Tales of the 42nd: Hill 112 - Operation Epsom
+++OPERATION EPSOM+3DAY 1500, D-DAY+29+++
Cecilia dives for cover behind a wrecked tank hull as the heavy bolter rounds crash into the dirt where she just was a second ago, as she glances back down and along the hill as she watches her company fighting from cover to cover up the slop along with the heavy Crassus armoured transports rumbling up the hill with the tanks. As Cecilia glances out from behind her shelter as she gets ready to keep advancing with the armour, she wipes the blood out of her eyes as she looks further up the hill with the craters, burning wrecks and broken bodies of the previous assaults up the hill. As she dashes out of her cover, her power axe in one hand and her bolt pistol in the other, an explosive shell crashes into the cover she was just behind as it explodes sending rubble and shrapnel across the already ruined slope, as more tank and mortar shells rain down accompanied by the screams of the guard storming the hill as vehicles burst into flames. Cecilia slides down behind some rubble and into a ditch where some Xailivians are huddled down, hiding from the enemy fire.
"Who is in command here!?"
"I...I am Captain, Lt. Aloy the 22nd."
"Ahh Aloy, you and your battalion seem to continue to get dragged into the fierce fighting with us."
Aloy nods as she looks up at Cecilia before glancing up at the traitor defences, before she ducks back down into the ditch.
"Lt, I need you to rally your regiment. You are the commanding officer of these troops; you can not be cowering in a ditch when they are looking to you for inspiration. Aloy, get your troops and continue the goddamn advance up this fraking hill!"
With those last words, Cecilia leaps up onto the edge of the ditch as she holds her power axe up in the air.
"Caledonians! Hold your resolve and charge!"
With that shout, Cecilia begins to charge forward towards the traitor defences as the Caledonians, and the 22nd Xailivian follow behind. When suddenly a high explosive round crashes into the ground off on Cecilia's right as she is sent flying before she crashes against a wrecked tank.
+++OPERATION EPSOM+0DAY 0600, D-DAY+26+++
Cecilia stands to look out while she watches the 15th Caledonian Division as they break out from the bridgehead, following the end of the 6-day artillery barrage, that the Black Watch fought so hard to maintain. Cecilia looks away from the advancing division and up at the coming clouds, this being one of few days they are not under almost constant rainfall, as Cecilia looks down she catches Kiera's eye before they both turn to head back into the command post with the rest of the officers of the regiment.
"Ok then people, now that the offensive has been met we need to stand ready for us to go in once they have secured a foothold across the river. Initial reports say that the 15th is experiencing difficulties due to the boggy ground, and the traitor forces are putting up fierce resistance and have dug in deep despite our bombardment of their defensive strongpoints."
Colonel Grim looks up at the assembled officers before he continues to speak.
"As we all know our overall objective of this operation is to outflank and take the town of Klearset. Our orders within the operation are to exploit the foothold once they have secured it and strike out towards Hill 112 on the western side of the river Odon which is a heavily fortified position they have taken up, and they are using it to protect their base in front of Klearset that is operating as an airbase. To take the hill, we are first going to have to engage their position atop Hill 113, but our intel reports have that as being lightly defended so that should not be too much of a problem while our main force flanks around the hill through the town of Evrecy. We expect them to put up fierce resistance and expect them to commit some of their veteran regiments once they figure out our plans to take the hill."
Cecilia is nodding along with the colonel until a thought occurs to her about the plan.
"Colonel, I have a concern about the plan. For our assault on the hill proper, it doesn't look there is a lot of cover available to us once we have hit the hill. And with what you have said about their fortifications, I assume we can expect heavy AT and indirect fire coming our way. So my concern is, will the Chimeras and Russes be able to get us to the top of the hill in significant numbers? Or should we look at using the heavier transports like the Crassus?"
"That is a good point Captain, I have already considered it though, and I do agree with you, and thus I have already arranged with the Divisional command to have some Crassus transports released to us for this operation. Unless there are any more questions you are all dismissed, the 42nd will depart from our base tomorrow at 0600 hours."
As the other officers begin to depart Cecilia and Kiera both move back over to the balcony as they look out towards the advancing 15th division. The two of them leaning against the railing in silence, before the colonel moves over to join them with a small nod.
"Captain, Lieutenant. Relax, no need to stand on formalities at the moment."
Cecilia nods slightly as she leans back against the railing as she had started to move to stand to attention.
"Thank you, Colonel, can I help you at all?"
