Tuesday, 4 March 2014

VBCW - The Barnes Wallis Affair

A new battle report...a new genre for the shed !

So with a few figures painted up, some suitable period vehicles purchased and terrain constructed I was able to host the first of what will be many games in the Shed featuring the Very British Civil war (VBCW)


If this write up peaks your interest then can I suggest that a great place to start is the VBCW forum, it’s a great place to go for ideas, inspiration and general help.

VBCW Forum


The background in summary – its 1938 and Edward the VII has gone ahead and married his American divorcee Wallis Simpson. This action has created constitutional chaos with the government of the day and the opposition walking out of parliament, furthermore the Church of England outraged by the Kings actions have distanced themselves from power and called for his removal. Nationalists in the home countries of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall have taken advantage of the power vacuum and are fighting for independence. To make matter worse with no MPs in the house Edward VII has asked Oswald Mosley and his British Fascist party to run the government.

Communist workers are seizing power from industrialists and overseas interested parties from USSAR, Nazi Germany and Italy have all been pouring fuel on the fire. The British Army has fragmented according to its regional ties and the Empire is disintergrating. Chaos and Anarchy abound.


Whilst resourcing this genre I came across a ficticious map of the territories controlled by the various leading factions and focussed in on my own home county surrey. You can see from the map that the county lies on boundaries of the fascists in the North (London) and the Anglican League to the South. My campaigns will be based here.


The following backgrounds were prepared for the players (3 including myself) and we got started.

The Crossing at Effingham
The quiet sleepy village of Effingham
Civil War has broken out across the UK and has finally arrived in the southern county of Surrey. The county not only lies on the strategic road and rail links between London it is also the border between the Anglican League forces of the south and the Pro Royalist and fascist government forces based in London.
As hostilities broke out the UK’s scientific community was torn by allegiance, recognising that their work could be crucial to either sides’ victory.
One such leading defence scientist is Barnes Wallis. He was working on a number of new aviation proto types at the Vickers factory in Brooklands.
Barnes, although a patriot, found that he could not support the Mosley government and on the morning of the 3rd March 1938 left his home in Effingham and drove to his office. He quickly cleared his desk of the plans he was working on and returned home. These actions did not go unnoticed as a colleague, with right wing affiliations, called the local BUF security police office (BSS – British State Security) to inform them of Barnes Wallis actions.
Recognising that these actions may be a prelude to Barnes Wallis switching sides available BUF and Royalist units in the South London area were despatched to Effingham to sieze the scientist and his documents.
Civil War is characterised by spies and it was not long before Anglican forces in the area were informed of the BUF rush to Effingham.  The local League forces in the area consisted of a small voluntary defence force lead by a local bank manager Captain Manners. His volunteers have been joined by the pro church Surrey Hunt And Fox Territorials (SHAFT). These troops have been mobilised into defensive positions.
The League is now trying to arrange for an aircraft (Lysander) to pick up Barnes Wallis and secure him out of the area.

The Battlefield
BUF & Royalist Forces
Your two forces are approaching Effingham on the Northern Roads into the village. Consisting of loyal elements from the Kings Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (based in the Tower of London) and elements of the South London Strike Force (BUF).   
These forces will arrive on the two Northern roads – BUF from the River, Royalist troops from the Northern Road approaching the Village. Your mission is to secure Barnes Wallis and his papers.
It is unknown what sort of resistance you will be confronted with (known League sympathisers are in the area), but you are aware that a sizeable friendly force has blocked the road to the southwest. Barnes Wallis’s home is the largest building in the centre of the village.
It is imperative that Barnes Wallis does not escape nor do his papers fall into enemy hands.
Note: You have pictures of Barnes Wallis so he cannot slip the dragnet closing in.

The Kings Fusiliers

BUF Forces

Anglican League Forces
Your informants have told you that a sizeable force of Royalist and BUF troops are heading towards Effingham. With no time to spare you must protect the leading scientist Barnes Wallis from capture.
Unfortunately Barnes does not appreciate the enormity of the situation and has not got out of bed.
It will take him time to get ready and collect all of his papers. The umpire will inform you of when he is ready to leave the building. One section dressed similarly to Barnes must start in his house.
Your forces will need to get him out of town. This can be done in two ways
Firstly a Lysander light aircraft is available to pick him up. The pilot of this aircraft can arrive after turn 7 but will only land in the large field outside the village if it is safe to do so. (Umpire decision). It will take one turn to land and one turn to take off. The Lysander maybe shot at by units on the ground but not whilst it is in the air. All units will hear the plane approaching the turn before it arrives.
Secondly Barnes can be evacuated out of town on the road south along the river – this must be clear for a quick get away.
Barnes Wallis is not a fit man and cannot run.
You are aware that reinforcements in the form of the East Sussex Christian Farmers Co-operative union are on route to bolster the Anglican forces. They will be entering on this road.
Barnes Wallis will be a non-combatant member of your forces – he maybe either dressed as a member of the LDV or as a member of SHAFT. Choose at the beginning of the game. He may not however be armed or shoot in anger. If he is part of a unit that gets attacked his figure will be the last to die. He is unaffected by morale of the attached unit. Barnes will either move with the unit to whom he is attached or on the command card (but not both)

Captain Manners addresses the platoon

Not so sensible - having a fag


The game opened with the Royal Fusiliers advancing down the road NW towards Effingham, they need to cross the rail line to enter the town. The convoy trundled forward. As they approached the crossing the distinctive chatter of a Vickers machine gun echoed around the country lane. Telltale muzzle flashes from the upstairs window of the building opposite the crossing. Ambush !

The Ambush Site

With two trucks caught in the crossfire the deathly machinegun drew first blood – five troopers fell in the first round. With a section in each truck the Fusiliers were going to have to fight for the crossing.


Towards the NW the Armoured Car of the Fascists rolled up over the bridge followed by the infantry sections in requisitioned vehicles (The stone bridge featured was built a few days ago and will feature in its own tutorial shortly). Spotting the lead elements of one of the Anglican LDV units making their way across the field the machine gun sparked into life. Honours even as a few home-guard bit the dust.
BUF Armoured Car strafing truck
and again !

BIUF convoy

Elsewhere in the village Captain Manners and his section were pouring fire into the advancing royalist troops with little affect.

on the receiving end of heavy fire

Mean whilst the SHAFT section, resplendent in their white pith helmets and hunting guns piled into their trick and headed off to confront the approaching Fascists.

Surrey Hunt & Fox Territorials

This plan was soon in tatters as the Armoured car (now across the bridge) stopped their vehicle in its tracks. The old boys of Shaft deciding that on foot was a better course of action disembarked.

The loyal League defend the village

With the Fusiliers now disembarked from their vehicles they could begin to attack the HMG nest in the Building Attic. A well-aimed volley silenced both gunner and crew. The route was clear. Fearing for his life Captain Manners withdrew into the centre of the village. Whilst en route they grabbed Barnes Wallis and hastily threw him into a uniform so as to disguise his appearance.

The Crossing is clear

The fascists soon crossed the bridge and disembarked alongside the road wall.


The inclement weather suddenly turned bad as a pea-souper of a fog descended on the battlefield. All ranges were now reduced to 8 inches for two turns.

Under cover of the mist the BUF move forward

Under the cover of the mist the LDV and shaft forces dragged Barnes Wallis into the woods.


As the fog lifted the drone of a single light plane could be heard overhead but with nowhere to land – the armoured car of the BUF stood proudly in the middle of the make do landing strip – it turned tail back to friendly airspace. Barnes Wallis would not be flying out.
The BUF occupy the landing field


Whilst positioning their forces the BUF were surprised to see members of the East Sussex Cooperative Farmers Working Union approaching along the road.


The Workers Cooperative arrive

A furious firefight erupted over the hedges with the men in black shirts winning the day.

Pruning the Hedges and the Cooperative Workers

But it was all too late (we’d actually run out of time) – Barnes Wallis was making his way through the woods under the support of three sections to where a getaway car awaited.
The woods full of Barnes Wallis supporters

Fusiliers entering the Village but too late

Will the loss of this famous boffin be a nail in the coffin for Edward VII and his allies?


Some thoughts about the game:



1.       We probably used too many troops for our first game – with eight units per side we struggled to complete the game in three hours. This was partly held up by learning the rules on the hoof. Any thoughts on the optimum number?


2.       My games tend to feature a lot of terrain that breaks up a large table (we played on a 1.5m by 2.5 metre surface) and as such ‘jumping the hedges’ became a real pain as it significantly shortened the distance units could move. Forward going we will be dropping this rule.


3.       Following on with terrain we decided that units could see across multiple units of terrain but each terrain obstacle added the cover bonus (eg unit A shooting at unit B- between the two is a hedge and a stonewall so therefore -3 to hit)


4.       Template weapons – in particular HMGs are devastating – we need to start spreading units out rather than clustering them in groups – I think the mentality of too many Saga games was coming in to play!


5.       We used the extreme range rules – ie adding 12 inches to ranges for rifles and above – these worked well – add 12” to effective range +2 to hit – only 6 kills


6.       Vehicles were great fun but could be deadly for occupants if under fire…one truck suffered 3 casualties from a burst of HMG fire ! It does seem odd that if you fire a section of men – presuppose there are four in template you effectively get 12 dice rolls with an HMG yet when using same weapon against a truck you only get 3 dice rolls with no modifiers to hit – given the truck is a bigger target should there not be die roll modifiers?


7.       Can armed vehicles fire if they have moved their full allowance?


8.       To hit rolls – are they modified if a target has moved – we decided to add a further -1 to hit if it had moved the full 12 inches in the previous movement phase


9.       MG’s jamming – not to sure how to play this but we decided that all to hit rolls would be made and any 1’s retained – they were then translated into d6’s for jamming rolls. We did find that guns tended to jam when used for prolonged bursts. The alternative is to roll for jams as and when a 1 comes up. Which is right?


10.   Am I correct that an SMG cannot jam?


11.   We decided that elephant guns would have the punch of an HMG against armoured vehicles but without the burst capability – until I get my AT units painted up the opposition had no chance of knocking out an armoured car.


12.   How do support units test for morale ? It never happened but was a question raised. We assumed that if they were attached to a section they were treated as part of the section. If they were separate units (ie moved on command card) then they would be treated as such but got the benefit of the closest section’s NCO


13.   We hated the cards – these were unattractive laid out all over the table and have decided to mark out some discs with numbers ranging from 1-12 in red & black. Players would draw the discs from a hat with red numbers taking precedence over black. Discs would be left face down until the unit moved. There would of course be a joker marked on one of the discs.


14.   Morale Again– we found that all the troops survived nerve tests – if I understood it correctly 2d6 are rolled and the result added to the local nco/officer – if the score was greater than 10 the unit was ok or if it was lumpy etc it at  least moved up the nerve test scale. With the average NCO delivering a +4 on nerve tests and an average of seven being rolled on the dice this almost always happened. Are their minuses for units already jumpy, supressed etc. Should the test become progressively harder eg 11 on jumpy, 12 on supressed etc


15.   We allowed the shooter to roll for hits and the target to roll for saves.



  1. Great report and pics, it really captures the spirit of the genre

  2. Wonderful looking game! That's what a wargame should look like! More!!!

  3. Excellent looking game. And a jolly good read.

  4. Great to see it all come together for the game. It looks fantastic!

  5. Great AAR, with impressive scenery!