Friday, 13 December 2013

Defending the Duke Part 2

The Chopwell Communist attack on the Duke of Wellington public house had been repelled, but the forces under Comrade-Lieutenant Leonard Parkin didn't retreat far.  Overnight the Reds called up replacement militia and what reserves they had left in a final effort to break through to Durham.

The BUF and Lambton forces remained encamped in their positions while General Sir Arthur Morley-Lustworth withdrew north to the Lambton stronghold up near Washington.

At the break of dawn, the Red forces attack again.  This time Parkin's platoon was reorganised and reequipped for assault, and supported by a battery of mortars.  The remaining T26 tanks were organised with militia support.  The plan was simple; break through to capture Potter's bank at all costs.

Parkin's platoon advances across the fields to the south of the Duke of Wellington, ready to advance on Lambton's positions.  Armed for assault, they even have a pack of vicious hounds along for the fun.

Facing them are Lambton's Hounds dug in in their positions from the day before, but this time supported by an armoured car brought up from the rear.  

They also have some fighters pushed forwards to the west of the main road in ambush.  

They open fire on the Reds in the open causing a few casualties, before being cut down to a man by the torrent of Communist return fire. 

Over on the northern flank, the Chopwell armoured force, supported by hastily mustered militia rumble forwards towards the well positioned BUF regulars. 

To their surprise, during the night the BUF brought up some heavy firepower to supplement their field guns, including a Panzer II and and armoured car with an autocannon.  

Before the Reds can advance much beyond their starting positions, two T26s brew up amid viciously effective BUF anti tank fire.

The BUF to the rear give a great cheer as the news of their success spreads fast.  

The remaining Chopwell tanks creep around the copse and manage to destroy the Panzer II, but the militia advance on the northern flank is effectively halted before it begins.

In a brutal exchange of heavy fire, the remaining Red tanks are neutralised and the militia are cut to pieces as they valiantly attempt to push on into the BUF positions.  Disciplined fascist rifle, machinegun and field cannon fire make short work of the advance and the Communist northern flank collapses having barely touched the fascists.   

And so the attention turns to Parkin's action in the south which fares far better.  Well supported by a mortar battery, the Communist irregulars advance to forward covered positions and let their field support do the work.  

Lambton's positions are shattered by mortar bombs and the shell-shocked survivors flee for their lives.

The Duke of Wellington is heavily shelled and reduced to a burning wreck.

They do put up a bit of a fight though, and the remaining Lambton artillery give a good account of themselves, but its not enough.

Parkin pushes his platoon north to take the remains of the Duke of Wellington.

The BUF move off of their positions and head south to meet the the advancing Communists.


However, before their forces meet both commanders reevaluate their positions and decide to withdraw before sustaining further loss.  

The battle finished in a a bloody draw, or rather withdrawal.  The door to Durham remains closed, and after two weeks of battles, the High Hold campaign ends with the borders and positions back exactly where they were at the start.  

It was not without consequence though.  Lambton, the BUF and the Communists at Chopwell had each expended massive effort and most of their supplies.  Many men and much materiel had been lost.  Ammunition stores were depleted.  At the end of 1938 it looked like the war would calm down over winter.  Restocking would be vital for all concerned.

An honourable mention goes to Graeme, for stepping in on the war correspondence duties when my camera died early on in the fight.  

And finally, a summary of our war in the north east during 1938.

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