Thursday, 7 January 2010

Richard III, Edward VIII and a Very British Civil War

One of my favourite films is Richard Loncraine and Sir Ian McKellen's adaptation of Shakespeare's RICHARD III. It is set in an alternative version of 1930s England, but there are definite undertones of what some imagine England might have been like if Edward VIII had not abdicated.

The film has spawned an interesting trend in present-day wargaming, namely the increasing interest in what might have happened had the 1936 abdication crisis escalated into civil war. Whilst I do find some of the events postulated by the developers of a VERY BRITISH CIVIL WAR somewhat implausible, they have generated a lot of interest in a period of history that I find very fascinating ... and the battles they fight do look like they are great fun!

The following images from the film give some idea why people find this 'alternative history' so appealing.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester's car (suitably escorted by motorcycle outriders and a second car carrying his personal bodyguard) crossing Lambeth Bridge on its way to the ball held to celebrate the Yorkist victory. The building in the background in Thames House, the current home of the Security Service (MI5).
The Royal Palace. It is actually St Pancras railway station, electronically 'transferred' to the banks of the River Thames.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester arrives at the Royal Palace. The Guards are wearing an interesting mixture of British and German-style uniforms; British bearskins and overcoats with leather equipment and tall marching boots.
The Duke of Gloucester, escorted by his faithful batman, is saluted by passing troops. This scene was filmed in Woolwich Arsenal before it was redeveloped into a residential area. The uniforms shown in this image also combine features of 1930s British and German-style uniforms.
The Royal train, guarded by troops in ceremonial uniforms. The tunic, trousers, gaiters, boots and dark-coloured helmet make the troops appear less British and more Germanic.
If the boar's head was replaced by a swastika, this could easily be an image of a Nuremberg Rally.
Another image of the rally. This was filmed in the Royal Horticultural Hall.
Bankside Power Station (now the Tate Modern Art Gallery) is 'The Tower', the main political prison used to house opponents of the Yorkist cause and to provide a home for those who need 'protective custody'.
Henry Tudor's invading army (Note the 'H7' identification number). The tank riders wear smocks and berets to distinguish themselves from their Yorkist enemies. The tank appears to be a somewhat anachronistic T55.
The Yorkist stronghold. It is actually the gutted Battersea Power Station which has been electronically 'transferred' to the South Coast of England.
More of Henry Tudor troops. The uniforms are similar to those worn by their Yorkist enemies but subtle differences in colour make it easy to tell each side from the other.
Henry Tudor's army prepares to attack using Russian tanks ...
... and American armoured half-tracks.
The Yorkists prepare to defend their fortress. They appear to be equipped with Russian T34/85 tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and trucks, and German armoured half-tracks. A very interesting and eclectic collection of military equipment!
Another interesting combination: a French half-track armed with a British Lewis Gun!
Richard III attempted to escape in a Dodge Command Car armed with a .30 calibre Machine Gun.


  1. An excellent film! I have just acquired a DVD version as my video machine is long gone. I recall seeing some of the vehicles which featured in the film as part of the Budge Collection in Retford in the mid-1990s. I'll look for my photos...

  2. Tim,

    It is a very good film indeed, and one soon forgets that it is Shakespeare becuase the story is so well told and acted.

    I remembered that someone I knew had seen the vehicles at the Budge Collection, but could not recall who it was.

    Any chance that they may appear on your blog if you find them?

    All the best,


  3. Yes, a great film - and shown at it's very best on the big screen to mark Tim's 40th birthday - complete with post-film canapes.

    Tim does have a certain style doesn't he?

    Male Anon

  4. robertpeel999,

    He certainly does!

    Mind you, I am still waiting for the COW 'game of the film'; perhaps it will see the light of day this year?

    All the best,


    PS. Mind you, I have the rules (Morschauser's 'Modern' Period wargames Rules), and I have the right 'kit' (loads of T34/85s and german trucks), so perhaps it should be me? Do I hear the sound of 'Death to Henry the Hunchback' ringing in my ears ... or was that another game, in another place, at another time?

  5. I have found the photos I mentioned. Sadly there are few survivors (I remember taking lots) but they include the 'German' halftrack (actually an ex-Czech Army OT-810). I'll post them on my blog over the next few days...

  6. Tim,

    If you do manage to add them to your blog, I will add a link from my blog to yours so that anyone who might be interested in seeing the vehicles can easily do so.

    All the best,


  7. I found a few photos and have uploaded them to my blog.

  8. Tim,

    Many thanks for doing this. I will add a link to your blog from mine so that interested parties can migrate over to have a look at the images.

    All the best,



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