Source Book Review – 1938 a Very British Civil War

There are two books in this series – 1938: A Very British Civil War and the Gathering Storm: Scotland and the North. What we have is a parallel universe where Edward VIII did not abdicate the British throne in 1936 in order to marry American Divorcee Wallis Simpson. Stanley Baldwin’s government resigns, parliament refuses to form a new one so Edward asks his friend Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists to form a government. The forces of the Church of England and the Left and the Decent respond and things escalate to the point of a civil war.

By 1938 the country is in a mess a multisided fight featuring fractions such as the Anglican League, a Liverpool Free State, Welsh Nationals, a Scottish Republic, the BUF and Royalists and numerous others. There are foreign volunteers on all sides, freebooters, private armies, criminals and eccentrics taking advantage of the chaos and things don’t look good.

But this isn’t a novel – it’s a source book for wargaming or playing for toy soldiers if you prefer which is how I came across it. Having read the books however I think this is such a rich parallel universe that the more people get to hear about it the more potential there is to take it in interesting directions. I think the background could make an excellent background for a role-playing game, cries out to be a mod a WW2 First Person Shooter and could make an excellent setting for stories of thirties daring do. The events in the Lake District that make up part of the second book in particular seem to have a real ‘Casablanca’ feel.

Of the books themselves they are fairly standard softback books. They contain no rules but are background with a few scenarios (battles to the relatively normal amongst you) thrown in. You get a decent chronology and background to the major fractions in the first book. For illustrations would get a lot of very beautiful painted 28mm figures photos which are all very character – the nature of the imagined conflict lending itself to colourful units. In the second you get a more background on Scotland and Northern England and some smaller fractions mentioned but not expanded on in the first book. The second book appears to have used a lot of fan input to expand the world which is nice touch. If your interested in the thirties as a period and feel like doing something different I would recommend the first book – the second expands the world nicely but isn’t essential (unless your slowly becoming obsessed with the Liverpool Free State.) If you were to consider doing anything professional I would speak to Solway miniatures as they do have copyright.

The books are available here http://solwaycraftsandminiatures.webs.com/books.htm
And there is a web discussion group here at the Gentleman’s Wargames Parlour but much of that is discussion of figures and rules so may be limited interest to non-wargamers. On the wargames side the books encourage players to use local history to inform their battles so I’m off to try to find maps of thirties Wirral. Those Government forces in Chester – They shall not pass!

GS Reviewer: Andrew

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