A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Battle of Titley Junction

Hello.  This is Huw Puw reporting for The Fish Guardian.  Much to my surprise, I’ve survived the march and I now find myself in the land of the Saes!

As previously reported in the Fish Guardian here, here, here and here, I have had the ‘honour’ of being attached to the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment of the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes, who have today been in action for the first time.  I have therefore been witness to a remarkable military spectacle and demonstration of the military art; the likes of which have probably not been seen since Isandhlwana, Majuba Hill or Spion Kop.

For reasons only known to themselves, Cantref Cemaes agreed to supply a regiment as part of a Welsh offensive into Herefordshire and after a week’s march we found ourselves crossing the border near Presteigne.  Our objective was the vital railway junction at Titley (stop sniggering at the back).  To reach the junction, Welsh forces had to capture a pair of hills, (known as ‘Y Pen Crwn Fawr’ and ‘Y Pen Crwn Fach’), divided by a deep railway cutting and road-bridge.

Our Allies were apparently fellow Welsh Nationalists and allied Reds, though we couldn’t understand a word they said. We’re guessing that they were ‘Gogs’ from North Wales, as nobody understands them – least of all South Walian speakers of God’s Own Language.  In between bestial grunts, gargling phlegm and sentences ended in the baffling expression “No, Yeah?”, Lt Col Sharp eventually worked out that they wanted us to take the right flank, assaulting the southern slopes of Y Pen Crwn Fawr.  the Gogs would take the centre and the Reds would take the left flank, assaulting Y Pen Crwn Fach.

It also became clear that nobody had thought to bring any artillery… But no matter! We had Mansel Davies’ armoured wonder-weapons…

Our photographer (he’s not good but he is cheap) took some photos of the action:

Y Gatrawd ‘Twm Carnabwth’ forms up. The flags of Cantref Cemaes make a gay display.

Speaking of which… Y Merched Beca; The Daughters of Rebecca, Cemaes’ feared shock-troops, bring up the rear.

With strange, pith-helmeted loons formed on their left, Shemi Roberts’ 2nd (Mynachlog-Ddu) Section leads the assault with Mansel Davies’ Llanfyrnach Armoured Company in close support.

A heavy machine gun and armoured car deploy, ready to provide covering fire.

In front of them looms the forbidding silhouette of Y Pen Crwn Fawr.

The Gogs’ objectives are clearly in sight… But behind the sheep, the Herefordshire Territorials lie in wait along the hedgerows.

Behind the hill, the hamlet and railway station of Titley is prepared for defence.

Even the station staff arm themselves, ready to defend the ticket office.

Royalist artillery deploys next to Titley Farm. This unit was to be instrumental in the coming battle.

A band of foreign ruffians calling themselves the King’s Own Colonials deploy on Y Pen Crwn Fach.

Titley still looks peaceful as the battle opens beyond the hills.

Forward Observers near the bridge open the battle by directing artillery fire onto the advancing Gogs and Socialists.

The Territorials shout insults from the bridge parapet.

The Gogs return the compliment with dog-hauled heavy machine gun fire, though first blood goes to the Royalists, as artillery rounds land among the advancing Gogs.

As the Territorials wait for the range to close, a sniper opens up – somewhat ineffectually. On their left, the Titley LDV move up to the crest, opposite the men from Cemaes.

The Cemaes men reach the foot of Y Pen Crwn Fawr without incident and cross the hedge to begin climbing the slope.

The 2nd Section and an armoured car lead the way up the hill.

On their left, the Gogs and Socialists continue the advance under heavy artillery fire.

The clatter of hooves through Titley announces the arrival of the Herefordshire Hunt Hussars.

A hotch-potch of Royalist transport passes through Titley.

Unnoticed by the Royalists, a group of Welsh infiltrators has inserted itself into Titley, disguised as livestock. Good fortune is with the Welsh as the Hereford men completely fail to notice the clear differences between the Welsh Black and Hereford breeds…

The North Wales Constabulary Rifles take a direct hit from Royalist artillery.

The clatter of the Hussars’ hooves is matched by the clatter of militia boots, as the Titley LDV make their first retreat of the day.

As the Cemaes boys climb the slopes, shots ring out, as an anti-tank rifle engages the armour!  Mansel Davies’ engineering skills are proved worthy as the armour shrugs off the armour-piercing rounds.  Machine guns rattle in reply and the anti-tank rifle team is eliminated.

However, the Territorials now open up on the advancing infantry and 2nd Section suffers the first casualties of the day. Undaunted, the green 3rd (Llangolman) Section moves up on the right and engages the Titley LDV.

Shrieks of “I’ve lost a nail!” and “I’ve laddered my stockings on that gate!” announce the arrival of Y Merched Beca

In the centre, things are going badly for the Gogs, as an entire Section is wiped out, save for the Plaid Cymru political officer, who seems to have nine lives!  The sheep remain nonplussed.

The Cemaes 2nd & 3rd Sections meanwhile pour fire into the Territorials, giving as good as they get.

To their rear, the Cemaes armour and heavy weapons are now fully engaged. The 1st (Capel Rhydwilym) Section awaits orders to move forward from the hedgerow.  Dark rumours suddenly arrive of Socialist-back-stabbing, but without a Socialist in sight, the Cemaes men carry on with their mission.

On the far left, the Socialists advance up the river bank while being subjected to long-range artillery fire.

The KOC’s Sikh Detachment prepares to defend the river bridge on the extreme right flank of the Royalist position.

The Gogs continue their advance, horrified at the destruction of their lead section.

