The Battle of the River Bend
"You, me, and a few dozen more sorry souls, are going to have to hold this singular, little bridge, the most important bridge on the continent now, for the next, oh, 48 hours, against what likely numbers around several hundred veteran Ockris, backed with more armour than we currently have bullets, and which have recently shown themselves capable of annihilating a unit twice our size by blotting them out with a veritable hailstorm of high explosive ordnance and rockets. Not to mention the fact that 48 hours is the lowest estimated time until meaningful back-up gets here, and judging by the reports from Battalion, we're not likely to get help for around 3 days. So, all that said, do you regret joining the Army now, Lieutenant?" "Hell no."1st Platoon, A Company, 183rd Infantry, is an Armoured Infantry Platoon of the United Commonwealth Army. The Platoon has been in service for decades, and has seen action spanning 5 Continents and 3 Great Wars, over the course of which it would develop a long list of Battle Honours, Decorations, and Formation Citations. The most famed engagement of the Platoon, and the one that has gone down in the history books as one of the greatest showcasess of valour in the Army's history, is the Battle of the River Bend, during the 1st Great War.
United Commonwealth Army Forces Involved
1st Platoon, 36 Personnel
- Second Lieutenant Gustav J. Schmidt, Platoon Commanding Officer
- Sergeant Mandla Amadi, Platoon Sergeant
- Sergeant Tamiko Miho, Mounted Sergeant
- Private Christopher Körbl, Signaller
- Private Moray Forbes, Driver
- Private Simge Feriha, Gunner
- Lance Corporal Manu Maxi, Vehicle Commander
Rifle Section (3x)One Mark V "Hoplite" Armoured Infantry Transport Vehicle Crew: 3
- Vehicle Commander, Lance Corporal
- Gunner, Private
- Driver, Private
- Rifle Team One -1x Corporal, Section Commander
- Rifle Team Two -1x Lance Corporal, Section 2iC
Additional Units, 27During the Battle of the River Bend, 1st Platoon was asigned control over:
- 3rd Infantry Section, 2nd Platoon, A Company, the survivors of a missile attack which wiped out the rest of A Company, and which was ordered to support 1st Platoon at Novaligno. The Section was headed by Sergeant Ąžuolas Vygantas, was comprised of 10 Soldiers, and also came with one Mortar Vehicle, Armoured (MVA), a Mortar Team, and 100 shells.
- Fire Support Group 1, lead by Lieutenant Tomiko Chinatsu, with 2 Lance Corporals, and 4 Privates. FSG1 was originally assigned to A Company itself directly, but was sent to support 1st Platoon by providing and coordinating Artillery, Mortar, and Combat Air Support.
- In the battle, a few local villagers stayed behind to help the Army's forces. They mostly helped with either medical care, such as by offering their remaining homes to serve as field hospitals or providing first aid, or by being given radios and helping with reconnaissance.
Background of the Battle
"For the first time since this blasted war started, Ma'am, I think we can worry slightly less now. We've got them on the run!"One week after Operation Firefly's commencement, the "Drive on Montorio" by the combined forces of 3rd Army had been reverted to simply settling for an encirclement. The 3rd Internationals, an Infantry Battalion, was assigned by the 18th Corp "Sand Vipers" to hold the strategically crucial region of Liguzio, an area home to a great deal of the Ocrisian Empires industrial infrastructure and transport networks, to help complete the encirclement of the Ocrisian 14th and 9th Armies. A Company, 3rd Internationals, was assigned to guard the village of Modicce, and most importantly the Sosprin bridge, in order to prevent the crossing of the River Stygs by enemy forces. This would allow the rest of 3rd Army to deal with the two trapped Ocrisian Armies, and to that end the 22nd Corp was already in the process of liquidating the pocket. In an attempt to preserve their forces, the Stato Maggiore Generale, or, the Supreme General Staff, of the Ocrisian's Imperial Army, ordered the Generals of the two trapped Armies to break out of the pocket, by pushing to the west and crossing the River Stygs. This developed into Operation Fratello, the last major offensive operation that the Imperial Army would undertake, in which the fate of the War would hang in the balance.
