War of the Njord
The War of the Njord (Tynic: Njordhavskrigen, Anglish: Wye of the Njord), was a one year and four month long war fought between Sjealand and Ambrose over the Tårnøerne (also known as the Tower Islands), an archipelago in the Sea of Njord under Sjealandic sovereignty. Ambrose had long disputed the Sjealandic claim to the islands, going as far back as to the 800's but first cemented after the Ambrosian War of Liberation in the 1600s where the Kingdom of Ambrose, newly independent from Sjealand, laid claim to the archipelago; they had previously been contested in both the Great War of the North and the Continental War, with Ambrose ceding control the islands in the aftermath of the latter conflict. The conflict was immediately sparked by several incidents concerning fishing rights, an issue that was seized upon by the Ambrosian President Husband Kipling in order to boost his government's faltering popularity.
The war began on Monday, 21 June 1971, when Ambrosian piston-engined fighter-bombers assaulted Sjealandic airfields on the islands. An parachute drop of the elite Special Airborne Brigade was followed by the amphibious landings of three different assault groups on the 39 inhabited islands. The small garrison as well as the local home guard put up sporadic resistance but were quickly overpowered, and would surrender by the following day. Despite the rapid victory, however, Ambrosian predictions that the government in Asgård would immediately sue for peace ultimately came to nought. In the following weeks Ambrose attempted to severely hinder Sjealandic capabilities to strike back against the occupation by launching several air raids against ports and airfields on the Sjealandic coast, culminating in a costly bombing campaign that only served to compromise Ambrosian aerial superiority over the islands; the Royal Sjealandic Air Force used their more modern and numerous jet fighters to harry Ambrosian resupply ships and strike ground targets virtually unopposed.
In early December 1971, Sjealand launched several amphibious assaults on the southern islands and were able to rapidly overwhelm the Ambrosian defenders. The occupation forces were further paralyzed by a precarious supply situation and an indecisive wartime cabinet in Elsbridge, detached from the strategic realities of the front. Exploiting the poor communication and disorganized withdrawal of their enemy, by April of 1972 Sjealand had retaken just over half of the islands. After attempts at negotiation through the Nordanian League failed, the Sjealandic forces renewed their offensive in the summer of 1972. The northern islands, with a native population that was partially made up of ethnic Ambrosians, offered much stauncher resistance. However, Sjealandic forces were able to slog their way across the islands in bloody skirmishes and firefights, culminating in the 73-day-long siege of the city of Ambrösihöfn (Port Ambrose). The siege, which saw a humanitarian crisis as the city was cut off from basic utilities, ended in late September with a helicopter evacuation of the remnants of the Tower Islands Expeditionary Force (as well as Ambrosian civilians), finally liberating the islands. The Ambrosian government publicly vowed to mount an operation to retake the islands, but these efforts were hampered when the Sjealandic air force began bombing metropolitan Ambrose. The deteriorating political situation in Ambrose led the new Ambrosian president, Governeur K. Mallory, to launch a preemptive self-coup to prevent the military from taking power; his government sued for peace in November. The ceasefire, signed on the tiny Ambrosian outlying island of Samphreigh, ended hostilities; the underlying issue regarding sovereignty over the islands, however, was not resolved.
The war had a significant effect in terms of the domestic situation in Ambrose, as it lead to the collapse of the Conservative-Military coalition government that had held power for over a decade. The gross mismanagement of the war, coupled with coup attempts in its immediate aftermath, discredited the military in the eyes of the public and contributed to their absence from electoral politics for the next decade. The instability surrounding the war, which manifested itself in mass protests, draft riots, and the eventual resignation of Mallory in disgrace, would only be alleviated with the election of Reformite Harold Gamble in 1973. The islands were also deeply affected by the conflict, where memories of the occupation remain. The ethnic Ambrosians remaining on the islands were branded as collaborators and faced discrimination by both Tynic authorities and the other native populations immediately after the war. Several monuments to Sjealandic soldiers and resistance fighters have been erected in towns and villages across the islands. It has also run through the popular media of both nations, with movies, video games, and TV series made during and after the conflicts. In Ambrose, several areas have been named after the islands and official maps produced by the Ambrosian government still show the Tower Islands as part of the country.
Diplomatic relations between Sjealand and Ambrose were restored in 1978 following a meeting in Mulford, the capital of Wosrac. The Mulford Conference failed to solve the dispute; however, both states issued a statement saying that there would be no further armed conflict over the islands, and that while Ambrose would continue to contest the Sjealandic claim to the islands, it pledged to achieve them either in an international court or through democratic processes. Several modern-day groups in Ambrose advocate the repudiation of the conference and the retaking of the islands by force; however, these are for the most part considered fringe elements, in spite of the ongoing cold war between Sjealand and Ambrose.
- 1 Prelude
- 2 Initial Ambrosian invasion
- 3 Battle for aerial domination
- 4 Sjealandic counter-attack
- 5 Taking of the central islands
- 6 Northern campaign
- 7 End of the war
- 8 Aftermath
- 9 Press and publicity
- 10 Cultural impact
- 11 International opinions
In the months leading up to the conflict, the Conservative administration of Ambrosian President Husband Kipling had been loudly voicing its displeasure with the Sjealandic rule over the islands. Domestic controversy surrounding the autocratic military rule as well as the government's perceived poor handling of the Second Northumbrian Emergency prompted Kipling to attempt to reunify public opinion in order to boost his coalition's popularity for the upcoming elections of 1971; this was, amongst other things, achieved via smear campaigns against Sjealand, the nation's most prominent historical enemy, with government-sponsored media outlets mocking the Sjealandic monarchy, culture and language. The campaigns had been very effective, with Ambrosian tourism to cities like Asgård falling dramatically; however, they were heavily criticised by Sjealand and other Nordanian states as being prejudiced and serving to only increase tensions in Nordania. This was followed by vocal renewed claims to the Tårnøerne islands in international circles, labelling Sjealandic fishing in Tårnøerne waters as "overfishing in Ambrosian territory." Doctored footage of Sjealandic fishermen supposedly dumping trash in Tårnøerne fisheries were presented as truth in Ambrose, and anti-Sjealandic sentiment ran high. This sentiment was also shared by the aggressive military members of the President's Cabinet, with Admiral George MacBrien Dilkes and General Cuthbert Ellison heavily advocating the use of force in taking the Tårnøerne islands. By early 1970, they had succeeded in convincing President Kipling that the islands should at some point be retaken.
The decision to use military force in taking the islands came in part from Sjealand's involvement in the Seemark Conflict in northern Swastria, where ethnic Tynic nationalists were leading a guerrilla campaign against the Swastrian government including large-scale terror attacks in Seemark and the rest of Swastria. The nationalists received covert military training in Sjealand and were in part funded by the Sjealandic government. This was an open secret, and much of Sjealand's military and focus was thus laid on its southern border with Swastria, causing them to neglect their northern military areas. This information was noted by Ambrosian military intelligence, watching the situation evolving in southern Sjealand with great interest, and they eventually concluded that enough of Sjealand's military was concentrated on Swastria that an invasion to take the islands would be feasible. The tensions in Nordania were raised even further in May 1971 when Ambrose, through several shell companies around Nordania, mailed copies of the Ambrosian constitution, dictionary and national anthem to the citizens on the Tårnøerne, an act which Sjealand heavily protested. The Ambrosian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that the government respected the existing border despite disputing sovereignty of the islands; however, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was sacked only weeks later.
The actual operational plan to take the islands, codenamed Operation Merfiend, was presented to and approved by President Kipling in December of 1970. In May of 1971, several Ambrosian-flagged trawlers and cutters were spotted off the coast of the islands, later revealed to be part of a military ploy not only to test the Sjealandic response but also to spy on several military installations on the coast. Military intelligence officers were also dispatched to the islands to pose as tourists and photograph several military installations as well as possible landing spots for the upcoming invasion.
Initial Ambrosian invasion
The final greenlight for the operation was given by President Kipling midday on Monday, the 21st of June. The date was optimal for invasion, as the Sjealanders on the islands were celebrating Midsummer, and many of the islands garrison would be drunk or, in the case of much of the Home Guard, in their own homes. At 20:21, three squadrons of Ambrosian piston-engined MacCullough SM.4 Petrel fighter bombers, flying low across the Njord to avoid radar detection, were spotted by Home Guardsmen; however Sjealandic air forces failed to scramble before the small squadron at Laugarás Airbase was attacked on the ground, taking out the helicopters and observation planes stationed there while the airmen were at the mess hall celebrating. At the Naval Station Stykkishólmur, the two patrol vessels at dock were quickly sunk by torpedoes.
At the same time as the Ambrosian air force was hitting the Home Guard emplacements, Ambrosian MacCullough Albatross transport planes, now secure from aerial interception, dropped a platoon of 50 men of the elite Special Airborne Brigade in the Laugarás wheat fields, with the airbase being their target. Although on approach they took fire from the few gate guards who had not abandoned their posts in the chaos, they killed one and wounded several others. This allowed the commandos to make their way inside the burning compound, quickly taking the rest of the personnel prisoners. Although the runway and hangar facilities had been severely damaged in the attack, the capture of the airfield would eventually allow the Ambrosians to begin flying in further troops, solidifying their grip on the islands in the early hours of the invasion.
With Ambrose having gained control over the air-space, three different naval columns approached the islands. After naval batteries obliterated the few fortifications on the islands, the Ambrosian Expeditionary Force, having shipped out overnight, were cleared to make their coordinated amphibious landings the following morning at 08:00. The 2,900 men in Expeditionary Group North, under the command of Brevet General Hugh Warburton, landed on the northern islands, driving towards the capital of Ambrösihöfn; General William Kerr's 3,500 men of Expeditionary Group South assaulted the southern islands, aiming to capture the town of Laugarás. Expeditionary Group Centre, the largest assault group with 4,500 men under General William Stanhope, took the central islands, with the primary objective being the town of Stykkishólmur.
The landings largely came unopposed on the beaches, allowing for the troops to quickly make their way inland. As Ambrosian troops landed on the northern island of Stórnorðureyja, small groups of men from the Home Guard put up sporadic firefights with the invaders but were unsuccessful; with the chaotic communications situation, many of their compatriots had not been informed of the situation at all (many assuming the far off explosions were thunder) and were captured in their dining rooms. The Ambrösihöfn garrison of 150 men was able to mobilize and prepared to defend the city, blocking off entrances to the city. Arsenals with the standard service rifle, the ARL F9, were opened and the rifles handed out to the soldiers in preparation for the coming Ambrosian assault. However, advance elements of Ambrosian armor, namely Poirier T.10 APCs supported by Tetrach light tanks, succeeded in pushing through the few makeshift barricades that had managed to be erected and were nearing the city center by midday. The defenders surrendered the city at 16:12, with the mayor of the city personally requesting it under a flag of truce despite objections from the garrison commander. After the fall of Ambrösihöfn, resistance on the northern islands essentially ceased.
On the central part of the archipelago, General Herluf Nygaard, a regular army officer who was vacationing on the islands at the time, took command of the remaining garrisons spread out across the islands (at this point numbering around 240 men) and tried to establish a perimeter in the forests near Stykkishólmur, where he fell upon an advancing column of Ambrosians before retreating back in and fortifying his position. Soon, another wave of Ambrosian Petrel fighter bombers arrived and launched several attacks on their positions, succeeding in destroying several civilian vehicles that had been by the soldiers. Throughout the evening there were firefights between the Sjealandic troops and the Ambrosian invaders, as the front slowly moved towards the outer edges of Stykkishólmur with 5 houses being badly destroyed in the ensuing firefights. With several dozen wounded, 2 dead and the prospect of running out of ammunition Nygaard surrendered to the Ambrosians at 03:20 on the morning of the 22nd, handing over his ceremonial marshal's baton and his sabre to the Ambrosian commander, General William Stanhope. In the following days he was declared a prisoner of war and moved to the Ambrosian military prison at Elsbridge, mainland Ambrose along with the majority of his men. The rest were kept on the islands, imprisoned in local theaters or large houses, and would later be used as workers in an attempt to re-fortify the island.
