Battle of Coventry (3058)

Battle of Coventry (3058)
Conflict details
Part of Jade Falcon Incursion
Start Date 15 March 3058
End Date 15 June 3058
Planet(s) Coventry
Result Lyran Alliance victory
Territorial Changes No change
Attacking Forces
Affiliation Clan Jade Falcon
Defending Forces
Affiliation Lyran Alliance
Coventry Expeditionary Force
Other Forces


Prelude[edit]

Newly installed as Khan, Marthe Pryde had begun a campaign through the Lyran Alliance to put her relatively untested touman through the trials of combat that would become known as the Jade Falcon Incursion. Split into four parts, the Falcon forces would strike two worlds each before converging on Coventry.

The campaign that came to be known as the Jade Falcon Incursion was a direct result of the Jade Falcon need to prove the strength of their touman in the aftermath of the bitter Refusal War fought against Clan Wolf and thereby fend off attacks from the other Clans. The Incursion quickly became a battle of vital consequence to both the Falcons and the Inner Sphere, as the nations of the Inner Sphere needed to quickly quash the incursion or risk the other Clans seeing Jade Falcon successes as a sign of weakness on the part of the Inner Sphere and a direct encouragement to launch a further wave of attacks or even another full-scale invasion.[1]

The Jade Falcon Incursion[edit]

The Incursion began on the 30th of January 3058, with a wave of attacks that hit the Bucklands, Engadine, Neerabup and Willunga systems, swiftly defeating most of the defending forces in bloody battles that typically saw technologically advanced Jade Falcon BattleMechs facing outdated garrison 'Mechs or even, as was the case with the Bucklands Militia, AgroMechs retrofitted with armor plate and heavy machine guns.[2]

The Lyran half of the Federated Commonwealth had only recently split away and declared itself the Lyran Alliance, under the rule of Archon Katherine Steiner (who preferred to be referred to as Katrina Steiner). Rather than launching a broadcast and response to the Jade Falcon invasion, Katherine Steiner embarked on a different plan, traveling to the Kiamba system in the Clan Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone with the intention of proposing an alliance against the Jade Falcons to representatives from the Smoke Jaguars, an alliance that would also help defend the Alliance against both Federated Commonwealth and Clan Wolf forces. Arriving at Kiamba on the 12th of February 3058, Katherine instead found that she had arrived while a force from Clan Wolf was returning to its JumpShips after an assault on Kiamba. Katherine's JumpShip, the Boadicea, was captured by Clan Wolf, who declared her a bondsman. Katherine promptly changed plans and instead suggested a mutual alliance to Khan Vlad Ward of the Wolves.[2]

While Katherine negotiated with the Wolves General Nondi Steiner and Mandrinn Tormano Liao acted on behalf of the Archon and imposed a communications blackout in an effort to slow the spread of news from the invaded systems and prevent outside factions from learning of any real or imagined weakness on the part of the Lyran Alliance Armed Forces. LAAF units in the region were put on high alert, particularly those on the predicted invasion path, and negotiations were conducted to hire mercenary units to augment the LAAF; General Steiner and Mandrinn Liao accurately extrapolated that the intended Jade Falcon target was Coventry.[2]

Invasion[edit]

By 10 March the entire expeditionary force rendezvoused in the Coventry system, where they began landing operations to drop on their designated targets.[3] The Falcons' JumpShip fleet consisting of three Star Lord-class JumpShips would utilize Coventry's pirate Jump Points.[4]

Jade Falcon Landings[edit]

The initial two targets attacked on Coventry by the Jade Falcons were the Port St. William Spaceport and the nearby Coventry Military Academy. The spaceport was attacked first, although the attack on the Academy began whilst the fighting still raged at the spaceport.

Port St. Williams Space Port[edit]

The Falcon forces dropped in and around the Port St. Williams Spaceport on 10 March. The Second Falcon Jaegers attacked the spaceport via a high-speed combat drop, battling the Third Battalion of the Tenth Skye Rangers. DropShips swooped by the city's spaceport, where the Cluster dropped directly onto the port itself. The Falcon landing was not as precise as it could be due to inexperienced troopers among the Cluster's numbers. The spaceport was defended by the 3rd Battalion of the 10th Skye Rangers, under the command of Kommandant Heinrick Oheler. Kommandant Heinrich Oheler was unable to call on air support, but attempted to battle the Jaegers with a combination of a rolling defensive artillery barrage and direct attacks. While the Cluster reorganized after its drop, the Kommandant haphazardly called in artillery fire support. The first salvos from the 1st Artillery Support Company became the first shots fired in the campaign for Coventry. Due to an error on the part of either Oheler or the fire director, the initial artillery bombardment fell short, inflicting damage on local buildings including a large petrochemical storage facility that promptly exploded, inflicting a number of civilian casualties. The Rangers dispatched their mechanized infantry squad to act as spotters for the battalion's incoming fire support. Although infantry spotters from the Third managed to redirect the artillery and inflict casualties on the Jaegers, the artillery fire finally struck the Falcons' mix of 'Mechs and Elemental battle armor units. However, the Falcons detected the Rangers' infantry, forcing them to withdraw from their positions. This retreat would lead to the entire battalion retreating from the Space Port and into the city.[3][4]

