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845: THE HIGH POINT OF SKALLAND SUCCESS ON LAND

On land, both sides now furiously rebuilt their tank forces. Atlantis, however, tended to distribute her tanks amongst the infantry, instead of concentrating them for offensive action, which was what they were most useful at carrying out. Skallandieh had learned this lesson from the beginning, and was determined to continue with a policy of hard tank-led attacks in certain sectors of the front, hoping thereby to smash through the strong Atlantean defence lines, and manoeuvre into the rear. She also recognised that she needed to obtain success as quickly as possible, otherwise the Atlanteans, who ultimately had by far the greater resources, would build up sufficient reserves of men and tanks to overwhelm her. Moreover, as we shall see later, Quendelieh was becoming increasingly annoyed by the war, and the interruptions to her trade, and would in the end attempt to end it, either by diplomacy or force, and this would doubtless involve her siding with Atlantis to a greater or smaller extent.

Atlantis got in the first blow in March 845, striking out east from south of Netaka Mountains against the side of the salient held by the enemy down south of Runcairn. But she used largely infantry forces, with a few scattered tanks, and made little progress. In fact, she played into Sashan’s hands, as Skallandieh was planning converging advances round the east and west of Netaka, aimed at Amounso, thereby cutting off the Atlantean forces on Netaka Mountain. The Atlantean attack simply meant she was sticking her head that much further into the noose the Skallands were about to tie round her. In the Battle of Netaka Mountain, Skalland attack was very successful: To the west, by May, an attack south from Hukenes captured Amounso and reached the rive Cunaphai, and to the east and south, Skalland infantry, spearheaded by tanks almost cut off the Atlanteans – many were captured, and only a few escaped by fleeing back to the hills running between Latala and Amounso. At the same time, another Skalland force sped down the road from Runcairn to try to seize the Noilafa Pass. It failed, but only narrowly.

The Skallands tried to force their way through the strong trenches which were now all over this western area by an attack in July over the Sulophaio, east of Buatphaio, but they had little success and heavy casualties. In August, they made a renewed attack on the Noilafa Pass, in the Battle of Noilafa, but the fort of Latala held out, and a counter-attack by the Atlanteans regained some ground. The Skallands now realised that their plan of crossing the hills and getting behind the Atlantean troops on the Sulophaio was impossible, because of the massive Atlantean defence, and looked elsewhere for a decisive blow. Atlantis had concentrated on the war at sea, and was content to remain largely on the defensive, building up a tank force behind the Decanda Runix, in preparation for a major attack later in the year, and amphibious attacks in 846. She did carry out some small-scale but expensive assaults west out of the Cressdun Pass towards Cairtan, and in the Mountan area east of the Gedandolix Mountains.

In September, the Skallands prepared a large attack south from Runcairn to seize the Sulamona Hills, the Decanda Hills and the Decabrumu Pass, while a large tank force swung right round the east of the hills via Ronhusso to beat up the Atlantean rear. The advance to the hills was successful, but the Skallands could not cross the crest. The tank force steamed round the hills, but then, disastrously, came up against the vast reserves that Atlantis was training around Ronhusso. In the Battle of Ronhusso, in October, the Skalland tanks were nearly annihilated, with relatively few Atlantean casualties, and forced to flee back behind the Ruphaio, where the front was held solidly by Skalland infantry.

At sea, 845 saw a series of disasters for the Skallands, who had lost all command of the waters by the end of the year. Initially, the Skallands retained this command, and their Eliossa fleet rampaged up and down the coast of Yciel Atlantis bombarding Atlantean towns and ports. At the same time, an amphibious force landed on Alosono island, and took it back into Skalland hands. Both sides sought to prevent neutrals trading with the other, including Quendelieh, and soon the Skallands started to blockade Quendi ports and bases in Yciel Atlantis, such as Nundler. This could only lead to the inevitable breakdown in relations between the two countries. In April, the Atlantean navy based at Achosil, emerged to give battle. It had been virtually blockaded by the Skallands, but had nevertheless received reinforcements. It attacked the Skallands in the Second Battle of Phonimori, and utterly defeated them. Their navy retreated back north up the straits. This finally encouraged the Quendi to announce that while they would retain their neutral stance in the war, they insisted on their ships retaining the freedom to roam the seas and trade with whomever they wished. So they declared the whole area of the Phonerianix Lirilix, which was bordered by many of their bases and ports, a neutral area, through which neither combatant could pass its ships. To prevent this, they placed a cordon of their own ships across it, and warned that any belligerent attempting to cruise up the straits would automatically be considered an enemy of Quendelieh. This declaration was of course a bigger blow to the Skallands than the Atlanteans, as it prevented the remains of their Arelosa fleet from easily joining their comrades at Leiyola, or attacking Atlantean installations on Yciel Atlantis. The Atlanteans, on the other hand, could concentrate all their forces in the Marossa Liranca, without fear of strong Skalland interference.

Skallandieh was determined not to be beaten by the Quendi, however, and although she did not dare flout their blockade, she sent the Arelosa fleet, duly repaired, on a long circuit round the west of Phoneria island in August. The plan was for this navy to try to join up with the Leiyola fleet and defeat each Atlantean navy separately. But the Atlantean fleet at Sulosos intercepted the Skalland navy as it came round the east of Phoneria, and in the Second Battle of Sulosos thoroughly defeated the Skallands, sinking many ships, capturing others and scattering the rest. Some managed to escape but had either to travel all the way back round Phoneria or join the Leiyola fleet. This had emerged some way into the Marossa Liranca, but was kept from joining its fellow fleet by the Atlantean navy at Achosil. This also prevented many of the ships fleeing from the latest battle getting through to Leiyola. Thus the year ended with the Atlanteans triumphant at sea, and actively planning amphibious invasions for 846.

To read the next part of this history, click on (5) 846

 

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