The southern part of the archipelago saw the fiercest combat as the Ambrosians sought to destroy the Sjealandic air force presence at Laugarás. As a result, the vast majority of infrastructure at and around the air force base was heavily damaged in the fighting. However the local Home Guard, warned by runners from the air force base early into the fighting, put up a tough resistance in the town of Laugarás, fortifying the city centre and opening fire on the first Ambrosian soldiers to approach. For the next 5 hours there were almost continuous firefights between the Home Guard and the Ambrosians until the Ambrosian commander delivered an ultimatum: if the defenders did not surrender, the Ambrosians would be forced to level the town with their IFVs. At 03:20 all fighting had ceased on the islands, allowing Ambrose to fully occupy them. The Tower Ey's were declared an Ambrosian protectorate by executive order at 05:30; the same day, the House of Burgesses met and voted to affirm the archipelago's status as a county of Ambrose, a proclamation that was met by roaring celebrations from the masses who had assembled in Elsbridge. The day was declared a national holiday and the majority of non-essential workers were given the day off to celebrate.
The Sjealandic government was alerted to the invasion by Herluf Nygaard, who contacted the command staff of the Sjealandic Defence from the payphone outside his vacation home. The command staff then verified the news with the units it was able to reach on the islands before they went dark. A worker within the command staff leaked tapes containing Nygaard's conversation with the command staff to the press, and the following morning people could hear Nygaard in contact with the command staff with heavy combat in the background. Valdemar Brüggemann, the Grand Chancellor, called for an emergency meeting in both chambers of the Rigsdag, both the Landsting and the Folketing. Debates rushed in the Folketing as the Conservative Brüggemann debated the leader of the opposition Karl Schlüter of the Radicals on whether or not to treat the attack as an official declaration of war. These debates were ended as the ambassador of Ambrose to Sjealand, Frederick Harlickson, delivered the Ambrosian declaration of war to the Sjealandic government at 10:20 AM. His government had not warned him of the attack and had first ordered him to deliver it after, so to keep the moment of surprise. As a result Johnson had to be escorted by the police to the Rigsdag in order to protect himself from the angry mobs who has assembled in front of the Ambrosian embassy and were bombarding it with excrement and rocks.
With the declaration of war a fact, and the possibility of an escalation in the future, the Rigsdag held a united meeting with the government and opposition so to discuss how to handle the crisis. Ymer Hansen of the Progress Party suggested a diplomatic protest as well as the urging of other Nordanian states to sanction and embargo Ambrose, however this was shot down by both Brüggemann and Schlüter, who both deemed a military response the most sensible. Via secret radio they were able to contact a public official on the islands who confirmed that the large Ambrosian military presence was increasing and that the Swastrian flag had been raised by the Ambrosians at a war memorial, much to the shock of the Rigsdag. The government gave the green light for preparations of a defence of the mainland of mainland Sjealand, Vestmannaland as well as the many islands surrounding the coast, giving the name Operation Solvogn to the prepared defence of the mainland. Brüggemann also ordered that plans for an operation to retake the islands be drawn up, and that the submarines KSS Ndding and KSS Riget be dispatched from Nordvakt to spy on Ambrosian naval maneuvers around the southern islands. It was however not decided to dispatch the Royal Sjealandic Navy until the situation had been fully ascertained. At the same time a state of emergency was declared throughout Sjealand. The command of the north-Sjealandic defence was given to General Sverre Bratland, while Admiral Schack Brockdorff and General August Baggesen were given command for the planned operation to retake the islands.
Brüggemann established an emergency war-cabinet and ordered his foreign minister Vagner Solväg to contact the Tuthinan Government and ask for material support or diplomatic support of the their Borean allies. However fears laid high in Sjealand that Tuthina would be unable to help, as it was devastated by the Tuthinan Civil War that ended a few years prior. Throughout Tuesday the war-cabinet held different meetings with the government and the military high command, meetings which continued almost daily for the remainder of the conflict.
Attempted sabotage in Montecara
As documents released after the war confirmed, part of the Ambrosian war plan was to attack Sjealandic warships at anchor in third countries. One such ship was the KSS Vidderne, a frigate on rotation at the Port of Montecara in keeping with the basing rights agreement that had been concluded between Montecara and Sjealand.
The Ambrosian navy flew a team of four frogmen under cover as tourists to Montecara on 21 June. The team was issued with false passports and carried commercial diving equipment, with the cover story that they were going on a sport diving expedition off the Montecaran coast. Separately and simultaneously, the Ambrosian government sent a limpet mine in a diplomatic pouch to the Ambrosian embassy in Montecara. The plan was for the team to, under cover of night, dive into the Bay of Montecara and attach the mine to the warship's hull below the waterline armed with a timed fuse, ideally causing enough damage to keep the ship from sailing back to Nordania for at least the duration of the war.
The team of saboteurs cleared customs without incident, hired a car, and checked into a hotel near the harbor where the Vidderne was berthed, and settled in for the night.
Problems began almost immediately when the first part of the plan, acquiring the mine, was put into action. One member of the team, Ollie Barlow, drove to the Ambrosian embassy with a small shopping bag that he intended to use to carry the mine back to the car parked outside. He was shocked to discover, however, that the mine weighed nearly 30 kg and was far bulkier than he had anticipated. Further complicating the situation was the fact that the intelligence staff at the embassy had also intended to provide the group with four pistols, ammunition, and a large quantity of Montecaran libra. He traded the decoy shopping bag for a large backpack borrowed from one of the embassy staff, filled it to capacity with the mine, weapons, and cash, and left the embassy through the front street entrance. The Ambrosians were unaware that Montecara's intelligence service, DEOS, had been monitoring comings and goings at the embassy since the conflict escalated. The suspicious behavior was immediately noticed and Montecaran intelligence agents tailed Barlow at a distance as he led them back to the hotel.
Barlow returned to the group convinced that the pickup had gone well, and the team decided to have lunch at a harborside restaurant to surveil the area around the target. Shortly after the group departed, a maid entered their suite to make up the beds and immediately noticed that they had left a large quantity of cash out in the open. Suspecting that the group was involved in criminal activity, she reported the money to the hotel manager, who in turn phoned the Dragòni to alert them to the suspicious circumstances.
Unbeknownst to the group, two separate agencies, DEOS and the Dragòni, were now closely monitoring their activity. By the time they finished lunch and taken “tourist” photos on the beach to use later for planning, both agencies had set up stakeouts at their hotel, and scrutiny at the Ambrosian embassy was further heightened. They returned to find their rooms made up and the cash undisturbed, and while Barlow later noted that he felt they had blundered by leaving the money in plain view, he did not believe that there was immediate cause for alarm.
Meanwhile, the Dragòni were preparing to investigate the situation on the supposition that the group was involved in organized crime. An examination of the hotel's ledger, in which the men registered with their false (but still Ambrosian) identities, heightened suspicions. The detective who led the case later said that he initially suspected that the group made the trip to hide assets in Montecaran banks and to convert their money into libra out of fear that the war would cause the Ambrosian pound sterling to crash. Assuming that they were dealing with non-violent financial criminals, the Dragòni decided to simply wait until the next morning when the group was back in their suite and ask them about the money in person.
DEOS, however, was fully aware that the group was likely connected with Ambrosian intelligence and should be considered armed and dangerous, but Executive Director Zèno Buscaglia decided to hold off on a confrontation in order to gather as much information as possible about their activities. The stakeout was escalated, with armed DEOS agents positioned so that they could observe all entrances to the hotel as well as the windows of the group's suite.
Still entirely unaware that they were being observed, the group spent the night of the 22nd at the hotel's restaurant and bar, where declassified reports later revealed that at least one DEOS agent struck up a conversation with them. In his report, the agent described the group as "messily drunk by 11:30... one member made an oblique reference to 'plans' they had for the next evening and when pressed said they were going diving. When I asked them which beach they were diving at, or if they had hired a boat, they were unable to produce a clear answer." Armed with the available information, DEOS leadership decided to confront them if and when they appeared to leave the hotel with the backpack from the embassy or any other suspicious package.
The next morning, however, the Dragòni executed its own plan, sending two uniformed officers to the group's suite at approximately 9:30. Barlow, looking through the spyhole and assuming that they had been found out, alerted the rest of the group in a hushed panic and told them to arm themselves. DEOS agents watching from a hotel room across the street looked on in horror as the group stood with weapons drawn waiting for the door to open. Barlow finally cracked the door and asked the Dragòni what was the matter; when they responded that they had some questions for him, he asked for a moment and tried to shut the door. The Dragòni, however, began to force themselves in. Certain that they were being raided, the other members of the group began firing, killing both officers within seconds. The DEOS agents outside immediately radioed in for backup but refrained from firing into the room in an effort to avoid collateral injuries. The saboteurs, shocked that there were only two gendarmes and beginning to realize that they had made a terrible mistake, began to run downstairs to their car. DEOS agents placed at the hotel entrance were forewarned, though, and shot one member of the group as he tried to escape. The other three members successfully fought their way out of the building, killing one DEOS officer and injuring another in the process, but were stopped in their car by intense gunfire. Two more saboteurs were killed in the car, with only Barlow alive, albeit heavily wounded.
Barlow was taken to a nearby hospital and interrogated after being stabilized, whereon he immediately confessed the entire plan to Montecaran intelligence. The Dragòni recovered and disarmed the mine and found ample evidence that corroborated the plan in the group's hotel suite.
The Montecaran government was furious. The botched plan had cost the lives of three Montecaran public servants and shattered any trust that had previously existed between Ambrose and Montecara. The Colegio ordered the entire staff of the Ambrosian embassy to leave the country within 24 hours or face detention; they complied, and relations were not restored for another five years. The Ambrosian ambassador's car was pelted with eggs and rotten fruit on its way to the airport. Secretary of State Alina di Nèli declared Montecara's unqualified support for Sjealand on June 25.
Position of third party countries
Almost as soon as the war broke out diplomatic voices from across the Nordano-Conitian supercontinent. Nations and governments traditionally aligned with Sjealand, or sharing historical ties to them, such as Jorland and Lothican, Nameria and Montecara voiced their support for the Sjealandic side, condemning the Ambrosian invasion as illegal and a violation of international law. Furthermore the governments of Hagieria and Agrilan and Aurega did not outright support the Sjealandic side, but did condemn the invasion as aggressive, most of these nations pressured for an international solution to the war, Aurega proposing the Nordanian Court mediate.
The government and people of Swastria publicly supported the Ambrosian invasion, calling it a rightous seizure of Ambrosian land, with many Swastrians flying the Ambrosian flag in support. This great amount of support can partly be attributed to Sjealandic support for ethnic Tynic paramilitary groups operation in Northern Swastria. These were responsible for numerous deaths among Swastrian police and military as well as a series of terror attacks so public opinion of Sjealand was at an all time low. The governments of Eibenland and Desena also agreed with Swastria, recognizing the territory as Ambrosian a week after the seizure.
Karazawa, Champenia and Ainin all condemned the fighting itself, taking no sides in the conflicts, but Champenian NGO's did spearhead public fundraising campaigns in Nordano-Conitia in support of the civilian victims of the conflict, bringing in millions and supplying food and necessary supplies along with winter clothing for the civilian population caught in the conflict.
With Sjealand traditionally having had a further global reach than Ambrose, Sjealand had better relations with many Borean nations. Both Tuthina and Senria declared their full support for Sjealand, with Senria offering shipments of arms and humanitarian goods, while Tuthina would later support Sjealand actively in the war through the use of an expeditionary air force. The governments of Siphria and Min also diplomatically supported Sjealand, but did not actively aid them. The Emperor of Siphria, Anaslu-šaduni II, would visit Sjealand in 1972, publicly declaring that he could "see no more righteous and upstanding nation". He would later personally send a letter of congratulations to the Archking when the war ended.
The nation of Tinza, Razaria and Zesmynia all diplomatically recognized the Ambrosian annexation but made no further statements, while the Republic of Aucuria formally expressed neutrality and called for arbitration between the two warring sides. Comparisons between Sjealand and Ambrose made by members of the Aucurian press and general public during the conflict sparked anger among many Sjealanders, who felt insulted by the statements.
In Lecia the revolutionary government condemned both nations as imperialist, with Józef Kasperski claiming that the true losers of the war would be the workers. However the Lec royal household in exile, based in Asgård, fully supported Sjealand, as did many members of the Rodnewiary clergy.