Strictly speaking, despite the bravery we showed there at the time, the Battle of the River Bend should never have happened.According to established U.C. Army doctrine, the holding of such a key position as a bridge over a major river that could serve as an escape point for a large and trapped enemy force should have been held by at least the entirety of A Company, or even the entirety of the 3rd Internationals, A Company's parent Battalion. However, that was not possible, as A Company was dead. In the prelude to Operation Fratello, A Company was enroute to garrisoning Modicce, with 1st Platoon going ahead and the 2nd and 3rd Platoons still crossing the Giorgio Bridge, a few kilometers south of them. However, just as the rest of A Company were about to start the crossing, a bright white flare appeared in the sky, approaching the bridge swiftly. Seconds later, 7 of the infamous Arma Speciale 1.01 "Bumblebombs", the Tactical Strike Missiles of the Imperial Army that had proven horrendous in the initial weeks of the war, struck the bridge, with the two Platoons and A Company HQ on it. The bridge itself fell into the river Stygs, bringing with it the vehicles and soldiers on it, destroying almost the entire company, save a single Section of the 2nd Platoon, minus their Hoplite, and one MVA. The destruction of the bridge coincided with the destruction of many other large bridges and road connections between the 3rd Internationals, and the rest of the 3rd Army, and the region of Liguzio, leaving a few scattered units to hold back the oncoming thousands of Ocrisian soldiers until the transport links could be restored. 1st Platoon, A Company was one of those units, and in the ensuing battle, their deeds would go down in history.
First DeploymentBy the time the missiles hit, on 15th September, 164, 1st Platoon had made it to Modicce, and was busy negotiating with the remaining local populace over their immediate evacuation into safer territory. However, despite the utterly ruined state of the village, a few of the locals refused to leave, either out of fear or protectiveness for their homes and belongings or of a desire to finally fight against their conquerors. Upon hearing of the destruction of the destruction of the rest of A Company, and that reinforcements would not be easily forthcoming, Lieutenant Gustav J. Schmidt realised that his forces were in dire straits. Hence, he made the controversial decision to allow these willing locals to assist the Platoon. For the Platoon's own forces, Lt. Gustav, believing that he lacked any hope of reinforcement, opted to deploy his forces in as defensive a manner as possible, to take advantage of the urban environment he was holding. He arranged 3 of the Hoplites behind a ridge line a fair distance from, and parallel to, the bridge that enemy forces would have to cross to enter Modicce and reach the Sosprin bridge that they were hoping to secure. These vehicles, armed with a 20mm autocannon and 2 "Fletcher" Armour Penetration Missiles, were tasked with taking out enemy Armtracks and other armoured vehicles, while their dismounted infantry would lay behind the ridge line, offering reconnaissance as well as a mixture of small arms fire to deter infantry and light vehicles and Personal Anti-Armour, Transportable, or PAT missiles to deter vehicles. Once all 3 of the Hoplites had each fired off both their missiles, with enemy Armtracks as their main target, they would begin shooting with their autocannons at the less well armoured vehicles as the infantry fired their missiles. Once all the anti-armour weaponry had been fired, and as many enemy Armtracks and other vehicles had beeen destroyed, the infantry would quickly mount Hoplites, and withdraw back into the village. There, they would have to make their final stand, kill as many Ocrisians as they could, and attempt to use the wrecks of their vehicles and the rubble of the village to block off the Sosprin Bridge once they escaped to the west bank of the river, and called in as much artillery and air power onto the bridge as they physically could. With luck, they'd destroy the bridge and any enemy forces near it, and at least a few of them would survive long enough to escape. With this plan, formulated jointly by Lt. Schmidt, Sergeants Mandla Amadi and Tamiko Miho, and Ms. Higgs, a local villager who knew the terrain well, now created, the 1st Platoon spent the rest of that day and night rehearsing their fire and movement drills, memorising the terrain's layout, and otherwise preparing for the battle.
