Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Very British Civil War - the War Comes to Durham - The Battle at Wylam Bridge

NOTE: Alas my camera troubles continue for a while as its settings go haywire despite my best (and wholly inadequate) efforts tot he contrary.

With the increasing hostilities between Chopwell and the forces of Lord Lambton, and frustrated at the passive stance of the BUF in Gateshead, Lord Percy has decided to sort things out for himself in the defence of the king's realm in the North East.

With the dastardly Chopwell Communists distracted by their troubles to the east with the loyal nobleman Lord Lambton, Percy sends a reconnaissance platoon across Wylam Bridge into the Communist held area to the south of the River Tyne.  He intends to open a bridgehead and a second front against the rebellious Reds to try and relieve the pressure on Lambton, after a couple of recent reverses.

Although he ordered the attack to go in before dawn, transport issues and rear echelon snarl-ups by the logistical and medical support units delayed the kick off until after breakfast.  Typical!  Clear of his orders,  Capt. Arthur Barnham-Smythe presses ahead with the attack in any case.  His regulars wouldn't need the advantage of darkness to sort out the Red rabble.

On a warm, early August morning the railways station and the Boathouse Inn at Wylam Bridge were eerily quite in the cloying mist.  The birds were singing, but then the relentless rythmic squeak and rattle of armoured tracks, accompanied by the clopping of hooves, broke the calm from the north.

The Chopwell militia woke up and spotted trouble approaching across the bridge.

They hastily called up the reinforced comrades platoon camped in a field along Railway Street to the south.

Their vigilance and readiness was not a moment too soon!  Percy's regular troops were already flooding across the bridge into the Communist held border territory.  This outrage would not be suffered lightly.

The valiant Vickers Mk.III followed Capt. Arthur Barnham-Smythe into the fray, determined to take and hold the south end of the bridge for the King.  Before the slovenly Communists could react,  Barnham-Smythe's platoon was across and spreading out into bridgehead positions.

The shooting started in earnest and in the first exchanges the Communist Putilov armoured car took a few near misses from the Vicker's main cannon.  

Not wishing to tangle with the terrifying behemoth the Putilov promptly motored off west to support the Red Flag militia as they advanced up into the woodland to try and outflank Percy's advance.

With the road cleared, the Communists manhandled a battered 6pdr field gun up into position to try and take out the Vickers tank.

The Mk.III responded with a storm of machinegun fire that ripped the crew and gun to pieces.  The Reds anti-tank gun teams in the area (armed with imported Chech Model 29 AT rifles) fared little better and the Vickers Mk.III took the centre ground of the battle.  There it stayed, dominating the battle in a position it stubbornly refused to give up.

Over to the west, the Red militia met with Lord Percy's Tennantry and in bitter hand to hand fighting in the woodland, the militia made little headway despite the support of the armoured car.

And to the west, Lord Percy's valiant lancers, their blood up and the taste of the hunt in their flared nostrils, galloped around the Communist flank...

...only to be met by a unit of determined Chopwell Cossacks.  Percy's men lowered their lances and charged only to be gunned down by the Cossacks in a beastly, and dishonourable volley of close ranged pistol and shotgun fire.

This was not enough to rescue the engagement from failure however, and Percy's Tennantry took up solid defensive positions.  They had forced their way across the bridge, bitten hard and held a strong bridgehead.   The Communists fell back to desperately find reinforcements from their thinned out positions along this northern border.  Most of their forces were mustered on the east.

The Chopwell Soviet now found itself with a new front to fight just as a major battle seems to be brewing at High Hold.

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