanks to Chris and Rhys at the Carmarthen Old Guard for embracing the silliness and joining the Civil War in Little England Beyond Wales and thoroughly getting into the spirit of it all!  Thanks especially to Rhys, who painted that magnificent Welsh Nationalist army in only a week or so!  Huw Puw would apologise to Rhys for mercilessly taking the mick, but he has no shame…

The rules used were ‘Went The Way Well?’ by Solway Crafts.  They’re not the greatest rules in the world, but they do give a fun game, as long as you’re playing with gentlemen and not bounders, rules-lawyers and nit-pickers…

The models are a bewildering array of manufacturers and have mostly been covered in previously articles here, so I won’t go into detail.  Empress, Footsore, Hinterland, Warlord, Great War, Woodbine, Mutton-Chop and other manufacturers all feature.  The livestock are by Redoubt Enterprises.

The Huw Puw figure was sculpted from scratch by the supremely talented Martin Small and is based on the John Sparkes comedy character of the same name.

The farm is an epic pre-painted model from EM4 Miniatures.

The terrain cloth is by Tiny Wargames.

The hedges were frantically finished off by me on the day of the game and were still wet with PVA glue when we placed them on the table!  They’re made out of six-inch lengths of rubberised horsehair, kindly supplied by my good mate Andy.  I then Bostiked them down to 6″x 1″ MDF bases from Warbases.  Warbases also supplied the very nice laser-cut MDF gates and styles, as well as a Royal Mail pillar-box and phone box in resin.  The hedges were then finished off with thinned PVA glue and ‘Blended Turf’ flock by Woodland Scenics.  Some of the hedges also include Woodland Scenics tree-armatures that were finished off using Woodland Scenics foliage mesh, which is rather like miniature camouflage netting – you rip pieces off the mesh and then drape it over the (glue-covered) tree branches.

The trees were also frantically finished off for this game (I’ve got around 300 woodland Scenics tree armatures awaiting completion) – this time using Woodland Scenics ‘clump foliage’ and ‘foliage clusters’.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Games, VBCW - A Very British Civil War | 6 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: Welsh Nationalist Factions in Pembrokeshire

Regular readers of this idiocy will probably remember that I’ve created a Welsh Nationalist faction for the ‘Very British Civil War’ in Pembrokeshire; namely the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes, which has its stronghold in the chapel-proud hinterland bocage country of North Pembrokeshire.  My mate Martin has also created the Free Wales Army, centred on the port of Fishguard, featuring their crack regiment, The ‘Fish Guards’.

However, the lads at the Carmarthen Old Guard are becoming increasingly interested in building their own VBCW armies, so here are my notes on the other Welsh Nationalist factions operating in and around Pembrokeshire.  However, the golden rule is that it’s YOUR VBCW, so don’t be constrained by my ideas!  He who paints the army writes the history… 😉 I hope this nonsense serves as the germ for your own imagination:

The Free Wales Army (Pembrokeshire)

Y Fyddin Rhyddud Cymru (Sir Benfro)

The most powerful Welsh Nationalist faction in West Wales is the Free Wales Army (FWA)’s Pembrokeshire Division, centred on the port of Fishguard.  Prior to the civil war, Fishguard was something of a hotbed of Welsh Nationalist academia, mainly drawing on the non-conformist and pacifist Welsh chapel tradition.  However, with the departure of most of the pacifist Nationalists to the new Senedd (Parliament) at Machynlleth, the FWA has rapidly filled the vacuum, aided by public revulsion at Royalist/BUF methods in the Landsker.  The FWA therefore emerged as a pro-war, militaristic backlash against the failed policies of the traditional, pacifist Welsh Nationalist intelligentsia.  Some observers ascribe fascistic elements to the FWA movement; they certainly love their bottle-green uniforms, public rallies and oaths to the cause and there are echoes of Italian and German fascism in the title of Yr Arweinydd (‘The Leader’) for their senior member.  The current Arweinydd is a shadowy figure only known as Martin Bach (‘Small Martin’).

The FWA in Fishguard are aligned with FWA enclaves in other parts of Wales, as well as other Welsh Nationalist groupings, though as discussed above, they profoundly disagree with the rump of the ‘old’ Welsh Nationalist leadership, such as Plaid Cymru, over military policy.  They do maintain a permanent presence at the Machynlleth Senedd, albeit in a non-voting capacity.  The FWA’s main source of power in Fishguard comes from its superb deep-water harbour and the associated trade with Ireland, as well as with various other anti-government factions around Britain, as well as foreign powers.  Newly-installed coastal artillery (purchased from Argentina) and a fledgling Free Wales Navy keeps the harbour relatively safe from interference.

Regular military elements of the FWA generally wear bottle-green uniforms, with weapons and equipment from a variety of British and international sources.  Uniforms are typically emblazoned with their stylised ‘White Eagle’ symbol (looking something like an asterisk with downward-turning ‘arms’).  Those without uniforms typically wear a green armband with the eagle symbol in white.  Flags again are bottle-green with the white eagle in its stylised form or sometimes in a more realistic form, typically inscribed with the motto ‘FE GODWN NI ETO’ (‘We will rise again’).  The naval ensign is similar but in sea-grey.

The Republic of Cantref Cemaes

Y Gweriniaeth o Cantref Cemaes

The main article for the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes can be found here (link).

The Welsh Republican Army

Y Fyddin Gymraeg Gweriniaethol

North of the River Teifi is the Welsh Republic, which forms the rump of Welsh Nationalist power, governed chiefly by the pre-war Plaid Cymru (‘Party of Wales’).  The new realities of national civil war forced the largely pacifist Plaid Cymru to reconsider its previous opposition to military action and it was with great reluctance that a Welsh Republican Army was formed.  Despite their initial reluctance, the Welsh Republic has done well, successfully carving out a large, economically-sustainable and defensible chunk of territory, with good access to overseas trade and excellent contacts among sympathetic foreign powers.

After some debate, the capital of the new Republic was established at Machynlleth, site of Prince of Wales Owain Glyndŵr’s short-lived Senedd (‘Parliament’). A new Senedd has been created and despite the war, the Republic has even managed to hold local elections, to provide the Senedd with Representatives.  However, not all Welsh Nationalist territories are willing to suborn themselves to the Republic, though many of these (such as the Republic of Cantref Cemaes and the Kingdom of Dyfed) do send non-voting Representatives to the Senedd, which to its credit, allows these dissenting voices to be heard.

Thanks to foreign military aid, the Welsh Republican Army has grown to become a considerable force.  However, the lack of strong, central leadership from the Senedd, allied to a lack of sufficient modern weaponry, has greatly stymied its offensive capability.  It is this perceived weakness that has only encouraged the formation of independent, more offensive-minded factions such as the FWA and the Kingdom of Dyfed.

Thanks to the variety of foreign sources, the Welsh Republican Army has a wide variety of uniforms and equipment.  As with many Welsh Nationalist factions, bottle-green is a popular jacket colour, though khaki uniforms from a variety of sources are also widespread, as are French-sourced ‘Horizon Blue’ uniforms of Great War vintage.  Armbands usually match the Welsh Republic’s colours of green, red & white, though plainer green & red, deleting the white, have also been seen.

The flag of the Welsh Republic is a tricolour, with bright green at the hoist, then red, then white at the fly.  However, flags loosely based on the heraldic banner of Henry Tudor are also popular, being a white-over-green flag with red dragon passant. However, some units prefer a slightly more aggressive dragon rampant badge and others show the dragon on a plain green ground.

Knights of the Grey Mare

Marchogion y Mari Lwyd

The ‘Knights of the Grey Mare’ are a shadowy and terrifying guerrilla group operating in the Gwaun Valley, which is a deep, narrow and thickly-wooded gorge, nestling in the mountains east of Fishguard.  They resist ALL attempts to move into the Gwaun with ruthless and terrifying acts, backed up by wild rumours of druidic practices and the Dark Arts.  They are never seen and never heard, though they most definitely exist; patrols and sentries will simply disappear, only to reappear at dawn, minus everything below the neck.

The Cwm Gwaun is therefore best avoided and even the FWA give them a wide berth.

The Army of the Kingdom of Dyfed

Y Fyddin o Gwledydd Dyfed

East of Pembrokeshire is the nominally Welsh Nationalist ‘Kingdom of Dyfed’.  When war was imminent, the most powerful land-owner and canniest political operator in Carmarthenshire, Lord Dryslwyn, hedged his bets and declared himself early to be a Welsh Nationalist.  Indeed, he declared himself to be not only the heir to the ancient Kingdom of Deheubarth due to his descent from Lord Rhys, Prince of Wales (which is not in doubt), but also to ‘Arthurian’ times and the Kingdom of Dyfed due to his alleged descent from the Princes of Narberth (impossible to prove either way).  He has even re-titled himself as ‘Lord Rhys’ and clearly also has designs on any future Throne of Wales.  However, there are rumoured to be several rival potential monarchs scattered abut Wales, from heirs of Llewellyn the Great to an alleged heir of Owain Glyndŵr himself!  Nevertheless, Lord Rhys is undoubtedly by far the most powerful potential Welsh monarch.

This move was a massive gamble for Lord Rhys, but through sheer force of personality and undoubted popularity, he has managed to maintain his social position within Carmarthenshire and to largely preserve his power and estates, while simultaneously opposing the government and English hegemony over Wales.  Of course, he’s got a lot of cash and that buys influence, men and weapons.  A string of early victories against Loyalist forces in Carmarthenshire, as well as against the Reds in the coal-mining districts of the upper Amman, Loughor and Gwendraeth Valleys also helped to secure his Welsh Nationalist credentials.

Needless to say, the traditional Welsh Nationalist politicians despise him as an opportunist aristocrat, but what they really can’t stand is that the people always seem to fall for charming aristocrats and would-be monarchs!

The ‘Kingdom of Dyfed’ presently covers most of Sir Caerfyrddin (Carmarthenshire), plus parts of Ceredigion (Cardiganshire) and Brycheiniog (Brecon).  In the west they hold a narrow front west of St Clear’s against the Loyalist Pembrokeshire enclave.  One of their early victories against the King was in establishing a bridgehead west of the River Tâf, thereby taking Laugharne, Llanddowror and Pendine and establishing a fortified camp on the high ground between St Clear’s and the Loyalist stronghold of Tavernspite.

To the north of St Clear’s there is a tense stand-off with the Welsh Nationalist Republic of Cantref Cemaes along the River Cynin and at the town of Newcastle Emlyn on the River Teifi.  Lord Rhys would like to woo them into the Kingdom, but they seem resolutely opposed to any external government, especially any return to a form of principality or monarchy.  Further north and much to the Welsh Republic’s annoyance, Lord Rhys holds the ancient Ceredigion college town of Lampeter.  It was here that he won his greatest victory to date; forcing out the Loyalist garrison (which retreated to Cardigan) and seizing large quantities of weapons and ammunition.  He also captured the large British Army training camp at Sennybridge, again securing considerable stocks of military materiel.