Coventry Military Academy[edit]

The attack on the Coventry Military Academy was assigned to the Jade Falcon Eyrie Cluster and swiftly descended into a conflict split between two distinct styles of warfare. The Academy's student cadre engaged with the Eyrie Cluster as they came to take their school. Most of the combatants were in fact students or unblooded Clan warriors, who were led by their veteran teachers. For some Falcon officers, veteran was loosely applied, such as the case of Star Captain Hansen who been in a sibko herself five months prior. The inexperienced warriors of the Clan engaged the Lyran students in melee ranged combat. The unit leaders and instructors from the Academy staff and the Eyrie Falconers engaged in deadly precise long-range battles and ambushes, but the Academy cadets and the unblooded Jade Falcon MechWarriors engaged in close-quarter melees with each other. The Lyran cadets continued to pound defeated Jade Falcon 'Mechs into scrap, rather than tackling fresh targets, while the Jade Falcon warriors continued to brawl with the Academy cadets rather than fight at longer ranges. Both sides' casualties mounted evenly, but the Clan warriors would get the upper hand due to their technological advantage. This forced Academy Kommandant Rohorson to order a general retreat. The defense of the Academy was brutal, but eventually, the superior Clan technology proved too much of an advantage, and the surviving Academy cadets and instructors attempted to retreat a predesignated rally point east of the Academy, leaving the Academy in ruins behind them - with the administration and science buildings being destroyed by the retreating Academy forces specifically to keep vital records out of the hands of the Falcons. The fighting on academy grounds ended with the students' withdrawal, but not before burning critical parts of the school to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Most of these cadets withdrew west of the city, while some got lost and accidentally engaged and were defeated by the 2nd Falcon Jaegers making their way through the city.[4][5] One small group of trainees failed to understand the orders given by Kommandant Luther Rohorson, the Academy commander, and instead attempted to retreat into Port St. William, where they ran directly into the Second Falcon Jaegers. The shocked cadets fought a desperate battle, refusing to break, but were defeated by the Jaegers with the few survivors being taken as bondsmen.[6]

Coventry Metal Works[edit]

The third prong of the Falcons' invasion, and possibly the most valuable prize on the planet, the Jade Falcon attempt to capture the Coventry Metal Works main processing plant was assigned to the Gyrfalcon Eyrie Cluster under the command of Star Colonel Devin Buhallin. The Gyrfalcon Eyrie Cluster also contained a number of unblooded warriors, and due to concerns over likely casualties from any combat drop into the difficult terrain around the factory, the Gyrfalcon Eyrie grounded at the nearby factory. The Falcons intended for the attack on the factory to serve as a Trial of Position for many of the new MechWarriors, but faced a furious defense even before making planetfall. Given the task to take the valuable 'Mech factory complex, Gyrfalcon DropShips moved quickly to take their goal. The Coventry Air Defense Force's Gamma Flight engaged the Cluster's DropShips and other AeroSpace assets in an intense air battle. The Coventry Aerospace Defense Force had mustered in the defense of the factory and launched a heavy attack on the Jade Falcon DropShips as they descended, claiming a Broadsword and its cargo in the first pass alone. Gamma Flight bought more time for the beleaguered Militia to prepare. After the Lyran Aerospace Fighters destroyed one of his DropShips, Star Colonel Buhallin ordered his assault force to alter course and head to an alternate landing zone. The Gyrfalcon aerospace fighters and DropShips engaged in response, but the intensity of the aerial battle was such that Buhallin redirected the DropShips to an alternative landing zone two kilometers further away from the plant, rather than risk trying to land and disembark while in the teeth of a heavy air attack. This detour would cost the cluster time, since the alternate landing zone would add an hour of travel to reach the 'Mech plant's perimeter.[7]

