Battle of Pripetsk Marshes

Battle of Pripetsk Marshes

The Battle of Pripetsk Marshes was a decisive encounter in which a daring Imperial strategy nearly led to disaster, yet was saved by the blood and bravery of the glorious Imperial Guard troopers of the 18th Lyubov regiment.

The Breadbasket is a term often used to describe the agriculturally rich region planet of Unida, a world that neighbors Lyubov. Unida is an agri-world, nestled along the inner arc of the Outreaumer Trailing, furnishing vast quantities of valuable food and natural recourses to the entire Outreaumer Subsector; Unida was untouched by the ravages of war on its lands for centuries - until 925.M41, that was.

Defense satellites smashed from their orbit were the first warning that Unida had of the xenos invasion. The Ork battlefleet which had appeared so rapidly from the Warp lost no time in disgorging brutal warriors onto the planet's surface. They quickly established a base site in the Krasnojv Mountains. Unidan Astropaths dispatched a psychic distress signal.

The call for help soon reached Lyubov and the Tsar-Tzaddik dispatched the 2nd Provisional Army (which included the 18th Lyubov Rifles) under Lord Marshal Yakov Kirov to assist in the defense of Unida against the alien invaders. Lord Kirov was the head of a noble house that had served House Gilead for centuries, the Kirovs had remained loyal throughout the long Chaos occupation of Lyubov and held the city of Flint Hill in fief from House Gilead as one of the leading members of the local nobility on Lyubov.

The Lord Marshal was a clever and daring commander, perhaps even too daring according to some. He was willing to take great risks and trust in the skill of his troops to see it through to victory. The 2nd Provisional Army set up its headquarters in provincial capital of Kralgrad and the Lord Marshal began to organize the defense of the Doskov River Valley - the very heart of the Breadbasket region. The 2nd Provisional Army had the 18th Lyubov Rifles, the 7th Lyubov Chazacks (The Haussa Roughriders) and the 13th Lyubov Tank Regiment (The Knights) along with the hastily raised XXV Unida Home Guard regiment with its 26 volunteer companies to stop the advance of the greenskins across the Breadbasket.

The disparate units of the 2nd Provisional Army had never fought together before, and Lord Marshal Kirov decided to authorize an Army Badge to build esprit de corps in the new army. The Crowned Skull and Crossbones with crossed swords on a red field. Red represents the sacrifice the 2nd Provisional Army was prepared to make on behalf of the people of Unida, the skull represents the death the 2nd Provisional Army was prepared to visit on the xenos invaders, the Crown represents the House of Gilead and its commitment to defend neighboring Imperial worlds. The two swords represent liberation and defense - the twin missions of the 2nd Provisional Army.

The Crowned Skull badge is displayed on all the vehicles of the 2nd Provisional Army and is displayed on the Army Command flag of the 2nd Provisional Army.

 

 

Uniforms of the Ice River Guards Regiment

1 - Lieutenant Alexei Gordon of the 2nd Company, 18th Lyubov Rifles (Ice River Guards). He is wearing his Honorifica Imperialis on his greatcoat and silver spurs on his boots. He is carrying an officer's sabre and a mark VI Phantine Pattern Lasgun.

2 - Sergeant Vasily Borodin, senior NCO of 3rd Company, 18th Lyubov Rifles (Ice River Guards). He is carrying his sidearm and extra gear on his leather "Zam Braun" belt. He is wearing an NCO ushanka and a field greatcoat.

3 - Medic Svetlana Krasnya, 3rd Company, 18th Lyubov Rifles (Ice River Guards). She is carrying her bedroll (which can double as an improvised stretcher), her medikit and extra gear. She was obviously gathering some local flora to augment her medical supplies.

4 - Trooper Boris Yankelvitch, 2nd Company, 18th Lyubov Rifles (Ice River Guards). He carries extra ammo cells, rations, and other gear on his combat webbing. He is wearing a field greatcoat and a plasteel helmet. His lasgun is held in an "at ease" position since he is not anticipating enemy action.

Lyubov regiments are noted for their simple but rugged uniforms. Even high ranking officers eschew the overly ornate uniforms favored by many other guard regiments, regarding them as effete and impractical on the battlefield - especially for officers who are expected to lead from the front.

Even regimental headquarters are established relatively close to the front and are frequently deployed by Chimera APCs rather than the superheavy transports or rear echelon bases favored by other regiments.

Everything from machine shrines to flexible hangers for the regimental airwing are designed to be mobile. Lyubov rifle regiments are expected to be able to sustain an attack across a relatively wide zone of action and support services have to keep pace with the rifle companies.

