Battle of Longhope - 11th July 1938
Longhope is in the no-mans' land between government forces at Gloucester and Anglican League forces at Ross.
Longhope village has a centre of larger houses and shops whose residents are inclined towards the Royalist side. To the west is the'industrial' part of the village with its sawmill and jam factory and a little to the north is a small quarry. Here the locals are more centre left & liberal supporters who dislike the King & his government. The vicar of the church at the western end of the village is pro-Anglican League and has contacts in nearby Ross. The women of the Jam Factory Union lean further left in their politics but work within the LDV framework.
On 10th July, BUF militia arrived at the Longhope Jam Factory & demanded a large quantity of jam. The factory owner would not hand it over for a promissory note. The BUF got a little aggressive. The employees, led by their Union, went on strike and refused to work if any jam was given or sold to the fascists. The BUF left threatening to come back and take all the jam by force if necessary.
Map of the battlefield:
The Royalist/Government Gloucester Hussars and attached sections maintain a forward base at Huntley (about 3 miles east of Longhope).
Gloucestershire Constabulary: 1 section armed Police
British Union of Fascists Militia: 1 mounted section, 1 infantry section in Lancia armoured truck, 1 HMG in car
Royalist forces: 1 Command section in staff car, 1
TA infantry section in truck Gloucestershire Hussars: 2 Rolls Royce
Armoured cars, 1 Carden-Lloyd carrier, 2 mounted sections
Reinforcements: 1 section Loyal Punjab Regt with 1 Boyes Rifle team, 1 Carden-Lloyd carrier, 1 TA infantry section in truck, 1 mounted section, 1 section RAF Rifles, 1 RAF short 6-pounder on truck
The Anglican League forces based at Ross have a strong observation unit which is positioned at Lea Line (2.5 miles west of Longhope).
Ross Anglican League forces: 1 Command section in van, 2 militia infantry sections in trucks, 1 improvised Armoured car with HMG, 1 improvised Armoured car with 3-pounder gun, 1 TA infantry section in truck, 1 TA HMG section in truck, 1 militia Boyes Anti-Tank rifle team in car
The Warren James Centuria (Independent Labour Party militia) made up of miners, foresters and agricultural workers is close by at Mitcheldean (about 1.75 miles away)
Warren James Centuria:- 1 black powder muzzle loading cannon in truck, 2 workers militia sections in trucks.
The local defenders:
Longhope LDV (West group) - 2 militia infantry sections, plus 1 section (all female - except Bert the truck driver) Longhope Jam Factory Section
Action commenced 12.20 hours
Two Longhope LDV sections were stationed near the church, the Jam Factory section at the factory.
The Constabulary (in a truck) drove onto the bridge which was blocked by a barricade (wo)manned by the Jam Factory section(JFS). The Police politely requested that the road be unblocked as it was a public highway. The barrier was removed and the Police proceeded west.
Shortly afterwards, a British Union of Fascist (BUF) militia car & armoured truck arrived. They were stopped on the bridge and asked to leave. They drove forwards so the JFS opened fire killing the men in the car which crashed into the hedge. As the armoured truck came over the bridge, it was hit by two molotovs and burst into flames.
A BUF infantry section (previously disembarked from the armoured truck) approached from the sawmill to the south and was hit by LMG fire. A BUF mounted section attacked from the north side, jumping the hedge and landing in the stream with half of them falling off their horses. They were then fired upon and hit by two molotovs. The BUF cavalry routed, smoking slightly. The BUF infantry section phoned for army support using the sawmill phone. Strong and accurate fire by the JFS caused more casualties and the BUF retreated from the scene. The JFS capture a HMG from the BUF car.
The other Longhope LDV sections move towards the sawmill & jam factory. The JFS phone their allies from the Warren James Centuria (WJC) who arrive from the south, most of their number stopping in the Red Lion pub on the way. The badly parked Police van nearly causes an accident at the telephone box junction.
The Royalist reinforcements arrive well after the BUF have fled but still attack the LDV in the sawmill. The RAF Rifles retreat with heavy casualties from the LDV Lewis gun but the LDV break under pressure from a TA section and rout.
The LDV, WJC & JFS fall back down the main road.
Having cleared the bridge of the burnt out hulk of the BUF Lancia, the Gloucestershire Hussars' (GH) armoured vehicles advance past the sawmill.
The Government forces see the enemy rout to the traffic jam at the road junction. In the foreground (left picture) is the WJC truck which was hit by RAF shellfire causing severe casualties.
A long view showing the arrival of the Anglican League (AL) forces (on 'blinds'), after being called by the Longhope Vicar.
AL forces in the west (their cavalry moving up on the left flank) and Royalist forces consolidating (at the top of the photo) with a coach carrying men from the Loyal Punjab Regiment arriving.
Between the lines, the brave Police Sergeant Williams successfully negotiates a truce to avoid unnecessary damage to civilians and houses.
An over keen section of the GH opens fire on a Longhope LDV position, breaking the truce! The Royalists advance west along the road to Ross.
The Police retreat to the Red Lion pub where they spend the rest of the battle playing darts against a WJC section which failed to pass the pub on its way into the village. The WJC section's sole contribution to the battle being a burst of fire from the captured BUF HMG which made its way to the pub's bay window.
The AL armoured cars hold the line and the one armed with a 3-pounder gun damages the turrets & HMGs on both Royalist Rolls Royces. The AL infantry are pushed back by the experienced Punjabis. One Rolls tries to head toward the Red Lion but is hit by molotovs from the LDV and set alight. As it tries to escape, it knocks over the phone box and grounds itself on the wreckage.
Both sides are running short of ammunition and the Royalist commander realised that whilst he has the upper hand, he cannot hold the village. He telephones the Vicar and arranges a truce. Before leaving the Jam Factory, the Royalist fill one car & half a truck with cases of prize-winning jam to take home.
The engagement ends at 17.30 with Royalist and
Anglican League forces withdrawing from the village under truce
conditions that allowed both sides to remove their wounded. Longhope
LDV units left to defend the area (and pick up the pieces).