‘This Seat of Mars’: Our Very British Civil War Game at Partizan ’18

It’s been a few years since I last visited a wargames show, but two weeks ago I schlepped up to Newark for Partizan ’18.  Partizan has always been one of my favourite shows, due to the extremely high quality of games that it attracts.  When I last went to Partizan about 20 years ago, it was still in the ‘Gothic grandeur’ (i.e. dark and cramped) of Kelham Hall, but is now in a considerably more spacious and well-lit exhibition hall at the Newark Showground and the show is considerably better for the change of venue.

I’ve put on several of my own games at Partizan in the past, but this time I was invited by Pete Barfield of the Very British Civil Forum, to take part in his VBCW spectacular, entitled ‘This Seat of Mars’.  The scenario basically involved a Royalist force assaulting a Leicestershire town to recapture the hidden Crown Jewels from under the nose of defending Socialist forces.  I would be supplying half of the Royalist forces, in the form of the Baroness de Loutson’s Young Ladies’ College Cadet Corps and some of their ‘Gentleman Friends’ from the British Union of Fascists.

Above: The Royalist tactical headquarters sets up shop in a busy farmyard.  Someone must have left a gate open, as there is livestock everywhere!

Above: The Cadet Corps’ Foot Hussar Squadron and the BUF Storm-Wing approach the town, closely observed by Baroness de Loutson and her staff (on horseback).  The red tin is a genuine 1930s Craven ‘A’ cigarette tin, generously donated by my late father-in-law, which we use to hold the random event cards used in the game.

Above: On the opposite side of town, some Socialist militia, supported by sympathetic elements of the RAF (bloody Technical trades, no doubt…), move in to Support The Local People’s Struggle Against Fascism And Tyranny/Oppress The King’s Loyal Subjects (delete as applicable).

Above: As their unit band plays the ‘Internationale’, the Socialists move quickly to occupy positions in and around the local garage (which happens to be one of the Royalist objectives).

Above: On the Royalist right flank, Squire Bertie Greengage’s Royalist militia deploy from their trucks and move to assault the Socialist-held garage.

Above: A reconnaissance aircraft passes overhead.  Nobody seems sure as to which faction he belongs…

Above: The local Morris side perpetrate Morris on an innocent and unsuspecting public.  Both sides pre-register the site for artillery…

Above: Supported by the Armoured Troop and a BUF anti-tank rifle team, Captain Gwynne-James-Davies’ Hussar Troop moves forward, intending to sweep through the open ground on the left flank.

Above: The Foot Hussar Squadron and the BUF Storm-Wing move forward in the centre.  Still no enemy sighted…

Above: But what’s that…?  The smell of mushy peas and whippets…?!  That can only mean that a Socialist colliery militia has appeared on the edge of town.

Above: As the Foot Hussar Squadron takes up defensive positions in and around the schoolhouse, a massive volume of supporting fire is put down by the Hussars’ Armoured Troop and Support Squadron and the first coal-miners are cut down, along with some unfortunate civilians, who happened to be in the Royalist line of fire (“The Greater Good…”)!

Above: The miners respond with their ‘artillery’… A large catapult lobbing jam-jar bombs… The colliery fire-support commander is a Royal Artillery veteran who lives by the Royal Regiment’s motto of ‘Ubique’… Sure enough, jam-jars are soon exploding ‘Ubique’ (‘All Over The Place’), but all they succeed in doing is killing a few unfortunate cows.  The Foot Hussars meanwhile put down effective fire across the hedgerows, eliminating some more miners.

Above: More Socialists appear in front of the Hussars – this bunch look a lot more professional, seem to lack incurable lung-diseases/whippets and even have a tank, which proceeds to exchange ineffectual shots with the Hussars’ armoured car.

Above: On the Royalists’ extreme left flank, Lt Col Keir’s Hussar Troop launches a charge on a troop of Socialist Mounted Infantry near the windmill – their first mounted action of the war (side-saddle, of course.  They are ladies)!