"What the hell took you lot so long! I thought we'd have to fight our way to Montorio ourselves!"On the 16th, the day before the battle started off, 3rd Section, 2nd Platoon, A Company, arrived at Modicce, having requisitioned a spare Cargo Motor Transport and a Mortar Vehicle, Armoured, to drive themselves and some spare equipment there. The equipment that they brought was what had been salvaged from the missile attack, and included a few PATs, various grenades, 2 machine guns removed from wrecked vehicles, and ammunition for rifles and the machine guns. An MVA, assigned directly to A Company, had also survived along with its crew and ordnance, and opted to follow Sergeant Vygantas to Modicce, under orders from Battalion HQ, 3rd Internationals. They had only just arrived at the village and started talking with the Platoon HQ when they were joined by the members of Fire Support Group 1, who had been quickly deployed to Modicce by a transport Aeroship. This team was ordered to assist the Platoon by helping provide various Fire Support, and under Lt. Schmidt's decision quickly began working to augment the existing battle plan, as they started zoning, mapping, and marking down the local terrain and environment, as artillery guns started firing ranging shots. The transports also brought with them a large amount of extra PATs and Fletchers, which would be used to help destroy even more armoured vehicles. After the arrival of all this back-up, Lt. Gustav J. Schmidt was starting to feel a little better about his prospects. However, in his mind he knew that more help would not be forthcoming. As the Lieutenant turned east, he could the distant pounding and booming of shells and bombs, and see smoke plumes rise if he squinted hard enough. The storm was on its way to him, a storm of death and steel like nothing he had never seen before.
ForcesOne of the main Ocrisian formations that would be engaged in Operation Fratello would be the 16th Armoured Brigade "Leoni d'oro", under Colonel Libero Carini, which was an armoured spearhead of the 9th Army's advance back towards friendly territory. They had the disadvantage of having been either on the move, in combat, or getting bombed and shelled, for most of the past week, which as one might expect put some strain on one's morale, as well as their mortality. However, they still retained enough combat ability to be confident in being able to carry out their task of taking and securing the major crossings of the River Stygs, which would allow the rest of the 2 Armies to stage a break out. To help reach that end, the Brigade had its units reinforced by transferring soldiers, vehicles and equipment from other shattered formations. It would also be able to call on significant air and artillery assets, as well as the few remaining A.S. 1.01s in the Ocrisian arsenal. All in all, to complete their task, the 16th would theoretically be able to call upon 107 Armtracks, 90 Armoured and Light Infantry Transports carrying approximately 700 soldiers, 30 Scouting and Reconnaisance vehicles, 30 Armoured and towed Field Howitzers, 5 A.S. 1.01 "Bumblebombs", and 60 combat aircraft.
Developments, Attack Plan and DeploymentThe 16th Armoured Brigade intended to secure at least 6 major bridges over the Stygs, and as many shallower crossing points as they could, in the region of Liguzio, which would hopefully be enough to allow for the escape of the entirety of the 2 trapped Armies. By the time they reached Modicce, they had already taken a few villages further to the east, which also contained a few bridges over the Stygs many small tributaries. However, despite their success in advancing dozens of kilometres in 48 hours, the Brigade paid quite the price, as their promised air power had been caught up in fending off the United Commonwealth Army Air Service aircraft that rose up to challenge them, and much of their artillery was destroyed or driven into hiding by U.C. counter-battery fire and air bombing. All this, combined with stiff resistance by other Company or Platoon sized units stuck in Liguzio, bled the 16th Brigade, meaning that by the time they reached Modicce and the River Styges itself, they had to stop to lick their wounds and repair damaged equipment. All this meant that for the actual securing of the Modicce itself, the Brigade would be able to bring to bear 25 Armtracks, 40 Infantry Transports with a total of 300 soldiers, and 11 each of both the Howitzers and scouting vehicles. Much less than what they started out with, but still many times the amount of strength that the 1st Platoon had to hold the line. To take the village, Colonel Carini organised these surviving forces into 3 distinct groups. One scouting group, to find out the amount and location of the defending forces, one artillery group to shell the positions revealed by the scouts to kill or suppress any forces there, and the one assault group which would control all the vehicles and infantry for the main attack on Modicce, which would involve crossing a bridge and charging into the village.
