“A gallon of blood has been spilled for every square centimeter of this city.”— High Marshal Mikhail Botha, supreme commander of Imperial forces on Dozaria., referring to the fighting around the city of Mygor
* * *
By Alexi Moldova
Alicante News Service
Trench Sector 13—More than 150,000 cultists and scores of traitor Astartes have been killed during the months-long assault of Mygor, one of the largest Imperial-held cities on the war-torn world of Dozaria.
And no one has killed more of these invading madmen than the 8th Xandarian Regiment.
For more than 16 months, the 8th Xandarians have held Trench Sector 13, which blocks a strategic highway intersection that leads directly into the heart of the city. The regiment has stood strong in the face of a dozen major assaults by the forces of the Archenemy.
Eight months ago, High Marshal Mikhail Botha, supreme commander of Imperial forces on Dozaria, boasted that the city’s defenses had “bled white” the enemy in a battle of attrition.
“Each platoon, company, and battalion in the army is assigned a swath of ground, and the soldiers swear oaths to the God-Emperor that they will hold their position,” Botha said. “There is no retreat.”
The 8th Xandraians certainly has upheld this oath. Late last year, for example, the Death Guard launched its largest assault yet on the city, attacking with more than 90,000 cultists led by an estimated 50 traitor Astartes. Twenty thousand of those troops, along with a score of Death Guard warriors, charged directly at Trench Sector 13.
“The regiment suffered terribly,” said Colonel Ionut Barbu, who assumed command of the regiment three months ago after the death of his predecessor.
“I was second in command, and I commanded the reserve. The center of our line held out against the cultists, thanks to the well-executed use of volley fire. But when the Death Guard themselves entered the fray, our defenses almost broke.”
Thankfully, the reserve had been heavily reinforced with plasma weaponry and melta bombs, or the traitors would have successfully seized the trenches, Barbu said. Still, the Death Guard’s combat effectiveness was frighteningly effective and Imperial casualties were immense.
“To stop the traitors, men would slip behind the Death Guard, pick up the plasma guns of the dead left behind, and shoot the traitors in the back—it was the only way to penetrate their power armor without being shot before you got in range.”
Other men, maddened by the horror and fighting around them, opted to fling themselves at the Death Guard while embracing melta bombs. These brave souls died with their traitor targets.
After the battle, the 8th Xandarians—once a proud 15,000 strong—were reduced to only 5,794 men.
Attacks against the city halted soon after this battle, and the shattered traitor forces began to dig their own trench system—sometimes only 100 meters from the Imperial lines.
But trench warfare proved no less brutal to both sides. There were nightly raids against the opposing trenches, a tactic that left troops exhausted and dreading the setting sun. Both armies also targeted sections of the trenches with massive artillery bombardments that would collapse the earthen works and kill hundreds of men.
Such attacks would require a rapid deployment of reinforcements, who faced the unenviable task of removing the dead and wounded as they exhausted themselves rebuilding the trenches before the next nightly raid.
The disease-ridden miasma of the Death Guard also tormented the city’s defenders. Crowded into narrow trenches, the packed troops were constantly stricken with infectious diseases.
Meanwhile, rain storms would flood the trenches, and wet flesh rubbing against leather and canvas led to skin abrasions that turned septic. Every day, scores of men would end up at field hospitals with rotting skin on their feet, a condition that would take them off the front lines for weeks—and, in some cases, would lead to amputations.
“Line officers must constantly address the physical and psychological needs of the troops,” Commissar Emil Lungu said. “Although we try to rotate units out of the trenches for rest and medical treatment, many guardsmen are deployed in the trenches for long periods of time. Under these conditions, particularly when under constant bombardment, there is great pressure on the troops, and stringent efforts are needed to maintain morale and combat effectiveness.”
Strict discipline, including summary executives, also has been essential in keeping the Imperial defenses in place, some officers admit. Many men are showing great signs of stress, including nightmares, stuttering, paralysis of limbs, and even more severe manifestations.
This has led to growing bitterness among the men, particularly the less-trained PDF troops. “If the enemy doesn’t kill us, eventually the commissars will,” one PDF trooper was heard to say to his comrades.
Still, Colonel Barbu is confident that the 8th Xandarians remain a combat-effective unit ready to do its duty.
“The fallen have left us with the solemn task of upholding the pride of the regiment,” he said. “The enemy shall not pass through our defenses until the last of us are dead.”
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Categories: Dozaria Campaign
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