Battle for aerial domination
Bombings in Sjealand
Ambrose had expected Brüggemann's government to quickly sue for peace following the occupation of the islands, and had deemed a diplomatic protest and international sanctions the harshest likely outcome of the situation. This proved to be an extraordinary miscalculation, and, as no calls for negotiations came from Asgård in the weeks after, Kipling began to become worried as the severity of the situation - a protracted naval conflict - began to set in. The President personally demanded his military cabinet members redraw their strategic plans for the region to a full war footing, over the objections of Admiral MacBrien Dilkes, who argued that Ambrosian naval air power was not sufficiently modernized to win such a conflict alone. Nevertheless, plans were drawn up to target Sjealandic naval ports, airfields, and industrial bases along the northern coast; this was intended to both destroy the Sjealandic ability to mount any significant counter-attack as well as to dissuade the Tuthinan government for intervening against Ambrose.
The first raids, mounted by supersonic MacCullough A12 Shearwater fighter bombers and escorted by MacCullough PM.52 Kestrels, occurred in the early morning of 5 August and targeted the large military garrison stationed at Bondø; the garrison sustained significant casualties and encouraged the Ambrosian Confederal Aerial Corps to continue such raids. From the 7th to the 30th of August, over two dozen different raids were launched, most from the repaired Lagauras Airbase in the Tårnøerne, striking at the naval stations at Nillas, Lindesnes, and Nordvakt, with varying success. In addition to this, also targeted were the civilian ports and factories at Varmahlíõ, Austevoll, and Bakkafjörður. In these early months of the war, curfews, blackouts, and other air raid procedures were re-instated by the civilian officials of numerous Sjealandic cities, protocols which had not been in effect since the war scares of the Second Continental War.
On September 3rd, after a brief pause in raids, Ambrosian aircraft, in a night attack, dropped three dozen naval mines into the harbor at Varhaugr, bottling up the fleet stationed there; this was followed by a similar attack on Tørnes the following night, with mixed results. Despite this, during this period the Ambrosian Aerial Corps enjoyed relative air superiority over the islands of northern Sjealand, largely due to their ability to out-dogfight and distract the limited numbers of Sjealandic fighters available. This was made clear by the August 16th strike on the Sjealandic capital of Asgård; twenty Shearwaters flew out of Lagaurás and, flying with extra fuel tanks at their maximum supersonic speed, dropped 140 bombs on the unsuspecting city near midnight; though the jets did not have the range to make it back to the Tårnøerne, most were able to land in western Swastria, with their pilots being briefly interned before being repatriated. Though the raid accomplished little in terms of strategic objectives, with the majority of the bombs landing harmlessly in the Royal Botanical Gardens, it served as a major propaganda victory for Ambrose, illustrating their far-reaching strike capability. It also highlighted the lack of readiness and deficiencies of early warning systems amongst fighter squadrons both in the north and in the south of Sjealand, which would be important to later rectify.
In late August, the first flights of Ambrosian bombers began to encounter surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries, which had been newly assembled near both vital military staging areas and civilian infrastructure. This initiative, which had been pushed for before the war by Air Marshal Sverre Bratland, was the first widespread use of SAM in Midgardian history, and it caught Ambrosian pilots largely unexpectedly, with flight casualties mounting rapidly in the final two weeks of Augusts. The Ambrosian cabinet, wary of the continuing Sjealandic military buildup and the now-inevitable arrival of Tuthinan forces, refused to cut back on raids, and instead developed new tactics to deal with the missiles; bombers began to take low-flying approaches to their targets, which made their detection by radar and SAMs difficult but also increased their susceptibility to anti-aircraft batteries, a weakness which would be exploited to great affect by the Sjealandic military at home.
Sjealandic request for Tuthina to intervene in its favour quickly stirred up major debate among the upper echelon within the Empire. The bloody civil war that devastated the country had just ended, leaving the archipelago in shambles, and the Katëk pox was still ravaging the less developed area of the country. In dire need for reconstruction, many nobles and scholars pleaded to Emperor Katëk against intervening in order to focus on internal reconstruction. Despite that, the Emperor ultimately rejected their appeal, stating that "our great country is bound by honour of our words" as he announced his decision in the Imperial Court.
Invoking the obligation to defend its allies in Nordania, the Imperial government formally declared war against Ambrose on 28 June 1971. However, recognising the desperate need of manpower for homeland reconstruction, as well as defence of the realm against possible invasions, the Imperial General Headquarters concluded that the majority of the expedition were to be comprised primarily of airforce, with naval escort deploying solely to defend convoy to Sjealand.
Yayomanekuh Oeroski, a veteran pilot serving Gyrfalcon Air Fleet during the Great Republican Uprising, was appointed the leader of Yokang (Syodongmun: 楡罡, Enciw: owpeka'atni) Independent Air Division. Comprising virtually all Tuthinan war effort in the War of the Njords and granted autonomy from homeland, Oeroski was made the de facto supreme commander of Tuthinan expedition to Sjealand.
Due to the long distance from Tuthina to Sjealand, the air division was to be transported by sea under armed escort. Although the Byunpyung fighters forming the bulk of the unit were ultimately transported that way, Oeroski requested several Sinlwëy bombers to be flowned directly to Sjealand with him commanding the leading plane. Having calculated that Sinlwëy had a range just enough to traverse the Voragic Ocean, Oeroski believed that the sight of Tuthinan bombers landing in Sjealand would boost the morale of the locals and demonstrate Tuthinan capability to project power across great distance by air.
Nicknamed "Asgård Express", Oeroski's bomber squadron took off in Fafa'ëd-nu-ququl in eastern Home Islands at the night of 4 July. Using the stars to navigate, the squadron crossed the Great Ocean successfully, making their landing at Flyvestation Guttorp in Asgård at dawn of the same day due to it crossing the International Date Line en route. The rest of the division gradually arrived between 10 and 20 July by sea, and were soon reorganised for deployment.
Fielding the only twinjet fighter aircraft in the conflict, Byunpyung was capable of carrying double the amount of armament both in quantity and weight. Combined with the majority of pilots being veterans from the Great Republican Uprising, Yokang Air Division fared well assisting Sjealandic fighters against their Ambrosian counterpart. Regaining air superiority above Sjealand and later Tårnøerne Islands, Tuthinan bombers began conducting maritime interdiction against Ambrosian convoy and occasionally land targets, eventually joining force with Royal Sjealandic Air Force in bombing Ambrose proper. During the last days of the war, several Hwenglwëy bombers were deployed in Sjealand, but saw little action before the war ended.
Of all 108 warplanes forming the expedition force, 17 fighters and 2 bombers were lost in combat, amounting to 22 casualties, with an additional 2 fighters being scrapped after sustaining battle damage. Oeroski, participating in most bomber sorties, was injured during an attack on convoy near Stykkishólmur and had to amputate his left leg.
Battles over Nordvakt
As it became increasingly clear that Tuthina's declaration of war was not a feint and that expeditionary forces would be sent to participate in the fighting, the Ambrosian General Staff determined the most vital military target to be the city of Nordvakt, on the Sjealandic mainland. The city's port had been struck at once before during the initial bombing raids, however it had failed to either destroy the port facilities or significantly damage the Royal Sjealandic Navy fleet in harbor there. Despite successful attacks on other Sjealandic naval bases such as at Varhaugr, Nordvakt remained the most likely point from which a counter-invasion of the islands could be launched. Kipling ordered Air Marshal Gospatrick Brown to plan a massive assault on the base
Brüggeman had indeed been planning an operation to retake the islands, codenamed Operation Langskib, and even in the early iterations the plan was in in late August, it had become clear the fleet at Nordvakt would be necessary to achieve naval control of the water and to allow for an amphibious invasion; the Sjealandic military, however, had foreseen the possibility of an Ambrosian attack and divested significant resources into protecting the base. The air force base at Varmahlíõ was quickly rebuilt after having been burnt to the ground, and its aircraft complement was increased; military aircraft also appropriated several civilian airfields in the vicinity. The Air Force's SAM program, which had formerly been focused on defending the entirety of the northern Sjealand coast, became gradually focused on the Nordvakt area, as its future strategic importance became increasingly clear. For the most part, these plans were kept secret, and Elsbridge was not aware of the scale of preparations.
The first raid, comprised of two flights of Shearwaters armed with air-to-sea missiles, occurred in the early hours of September 2nd; however, the planes were spotted on the radar of a Sjealandic patrol craft, and Sjealandic Hastrup KF-10 Glenten fighters, operating from makeshift bases, were scrambled to intercept, shooting down three Ambrosian jets before they were forced to turn around for home. The failed raid was met with outrage from the General Staff, which demanded that Brown order another assault. A second wave on September 3rd took flight along the same trajectory, and was torn apart by Sjealandic interceptors before the few survivors were able to reach the target. The fleet suffered minimal damage. Night attacks on the base followed with increasing numbers of Ambrosian aircraft throughout the rest of the week, however, their radar evasion tactics proved ineffective and by the September 5th, they had suffered heavy losses in proportion to the original force based on the islands. Nearly three dozen Ambrosian pilots were killed, with nearly a dozen more captured behind enemy lines, in comparison to minimal Sjealandic losses. Although the government attempted to conceal the situation from the public, it became known to surviving Ambrosian pilots as the "Great Nordvakt Turkey Shoot"
With renewed dominance of the skies over Sjealand, the RSAF began launching pinpoint operations against the Ambrosian occupiers. In early September, several Hastrup KF-10 Glenten fighters engaged with Ambrosian MacCullough P-101 Kestrels in a battle for aerial dominance over the southern part of the Sea of Njord. This renewed aerial combat brought a lot of conflict to the waters in and around the Tårnøerne, with many civilian tankers getting caught underneath dogfights. This prompted the Sjealandic government to declare an exclusion zone around the islands which it strongly urged non-combatant ships to avoid, at the threat of being treated as combatants. Most nations decided to abide by the decision as it was temporary and enacted for the safety of the sailors, but was however met with great protest by Ainin which saw it as an affront to its freedom of navigation. With plans for the upcoming Operation Langskib finished and an increased desire to bring the fight to the Ambrosians the RSAF was authorized to launch pin-point strikes on Ambrosian positions on the southern islands. Operating from makeshift runways at Hafnir and Bakkafjöður the RSAF engaged with the Ambrosian squadrons stationed at Laugarás Airbase as well as launching bombing raids against barracks used by the occupiers.
In response to this the Ambrosian forces on mainland Ambrose began diverting further aircraft from their eastern border towards the war-zone increasing their capacity and ability to combat the numberically superior Sjealanders who were constrained by fighting over open ocean as well as having to attack their own soil. Outside of the fighting nations there was great interest in the conflict which not only displayed the fighting capabilities of several involved fighters but also proved a sneak-peek on the strategies most usable in modern warfare. Most notable of these were the shift from mass aerial assault to pinpoint strikes made by the Sjealandic Hastrup KF-10 Glenten while the newer, more agile Hastrup KF-12 Lynet, which had been introduced to the RSAF proved its merit as a well-designed dogfighter, matching the PM.47 Pewees and PM.52 Kestrels used by the Ambrosian Confederal Aerial Corps.
The aerial battles came to a head in November 1970 with almost daily dogfights over the Sea of Njord, costing 56 lives in that month from shot down planes and Ambrosian strikes on the Sjealandic airfields. In late November several Aininian tankers began moving through the exclusion zone, violating the blockade set up by Sjealand. The majority of them chose to leave the zone once confronted by Sjealandic fighters, however not all did it willingly and some had to be convinced by several warning shots over the bow. On the evening of the 27th of november the Aininian tanker NM La Sirène entered the exclusion zone en route to Dagmar, Jorland and Lothican. A squadron patrolling over the Sea of Njord contacted the vessel, demanding it identify itself. The captain of the ship, Florismart Blanchard, decided to ignore the calls as he thought they were for another ship. Even when one of the planes fired warning shots across the bow there were no response as not only was most of his crew asleep, he did not see the warning shots. After a final warning the jets fired missiles upon the ship, and it was too late for Blanchard to identify himself. The missiles struck at 22:34, with 21 of the 23 crew dying in the ensuing explosion and sinking of the ship. Only Blanchard and another crewmember Vachel Beaudoin survived the sinking, clining to a life-raft until they were picked up by an Ambrosian patrol vessel. The sinking caused a public outrage in Ainin, where the government had been somewhat sympathetic to the Sjealandic cause, with massive demonstrations outside the Sjealandic embassy upon news of the sinking reaching Huimont. While fringe groups in the parliament demanded retaliation the government decided upon full neutrality in the wake of the sinking. However many regional governments decided to boycott Sjealandic goods.