Da Warboss' Kunning Plan

The Warboss Braka Azun, the Arch-Bomba of Kago, led his warbands along separate valleys, seeking to cross the physical obstacle of the River Dovskov which kept his warriors from the plunder of the Unidan cities beyond. The local militia and PDF units proved little challenge for the orks and they advanced at a very rapid pace toward the Dovskov. The Warboss planned to seize control of the planetary food supply before the Imperials could effectively react. Over the course of two weeks he seemed to be making good progress toward his goal.

In order to protect Unida from slow starvation,  Lord Yakov Kirov knew that a battle would have to be fought before any reinforcements could arrive. His only chance lay in seizing the initiative. Mustering what militia forces he could as the XXV Unida Home Guard Brigade, he chose his ground carefully. 

The Orks' progress would be slow through the difficult terrain of the Krasnojv. While the Dovskov was at its highest due to the spring thaw, the hideous alien invaders would be forced to attempt a crossing via the cities of Dovsk and Zaporozhye.

A daring plan was evolved. Lord Kirov would sacrifice the cities and cross the Dovskov via the Pripetsk Marshes. Knowing that the Orks were split, he believed that his unified force could take on one mob before having to turn to face the other.

 

The Battle is Joined

1 - Initial advance of Ork forces out of the Krasnojv Mountains

2 - Main axis of attack of the 18th Lyubov Rifles and XXV Unida Home Guard

3 - Route of Advance of the 7th Cossacks (out of Zaporozhye)

4 - 13th Tank Regiment (out of Dovsk)

The 7th Cossacks and 13th Tank Regiment were stripped from the recently fortified cities on the Dovskov and marched to join the hastily assembled army heading out from Kralgrad, the latter consisting 18th Lyubov Rifles and the quickly raised Unida XXV Home Guard Regiment, with, its twenty-six volunteer companies. The Lyubov numbered just six thousand men, whilst it was estimated that Braka commanded nearer ten thousand hulking, merciless Orks.

The Orks flinched before the fortified but empty cities on the Dovskov, rushing across exposed bridges under all types of Imperial fire resulted in heavy losses, discontent, and the seeking of an easier way to cross the engorged river. Unfortunately for the 2nd Provisional army this meant that, rather than locking the Orks into a protracted siege it forced them along the river and would reunify their forces in front of the villages of Niz and Pazar - directly in the path of Lord Marshal Kirov's crossing 

Rickety bridges linking the marshy islands on the Dovskov rattled under the thunder of the 7th Cossack regiment's hoof-beats as they crossed to the eastern side. It was midday as Colonel Sergei Borzna flung his horsemen into a cordon around the bridge-head. Whilst still forming up, a cacophony greeted them from the grain fields beyond, signaling a horde of boarboyz plunging towards them. Borzna's cool gaze assessed the ground, and ordered an advance at the trot.

As their crazed foe crossed the high flood dyke in their fore, the colonel lowered his chainsword to initiate the charge. The nimble horsemen ploughed into their greenskin foe. The Orks' formation had been disrupted by the dyke, and the Cossacks scythed through boar and Ork alike. The rout was complete and the Cossacks pursued their foes into the wooded hills beyond to defeat them in detail.

Too late to avert Disaster the Cossacks saw the hordes of fresh Orks in the tree-line. Withering gunfire cut through the horsemen's ranks. The decimated regiment fell back over the fields and dykes in shattered disarray. Lord Marshal Kirov's was ruined by the knowledge that he faced an enemy force of unknown magnitude, the Ice River Guards were already crossing the river but if they failed to hold, they would be swept into the water and destroyed.

A further disaster befell the Lyubov, as the first of their Chimeras began to cross the last bridge to offer support. Its frail wooden structure collapsed under the weight of the vehicles. All Kirov could do was begin to rebuild the structure, and deploy the company of Basilisks on Kottinsky island to offer long range artillery support.

The first attack came from both flanks. Braka had obviously seen the need to capture the outlying farm villages before the guardsmen could dig in.

The assault against Pazar was ill-coordinated, and the attackers fell back under the Basilisk's sustained bombardment. Lieutenant Gordon's 2nd company at Nis suffered far worse. A raucous wave of Orks overwhelmed the guardsmen, who fled the farmstead leaving half their number lying dead and dying in the burning buildings.

Streaming back towards the river, they managed to meet with Lieutenant Giurgeny's Grenadiers, who had been held in reserve. The 2nd company managed to rally and both companies charged back into the smoking ruins, finally ousting the enemy in a vicious melee. As night came, the foul Orks withdrew battered.