As the Cluster approached the 2nd Coventry Donegal March Militia's defensive positions, the Falcons would come under fire by Gamma Flight. The Lyran fighters would get to strafe the Cluster's forces a few more times until Clan interceptors caused them to break off. The main defending force at the plant was the Second Coventry Donegal March Militia, commanded by Kommandant Claudia Peyman, a veteran of the Clan Invasion. Peyman had only a company of obsolete BattleMechs and knew the odds were long against the Falcons. Peyman's troops were reservists and retirees in Succession Wars-era equipment; Peyman had her forces reposition to a point between the grounded Jade Falcon DropShips and then hunker down in prepared positions, not realizing that many of the Jade Falcon 'Mechs were actually second-line 'Mechs, with only the Star Commanders piloting OmniMechs. The Gyrfalcons closed swiftly on the Coventry Militia's position, only to run into the teeth of a series of strafing runs and attacks from Gamma Flight of the Coventry Aerospace Defense Force. Jade Falcon fighters managed to drive off the CADF fighters, but the Gyrfalcons were then engaged at close range by the Militia 'Mechs. The Gyrfalcons broke up into small groups, with each group attacking an individual Militia position, with the battle swiftly becoming a savage brawl. After the Cluster closed with them, the Militia opened fire on the inbound Falcon troops, which devastated them in the initial barrage. The Gyrfalcon Eyries adapted and changed tactics by separating into three groups and charging the Militia's defensive positions independently. The notable point of the bitter battle was during a savage engagement between Kommandant Peyman and Star Colonel Buhallin. Star Colonel Buhallin engaged Peyman directly, but in the midst of their fight, a young militia MechWarrior in a Firestarter used his weaponry to cause Buhallin to eject from his Man O' War. The reservist then turned his flamers on the downed Star Colonel, killing him in cold blood. A Clan Lucifer Fighter strafed both the Militia Firestarter and Peyman's commanding officer's near-crippled Banshee, leaving her unconscious. The Falcons ultimately forced the Lyran Militia force's survivors to withdraw from the factory and Peyman bled to death while the battle continued; the Militia was ultimately forced to retreat, but the brutal engagement claimed two-thirds of the Gyrfalcons as casualties. The battle devastated the Militia, costing it nearly 75 percent of its numbers.[7][8]

Guerrilla War[edit]

Coventry 2 (The Battle of Coventry).png

After the initial takeover of Coventry's key sites, the surviving components of Coventry's defense forces would go to ground and begin a guerrilla-style resistance against the invaders.

The surviving Lyran forces from the battles at the Academy, Coventry Metal Works, and Port St. William attempted to make a strategic retreat into the hinterlands while a number of Jade Falcon commanders attempted to run down the retreating forces; while some of the Jade Falcon pursuits were successful, many failed. The Lyran survivors and those Lyran forces not engaged in the initial attacks promptly launched a guerrilla campaign against the Falcons, as they were unable to bring together enough strength for a full counterattack; meanwhile, the Jade Falcons brought in new troops, frantically trying to replace the losses taken.[9]

Amongst these units was the 1st Battalion of the 10th Skye Rangers, which was on detached duty defending various industrial sites. After his company withdrew from its garrison post to meet with the rest of the Battalion, Hauptmann Caradoc Trevena was forced to take command of the unit due to its commander, Kommandant Horst Sarz, revealing himself to be an incompetent and a drunkard. Trevena was able to utilize a series of mining tunnels to elude Falcon forces and conduct a string of daring raids against Falcon forces. The most notable action during Hauptmann Trevena's campaign was a two-prong attack against a Falcon supply base garrisoned by elements of the 5th Battle Cluster on 5 April. Part of the Battalion would attack as a diversionary force, while another portion carried out a daring raid against the Falcons' supply depot to seize vitally needed supplies. The diversionary force led by Hauptmann Trevena drew Falcon forces away from the base into an ambush where he was able to surprise and destroy the Falcon 'Mech force due to false sensor readings created by the narrow pass. After successfully carrying out Trevena's plan, the battalion mustered back to their underground base. They soon learned that the Falcons' surviving forces at the base had been withdrawn. It became clear to them that Inner Sphere reinforcements had finally arrived on Coventry.[8][10]

Trevena's raiding campaign culminated in a strike against a Falcon supply base near Collivette guarded by front-line and second-line elements of the Fifth Battle Cluster. A lance from the Second Company of the Tenth Rangers commanded by Leftenant Isobel Murdoch struck directly at the depot, destroying the second-line 'Mechs and the Elemental forces guarding the depot and seizing supplies before fading back into the nearby tunnels; as Murdoch's lance was attacking the depot, Trevena led the other two lances from the Second Company on an attack against the Falcon forces lured away from the depot and into a narrow pass in pursuit of falsified sensor readings. The forces from the First Battalion then regrouped in the subterranean tunnel system, where analysis of the observations made by Murdoch over the apparent regrouping of Jade Falcon forces indicated that either the Jade Falcons were readying to abandon Coventry or were preparing to face a larger, more capable opponent than the First Battalion. The arrival of reinforcements visible in the skies above Coventry confirmed that a relief force had arrived.[11]

The Coventry Expeditionary Force[edit]

While the opening battles raged on Coventry, Mandrinn Liao had assembled a mercenary force on Tharkad intended to act as either a relief force for Coventry or a defensive force for Tharkad, depending on whether the Jade Falcons attempted to push towards Tharkad or not. Hired in Katherine Steiner's name, the core of this Coventry Expeditionary Force (CEF) were Delta and Gamma Regiments of Wolf's Dragoons, augmented by a regiment from the Eridani Light Horse (described as the First Light Horse Regiment[12] but actually the Seventy-first Light Horse Regiment[13]). Tormano also hired Waco's Rangers, despite the antagonism between the Rangers and the Dragoons; Tormano's intention was for the Rangers to either augment the defense of Tharkad or to assist Tormano in escaping from Tharkad if Katherine blamed him personally for the failure of any resulting military operations. Katherine returned to Tharkad ahead of the launch of operations, and insisted that Waco's Rangers deploy alongside the rest of the CEF to liberate Coventry.[12]

10 April saw the arrival of House Steiner's Coventry Expeditionary Force, led by Wolf's Dragoons Colonel Shelly Brubaker. The mercenaries broke into three task forces, two of which would be tasked with securing a landing zone and the other disrupting Falcon forces.

The Eridani Light Horse JumpShips Bosworth and Falkirk arrived in the Coventry system at the same pirate point used by the Jade Falcons and deploying the Light Horse in a wave of Overlord and Leopard-class DropShips before jumping out-system. The Eridani Light Horse's DropShips committed to a hot drop on the Falcon-held city of Leitnerton. Caught by surprise and unable to fight the entire regiment, the Falcons' 1st Falcon Strike Cluster would be forced into a fighting withdrawal from the city.[14] The Light Horse DropShips completed a classic fast-insertion pass, opposed only by Falcon defensive fighter groups as they slowed to deploy the Light Horse forces via high-altitude combat drops. The fighters were unable to prevent the Light Horse forces from making ground-fall, and while elements of the First Falcon Striker Cluster engaged the Light Horse forces on the ground, the First retreated late in the day when the last of the Light Horse forces landed in the city of Lietnerton.[12]

While the Eridani Light Horse battle drew to a close, Delta Regiment of Wolf's Dragoons began their landings; Colonel Shelly Brubaker issued a batchall to the Jade Falcons in a remarkably brazen fashion, announcing that she intended to attack and destroy the Port St. William spaceport using just one of Delta's three battalions. Star Colonel Creed Mattlov accepted Brubaker's batchall, declaring that two Trinaries of the Twelfth Falcon Regulars would meet the Dragoons on the flatlands east of Port St. William. In compliance with the tenets of zellbrigen Mattlov allowed the Dragoon DropShip Bayard to land uncontested, and Brubaker led the First Battalion of Delta Regiment in an attack on the spaceport. The Dragoon 'Mechs swiftly powered through the initial defenders in their light and medium OmniMechs and went on a fifteen-minute rampage, wreaking havoc as they destroyed facilities, supplies, and equipment before the remaining elements of the two Falcon Trinaries arrived and engaged the Dragoons in a ferocious close-quarter battle. The battle at the Spaceport was more brutal than any yet fought on Coventry, with 'Mechs on both sides not only attacking each other with weapons but also using broken girders as clubs. The savage melee went on for less than twenty minutes before Brubaker called for reinforcements, leaving Mattlov free to bring in additional forces as well; the battle escalated sharply in response, peaking with more than one hundred and fifty 'Mechs and large quantities of armored and unarmored infantry battling in the burning spaceport. The battle finally ended when the Dragoons withdrew, each claiming some form of victory; the Falcons had forced the Dragoons to withdraw, but the Dragoons had inflicted enough damage on the spaceport to make it unusable for the Falcons.[15]

Wolf's Dragoons' Delta Regiment attempted to either take or destroy Port St. William SpacePort's facilities. Delta's commander, Colonel Brubaker issued a batchall to the defenders for a Trial of Possession for the spaceport. The 12th Falcon Regulars Cluster's Star Colonel Creed Mattlov agreed and bid two trinaries worth of 'Mechs to fight the Dragoons' 1st Battalion. After being allowed to safely land on the planet, Brubaker led her battalion forward into the spaceport where they engaged outliers of the Falcon forces guarding the spaceport. After easily dispatching them, Brubaker ordered her people to raze the facilities. After 15 minutes of destruction, the bulk of the Falcons arrived and engaged in a bitter struggle for the port. The close-quarters combat would be described as the most brutal in the Battle for Coventry. Falcon and Dragoons 'Mechs used every weapon in their arsenal including taking steel girders from the rubble and using them as clubs. After 20 minutes of this onslaught, Brubaker was engaged by Warrior Avarah in her Fire Falcon D and almost succeeded in bringing Brubaker's NSR-9J Nightstar down.[16] This duel led to Brubaker breaking her bid to call in reinforcements. This action would escalate the fight even more, with the Falcons free to call in more assets. Both sides' fighters and artillery fire from support units added to the devastation of the battle. However, the Dragoons would be forced to withdraw from combat, but not before achieving one of their goals in denying the Falcons usable facilities. Star Colonel Mattlov also claimed victory due in part to Brubaker having to break her bid and call reinforcements.[9][17]