In late November several strike groups from the RSN's Frogman Corps landed on the southern islands, rendezvousing with underground cells of former home guard personnel, some of which had formed small resistances against the Ambrosian occupation. Together they moved against the Ambrosian airfields and military docks, planting explosive charges and trying to sabotage as much as possible. Upon finishing their tasks the groups contacted the mainland, allowing Sjealandic air-power to attack the now grounded Ambrosian fighters, however a large part of the navy stationed on the southern islands were able to escape unharmed, downing 2 Sjealandic jets in the process. These raids were, however, successful in paving the way for the upcoming assault on the southern islands.
With heavy damage done to their jets on the southern islands, the Ambrosian military began the process of moving several new squadrons to the islands in order to combat the increased Sjealandic assaults done to the Ambrosian positions. On 13 December it was decided that the Ambrosian Air Force would expand its field of operations to all of the Sjealandic exclusion zone in an effort to combat the assaults made to Ambrosian shipping and naval manourvers. This culminated with a heavy naval engagement on the 7th where the Sjealandic missile destroyer KSS Ypperligheden and the frigate KSS Indfødsretten clashed with the two Ambrosian corvettes CSS Essex and CSS Carondelet north of Bakkafjördúr. After a long battle the Essex was sunk while Carondelet escaped with light damage. Infødsretten took heavy damage and would be out of commission for repairs for the remainder of the conflict. The battle did however end up as a massive morale boost for the Sjealanders, who until now had been on the defensive, with the RSN being stock at port in Nordvakt or patrolling neighbouring waters. This would soon change as High Command gave the green light for the counter-invasion on the 9th.
On the 11th of December, the RSAF cooperating with Tuthinan strike teams assaulted the southern islands, bombing AA-positions in Laugarás and around the airforce base. With the sabotage done by the Frogmen Corps, helping in limiting the ability of the Ambrosians to strike back the RSAF was able to significantly hinder the Confederal Aerial Corps in intercepting them. The initial attack by air was then supplanted by an assault from the RSN around the islands, which for a time cut them off from the rest of the archipelago. The operation to retake the islands had now officially begun.
As the Sjealandic counterattack began, elements of the Ambrosian naval squadron stationed in port in Stykkishólmur were quickly mobilized to repel the invaders, in a hastily-organized attempt to support the small number of defending forces in the southern islands. Among these ships was the CSS Elsbridge, a recently-modernized 1940s-era Fargo-class light cruiser. The Elsbridge, along with an escort of two Keokuk-class fast torpedo boats, quickly made its way to bombard the Sjealandic invasion force, training its heavy guns on the Sjealandic positions in central Søderøya. However, the Elsbridge was relying on outdated sonobuoys for submarine detection, and was hit by a long-range torpedo launched by the diesel-electric submarine KSS Vanaheim at around 4:35 PM. Though the Vanaheim was chased away by depth charges from the torpedo boats, the Elsbridge slowly foundered in the stormy waters and, with the majority of its crew evacuated, capsized two hours later.
Around this same time, the corvette Carondelet encountered and attacked two Sjealandic amphibious assault ships. However, despite inflicting damage on the helicopter carriers, the Carondelet would be hit by anti-ship missiles fired by patrolling RSAF aircraft supporting the landings, causing heavy damage. The Carondelet, suffering twenty dead, disengaged and returned to port. The sinking and withdrawal, respectively, of its two most important ships in the area, respectively, prompted the Admiralty in Elsbridge to delay any other naval operations until reinforcements arrived from Ambrosihöfn to Stykkishólmur. By the time this occurred, however, night had fallen, and with the news of the losses both on land and on sea coming in, it decided to postpone counterattacks indefinitely, a move that would be met with wide controversy and would later be seen as contributing to the Sjealandic foothold on the islands.
Landings at Søderøya
With the Ambrosian defences on the southern islands under sufficient pressure from the RSAF, the military high command of Sjealand gave the greenlight for the counter-attack. The support from the RSN was able to hold back any significant Ambrosian naval assaults. This provided the necessary cover for the initial wave of Sjealandic marines to land on the island of Søderøya, holding the towns Akrar and Mjørkadalur. Søderøya, being a rather large distance away from the other islands, was garrisoned by elements of the 22nd Trelawney Regiment of Foot, made up primarily of young and inexperienced conscripts, who furthermore were faced with unreliable supply lines and communications with Expeditionary Force HQ. On the early morning of December 10th, the first wave of soldiers was supported by soldiers of the RSA, inserted via helicopters, and the small Ambrosian garrison was forced to regroup at the central part of the island around the town of Baldurshavnr. The Sjealandic troops, bringing in the Tuthinan produced Kawkï APCs and Milstël tanks took control of the main roads of the island, pushing towards the town in two larger collumns while troops from the Jægerkorps fanned out in the rural areas in between them.
The landings saw sporadic engagements as the columns advanced towards Baldurshavnr, with the Jægerkorps ambushing Ambrosian patrol twice close to the villages of Jarnfjördur and Tirlanda. However actual combat was only seen in Baldurshavnr, when the Ambrosian defenders hit back against the Sjealanders with mortar fire and artillery bombardments. This prompted the RSA to dispatch two gunships, which helped in destroying the Ambrosian gun-emplacements, while the troops on the ground moved through the town. Upon being notified that reinforcements would not be forthcoming, the Ambrosian commander made the decision to surrender the islands; by midnight, the fight for Søderøya had concluded, with 23 Sjealanders killed and 30 wounded as well as 41 Ambrosians killed, 81 wounded and 230 captured.
The successful retaking of Søderøya, an impressive counter-intelligence feat considering that Elsbridge had been totally oblivious to the preparations, essentially secured the southern islands of the archipelago; neither Elsbridge nor Expeditionary Force HQ was willing to commit significant numbers of troops to defend the remaining smaller islands, which they considered strategically worthless. Anticipating further attacks, HQ withdrew the garrisons and citizen militias present on those islands, effectively surrendering them to Sjealandic control.
Taking of the central islands
With Sjealandic presence on the islands re-established, the occupying Ambrosians had been dealt a heavy strike, and the process of reclaiming the Tårnøerne was growing more realistic. While Sjealand still only held Søderøya as well as Veidasøya, with the majority of Sjealandic troops concentrated around Leirvik at Veidasøya. At this point Sjealand held practical air-superiority in the southern air-space, with the majority of aerial combat had moved to the airspace between Søldarfjørður in the north and Norðradalur in the south. At Kirkja on Veidasøya an Ambrosian special operations group carried out a raid on a temporary airfield for helicopters, disabling 3 of the Sjealandic transport helicopters and succesfully withdrawing.
These assaults along with a Sjealandic wish to end the war quickly led to the order of a renewed offensive against the Ambrosians beginning at New Years eve 1971. The Ambrosian government had ordered that to cement the Tower Islands as a part of Ambrose, would be celebrated as normally as in Ambrose. As such several Sjealandic transport helicopters were able to land troops on Erikseyja under the cover of the fireworks. The first and second mechanized infantry companies of the Yngsvillas Livhirdindeling's 9th mechanised infantry battalion were inserted at Toftir alongside the 2nd Amphibious Company of 1. Kongelige Dragonhirdindeling´s 1st Armored Battalion which, using amphibious APC's, landed 3km north of Toftir. Lead by Captain Torkild Olsen the companies approached Skáli where two nearby Ambrosian machine-gun positions opened fire. At first Olsen ordered his men to pull back, before re-engaging using the APCs as cover and dispersing the Ambrosian positions.
Under cover of darkness the three companies moved to encircle Norðradalur, which held a sizeable contingent of around 150 Ambrosian troops in well-defended positions in and around the village and armed with mortars. Having not had the time to fly in artillery, and not being able to tow it on the muddy ground on Erikseyja, the Sjealandic forces instead opted for a surprise attack, feigning an attack on the northern flank of the town, which drew Erikseyja mortar-fire from the Ambrosians. Meanwhile Sjealandic APC's and IFV's then moved in from the west and south, blasting at the Ambrosian positions while the infantry flanked the entrenched soldiers. Over the coming 3 hours the Ambrosians slowly retreated into the village before surrendering at 04:43 in the morning on the 1st, having suffered 13 dead and 32 wounded. The entire operation on the island had cost Sjealand around 22 dead and 45 wounded.
The succesful retaking of Erikseyja gave boost to the morale of the Sjealandic forces, who began swelling in greater numbers on the northern frontlines. Vágar, the island which was home the Laugarás, the second largest city on the islands was within reach. However a series of smaller islands and islets lay between the Sjealandic forces and Vágar, several of which were armed with AA batteries and missiles, who could deliver fatal strikes to the fleet of helicopters that was transporting the Sjealandic troops. Debate raged in the High Command on how to deal with the problem until the RSN suggested the use of its marines under cover from its ships and the RSA's jets. This plan was greenlit and preparations for the operation began on the 3rd.
Meanwhile in Elsbridge this move had been anticipated and the period following the Sjealandic retaking of Erikseyja had seen a greater increase in Ambrosian aerial incursions into the operating airspace of the Sjealandic Task Force. This was primarily not to cause any larger actual damage against the Sjealanders but was instead implemented to distract the Sjealanders while larger amounts of men and equipment were airlifted unto the islands. The command in Ambrösihöfn also ordered the cruiser CSS Despenser and the frigate CSS Kirkleas out to sea in the area surrounding the islands.
Sjealandic and Tuthinan jets began their assault on the islands between Erikseyja and Vágar at 05:30 on the 7th, with further assaults being launched on Jórløy and the village of við Air, which had had its civilian population moved to Stykkishólmur to make way for an Ambrosian military base. The aerial assaults managed to make significant dents into the Ambrosian aerial defence, heavily crippling the SAM-batteries at við Air, however in the center the Ambrosians managed to shoot down several Sjealandic jets, and took 3 pilots as POW's. The attack was in the long run a success however, as the bombardment was immediately followed by amphibious landings on the islands from the RSAF's transport ships, who recieved cover from 7 frigates of the Herlev-class. The well-trained marines were quickly able to subdue the majority of Ambrosian positions, suffering no dead and only 5 lightly wounded, however at Jórløy the sizable number of Ambrosians put up a heavy fight, killing Major Håkan Svensson, the commanding officer of the assault on Jórløy. In the end however they were also subdued and the airspace lay open.
This was around the time that the CSS Despenser and the CSS Kirkleas reached the areas after refueling in Laugarás. After recieving light damage the Kirkleas decided to retreat against orders, but the CSS Despenser engaged the Sjealandic frigates in a surprise flanking manouver, where it was able to damage the transport ship KSS Vé. Both outgunned and outnumbered, the frigate never the less managed to damange 3 of the Sjealandic frigates until finally surrendering at 19:21.
After the AA-batteries had been silenced, green light was given to the Sjealandic forces waiting on Erikseyja. Fifteen minutes after the CSS Despenser had surrendered, the first dozen Sjealandic transport helicopters were crossing the waters south of Gjógy located south of the Veirdang isthmus. Gjógy had been chosen as the landing spot, since while it did not have the most optimal landing conditions, the Ambrosians had neglected the defence around the village, making it easier for the Sjealanders to gain a foothold. With support from attack helicopters and jets the transports landed their troops in the fields surrounding the village and at the harbour, with the Ambrosian conscripts guarding the port-authority quickly taken prisoners. The conscripts had succeeded in alarming the surrounding Ambrosian forces in Laugarás, Kollafjørður and Hrafnagil, who quickly dug into their positions and began preparing task-forces to stop the Sjealanders in their tracks. An armoured column from Laugarás airbase linked up with two infantry battalions from Sund and Hrafnagil and proceeded to make their way to Kollafjørður, which held a good overview of the only land-route from the Veirdang isthmus unto mainland Vágar.
Aproximately an hour after the retaking of Gjógy 4 other helicopters landed at Hrafnagil along with amphibious APC´s, attempting to take the town by surprise. The forces were initially succesful in creating a bridgehead around the seawall and the local marina. Using mortars and anti-tank rockets, the Ambrosians hit back hard, disabling a large amount of the Sjealandic armour and leaving the infantry subject to heavy machine-gun fire. Air-support was promised by high-command but was dispatched too late to have a meaningful impact on the battle, and the Sjealandic force surrendered one and a half hours after landing, having suffered 29 casualties.
