Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carnage on the coast

Since the beginning of 03.009M42 it was clear that at some point the Tau would attempt to break out of their bridgehead on Tuva. Operation Poseiden had taken a lot out of the Tau, but as 03.009M42 progressed the steady in flow of resources and equipment being piled into Sapphire harbour meant a renewed offensive was only days away.

The Imperial high commander General Du Prez, aware of the impending attack, and his diminishing reputation, appointed General Cunningham to personally oversee the defence of Tuva from the Tau, while General Arbuthnot of the Praetorian Guard took personal command of the defence of Tarsis Prime from the Orks.

Cunningham however was given superior resources. Not only could he count on the three Librian divisions and an army of PDF, but Du Prez allocated three crack Praetorian regiments to his command, along with two Super heavy tank regimants from both Libria and Praetoria. This would mean Baneblades, kept on Tuva, would see action for the first time.

Cunningham and his Praetorian counterpart decided on a simple plan. The peninsular the Tau had invaded was fortified, and the heavy industrial zones turned into obstacles for the Tau to overcome. He spread out his troops in depth along the front, with half the Baneblades supporting a Praetorian infantry advance, and the other half in deep reserve, able to react to any devious Tau tactics.

On 1203.009M42 the Tau attack began, with combined forces of Elan Ro and Shadowstrike pushing out from their bridgehead, aided by over a regiment’s worth of Porphyrian Guard, who had declared their allegiance to the Tau. Shadowstrike was perhaps hoping that fielding traitor Guard would unsettle his opponents, though it is more likely he was using them as an expendable resource.

As predicted the Tau faced difficulties, penned in and unable to manoeuvre, they had to accept an attritional battle. This tactic had been used by Cunningham on Melberg and quickly began to pay dividends as the Tau advance ground to a halt. Then the killing began.

Determined to engineer a breakout and convinced the Imperial line was about to crack, the Tau continued to throw in their resources. An entire cadre of Elan Ro’s troops were wiped out in the furious battle, while Shadowstrike’s cadres fared little better. The Porphyrians suffered badly too, as the loyalist guard units delighted in demolishing their traitors with lasgun, lascannon and battlecannon.

On the second day Shadowstrike managed to infiltrate a large number of kroot into the Imperial lines, but the arrival of the reserve baneblade regiment annihilated the reptilian creatures utterly. The stench of shredded krootflesh hung about the battlefield, a ruined, rubble strewn wasteland awash with burning vehicles and dead bodies.

On the third day Elan Ro and Shadowstrike co-ordinated a mass drop by crisis suit, causing carnage amongst the Librian infantry and destroying most of their Leman Russ battle tanks. Further north the Praetorian slow advance was finally checked by dogged defending, but the Tau had little answer to the Baneblades, which slowly ground them into submission.

Five days after the attack had began the Tau were utterly spent, withdrawing from Tuva to their base on Sapphire Harbour. The Imperium had won their first victory on Tuva in months and had pushed the Tau off the main continent.

The cost however was astonishingly high. Though the Imperial Baneblades had suffered little damage, the Librian and Praetorian regiments involved in the fighting had been badly mauled. Including PDF losses the five day battle had seen 150,000 casualties, almost half that taken in the entirety of the Merrin fighting. The Tau too had suffered badly, losing 31,000 troops, including some 20,000 Tau, their worst losses of the war and approaching those lost in the appalling attritional battles on Melberg.

No comments: