Chapter 10, Primo Victoria: Part 2
By December 6th however, due to the pouring of every possible resource into the construction of those missing transport ships, the armies for Operation Torch (as Sword had been defined as the buildup due to the extended scheduling issues) loaded onto the first wave in Reykjavik. The Union of Britain was to be invaded, for the French had finally been repulsed, as the puppet People's Republic of Poland was forced to fall back from positions surrounding the capital Warsaw by a Lithuanian counter-attack with Russian support. Whilst there was no formal agreement with Germany, the Supreme Head of Entente Forces Europe (SHEFE) General Collins, thought the time was right, to exploit the flickering in the morale of the Syndicalist war machine.
Soon the transport fleet and it's covering guard of battleships and carriers was anchored off the Clyde, and Operation Torch began. The initial landings took place on three beaches, preselected after submarine patrols sent divers to investigate the gradients and types of surface that the troops could be expected to be landing on. AUS divisions were to land away from the mouth of the Clyde, before moving inland in order to attack Glasgow proper from both sides of the river. The nature of the area required this sweeping stab inland to cut the North off and to capture the city whilst avoiding the coastal batteries that had been put in place to defend the Clydeside Shipyards – the largest in Syndicalist hands until the CSA captured Newport News in 1938.
The yards on the Clyde were one of the first objectives for the 2 mechanised assault cores that made up the landing forces. General Wallace had argued that the infantry army should have been part of the first wave, but it was felt after strategic bombers flying from Iceland performed spotting missions, that the entirety of the Union army was away from the landing sites – at such distance that the landings should be completed successfully before the Union Army could counter-attack such was their investment in the patrol and policing of the new French puppets in Eastern Europe.
HMS Argus and HMS Repulse
At 0000 December 9th, the combined AUS and Canadian naval task force encountered and annihilated a coastal defense patrol consisting of two modern destroyers. Carrier aircraft were launched but the planes from the HMS Argus struggled to keep the UoB ships in their sights as the hours of darkness wore on, with the syndicalist fleeing the far superior force.
The dead of midnight on December 11th saw the beginning of the largest invasion that the world had ever seen, as Operation Torch moved to liberate Airstrip One under covering fire from the immense combined AUS-Canadian fleets. In the words of 81st Infantry Division Commander, Arthur Percival 'It was like nothing you could imagine. Hundreds of ships – across the horizon as they came through the islands and the coast, thousands upon thousands of men, and all of a thousand of us to defend so much coastline.”
Troops unload and proceed inland from 'LZ-Tango'
The 24,000 or so men occupying the city of Glasgow by the 13th of December 1940 found themselves billeted in the same barracks that their opponents had occupied previously. Several had walls scrawled with anti-monarchist sentiments, proving that the deception afforded by placing the Canadian Atlantic fleet at Reykjavik had convinced the UoB they were facing their former oppressors. IX Union Corps under former US. General Krueger (one of the few military men not to resign his commission after the civil war) struck North for Scapa Flow, with 6,000 men, whilst the other 18,000 dug in and prepared for the UoB counter attack, until the infantry and the rest of the 2nd wave had landed.
As the 3rd Motorised Expeditionary Corps proceeded toward Scapa Flow, the established number of UoB divisions in Edinburgh and Lothian rose to an estimate of 15 infantry divisions. In a way, this was fortunate – the majority of the Union army were motorised or in tanks, meaning that the opponent, would have to win his battles by ambush and grinding attrition against their more mobile enemy. The terrain of Scotland was poor for setpiece battles anyway, and the infantry expeditionary corps were landing as their transport ships sailed up the Clyde and planted them into their billets in Glasgow.
The 3rd Motorised also saw the first serious action of the Airstrip One campaign, facing off against 3 divisions of superiorly armed, but immobile infantrymen sent from Scapa Flow, as well as the Headquarters of the First Republican Army on Boxing Day 1940. The going was slow, but General Grant and the Headquarters were forced to retreat from Inverness, whilst the 3rd hunted through the hills and moors of the highlands, pursuing the syndicalists, more often with the help of the local people than without it.