At Gjógy newer troops and equipment were ferried in from the southern islands as the RSAF wrestled with the Ambrosians for control of the skies. Having realized that further landings on Vágar would only serve as an unnecesary waste of men and material, the Sjealandic High Command decided to put in all efforts on holding and maintaining the positions at Gjógy. This came to the joy of the Ambrosians, who used to clustering of Sjealandic forces to launch quick hairpin assaults on the Sjealandic transports. Trying to negate the overwhelming Sjealandic air superiority, the ACAC struck the Sjealandic transports quickly from low altitudes, using the mountainous island geography to their advantage and negating many of the Sjealandic anti-air missiles. Caught in the deep Gjógy fjord, the Sjealandic transports had to rely increasingly on a number of AA-batteries as well as aerial escorts, which tied down a significant number of troops, who would be needed in the future. Crossing the Veirdang isthmus, several Ambrosian mechanized infantry battalions clashed with Sjealand soldiers in and around the hills surrounding Gjógy.
Maintaining the control of Gjógy was necessary if the Sjealandic Defence wanted to retake Laugarás and the soldiers holding the town were ordered to dig in and repulse the Ambrosians in the highlands, using their defensive position to their advantage. The first series of assaults from the 7th to the 9th of January proved to be early Ambrosian victories, with Ambrosian forces under Colonel Edward Benbow pushing back the Sjealandic left-flank significantly, being able to see Gjógy from their positions. Desperately, the Sjealandic forces under the command of Colonel Axel Otto Mörner launched a counter-attack, assaulting the Ambrosians in a pincer-movement and cutting them off from reinforcements before taking the majority of their forces captive. This success was followed with by the left flank extending northwards, shortening the frontline by seven kilometers and allowing the Sjealandic forces just enough breathing room for new fresh troops to be helicoptered in from Norðradalur. These men proved a decisive help in hitting back against the Ambrosians, who now found themselves on the defensive, pounding the Sjealandic forces with artillery as they advanced.
Retreating across the isthmus, Benbow and the three companies under his command regrouped in Kollafjørður. With the isthmus being the narrowest point on Vágar, only 1,5 kilometers wide and as the terrain of the isthmus primarily consisted of small rolling and treeless hills covered with grass outcrops, areas of thick gorse and peat bogs making effective camouflage and concealment extremely difficult. This coupled with the fact he was defending led Benbow to order his forces to dig down and entrench their positions in the middle of the isthmus as well as the northern end. Dividing his forces into three units he put two companies, the 1st and 3rd of the Elsbridge regiment on the middle of the isthmus, each covering a side, and took personal command of the 5th, placing himself on the northern end. Using this position he hoped to catch any potentially advancing Sjealandic troops in a crossfire between the 1st and 3rd, with the 5th ready to clean up should any soldiers push through. Equipped with artillery, mortars, 35 mm cannons and machine guns his men were succesful in taking the positions, as retreating Ambrosian forces continously harassed the exhausted Sjealandic landing parties, who could not mount an effective pursuit.
Exhaustion was however the least of the Sjealandic worries, as the battles leading up to the landings at Gjógy had damaged several ships of the navy with the remaining nearby ships off on other operations. As such the ground forces were unable to attack the isthmus immediately from the flanks. Air-support was also lacking as several squadrons had been withdrawn for the time being, and because of the ambrosians having set up several AA-positions at Laugarás, Kollafjørður and Hrafnagil. Several days actually passed with the Sjealandic forces still in and around Gjógy and south of the isthmus, with 2 additional companies reinforcing Benbow, giving him a total of 762 men under his command. The long wait particularly unnerved Benbow who wrote in his memoirs:
As we had been fighting around Gjógy i had found, if not calm, at least some understanding for the positions of the enemy. I could hear the firing in the distance, i could hear where it came close, and where the frontline was fluid. But sitting on this gods-forsaken isthmus, ass-deep in mud and unsure of when a KF-10 would blow my quarters to bits i could do nothing but wait and wait. The Tynics gave no sound, no gunfire, no strafing patrols, no air-assaults, nothing. Instead my men and i could run constant drills in our trenches before having to dig them clear of water and mud again. The command in Ambrösihöfn denied my requests to advance back towards Gjógy and in general seemed more concerned with bleeding the Tynics dry of men, instead of pushing them off our islands. Ambrosian professionalism would sap the fighting men from Sjealand.
This was not a deliberate tactic from the Sjealandic command, but instead a well needed breather used for a rotation of men as well as the reinforcement of ships and planes from the southern islands, as well as Nordvakt. The plan was for the main mechanized elements as well as the heavier infantry to push up the isthmus under cover of air-support, while 240 marines would set across the waters of the Veirdang Bay and the Hrafnagil Fjord, a few kilometers from the isthmus. These units would most importantly fall into the backs of the Ambrosians as the main collumn engaged as well as take Kollafjørður, the local center for communications. Meanwhile a renewed landing would take place at Hrafnagil after the battle for Veirdang had drawn a large enough amount of Ambrosian forces from the town.
Battle of Veirdang
At 4:30 AM on the morning of January 20th, the Royal Sjealandic Marines began crossing the Hrafnagil Fjord, hitting the beaches several minutes later. The Ambrosian regulars, which had been engaged in periodic firefights throughout the night, were caught off guard with the landing to their rear, forcing Benbow to hastily detach the 5th company to bolster the reserves on the beaches and protect his rear. At 5:00, the main Sjealandic column, supported by light armor that had arrived on the island only the night before, began their advance. Ambrosian anti-tank weapons meant, however, that they failed to break through the lines towards their objective of Kollafjørður. The air support that had been promised to Benbow was nonexistent, however, as the RSAF launched sorties over Laugarás. These aerial attacks effectively disrupted all communications over the island; for several hours it was unclear as to whether Island Command in Laugarás was incapacitated, which seriously hampered Benbow’s ability to coordinate the defense.
At 11 AM on the 20th, the rear Ambrosian lines collapsed, with the formerly-pinned-down Sjealandic Marines routing the remains of the 5th company into the hills. Despite the fact he had stalled the main assault, Benbow (still suffering from unreliable communication with HQ) was forced to withdraw his troops (now the entirety of the 3rd Elsbridge Regiment of Foot) to the Laugarás-Sund line, the remnants of an 19th century trench system bolstered by Fortress Sund, a coastal fortification overlooking the eponymous town; abandoning Kollafjørður and the Hrafnagil highlands. As the occupiers pulled out, the townspeople of Kollafjørður and Hrafnagil openly jeered them, with some even flying the Sjealandic flag. The tense atmosphere led to several instances where Ambrosian troops deliberately targeted civilians; though some had begun resisting the occupiers openly, most of the victims were unarmed. This culminated in the Hrafnagil Massacre — 91 villagers, mostly unarmed civilians, were summarily executed, the town looted and burned, and many of the bodies thrown into the sea.
As the Ambrosians regrouped at the Laugarás-Sund line in the afternoon and late evening, they were faced with renewed aerial attacks, this time by KF-12 fighter-bombers. Benbow had been forced to abandon much of their AA guns in Kollafjørður, and those in the fortress were outdated and ineffective. Throughout the night, the stone mortar fort was pounded by high-explosive bombs; the magazine was hit at 1:23 AM. By the time the Laugarás airstrip was repaired and Ambrosian interceptors were scrambled, the fort had essentially been reduced to ruins and earthworks. This essentially destroyed the defensive lynchpin of the Ambrosian line. Meanwhile, the Laugarás airbase, though hastily repaired on the 20th, had also taken significant damage after enduring nearly twenty hours of air attacks, with much of its attack complement (the Nos 23 and 102 Squadrons) destroyed on the ground. In addition to this, the populations of Laugarás, Sund, and Velbastaður seemed to be in a state of significant unrest, especially after the news of Hrafnagil leaked out. All three of these situations seriously affected the ability to hold and the strategic worth placed on the island of Vágar. After deliberating throughout the day of the 21st, command in Port Ambrose decided to evacuate the remaining Ambrosian troops on the island to a “more defensible and reliable position” on Kolbeinsey island. To this date, this decision remains highly controversial, with critics (including the now-retired Col Benbow) alleging that it was the first expression of a pervasive “defeatism” that would characterize the campaign. Nevertheless, the Ambrosian forces on Vágar (with the exception of a rearguard of Tower Islander volunteers) were ferried off the island on the night of the 22nd.
Though the island of Kolbeinsey had been occupied from the beginning of the war, following the chaotic Ambrosian withdrawal from Vágar it became crucial to hold; particularly because the Ambrosian General Staff expected the dilapidated Viðareiði Airfield to serve as an effective replacement to Laugarás in its potential as a base to strike Sjealandic naval movements from Vagár. Although the airfield had previously only been used by small mail planes, GHQ expected it to be operational for ACAC fighter-bombers in less than two weeks—given that the work crews (civilians, both volunteers and forced conscripts) were not interrupted. Because of this strategic importance, it was widely believed that the next Sjealandic assault would be on the shores of Kolbeinsey or Streymnes; thus the island was heavily fortified, with units of the 1st and 4th Elsbridge Regiments of Foot being transferred from the island of Skaga. Skaga, being farther to the north, provided a better position for the Sjealanders to continue their campaigns; however Ambrosian GHQ did not believe an attack on the island from Vágar (almost double the distance than from Vágar to Kolbeinsey) was feasible.
The Sjealandic High Command, meanwhile, also recognized the importance of Skaga, with a memorandum by General August Baggesen asserting that the island had to be taken quickly, before any reconquest of Álsey and the northern islands could be even be considered. Preparing for a high-risk assault through contested waters to land on Skaga was given top priority, and with only a day to rest and regroup on Vágar, Sjealandic forces began massing at the ports of Velbastaður and Laugarás. Considering that aerial intelligence indicated the Ambrosians expected the next attack at Kolbeinsey, a decoy operation was authorized to take place concurrently as well. In the morning of 29 January, 1972 50 soldiers of the Frogman Corps and 20 soldiers of the Hunter Corps landed on the island in dingheys. Sneaking across the mossy fields and avoiding Ambrosian land-mines, the force successfully infiltrated the air-strip, planting satchel charges on several planes as well as on strategic targets near it. After this signals were given to Laugarás and two squadrons of KF-10s and KF-12s took off, creating confusion in the Ambrosian ranks that was increased by the detonation of the charges and Sjealanders' fire support on the ground, who then split up into small groups. Following the initial attacks, the majority of the Sjealandic force on Kolbeinsey would be gradually neutralized or captured throughout the day (despite the efforts of Benbow and other Ambrosian officers, some prisoners were executed). Despite this, the chaos caused by the attacks allowed the Skaga invasion force to go undetected.
On midnight the same day, as the operation succeeded, the green light was given to units from Nordvakts Livbrigade and other units from the I Division to leave Vágar for Skaga with air and naval support from the group ending their assault on Kolbinsey. Under command of Colonel Kristian Laake, the units made amphibious landings near Skagaströnd itself (Operation Frit Lejde) to retake the island from the undermanned Ambrosian garrison, led by Captain Godwin Bowler. Despite Bowler's increasingly desparate communications, Ambrosian GHQ refused to reinforce him with the troops on Kolbeinsey, fearing that the morning's attacks were the first of a concerted assault. Thanks to their numerical superiority, the Sjealandic forces were quickly able to storm the city before marching west towards the strongly entrenched Ambrosian 4th Company of the Elsbridge Foot Regiment, guarding the airstrip of the island. However the cold freezing weather had significantly limited the ability of the Ambrosian defenders to dig proper trenches, so they quickly retreated to better fortified positions within the buildings of the air-strip. Despite GHQ's orders, Bowler concluded that the situation was hopeless, and, in a stroke of creative genius, commandeered two single-engine prop planes in an effort to evacuate as many men as possible to Álsey. Meanwhile, as the planes took off, a few dozen men valiantly continued the fight from the buildings until Bowler received confirmation that the forces had successfully retreated, Bowler officially surrendered at 3:34 AM on the 30th, with Laake congratulating him on the brave fight.
