Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Very British Civil War - the War Comes to Durham - The Battle of Cartington

On the 16th May 1938 following the ambush at the Rothbury roadblock by the Free Northumberlanders, the Rothbury section retreated to their safehouse just to the north at Cartington Farm.  With them was the smuggler and gun runner contact, Arthur Pike.  He needed a safehouse to hole up in and let the trouble blow over.

Unfortunately with the arms shipment captured by the peelers, the Northumberlanders are now forced to look around for other supplies.  Recent skirmishes in the north with Scottish raiders have seriously drained their limited ammunition stores and their bid for a free Northumberland was looking tenuous at best.

Well supplied with cash and trade goods from the wealthy hill farms they have contacted the Communist Soviet at Chopwell who, they are aware, have a good supply of arms.  The Northumberlanders have the intention of forming an alliance (or at least an accord) and purchasing a supply of weapons and ammunition.  

The Chopwell Soviet has recently received a shipment of supplies, veteran advisors and specialist from the Free City of Liverpool (including uniforms, ammunition and support weapons such as machine guns and mortars).  John Harding, the leader of the emergent Chopwell authority, is keen to sell on their surplus of outmoded weapons as the Soviet is currently very short of cash needed to buy the support of the local populace through food and aid programmes.  They are also happy to discuss an alliance and therefore send a delegation to Cartington to investigate the possibilities with the NFF.

The local police have not been idle however, and with a tip off or two from local informants have identified the NFF Rothbury section’s base at Cartington.

The regular police, together with an auxiliary section (and some local defence volunteers) have planned a raid on the farm to arrest the Northumberlanders for the killing of 4 police officers at the Rothbury roadblock.

So in the bright moonlight of a chilly May evening, the Northumberlanders and Chopwell Communists mill about outside as their leaders discuss terms in the farmhouse.

Meanwhile, the sneaky Police creep up under cover of darkness.  They've come to arrest but are armed to fight if needed.  They certainly aren't expecting to find armed militia from Chopwell so things are likely to get out of hand.

While the regulars go in, the auxiliary police (who are frankly a bit of a rabble) set up their Lewis gun to cover any 'murderous NFF criminals' trying to flee the scene across the fields to the north.

Spotted, the police charge before the criminals can raise the alarm and mount a defence!  They're unaware that they're facing Communist militia out of Chopwell.

Unprepared for a fight, and not wishing to tangle with the law just yet the Communists up stumps and flee south before the blue coats can capture them.

with their blood up, the police then turn their attentions to the Northumberlanders.  These hill folk let off a few panicked shots to little effect.

'Now then young miss...put that rifle down, there's a good lass...'

With surprise on their side the police drive off the rest of the Communists and begin rounding up the Northumberlanders, making numerous arrests.

As the Rothbury cell of the Northumberlan Freedom Fighters is pretty much arrested, the wily Communists slink away into the night.  They do however have to leave their precious motor vehicle in the hands of the police.

With many of his men in shackles and the rest fleeing north out into the dark fields the leader of the Northumberland cell, Alfred Garrett, gathers up the £200 cash  from his stores and attempts to make his escape in a motor vehicle.

The hapless chap can't get the dashed contraption going however and he's soon surrounded by coppers.  Seeing Alf fumble for his revolver police Sergeant Henry Penhaligan has other ideas and with his men drags Alfred Garrett out of the vehicle and beat him senseless.

The police raid ends successfully with many of the Northumberlanders in custody, only a few having been shot dead in the fracas, mostly by the overeager Auxiliares.  The farmhouse is firmly in police hands and the goods and monies within captured.  

The Communists escape and flee back to Chopwell as fast as possible.  They tell exciting tales of the fierce, brutal and highly efficient nature of the Rothwell police.  John Harding convenes the Soviet to determine what's to be done next.

Hopefully the authorities will not learn of their involvement with the Freedom Fighters...

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