The Action at Penclippin Farm

The Action at Penclippin Farm

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Hello. Huw Puw reporting once again from the front line for ‘Look Out Wales’.

This week I find myself back in West Carmarthenshire. Having survived the ‘glorious victory’ of Titley Junction, the cross-dressing remnants of the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment were eventually relieved by a unit of the Welsh Republican Army. We then made our way back to the Republic of Cantref Cemaes for rest, reinforcement, reorganisation and retail therapy.

However, there was no such rest for me! My editor had clearly heard of my survival in Herefordshire and made sure that I was sent on the first available suicide mission. So it was that I soon found myself squelching down the soggy valley of the river Tâf with the reassuringly male soldiers of the 9th ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment.

However, that reassurance was to be short-lived. All armies have needs and none more so than the resource-starved Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes. We needn’t go into details, but the ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment clearly has a great need for livestock… One can only hope that as good chapel-raised boys with a love of their Mams’ traditional cooking, they like a lot of Cawl…

The objective for this dubious raid was Penclippin Farm, in the hills north of the royalist stronghold of Whitland. This farm is known to be the family seat of one Captain Gough, a loyalist officer with Colonel Foley’s Loyal West Carmarthenshire Greenjackets. Unlike most farms in the ‘Landsker’ borderlands between English-speaking and Welsh-speaking territory, Penclippin had not yet been picked clean by raiders from both sides – mainly due to the strong protection afforded by the Greenjackets and the proximity to the strong garrison at Whitland. Thus its booming flock of prize sheep is a rich, yet well-protected prize.

The 9th ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment also had a few scores to settle, as many of its men are from the Tâf Valley and Whitland area, with units raised in the nearby villages of Login, Llanglydwen and Glandŵr. The regiment is named for a local hero, the ancient King of Deheubarth and author of the ancient Welsh system of laws, Hywel Dda (‘Hywel The Good’), whose court was at Whitland.

Also joining us for this raid were a motley bunch from the Free Wales Army, calling themselves ‘Y Gwarchodwyr Pysgod’ (‘The Fish Guards’). A more disreputable bunch of cut-throats it would be hard to imagine if I hadn’t already met the ‘Daughters of Rebecca’… These lads were VERY keen to get their hands on the sheep, yet when asked, none of them knew a recipe for Cawl…

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1. Lt Col George Bankcroft advances on Penclippin Farm with one of his own companies and that of the Fish Guards. Two of his companies, led by his 2IC, Major ‘Slaps’ Lewis, advance down the eastern bank of the river. Their woolly quarry is soon sighted…

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2. Thanks to alert patrols and their network of Mams who know and see all, Captain Gough’s ‘A’ Company of the Greenjackets has already set up defensive positions at Penclippin Farm and has called for reinforcements from Whitland.

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3. Lt Col Foley, CO of the Greenjackets, has rushed to the scene with his Headquarters and ‘B’ Companies, as well as an officer of the local St John’s Ambulance Brigade. He has sent word to the Whitland garrison to send relief forces at once.

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4. How green is your valley? This one is pretty green.

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5. A relief column appears, marching through the shattered village of Cwmfelin Boeth.

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6. Captain Alison de Carnelle’s Foot Hussar Company of the Slebech Castle Ladies’ College Cadet Corps, supported by some light armour, is on its way to support the Greenjackets. However, ladies only run when playing hockey…

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7. On the Welsh left flank, the Login and Glandŵr Companies advance.

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8. Reaching the crest of the hill, the Login Company spots its prey. However, the Glandŵr Company unwisely shows itself on the riverbank and is immediately taken under fire by the Greenjackets’ ‘B’ Company.

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9. The cadets continue to march in a ladylike manner, without showing too much ankle… The armour impatiently presses on ahead.

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10. Lt Col Foley meets up with Captain Gough at Penclippin to gain a personal appraisal of the situation. As the bullets start flying, Lt Col Gough’s group scarpers for cover.

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11. The Greenjackets’ ‘B’ Company continue to fire upon the raiders along the riverbank.

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12. The sheep, startled by a group of Welshmen with a determined look in their eye, panic and flee for safety!

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13. However, the sheep soon encounter more Welshmen lurking in the bushes at the bottom of the hill and scurry back up the slope!

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14. Meanwhile, back at Penclippin, a fierce firefight soon ensues between the Llanglydwen Company and ‘A’ Company of the Greenjackets, defending the farmhouse. The Fish Guards advance, but stay hidden to avoid scaring the sheep. The secret weapon is brought forward – Rocsi the Wonder-Dog!

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15. With the sheep trapped, the Login Company advances to round them up. On the river bank, the Glandŵr Company becomes more generally engaged with the Greenjackets, but gets the worst of the firefight.

