Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tarsis Major - Imperial offensive halted

The narrow Imperial salient to the east of the Downslope mountains was looking increasingly precarious in early 03.010M42 as powerful Tau forces began mobilising between the desert and the Central mountains, moving south and west to meet the new offensive. General Cunningham favoured withdrawal to defensible positions, but was under pressure from General Roover to "get moving", despite repeated requests for reinforcements.

To counter the claim that he was not providing Cunningham with adequate resources, the Prozan 7th Cavalry (airborne) were transferred to the Tarsis theatre during 02.010M42. This was technically reinforcement, though Cunningham despaired at the small number of troops being sent his way. Never-the-less, General Stonewall, commander of all Prozan units in the sector, sent one of his most able and daring commanders to Tarsis with the 7th, and as soon as they arrived they were itching to get at the Tau.

Cunningham, giving in to pressures from above and below, sanctioned the use of this new, highly flexible and mobile force against the Tau immediately, planning to destroy them as they moved towards the Corellian units in the narrow Tuvan salient. On 0303.010M42 the Prozan 7th threw themselves into battle ferociously, moving swiftly, deploying by air in the Tuvan plains.

The first part of the operation went well and the Prozan infantry established a wider perimeter around the Corellian units, waiting for the Tau to attack, as they surely must, before unleashing their airborne reserves. The Tau, led by Strongspear, attacked predictably yet this time effectively, causing havoc within the infantry units dug in at the front line. As the battle developed the Prozan commander committed his airborne reserves, the Vulture gunships, mounting fearsome punisher cannons, having an immediate impact. The Valkyrie borne infantry reserves however faced problems in their deployment, arriving not in one wave but sporadically, allowing Strongspear's forces to face and defeat one arriving unit before turning to the next.

The battle became very bloody as the Prozan guard refused to give up without a fight. Several bitter hand to hand confrontations developed on the Tuva plain as the two sides became intermixed in a battle with no clear front line. Over the next three days it looked certain from hour to hour that the Prozan units would break en masse, allowing the Tau to mount a breakthrough counter attack. Cunningham even withdrew the Corellian units and was considering a wholesale retreat with the Prozans, but somehow they tenaciously held on.

On 0803.010M42 the Tau, frustrated in the extreme and suffering a high level of casualties, had still failed to break the Prozans and the Imperial commander begged for reinforcements to break the deadlock. There were none. Cunningham had no strategic reserves to speak of thanks to the "winding down" of the campaign. Strongspear on the other hand had Tau and human units behind the front waiting for the right time to break out - a time which wouldn't come. Cunningham saw the risk however and was forced to issue the order to withdraw. After a week of heavy fighting this came as a bitter blow to the new Prozan force as by 1003.010M42 the Imperium had lost all the ground captured in the recent offensive - named operation salvation by Imperial high command.

No comments: