Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Gionvudar Massacre

Throughout Operation Ewblhien[1], the Palladian Guard had been quite scrupulous with their RoE[2].  Despite the perceived heresy of the civilian population, by and large they were left alone; The elements of the PLA that they were fighting also ensured that any engagements took place, where ever possible, outside of urban areas.  Individual soldiers from broken units might have hidden amongst the civilian population.  And sub units might have been given sanctuary and supplies by the civilian population, however, individual soldiers were not what the Palladian Guard were pursuing and the PLA were anxious to keep “their people” onside.

Months later and hundreds of Kloms northeast of the Operation Ewblhien area and the circumstances had changed somewhat.  The more radical elements within the PLA had more influence; more of the old guard of professional soldiers, especially the officer corps, who had once been a part of Klestor Sub Sector Command’s reinforcement programme had been removed through attrition.

Once 17 Korps had broken through the Cudlip defence lines, the remaining PLA units broke up (in line with the pre-invasion defence plan) and scattered, hoping to reform at their next defensive strongpoint.  In several instances, the flight to the next RV, allowing the next concentration of force, was prevented by the political cadre inserted into PLA at the outbreak of hostilities.  By the time 72AG began campaigning in earnest[3], the heretical political cadre was well established.

More concerned with martyrdom and consumed by unreasoning hate, under the guidance of their political minders, elements from PLA teeth arms, later identified as parts of 2/99 Infantry, 1/13 Mechanised, 1/1 SF and unidentified unsanctioned psykers of one of their network support units[4] established positions in the town of Gionvudar.  Gionvudar, over 60 kloms east of the defence lines, stood some 14 Kloms north of 72AG’s axis of advance.  72AG’s northern flank at this point was the reformed 902 Div[5].

Gionvudar was a market town of some 4000 souls.  The town existed to service the number of Grox Ranches on the prairie to the north, arable farms to the east and as an economic feeder of resources to the Promethium Industry to the west.   As could be anticipated, this settlement had stood for over a thousand years and was the educational, administrative, medical and economic centre of life for every Devos citizen in a 600 klom radius.

Noting the Palladian reluctance to follow PLA elements into town, the breakaway group of rebel fighters ambushed the recce elements of 902 Div.  There was a short but bloody contact[6] and the Cadian and Kreig recce forces withdrew in line with their SOP[7].  Under the leadership of their Political Cadre, the rebels retreated to the town which they prepared to defend.  Strong points were established in defensible public buildings – government offices, schools, hospitals and churches were all deemed suitable for fortification[8].  Booby traps were set in the streets.

In the event, the DKK 20 Armd Regiment took up positions to the South of the town and over the course of 48hrs, comprehensively bombarded it, systematically sweeping from South to North and leaving no building standing.   Anyone fleeing the town to the North was intercepted and slain by the DKK 19 Armd Regiment positioned to catch anyone trying to escape.  Working on the precautionary principle – that anyone allowing rebels into their hometown was a traitor, the DKK spared no-one[9].

If the 'old guard' of professional military officers had not been depleted through warfighting against 72AG, the PLA would have had more leaders who understood the need to scatter and reform at the next organised strongpoint; not as many units would have followed their political officers into ill advised actions.

If the political cadre had been at all interested in strategy and tactics, then the collapse and reform strategy and tactical fluidity required to keep the PLA from squandering its fighting strength in futile gestures would have been obvious.  The massacre of the civilian population of Gionvudar was entirely predicable and equally avoidable. 

The once prosperous town of Gionvudar was totally raised.

72AG would not wait for the ambush of its recce screen next time.  Fast air and artillery assets would sweep all conurbations, no matter how modest, from the face of the planet in broad corridor along their axis of advance, regardless of collateral damage.  The Heretical population of Devos IV's largest continent would be punished.

[1] The PLAs campaign threatening the beach head.  Really just a diversion, but one so large that it could not go without a response.
[2] They were not under orders to do so – the officers of the Palladian Guard simply stuck to their instruction to hunt down the scattered remains of the PLA’s “Hunter” Div.  Civilians were simply not their target.
[3] Despite a strong foothold on the continent, 72AG did not act decisively until it had three Corps deployed.  The delay in taking action gave the PLA almost an extra nine months to fortify its position and prepare for the forthcoming hostilities.
[4] Approximately 400 fighters previously manning the Cudlip defence lines.  They were rearmed from deliberate arms caches near Gionvudar, Whether or not this influenced the decision to turn the town into a fortress is a matter of historical conjecture.
[5] 902 Div (DKK and ASL) were part of the breaching force.  They had 24 hours to rest and regroup post breakthrough before taking up position on the Northern flank. 
[6] 72AG losses were 6 KIA, 24 wounded and 3 vehicles knocked out.
[7] Standard Operating Procedures
[8] Usually large buildings with good internal manoeuvre space, strong construction and clear fields of fire outside due to large car (tractor, it’s a farming community) parks.  It’s also quicker as the defending force does not have to cope with a large number of citizens who do not want to leave their own homes and businesses.
[9] Whilst we might tut and shake our heads at the ruthlessness of the DKK, it must be borne in mind that if any other formation had been on the Northern flank that day, it would have been given the same orders.  And would have carried them out. 


  1. I love how this is Written, man. Very good job in clarifying and explaining the situation

  2. Cheers Jim ! I'd have thought the usual suspects might have chipped in on this one, perhaps it slipped through people's blogrolls unnoticed.

  3. Yarp, nicely written.

    It does, for me however raise a question.

    If it is (as it totally appears here to be) tactically sound to eradicate the local population on this scale in order to ensure the Enemy are similarly eliminated; then at what point is it not Strategically sound to erase all human life from the planet and bus in more imperial souls to pick up the tools and begin work once the corpses have been removed?


    too far?

    1. I suspect that that would have happened here without the happy conjunction of half of the population declaring for the Emperor and the requirement to safe guard food production capability.

      The population of Acer, even if they are not worshippers of the Great Enemy themselves, stood by whilst those heretics took over. So they're guilty as well in the eyes of the =I=