The Cemaes mood meanwhile, is buoyant. Victory is scented as the 2nd Section reaches the hedgerow and lobs its sole grenade into the heart of the Territorials.  On the right flank meanwhile, the 3rd Section is once again engaged with the Titley LDV, who have returned to the sunken road.

Y Merched Beca move in for the kill, keen to scratch the Royalists’ eyes out and give withering put-downs regarding their dress-sense (“Khaki webbing with black boots is SO 1918…”).

The Titley LDV and the Cemaes 3rd Section continue to duke it out on the flank, while the Hereford Hunt Hussars move up, ready to take advantage of an opportunity to charge to glory, tea and medals.

In the centre, the Gogs renew their advance on Y Pen Crwn Fawr.

But disaster strikes the Cemaes men!  Unseen by the Welshmen, the Royalist forward observer, having overseen the destruction of the leading Gog unit, has shifted position to the right.  Deadly-accurate artillery now begins landing among the Cemaes men!  The first round lands smack in the middle of Colonel Sharp’s HQ group, killing the Medical Officer and several men from the 1st & 2nd Sections, as well as the Merched Beca!  It also succeeds in destroying the tank!

But the pain isn’t over. The Territorials have also moved a Vickers MG team over to their left, which now proceeds to scythe down the Cemaes 2nd Section!  Further casualties are suffered by the 3rd Section and the whole attack quickly stalls.  [The road-signs are very nice morale markers by JP]

The Welshmen determinedly return fire, continuing to thin the Royalist ranks, though suddenly the pendulum of battle seems to be swinging back to the Royalists.

Nevertheless, the Royalists are worried by developments on their left. Men are pulled from the railway cutting to reinforce the left against the determined Welsh attack.

The Sikh Section, duty done, is pulled back through other KOC elements to reinforce the centre. The river bridge soon falls to the Socialists, though the KOC continue to lay down a heavy fire on to the Reds.

As the Cemaes 2nd Section sacrifices itself in the hedgerow, Y Merched Beca launch a desperate attack, lobbing their grenades across the road. Most of the machine-gunners are killed, along with one of the forward observer team and a number of riflemen, but the survivors continue to take a heavy toll on the cross-dressing Welsh lunatics!  However, on their left, the Gogs are breaking through!

On the right flank, the Cemaes 1st Section and the survivors of the 3rd Section finally push back the Titley LDV and secure the road.

At the crest of Y Pen Crwn Fawr, the last defenders are put to flight as a Gog armoured car bursts through the hedgerow into the lane.

The remainder of the Gog force, still very strong, swarms up the slope behind the armoured car.

As the surviving Cemaes infantry secure the lane, their heavy weapons and armour move forward, ready to defend against a Royalist counter-attack.

The Hereford Hunt Hussars demonstrate truly amazing qualities of horsemanship as they walk their horse backwards, along the lane to Titley. The Welsh infiltrators continue to observe…

The KOC dig in for the final defence of Y Pen Crwn Fach.

A self-appointed ‘morale officer’ is summarily shot by Royalist military police for Playing the Banjo in a Built Up Area With Intent to Cause a Breach of the Peace, while leaning on a lamp-post.

The Hereford Hunt Hussars are determined to defend a vital area… a very long way from the actual fighting…

The victorious Gog infantry secure the lane at the crest of Y Pen Crwn Fawr!

Cheers erupt around the Welsh and Socialist positions, as they see allied flags being waved from the heights! They’re not sure whose flag it is, but it’s not the King’s flag!  “Hurrah!”  “Cymru am Byth!” “Bydd gen I beint!” “Pwy yw cot yw siaced yma?!”  “Nid oes defaid yn ddiogel heno!”

However, the Gogs are soon engaged in a sharp but indecisive firefight across the railway cutting.

On the right, the exhausted but victorious Cemaes men dig in along the crest of Y Pen Crwn Fawr.

Mr Thomas Williams from Gelli hasn’t had a chance to fire his SMG all day and is itching for a glimpse of a Royalist… But no such luck.

Iorwerth Davies from Clunderwen meanwhile, lobs mortar bombs in the general direction of England.

There is traffic chaos in Titley as the Royalist rear echelons get mixed up with retreating units.

The Herefordshire Territorials’ Medical Officer examines a magnificent cock.

With the situation failing, the King’s forces stoop to dastardly means in an attempt to win the battle.  Here we see foreign ruffian mercenaries forcing a brave British soldier to attack alone up the hill.  This is the sort of imported evil with which we (and even the King’s own followers) have to contend!

At the end, the King’s forces were even employing CHILDREN to fight the battle, thus proving the righteousness and justice of our cause in fighting the King!

This is Huw Puw, reporting from the field of battle for the Fish Guardian and still alive!

[This game was actually played four years ago at one of many such Great Hereford VBCW Campaign Games in October 2014.  My thanks once again to all!  Especially to my victorious allies Genial Jim (Socialists) and Captain Bigglesmay (Gogs) and to our fine opponents JP (Hereford Territorials) and Roo (King’s Own Colonials).  Thanks also to Roo for his superb terrain-building skills and to Giles and JP for their excellent organising skills in bringing the three games together.  Since 2014 they have had an unerring knack of planning games that coincide with my holidays and this October is no exception, as I’m about to jet off to Malta… I think it must be me…]


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4 Responses to A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Battle of Titley Junction

  1. Rhys Lewis-Jones says:

    Stunning terrain, and what a great battle all around. Thanks for the post

  2. “At the end, the King’s forces were even employing CHILDREN to fight the battle, thus proving the righteousness and justice of our cause in fighting the King!”

    Not just children, Giant Children at that. Perfidious Albion will stop at nothing…

  3. Pingback: “And Sheep May Safely Graze”: The Action at Penclippin Farm – A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938 | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

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