"I just wanted to speak to about the coming operation, I served under your aunt in the 12th Mechanised and then again in the 9th Division. And I always valued the legendary advice she could offer, and I had heard you compared to her when she was your age, and in your position, so I just wanted your opinion on the plan."
Cecilia glances out at the ongoing battle with the 15th Division pushing through the mud.
"I think if this plan works, it has the possibility of crushing the traitor regional command in one fell stroke or crippling them in such a way we will be able to push through whatever they have left. But I have my doubts, and how successful it will be, especially with the extra traitor regiments pouring into the region, if we don't act quickly they will figure out our goal and move to cut us off before we can take hill 112. No matter how well this plan works it is going to be a slog trying to pass hill 112 and move onto the town of Klearset, where it is going to be building to building fighting."
The Colonel nods slowly as Cecilia finishes speaking.
"Thanks for your thoughts Captain, and I will think about what you have said, but until then your orders stay the same...you should go and ready your company for moving out tomorrow."
Cecilia nods slightly as she and Kiera snap off a salute as they turn to leave.
"As you say, Colonel."
As Cecilia and Kiera leave the CP, Colonel Cedrick Grim turns to lean on the bannister as he looks out at the rear lines of the 15th Division.
+++OPERATION EPSOM+3DAY 1517, D-DAY+29+++
Cecilia slowly pushes her self up out of the muddy ground she landed in while she shakes her head clear, she looks up slowly and tries to focus on what is going on her vision still swimming and her ears ringing from the blast and the following impact. She slowly pushes her self up, using the vehicle wreck as support and cover to help her, her vision starts to return to focus just when Kiera and elements of her command team run over to her as the heavy transports start to trundle past.
"Captain! You good?"
Cecilia nods slowly before she speaks.
"Aye I am Kiera, just give me a moment, a bit rattled is all."
"Good to hear, the company is moving up towards the crest of the hill and the first proper defences of the traitors that are still standing. But it's not looking good."
As the ringing in her ears starts to lessen to the point where she can focus entirely again.
"Thanks for the update, get the platoons on the flanks to start hooking left and right around the hill then and fanning out more with the next wave. It is time for us to get back to the front and keep the assault moving."
Kiera snaps off a salute before she turns to the vox casters as Cecilia shorts her belt and equipment before she takes off towards the forward elements of the company with her command squad following.
"You heard the Captain! Corporal relay the orders to the flanking platoons, and then let's get a move on!"
Cecilia and her command team link up with the vanguard forces as they charge up the hill, moving from whatever cover they can find to the next patch of protection, under the covering fire of the advancing armour behind them. As Cecilia is approaching the first of the actual defences atop Hill 112, she and her command squad are targeted by concentrated heavy bolter fire. As the bolter rounds start crashing into the ground around them Cecilia and Kiera both dive and slide legs first into one of the slit trenches that make up the defensive line. As they turn to look at the rest of the command squad jumping into the trench with them one of the vox operators takes a direct hit from the heavy bolters to the chest as they are launched backwards from the impact as the round tears through his flak armour.
Kiera looks away quickly as the vox operator vanishes backwards, as Cecilia grimaces slightly before turning to look at the rest of her command squad as guardsmen keep pushing up to the next line of defence as the traitors have pulled further back due to the flanking forces. As Cecilia goes to exit the slit trench, one of her other vox operators stops her with a message coming down the line.
"Captain, elements of the 44th Brigade from 15th Division are coming up the hill to relieve us and let us fall back, orders are to hold position and to rotate out."
Cecilia nods slightly as she quickly looks back down the hill as notices the oncoming 46th.
"Copy that, send out the order to hunker down and hold till the 44th come to take over their position and then to fall back to phase line alpha. Kiera, you help coordinate."
"Yes Captain, right away!"
As Kiera and the vox operator coordinate with giving out the orders to hold the position, the attacking elements of Falcon Company and the 22nd begin to hunker down in the captured defensive area of the traitor units upon the hill. The 44th come up the hill and start relieving the company, the rear units of the company hold position slightly back from where they had just left while they wait for the rest of the company to start falling back. The company manages to fall back to the starting phase line, where the regroup before heading back to their temporally camp near the base of Hill 113 to resupply as well. As the Company falls back, Cecilia and Kiera both sit in their command vehicle while they roll along the road back to camp.
"I told the Colonel this would happen...and look what happened, we got sent into the meat grinder, and now their veteran regiments are going to be getting set up and dug in behind the ridge of the Hill and probably in the town as well..."
Kiera just nods slightly as the two of them sit in silence the rest of the way back to the camp.