Binky At the Bat
The 1st of the 9th was an old Dragoon regiment who'd swapped their horses for landships and went steaming around our Green and Pleasant Land looking for jolly japes. They aren't too impressed with me, but when I introduce my travelling companion Binky Bradshaw, we're welcomed with open arms. Turned out their CO, a Colonel Kilgore, is a huge fan of the sound of leather on willow, and before the current unpleasantness had seen Binky batting for Surrey on many occasions. It was at afternoon tea that I next try to bring up the matter of my mission and how we need to get past the small town of Grasston Grange.
"I say, Bungee" he says to one of his officers. "Know anything about this Grasston Grange place?"
"Beautiful pitch" his chap replies. "Heard the groundsman won an award for it last year. The pavillion is an absolute ghastly disgrace, but the grass is simply top-ho. A Batsmans' Paradise, so I hear."
Kilgore leaps up, his attention secured. "Well why the dickens didn't you tell me that before. There isn't a half decent crease left in the county, since the invasion started. We'll head there at first light, and Binky here will show us how he made that century against Middlesex in '85.
But his man doesn't seem to like the idea so much. "But sir, condition of the pitch aside, Grasston Grange is still a bit of a sticky wicket. Kaiser Bill has the grounds now.
Kilgore fixes him with a steely glare. "Kaiser Bill," he intones, "does not bowl overarm."
So there we have the setup for the game, with apologies to Francis Ford Coppola, Joseph Conrad and, well everybody really. I'd arranged the game with mi hermano de recibimiento Jonesy, DeadEdd and a friend we met at the Asylum weekend who wanted to try GASLIGHT for the first time. As it turned out he was unable to make it and it turned out that our local wargames club was hosting a major regional competition this weekend, so the normally empty Sunday session would have no room for three twerps in silly hats playing with steam tanks.
Were we deterred? By Gad no sir! We were not, sir!
Jonesy offered to host and was able to supply a 5' x 3' table. I'd been on a terrain making splurge in the preceding week, more than tripling my collection of hedges, adding a new "urban" wall type and some very pretty picket fencing and most significantly a brand new system of roads and rural pathways. I'd also produced the cricket pitch & stumps, inspired by someone doing similar for VBCW, after which I had to paint up my one cricketing miniature, who became Binky Bradshaw, the hero of this tale.
Binky, the pitch and the Urban Walls from Javis
We had an odd number of players (or should that be a number of odd players?) and all of us wanted to play rather than referee, so Jonesy got in touch with his Teutonic roots and took on the role of the fiendish Boche occupying Grasston Grange, while DeadEdd and myself took on the roll of the British. As you can see we all took proceedings very seriously (and yes the aftermath of the tabletop did include a "mad minute" with the Nerf guns)
We arbitrarily picked out units (one of these days I must get around to working out the points values for everything, like a proper wargamer should). Jonesy took two units of regulars and one of Jaegers, plus a landship and a "Ludwig" quad walker. The Jaegers were out in the woods with the Ludwig, one unit of Regulars were guarding the East Road (and it's only as I look at this picture now that I realise he should have had problems with the troops on the other side of the road being outside command radius) with the landship and the third unit being "stationed" at the pub (busy drinking lager, no doubt)
DeadEdd and I both took two units of infantry, one light steamtank and one other vehicle. He took a Landship and had the Guards unit. I took a Royal Horseless Artillery Guntruck, and fielded the platoon in Glengarries which for this battle were christened the Kings Own Scottish Borderers.
And as I write this I find sleep about to overtake me. Shouldn't have started writing this so late. Rather than save and resume this later I'm going to post this so far and pick up the story in Part 2. Till then I leave you with this pic of the German sentries waiting anxiously in the place that after this battle would always be known as "Bloody Lane".
"Why's it have to be us, OberFeldwebel? Why us?"
"Cos we're 'ere, mein sohn. Nobody else. Just us."