The vilage of Modicce is roughly centered on the massive stone Sosprin Bridge, and is surrounded by relatively open countryside and farmland. The River Stygs runs though its center, and the eastern parts of the village, where the 1st Platoon would be making their first stand, was separated from the rest of the countryside by another large river, the River Tibiro, a major tributary of the Stygs. In order to enter Modicce, the 16th Brigade would have to cross a wide bridge over the Tibiro, which would force any vehicles making the crossing to show their vulnerable sides to the missiles of the 1st Platoon, waiting and hiding behind a small ridge that juts out from the village and runs parallel to the bridge. However, it was inevitable that the Ocrisians would eventually be able to cross the bridge, despite the Platoons best efforts. Once they did, they would have to make their way into the village itself, which had over the course of the war been for the most part turned into a bombed out hollow shell of its former self, with many ofthe shops and houses having had their roofs and many of their walls blown off by bombs, missiles, and shells. In this environment, the Platoon hoped to be able to engage in urban combat, which would partially negate surviving Armtracks effectiveness, and make the Ocrisians fight house by house and block by block to reach the Sosprin Bridge.
At 6 a.m., on the 17th of September, 164 A.S., 5 U.C.A.A.S. Barrow SF.5 Strike-Fighters flew over Leguzio, and conducted a strike mission on a large column of Ocrisian Artillery that had been discovered making their way towards Modicce. With one swoop, and 10 OGC Mk.5 "Solar" bombs, the entirety of the 16th Brigades artillery had been reduced to scrap metal, ash, and a fading memory. Things weren't looking up for Colonel Carini, but he received reports that only a single Platoon stood in between him and the bridge. So, despite this loss, he pressed with the attack, and ordered his troops to begin moving at once.
The Battle of the River Bend Begins
At 12 a.m., the first column of 12 Ocrisian Armtracks was spotted by one Higgs, the local that helped the Platoon formulate their defence plan, who volunteered to go ahead and scout out the enemy's approach. When she reported that the enemy had arrived, the Platoon responded by stopping their fire practice and moving behind the ridgeline, and laid in wait. They started calling in artillery and air strikes onto the road leading towards Modicce, and primed the missiles in the Hoplites and infantry. 20 minutes after Higgs spotted the column and escaped back towards the village, the first Armtracks began making their way across the bridge, instead of sending in infantry to clear the village. For their hubris, they paid the price by immediately getting every single on of the 12 Armtracks on their bridge destroyed in seconds by a hailstorm of missiles, with autocannons and machine guns ripping apart the weaker vehicles as artillery. Colonel Carini, who was riding a transport in the 2nd column, was utterly furious upon hearing that the young Lt. Col. had just gotten himself and half his Armtracks killed by sheer incompetence against an inferior enemy. Now, he resolved to lead the battle himself. In the meantime, Lt. Schmidt and the rest of 1st Platoon were overjoyed at their success, and lack of casualties. Of course, everyone, especially the Lt. and Sergeants, knew that this wouldn't keep up, but in the brief lull they reloaded the missile pods and cannons on the Hoplites, and geared themselves up for the second attack.
Screaming, Burning Metal
In order to avoid another mass slaughter of his now heavily depleted, but still numerically superior, force, Col. Carini called in an A.S. 1.01 strike on Modicce, to flush out the enemy and ease his attack. 15 minutes later, the missiles would hit, he was told, and he immediately charged his column towards the village, just in time for the missiles to claim their prey once again. 14 minutes after the missiles left their launch vehicles, Lt. Schmidt was in the middle of exiting his command vehicle, the 4th Hoplite of the Platoon. As he left, he looked towards Private Christopher Körbl, the Platoon's Signaller, who was in the middle of leaving the vehicle as well. Then, he heard an odd roaring noise from outside, and shouting around the vehicle. Suddenly, the Hoplite was throw onto its side, and the Lt. was flung against the hull of the transport. Private Körbl smashed in front of him, his face smaking into the hull and his back charred and bleeding. Schmidt looked up, dazed, and saw a large hole where the Signal equipment used to be. His head still foggy, his first barely conscious act was to look towards the vehicle's turret. What he saw was Private Simge Feriha, the vehicle's gunner, with her head bleeding, and her body unconscious. The Lt. dragged himself over to her, removed her from the now sideways turret, and dragged her out of the vehicle, into a shouting, burning outside. He carried her to one of the bombed out but still standing buildings that was being used as a field hospital, and left her to one of the locals for first aid. Then, he turned his bleeding body back towards the command vehicle to save Private Körbl. Before he could another step, the vehicle exploded in a massive flash of fire and debris, smacking the Lieutenant once more into the ground. This time, he was pulled by Sergeant Amadi, who dragged Schmidt back into the make shift hospital.