The last of the CEF forces to land on Coventry were the Waco Rangers and a small attached mercenary unit named the Crazy Eights did not participate in the hot drops to secure the landing zones for the forces. Ordered to conduct a DropShip landing rather than a combat drop, the Rangers conducted a landing in the face of stiff opposition, destroying two Stars of OmniFighters and a number of OmniMechs and Elementals in the process, with General Ariana Winston of the Eridani Light Horse working hard to calm down the tensions between Wayne Rogers and Brubaker[15] as the Waco Rangers battled the Third Falcon Talon Cluster.[18][9]

Positioning[edit]

Following the CEF's landing, the Jade Falcon and CEF forces began a series of probing raids, each intended to test the strength of their opponents, while the CEF and the remaining forces from the Coventry garrison attempted to join up. On the 15th of April Hauptmann Trevena successfully managed to link the First Battalion of the Tenth Skye Rangers up with Waco's Rangers - narrowly avoiding a blue-on-blue engagement at first sighting - while the CEF dispatched a task force to help the remains of the Tenth Skye Rangers, the Academy cadets and the remaining Coventry Militia forces out of an enclosed pocket around the town of Whitting.[19]

Port St. Williams[edit]

Survivors of Coventry's Militia and academy cadre, along with the 10th Skye Rangers, made their way to a safe haven established at Leitnerton. When the various Lyran and mercenary forces had managed to successfully meet up and regroup around Lietnerton, the CEF command staff initiated a battle plan that revolved around a three-pronged attack against the Jade Falcon forces at Port St. William. The first prong was a direct attack on the Jade Falcon forces by Wolf's Dragoons and the Eridani Light Horse; the second prong was the remaining Coventry Militia, Academy, and Skye Rangers forces, who were to act as a screening force, preventing more mobile Jade Falcon formations reinforcing the forces at Port St. William, while the third prong was a deep raid on the Jade Falcon rear elements, to be conducted by Waco's Rangers and the Crazy Eights. To get in position, the Waco Rangers would have had to be led through a local region known as the Dales by Trevena and the Second Company of the Tenth Skye Rangers, avoiding contact with the Jade Falcons until after the main attack on Port St. William was underway.[19]

The Jade Falcons had been laying plans of their own; Star Colonel Arimas Malthus didn't believe the intelligence reports that indicated that Waco's Rangers had been left in Lietnerton to guard the CEF base, based on the known hatred between the Rangers and the Dragoons, and Malthus accurately predicted that the Rangers were actually being deployed elsewhere, and identified the Dales as the most likely location. He surmised the CEF's plans to strike in the Falcons' rear flank and Malthus formed two ad hoc Clusters, designated Harrier group and Red Tail group, by skimming elements from the three Galaxies of Jade Falcon forces gathered at Port St. William. Harrier consisted of light OmniMechs, while Red Tail was formed from heavy and assault elements, and the two Clusters were tasked with putting an ambush in place in the Dales. He instructed them to use a vague version of Clan Honor to allow them to ambush the Rangers' Task Force moving through the hilly Dales region. Malthus' plan stretched the boundaries of the Clan honor system, but Khan Marthe Pryde authorized the plan despite her reservations, and endorsed it based on its tactical soundness, albeit while banning the Falcons from engaging in any similarly deceptive tactics in future engagements.[19]

On 21 April the Dragoons and the Eridani Light Horse began their attack against the spaceport. The quick light and medium 'Mechs of the Falcon's Harrier Strikers moved in and hit Waco's task force outside of the Dales. In this action, the Falcons lured the Waco's Rangers task force into the Dales towards a clearing in a broken hills area. Hauptmann Trevena's scout company gave warnings that there were Falcon units hidden in the area. However, the stubborn Colonel Wayne Rogers led his Rangers and the Crazy Eights into an ambush where heavier 'Mechs of the Red Tails fired massed volleys of missiles, destroying a number of the advancing Inner Sphere 'Mechs. Malthus' ambush proved highly successful; Harrier group engaged the Waco Rangers and Crazy Eights, leading them into a large field between the Dales and Port St. William, and the Red Tail group launched a heavy assault on the mercenaries once all the mercenary 'Mechs were in the field. Trevena's company fought a delaying action just long enough to keep the Rangers and their allies from being annihilated. The ambush destroyed more than four-fifths of the Waco Rangers and Crazy Eights, and losses would've been higher if Trevena's company hadn't fought a delaying action to assist them; it was only the arrival of Delta Regiment of Wolf's Dragoons, deployed to relieve Waco's forces, that the Waco Rangers and Crazy Eights escaped annihilation, with Colonel Rogers among the missing.[19][20][21]

First and Second Assaults Against Leitnerton[edit]

