Saturday, March 08, 2008

Cunningham surrounds Corunium

The Tau commanders on Melberg did not have long to celebrate thier victories in the centre of the battlfront as General Cunningham's army group south prepared their long planned operation to surround the battered city of Corunium. The surprising ease with which "the bulge" collapsed in the previous weeks of fighting may have been partially down to the unseen concentration of force being developed in the south.

Overall commander Lenord was aware that the fleet bringing vital surplies to the Imperial forces was only a few weeks away, and to survive until then the oilfields in the south would be vital. With this in mind he attached the Librian 57th and 101st regiments, some of the most veteran units on the planet, to Cunningham's forces, leaving the newly deployed Praetorian 42nd to defend against Shadowstrike in the north.

Cunningham was not surprised when the over-confident Commander Elan Ro launched his own offensive, spearheaded by mobile hunter cadre units, bound for the capital. This was clearly the Tau preliminary assault leading to the main thrust against Atlas Prime, and it ran headlong into the Librian units preparing their own offensive.

Supported by Leman Russ mainn battle tanks, Hellhounds and upgraded lascannon Sentinels, the Librian 57th Grenadiers poured masses of fire into the highly mobile Tau units. At first the battle seemed to be touch and go for both sides, until the Imperial units utilised their anti-tank firepower, downing hammerheads and devilfish, forcing the Tau infantry to bail out of their wrecked skimmers.

At this point the Imperial commander in the thick of the heaviest fighting withdrew his Sentinels, now that the skimmers had been downed, and deployed his Hellhound flame-thrower tanks, massacring the Tau footsoldiers. With his forces in dissarray Elan Ro tried deep striking his Crisis suits, but the Tau veterans threw their lives away in futile attempts to destroy the Librian army. Very soon the Tau were forced to evacuate all the way to the western bank of the river Stridius, leaving a number of units cut off, beseiged inside the ruins of the strategically vital city of Corunium.

As the Imperial warfleet bore down on Melberg the Tau ethereals considered their position. The Imperium had successfully resupplied and were turning Melberg into an increasingly static attritional battle, something the Tau could not live with. If they could not defeat the incoming fleet and take the capital soon, the Melberg campaign would be over. The simple fact was the Imperium didn't have to win, they just had to avoid losing.

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