Sunday, October 21, 2007

Melberg: Army Group North surrenders

Narmala Airlift

Over one thousand planes took off on the first day of the airlift, transporting over 500 tonnes of supplies on 1210.007M42. It was as if the entire Imperial Navy, fighters, bombers, transports and troop carriers had all sortied together in one giant wave, which wasn’t far from the truth. The bold act, sending up practically the entire force, caught the Tau completely by surprise. Most of their air crews were resting when the airlift began at dawn, and even by the end of the first day the Tau had only mounted a piecemeal response.

32 Imperial aircraft were shot down on 1210.007M42 out of over a thousand. However the next day things began to change. Realising the Imperium did not intend to abandon Army Group North to its fate the Tau high command attempted to take the initiative, throwing up a wall of Barracudas in the path of the supply convoy. It still wasn’t enough. By the end of the second day the Imperium had lost 57 more aircraft but another 718 tonnes of supplies had got through.

In a final gambit the Tau air caste put up their entire force, including those defending the fleet, determined to destroy the Imperial Navy once and for all. Fully two thousand craft swirled above the skies of Narmala on the 13th and 14th, with carnage over the plains. On this day the battle was bloody. Only 23% of Marauders, and 34% of Valkyries got through with their cargo and only 312 tonnes of supplies were delivered to the troops in the pocket.

However, despite shooting down 318 aircraft the Tau also suffered losses, losing over 300 of their planes. Neither side could hope to sustain such casualties and on the 15th only a small night convoy of transport aircraft delivered 60 tonnes.

It was now obvious that the Imperium could not hope to supply the trapped men indefinitely, but they had bought them some time. The Blood Ravens had landed in the pocket, their Thunderhawks left unmolested as the air battle raged around them. The Adeptus Astartes would now be able to carve a supply route into Terris Kingdom and Whettis, if only they could destroy the Hunter Cadres holding the narrow strip of land which separated Army Group North from the rest of the Imperial Command.

Meanwhile the air supply train continued, gradually increasing back up to the levels seen in previous days. Then, on the 20th, the Tau launched one final attack on the Imperial Navy.

This attack took the Imperial Navy by surprise and centred on the Airfields around Terracon. Despite barve and heroic efforts the Tau air caste massed co-ordinated assaults on the Imperium and by the end of 2210.007M42 the Imperial Navy had lost over two thirds of their strength. No more supplies got through and on 2710.007M42 General Jeffries met with Commander Longstride where he offered the surrender of Army Group North. Longstride accepted and over 100,000 men were led into captivity.

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