The next day augured ill for the Imperial forces. Torrential rains had seen the Dvoskov River rise nine meters overnight and the waters had swept away the nearly completed pontoon bridge. This meant that only the three weakened companies of the Ice River Guards held the arc which ran from Niz along the dyke to Pazar, with a small reserve offered by the decimated 7th Cossacks. The more numerous companies of the Unida XXV Home Guard were slowly being ferried across the swollen torrid river on makeshift rafts, but no vehicles could assist until the bridge was operational.

Braka Azuns strategy was as blunt as one would expect from an Ork. He would take that which he had failed to seize the night before, the farmsteads. With the flanks crushed, the guardsmen would be caught in a huge vice.

Niz was charged by a wave of over a thousand foul greenskins. Lieutenant Sokal's Grenadiers (3rd Company) lobbed their grenades into the masses, and slowly the attack faltered, only to begin once more under the lead of a horde of nobz. Lt. Sokal fell to Goffa Tuffgutz's axe blow, as his men were ejected from Niz

The Tide turned back once more as the First Company of the Unida XXV Home Guard leaped into the fray. During the course of the day Nis would fall to the enemy four times, only to be regained as fresh troops were sucked into the fight that flowed over the devastated farm.

The battle for the south flank began equally viciously, but with the assistance of the Basilisks' accurate fire, the mob of Orks quickly fell back, leaving their dead scattered across the cratered ground.

Sporadic Sorties were thrown against Pazar, each time the roar of the Basilisks answering in kind until Lieutenant Zanov was forced to announce to Lord Kirov that their ammunition was so low, only enough remained for one last barrage.

It didn't take long for the Ork attackers to realize that the big guns were no longer firing. A blood curdling cry rang out as the jubilant Orks rushed forward, their fearsome weirdboyz pushed ahead of them. The swirling psychic blasts devastating the defenders. Lt. Vasilkov's 3rd company was quickly reduced to the size of a platoon, and he pulled them back to the main farmhouse, their last bastion.

Braka sensed victory and ordered his centre forward. The enemy ranks covered the fields as they advanced on the remnants of the Ice River Guard's 2nd company, recently bolstered by another from the Unida XXV Home Guard.

Yet the grossly outnumbered defenders lay down such a withering fire that the Orks faltered. The nobz were seen to try to beat their troops forward, yet to no avail. Witnessing the scene, Lieutenant Bozna seized the chance. The remnants of the 7th Cossacks charged.

Broken, their opposition fled back into the woods. Braka's last opportunity to break the centre lay in his runtherdz and their Gretchin-manned cannon. A massed battery was pushed into position, and soon began peppering the dyke with shells.

Lieutenant Gordon saw his men being blown apart around him. Yelling that they'd taken Niz the night before and would take these guns or die trying, he led the charge over the dyke. The cowardly Gretchen broke in panic.

Pazar still seemed doomed to fall to the determined Ork forces. if this were to happen, the green masses could surely swing behind the rest of the line. Braka committed his last reserves, a mob of stormboyz and his deff dreadnoughts and killa kans. But the 3rd company had held for long enough. The vital bridge had been repaired. Chimera, Leman Russ and guardsmen streamed into the battle, whilst the Basilisks' final barrage did deadly work on the rigid ranks of the stormboyz. With his last counter-attack broken, Braka withdrew and the battle was won.

As night fell the Orks ran towards the apparent safety of the Krasnojv Mountains, Braka leading the headlong flight. The Lyubov were exhausted by their momentous struggle, many collapsing to sleep where they lay, as their officers counted the cost of the victory.

The heroic three companies of the Iced River Guards were reduced from a full complement of over three hundred men to less than fifty, Lord Kirov immediately offered these stalwart soldiers leave, but to a man they vowed to pursue the Ork horde to its final end, scattered and demoralized the greenskins fell easy prey to their pursuers, who knew the rocky paths and deep gorges that traversed the mountains, Small bands of Orks were quickly overrun and slaughtered by the jubilant guardsmen, All hope of escape was finally lost when numerically and qualitatively superior Imperial Navy squadron engaged the Ork war-fleet that lay in orbit.

Braka was trapped with the last of his nobz in Stryx ravine, a dead-end gorge, the Ice River Guards requested the honor, and yelling their battle-cry Lo Eirah! (No Fear!) charged in to finish the task, and though Braka was able to lift off with a few of his nobz, his army was broken and would not threaten the Imperium for many years thereafter.

The Battle of Pripetsk Marshes illustrates how outnumbered guardsmen, through good tactics and determined resistance, can beat one of the Imperium's most prevalent foes, This battle should be a lasting example and inspiration to all of us.

 

 

A campaign medal was struck
for the defense of Unida
featuring the motto of the
valiant Ice River Guards "No Fear"
and the pious motto "Deo Vindice"
- "Victory from G-d
"


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