Above: Not to be outdone, Squire Bertie launches his own charge on the Socialists; using a pair of MG-armed light recce cars, supported by a truck-mounted HMG.  However, a Socialist HMG firing from cover behind the garage stops them in their tracks.

Both sides ignore the Morris… It’s for the best…

Above: As Squire Bertie launches his assault on the defended garage, his fire support elements go into action… Another bloody catapult…

Above: Unlike the Socialist jam-jar-thrower, the Royalist equivalent lands smack on target, causing much consternation among the defenders, who are dug in around some fuel storage tanks…

Above: In the middle of town, the BUF come under fire from the church tower (their objective) and take cover in a large brick house overlooking the town square.  Just then, a large group of RAF troops march into view and are immediately fired upon by the BUF, who cut down several of the Brylcreem Boys.

Above: The battle for the schoolhouse continues.  Captain de Carnelle’s Foot Hussar Squadron gains the upper-hand over the miners, thanks in no small part to the effective supporting fire from the tankette and HMG section in the lane.

Above: By some miracle and despite heavy casualties, the miners manage to cling on to their position!  At long last they also manage to inflict casualties on the Foot Hussars.

Above: The ineffectual clash of armour continues in the open country outside town.  The Socialists do manage to score one small victory however, as their self-propelled HMG manages to knock out the BUF anti-tank rifle team.  The Socialist jam-jar-thrower switches its attention to the armoured car, but only succeeds in killing another poor cow.

Above: Despite occasional livestock casualties, rural life continues much as it always does, despite the war.

Above: Meanwhile, at the windmill, the continuing cavalry melee is decisively tipped in the Royalists’ favour by the intervention of Captain Gwynne-James-Davies’ Hussar troop. As the last Socialist cavalryman surrenders, the Hussars look set to take to their objective (the brown barn).

Above: The Socialist commanders look on in fury as their plan unravels in the face of Reactionary opposition.  Comrade Arthur attempts to re-invigorate the men with Oliver Cromwell’s famous rallying cry, “Come on boys!  One more push and we can cancel Christmas!”

Above: With high explosive landing effectively on the enemy, Squire Bertie’s boys launch a massed assault on the garage.

Above: The defenders steel themselves for the coming assault. Beyond the garage, one of the Royalist light recce cars lies overturned and burning in the street, while the church is now fully ablaze, thanks to a Royalist rocket.  The Socialists make full propaganda use of the burning church and send photos to the Anglican League…

Above: As they round up their prisoner, the mounted Hussars charge on… But haven’t spotted what’s lurking around the corner…

Above: The Hussars rapidly discover that they have bitten off more than they can chew!  The Socialist section LMG cuts down half of the first troop and the second troop fares little better!  Rapidly passing below 50% strength, the Hussars beat a hasty retreat, leaving the objective firmly in Socialist hands.

Above: The Socialists detain a suspicious civilian who was eyeing up the cows… They accuse her of being a ‘milk-snatcher’…

Above: Having won their initial clash against the Brylcreem Boys, the BUF casualties rapidly mount as the RAF armoured car takes them to task.  Captain de Carnelle’s Foot Hussar Squadron is also starting to suffer, thanks to the intervention of the Socialist self-propelled MG section.  It seems that Baroness de Loutson’s forces have shot their bolt…

Above: By contrast, Squire Bertie’s boys on the right flank have seized their objective at the garage and are in good spirits.  However, two objectives remain in Socialist hands…

Above: The aircraft continues to circle and observe the final stages of the battle.  It’s still not clear who he belongs to… Perhaps another faction looking to take advantage of the weakened Socialists and Royalists…?

Above: Baroness de Loutson’s Tactical HQ is in a state of near-panic as retreat orders are transmitted and orderlies pack the picnic hampers and champers back into the Crossley.  If they’re quick, they can probably catch last orders…

Thanks to everyone for a great game in good company and particularly to Pete Barfield for setting up this splendid table!  See you next time!

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