However, several besieged Loyalist enclaves remain within Lord Rhys’ domain at Carmarthen, Llandeilo, Llandovery and Brecon and he presently lacks sufficient military power to tie them all down.  He is resolved to destroy each one in turn, starting with Carmarthen.  There is also the problem of the Reds; Communist, Anarchist and Socialist militias presently hold large swathes of industrial south-east Carmarthenshire, including the large towns of Llanelli, Kidwelly, Pembrey, Burry Port, Crosshands and Ammanford.  To secure these would mean a considerable boost in the Kingdom’s economy, as well as access to overseas trade.  However, the Reds are implacably opposed to an unreconstructed reactionary like Lord Rhys.

With excellent access to sheep, woollen mills and dyers and having largely preserved stability and industry within his domain (particularly the very small-scale steel-working industry in eastern Carmarthenshire), Lord Rhys’ Army of the Kingdom of Dyfed is somewhat better-dressed than most Welsh armies.  As with many Welsh Nationalist factions, green remains the predominant uniform colour for the Army of Dyfed, though Lord Rhys’ household troops are known to wear red or a combination of red and green.  There are also a lot of captured khaki uniforms in evidence; often modified with regimental facing colours.  Recognition armbands and helmet-stripes are white over bright green.

The flag of the Kingdom of Dyfed is a bright green & white flag, split vertically, with green at the hoist and white at the fly.  In the centre are the Arms of Dyfed, being a royal blue shield displaying a gold lion rampant, surrounded by four gold roses.  The personal banner of Lord Dryslwyn was originally a black, upward-pointing black chevron on a white field, with three standing black ravens (two above and one below the chevron).  Since elevation to become Lord Rhys, this is now quartered with the arms of Dyfed described above.

A Note on the ‘Flag of St David’

I’ve noticed that a few AVBCW players like to use the so-called ‘Flag of St David’ for Welsh Nationalists.  However, you might be interested to know that the use of this flag is a VERY modern phenomenon, being accidentally started only about ten years ago by a Greek restaurant-owner recently moved to Cardiff in the early 2000s.  He wanted to establish his Welsh credentials, so in preparation for a Welsh rugby international, ordered a few dozen ‘Flags of St David’ for his customers to take to the match.  The flag-maker was confused and produced a load of flags bearing the central design of the arms of the Bishop of St David’s (a sulphur yellow cross on a black field).  It proved extremely popular and it has rapidly become an alternative national flag among the ignorant.

However, this design is NOT the flag of St David.  Saints only get a cross flag when they are martyred and St David died of old age (otherwise they have a saltire flag or simply nothing at all).  The design is purely the arms of the Bishop of St David’s and has never been any sort of national symbol until very recently.  It has been used by a few establishments such as St David’s College in Lampeter, due to the patronage of a former Bishop and not because of the St David title.

It’s roughly the equivalent of Americans who think that they’re entitled to use the coat of arms of someone with the same surname.

In a 1938 context it therefore makes no sense to have it as a Welsh Nationalist symbol – particularly as the Bishop of St David’s would be part of the Anglican reactionary establishment. I know that everybody has their own ideas of AVBCW, but I do like to use a historical basis as some sort of starting point for the AVBCW silliness.  Consequently, my Bishop of St David’s uses his flag extensively, while my Welsh Nationalists regard it as the mark of the enemy!

Posted in VBCW - A Very British Civil War, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | Leave a comment

I’m Finally Available To Buy! :) (28mm Jemima Fawr by Trent Miniatures)

At long last, my adoring public can buy a miniature facsimile of their favourite Welsh pub-bouncer, wargame-blogger, scourge of the French and all-round Welsh bruiser, Jemima Fawr! 🙂

At the Partizan show last May, I bumped into my old mate Duncan MacFarlane, the former editor of Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated.  He now runs Trent Miniatures, which produces a lovely 28mm French Revolutionary Wars and Irish Rebellions range.  Sadly this range was only in embryonic form when we were looking for figures for our Fishguard 1797 project, or we’d have bought a heap of them!  He’d been wanting to speak to me, as he’d just commissioned some Angry Welsh Women and their associated Gentleman Friends to complement his excellent and growing range of figures.

So here she is: ‘Big Jemima’ herself:

This lovely model can be bought from the North Star Figures website.

And here’s the first pack of Welsh peasants:

They certainly do look like cracking figures – I just wish they’d been available 10 years ago! 🙁

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about with regard to the Battle of Fishguard 1797, here are my earlier articles covering the French invasion of 1797, the ‘Battle’ and the armies and characters involved:

The Battle That Never Was: Fishguard 1797

French Forces at Fishguard

British Forces at Fishguard (Part 1)

British Forces at Fishguard (Part 2)

Fishguard 1797 Scenario #1: Ambush at Carnwnda

Fishguard 1797 Scenario #2: The French Attack

The Further Adventures of the Black Legion

Posted in 28mm Figures, Fishguard 1797, Napoleonic Wars | 4 Comments

“La Garde Au Feu!”: My 15mm French Imperial Guard (Part 2 – The Middle Guard)

A Fusilier-Grenadier of the Guard circa 1809-1814

In Part 1 last week, I looked at the infantry of Napoleon’s Old Guard and my recreation of them in 15mm, using AB Figures.  In Part 2 I’m going to look at what was initially the ‘Young Guard’, but which then became the ‘Middle Guard’.

In 1806, Napoleon embarked upon an expansion of the Imperial Guard infantry, creating the 2nd Regiments of Grenadiers à Pied and Chasseurs à Pied of the Old Guard.  Additionally in October of that year, a new regiment of light infantry was formed from the Vélites of the Guard (i.e. the Guard’s corps of infantry officer-candidates), titled the Regiment of Fusiliers of the Guard.  Only a few weeks later in December 1806, this regiment became the Fusiliers-Chasseurs of the Guard and a new sister-regiment was formed; the Fusiliers-Grenadiers of the Guard.  These two new Guard Fusilier regiments were collectively termed the ‘Young Guard’.

In 1809, the infantry regiments of the Guard were reorganised again, with the 2nd Regiments of Grenadiers à Pied and Chasseurs à Pied of the Old Guard being disbanded as a cost-saving measure.

A sentry of the Fusiliers-Chasseurs of the Guard circa 1810-1814 (with an officer of the Chasseurs à Cheval of the Guard)

The savings generated by the disbandment of these expensive regiments enabled several new Young Guard infantry regiments to be raised in 1809, including the Battalion of Vélites of Turin, the Battalion of Vélites of Florence, the Regiment of Tirailleurs-Grenadiers, the Regiment of Tirailleurs-Chasseurs, the 1st & 2nd Regiments of Conscrit-Grenadiers and the 1st & 2nd Regiments of Conscrit-Chasseurs.  I’ll cover most of the ‘new’ regiments of the Young Guard in the next article.

With the creation of so many new light infantry regiments for the Young Guard, the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and Fusiliers-Chasseurs were initially known somewhat confusingly as ‘Old Soldiers of the Young Guard’, through from 1811 became known as the ‘Middle Guard’.  The Vélites of Turin and the Vélites of Florence were also designated as Middle Guard.  (In fact, the 2nd Grenadiers à Pied and the 2nd Chasseurs à Pied, which had been reformed in 1810, along with the newly-raised 3rd (Dutch) Grenadiers à Pied were also officially designated as being part of the Middle Guard, but in reality were lumped with the Old Guard.).

With the huge expansion of the Young Guard, followed by a further expansion in 1813, the Middle Guard really ceased to be light infantry and instead became an extension of the Old Guard, providing excellent recruits for the Old Guard regiments, as well as excellent leaders for the Young Guard and Line regiments.  The Middle Guard was finally disbanded with Napoleon’s abdication in 1814 and was not re-raised with his return in 1815, though veterans of the Middle Guard formed a large part of the newly-raised 3rd and 4th Regiments of the Grenadiers à Pied and Chasseurs à Pied.

The Regiment of Fusiliers-Grenadiers of the Guard

The Regiment of Fusiliers-Grenadiers of the Guard was formed in December 1806 from the 1st Battalions of the Grenadier-Vélites and Chasseur-Vélites of the Guard.  Only a single regiment was ever raised, consisting of two battalions.  Each battalion initially had four companies, expanding in 1811 to five and then in 1813 to six companies.  Like the rest of the Guard regiments, there were no elite companies.  The regiment was initially intended to be attached to their ‘parent’ regiment; the Grenadiers à Pied of the Old Guard.  However, in practice on campaign they were increasingly brigaded with the Fusiliers-Chasseurs and other Middle/Young Guard units.

The uniform of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers was largely modelled on that of Grenadiers à Pied of the Old Guard; namely a long-tailed blue ‘cutaway’ coatee cut in the line infantry style, with brass/gold buttons, blue collar, white lapels, red tail-turnbacks with white eagle ornaments and red Brandenburg cuffs.  However, from 1806 to 1808 the uniform had some slight differences; the collar and lapels were edged with red piping and the cuff-flaps were red, piped white with more white piping around the edge of the cuffs.  On the shoulders were blue pointed shoulder-straps, edged with red piping.

Fusiliers-Grenadiers of the Guard circa 1809-1814 (NCO on the left)

From 1809 the red piping was removed from collar and lapels, the white piping was removed from the cuffs and the red cuff-flaps were replaced with plain white flaps.  The shoulder-straps were replaced at this time with white fringed epaulettes, which had red crescents and two red stripes along the epaulette-straps (NCOs had mixed red-gold epaulettes, while officers had gold epaulettes).  Aside from the epaulettes, the coat of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers now looked exactly like that of the Grenadiers à Pied of the Old Guard.

Drummers’ uniforms were essentially the same, though had yellow-gold lace edging added to collar, cuffs and lapels.

The waistcoat and breeches were white and worn with long black gaiters, which came up to the thigh and which were secured down the seam with brass buttons.  White gaiters were reserved for formal parade dress.

In 1806 the shako of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers had a red, carrot-shaped pompom, white cords, a wide band of white lace around the crown and a ‘V’ of narrow white lace on each side.  The front was decorated with the national cockade and the brass crowned eagle badge of the Young Guard.  There was no chin-strap or scales.  NCOs replaced the lace bands with gold lace and the ‘V’s had a red insert.  NCOs’ cords were mixed gold/red.  Officers’ shakos lacked the ‘V’s, but had rich gold lace decoration along the upper and lower bands, plus gold edging to the peak.

In 1809 the white lace band was removed from the upper-edge of the shako, though the white ‘V’s were retained.  The pompom was replaced with a tall, red feather plume and brass chin-scales were added.

The equipment consisted of two white cross-belts; one holding a sabre-briquet decorated with a red sword-knot on a white strap and the other holding a black leather cartouche, which was decorated with the brass crowned eagle badge of the Young Guard.  Backpacks were of the usual French hairy-hide type with white straps, usually topped with a rolled greatcoat in blue.

The uniform of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers remained essentially unchanged until their disbandment in 1814.  Like the Old Guard (and unlike the Young Guard) they never adopted the 1812 Bardin Pattern coat.  However there were various campaign dress variations, including blue or brown campaign trousers, shako-covers and red pompoms or padded discs instead of plumes.

As for flags; the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and Fusiliers-Chasseurs were not eligible to receive Eagles like the Old Guard and instead were ordered to carry plain fanions (i.e. marker-flags) in dark blue.  The lack of decoration on fanions was intended to deny any value as a battle-trophy to the enemy.  Details are sketchy, but units inevitably decorated their fanions with various emblems and inscriptions and the Fusiliers-Grenadiers were no exception, decorating their fanions with gold-yellow grenades.

For figures I’ve used the stunningly good AB Figures Fusiliers-Grenadiers, which like their Old Guard figures are standing at attention, as if waiting in reserve.  The flag is by Fighting 15s.

(NB Fighting 15s at present is the UK agent for AB Figures, though that contract will pass to someone else later this year.  Fighting 15s will however, continue to produce their lovely range of flags.)

The Regiment of Fusiliers-Chasseurs of the Guard

Fusiliers-Chasseurs of the Guard circa 1810-1814 (NCO on the right)

This regiment was initially raised in October 1806 as the Regiment of Fusiliers of the Guard from the 2nd Battalions of the Grenadier-Vélites and Chasseur-Vélites of the Guard, plus a draft of selected conscripts.  However, its title was changed only a few weeks later, in December 1806 to the Fusiliers-Chasseurs of the Guard.

Once again, only a single regiment was ever raised, consisting of two battalions.  Each battalion initially had four companies, expanding in 1811 to five and then in 1813 to six companies.  Like the rest of the Guard regiments, there were no elite companies. The regiment was initially intended to be attached to their ‘parent’ regiment; the Chasseurs à Pied of the Old Guard. However, in practice on campaign they were increasingly brigaded with the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and other Middle/Young Guard units.

Uniforms were modelled on those of the Chasseurs à Pied of the Old Guard; namely a long-tailed blue ‘cutaway’ coatee cut in the light infantry style, with brass/gold buttons, plain blue collar, plain white pointed lapels, red tail-turnbacks and red pointed cuffs edged in white piping.  From 1806 to 1808 the uniform had blue pointed shoulder-straps, edged with red piping.  However, in 1809 the shoulder-straps were replaced with the same fringed epaulettes as those worn by the Chasseurs à Pied, being green with red fringes and crescents.  Tail-ornaments were also added in 1809, being hunting-horn and grenade badges embroidered in aurore (a pinkish yellow-orange) on a white backing.

The shako was initially of the 1801 Light Infantry pattern, with the brass crowned eagle badge of the Young Guard on the front and the national cockade on the left-hand side.  White cords were suspended from the cockade-strap on the left side.  A mushroom-shaped, red-over-green pompom was also worn on the left side.  Officers wore a more conventional shako with plume and cockade positioned on the front.  In 1809 chinscales were added and the pompom was replaced with a tall feather plume, coloured red-over-green.  Sources are split over the exact proportion of red to green in the plume – some say a 50/50 split of red and green, while others suggest mostly green with a red tip.  In 1810 (ish) the shako changed to a more conventional type, with the plume and cockade moved to the front and the cords suspended from both sides.  The shako of the Fusiliers-Chasseurs lacked the white lace of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers, though NCOs and officers still wore gold lace (minus the ‘V’s of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers).

Drummers of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers (left) and Fusiliers-Chasseurs (right)

Drummers’ uniforms were essentially the same, though had yellow-gold lace edging added to collar, cuffs and lapels.  However, some sources suggest that the lace was coloured aurore (as shown in the plate on the right).

Waistcoats, breeches, gaiters and equipment were the same as for the Fusiliers-Grenadiers, except for the sword-knot, which had a white strap, green knot and red fringe.

The uniform of the Fusiliers-Chasseurs, like that of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers, remained essentially unchanged until their disbandment in 1814, except for various items of campaign dress.

As with the Fusiliers-Grenadiers, the Fusiliers-Chasseurs were not eligible to receive Eagles and instead were ordered to carry plain blue fanions. Again, information is scant, but the Fusiliers-Chasseurs probably decorated their fanions with gold-yellow hunting-horn and grenade badges.

In terms of modelling, I should point out that I don’t actually need a large, formed unit of Fusiliers-Chasseurs.  As mentioned before, I play Napoleon’s Battles, in which each unit on the table represents a full brigade at roughly 1:100 ratio.  The two regiments of Fusiliers were never deployed in sufficient strength to warrant having two formed units on the table, so my Fusiliers-Grenadiers are sufficient for the job.  However, I do need some skirmisher bases for occasions when the brigade needs to deploy in entirety as skirmishers, so I’ve decided to use the Fusilier-Chasseurs for the skirmishers.

While AB Figures produce lovely Fusilier-Chasseurs wearing the 1809 side-plumed shako and standing at attention (and their Fusilier-Grenadier figures can be used for post-1810 Fusilier-Chasseurs), they don’t produce any Guard Fusilier skirmishers.  Consequently, I’ve used AB Figures Young Guard Voltigeur skirmishers and have simply painted in the upper part of the gaiters above the knee.  The plumes are on the front of the shako and the coat-tails are a little short, but the differences aren’t all that noticeable, so I’m happy.

The Battalions of Vélites of Turin and Vélites of Florence

Although I haven’t painted these units, they formed part of the Middle Guard and wore very similar uniforms, so are worth mentioning here.  Both battalions were raised in March 1809 from a cadre of Imperial Guardsmen and volunteers (most of them Italian).  The Vélites of Turin were specifically raised to be the bodyguard for Napoleon’s brother-in-law, Prince Borghese, who lavished money and expensive Parisian tailoring on his beloved regiment.

The uniforms of both these units were meant to be the same as those of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers of the Guard, though various conflicting sources show a few minor differences and some more differences were created by Prince Borghese’s largesse!

As can be seen in the plate on the right, the uniforms of the Vélites of Florence were essentially identical to those of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers, though almost all sources show that the shakos lacked the white lace ‘V’s on the sides (the cords were white for rank and file – the soldier shown here is a sergeant and has the usual gold lace band around the crown and mixed red/gold cords.

Depictions of the original 1809 uniform for the Vélites of Turin show an identical uniform to that of the Vélites of Florence, again lacking the white lace ‘V’s on the shako.  However, some sources show red epaulettes.  By 1812 the shakos had been modified with the addition of aurore lace ‘V’s and the white cords had changed to aurore. This modification was presumably due to the patronage of Prince Borghese.  Again, most depictions of troops wearing the latter shako have the regulation white epaulettes, but some are depicted wearing red epaulettes (there is a suggestion that corporals may have worn red epaulettes as a mark of their rank, while the sergeants wore mixed red/gold).

A specific request by Prince Borgehese for the Vélites of Turin to be issued with an Eagle was refused by Napoleon, but there is a surviving flag of the standard 1804 ‘lozenge’ Pattern (pictured here).  This may have been a private purchase by Prince Borghese, but if officially issued, it seems likely that the Vélites of Florence would also have been issued with such a flag.  These flags were probably carried on light-blue poles with gilt spearhead finials.  I can’t find any other details of fanions for the Vélites.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Painted Units | Leave a comment

“La Garde au Feu!”: My 15mm French Imperial Guard (Part 1 – The Old Guard)

I doubt that there’s a single Napoleonic wargamer who doesn’t have at least one Imperial Guard unit in their collection and I’m certainly no exception… And having recently painted my very LAST Imperial Guard infantryman (for the two Young Guard Corps at Leipzig in 1813), I thought I may as well post the pics here, starting with the Old Guard (which appropriately enough, are the oldest figures in my Imperial Guard infantry).

Back in the mists of time, I had a single unit of 16x 15mm Old Guard Grenadiers à Pied by Battle Honours.  They got a lot of mileage and by the mid-1990s were looking rather battered.  By then we’d started doing demo-games at wargames shows and I was wanting some new models, so asked Mike Hickling at AB Figures if they had any imminent plans for Old Guard infantry models.  By sheer luck, he had just cast the very first of the new AB Figures Old Guard and he put them straight in the post to me on approval!  I had it on good authority therefore that these AB Figures Old Guard figures were the first to appear anywhere – they were in our Bautzen 1813 game at ‘Warcon’ (1995 I think?) before they even appeared in the AB Figures catalogue! 🙂

(As an aside, Mike also sent me some never-released Empress’ Dragoons and a Napoleon figure that had originally been sculpted for the Battle Honours range and never released.  As far as he or I know, these figures are totally unique.  The Empress Dragoons have since passed on to my good friend Martin – replaced by newer AB Figures models – but I’ve still got the Napoleon figure and have never been able to bring myself to replace him with the newer AB Figures model.)

Above:  French 15mm Old Guard Grenadiers à Pied by AB Figures.  When I first saw these, I was totally blown away by the quality of sculpting and the accuracy of the depiction.  They look just as though they have stepped out of a Detaille or Gerard painting.  Even today, nearly 25 years later, I still think that they’re the best figures ever to have been produced in this scale (or indeed any scale).  They’ve even got their customary earrings sculpted on…

Above:  Regular readers of this blog will note that my painting was a fair bit better in those days… 🙁 Eyesight and cramping hands now get the better of me.  I also had a lot more patience and would routinely paint my own flags…

For the uninitiated, the distinguishing uniform features of the Grenadiers à Pied were the coat cut in ‘line infantry’ style, with square-ended white lapels (i.e. the bottom end of the lapel, where it meets the coat-tail), ‘Brandenburg’ cuffs with white cuff-flaps, plain red fringed epaulettes and a bearskin with brass front-plate, red plume, red ‘cul de singe’ (‘monkey’s arse’) on the back and white cords.  They continued to wear this uniform throughout the Napoleonic Wars, even when the rest of the infantry switched to the more modern ‘Bardin’ style after 1812.  However, the uniform would be modified on campaign by the addition of black gaiters, blue overall trousers and blue greatcoats.  The cap plumes and cords would also be removed and saved for best (‘Grande Tenue‘).

Above:  This photo will teach me to pay more attention to which figures I’m getting out of the box, as some Chasseur à Pied interlopers have joined the back of the column! 🙂

Above:  The next Old Guard regiment is the Chasseurs à Pied.  Once again, these are in very characterful ‘standing in reserve’ poses, often seen in Napoleonic battle paintings – standing around behind the Emperor, waiting for the order for the Guard to be committed.

Above:  The Chasseurs à Pied had some subtle uniform differences to the Grenadiers à Pied; their coat was cut in ‘light infantry’ style, with pointed lapels and pointed cuffs, edged in white piping.  Epaulettes were green with red fringes and crescents.  The bearskin this time had no front-plate and no cul de singe and plumes were now red-over-green.

 

 

 

 

Above:  I’m looking at the fine-lined piping on those cuffs while weeping into my turps-pot and wishing I could still paint like that… 🙁

Above:  My last regiment of the Old Guard is the regiment of Marins (which means ‘Seamen’, NOT ‘Marines’).  These are much more recent models and I painted these last year and wrote a blog-article about them at the time.

Above: The Old Guard on parade, with Général de Division Dorsenne, the Colonel-General of the Grenadiers à Pied at their head in full ceremonial uniform.

Above: Dorsenne and the Grenadiers à Pied under fire at Aspern-Essling 1809.

That’s it for now!  Middle Guard, Young Guard, Guard Artillery and Guard Cavalry to follow, but I’m now setting off on my hols. 🙂

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | Leave a comment

75 Years Ago Tonight…

I’m just having a drink to the memory of my late father-in-law, Chief Petty Officer Harry James RN, chief engineer of a Royal Navy Landing Craft Flotilla, who 75 years ago tonight was being fished out of Portsmouth Harbour by the crew of a US Navy DUKW…

With the flotilla being held in total security lock-down in Portsmouth Harbour, he and his No.2 decided to row across from Portsmouth to Gosport, to ‘look for spare parts’. Having unsuccessfully searched most of Gosport’s licenced premises for spare parts, they realised that needed to get back to LCT(E) 413 in time to sail for Normandy, so made their way unsteadily back to His Majesty’s Rowing Boat… Only to find that some [insert an appropriate lower-decks naval epithet of your choice here] had nicked it…

Being trained Commandos and bolstered by the Courage bestowed on them by the Dutch, they decided to swim for it…

Had the USN not happened to be passing by, they might have become D-Day’s first casualties…

God Bless you Harry, and thanks for telling me that story… You certainly never told Jean or Sue! 🙂

Above:  Harry’s vessel on D-Day – LCT(E) 413.  This was a very rare vessel – only four LCT(E) were employed during the Normandy Landings and this (Harry’s photo – taken at Port Said in 1946) is the only photo I’ve ever seen of one.  It was the Emergency Repair (E) variant of the Landing Craft Tank (LCT) and instead of the tank-deck it had workshops for the at-seas repair of landing craft.  Unlike the standard LCT, there was also an upper deck with offices, cabins and stores, plus stowage and davits for its own motor-launch (and presumably Harry’s rowing-boat).

 

Posted in World War 2, World War 2 - Normandy 1944 | Leave a comment

Our ‘A Very British Civil War 1938’ Game at Partizan 2019

The last twelve months have certainly shot past since our last Very British Civil War 1938 epic at Partizan 2018 show in Newark!

I clearly hadn’t offended everyone last year, as this year I was very kindly invited by Dave Rose to once again take part in the Very British Civil Forum group’s demo game at Partizan 2019.

Dave’s collection is truly phenomenal and he was able to supply a 6×12-foot table, absolutely packed with beautiful urban terrain.  All we had to do was supply some troops, so I once again brought Baroness de Loutson and the Cadet Corps of the Slebech Castle College for Young Ladies (a Royalist faction aligned to the quasi-fascistic ‘English Mistery‘).  I also brought a spare force from the Army of the Bishopric of St David’s (Anglican League) in case additional players wanted to join the game.

Above: The Midlands town of Fackingham has been fortunate in that up to now the civil war has been held at arm’s length and the town’s local defence volunteers (LDV) have been able to discourage the belligerent factions from attacking the town.  However, Fackingham’s cottage industry has been producing armoured vehicles for anyone with the cash to buy them and while that has kept the richer factions happy, others viewed the town’s industrial resources with envious eyes.

Above: Nevertheless, Fackingham’s wealth keeps the locals happy and attracts business to the town and on Market Day the town is packed with traders… As well as rich pickings for anyone powerful enough to take on the town’s LDVs…

Above: But all is quiet in Fackingham… The vicar strolls through the church-yard and thinks about choirboys…

Above: Locals stroll through the streets as tradesmen make their deliveries.

Above:  The back-lanes are quiet… Perhaps too quiet…

Above: The peace is suddenly broken as an Anglican League reconnaissance aircraft roars over the town!

Above: Fearing an air raid or worse, the vicar runs to the church tower and rings the church bells to call out the LDVs!

Above: The local constabulary arm themselves and take up defensive positions around the police station and Red Lion public house.

Above: Even the local postmen have a war-role and quickly assemble their rocket-artillery.

Above: Factory-workers take up positions around the tank-factory.  While many of the armoured vehicles are only partly-built, some are runners and the crews fire up the engines and load ammunition.

Above: The town’s LDV was wise to mobilise, as a large Royalist force appears at the eastern edge of the town.

Above: The Baroness de Loutson establishes her headquarters in a farm and observes as her girls advance on the town.  On her left is a large force of BUF Blackshirts, while on the right is a regiment of Welsh Royalists.  Openng her packet of orders, she is horrified to discover that her primary objective is the tank factory at the far edge of the town!  Her girls will have to fight their way through the entire town to reach it!  However, secondary objectives include the confiscation of essential war-supplies, which should prove a much easier nut to crack.  She is also ordered to capture or destroy an enemy propaganda film-unit if encountered and she must also make contact with a Royalist agent, the local Verger.

Above: On the Baroness’ left, an armoured car leads the way along the lane, followed by a file of attached Blackshirts.

Above: Upon reaching the edge of town, the armoured car crew halt and scan the houses warily, waiting for the infantry to move forward and lead the advance into town.

Above: On the right flank, things go rapidly downhill as the Welsh Royalists encounter a group of archaeologists making a documentary film at the local ruined abbey (cultural endeavours must continue regardless of the war – this is Britain, after all!).  The Royalists demand that the film-crew stop making ‘propaganda’ and that they should hand over their equipment… A group of mercenaries providing close protection for the film crew lose their nerve and open up with a volley of Tommy Gun fire, cutting down a few Royalist soldiers!  The Royalists return fire, cutting down mercenaries, archaeologists and film crew alike, the Cadets also join in and even bring up a tankette…  The firefight is brutal and short and the surviving archaeologists make a run for the town, pausing only to shout “Come and have a look at this pottery sherd I’ve found over here, Tony!” and the like.

Above: Cadet cavalry follows the infantry into town… Who brings cavalry to a street-fight…?  Oh well, at least they add a degree of class to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.  In the background, a Cadet headquarters orderly runs forward to commandeer an animal feed agent’s steam-truck.  Thankfully, steam and internal-combustion motor maintenance and operation is all part of the thoroughly modern educational syllabus provided by the Slebech Castle College for Young Ladies…

Above: At the western end of Fackingham, the rich pickings have attracted other factions… Socialists, Anglican League and Yorkists advance on the tank factory.

Above: The factory militia prepare to defend their livelihood [I have no idea what was going on at this end of the table – it was twelve feet away and was an entirely different game, as far as we were concerned!]

Above: As the Cadet armoured car covers the houses with its machine gun, the Blackshirts advance on the market square, followed by a cadet medic and her trusty hound.

Above: A Cadet musician, riding on the back of the armoured car, gives the Blackshirts a jaunty tune on the accordion…

Above: As the Blackshirts move warily up the street, they spot the Verger – their agent!

Above: The Verger/Agent is escorted back to headquarters under guard.

Above:  With the fight at the abbey over, the Cadets, covered by the tankette and a heavy machine gun, move forward into town.

Above: Suddenly, all hell breaks loose as the Cadets and the Welsh Royalists come under heavy fire from LDV units positioned in the Bank, the Pelican pub and some terraced houses, as well as from the Post Office rocket-artillery on the market square!  Trapped in the street without immediate cover, several cadets are cut down before they have the chance to withdraw!

Above: Particularly murderous is the fire from an LDV heavy machine gun emplaced on the roof of The Pelican.  this gun dominates the market square and completely enfilades the street up which the Cadets were marching.

Above: The surviving cadets take cover behind the Bank’s courtyard wall and the tankette moves forward to engage the heavy machine gun.  However, the tankette is soon engaged by the machine gun and by LDV men concealed in the houses to the right of the lane!

Above: Throwing caution to the wind and responding to radio calls from the tankette, the armoured car surges forward onto the market square, in an attempt to destroy the rocket-artillery!

Above: Demonstrating a remarkable degree of dexterity  and speed, the Post Office Rocketeers somehow manage to dismantle their weapon and leg it into cover as the armoured car’s machine gun knocks chunks out the brickwork around them!  The armoured car turns its attention to the machine gun, but is in turn engaged by previously-unseen heavy machine guns at the far end of the square!  The armoured car’s paper-thin armour can’t withstand much punishment and the car is soon reduced to a burning wreck in the middle of the square.

Above: The LDV machine gun crew atop The Pelican whoop with triumph and taunt the Royalists as they turn their gun on the tankette.

Above: The Welsh Royalists manage to rout the LDV men from the terrace, but too find themselves suffering from the heavy fire coming from The Pelican Inn!  Alas, the Cadet tankette too succumbs to heavy machine gun fire and is soon burning in the lane behind the Bank.

Above: On the Royalist left flank, a large force of Blackshirts has moved forward, but doesn’t seem to be much interested in joining the fight… Instead, they spend their time removing trucks, loot and a whole herd of cattle from the cattle market.

Above: The local civilians keep their upper lips stiff as they carry on with their shopping on the market square, regardless of the bullets whizzing past… It makes all factions proud to be British (except the Socialists, obviously).

Above: The reason for the armoured car’s destruction soon becomes apparent as an LDV gun-truck and a police armoured car appear on the square.

Above: Despite their losses, the Cadets are made of stern, matronly stuff and, having fixed their lippy, they lift their skirts to ankle-height and with a bellow of “Come on Girls!” from Captain de Carnelle, they charge the rear of the Bank!  Their heavy machine gun manages to keep the bank staff pinned down and the Cadets reach the building without loss!  Led by Captain de Carnelle, brandishing her pistol and sabre, the well-drilled Cadets winkle the bank staff out from behind their heavy mahogany counter.