Coventry 3 (The Battle of Coventry).png

The attack on Port St. William's Space Port proved to be costly for the Expedition. With the attack on Port St. William disrupted by the need to rescue the Waco Rangers and Crazy Eights, the CEF was forced to withdraw back to Lietnerton and wait for relief. As time passed the entire expedition began to grow low on supplies. The Jade Falcons lay siege to the city, keeping the pressure up on the CEF and the remaining Coventry garrison forces, while the CEF supply of parts, ammunition, armor, and uninjured personnel steadily dwindled. The expedition placed its hopes on additional Inner Sphere reinforcements arriving in time. On the 8th of May, having kept the siege up for weeks, the Jade Falcons launched a major attack on Lietnerton. The Eyrie Cluster led the attack, launching a spearhead against the surviving Tenth Skye Rangers and Coventry Militia forces, but despite being exhausted, the defenders refused to break or abandon their position. On 8 May, the Falcons pressed an assault on Leitnerton, using heavy thunderstorms for cover. The Clanners targeted the exhausted elements of the Lyran regulars' defense lines in a bid to penetrate the city. Kommandant Jasper Greer of the Skye Rangers used artillery support from the one remaining Rangers Thumper battery to slow the Falcon attack, while General Ariana Winston deployed aerospace forces in support; the battle raged for four hours before the Jade Falcons withdrew, unable to breach the defenses in the face of the combined artillery and air strikes, with both sides having taken heavy casualties.[22]

The Jade Falcons launched another attack on the 9th of May, this time attempting to support their attack with artillery by deploying mobile Long Tom artillery pieces captured from the Tenth Skye Rangers' main base. The Clan warriors were inexperienced in the use of artillery, and as a result, their efforts were largely unsuccessful, with the majority of the artillery shells overflying the fortifications and landing in the deserted civilian regions of Lietnerton. Unfazed by the poor artillery barrage, Colonel Sandra Barclay of the Eridani Light Horse used the defender's artillery pieces to launch a barrage against the attacking Trinary Alpha of the 305th Assault Cluster before destroying the Falcon's captured artillery pieces in a furious counterbattery bombardment.[22]

Star Colonel Arimas Malthus attempted to respond to the loss of his artillery by deploying aerospace fighters under the command of Star Captain Janice Folkner with some initial success at providing close air support, but Barclay responded by deploying the Eridani Light Horse's own fighters to interdict the Clan fighters, and after a hard-fought battle on the ground and in the air, the Jade Falcons retreated again.[22]

Sky Battle of Coventry[edit]

On 10 May the Expeditionary Force attempted another strike against the Falcons at Port St. Williams. Motivated by a fear of a third assault against them, the Expeditionary leaders devised a plan to use the Wolf's Dragoons air and ground assets for this attack. The Dragoons' ordnance-laden AeroSpace Fighters flew to Port St. Williams despite the questionable weather. As they began their strikes against the Falcons' defensive position, they were spotted by Falcon OmniFighters. The Falcon Air Patrol's engagement with the Dragoons' fighters roused both sides' fighter assets to join the fight with little preparation. The massive air battle proved to be the bane of the Expedition, with their fighters unable to deliver the bombing that was needed to allow their ground assets to hit the Falcons.[23]

The Lyran forces attempted to launch a counterstrike on May the 10th, intending to attack the marshaling areas used by the Jade Falcons and thereby disrupt any planned attacks; the plan composed by Leftenant General Judith Niemeyer of the Coventry Militia and General Winston called for an initial aerial bombardment followed by a ground assault led by Wolf's Dragoons, but a storm front closed in just as the Lyran aerospace fighters had finished launching. The Lyran aerospace forces attempted to complete their mission despite the weather, only to be discovered by chance by Jade Falcon fighters. As the two groups began engaging each other additional Lyran fighters scrambled, many only partially fueled and armed, and a sprawling dogfight ensued. The Jade Falcon fighters fought doggedly, forcing many of the Lyran fighters assigned to the initial attack to ditch their air-to-ground ordnance, and as a consequence, the Lyran attack had to be called off.[24]

The next day, the Falcon forces targeted the southern part of Leitnerton, defended by the Eridani Light Horse. The clash began with the Clan firing artillery salvos at the Eridanis' battle lines. However, the Clan's inexperience using the stolen artillery pieces prevented them from hitting their targets. The Eridanis' more proficient artillery men fired their Arrow IV[25] and were able to wipe out several OmniMechs from the 305th Assault Cluster. The Eridanis' initial attacks did not cause the Falcons' advance to their positions to slow, so they continued to fire on the inbound units. Clan artillery attempted to counterattack but lost the artillery duel. The Clan force would lose three of their captured Long Tom batteries in the exchange of fire. Clan commanders pulled out their remaining Fire Support force from the field. The Falcons then turned to their Aerospace Fighters to provide cover for their ground forces, striking at a number of Light Horse 'Mechs. The Eridani scrambled their own fighters to protect their ground forces. The brutal battle raged for five hours with the Eridani managing to hold their battle lines. The Falcons chose to withdraw, but each side paid a high price in casualties.[26]

Whitting Raid[edit]

By this time, the Expedition's supplies and other materials were running dangerously low. These conditions had caused their morale to dip in the face of a long, wearying campaign. However, an influx of hidden supplies revived its flagging morale.