On a Knife's Edge
When Lt. Schmidt regained his bearings, Sergeant Amadi informed him that they had just been hit by a large "Bumblebomb" strike, that left much of the soldiers in the village centre dead or in need of medical care. The strike was immediately followed by a full combined assault by all of Col. Carini's remaining forces, which had been hit hard along the bridge, but still managed to break through. Currently, heavy artillery and air support was being called by Lt. Tomiko Chinatsu, who had temporarily taken over but was now getting treated for a shrapnel wound, meaning that Lt. Schmidt needed to ge a hold on the situation. For the next 3 hours, Lt. Schmidt and the soldiers of 1st Platoon would engage in a bloody, deadly battle with the hundred of Ocrisian forces. Lieutenant Schmidt personally exposed his still not entirely patched up body to fire alongside his soldiers, brandishing a pistol and a bandolier of grenades as he helped fight back th oncoming foes. As artillery shells exploded all around the village of Modicce, and dozens of his soldiers fell around him, Lt. Schmidt finally ordered the Platoon to pull back to the immediate area surrounding the Sosprin Bridge. There, every one of them brandished their rifles and machine guns, and held out against one final charge by over a hundred enemy infantry, as they were supported by artillery exploding all around them. But, in the end, they held the line.
A Pyhrric Victory
At the end of the battle, 35 of the original 53 United Commonwealth Army soldiers who started in the battle were dead, and every single one of the survivors would suffer from various severe injuries, requiring weeks of treatment. All 10 of the local villagers survived, fortunately, though many still gained their own scars. After the battle was won, reinforcements finally arrived from the rest of 3rd Army. The village was secured, and the entirety of the 1st Platoon and the 10 villagers were sent to the back lines for medical care. 1st Platoon, A Company, the 3rd Internationals, had just stopped Operation Fratello in its tracks, and they had paid with blood to achieve that.
After the Battle, protection of Modecci was handed over to the B and C Companies of the 3rd Internationals. 1st Platoon and the local villagers would be evacuated to Field Hospital 12, 30 kilometres behid the frontline. There, they would be given fod, water, and medical care. Ms. Higgs would decide to join the United Commonwealth Army, citing her experience in the battle as a major contributor, and would eventually seek a commission as an officer. Colonel Carini himself would barey escape death in the battle, having to be dragged out of the fight by his Aide-de-Camp. He would move towards his HQ, and after receiving a massive dressing down from his superior, be ordered to go back to holding the line using the 16th Brigade.
As a result of their inability to gain control of the Sosprin Bridge, the 9th and 14th Armies would remain trapped in the pocket. Eventually, under constant bombardment and bombing, they would be compelled to surrender their forces lest they face starvation and desertion. Upon the surrender of the last remnants of their once powerful Army, the Ocrisian Empire ordered a stop to all combat operations, and contacted the General Officer Commanding of 3rd Army, General Asha Mutuku, to request a ceasefire, and eventual surrender. The soldiers of 1st Platoon would, for the sheer bravery and sacrifice they made, be given a slew of decorations and awards. The fallen would all receive the Noble Service Medallion, and Sergeant Miho and her vehicle crew would, for their bravery as the inside the Hoplite which charged directly into enemy fire to protect their fellow soldiers, be given the Noble Gallantry Medallion. Lt. Schmidt, for his own bravery, injuries, and for saving the life of one of his own soldiers, would be awarded the Valourous Heart and the Order of Merit for his actions and leadership. One rather different "result" of this battle would occur some 18 years later. By that time, 2 more Great Wars were fought and won by the United Commonwealth. Lt. Gustav J. Schmidt would eventually be promoted to Lieutenant General Gustav J. Schmidt, in command of the 18th Corp, the same unit he had fought under during the battle. Ms. Higgs, having received her commission, would also serve in the next 2 Great Wars, and eventually even be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, in a staff position at the 8th Army. The two of them would slowly get involved in each others life more and more over those years, and gradually become closer to one another. 18 years, to the day, on 15th September, 182 A.S., then Lt. Col Higgs and Lt. Gen. Schmidt would get married. Their first stop on their honeymoon? Modicce, of course.
1st Platoon kept the Sosprin Bridge intact, and stopped the Ocrisian attempt to break out using it.
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