With electrical storms disrupting Tau communications, the full ferocity of Greenclaw’s attack was not initially appreciated by High Command. But, if the words could not be understood through the heavy static that filled the airwaves, there was no mistaking the panicked tone of those broadcasting calls for help. — “The Complete History of the Al’gel Campaign” by Aun’el Mor’kan Tal’is’ta, ethereal caste, Dal’yth Sept, (689-776.M41).
The ork offensive began promptly at dawn, with concentrated artillery fire pounding the Tau line for periods of 20 rai’kor to a dec [20 minutes to an hour by Imperial measure).
This bombardment, while it would ultimately kill only 100 or so fire warriors across the line, actually served Ko’vash well—his sleeping troops were able to tumble out of their night shelters and take their posts before ork infantry and armor moved forward.
The ork attack was launched along a 90-kilometer front. Two motorized spearheads raced down the two major north-south highways of the region, one on each bank of the My’kor River.
This force of Trukks and War Buggies, supported by a never-before-seen armored vehicle [later identified as a “Kill Bursta”], advanced so quickly that the Tau’s superior firepower had only minutes to assail the orks before the greenskins reached the front lines and swamped Cadre IV’s fire warriors in hand-to-hand combat.
To each side of this mechanized attack, ork boyz raced forward in support. To the west, a vanguard of mechanized orks plunged deep into Tau lines, shoving aside fire warriors and breaking through the line.
On the eastern flank, however, Tau troops slowed the ork advance along a small, unnamed river. While fire warriors mowed down the ork infantry, high-speed Piranhas skimmed across the landscape to target supporting ork walkers.
Yet this line broke, as well. A force known as Grok’s Mech Boyz found a gap in the Tau lines, not far from the My’kor River, and crossed the unnamed tributary that served as the Tau defensive barrier.
Despite a valiant counterattack by the 6th Heavy Support cadre, a force of 20 Hammerhead tanks, Grok’s Mech Boyz advanced south and threatened to turn the Tau flank.
At this point, the Tau engaged in a hasty—but disciplined—withdrawal, using superior firepower to slow the ork pursuit.
The Tau were moderately successful in slowing the orks—for a time. But the Tau’s withdrawing forces were sorely pressed, and it wasn’t long before 0rk vehicles were running free behind the Tau lines.
Unable to stem the tide, Ko’vash was forced to trade ground for time, and his troops fell back repeatedly to prevent their encirclement. Despite repeated counterattacks, Ko’vash was unable to stop the ork advance, and for three days his troops fell back until they took up position behind the wide if shallow Stah’la River.
This river proved crucial to the Tau defense. The ork armor was unable to cross the river’s muddy bottom, and with casualties mounting as Tau artillery support pounded the ork’s concentrated forces, Greenclaw was stymied in his southern advance.
At the same time, Hunter Cadre V began to respond to the growing threat to its flank. Several thousand fire warriors, with the 99th Cadre in the vanguard, launched a spoiling attack at the ork left left flank and forced back Gronk’s Mech Boyz.
This counterattack raged for days, but the fierce resistance of an ork force known as Kygor’s Mob finally forced the 99th Cadre to fall back.
It was at this point that Greenclaw revealed a degree of tactical cunning unusual among his species. Stymied to his front, he did the unexpected. Instead of futilely throwing his forces forward in senseless violence, he pulled his warriors back and turned eastward, driving along the Stah’la River in an attempt to strike at the gap between Cadre IV and Cadre V.
This attack was highly successful. With the 99th Cadre to the north, and the 33rd Cadre and 95th Piranha Wing to the south, the orks—spearheaded by Gronk’s Mech Boyz—slipped into a shallow valley between the two. Their advance hidden, by hills and woods, nearly two dozen Trukks, along with Bloodgutta’s Walkers, slipped through the Tau defenses and headed east.
Throughout this action, Tau operations were continually hampered by fierce electrical storms that stymied communications and kept Tau aircraft from the sky. The result was that Tau armor, uncertain of where to concentrate, was forced to assume a defensive deployment. The Tau superior mobility was negated, as reserves could only respond once an attack was well under way—and the the battles often were lost before the reserves could arrive.
This confusion and delayed responses served the orks well. With the initiative firmly in their hands—and the electrical storm having no apparent impact on the orks’ primitive technology—Greenclaw’s forces continued their advance east.
For Bloodsword, the threat posed by Greenclaw’s attack was immense. For one, it threatened to open a sizable hole in his lines—one that could unravel the entire Tau defensive posture.
For another, Greenclaw’s aggressive attack was proving to have adetrimental effect on the larger strategic direction of the war. His success was attracting supporters to his small army, including a cadre-sized force of armored walkers [later identified as “Killa Kans” and “Deff Dreads.”]
All told, these reinforcements totaled nearly 10,000 infantry and 50 walkers by battle’s end.
Bolstered by this additional armor, Greeclaw pushed aggressively to the east and southeast, smashing again at the operational line between Hunter Cadres IV and V. With communications still hampered, the commanders of the two cadres struggled to ensure that there were no gaps in the line—but they failed. An attack by nine armored walkers pierced a detachment of the 99th Cadre that lacked anti-armor weaponry, and Greenclaw quickly reinforced this breakthrough.
With orks once again driving into undefended rear areas, both Tau hunter cadres were forced to retreat with heavy losses.
Click here to read about the battle’s conclusion.
Click here to return to the battle’s beginning.
Featured artwork courtesy of Eric Tan (thevampiredio) on the DeviantArt website. Click here to see more of his great artwork.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Al'gel Campaign, History
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