The taking of Skaga shocked the Ambrosian GHQ, and President Kipling reportedly went into a fury after hearing the news, screaming "my generals are all fools or children." With a Sjealandic presence established on Skaga, the Ambrosian troops on Kolbeinsey suddenly found themselves in a seriously compromised position, essentially cut off from all reinforcements. Reluctantly, all work was halted on the Viðareiði airfield and the troops, already reeling from the aerial bombings and the Frogmen attacks, were once again hastily ferried off the islands; they were reoccupied by Sjealand on February 2, 1972.
Battle at Neskaupstaður
By February 1972, 6 months after the outbreak of the war, around half of the islands had been retaken, with a third of the population having been liberated. Around 974 Sjealandic and Ambrosian lives had been lost, and several more wounded in the protracted campaign. Support for the war was at an all-time high in Sjealand, however the government in Asgård, not wishing to spend more lives and money on protracting the war requested of the military command that Álsey be taken in a quick assault, like with the initial Ambrosian conquest. As such original plans for a mass landing near Byggðakjarni í Mosfelldal (Anglish: Mosfellby) were scrapped, and instead Byggðakjarni í Mosfelldal and Neskaupstaður (Anglish: Nes Purchase) would both see landings, with the hope being that two simultaneous columns could split up the Ambrosian defenders, and dilute the strength of the Ambrosian light armor elements (part of the 3rd Rheneas Regiment of Cavalry). The Ambrosian commander for the central islands, General William Stanhope, had focused the majority of his forces near Hólar and its airfield (the last in the central islands that Ambrose still held), with his men using the long middle ridge for defence; this had the effect of leaving the southern coast more lightly defended, which would be exploited by Sjealandic soldiers.
Carried in landing crafts and Nordmark Lods helicopters, Sjealandic troops operating from Skaga landed near, in, and around Neskaupstaður on the morning of the 3rd of February with Byggðakjarni seeing landings during the noon. The single company in the city quickly mobilized rushing to their positions around the city, and opening fire on Sjealandic soldiers who were disembarking the the towns harbour. Heavy skirmishing continued within the town, however the Sjealandic forces around the town remained passive and instead moved around it, attempting an encirclement. This did not succeed, as the commander of the company, Major Asketil Astley, quickly realized the situation and performed a breakout to the north, smashing through the Sjealandic encircling line and capturing a dozen soldiers while fighting towards the main group at Hólar. This strategic retreat halted after a few kilometres, where Astley's company regrouped with the 2nd Battalion moving south from Stykkishólmur; assuming command of the battalion after its commander was killed in an airstrike, Astley found the mountainous terrain overlooking Neskaupstaður suitable for defence. After downing a Sjealandic transport helicopter, Astley's forces dug in, hoping to stall the disembarking Sjealandic troops with rockets and marksman rifles and give the Ambrosian reinforcements moving south time to arrive.
Axel Otto Mörner who was overseeing the assault felt that the Ambrosian harrasment interfered too much with the operation and personally led two companies north to engage the Ambrosians. Action flared up on the outer edges of the Ambrosian lines as the defenders had been reinforced with the armor of the 3rd Rheneas; the situation was serious for the Sjealanders, as not only were there Ambrosian Poirier T.8 and T.10 armored personnel carriers, as had been expected, but they were also faced with Tetrarch Mk II light tanks. The support fire from the tanks were able to disperse the left flank of the Sjealandic assault, and there was a serious threat of the thin Sjealandic front lines protecting the beachhead being broken entirely.
Mörner requested air support but was denied, as RSAF was seeing heavy dogfighting in the Kirkjubøargarður Fjord as well as anti-air fire from Ambrosian positions. Mörner therefore ordered that suppressive machine-gun fire was to be laid down on the advancing Ambrosian infantry while his best infantry would attempt to assault the right Ambrosian flank, using anti-tank projectors to assault the armor from behind. This went sufficiently well, as the center and left Ambrosian flanks were forced to send some troops to support the right flank, but also left Mörner's own position open as he would move forwards to better oversee the fighting. As a result Ambrosian spotters were able to home into his position, which they began shelling with mortar-fire from the Mosfellby ridgeline. As night fell, Mörner withdrew the Sjealandic right and took command of the left flank, reforming them and directly assaulting the Ambrosian positions up in the rocky highlands. In a sheer coincidence, Astley was supervising these positions, and, recognizing Mörner from earlier fighting, he ordered his sharpshooters to open fire on the Colonel. Mörner was hit in the chest by Ambrosian sharpshooter Stephen Asplyn and died instantly.
The fighting around Nes Purchase continued throughout the night, and the Ambrosian lines held along the ridgeline. However, by dawn of February 4th, the pressure that the Sjealandic forces was becoming apparent. They had lost four tanks and a dozen APCs to anti-tank fire, which had proved critically accurate; the armor reinforcements that Astley had expected during the night had failed to arrive due to the bombing of the Byggðakjarni bridge. Furthermore, sunrise showed that the Sjealandic infantry, far from being isolated on their beachhead, had been replenished by landings throughout the night, which included ; Astley feared that their position, with their backs to the Mosfellby fjord crest, had become untenable, and that the imminent assault by the massed Sjealandic forces in the town below would annihilate his battalion. The news that Byggðakjarni í Mosfelldal had been taken without fighting eventually led Astley to order a full scale retreat to General Stanhope's defensive lines, on the Kirkjubøargarður-Neskaupstaður Bypass road. The Sjealanders began landing light armor and immediately began to pursue the retreating Ambrosians and push into the island.
Battle for Kirkjubøargarður
From the 4th to the 9th of February Sjealandic forces advanced slowly northwards towards Kirkjubøargarður (Anglish: Kirk's Farm) and Stykkishólmur (Anglish: Stycksholm). Reinforcements from Vágar and the mainland strengthened the positions in Neskaupstaður and Byggðakjarni while battle-hardened infantry from the original landings along with light tanks (Stridsvogn M/A2s) and APCs (also Poirier T.10s) skirmished north, slowly rolling back the Ambrosian positions along the Kirkjubøargarður-Neskaupstaður Bypass.
A second line of entrenched Ambrosian troops lay from Hólar to Kirkjubøargarður with single platoons and sections occupying various mountain tops and wooded areas, ready to fall in the backs of any Sjealandic soldiers advancing. Under orders from Stanhope, who had flown to Kirkjubøargarður personally to oversee the defence, the heavy artillery, armor, and attack helicopters in Kirkjubøargarður were not to directly engage the advancing Sjealanders, but instead remain at Hólar to help defend the (as-yet inoperative) airfield; Astley's battalion were left alone to harry the Sjealanders as they moved up the Bypass, while the bulk of the Ambrosian infantry lay in the mountains and at Kirkjubøargarður.
Around dusk on the 10th, a detachment of Astley's (now seriously depleted) battalion detected advancing Sjealandic scouts that had taken up positions in a farm-house adjacent to the Bypass, mere kilometers from Stanhope's lines. Unaware of the Ambrosians nearby, the Sjealandic scouts began radioing to the advancing armor column to continue towards the area. Astley's forces stormed the house, killing all 5 scouts (as well as the house's occupants in the process); he was then able to ambushed the Sjealandic armored column as they moved into a chokepoint on the road, devastating the spearhead with a frenzy of PIAT anti-tank blasts.
As a result of the attack the column fanned out, with the heavier vehicles rushing up the road while the APCs moved off into the ravines released their cargo of infantry-men. The PIATs blunted the light tanks advance, however, and the Ambrosian suppressive fire managed to slowly force the Sjealandic force down into the valley; the ravine, lit up by explosions and tracer fire, became known to the Ambrosians as the Valley of Light — the Sjealanders derisively nicknaming it the slaughterbench. Well through the morning of the 11th, the Sjealanders were bottled off the road, with requests for air support continuing to be denied.
Realizing the position they were in, Sjealandic commander Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, himself an ethnic Laugarán, launched a daring assault on the Ambrosian center at midnight. The Ambrosians, despite having the high ground, were low on ammunition and broke, despite Astley's best efforts to rally his men. With the help of Sjealandic air-support, Þórðarson exploited the breakthrough and ordered the surviving Sjealandic light tanks to manuever offroad and through the hole in the Ambrosian line. Stanhope now changed his mind and decided to allow the Ambrosian armor at Kirkjubøargarður to support Astley, however by this point the road bridges had been again damaged and Astley was again left without tanks. With no choice, Astley abandoned his positions on the bypass and moved behind Stanhope's lines.
With the Ambrosian abandonment of the Bypass road, Kirkjubøargarður was now isolated from Stanhope's forces. Sjealandic forces besieged the town from the 12th to the 15th, positioning artillery on the heights and decimating the enemy positions below. Stanhope's attempts to relieve the garrison holding the town were unsuccessful, and only bled his infantry forces even thinner. It also became apparent that he could not effectively utilize his armor during the daytime, for fear of Sjealandic air attacks. The garrison commander at Kirkjubøargarður finally surrendered on February 15th, bringing Stanhope's relief efforts to naught. This had the effect of leaving the Sjealanders with two open routes towards Stykkishólmur, an important naval port and home to over 2500 Ambrosian soldiers who were being reinforced from across the island. By this point, Expeditionary Force GHQ in Port Ambrose was beginning to fear the central islands were irreversibly lost, and denied Stanhope's pleas for reinforcements, instead focusing their efforts to fortify the northern islands. Nevertheless, the cabinet in Elsbridge, unaware of the fears of GHQ, denied permission for a withdrawal and ordered that Stanhope fight on.
Siege of Stykkishólmur
After a lull in the fighting from February 16 to the 17th, the Sjealandic forces resumed their advance and rolled back Stanhope's lines, now seriously demoralized and short on ammunition, back into the hills surrounding Stykkishólmur. Hólar and its airfield was abandoned on the 18th, when it became clear that it was indefensible; the airstrip was still uncompleted. The night of the 18th and 19th saw heavy skirmishing, as the 5th Company of the Nordvakt Foot Regiment advanced into the suburb of Vidarbeyar. The surrounding area had been hit by an intense barrage from Sjealandic guns, from land and sea, and the local Ambrosian positions had been severely compromised. As the 5th Company reached the center of the suburb they found that two Ambrosian platoons, supported by the remaining elements of light armor from the 3rd Rheneas, had remained in the area in spite of the heavy bombardment.
Under command of Major Anwynn Miller the Ambrosians engaged with the Sjealanders, gaining support from Stykkishólmur and launching a series of heavy recoilless rifle, rocket and mortar attacks on Vidarbeyar, causing casualties to the 5th Company. Thinking that this had softened the Sjealanders up enough, the Ambrosians advanced out of their fortified positions in houses, but were met with fierce resistance from Sjealandic infantry and IFVs. They came under heavy machine-gun fire; massive retaliation was initiated by the Sjealandic machine-gunners and the guns of thelight tanks of the Lusing Dragoons. As the firefights in Vidarbeyar escalated through the 19th and the 20th, the rest of the Sjealandic column fanned out behind them, gradually pushing back the Ambrosian flanks until they were nearly on the city limits. Only on the 20th did Stanhope attempt another breakout from his position; the breakout was bogged down after running into a concentrated nest of Sjealandic anti-tank emplacements, and by the morning of the 21st it had been called off. Withdrawing from the ruins of Vidarbeyar on the morning of the 21st, the Sjealanders moved to instead consolidate their gains; they held all the road approaches into the city as well as the eastern hilltops. Content with having finally encircled the city, Sjealandic General Henrik Knud Jespersen decided to settle into a siege, with the knowledge that Ambrosian resupply was impossible.
For over a week, the Sjealanders refrained from an all-out assault on Stykkishólmur, instead tiring the Ambrosian lines with small platoon-level actions. From their hilltop positions, the Sjealandic light artillery bombardment of non-civilian areas limited the Ambrosian area of operation, forcing Stanhope to concentrate his troops into chokepoints along the major road approaches rather than man a blanket defense. By this point, Stanhope had been informed his position was one of a holding action, and intended to delay the advancing army as long as possible. The Sjealandic army had not cut off power to Stykkishólmur, out of concern for the civilian population; this allowed the Ambrosian occupiers a decree of comfort within the inner parts of the city, comforts which the Sjealanders did not enjoy. At least 11 men died from exposure and frostbite during the siege and many on both sides lost toes and fingers. However the Sjealanders did enjoy other luxuries, such as relatively high quality food made by chefs brought in by the government as well as from the local villages; the aroma of Sjealandic kitchens demoralized the defenders further, as strict rationing had been set in place inside the city.
