General Horpan ("Danny Bloodcoat") is no fool.
As he sees 72 Army Group's assets accumulate, he knows he must act
before the imperium simply swamps his PDF. His political leadership has
promised direct military aid, which he is content to assume for the
time being will be from other worlds with a similar separatist outlook.
But he doesn't want a stand up fight just yet.
He knows that 17
Korps is gearing up for an offensive and break-out of the Randstat
area. Operation Ewbehin is designed to prevent 17 Korps from focussing
fighting strength in one place. He has hived off a (not insignificant)
part of his own fighting strength, based around 2nd "Hunter" Div of the
PDF; one of four brigade combat teams (one of which includes 2 Battalions of
99th 'Bloodcoat' Regiment), a battalion aviation wing and full
support service battalion.
As 18 and 32 Korps are shipped from
Acer to Benq behind 17 Korps' bridgehead, the PLA's 2 Div is not enough
to face 17 Korps in a meeting engagement. However, 17 Korps is not in
the most wonderful of positions and it will take a number of months to
get 18 and 32 Korps into good order and commence operations. So one of
Danny Blood coats four formed Divisions is more than enough to pose a
serious threat to the Imperial forces; one that they cannot ignore.
Ewbehin is potentially a masterstroke. He has positioned the PLA's "Hunter" Div to the
SSE of the Randstat area, the imperial forces must move to counter the
Division or leave their soft underbelly exposed. Furthermore, to
prevent the Division being a permanent thorn in said underbelly, they
must commit significant forces to neutralising the threat. Hunter Division
is under orders to continue to fall back in face of the enemy, drawing
them South and away from the expected main thrust of their campaign,
towards Xyphonica in Central Benq. If at any point the enemy appears to
be loosing interest then the Division is to turn and bite.
General Tolstoy knows he cannot afford to leave Hunter Div threatening his
southern flank. Keeping 901 (Cadian) and 902 (Kreig) Div to secure his
position he sends 903 Inf (Valhallan) Div directly against the Op
Ewbehin forces. 904 (Corbanian) Inf Div and 905 (Palladian) Inf Div to
pincer the rebels and bring them to battle. Even if the result is only
that they are scattered, then the threat posed by the remains of Hunter Div
is much reduced and would
no longer preclude 17 Korps from concentrating on its main objectives.
Inf Div contains several units in adminstrative terms only. Some are
combat ineffective, one is actually on the other side, others are
reduced strength. The Valhallans look like easy pickings. Hunter Div's sub
units get carried away with local successes and over extend themselves,
allowing the Cobanians to dig in and the Palladians to hammer them from
the west against the Corbanian's prepared defences. Gen Tolstoy's plan
has worked. To an extent.
The remains of Hunter Div still need to be
pursued, possibly for up to three months, to force them well out of 17
Korps TAOR. The Corbanians are recalled to Randstat to prepare for the
assault inland whilst the Palladians are trasked with mopping up the
remains of 2 Div.
It's never that easy; on their home turf the
Devos PDF scatter and reform like mercury on a marble floor. The
remains of the 4th and 5th Battalions of the Bloodcoats now see
themselves as the elite of the PLA; they have, as they see it, tied up
three Divisions of the Imperial Guard for a time and still have one
Division cashing them. The Palladians have found that the most
effective strategy is to simply attack in overwhelming force whenever
they catch up with the stragglers. As winter drags on, men and machines
are being worn down by the travelling and the weather. And the Devos
PDF forces of 2nd "Hunter" Div, despite beign the hunted now, still turn
and bite far too often to be left.
After Action Report:
As with so often when chasing an elusive enemy through close territory, the ambush started when the Palladians set off a mine or IED. The village of Grenuid would normally have a population of nearly a thousand, a veritable metroplis for this area. But the whole place had a deadly quiet that put the men of the 4th Legionary Regiment (4LR) on their guard. Already both of the vanguard platoons were understrength through previous actions. They would proceed quietly and above all, cautiously.
2Lt Alterious Simon had been with his platoon since embarkation and had done well (in the eyes of his superiors) through transit and training on Acer and made quite a good show of the actions against Hunter Div as a formed unit earlier in the war. Search and Destroy missions, due to their nature were being rotated between rifle platoons. He theoretically has an SPG battery in support, but in reality, in this type of fight, he is reliant on his sentiel support and platoon of Lt Olympus Serverous, moving up in supporting formation.
The tactic they have developed in the last two weeks is to travel though likely ambush areas, reacting with overwhelming firepower to any attack and hoping for the best. Generally, by the time the SPGs or Vultures have arrived, its all over.
This morning, unforunately for them, it's 2Lt Simon's Command Squad who have fallen foul of the guerillas, antipersonnel mines have killed or disabled three of his command team. Using the explosions as their que, a Bloodcoat ambush team break cover and rush forward, only to be engaged by the Sentinels, whose pilots had been insulated from the blast, dust and fury of the explosions. The sentinal troop's barrage of frag rockets killed or disabled five of the enemy. It is presumed that the last man fled.
Unbeknownst at this time, a Bloodcoat OP was just in front of where the sentinels had reached. They called down artillery fire on to the platoon position. Dispite being packed in quite tightly, casulaties were light, but unfortunately included 2Lt Simon. Lt Severous' platoon was moving up in support as the enemy OP engaged the sentinel troop with Heavy Stubber fire. Whilst the stubber fire did no real damage, it allowed one of the enemy to destroy a sentinel with a melta bomb.
Lt Severus' platoon won a firefight with a Bloodcoat squad at the entrance to this part of the village, the sentinels fired on their ambushers but lost another callsign to melta bomb thrower. All of this took place under intense artillery fire. Indeed the artillery was the biggest killer on the battlefield. At no point did any Palladian unit even falter, (not even their attached ratlings). But the prosecuted their mission through the artillery barrage and the ambush squads. By fighting through and continuing to counter attack, they avoiding becoming coralled in the killing zone.
As it was, the Bloodcoats sophisicated ambush (using infantry squads, mines or IEDs and artillery, influcted 50% plus casualties on the vanguard. However, the prize was that 4LR were able to hand over a captured witch to the Ordo Hereticus. This would earn Lt Severus the heartfelt thanks of the Inquisition, which doubtless would do his career no harm at all.
Thanks to Col Scipio for the ARR - he might post a slightly more technical one, indeed might have already. Palladians by Col Scipio and Bloodcoats by Mr Lee.