Above: The surviving bank staff are taken prisoner and are escorted to the rear by a mounted Cadet.

Above: With the armour knocked out, the mounted Cadets are mover forward to provide what support they can to the infantry.

Above:  Baroness de Loutson’s tactical headquarters group also moves forward for a better view of the action.

Above:  With Royalist forces now occupying the Bank and the houses on the left, the heavy machine gun on the roof of The Pelican is finally knocked out by the massive weight of Royalist small-arms fire.  The LDV gun-truck moves forward, somewhat suicidally, to closely engage the Royalists and quickly becomes the target of several grenades…

Above: On the north side of The Pelican, the LDV Headquarters Platoon is getting the worst of their firefight with the Welsh Royalists.

Above: Meanwhile, on the western edge of the town, the Socialist militia don’t seem to be making much headway against the tank factory LDV, who have brought up some armour to aid their defence.

Above: However, on the north side of the factory someone’s armour (we’re not sure whose) is storming up the main road and has almost reached the market square!

Above:  Following in the wake of the armour, Anglican League militia are storming through the factory gate.

Above:  Yorkist Boy Scouts have taken the church and raise the banner of the Duke of York from the tower!  There is much cheering from the Yorkists, though nobody else knows or cares why.

Above:  The Bishop of St David’s Anglican League forces follow the Yorkists into town and have ‘armour’ of their own…

Above:  Meanwhile, back at The Pelican, the LDV gun-truck has been grenade into submission and the Cadets storm out of the bank to assault the front door of The Pelican!  Astonishingly, they suffer no casualties during their mad charge and successfully breach the pub!  Suddenly realising that they have no Gentleman Friends with them, they immediately turn left into the Lounge Bar and avoid the Public Bar, as they are Ladies…

Above:  The dismayed survivors of the LDV Headquarters Platoon desperately down their pints and half-heartedly defend their pub from this frenzied attack, but are soon overwhelmed by shrieking women with long-suppressed Issues…  Congratulating her girls, Captain de Carnelle permits them to consume a small fruit-based drink, while the officers consult the cocktail menu…

Above: Missing out on the free drinkies, one disgruntled cadet escorts the prisoners to the rear, wondering if she is going to make it back in time for Last Orders…

Above: Cadet Headquarters Orderlies once again move forward to remove anything portable or driveable.

Above: “Time please, Ladies!” Having consumed a refreshing beverage, giggling Cadets burst out into the Beer Garden to engage the Post Office Rocketeers… However, they may have had one or two Babychams too many and are soon forced to withdraw, staggering and giggling, back into the Lounge Bar…

Above:  Duty done, the cadets have a lock-in and a party on the roof terrace of The Pelican, while waiting for their Gentleman Friends from the Welsh Royalists to join them…

Above: At the far end of town, the Anglican League and Yorkists look to be making headway into the tank factory.

Above:  The Yorkist armour has succeeded in knocking out the police armoured car, but is itself coming under heavy fire from the Post Office.

Above:  As the Anglican League recce plane makes another pass over the town, the Royalists realise that there’s no way that they’ll be able to reach the tank factory and withdraw (some of them staggering, giggly and ‘silly’) from their town with their loot..

Thanks to all for a great game and especially to Dave Rose for putting it on and to Mort for running around like a whirling Dervish as the game-umpire.  Congratulations also to Norm, our Blackshirt ally, who was judged to have ‘won’ due to hoovering up more cows than John Chisum and Ronald McDonald put together, while not firing a single shot during the entire battle…

Posted in 28mm Figures, Games, Partizan (Show), VBCW - A Very British Civil War | 3 Comments

“The First Horseman of Europe”: Marshal Murat in 15mm (Sho Boki Miniatures)

If you’re a Napoleonic wargamer like me, who enjoys refighting the Great Battles of History, you will at some point require the services of a model of one of the greatest ‘characters’ of the age; Prince Joachim Murat, Marshal of the Empire, First Horseman of Europe, Grand Duke of Berg, King of Naples, brother-in-law to the Emperor, Beau-Sabreur, ‘King of the Dandies’ and all-round whoopsie.

Murat commanded the cavalry reserve in many of Napoleon’s greatest battles – Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Borodino and Leipzig to name a few and his (somewhat foolhardy) bravery and singular dress-sense were the stuff of legend.  At least one model Murat is an essential part of any Napoleonic French wargames army.

However, there hasn’t been very much choice in 15mm – Old Glory and Minifigs both did a Murat figure, but I didn’t really like them and they didn’t fit very well with my collection, which is almost completely AB figures.  For 25+ years I hoped in vain that Tony Barton might sculpt at least one Murat (or hopefully a whole pack of Murats) for AB Figures, but it was not to be.

Then at last, salvation arrived in the form of a new Estonian scupltor named Sho Boki!  He had clearly read my mind and produced a range of Murats, depicted in some of his best-known costumes (I hesitate to call them ‘uniforms’) from the span of his career – starting with the elaborate Chasseur Colonel’s uniform he wore at the Battle of Marengo in 1800 and ending with one of the regal costumes he wore during the Neapolitan War of 1815.  The pack also includes a figures of Marshal Ney during the Retreat from Moscow (included by Sho Boki as the figure is almost identical to one of the 1806 Murats).

Above: A ‘Regiment of Murats’: I’ve painted six of the Murats and mixed them in with some staff officers and aides by AB Figures.  AB Figures also provided the horses (Sho Boki designs them to be mounted on AB horses).  I painted one of the 1807 Murats as Marshal Bessières (see below) and haven’t yet painted the Spring 1806 Murat or the Ney figure.

Above: The first Murat figure depicts him in the uniform he wore in 1800 as Général de Division of the Reserve Cavalry Division 0f the Army of Italy at the Battle of Marengo.  The uniform is an elaborate version of that of a Colonel of Chasseurs à Cheval.  Murat had originally been commissioned into the 12th Chasseurs à Cheval (twice – the second time after being cashiered following an affair).  The uniform was dark green with scarlet facings and heavily laced in silver. Headgear was a curious green-topped czapka-style cap

As a mere divisional commander at this stage in his career, I’ve based him as a single figure on a 25mm square base, which is the standard format for Napoleon’s Battles, my preferred Napoleonic wargame rules.

Above:  My second Murat figure shows him as a Marshal of the Empire, commanding the Reserve Cavalry Corps of the Grande Armée at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.  He had by this time started wearing bizarre costumes in lieu of regulation uniforms – in this instance he wore a costume modelled loosely on ‘Cossack’ dress; namely a dark green kaftan with red lining, fur edging and gold frogging and lace, topped off with a red cap with a fur turban and white egret plumes.  He’s also wearing 17th Century-style buff leather boots and gloves and his horse furniture consists mostly of a bearskin shabraque.

As Murat was now commanding a whole Reserve Cavalry Corps, he’s based with an Aide de Camp (ADC) on a 40mm square base.

For his ADC, I’ve used a French Guard Chasseur à Cheval officer by AB Figures, dressed in the typical uniform worn by Murats ADCs; namely a white hussar-style pelisse jacket with black fur edging and gold lace, a black fur busby with crimson-pink bag, gold cords and white plume, crimson-pink breeches with gold lace and a leopard-skin shabraque.

Above:  In 1806 Murat was once again commanding the Reserve Cavalry Corps and was in the vanguard during Napoleon’s advance against the Prussian-Saxon Army.  Murat’s cavalry were only briefly engaged at the end of the critical Battle of Jena, but Murat’s relentless pursuit of the defeated Prussian Army resulted in the surrender of several major Prussian formations and fortresses and ultimately the complete defeat of Prussia.

Murat’s dress here still includes the green kaftan worn in 1805; here worn open, showing a green & gold hussar dolman and the crimson sash of the Légion d’Honneur.  However, he seems to have briefly reigned in his more fanciful fashion catastrophes, this time optiong for a more typical Marshal’s cocked hat (albeit with extra egret plumes) and deep red leather hussar boots, as well as a typical Marshal’s shabraque of crimson cloth, heavily edged with gold lace and fringes.  The painting below shows him (for once) without facial hair, so I’ve left off the usual moustache.

Again, as a corps commander, I’ve based him on a 40mm square together with an ADC.

His ADC is dressed much as before, except this time he has buff campaign overall trousers with a crimson-pink stripe down the seam, as well as a crimson-pink shabraque with gold edging.  The figure is taken from the latest French ADC pack by AB Figures.

Above: Following his appointment on 15th March 1806 as Grand Duke of Berg, Murat designed a grand new wardrobe to go with his grand new title.  The predominant uniform colour for the army of the new Grand Duchy of Berg was white and Murat’s uniform followed that theme.  His tailor must have finally caught up with him in Poland in late 1806, in time for him to complement the snow on the battlefield of Eylau in February 1807.

Although much the same pattern as the regulation coat of a Marshal of the Empire, Murat’s coat was coloured white instead of blue and was liberally festooned with gold lace, epaulettes and aiguillettes.  Breeches were light cavalry-style in white with gold lace seams and ‘spearpoints’ on the thighs and were worn with crimson leather hussar-boots, edged in gold lace.  The whole ensemble was topped off with the same egret-plumed Marshal’s hat as in 1806, gold & white Marshal’s waist-sash, crimson sash of the Légion d’Honneur and esoteric gold-edged gauntlets.  Horse furniture is again crimson, heavily laced and fringed with gold.

Once again, as a corps commander, I’ve based him on a 40mm square; this time with two ADCs.  I must confess however, that I decided not to add the snows of Eylau to the base!

Above: My 1807 Murat, leading the titanic cavalry charge at Eylau (minus the snow…).

For his ADCs I used a galloping ADC figure from AB Figures’ latest French ADC pack (here on the left) and the ‘Superior Officer of Hussars’ figure also from AB Figures (on the right).  The hussar officer here is dressed in much the same manner as the previous ADCs, though this time has replaced his fur busby with a shako in crimson-pink.

The other ADC is wearing the uniform worn by the famous memoirist Jean-Baptiste Antoine Marcellin Marbot, when he served as one of Murat’s ADCs at Eylau.  He also has a crimson-pink shako (with white plume), but instead of hussar dress has a Chasseur-style coatee in crimson pink, with collar, cuffs, linings and piping around the lapels in a deep buff shade.  The cutaway front of the coat reveals a white waistcoat decorated with gold hussar-braid.  Overall trousers are deep buff with a crimson-pink stripe and the shabraque is crimson-pink, edged gold.  around his sleeve he wears a brassard, which is a miniature version of the Marshal’s sash in white and gold, indicating his status as an ADC to a Marshal of the Empire.

Above: Following his proclamation as King of Naples on 1st August 1808, Murat devoted most of his time to the governance of his kingdom and didn’t participate in the 1809 Campaign against Austria.  However, in 1812 he was recalled along with the Neapolitan Army to join the Grande Armée for the invasion of Russia and true to form, Murat had a whole new uniform that was even more off-the-wall than ever…

Murat’s costume at the Battle of Borodino consisted of a vaguely Ottoman-style blue coat with ‘ruffed’ shoulders, which was once again absiolutely dripping with gold frogging and lace and encrusted with sashes and decorations.  This was worn with gold-laced crimson breeches and boots.  He was still wearing a Marshal’s cocked hat adorned with egret-feathers, but this time tended to wear it ‘flopped’ on one side, giving him the look of a 17th Century cavalier.

Murat’s flamboyant dress, bravery, horsemanship and dazzling swordsmanship on the battlefield won him a whole new legion of adoring fans – the Cossacks…

The Cossacks would apparently cheer and call to him on the battlefield and on one occasion withdrew when he galloped up alone and ordered them to!

In 1812 Murat commanded an entire army-wing of several cavalry corps, so I’ve now based him on a 50mm square and given him a larger retinue of staff.  Once again, there is an ADC in the usual rig of white pelisse with black fur trim and crimson-pink shako and breeches (taken from the first AB Figures French ADC pack).  Another ADC wears the ‘Marbot’ uniform described earlier (taken from the later AB Figures French ADC pack).  The third figure is a Général de Division of cuirassiers (the AB Figures General d’Hautpol figure).

Above: This figure is based on a famous 1815 equestrian portrait of Murat as King of Naples (shown here) and was probably the uniform worn during Murat’s disastrous Italian Campaign of 1815 that was decided with Murat’s defeat at the Battle of Tolentino.  However, an 1813 portrait of Murat also shows him wearing this uniform, so I’ve opted to use this model to represent Murat at the Battles of Dresden and Leipzig (I think it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever bother to paint enough Neapolitans for 1815!).

His blue coat with red facings was positively restrained in style compared to the gorgeous Ottoman-inspired confection worn in 1812, but was once again liberally festooned in lace, epaulettes and frogging – this time in silver instead of gold.  His headgear was a peakless czapka, not unlike that worn at Marengo, though this time with a buff top and with the addition of egret feather plumes.  Legwear was buff-coloured tight pantaloons with a double red stripe down each leg and just to annoy future painters of wargame figures, a tiger-skin was used in lieu of a shabraque.  Grrr.

Murat was placed in command of an entire army-wing during the 1813 Campaign and as such, I’ve based him on a 50mm square with three ADCs in attendance, including a Polish officer as his command contained two corps from the Duchy of Warsaw.  All three figures are taken from the most recent AB Figures French ADC pack; two are dressed in the usual variations of white & crimson-pink, though one this time has the pelisse jacket slung over his shoulder to show off the crimson-pink dolman beneath.  The dolman has white facings and gold braid, though buff facings are also recorded, as shown here.  The yellow plume is another recorded variation on the usual theme.

The third ADC is an officer of Duchy of Warsaw Uhlans, wearing a white kurtka jacket with crimson facings, crimson-topped czapka, crimson pantaloons and silver lace.

Following his defeat at Tolentino, Murat escaped to France in an attempt to rejoin the Emperor, though Napoleon wanted nothing to do with him following his brief ‘turn of coat’ in 1814.  In the event, Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo and Murat was forced to escape to Corsica.  Then, with a loyal band of followers, Murat attempted to regain his Neapolitan throne, only to see his dream end in front of a Neapolitan firing squad.

His last words (to the firing-squad) were 100% Murat to the end… “Spare the face.  Aim for the heart.  Fire!”

Above: As mentioned at the top of this article, I decided to use the less animated of the 1807 Murats to plug another significant gap in my French Napoleonic collection; Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières, Duke of Istria.

As shown here, Bessières typically wore the green undress coatee of an officer of the Chasseurs à Cheval of the Imperial Guard.  This fairly plain coat (also typically worn by the Emperor Napoleon beneath his trademark grey overcoat) was then adorned with gold epaulettes and aiguillettes and the crimson sash and silver star of the Légion d’Honneur, plus the white and gold waist-sash of a Marshal.  Waistcoat and breeches were also typical items of Guard Chasseur dress, being scarlet with gold lace, often worn with very natty green leather boots, as shown here.  Horse furniture was crimson with heavy gold lace and fringes and his typical Marshal’s cocked hat was sometimes adorned with egret plumes, as shown here.  One notable and slightly odd feature of Bessières’ appearance is that he persisted with using deeply unfashionable white hair-powder.

His ADC is an officer of the Chasseurs à Cheval of the Imperial Guard and is dressed in much the same ‘undress’ uniform as his Marshal, though in somewhat simpler style.  I actually used a spare AB Figures Officer of the Sailors of the Guard and the horse was taken from an AB Figures ADC pack.  The two escorts are Chasseurs à Cheval of the Imperial Guard in full dress and are taken from the AB Figures Napoleon & Staff set.

So there you have it!  All in all, a damn fine set of figures that fits in extremely well with my existing collection of AB Figures Napoleonics and I can’t wait to get them on the wargames table.  Sho Boki has done a magnificent job and I’ve also bought some of his magnificent Russian generals, which I’m looking forward to painting.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Minor States, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 8 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire: The Manor Park Raid

With Lord Tenby’s Royalist Administration forces engaged in the north of the county against increasingly belligerent Anglican League and Welsh Nationalist forces, the south of the county had almost been forgotten by the Royalist Administration. With the south relatively quiet, Regular and Territorial forces had been stripped from the lines facing the Albertine ‘Pembroke Protectorate’ to bolster the ‘Landsker Marches’.

However, Prince Albert’s forces had not been idle.  Under the leadership of the capable Sir Charles McKay-Price and aided by reinforcements and resupply from Canada, they had slowly been building their strength in preparation for a major offensive against Lord Tenby’s forces.  Nevertheless, the Protectorate Army was still some way from being a competent field force and so it was left to the more capable elements of the army to conduct raids, fighting patrols and spoiling attacks against the Royalists.

With manpower being steadily stretched by demands from the north, significant gaps had opened up along the Royalist ‘Jameston Line’ (which stretched from Carew on the Cleddau Eastuary to Manorbier on the south coast).  Instead of a continuous line of trenches, the ‘Line’ was little more than a straggling line of fortified outposts, connected by strong patrols of cavalry, armoured cars and motorised infantry.  While the Albertines did not yet have the strength to directly take on these fortified positions, they were able to infiltrate relatively strong forces under the cover of darkness or the reasonably regular South Pembrokeshire sea-fog.

And so it came to pass that Sir Charles received intelligence that a Royalist VIP was due to visit the local BUF Headquarters at Manor Park; a large mansion-farm on the Carew-Tenby road, approximately 2 miles behind Royalist lines.  With luck, it was reckoned that a sizeable force might be infiltrated under cover of darkness to assault Manor Park, destroy the headquarters and capture or kill the VIP.  Major ‘Skip’ Broughton, of the Freshwater West Australian Light Horse, was appointed to command of the operation and under his command were placed the Pembroke Post Office Lancers and a company of The Duchess of York’s Own Highland Volunteers.

As predicted by R(P)AF Pembroke Dock’s Meteorological Section, a sea-fog rolled in during the night, enabling the force to infiltrate between Royalist strongpoints. As the bulk of the force moved into its assault positions, the Highlanders marched further into enemy territory, to set up an ambush position on the Tenby road, with the intention of cutting off any escape by the VIP.

As dawn broke, all was ready and the attack was mounted.

Manor Park, looking west toward Carew and Pembroke.

In the courtyard we see the VIP consulting with the local BUF staff – it’s the notorious Baron Kylsant, Marcher-Lord of Narberth and ‘Butcher of the Landsker’.

Manor Park, looking East toward Tenby. The BUF are completely unaware that Albertine Highlanders are lurking in the woods at the top of the picture.  However, the Albertines are equally unaware that a Royalist field gun is deployed behind Manor Park (roughly where the sheep are in this photo).

Looking north toward Redberth, the Albertines are also unaware that BUF outposts are deployed along this sunken lane.

The attack begins. In the foreground are the territorials of ‘D’ Company, 4th Welch Regiment.  Beyond the road are the dismounted Freshwater West Australian Light Horse, while the Pembroke Post Office Lancers split into two Troops.

In the centre, the Light Horse deploy their Vickers MG Section to cover the road.

Major Broughton and his guidon-bearer move forward.

On the left flank, ‘A’ Troop of the Lancers move forward to support the Light Horsemen.

Resplendent in their purple ‘kangaroo feathers’, the Light Horsemen move forward through the hedgerows.

An Australian blows his thing.

As the Australians cross a field, a unit of BUF open fire from the sunken road.

The clock starts ticking now that the BUF are alerted to the enemy presence.  Royalist reinforcements will soon start to arrive, so the Albertines need to complete their mission in the shortest possible time.

The Australians and BUF trade fire with each other, with light casualties being suffered on both sides. Men on both sides scramble for cover as bullets find their mark.  The Lancers move forward in support, firing from the saddle as they do so. A saddle is emptied by BUF bullets, but the Lancers press on.

On the Albertine right flank, ‘B’ Troop of the Lancers moves forward, covered by the Territorials.

The Territorials haven’t yet spotted any enemy, but don’t like the look of that hedgerow in front…

With trumpet blaring, the Post Office Lancers add a degree of tone and class to the battlefield as they dash forward.

With the Australians now suppressed by fire from the hedgerow, ‘A’ Troop of the Lancers attempts to seize the initiative and launches a reckless charge on the BUF!

However, the Lancers’ gamble pays off, as the BUF are also suppressed by Australian fire. They completely fail to cause any casualties on the charging Lancers and as the Lancers charge home they break and run!  Blackshirts are quickly lanced, ridden down or captured by the victorious Lancers.

Meanwhile, on the other flank, ‘B’ Troop of the Lancers dashes across the field to the sunken lane.  A volley of shots rings out…

As the Territorials suspected, a second unit of BUF Militia is lurking in the lane.  The two sides trade shots inconclusively across the field.

The BUF Militia Commander and his 2IC leave Manor Park to tell his men to keep the bloody noise down…  Just in time to witness one of his units being ridden down by Lancers!

A St John’s Ambulance officer attached to the BUF, looks on in horror as the Lancers complete their annihilation of the BUF.

“View Halloo!” Spotting the BUF officer and his friend, the Lancers charge off in hot pursuit, though the officer manages to dash back into Manor Park, while the NCO hides in the phone box.

The St John’s Ambulance officer sneaks off, hoping that his black & white uniform will enable him to hide among the cows…

Major Broughton moves forward to rally his men and get them moving forward again.

Having seen what happened to their comrades on the right and not wanting it to happen to them, the remaining unit of BUF leg it as fast as their hairy little fascist legs will carry them back to Manor Park.

The Territorials set off in hot pursuit!

‘A’ Troop charges on up the road, unaware of the fugitive hiding in the phone box.

The Blackshirts scarper, with the Lancers hot on their heels!

The BUF officer bars the gate, while one of his staff officers frantically looks for an escape route.  A BUF signaller, calling frantically for support, finally manages to make contact with a friendly unit!

Captain de Carnelle’s Company of Cadets has heard the call and has withdrawn from the front line near Carew.  The young ladies arrive in rear of the Australians!

The Lancers reach the lane, but their horses refuse to tackle the steeply-banked hedges! The BUF make good their escape and barricade themselves inside Manor Park.

‘A’ Troop of the Lancers meanwhile, runs into trouble as a previously un-located BUG heavy weapons detachment opens up on the horsemen.  Amazingly, no casualties are suffered by the ‘Lucky Lancers’.

Another heavy weapon joins in – this one an 18-pounder field gun belonging to the 2nd Haverfordwest Volunteer Horse Battery RA.  Still the Lancers suffer no casualties!

With the battle intensifying around him, Baron Kylsant makes good his escape in a convoy of staff cars with a motorcycle outrider.

The Haverfordwest Horse Artillery have traded their horses in for a commandeered tea van…

The Duchess of York’s Highlanders, waiting in ambush positions, spot te approaching convoy…

A Highlander NCO orders his men to hold their fire until he gives the word.

However, a Highlander fires on the horse gunners and the ambush is compromised!

With the ambush detected, Baron Kylsant attempts to escape across the fields.  Meanwhile, fortune favours the ‘Lucky Lancers’ once again as the BUF machine gun jams!

However, Captain de Carnell’s Cadets are now engaging the Australian rear.

A cadet sharpshooter takes aim at the exposed Australian machine gun team.

Another cadet rushes forward to engage the Australians.

As more cadets move forward, one takes a tot from her hip-flask to steady the nerves!

A cadet seeks a target among the hedgerows.

A cadet readies her rifle and prepares to engage the enemy.

Major Broughton’s men turn to face the new threat.  With the ambush blown, the time has come for his force to scatter and infiltrate back into friendly lines. Baron Kylsant has escaped justice this time, but his time will come…

This game was played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire.

The Albertines in this game are mainly from Al Broughton’s collection: the Australian Light Horse are now long out-of-production Battle Honours figures, the Territorials are from Great War Miniatures and the Lancers are from Empress Miniatures’ Anglo-Zulu Wars range.

The other figures are from my own collection: the BUF and Highlanders are by Footsore Miniatures (formerly Musketeer Miniatures), the artillery are by Renegade Miniatures (which seem to be now out of production), the ‘cadets’ are by Hinterland Miniatures and the staff group is a Spanish Civil War staff group by Empress Miniatures.  The cars are by Sloppy Jalopy (drivers by Empress Miniatures) and the livestock is by Redoubt Miniatures.

The scenery is mostly from the club collection and was mainly built by Al Broughton.  The farm is a very nice pre-painted set by EM4 Miniatures.

Rules used were ‘Went The Day Well?’ by Solway Crafts.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Games, Scenarios, VBCW - A Very British Civil War | Leave a comment

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Army of the Pembrokeshire Protectorate

As recounted in my short history of the beginnings of the Civil War in Pembrokeshire, the south-western peninsula of the county, centred on the towns of Pembroke and Pembroke Dock and with extensive military infrastructure, was the first non-Welsh Nationalist Pembrokeshire district to rebel against the King.  The forces of Prince Albert, the Lord Protector, were very quick to react to this rebellion and a detachment of the Albertine Western Blockade Squadron soon arrived to reinforce and reassure the rebels, closely followed by an Albertine Canadian Infantry Brigade Group and thus this rebel territory fell into the Albertine sphere of influence.

With the arrival of strong Albertine forces and supplies, the Albertine Pembrokeshire Division rapidly expanded into a force of two infantry brigades:

Forces of the Albertine Protectorate of Pembrokeshire

General Headquarters, Protectorate Forces (Pembrokeshire)
HQ at Defensible Barracks, Pembroke Dock

1st Pembrokeshire Protectorate Brigade – Brigadier Sir Andrew James DSO MC*
1st (Pembroke) Rifle Volunteers (Prince Albert’s Own) – Lt Col Sidney Jones MC
2nd (Pembroke Dock) Rifle Volunteers – Lt Col Sir Gareth Hogmanay Beamish OBE
3rd (Cosheston & Carew) Rifle Volunteers – Lt Col Adrian James CFM
Princess Elizabeth’s Own Highland Émigré Volunteers of Canada – Lt Col Alexander Goldie TD

2nd Pembrokeshire Protectorate Brigade – Brigadier, Sir James Ackland
4th (Castlemartin & Angle) Rifle Volunteers (Lord Cawdor’s Own Angle & Castlemartin Cyclists) – Lt Col, The Hon. Jason de Beauharnais Evans VC
5th (Pembroke Irish) Rifle Volunteers – Lt Col Robert Wright
6th (Pembroke Foreign Legion) Rifle Volunteers – Lt Col, Conte Diego Manuel Garcia d’Arretano
Queen Mary’s Own Rifle Volunteers of Canada – Lt Col Molson Labatt

GHQ (Pembrokeshire) Artillery – Colonel, Sir George McGeary CRA
405 Field Battery (Pembroke Yeomanry), The Pater Artillery Volunteers (4x QF 18pdr) – Major Ronald Watts
4 Field Battery, Canadian Artillery Volunteers (4x 18pdr) – Major Douglas Butt
185 (East Blockhouse) Coastal Battery, The Pater Artillery Volunteers (2x 9.2-inch & 2x 6-inch) – Major, The Hon. Vaughan Austin du Fresnoy
186 Anti-Tank/Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, The Pater Artillery Volunteers (2x QF 12pdr on improvised mounts & 12x Lewis AA Mounts) – Major Samuel Spiers

GHQ (Pembrokeshire) Troops
The ‘Cumby’ Battalion, Royal Marines – Lt Col Edward Owens RM MC ChLdH
‘A’ Squadron, Castlemartin Yeomanry – Major, Sir Terence Meyrick, Bart.
Freshwater West Australian Light Horse Squadron, Royal Australian (Protectorate) Air Force – Squadron Leader Alistair ‘Skip’ Broughton RA(P)AF DFC
The Pembroke Post Office Lancers – Major Terence Gwyther
The Pater Tank Corps – Major Mervyn Evans MC
1st Field Company, Royal Pater Engineers – Major Charles George Gordon

Royal (Protectorate) Air Force – Gp Capt Arthur Harris R(P)AF AFC
210 Squadron R(P)AF – 12x Short Singapore – Sqn Ldr Christopher Jones R(P)AF DFC CFM*
228 Squadron R(P)AF – 8x Supermarine Walrus – Sqn Ldr John Evans R(P)AF
R(P)AF Pembroke Dock Ground Defence Flight – Flt Lt Martin Griffiths R(P)AF

Notes

1. ‘D’ Company, 4th (Volunteer) Battalion, The Welch Regiment (Territorial Army) was based at Pembroke Drill Hall.  As the local Territorial Army infantry company, one platoon of ‘D’ Company had naturally been called out to assist the police in maintaining order at a large public meeting that was to take place at the Great War Memorial on Castle Hill, Pembroke.  However, the BUF also decided to impose their version of the ‘King’s Peace’ and a massacre was the result.

One of the first to fall was the Territorial platoon commander and his incensed men were quick to return fire on the BUF.  Civilians were armed from the Drill Hall’s armoury and the BUF were soon driven from the town. ‘D’ Company then moved quickly to secure the locality: The Defensible Barracks was seized in a bloodless coup as they were joined by ‘A’ Squadron of the Pembroke Yeomanry and the men of the local Coastal Artillery Regiment, Royal Marines Detachment and Royal Dockyards Police. Most of the Officers and Airmen of RAF Pembroke Dock also joined the coup, though the Loyalists made a stand at the depot of the 2nd KSLI in Llanion Barracks. Nevertheless, the loyalist positions at Llanion were quickly overrun and the rebels consolidated their position in the south-west of the county. Within a week, an Albertine brigade group landed to reinforce the rebels, who quickly declared for Prince Albert.

Despite the switch of allegiance, the men of ‘D’ Company are proud of their regiment and have retained the old title. Perhaps in a vain hope that the rest of The Welch will join them against the King? They continue to wear their old Service Dress uniform and insignia. The only variation on Dress Regulations is the cap-band, in Albertine Purple.

[Models are Great War Miniatures, painted by Al Broughton.]

2. 405 Field Battery, 102 (Pembroke & Cardigan Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery has been expanded and split into two parts since the mutiny: The most experienced horsemen in the battery, along with the most promising new volunteers, have been returned to their pre-1922 role as cavalry and designated as ‘A’ Squadron, The Castlemartin Yeomanry.  It was fortunate that throughout the 1920s and 30s, the Battery (always referred to as a ‘Squadron’ by the old hands) continued to parade on horseback and compete in cavalry skills such as tent-pegging.

3. The remainder of 405 Field Battery, plus some new volunteers, continue to operate as a Field Artillery Battery.  They are equipped with WW1-vintage 18pdrs, though they have recently been motorised with Morris CDSW 6-wheel tractors.  However, the guns retain their iron-shod wooden wheels, so the tractors cannot exceed 6mph when towing the guns.  This means that they travel no faster than a horse-team on a road, but are much more efficient at cross-country movement, having the power to pull the guns out of boggy ground with ease.  The Battery Staff are mounted on horseback, with a horse-drawn Battery HQ radio wagon and office caravan, though they also possess an Austin 11 fitted as a Light Recce Car with radio for Forward Observation work.

4. The Pater Artillery Volunteers, a 19th Century volunteer regiment disbanded in the 1880s, has been resurrected to take control of 405 Field Battery, 185 Coastal Battery & 186 Anti-Tank/Light Anti-Aircraft Battery.