Sjealandic forces began moving on the early in the morning of March the 2nd. Under cover from artillery bombardments, Sjealandic APCs and light tanks moved in from the east and west in an attempted pincer movement, while heavy concentrations of infantry and artillery fired from the south while keeping distance; both units initially suffered heavy casualties due to enemy snipers, embedded in buildings and on the western hills. To the east the advancing Sjealandic 2nd and 6th battalions of the Ahlefeldts Foot Regiment clashed with soldiers from the Ambrosian 11th Caithwick Regiment, with brutal house to house fighting; demolishing of large parts of the suburbs. Colonel Rikke Vaabengaard ordered her primary assault to go through the main street Austur Verslunargötu; a desperate bayonet charge by the defending 3rd Caithwick was shattered with heavy casualties, and the line began to be rolled back.
To the west, the initial attack had seen Sjealanders, spearheaded by Captain Frida Reventlov's Yngsvilla Foot Regiment, push all the way to the harbour; however, this left them dangerously overstretched. Brigadier George Lathbury's 26th Rheneas Regiment of Armor recognized this and swiftly moved to encircle the Sjealanders, trapping a company of around 150 men, light artillery and armor against the waterfront. Reventlov fortified their position and withstood three days of intense attacks; however, Lathbury was unable to secure naval firepower, and his rapidly-depleting armored forces were still facing attacks on two fronts. Lathbury himself would be killed by an artillery strike on the 4th, leaving Stanhope as the only general officer in the city. The collapse of the eastern line seriously hampered the Ambrosian Army's internal lines of communication. Vaabengaard's forces took the mayor's palace in intense fighting on March 5th, and Stanhope, still being denied naval support or air-mobile reinforcements, ordered an evacuation. With the folding of the Ambrosian defensive line in the west of the city, Reventlov was relieved by friendly forces on the 5th, with hardly any ammunition or food left.
Stanhope was evacuated to Tjørnuvík (Thornwick) in the night of March 5th, along with his staff. Upon his landing he reportedly struck the representative of GHQ sent to greet him, furious at their inaction while his troops were fighting on Álsey. Despite the evacuation, however, Major Charles Mannick continued fighting with small rearguard, mainly the remnants of the 26th Rheneas whose armor could not be evacuated bolstered by ethnic Ambrosian civilian militias, remained fighting — at this point, the Ambrosians controlled only the city center and were completely cut off from all communications. As their lines disintegrated on the evening of the 8th, the remaining resistance surrendered. Rather than give himself up, however, Mannick, along with 3 of his men, committed suicide by hand-grenade. It would later surface that Mannick had impregnated a woman in Stykkishólmur, and had been unable to bear the thought of leaving her.
On March 10th, Sjealandic troops landed on Byggðakjarni í Þykkvabæ; those Ambrosians that had not already been evacuated offered only token resistance before surrendering. 2/3rds of the archipelago were now retaken. However the Sjealandic forces now faced their biggest hurdle: the northern islands. Stanhope disbanded GHQ and took direct command of the situation, distributing arms to the majority-Ambrosian civilian population and mining indefensible areas. Though Sjealandic air and naval superiority rendered resupply difficult, there remained approximately 12,000 Ambrosian troops in the north, complemented by heavily fortified positions and strong concentrations of heavy armor.
The retaking of Stykkishólmur had been met with great joy in Sjealand, and roaring crowds had filled many towns, especially in the archipelago itself, where Laugarás was the site of many celebrations. It also served as a morale boost for the Sjealandic forces, who were less used to fighting in the cold winter climate than the Ambrosians were. A morale boost would indeed also be necessary as the remaining islands northeast of Alséy were heavily fortified with a large Ambrosian military presence and several shore batteries. The island of Bakki, with its villages of Dun Bakki (Duneback) and Lodbjerg (Mountain Sound), was more lightly-defended by a skeleton garrison; however it was home to a number of Ambrosian SAM batteries and anti-ship missiles that impeded any direct approach to the larger islands of Trumba (Trumbot) and Vagga (Faugh). Both of the larger islands were also home to the largest Ambrosian naval presence (including four Milliknockett-class cruisers, the largest ships in the Confederal Navy), which thus so far had been retained in reserve at the natural harbors of Ambrösihöfn and Æðuvík (Aethwick) respectively.
The perceived threat of the Ambrosian naval presence in the far north convinced the admiralty to activate the two Sjealandic carriers of the Storheden-class. Admiral Schack Brockdorff ordered the two carriers, along with their battle groups, to set sail from Frederikssted on the 15th of March - concurrent with Baggesen's land reinforcements, which had already set sail from Nordvakt. In response, President Mallory ordered the rest of the Ambrosian Njord Squadron (primarily corvettes) to set sail from port in Elsbridge and intercept the troop transports before they could rendezvous with the carriers; the Ambrosian flotilla, however, had only meager air support, and a series of air attacks from squadrons launched from Laugarás air base on the 17th and 18th forced the squadron to scatter before any serious damage could be inflicted.
By the 13th, early airstrikes on Dun Bakki and Lodbjerg had already begun, although the Ambrosian SAMs were equally as deadly; twelve planes were lost through the week. Sjealandic special forces, however, slipped through the Ambrosian blockade on the night of March 18th and secretly landed on the western edge of the island, beginning preparations for an eventual assault. The soldiers managed to prepare several landing spots for transport helicopters, as well as setting up sabotage operations in anticipation of the assault, planned for the 23rd. However, on the night of March 21st, two Sjealandic sentries were captured by civilian militia and the alarm was raised, forcing the remaining special forces soldiers to call in the airborne assault prematurely, detonating preplanted charges around the Ambrosian barracks to disorient them. The 80-man garrison at Lodbjerg was quickly mobilized, encircling the special forces camp and annihilating them to the last man - according to (disputed) eyewitness reports, no quarter was given.
This distraction, however, enabled Sjealandic airborne squadrons to land near the Ambrosian positions at Lodbjerg. The 350 men of the elite Nillas Paratrooper Regiment were quickly able to seize the vital strongpoints on the island, raining fire upon the Ambrosians returning from their engagement with the special forces. With Lodbjerg taken and its anti-ship missiles neutralized 3 Sjealandic missile frigates could open fire on the Ambrosian positions at Dun Bakki while the soldiers on land approached in light vehicles. The fighting lasted a little over an hour, but left Sjealand in control of the island and with the road to Æðuvík cleared.
The recent series of defeats heavily hampered the Ambrosian governments willingness to continue the war in an aggressive sense. Governeur K. Mallory, the President of Ambrose convinced his cabinet to go against the wishes of the military and contacted the Sjealandic government on the 26th with the offer of a ceasefire and possible negotiations. Mallory hoped that his strong position on the Northern Islands along with their relatively close proximity to mainland Ambrose and its airfields could convince Sjealand to give concessions in a eventual peace treaty.
The Sjealanders, suspicious of the Ambrosian honesty, reluctantly accepted it out of concern of overstretching their positions across the islands and because of a wish to use the ceasefire to prepare the coming landings to the north. The ceasefire went into effect on the 2nd of april and already within hours Sjealandic command accused the Ambrosians of violating the ceasefire, claiming that Ambrosian naval vessels had penetrated deep into the zone of control. The Ambrosians retaliated, claiming the Sjealanders were flying over the Ambrosian occupied zone. This would continue back and fourth for 18 days until Sjealand announced they would withdraw from the ceasefire after an hour on 06:30 on the 20th, citing numerous Ambrosian breaches of the ceasefire, though military analysts suspect it was because of the preparations for the last push were completed, and indeed as soon as the ceasefire was declared null, Sjealandic combat operations began.
Landings at Trumba
At approximately 06:30 on the 20th of April, 1972, the Ambrosian fleet off the southeast coast of Trumba was attacked by Hastrup KF-12 Lynet strike fighters, flying from Laugarás Air Base. In the ensuing exchange, four Ambrosian ships were hit by air-to-surface missiles; the frigate CSS Marlowe Island was seriously damaged and forced to disengage, and the corvettes CSS Nansemond and CSS Caswell were both beset by rapidly spreading fires and were both scuttled by 10:00. Just as hoped, this created a gap of several hundred kilometers in the Ambrosian Navy's defensive blockade, rendering further naval defense of the island untenable.
Sjealandic frigates, guarding the troopships, exchanged fire with the remaining Ambrosian naval vessels. However, the detection of a Sjealandic Something-class submarine drove the flotilla away from the landing area, as they had little-to-no anti-submarine implements. The Royal Sjealandic Navy was able to lay down two hours of naval gunfire on the fortifications on the Trumba beaches. At 10:30, Sjealandic landing craft disembarked from their troopships and hit the beaches south of Patreksfjörður (Patricsfirth).
On Trumba, the Ambrosian presence was far more entrenched than it had been previously, and the landings almost immediately ran into heavy resistance, as General Stanhope rushed the 23rd Trelawney Armor and 16th Ballamirth Mechanized Infantry Regiments from their positions near Æðuvík, where the landings had been expected. The Sjealandic forces were further complicated by the runoff from the spring thaw, just beginning, which rendered the offroad terrain muddy and difficult to traverse. As such, commanding general Axel Gyllenkrok was unable to move much his armor and heavy equipment off the beach before being largely crippled by Ambrosian artillery, positioned on the Trondröy heights.
Brutal fighting between Sjealandic marines and the Ambrosian mechanized infantry ensued throughout the day, as the Sjealanders were trapped on the beachhead. RSAF air strikes, however, were able to cripple the Ambrosian supply system, and Stanhope withdrew his exposed armor at 17:30 towards he island's interior. Ample tree cover along an unfinished tramway cut deterred further air attack and allowed him to conserve his forces as reinforcements rushed in from the other side of the island.
With the battered Ambrosian army regrouping, the Sjealandic Austevoll Foot Regiment began moving towards the town of Patreksfjörður; along the road, however, they would be harried by ethnic Ambrosian partisans, a factor which would come to play a major part in the rest of the campaign; these partisans were civilian militia, often originating in pre-war rifle clubs, that were armed (and sometimes trained) by the Ambrosian Army as the Sjealandic forces drew nearer to the north (where most ethnic Ambrosians lived). Nevertheless, Patreksfjörður (and its meager port facilities) was secured by 22:00, and the Sjealandic column began moving south, towards Æðuvík, the following morning.
In the aftermath of the naval engagement off of Trumba, the Ambrosian flotilla, under the command of Rear Admiral John Alexander Whelan, moved south through the Fuløy-Trumba strait and positioned itself under the cover of Æðuvík's SAM emplacements. This movement, although it temporarily ensured the security of the Ambrosian ships, left the Ambrosian troops north of Trondröy without naval support; it also left much of the northern coast undefended, allowing Sjealandic commandos to seize the port of Havlurhöfn (Whalersport) in the early hours of 21 April. This strike was a major coup-de-main for the Sjealanders, as it all but necessitated the withdrawal of the Ambrosian units around Trondröy to the south and east of the island.
Even with the withdrawal, Stanhope continued concentrating his forces along the Æðuvík Tramway, a narrow valley which the Sjealanders would need to take if they hoped to secure Æðuvík without another bloody amphibious landing. Assaults on April 21st and 22nd inflicted heavy casualties on the defenders and rolled them back several kilometers; however the dense defensive network prevented any breakthroughs; destroyed armor, both Sjealandic and Ambrosian, only clogged up the corridor and made advance difficult.
Sustained aerial attacks, however, finally took their toll on the anti-air emplacement around Æðuvík. With the advance stalled along the Tramway, Sjealandic command authorized a helicopter assault to land north of the town and overwhelm its defenses. On the morning of the 23rd, Sjealandic Marines departed the KSS Storheden on Nordmark helicopters, landing in a complex of abandoned football pitches overlooking the town. Working their way down the heights, the marines ran into heavy resistance clearing the streets but ultimately forced the surrender of the Ambrosian force there by 18:00 hours. At this point, General Stanhope's position along the tramway was outflanked, and he was forced to pull back towards Tjørnuvík — leaving Sjealand in control of the western half of the island.
