Thursday, May 14, 2015

This Sceptered Isle - Clash on the Roman Road


Platoon III, Saint Edmund the Martyr Cohort of the BUF had heard the airplane fly past at low altitude east of their position. They had seen the gunfire rise into the sky from the Anglican League outpost to the north-east, followed soon after by the sounds of a crash. It had kept them entertained for a while and lifted the gloomy thoughts engendered by their recent hard defeat at the hands of the League.

What they didn't expect was the bloodied figure of a man who staggered into their lines as dawn shaded the eastern sky.

He wore a torn and stained RAF flying rig, beneath which was a quality suit from a bespoke tailor's on Saville Row. The severed chain dangling from his wrist also drew interest. The NCO commanding the pickets had the sense to summon Under Leader George Alcock to the spot. He questioned the man, who appeared to have suffered a blow to the head, rendering his speech less than coherent. What he did say chilled Alcock to the bone. "The jewels. I hid them. Briefcase. Farmhouse. Must... recover them... For the King!"

The disappearance of the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London had electrified the country. Few other topics of conversation were heard. Alcock looked up the A134 from whence the man came. "There are three farms up that way, sir. Which one did you hide the jewels in?"

But the man had lapsed into a coma. The platoon medic examined him and pronounced his patient would be lucky to regain consciousness.

Alcock rubbed his jaw and thought quickly. "We'll have to recover the jewels. Summon the platoon and get HQ on the phone..."

Tribune Forster-Oliphant didn't like being woken at such an early hour, especially by Alcock, who was not in his good graces. His displeasure rang clear down the phone up to the moment Alcock told him what was afoot in caged terms. "The missing... ah, valuables from London are nearby, sir. An aircraft crashed up the road with a King's Messenger aboard. He hid them in a farmhouse. I can lead my men and recover the... ah, items, but the chances are the traitors of the League will try for them also. I request reinforcements."

The Tribune breathed deeply for a few moments. "Right," he said at last. "I'll see what I can do, but this had better not be a wild goose chase or I'll have your guts for garters. Now, get going, man!"

Alcock dropped the phone into its cradle and left his headquarters. The platoon waited outside. Lately they'd been surly and indifferent to his presence. The arrival of the King's Messenger in their midst had set rumors flying, and they now awaited Alcock with interest. Alcock put his hands on his hips, unconsciously mimicking his hero Sir Oswald Mosely, and addressed them. "Men! We have a crisis at hand. A great treasure has fallen nearby and is in danger of being taken by traitors. We must, we will, recover them! To arms!" 

The platoon already carried their rifles. Alcock led them toward the road, regretting once again their lack of light machine guns. With luck we'll be in and out quickly enough there won't be a fight... 
* * * *
As usual I use Chain of Command rules with adaptations for AVBCW. The Anglican League was aided by a section of Police, counted as Green for this game along with the rest of the AL. The BUF upgraded one of their sections to veteran. Both sides had armored support due to arrive on a roll of 1 on a d6 ten moves after the game began.


The game terrain. Left to Right: Bridge Farm, Grange Farm, Brookfield Farm. The A134 runs approximately through the middle. North is to the top.

The patrol phase, with the AL approaching from the north, the BUF from the south. The terrain favored the AL.

Lieutenant Southgate leads his men into Grange Farm.

Across the road, Under Leader Alcock took possession of Brookfield Farm.

The main thrust of the BUF force approached from the south, with the veteran section moving up along the A134.

Over to the west, an AL section rushed across the open meadow to take Bridge Farm.

Hostilities opened with Grange Farm coming under heavy attack. The men of the BUF veteran section found the hedge lining the lane didn't offer as much cover as they'd hoped. The AL Lewis gun did particular execution, but not without the AL section taking casualties in return. Southgate began to worry as accurate rifle fire downed a number of his men. Three factors came to his aid: The shock on the BUF veterans mounted quickly and their firepower dropped off to match: Not far away to the west, the Anglican League's third and last section was outflanking the BUF position: To the north the Police section had arrived and was providing some support by firing (to modest effect) through the hedge. The BUF section occupying Brookfield Farm sent plenty of rifle fire in the direction of Grange Farm's upper floors but failed to hit anything!

When the third AL section reached the turn of the hedge around Grange Farm they opened up, catching the hapless BUF in a crossfire. The veteran section had had enough by now and the two BUF sections broke and ran. The AL third section was in a prime position to shoot them down as they ran - but their junior leader refused to order them to do so with the words "Don't lower yourselves to their level, lads."

...to be met by the arrival of two L3/33 tankettes. Tribune Forster-Oliphant had kept his word - but had they arrived too late?

A Very light fired from Brookfield Farm summoned the tankettes. Not fancying their chances against the AL holding Grange Farm they penetrated the roadside hedge and headed across the ploughed field toward the farm - only for one of the pair to run into severe difficulties when it bogged down in the soft soil. After several minutes spent in increasingly desperate attempts to free the vehicle the crew gave up and ran for safety, leaving their companions to head on alone.

The Anglican League consolidated their hold on Grange Farm. Sergeant Hayes lined his men up along the hedgerow in case the tankettes came their way. When they failed to do so he decided to take the initiative and attack Brookfield Farm.

To his relief assistance came in the shape of a Vickers Light Tank Mk. VIb. He wouldn't have to face the tankette without armor support of his own. After a quick conference the tank commander agreed to assist the police in their assault. The tankette fired upon it but failed to do any damage, retreating hurriedly behind the house. The tank ignored the puny attack, concentrating on hosing the farm with MG fire. Under Leader Alcock directed his men to the ground floor, ready to escape...

...but the tank's fire proved deadly accurate. Casualties amongst the BUF and AL leaders had been non-existent - up to now. The final volley of Vickers fire cut down Under Leader Alcock as he passed a shattered ground floor window on his way to the back door. His men were already disheartened by events and disgusted with their leadership. The death of Alcock and the approach of the coppers proved the final straw. They broke and ran, not noticing that Alcock clutched a monogrammed briefcase in his dead hands...
* * * *
Police Sergeant Hayes entered the farmhouse. Its confines reeked of cordite and spilled blood. He glanced around at the dead and dying BUF men and shook his head. "They'd legged it," he called back to his men. "Three of you come with me; the rest go see those gentlemen off the premises."

He scouted further into the house. Below a shattered window he found the body of a short chubby man with a ridiculous mustache. He clutched a once-fine briefcase, its flap bearing the Royal cypher. The lock had taken a bullet and opened easily at his touch. He looked inside and drew out a golden oil spoon. One glance with his eye, experienced in evaluating stolen goods, told him it was old and valuable.

"What's that, sarge?" one of his men asked, staring at it.

Hayes sighed and dropped the object back in the case. "That, son, is the most expensive bloody spoon you'll ever see."
* * * *
So, the Anglican League took the field and victory over their foes - but the Norfolk Constabulary have taken the prize; the consignment of Crown Jewels. Thoughts on the game and the aftermath to come in the next few days. 

1 comment:

Panzer Kaput said...

That is a great report there AJ and lovely pictures and wonderful terrain. Thanks for joining in the fun.

 

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