June 1938…A different world, a different Liverpool ina Britain in the midst of a Very British Civil War.
The following Agents of ALFIES (Amalgamated Liverpool Free Intelligence and Espionage Service) :
- Undercover policeman Dick Monroe,
- ex-Royal Navy Rogue Kenneth Walthamstow-Browne,
- Mancunian socialist Tom Williamson (who journeyed toLiverpoolafter the events of Operation Cricket)
- and Italian-Jewish-American ex-gangster Vinnie Vincetti
are summoned to Birkenhead’s Vittoria Docks.
The Catalina flying boat Bette Davis, refitted after its Cheshire adventure (see Operation Cricket (Part 4.)) is waiting to take the player characters on their next adventure. ‘C’ briefs the team on operation Earwig a long term effort to introduce order to theLake Districtand discomfort to Government convoys on the A6 through means fair and fowl.
Ken is put in charge of the team while Dick takes special responsibility for the carrier pigeons the team will use for communications (a Government listening station in Kendal makes radio out of the question.) The group board the ‘Davis and escorted by 6 Peoples Fleet Air Arm Gladiators and 2 Swordfish in order to impress the locals fly to Lake Windermere taking a cautious route via the Irish sea. They are carrying credentials from the City Council.
Flying back inland they see a LFS ambush of a Convoy at Little Hootle and the pilots decide that’s worth a visit on the return journey, 9To see what happened on the way back go here: http://clarkythecruel.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/sabotage-at-little-hootle-part-2/) The team are more concerned when Dick notices Vinnie, passing round black market Lucky strikes wears a TNT vest which causes some consternation before he confesses it’s a fake..
The team land onLake Windermere and row to Ambleside. There they are greeted by the careworn local copper Michael Browse and a mixed bunch of local and ‘fugee (refugee) onlookers. Taken to a local pub for discussions the players notice that the defences of the town are little – maybe 30 armed men, some only armed with improvised spears. The pub is threadbare and stocked with anonymous bottles and plain kegs of ale that look like bootleg supplies. The wilier characters guessing there may be more arms in the town but held by individuals for their own protection.
A committee talks to the players – as well as PC Browse there is a sardonic Vicar Reverend Johns and WI leader Dame Margot Staverly (who organise refugee soup kitchens and the like.) they are very interested inLiverpool, help. The town had a decent collection of stores and food has been taken into common ownership but Winter is coming and by then supplies will be non-existent. They have contacts with smugglers operating out of Egremont and Whitehaven but they only move contraband like spirits, cigarettes and the like – high value stuff. They are fearful of accepting food and then not being able to protect it from aggressive parties.
While Vinnie takes the opportunity to use the toilet (to smoke some opium,) Reverend Johns outlines the village’s situation – Bandits rule Scarbeck to the East and theGrazmereForestis sheltering Royalist renegades, beyond them there is a BUF presence. Toutbeck andToutbeckBridgeare occupied by Anglican and a Jewish refugee militia respectively. Windermere & Bowness on Windermere is split between anti-pro government factions. A ‘pirate’ has taken over Belle Island and demands tolls to fish or transverse the lack using a pleasure steam with a cannon fitted. To the north Rhydal it’s unclear but there are strange goings on involving midnight bonfires and disappearances. The hill farms are keeping a tight control on their flocks and shooting first and asking questions later.
The team promise to address supplies but need to get a better lie of the land. They secure lodging in half a bare attic (the other half occupied by a an Italian refugee family who Vinnie strikes up a relation with – with a stash of tinned tomatoes and herbs they have better food!) They debate getting aid in by parachute or flown in at night but admit the difficulties that would create with trying to recover packages in no man’s land or dangers for the aircraft landing on the lake.
Ken resolves to visit Toutbeck andToutbeckBridgeto east and secure support. His strategy is to develop alliances between Ambleside and Windermere and the surrounding hamlets in order to form a safe base of operations at the North of theLake.
Travelling cross country the players approach a kernel of buildings in the hamlet which has an improvised blue and gold Anglican League Flag flying. It has improvised defences in boarded windows and firing loopholes. Approaching Toutbeck from the West the agents come under staccato, infrequent rifle fire from a copse the South. They manage to take cover while equally infrequent rifle fire from the hamlet is returned to the sniper. The team feel a little redundant armed as they are with a couple of shotguns and pistols.
They are called from the hamlet and told of a covered approach. Making their way across dead ground, shell scrapes and a doorway obscured by cloth covers they are greeted by a shock headed vicar and a couple of shotgun armed men. The Reverend Birkett introduces himself and to the stunned expressions of the Team explains his dispute with the Jewish militia which is based on a complicated theological position that Edward VIII and Mosley’s policy are all the result of a Jewish conspiracy. Vinnie (half Jewish) bites his tongue; Tom bristles with righteous indignation while Ken manfully chats with the clearly barking clergymen. The Vicar requests that they attack the Jewish militia even making available his ‘holy hand grenades’ ( which are in fact mills bombs (Vinnie and Dick take him up on the offer.)
Feeling disgusted the Agents leave the hamlet (out the back to avoid the sniper) passing the graves of at least 8 of the Anglicans. They note the Reverend has 12 men and the ‘heathen’ around 20 according to the insane Priest. They consider their option to resolve this conflict between the two war bands and secure Ambleside East flank.