On 3 851 741.M41, a detachment of four men were assigned surveillance duty at Generatorum B39 [Grid 629-A25]. An engagement with orks infiltrating the area resulted in three casualties and enemy occupation of the generatoratum.
Given initial reports of the engagement, an intelligence officer was assigned to debrief the commanding NCO, Corporal Bryson Malor, 2nd Battalion, 728th Cadian Regiment. This debriefing was to gather information in an attempt to discern ork infiltration efforts, as well as determine whether Corporal Malor and his men performed their duties as ordered.
Partial transcript of debriefing follows:
Q: So, corporal, how did the encounter begin?
A: I was put in command of three men of 3rd Squad, 3rd platoon, Beta Company, and I was ordered to a ruined generatorum at Grid location 629-A25. My orders were to hold the position and report any enemy activity. We first spotted the greenskins around 11:00. Two groups. Three approached us from the north; five from the south.
Q: And then?
A: I ordered my men to hold their fire until the xenos were in effective range. There was no value in long-range shots. You’d never hit a vulnerable spot at anything but short range, and any fire would simply warn the orks to approach under cover. I wanted them out in the open until they got close, and I didn’t want to attract more greenskins with gunfire . . . at least until I had to.
So, when they were about 50 meters away, I told the men that they could shoot once they had a good line on a target. Private Tanyard fired first at the orks to the north. I don’t know if he hit his target, but the greenskins ducked into the cover of a ruined building, and I saw them begin to climb the ruins to higher ground.
Behind me, Corporals Piers and Dyton also opened up to the south.
Q: There’s a report that you contacted platoon command about engaging the xenos. What did they say?
A: They acknowledged it. After I gave them a rough estimate of numbers—about 10—I was told to hold my ground. I mentioned we were outnumbered more than two to one, but I was told to hold the line.
Q: So what did you do?
A: Well, after muttering a series of curses, I told my men to just keep shooting.—and I joined them.
Q: So the battle was nothing more than trading fire?
A: Only for about five minutes. To the south, the orks took position amidst some runs, and Corporal Piers and Dyton were managing to keep them suppressed with a flurry of fire.
I was going to chastise them for wasting ammo, as they were just blazing away, but I realized their wild shooting was putting out enough shots for a dozen men—and the orks didn’t seem keen on advancing. So I let them shoot away. They weren’t going to hit anyone in cover, but they were buying time while I figured out what to do.
To the north, the orks proved more dangerous. They managed to climb to the top story of the ruins, and that gave them a shooting position above us. That was a problem. From this high ground, the orks had a clear shot at the backs of Piers and Dyton. Piers was wounded almost immediately.
So, I decided we had to move.
Q: Move or retreat, corporal? You were ordered to hold your position.
A: Holding a position doesn’t mean sitting there and getting killed, sir. I ordered an attack. If we won, we’d hold the position. If we’d sat there on our butts, we would have been killed. A mindless defense would have cost us our position anyway. I felt my job was to do anything and everything to hold our position. That meant going out and killing the xenos.
Q: A fair argument. So, what did you do?
A: While Piers crawled into cover, I ordered Corporals Tanyard and Dyton, who also had a flamer, to jump down the east side of the building, slip inside, and move to the far side of the building. I wanted them to hide until the orks moved closer, and then they’d burn them.
As for myself, I dropped to the ground on the south side of the building, but where there was some cover. From there, I moved under fire toward the xenos and tossed grenades.
Q: You didn’t charge? Why didn’t your fire team take a more aggressive approach?
A: Charge? Four men—one wounded—charge orks in cover? We’d have been shot to pieces—or, more likely, the orks would have countercharged and cut us to ribbons.
I was hoping, between the flamer and grenades, that we could kill a couple greenskins before they closed on us . . . even the odds a bit. Of course, we couldn’t wait forever. The orks on the north side of the building were going to climb down and come after us eventually.
Q: So, what happened next?
A: The orks moved forward. Dyton flamed one, but two orks got to a window where Tanyard was firing. One ork was hit twice by lasgun fire, but it reached inside and grabbed Tanyard and dragged him out the window. The xenos beat him to death.
Then I heard screaming inside the building, and I knew the xenos had gotten to Dyton. The screams ended mercifully quick.
Q: Yet you and Piers escaped? You abandoned your position.
A: Come on, sir. Get real. Do you really think that I, with a wounded Piers, was going to hold that position? Were we ordered to get ourselves killed—to cost our regiment two unnecessary casualties—for a position that had no chance of being held in the first place?
The orks were busy with their slaughter, and I realized their attention wasn’t on us. I dragged Piers to his feet, and we staggered—Piers could barely walk—deeper into the ruins to the east. It was a miracle that the orks didn’t chase us.
Q: Technically you disobeyed orders.
A: No, sir. I reject that. Outnumbered, we stood our ground until our position was untenable. Given we were an observation post, and the position was not a part of our formal defense line, it was my responsibility to preserve the lives of any men I could and report back to headquarters.
Tell me, during the recent battle, when the orks broke through and the order came to fall back to our secondary defenses, was the general that gave that order executed? Of course not. It’s not always about holding ground. I did my job. I observed, I fought, I withdrew when defeat and slaughter was inevitable.
— END DEBRIEFING —
Addendum: After analyzing the debriefing transcripts of Corporal Malor, as well as the interrogation of Private Piers, it is the opinion of this officer that, given the exposed deployment of Corporal Malor’s command and the number of orks attacking, Corporal Malor and his men fulfilled their duty. No disciplinary action is recommended.
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Categories: Hegira Campaign