A Very British Civil War 1938: The Battle of Crundale

Following the collapse of central government authority in Pembrokeshire, the county rapidly fragmented and became factionalised.  The King’s faction, backed by Mosely’s Fascists and most of the ‘old money’, held on to the central belt and the lucrative anthracite mining industry.  The remnants of the deposed democratic government meanwhile withdrew to the south-west and north-west of the county – those in the south-west declared for the ‘Lord Protector’ Prince Albert, while those in the north-west aligned themselves with the Anglican League and the charismatic Bishop of St David’s.  Milford Haven and Neyland meanwhile collapsed into an anarchic milieu of socialist, communist and anarchist politics, eventually gelling as the ‘People’s Socialist Soviet Republic of Milford & Neyland’.  To the north and east, various Welsh Nationalist factions vied for dominance, while isolated communities formed defence militias and sought alliances to protect themselves from the twin threats of banditry and foraging armies.

Of all the factions in Pembrokeshire, the King’s faction, led by Lord Tenby (son of Lloyd George and MP for Pembrokeshire at the time of the dissolution of government), was undoubtedly the strongest.  However, it was surrounded by enemies, held a long and narrow corridor of land and struggled to maintain communications between the garrison towns of Haverfordwest, Clarbeston Road, Whitland, Narberth, Saundersfoot and Tenby.  The railway was particularly vulnerable and was constantly patrolled by elements of the ‘Landsker Frontier Force’ Brigade.

However, in the late summer of 1938, a Royalist military supply train carrying weapons, vehicles, ammunition and fuel, broke down near Crundale, in the valley of the Western Cleddau, a few miles north of Haverfordwest.  The Bishop of St David’s spies were quick to report this fact and the Roch Castle Fencibles were soon marching from their positions near Camrose, with the intention of capturing the train and recovering this vital military materiel.  However, the ‘Sir Thomas Picton’ Independent Cohort of the BUF’s XIII Legion were also racing to the scene…

Arriving simultaneously at both ends of Crundale village, the two sides raced to establish dominating positions.  The Anglicans set up a Vickers MG at the northern exit of the village:

Nevertheless, the BUF’s 1st Platoon takes the centre of the village first, while the bewildered village Bobby attempts to keep the peace.  A local St John’s Ambulance Cadet also appears, eager to try out his skills:
The rest of the BUF force moves to take up positions east of the village:
More Anglican League troops appear on the northern outskirts of the village.  They quickly beat the Fascists back from the centre of the village:
As skirmishing starts in the village, a platoon of Anglican League militia and a platoon of Albertine regulars (The Duchess of York’s Own Highlanders of Canada) march across country to reach Crundale Bridge:
The Roch Castle Fencibles’ headquarters moves up to the front line:
Having reached their first objective – the road from Crundale to the bridge, the BUF suddenly find themselves in a dire predicament as their left-hand unit routs the field after only light casualties! The centre of the BUF position finds itself outflanked and under heavy fire:
The Anglican League troops pour fire into the Fascists’ exposed flank:
As casualties mount in the BUF ranks, the Anglican League force advances:
Led by an old campaigner, the Anglican League takes Crundale house by house:
The Anglican League MG Platoon continues to pour on supporting fire:
The Anglican League commander orders a general attack:
As casualties start to mount, the BUF’s resolve begins to waver:
A BUF detachment at Crundale Bridge attempts to stem the tide, but is grenaded into submission by the Highlanders:
With BUF resistance at the bridge eliminated, the Highlanders push on to their final objective:
With casualties rapidly becoming catastrophic, the BUF commander reluctantly orders a general withdrawal:
The surviving Fascists leg it back to Haverfordwest:
The victorious Anglican League troops cross the bridge and capture the abandoned train.  In addition to the piles of weaponry, ammunition and fuel, they also capture four trucks, a car and a Carden-Loyd Carrier with which to haul it away:
The Anglican League commander transmits the good news back to St David’s:

Game Notes:

The game was played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire, using ‘A World Aflame’ rules (which to be honest, we thought were awful…).

Figures from my own collection, being mostly by Musketeer Miniatures (now Footsore Miniatures), with a few by Muttonchop Miniatures (available from Empress Miniatures).

Model buildings and railway by Mr Small, with other scenery by Skippy Broughton.

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