Hello. This is Huw Puw reporting from the front-line (wherever the hell it is – buggered if I know) for The Fish Guardian.
My editor last week asked me to ’embed’ myself with the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment of the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes. Needless to say, I was shocked at such a suggestion. God knows I’ve prostituted myself for a story before, but never with an entire regiment! In any case, my bara-brith isn’t buttered on that side (and for that matter, neither is that of the Cemaes soldiery, as many a jealous Preseli hill-farmer can attest)…
I suggested Lady Gladys-Emmanuel Picton, as she’s probably got through the Bishop of St David’s army by now and is probably looking for a fresh challenge…
“No, you pillock! ‘Embed’, not ‘Bed’! You’re to attach yourself to the Army of Cemaes and report on their forthcoming campaign! Rumour has it that they’re marching on Hereford in support of the Welsh Republican Army and the Anglican League. I’ve taken the liberty of packing your case. No need to thank me, Huw. Think of this as an opportunity, not as certain horrible death in a far-flung Herefordshire field armed with nothing more than a camera and typewriter… Bye!”
So without further ado, I was bundled into a waiting car and whisked away out of Fishguard, with the sound of my colleagues cheering me on my way. At least I think they were cheering me on my way…
So now I find myself at a secret training camp in darkest Carmarthenshire. The countryside, as yet untouched by war, is quiet. Only the sound of banjos, the occasional, surprised “BaaaAAAAA!” and the shouting of angry farmers breaks the silence.
I’m not permitted to reveal identities, but I was permitted to take a few photographs of the Twm Carnabwth Regiment in training:
As can be seen, the regiment is a fairly ragged spectacle, though they like their flags. The main flag seems to be the old arms of Cemaes (two red stripes on white), with a green stripe for a Free Wales. The 1st Regiment (‘Catrawd 1af’) is named for ‘Twm Carnabwth’, properly known as Thomas Rees, who was ‘Rebecca’ at the very first ‘Rebecca Riot’ in the Cemaes village of Efailwen, almost 100 years ago in 1839. The ‘Spirit of 1839’ runs deep in the memory of these people and many see the present war as simply a renewal of old grudges. Indeed, the elite ‘Cwmni Merched Beca’ (‘Daughters of Rebecca Company’) is said to dress in women’s clothing, as Rebecca and her sisters did in 1839.
The motto of the Twm Carnabwth Regiment, ‘Ac Maent Yn Bendithio Beca’ means ‘And They Blessed Rebecca’; a biblical reference which again harks back to their cross-dressing glory days.
Aside from occasional cross-dressing lunatics, the officers, NCOs and better-equipped soldiery wear Army-surplus uniforms dyed the typical bottle-green of the Welsh Nationalists. However, the majority wear civilian clothes or uniforms from a variety of sources – often with a green item such as a jacket, hat or scarf. Armbands in the Cemaes colours are fairly universal and those lucky enough to have helmets often paint them with a green band to aid recognition in the field.
Here we see a medic (right). Specialised medical services are almost non-existent in this partisan army, though the Cemaes is supplied with a surplus of Mams, who will mother the wounded back to good health with lashings of tea and cawl.
As with uniforms, modern weapons are also in short supply. However, farmers’ shotguns are plentiful and ammunition is easy to manufacture.
One of the great strengths of the Cemaes is its core of young countrymen. With skills honed by a lifetime of sneaking up on unsuspecting livestock, these men make superb guerrillas and snipers.
That’s all for now. Rumour has it that those terrifying transvestites, the Daughters of Rebecca, will be joining us in the camp later this week. Hereford won’t have seen anything like it since Lord Byron’s visit of 1808!
Until then, this is Huw Puw, for ‘Look Out Wales’, signing off.
[All models by Musketeer Miniatures, except for the sniper, which is by Great War Models. All painted by me.]