A Very British Civil War 1938: The Army of the Bishopric of St David’s

The Bishop of St David’s, the Right Reverend Islwyn Davies, in concert with Viscount St David’s and Major General Sir Ivor Picton, had been preparing for war for some time and had slowly been establishing politically-reliable Local Defence Volunteer militia units in the north and west of Pembrokeshire. The outbreak of open insurrection in the south of the county (following the Castle Hill Massacre at Pembroke) gave the Bishop the perfect opportunity to declare for the Anglican League and to open up a third front in the county against Viscount Tenby and the forces of the King.

Here we see the Bishop, together with his personal standard-bearer and his Private Under-Secretary, Lady Gladys Emmanuel Picton. Although never a military man, the Bishop had a weakness for military pageantry and uniform and insisted that his personal Guards and headquarters staff wear his personal livery. The Bishop and standard-bearer are by Musketeer Miniatures, while Lady Gladys is a special figure by Hinterland Miniatures – all sculpted by Paul Hicks:

Anglican League Forces in Pembrokeshire

General Headquarters, Anglican League Forces of the Bishop of St David’s
Major General, Sir Gwilym Ivor Picton KCB DSO

The Bishop of St David’s Corps of Guards – Colonel John Picton, Viscount St David’s
The Bishop of St David’s Squadron of Horseguards – Major, The Hon. Jestyn Picton
The Bishop of St David’s Company of Footguards – Major Samuel Harries, 5th Bart.

St David’s Infantry Brigade – Brigadier Sir Evan Davies Jones, 1st Bart. LL
Roch Castle Fencibles – Lt Col, The Hon. James de Walter
City of St David’s Volunteer Fencibles – Lt Col, The Reverend Nigel Griffin
Solva Volunteer Fencibles – Lt Col, The Reverend Matthew Thomas MC
Pembrokeshire Constabulary Volunteers – Chief Constable, Sir Max Bevan
Lord St David’s Horse – Major John Harding-Jervois
St David’s Armoured Corps (The Lord Lieutenant’s Own) – Major Iwan Davies
St Justinian’s Rocket Troop – Captain Sidney Mortimer
St David’s Engineer Field Company

Major General Gwilym Ivor Picton KCB DSO is the septuagenarian younger brother (second of five) of Viscount St David’s and uncle of the Fascist Baron Kylsant.  Born in 1867, He was commissioned into the British Army in 1881, then into the Indian Army in 1883.  He fought in numerous campaigns, winning the DSO during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.  He retired from the regular Army in 1903 and joined the Pembroke Yeomanry, serving as Commanding Officer from 1908-1912.

Upon outbreak of the Great War, he served in the War Office before being appointed as Brigadier-General to command 115 Brigade.  Appointed GOC 38th (Welsh) Division and took the division to France, before being recalled briefly to Whitehall to serve on the Ministry for Munitions.  Returning to France, he led the 38th Division in action at the Somme, before returning home due to ‘ill health’. Nevertheless, he was ennobled as a KCB in November 1917.  During this time he also served as Liberal MP for Southampton from 1906-1922. As the most senior and most experienced military officer serving in the Bishopric, he was naturally given overall military command of the army. Figures by Great War Miniatures, with standard bearer by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures:

Sir Evan Davies Jones, 1st Baronet, Lord Lieutenant of Pembrokeshire.  Sir Evan is a much-respected civil engineer from Fishguard and was Liberal MP for Pembrokeshire 1918-1922.  He served in the Great War as a Major in the Royal Engineers and has proved himself to be an energetic and competent field commander off the Bishopric’s 1st Infantry Brigade. Here we see the Brigadier catching up with the latest Pembrokeshire news in the Western Telegraph… Figures by Great War Miniatures:

Headquarters group of the City of St David’s Volunteer Fencibles.  Figures by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures:

Commanded by Major Samuel Harries, 5th Baronet, formerly of the Welsh Guards, the Bishop of St David’s Company of Foot Guards were raised chiefly from former members of the Welsh Guards, which had been disbanded for reasons of political unreliability. As was his wont, the Bishop insisted on dressing them in anachronistic ‘Ruritanian’ uniforms, as well as insisting on hairstyles more suited to the 18th Century (including powdered wigs, halberds and breeches with stockings for ceremonial occasions). Nevertheless, despite their frankly ridiculous appearance, they were undoubtedly tough fighters, with hand-to-hand skills honed by numerous bar-fights with giggling troops in the taverns of the City of St David’s. Figures are by Empress Miniatures:

Here we see the Chaplain of the St David’s Fencibles; the Reverend Huw ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Bestiality’ George MC. The origins of his nickname are something of a mystery… Figure by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures:

St Justinian’s GPO Rocket Battery was formed from postmen belonging to the Ramsey Island Rocket-Mail service. Following a successful trial delivering mail by rocket from the mainland to the Isle of Skye, the GPO established a similar rocket-mail service at the hamlet of St Justinian’s, to carry post to Ramsey Island. Their rockets are normally hollow and designed to carry post, but with the outbreak of war, their rockets were adapted (thanks to the St Justinian’s lifeboatmen) to carry explosive charges, developed from lifeboat maroons. Models by Empress Miniatures:

The Bishopric of St David’s acquired a few armoured vehicles by various means. Here we see a Vickers T15 Light Tank belonging to the Armoured Troop of Lord St David’s Horse. This vehicle had originally formed part of a delivery for the Royal Belgian Army, but had been diverted to the Anglican League. Tank by Warlord Games and commander by Empress Miniatures:

The Vickers tank is seen here operating in concert with a Schneider Halftracked Armoured Car. AFV models by Warlord Games and figures by Empress Miniatures:

A Lancia Armoured Tender. Model by Empress Miniatures:

Despite these attempts at mechanisation, much of the Bishop’s army still rides horses. Here we see Lord St David’s Squadron of Horse. Models by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures:

Lord St David’s Horse have seen considerable combat, including this spirited action against an outbreak of Morris, which was ruthlessly suppressed (and rightly so):

Following the Bishop’s declaration for the Anglican League, he had a surprising reinforcement in the form of the legendary Great War air ace, Wg Cdr ‘Taffy’ Jones DSO MC DFC & Bar MM RAF. Wg Cdr Jones and a number of disgruntled brother officers purloined a number of RAF machines from RAF Stormy-Down and flew them to St David’s, to join the Bishop’s cause against the King. Painted in the Bishop’s colours of black and sulphur yellow, Taffy Jones’ rebel squadron soon became known as the ‘Wasps’. The aircraft is an Airfix 1/48th Hawker Fury and the pilot is a metal figure by Copplestone Castings:

Wg Cdr Jones is also rumoured to have taken part in a special operation while attached to the US Army Air Corps. These photos have recently been released (thanks to Gareth Beamish):

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