5. 185 (East Blockhouse) & 186 (West Blockhouse) Coastal Batteries, situated on either side of the mouth of the Milford Haven Waterway and completely dominating sea access, both consisted of 2x 9.2-inch and 2x 6-Inch Guns, emplaced in open, half-moon concrete revetments, served by underground magazines.  However, both batteries are completely indefensible from the landward side and the decision was therefore taken to withdraw the personnel of 186 Coastal Battery across the Haven.  The magazines at West Blockhouse Battery magazines were then blown up along with the guns, in a colossal explosion that has left a series of massive craters scarring the flank of St. Anne’s Head.  The new AT/LAA Battery has been given the old 186 Battery designation and is manned by the former coastal gunners.

6. The newly-formed Anti-Tank Troop of 186 AT/LAA Battery has been formed around two ancient naval 12pdr guns that once formed part of the Chapel Bay Battery, but were moved a few years ago to create a Training Battery at East Blockhouse.  This type of gun had been used successfully on field carriages by the Royal Navy during the Boer War and its time has come once again.  There is ample ammunition for these weapons and the RAF and REME mechanics at Pembroke Dock have excelled themselves in building two new, split-trail gun-carriages for these high-velocity weapons.  Trial firings of these weapons against warship armour-plate has clearly demonstrated that they are more than capable of defeating even the most modern of tanks.

7. The Pater Tank Corps has been formed from six Carden-Loyd Carriers captured at Llanion Barracks, two redundant RAF Rolls Royce Armoured Cars and a Mk V ‘Male’ Tank that was previously used as a war memorial in Pembroke Dock’s Memorial Park.  Mr Mervyn Evans, a former SNCO of the Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) and Royal Tank Corps has been maintaining the Memorial Tank all these years and despite 20 years of children climbing on it, has kept it in fighting condition.  As the most experienced tank-soldier in the Brigade, Mr Evans has been awarded an Emergency Commission with the rank of Major and has been appointed to command the new Pater Tank Corps.  The RAF and REME have provided mechanics to refurbish these vehicles and to keep them in action.

8. The two regular Albertine Canadian battalions landed after the declaration for Parliament and the Lord Protector.  They have been split between the two brigades, in order to provide each brigade with some regular backbone.  A third Canadian battalion, plus supporting arms, has been sent to shore up the Bishop of St David’s forces in the northeast corner of the county.  However, aside from the field artillery, much of the Canadian motor transport and heavy equipment is still somewhere in the North Atlantic.

9. The ‘Pembrokeshire Foreign Legion’ is formed from assorted foreign émigrés, seamen and adventurers who have volunteered for service.  Thus far only two companies have been formed, but every ship that makes it through the blockade brings with it adventurers, mercenaries and volunteers from the Empire and beyond.  The battalion is commanded by the Count of Arretano, who is a refugee from Spain, presently resident at Orielton House near Castlemartin and who was an officer in the Royal Spanish Army before he was forced to flee with his family when the Anarchists seized his estate in northern Spain.

10. One company, commanded by Major Louis-Philippe de Guédelon Jones, is formed from a community of French onion-sellers.  The French onion-sellers have resided in the town for decades and most are now about as French as roast beef.  Nevertheless, they persist in wearing the obligatory berets and stripy shirts and speaking in outrageous accents.  Their ability to balance gigantic loads of onions onto bicycles has military use and they have therefore been turned into a bicycle-carried Vickers MG Company.  The French are mortal enemies with the Breton onion-selling community of Haverfordwest (who have now declared for King Edward) and onion turf-wars were common before the Civil War.

11. The ‘Cumby’ Battalion of Royal Marines is formed from the original Pembroke Dock RM Detachment, expanded by the addition of what Royal Navy personnel are present in Pembroke Dock, plus local Royal Marine and Royal Navy Reservists, former members of the disbanded Royal Dockyard Police, volunteers from the Merchant Navy and some ex-Royal Marines.  The battalion is named for Captain William Pryce Cumby RN, a former Captain-Superintendent of the Pembroke Royal Dockyard and who, as First Lieutenant of HMS Bellerephon during the Battle of Trafalgar, took command of the ship when the Captain was killed.

12. 4 Field Battery of the Canadian Volunteer Artillery is fully motorised with 8cwt cars and 15cwt trucks and is equipped with modern 18pdrs, fitted with pneumatic tyres.  They are not therefore speed-restricted like those of 405 Field Battery.

13. The RAF order of battle is largely conjectural, as the bulk of the heavier flying boats were badly shot up by Red forces from across the river before the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Protectorate and the People’s Republic came into force.  Several flying boats were burned and/or sunk at their moorings and most of the rest were damaged. Life on the river also became pretty lethal for the small RAF tenders servicing the flying boats.  Thankfully the Reds didn’t have anything heavier than MGs, so didn’t manage to do any more damage – they were also discouraged once 405 Battery’s 18pdrs started firing back from the Defensible Barracks.  To be on the safe side in case the MoU breaks down, the surviving flying boats have been taxied into the shelter of the Pembroke River, out of sight of the Reds, though only the lighter Walruses can operate from there and the heavier Singapores still need to take off and land on the Haven proper.  The RAF ground-crew have therefore moved everything they can from RAF Pembroke Dock, south to Pennar, where they have established a temporary base.

14. The old ‘RNAS Pembroke’ airship station at Carew-Cheriton had recently been re-commissioned by the Air Ministry for use as an RAF airfield for conventional aircraft.  However, while land has been purchased from neighbouring farmers, the field is still not large enough for modern aircraft and nothing heavier than a Tiger Moth can yet operate from there.  It is also dangerously close to the front line for comfort.  Another site, at Angle, has also been bought by the Air Ministry and has been surveyed, though work has not yet begun to clear hedgerows and grade runways.  However, Angle could be an excellent alternative site to operate Walrus amphibians and would enable the operation of land-based aircraft.

15.  The Albertine Pembroke Post Office Lancers had their origins in the ‘Volunteer Craze’ of the late 19th Century, when mounted postmen volunteered to supply a whole troop of the Pembroke Yeomanry.  The volunteer fad died with the Great War, though much of the mail in Pembrokeshire continued to be delivered on horseback. A few of the old veterans decided to revive their old cavalry skills and before long, the posties were competing once again in ‘tent-pegging’ (i.e. an old British cavalry exercise – attempting to spear a wooden tent-peg at the full gallop while remaining mounted). This was embraced enthusiastically by the younger postmen and the Pembroke Post Office Tent-Pegging Display Team were soon a popular sight at carnivals and fairs around South Pembrokeshire. New ceremonial uniforms soon replaced the standard, relatively plain blue & red Post Office uniform.

With the sudden descent to war, the tent-pegging display team soon became the Pembroke Post Office Lancers, volunteering en masse to defend Pembroke (and the Albertine cause by default).  Their smart uniforms were also an extremely effective recruitment tool and the Lancers quickly found their ranks swollen to full Squadron strength.  Their uniforms retain the blue, red and brass Post Office theme, though with the addition of smart-as-carrots pith helmets which are festooned with spare elastic-bands in the finest traditions of the Post Office (you never know when they might come in handy for parcelling up loot or prisoners).

Aside from a few Great War veterans and a few former Yeomanry and Territorials in the ranks, the Lancers have little in the way of infantry skills, so they are retained as shock cavalry and reconnaissance troops.

The Post Office Lancers formed part of the Albertine contingent sent by sea from Pembroke Dock to reinforce the beleaguered Bishopric of St Davids, where they fitted in well with other cavalry contingents outfitted in Ruritanian uniforms. They fought well in their first engagement at Robleston Hall, charging fearlessly in the face of stiff enemy opposition and blunting the Royalist offensive there, pausing only to carry out the day’s 2nd Collection at Dudwells Sub-Post Office.  However, they suffered heavy casualties, as nobody likes a show-off; least of all BUF Vickers Machine Gun teams…

So despite their detractors and accusations of being a throwback to Queen Victoria, the ‘Parcel Force’ as they have become known, have proved their worth on the battlefield. They might be silly buggers, but they’re sill buggers with style, panache and bulging sacks.

[The models are sculpted by Paul Hicks for Empress Miniatures’ Anglo-Zulu Wars range, painted by Al Broughton.]

16. In 1936, the Royal Australian Air Force purchased a number of Saro London flying boats from Great Britain.  RAAF personnel were then sent to RAF Pembroke Dock, to train on the new aircraft, with the intention of forming a brand-new RAAF flying boat squadron at Pembroke Dock, before flying their new machines back to Australia. However, the war intervened and the aircraft were not even delivered to Pembroke Dock. The Australian aircrew, finding themselves marooned in the midst of a war on the far side of the globe and hearing the trumpet’s call… found a superb surfing beach at a place called Freshwater West and set up camp there, well away from the Poms and their stupid war.  However, the Main Street Massacre changed all that.

It came to pass that some of the Australian officers were relaxing in the King’s Arms on Pembroke Main Street, enjoying a few quiet pints and looking forward to a few loud ones.  Squadron Leader ‘Skip’ Broughton was just lifting a foaming pint of “Feelin’ Foul” to his lips (‘Felinfoel’ isn’t a name that comes easily to Englishmen, let alone Australians) when a volley of shots erupted in the street outside!  A bullet smashed the window, then smashed Skip’s pint before passing through his hand and lodging in the dark oak panelling of the public bar!  Squadron Leader Broughton stood, ashen-faced, dripping with blood and beer as the other Australians looked on in shock and horror. “Strewth, Skip!  The bastards shot your pint!”  Unaware of the screams and incessant gunfire outside the smashed window, the Australians stared dumbstruck at their stricken leader and his former pint.  Then, as one man, the enraged and dripping Australians charged out into the street.  Someone was going to pay!

Having joined forces with the people of Pembroke against the Blackshirts (and by association, the King), the Australians have nailed their colours firmly to the Albertine mast.  There are no aircraft to fly, so the Australians have turned their hand to horsemanship (already a well-honed skill among many of them).  The Australian airmen’s natural dash and initiative has made them excellent light cavalrymen and the Freshwater West Australian Light Horse Squadron has been rapidly incorporated into the Pembrokeshire Protectorate forces.  Some wags insist on referring to them as ‘Air Cavalry’ – a clearly ridiculous name that will surely never catch on…

 

The FWALH’s old RAAF uniforms have now been almost completely replaced with khaki and brown leather cavalry equipment drawn from local Yeomanry stores, as well as with dashing Australian Light Horse-style hats run up with a local milliner and decorated with a band of RAAF blue serge and ‘Kangaroo Feathers’ in Albertine purple.

The squadron’s guidon is emblazoned with the Prince of Wales’ Feathers (commemorating Wales, not the Prince!), a boomerang and the motto ‘Ne Solliciti’ (‘Worry Not’).

[Models are Battle Honours (I think), painted by Al Broughton.  The guidon was painted by me.]

Posted in 28mm Figures, Campaigns, Painted Units, VBCW - A Very British Civil War, VBCW Albertine | 7 Comments