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16. The humanity! As if this civil war weren’t horrible enough, a Morris Man capers from one of the farm-buildings and calls to one of the Greenjackets as if he recognises one of them! Horrified to be thought of as Morris-men, the Greenjackets temporarily panic, but are soon brought back to their senses and proper military bearing by the stirring sight of the Regimental Colour. War is hell…

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17. Spotting a suitable phone box, I moved forward in order to phone my editor with a live report of the day’s action.

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18. To the Greenjackets’ enormous relief, the Morris Man capers off in search of new prey…

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19. Worried by the distant sound of engines and the rattle of tracks, Major Lewis deploys a ‘Boyos’ anti-tank rifle team…

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20. Ignoring the raging firefight around her, Rocsi successfully rounds up the sheep, along with the Morris Man.

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21. Lt Col Foley and Captain Gough watch the Morris Man disappear into the distance. Captain Gough is doubly relieved, as he was terrified of having his shameful secret revealed and being ‘outed’ as a Morris-dancer in front of the men…

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22. The armour pushes forward, but the Cadets continue to proceed in an orderly and ladylike manner.

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23. I conduct a live interview with one of the Greenjackets “Excuse me, but what is your opinion on the morality of Morris Dancing between consenting adults?”

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24. My interview is rudely interrupted by an armoured car roaring past.

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25. “Captain Gough! Is that you? I didn’t recognise you without the bells, hankies and whiffling-stick!” It’s no good, the Morris Man is back and has outed Captain Gough. Recoiling from the whistles, cat-calls and titters of his men, Captain Gough staggers away from the battle, a broken man.

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26. “Quick boys! Let’s get these girls away and then we can have first dibs!”

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27. As the Login Company covers the theft of the sheep, the Boyos team opens up on the Royalist tankette… And misses.

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28. With the defenders of Penclippin Farm thoroughly suppressed by fire from the Llanglydwen Company, Rocsi herds the sheep back to Welsh lines. The Greenjackets, now alerted to the theft, open fire speculatively on the hedgerows to their front.

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29. The Cadets’ armoured car, spraying machine gun fire, moves somewhat rashly to outflank the Welsh line.

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30. The rest of the Cadets are still in no such rush however, though wisely give the Morris Man a wide berth, as he capers off toward Whitland.

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31. Despite suffering some casualties from the armoured car’s machine gun, the Fish Guards gamely return fire with a volley of Molleston Cocktails (named for the Pembrokeshire village where petrol bombs were first used against Royalist tanks). One finds its mark and disables the armoured car, forcing the crew to bail out.

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32. Inspired by the sacrifice of their armoured car detachment, the Cadets hitch up their skirts and risk showing an ankle to the uncouth soldiery as they step up the pace.

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33. “Excuse me, but is it true that you’re here to give relief to the Greenjackets?”

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34. The Morris Man dances off into the distance. His body was later found face-down in the Tâf, with a service issue Webley bullet in his back.

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35. Lt Col Foley manages to calm Captain Gough and settle his nerves with a tot of Pimms. “Christopher old chap, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. Goodness knows, when I was in the Sudan, a chap would do anything to stay sane and Morris, while being an unnatural act abhorred by God, wasn’t unknown. Heaven forbid, at least it’s not Jazz.”

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36. True to form, the cads and bounders known as the Fish Guards, machine gun the armoured car crew as they make good their escape.

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37. The depleted Llanglydwen Company lays down covering fire as Rocsi and her woolly charges make good their escape.

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38. The Boyos team doesn’t get a second chance as the tankette returns fire with twin machine guns, instantly eliminating the threat.

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39. Horrified at the loss of his Boyos, Major Lewis orders the Login Company to disengage.

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40. The surviving armoured car crew make good their escape.

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41. On the other side of the river, the survivors of the Glandŵr Company withdraw northward up the river.

With casualties starting to mount and with the approach of Royalist reinforcements, Lt Col Bankcroft ordered the regiment to disengage and withdraw with its woolly captives. The raid had been partially successful, though had undoubtedly inflicted damage and not a little embarrassment on the King’s forces. The men had definitely earned their ‘Cawl’…

This is Huw Puw signing off.

This was a game played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire. The rules played were ‘Went The Day Well’ by Solway, with some minor modifications for sheep-rustling (!).

The figures are mainly by Musketeer Miniatures, though the ‘Cadets’ are by Hinterland Miniatures and the Morris Man is by Woodbine Miniatures. Most were painted by me, though Martin Small painted the Fish Guards.

The Huw Puw figure is a bespoke figure, sculpted and painted for me by Martin Small. He’s based on the John Sparkes TV character of the same name (see below).

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The armoured car is a Morris CS9 by Warlord Games, while the tankette is by Empress Miniatures. Crew figures by Hinterland Miniatures.

Buildings are laser-cut models by 4Ground Models. All other scenery is from the collection of the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire and was built by Al Broughton.

My apologies for the poor quality of photos this time – they were taken on my phone.

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