While the two relief forces traveled to Coventry, the remains of the CEF launched an attack based on a plan devised by Trevena. At the end of May, Hauptmann Trevena proposed a plan to use a series of hidden mining tunnels in the Cross-Divide mountains to strike the Falcons in their rear command post at the town of Whitting. Bolstered by a quantity of ammunition, spare parts, field rations, and medical supplies recovered from the caves under the Cross-Divide Mountains after the former quartermaster of the Tenth Skye Rangers was rescued amidst a group of refugees and informed them of the equipment cache's location, a mixed group led by Colonel Brubaker and drawn from Delta Regiment, Trevena's Second Company and a unit of dismounted MechWarriors and infantry formed into a tactical response unit crossed the Cross-Divide Mountains using tunnel complexes the Jade Falcons hadn't discovered.[27]

On 30 May, the Delta Regiment struck the Falcons garrisoning Whitting after Hauptmann Trevena led his recon company with a mixed force of dismounted MechWarriors and infantry through the tunnels and out into the southern part of the city. The city's remaining unengaged defenders consisted of elements of the Jade Solahma Cluster, who were surprised by Trevena's force. The city's defenders were soon overrun by Trevena's people, who moved to trash the Falcons' headquarters. In the Falcon Headquarters, they obtained intelligence on the Falcons and captured Star Colonel Arimas Malthus. From this, the expedition would learn the reasons behind the invasion.[27][28]

As planned, Brubaker's troops lured out the bulk of the Jade Falcon defenders and led them to the north; while a mobile battle between Delta Regiment and the Falcons raged back and forth, Trevena led his company into Whitting from the south and attacked the Jade Falcon headquarters there. Trevena's forces easily captured the town hall and the headquarters inside it, and spent forty minutes ransacking the location, gathering a raft of useful intelligence and capturing Star Colonel Arimas Malthus, before retreating from Whitting.[27]

Relief[edit]

The Falcons and Lyran forces were exhausted after months of fighting. The ground campaign on Coventry had effectively bogged down the Jade Falcon advance, but Katherine Steiner had finally issued requests for assistance to the other Inner Sphere nations. Captain-General Thomas Marik of the Free Worlds League had dispatched the Knights of the Inner Sphere to assist in the defense of Tharkad, whilst Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao dispatched the Harloc Raiders with similar orders. Katherine dispatched both regiments along with the remaining three regiments of Wolf's Dragoons and the Eleventh Lyran Guards to relieve the CEF.[29]

Katherine had also contacted Victor Steiner-Davion for assistance, but deliberately underestimated the strength of the Jade Falcon forces on Coventry, possibly in an effort to engineer his injury or death in any relief effort. Victor was on Tukayyid participating in a ComStar-led series of wargames when the Jade Falcon incursion began, along with a number of other senior leaders from various factions, all of whom had been following the available reports of the fighting closely. Despite many of the forces on Tukayyid having been bitter rivals only a few years before the incursion, Victor was able to assemble a force consisting of two regiments of the Kell Hounds drawn from their base on Arc-Royal, along with the Davion Heavy Guards, the First Genyosha, the First St. Ives Lancers and the Com Guard Invader Galaxy, and led them on a separate relief mission to Coventry.[29]

Following the success of the Whitting raid, the CEF remained determined to continue fighting against the Jade Falcons and put in place plans to disperse its forces into small groups and wage a guerrilla campaign from the mountains. Work was underway to implement this plan when Victor Steiner-Davion arrived with the relief force on the 5th of June, all under the nominal command of Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht. The allied forces had correctly assumed that Focht's status following the victory on Tukayyid in 3052 would give him some influence over the Jade Falcons, and acting on advice from the former Prince of the Free Rasalhague Republic (and current Clan Wolf-in-Exile bondsman) Victor used his position as second-in-command to Focht to request safcon from the Jade Falcons. Honorbound, Khan Pryde would grant safcon for Victor and his command staff to land at Whitter, announcing her intention ahead of any batchall to defend Coventry with all of her forces.[30]

Hegira[edit]

Grounding at Lietnerton with permission from the Jade Falcons, the two groups exchanged force reports in accordance with Clan tradition before the leaders from each assembled at Whitting for the formal batchall four days later. Victor was faced with the knowledge that the two forces were approximately equal in strength and that any resulting combat would inevitably be a long, damaging battle. He also knew that he couldn't afford to simply rescue the remaining elements of the CEF and the Coventry garrison, because that would be perceived as a devastating defeat for the Federated Commonwealth, the Inner Sphere, and him personally - a defeat that would likely escalate diplomatically and militarily, threatening the dissolution of the tenuously friendly bonds between the Federated Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine, as well as military gambits by the Free Worlds League and Capellan Confederation and efforts by the Word of Blake to displace Focht and Victor and further disrupt ComStar.