Incident at Tjørnuvík
Fighting on Vagga
Fall of Ambrösihöfn
End of the war
Bombings of Ambrose
The year-long war proved a disaster for the administration of Husband Kipling, and caused public support for the previously-stable coalition of Conservative and military interests to effectively implode. The wartime government of Governeur K. Mallory was and continues to be heavily criticized a failing to effectively manage the conflict, with political concerns preventing the proper reinforcement of the islands and allowing aerial bombing of Ambrose; still, some revisionist historians credit his leadership in an "unwinnable war", and instead blame the Ambrosian General Staff's failure to recognize their severe deficiencies in terms of modern naval and aerial power. Nevertheless, the war became synonymous with strategic, logistical, and tactical mismanagement, an allegation furthered by inquiries of the House of Burgesses's War Conduct Committee — in the immediate aftermath of the committee's Hart Report, there were a string of resignations and forced retirements from the General Staff and the Department of War, resulting in a period of civilian supremacy in government that had not been seen since the 1930s.
In Ambrose, the war caused an uproar in the population, with national support at an all time low. Following the treaty, the armed forces began to suffer from high levels of desertion, mainly from war conscripts disillusioned with the prospects of serving during peacetime. In the latter half of 1972, many youth-groups in Ambrose began protests against what was perceived as an authoritarian and autocratic nature of the Ambrosian government — these protests, concurrent with a general strike, paralyzed various major cities such as Elsbridge, Arlesburgh, and Iddesleigh Wells. President Mallory resigned after finding himself unable to restore order; incoming president Alger Buckleigh Fenian mobilized the regular army to suppress the riots, precipitating what would become known as "Bloody February".
This heavy-handed repression lowered the government's approval rating to a mere 7%, and popular pressure forced a snap election to be called — leading to the landslide victory of Harold Gamble and the Reform Party. Gamble would preside over an increasing liberalized domestic atmosphere and, upon re-election to a full term in 1977, reopened diplomatic relations with Sjealand at the 1978 Mulford Conference.
In Sjealand Valdemar Brüggemann who was nearing his third term as Grand Chancellor (and second continuous term) was able to step down as leader of the Conservative Party and as the head of government with the highest approval rating of any elected Sjealandic politician in history, at a whopping 93%. It also caused the re-election of the Conservative Party as the leader of government in the 1973 election. Besides the material and human costs of the war, the conflict was also a turning point for Sjealandic foreign policy, which through the conflict saw itself winning a war with Ambrose on its own for the first time since the Continental War, this contributed to an even more increased support for the Tynic paramilitaries in Seemark and the Bloody 1974 where terrorism in Seemark hit an all time high, thanks to Sjealandic monetary support.
Insofar as the islands themselves, the response to the liberation was mixed. Pro-Sjealandic islanders were able to cement themselves as Sjealanders, and many celebrated the liberation with wild parties across the islands — the liberation is reflected today in the annual Frelsundag, a local holiday commemorating the archipelago's ties to Sjealand. According to popular culture, the birthrate would skyrocket on the islands nine months later (this, however, is not supported by official records). The new situation would be a point of contention with the ethnic Ambrosian population of the islands; fearing reprisals for their perceived collaboration, several thousand fled to Ambrose and other Nordanian countries as refugees, precipitating the Tower Islands refugee crisis. Despite the exodus, much of the Anglish-speaking population elected to remain and pledge reluctant allegiance to Sjealand — this population still thrives today, mainly centered in the Ambrösihöfn and the rest of the northern islands. The conflict also saw the dramatic increase of the Sjealandic military presence on the islands, and up until 2009 several fighter squadrons and several heavy ships were stationed there.
War crimes and civilian casualties
Over the duration of the conflict 783 citizens on the islands were killed, with a significant number of them being executed or massacred by the Ambrosian occupiers for a variety of reasons. Some were high-standing members of island society who were punished for the continued resistance of the islanders against the occupation. Others were simply executed for petty crimes or arson against the occupiers. The most brutal of these were however the Hrafnagil Massacre, where the town of Hrafnagil was punished for assaulting and killing several Ambrosian soldiers upon hearing of a nearing Sjealandic military collumn. Enraged at the loss of their comrades and by their continued defeats the Ambrosian soldiers would open fire on the villagers killing all 191 inhabitants of the village.
In the months following the war Sjealandic military police charged 215 Ambrosian military officials, officers and enlisted men with war crimes, ranging from looting to perfidy; 167 of these were taken from prisoner of war camps and made to stand trial. 80 Ambrosian soldiers, including 16 officers, were convicted on war crimes charges, with sentences ranging from short prison terms (many including time served) to execution. Colonel John Rorrick, Majors Stephen Cleburne and Charles Heylong were sentenced to death by firing squad for their parts in the Hrafnagil Massacre. Carried out on 3rd July 1973, they were the last executions to be carried out in Sjealandic history. A fringe movement to rehabilitate many of these war criminals has grown in Ambrose; however the movement has been formally repudiated by the Ambrosian government, which apologized in 1978 and in 2007 for the actions of its officers.
Some historians also point to well-documented Sjealandic reprisals against ethnic Ambrosian civilians, suspected of being collaborators with the occupying authorities; many of these were imprisoned without trial, and a few allegedly executed extrajudicially. Ethnic Ambrosian women accused of "horizontal collaboration" were subject to public humiliation, often with the complicity of Sjealandic army groups. These retaliations were a major impetus for the refugee crisis of the 1970s. Today, public conscience in Ambrose about the Sjealandic reprisals at the end of the war are growing, with the Sjealandic government refusing to comment or apologize.
The war is extensively commemorated in both Sjealand and Ambrose. In Asgård, two monuments have been erected to honour both the soldiers who lost their lives fighting, as well as those civilians who died. In Ambrose there are also several war memorials, most notably the Tower Islands War Memorial in Elsbridge. Additionally hundreds of private and public graves, monuments and memorials exist across Ambrose, many in a more revanchist light that those seen in Sjealand.
There also exist several hundred memorials to the conflict across the islands themselves, with many small hamlets and towns paying to have monuments erected to either the soldiers who liberated them or people from them who died. Monuments have also been erected at the sides of Ambrosian executions and a large statue of a Valkyrie was erected at the ruins of Hrafnagil — which has not been rebuilt, and now serves as an open air cemetery and museum for the tragedy. The Ambrosian War Dead cemetery in Ambrösihöfn is maintained on land that Sjealand agreed to make extraterritorial on behalf of ethnic Ambrosian soldiers from the Tower Islands who fought on behalf of Ambrose, on condition that Ambrose does not violate the trust given to them.
The conflict gained significant attention from foreign governments and militaries, as it was the first war since the fifties between two well developed relatively wealthy states using modern equipment. Military attachés, observers and spies from dozens of nations flocked to the warzone, with some being officially allowed to follow the war-efforts of the fighting countries and study the new forms of warfare.
The war at sea, on land and in the air proved new tactics in the minds of military leaders, especially the effectiveness of the new Sjealandic fighters, which outclassed their slower heavier Ambrosian counterparts, as well as the lessened importance of individual marksmanship in combat compared to the ability to hold suppressing fire on the enemy. Ainin would specifically study the use of equipment in the war, as much of the weapons and vehicles used were Aininian designed or made, and as such these proved valuable testing grounds for their designs.
Until the 1980s, the War of the Njord would be the go-to conflict for military theorists on the principles of urban, amphibious and mechanized warfare, with military academies across Midgard studying the successes and failures of the warring states, despite of the relatively low casualties the war endured.
Press and publicity
Since the revolutionary use of war correspondents during the Great War of the North, the press had historically been seen by the government as the most important factor in raising and maintaining public support for any war effort. Husband Kipling, however, had a noted disdain for the "liars calling themselves newspapermen", and thus did not engage in any concerted efforts to secure the media's favor in the name of the war effort, ostensibly to keep from interfering in the 1971 presidential election. Despite this, press coverage of the initial invasion and occupation were largely positive, with Campbell's Illustrated Daily running the headline "Tower Islands Liberated". Ambrosian military authorities on the islands invited correspondents on scene to interview ethnic-Ambrosian residents of the islands, in order to paint a more favorable picture of the occupation.
Media support began to slip in late 1971 and early 1972 as the situation steadily reversed with Sjealandic offensives in the southern islands as well as the apparent failure of the costly aerial campaign. Though the Department of Military Information attempted to counter this by running their own stories reporting on the imminent collapse and surrender of the unstable Sjealandic parliamentary government, these achieved nowhere near the level of circulation as the private newspapers, many families could edit their televisions and watch Sjealandic news broadcasts, many spoke and understood Tynic and could follow their news. Eventually, a pronounced credibility gap developed between the independent news coverage and the information released by the Department of War. The siege of Ambrosihöfn was extensively reported upon, and its loss caused a huge drop in public opinion along with great revanchism. The so-called "strategic withdrawal" from the islands furthered this crisis, and when Sjealandic aerial bombing began, the government had already lost most of its support in the papers and viewership of the nationalized televised news stations had decreased in favour of private and international stations.
By the end of the war, a notable evolution was visible in the Ambrosian press. Innovative technologies such as reliable and hand-held color cameras had become widespread and had been used to great extent by Ambrosian war-photographers, some of the best in the war. While in previous conflicts, the press had been almost universally supportive of the war effort, the private newspaper companies had taken a marked turn against the official rhetoric by mid-1972, running stories critical of the military's uncoordinated performance and the government's handling of the situation as a whole. Post-war, these papers sought to distance themselves from an unpopular and embattled government, leading to a growing movement for journalistic independence.
Initially the first reports of the Ambrosian occupation was leaked to the press by moles within the military high command, who sent audio-tapes of Herluf Nygaard contacting Sjealand during combat to several select press-houses. As the war developed a majority of Sjealandic tv-channels, newspapers and state news sent their war-correspondents to report back of the occurrences in the war, and when Sjealandic marines first counter-attacked landing on Søderøya a select number of war-correspondents were allowed in after the initial landings, sending live from the front-line to homes in Sjealand on the state-owned TV-channel SSR1. As the fighting on the central islands grew tougher the number of Sjealandic journalists allowed were decreased to a few select hundred ones with security clearance from the state. Both military and press photographers were given amble opportunity to take pictures during the conflict, many of which were re-printed in Sjealand by private companies and sold as patriotic memorabilia. Today some of these are valuable collectors items.
During the conflict daily updates could be found in most newspapers detailing the troop movements and battles fought as well as what gains had been made. Every week a list of casualties and wounded were also included on the backpages of many major newspapers along with patriotic messages and cartoons. Many satirists were indirectly paid by the government to mock and ridicule the ambrosian military and government during the conflict, and some satire shows on TV made much use of state funds for anti-ambrosian news and often ridiculed Ambrosians on air. However the government also paid certain attention that this be directed at Ambrosians from Ambrose, and not the large Ambrosian minority in Sjealand which consisted of loyalists from the days of the North Sea Realm.
Journalists from other states
Karazawi journalists and news agencies became very interested in the war following the opposing statements made by Kuruch Malnonfi and the Caconzi Cucumenthi I. As such, and it was especially true of the monarchist press, journalists and agents were sent to Sjealand and Ambrose to keep the country informed on the war. This became a major concern for the government that had declared neutrality and started to unofficialy hunt down news agencies and journalists that covered the war. This only participated to exacerbate the tensions between the "republicans" and "monarchists" factions, and violence started to erupt in the streets soon before the war ended. There also was records of gambling rings holding bets about who would win the war.
Few international journalists and photographers were allowed in the warzone by either party, but towards 1972, Sjealand began allowing select journalists and photographers from Conitia and Borea to view the fighting on the northern islands and the siege of Stykkishólmur.
Because of the human and material cost, there were wide-spread influences from the conflict on popular culture in both countries. In Sjealand, the word Ajner entered the vocabulary as a slang word for someone who does something despite knowing they will get hurt, in reference to the La Sirène incident. In Ambrose, the war was subject to many different poetic interpretations, with many similar to a quote by postmodernist philosopher George Faulkner: "darkness through light and light through darkness", meaning that though the war was lost at a great cost, Ambrose recieved great self-strengthening and a increase in public consciousness on what Ambrose was and should be.
The conflict has provided material for video games, movies, television series and songs from both nations. Already a few years after the war it would be depicted in an Aininian tv-series which however was criticised in Sjealand and not aired in Ambrose. The epic war drama '71, released in 2015, was co-developed by film studios in Sjealand and Ambrose and released by Nordisk Film to critical acclaim. Most recently, the video game Firthnight was also released to commercial success across Midgard.