The new year was rang in with the sound of gunfire as further reinforcements from Scapa Flow advanced to Inverness before the First Army called the assault off, calculating that forcing a siege of Scapa Flow would buy the combined armies in Lothian (now an estimated 30 divisions at least to the 27 in Glasgow) time to destroy the Union State beachheads. Krueger was having none of it, and scheduled an advance on the positions, attempting to overrun the retreating infantry that their commanders had deserted. However the weather was against him, the dug in defenders and the heavy snow meant that the assault on the naval base had to be called off within 6 hours of it's start, for fear of a counter-attack that could threaten the main army at Glasgow.
An offensive against Lothian was attempted in on January 20th but 3 days of battle forced a strategic retreat to defensive positions, since the urban terrain and the rugged hills of Scotland made the battle a maddening nightmare for the commanders and the distance of the battlefield necessitated that men were conserved as best as possible rather than thrown carelessly into battles.
The arrival of the Union Air Army Strategic Bombardment Corps gave some joy to the troops sat in entrenchments and tank positions around the outskirts of Glasgow, as they bombers flew out to drop tonnes of ordinance on the hated enemy, destroying his cubbyholes and defences. The Republican Air-force had been strangely absent, except for a pair of naval bombers that the Carrier-borne craft of the AUS Grass Fight had seen to.
The actions of the UoB Armed forces will never be understood at this point, as the amount of troops in the opposition lines decreased markedly. Something had the British reallocating their troops elsewhere, much to the mystification of General Collins. However, he was not one to ignore an advantage, and ordered a general advance, leaving Krueger to garrison Scotland and deal with the Scapa Flow siege.
As the mechanised corps stormed south, overrunning and capturing several key pieces of equipment (including the B.E.F. Headquarters...) the first army at Scapa Flow broke out of the siege, forcing Krueger to retreat toward Aberdeen, where the latest tanks and trucks from the Union State were unloading, unfortunately for General Grant.
The UoB troops holed up in Scapa Flow once more, distracting vital tanks from the offensive south, which had stalled on a line roughly between Newcastle and Manchester before wheeling back along toward Blackpool. March 4th saw the first arrivals of Canadian troops however, providing welcome support to the Union expedition which was felt to be struggling, as the ambitious targets set by General Collins on landing had to be revised in the face of much greater forces remaining on the island than had been originally planned for.
Canadian troops were piped onto the beaches in Glasgow to the tune of Hielan' Laddie.
The 20th of March saw the final offensive on Scapa Flow, as a combined Union and Canadian army assaulted the positions in what was to become known as the most bloody battle of the British Liberation, and after a 6 day assault General Grant and the tattered remnant of his army surrendered unconditionally.
The troops were in position and rested by April the 10th. The UoB knew of the loss of the Northern outpost and dissent and poor morale flew through the ranks of Mosley's army with startling strength.
The Combined forces of the Entente marched south, slowly gaining ground, though the news was not all good. Germany was forced off the continent and Mittelafrika refused them – Goring declaring his own independence. Whilst the shattering of German power was good, the fact that Europe was now Red – at least until the Russians possibly got their act together... was a cause for concern. The campaign to liberate Airstrip One was continued as fast as possible as fighter pilots were recalled from Germany by the UoB and instructed to fly spoiler attacks against advancing Union troops.
Late May saw the creation of the 3 German States under the French Aegis and 1 under the wiles of Mosley's near non-existent UoB, joining the Austrians and Poles as puppets made to dance for Paris' amusement. It was grimly remarked that the leader of the 'British Union Movement' (BUM) hadn't been seen, since the declaration of independence by the North German Federation.
July 18th saw the capitulation of the last British army on the isles outside the tin-mining town of Taunton in Cornwall. The only forces that might be encountered now were any which had been left to garrison Occupied Denmark – the first push into Europe would follow the clearing of Arhus and Odense and God only knew if the Union State had the men, or the willpower to bring down Red Europa...