At the same time, Khan Marthe Pryde received word from Khan Vladimir Ward of Clan Wolf announcing his intentions to strike at her worlds in the Occupation Zone unless she withdrew from Lyran space. This left her in a bind: Her Clan would be dezgra if she retreated from Coventry without a fight. Removing her forces from Coventry to defend the Occupation Zone would be perceived as an act of desperate weakness by the other Clans, inevitably resulting in her Clan being attacked en masse because of that perceived weakness, while leaving so much of the Jade Falcon touman locked in a destructive battle on Coventry would concede an unknown number of worlds to Clan Wolf, weakening the Jade Falcons - possibly fatally.[30] If she remained, she would lose a number of worlds and would earn the contempt of her people. Victor too faced a dilemma of his own: aside from his six regiments being evenly matched against the remaining Falcons on planet, a political dilemma depended on the outcome of the battle. Through the advice of his Clan adviser, he came up with a solution.

When it came to the official negotiations, Victor surprised both Marthe Pryde and the other Jade Falcons in attendance by offering them hegira. No Inner Sphere commander had ever attempted to invoke the rite of hegira, which would allow the Jade Falcons to leave as a defeated opponent, but one with their forces and honor intact. Marthe Pryde accepted the offer and the Jade Falcon forces withdrew from Coventry. All prisoners were exchanged in accordance with Clan traditions, with those freed including Colonel Wayne Rogers.

Aftermath[edit]

Soon after bondsmen and prisoners were exchanged the two sides parted, with the Falcons returning to their Occupation Zone. The coalition efforts proved that the Inner Sphere factions could work together, leading to the first Whitting Conference, the formation of the Second Star League, and a war to destroy Clan Smoke Jaguar. The Jade Falcon withdrawal from Coventry left Victor in a position of additional influence in the Inner Sphere while frustrating Katherine's efforts to become a noted peacemaker, laying the foundations for future operations against the Clans.[30] The outcome also turned out well professionally for Trevena, whose career had been stalled prior to the incursion; Hauptmann Trevena was offered a position within Wolf's Dragoons, but instead accepted a promotion from Victor to the rank of Leftenant General within the Armed Forces of the Federated Commonwealth, making him one of Victor's primary advisors.[31][3]

References[edit]

  1. The Battle of Coventry, p. 3: "Introduction"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Battle of Coventry, p. 6: "Proving grounds"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Operational Turning Points: Falcon Incursion, p. 8
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Battle of Coventry, p. 7: Coventry
  5. Operational Turning Points: Falcon Incursion, p. 22: Coventry Military Academy Battle
  6. The Battle of Coventry, p. 7: "Growing Up Fast"
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Battle of Coventry, pp. 7–8: "A Valuable Prize"
  8. 8.0 8.1 Operational Turning Points: Falcon Incursion, pp. 23–24
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The Battle of Coventry, p. 9: "Runaway"
  10. The Battle of Coventry, p. 8: Guerrilla Warfare
  11. The Battle of Coventry, p. 8: "Guerrilla Warfare"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Battle of Coventry, p. 9: "Relief at Last"
  13. The Battle of Coventry, p. 39: "Scenario 11: Falcon's Nest"
  14. The Battle of Coventry, p. 9: Relief at Last
  15. 15.0 15.1 The Battle of Coventry, p. 9: "Runaway"
  16. Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, p. 136
  17. Operational Turning Points: Falcon Incursion, pp. 8, 25
  18. The Battle of Coventry, p. 33: "Scenario 9: Ground Zero"
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 The Battle of Coventry, pp. 9–10: "Probing the Defenses"
  20. Operational Turning Points: Falcon Incursion, p. 8, 27: Dales
  21. The Battle of Coventry, pp. 10, 41–43: Probing Defenses/Ambush!
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 The Battle of Coventry, pp. 10–11: "Siege and Relief"
  23. The Battle of Coventry, pp. 12, 55–56: Foiled by Fate/Stormy Skies
  24. The Battle of Coventry, p. 11: "Foiled by Fate"
  25. The Battle of Coventry, p. 10: fluff indicate missiles were used as part of Eridanis' artillery fire
  26. The Battle of Coventry, pp. 10, 12: Siege and Relief
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 The Battle of Coventry, pp. 12–13: "A Whitting"
  28. Operational Turning Points: Falcon Incursion, pp. 8, 29: Campaign History/Touchpoint: Whitter
  29. 29.0 29.1 The Battle of Coventry, p. 12: "A Strange Alliance"
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 The Battle of Coventry, p. 13: "Endgame"
  31. The Battle of Coventry, p. 13: "Endgame", "Aftermath"

Bibliography[edit]