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First Blood: Prologue


by Christopher Roach a.k.a. Cockroach



December 7th 2015, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean

Dawn arrived slowly over Christmas Island. Sub-Lieutenant Edward Goodwin dragged himself up… how he had got himself into this mess? Slowly the typical smell of a tropical island plus a few unique aromas–freshly squashed land crabs- dragged him back to his senses. Three years back the electrical engineering firm he worked for had been selected to modernise and improve the island’s power generation/storage system… then twelve months back with the system almost complete he was finally looking at a few months of freedom… then a coup rocked Indonesia, a loose alliance of Nationalists, Militarists and Islamic extremists [1] over-through the government. The next month Indonesia invaded East Timor and every thing had spun out of control… Australia had dispatched troops to evacuate foreigners and almost inevitably a skirmish had resulted, and war followed shortly.

It was at that moment in the patriotic fever that Edward had been stupid enough to enlist… a matter of weeks and he was sent back to the damn land crab infestation to keep the island’s electricity on.

Predictably all civilians had been evacuated and the island was now a staging post for military operations. Despite the island’s potential military value it was particularly poorly defended with two flights of clapped out old F/A-18s [2], a squadron of JAS 39 Gripens, two Armidale class Patrol Boats and perhaps two hundred trained infantry.

December 7th 2015, Semarang, Central Java

Since the outbreak of war the capital of Central Java Province had been transformed into an arsenal of sorts. The majority of its million plus population [3] had been put into manufacturing everything from patrol-boats through AAMs and even final assembly of the locally built version of the JF-17 "Thunder"[4].

Overseeing all this was Major General Daryanto, a veteran of the coup and of the East Timor campaign. Daryanto could only be described as looking like a gorilla and had all the charm of a gorilla that had been dead for three weeks. He was missing his left arm below the elbow thanks to an Australian shell.

The forces under his command were hardly the most impressive in Indonesia but two battalions of hardened veterans and twenty-thousand militia was hardly something to scoff at. In addition to his forces the navy had a considerable number of light units based in the port while the air-force also had three fighter and two training squadrons based at various local airfields.

December 7th 2015, Anglo-Australian Carrier Battle Group, Indian Ocean, South West of Java

HMS Prince of Wales was an impressive ship. The final product of the CVF program she weighed in at just over 65,000 tonnes displacement. With an air-group of thirty-six F-35s [5] and a few Helicopters she may have lacked the punch of the US Navy’s super-carriers but she was still a formidable ship.

And she was hardly all of the Task Force… three kilometers aft lay HMAS Australia an amphibious assault ship come STOVL carrier of 30,000 tonnes displacement. While not currently carrying any troops her usual squadron of Harrier II Pluses had more recently been joined by the nine surviving Sea Harrier [6] from the old Ark Royal which a month back had fallen foul of three anti-ship missiles.

Off on the port beam was the Type-45 Destroyer HMS Daring while to starboard was the Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyer HMAS Brisbane, and somewhere beneath the waves the submarine HMAS Collins lurked. The Task Force was rounded out by a pair of Anzac class Frigates. All in all the AACVBG as it had been named was a formidable force.

December 7th 2015, Near Darwin, Australia, 1540 Local Time (GMT+9:30)

Two Leopard I Main Battle Tanks and a quartet of M113 APCs raced through the bush at top speed. Suddenly three strings of smoke shot out of a clump of trees at them. A dull clunk brought Lance Corporal John Edward’s attention to the fact that if this was combat rather than an exercise he would be dead, under his breath he cursed the US Marines that his unit, the 4th Cavalry Regiment, RAAC [7] was facing. After he finished cursing the Marines he turned his attention back to the battle. From what little he could see from the safety of the tank it appeared that the infantry from 5/7RAR had disembarked from the M113s and were now rooting the Marines out.

A few minutes passed, another three Australian M113s arrived and shear weight of numbers began to dislodge the Marines. A sudden roar announced the arrival of –quite against the rules of the exercise- four USMC AV-8Bs, which in combat would have meant death to most of the troops on the ground. The engagement concluded ten minutes later, excluding the yanks cheating the fight had been a rather costly Aussie victory. The day’s exercise over the troops slowly dispersed to the respective barracks and from there in to town.

Lance Corporal John Edward looked around. Darwin was literally awash with troops; indeed he had heard that it was the greatest concentration of Australian forces since Vietnam… from the RAAC alone there was quite a force: a squadron of M1A1s from the 1st Armoured Regiment; the entire 4 Cav; one squadron of M1128 MGS and two of ASLAVs from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment [8]; two squadrons of M60-2000s manned by reservist from the 16th Hunter River Lancers [9]; three squadrons of M113AS3s and M113 MGSs [10] from the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment and a pair of squadron of the 3rd/9th South Australia Mounted Rifles equipped with M113 MGSs [11].

December 6th 1969, Near Oldenburg, West Germany, 1520 Local Time (GMT+1:00)

Major Kingsley swung the 50 caliber machinegun towards a clump of trees… hardly an easy thing to do with the M113 barreling along at top speed. The M113 turned head on to the trees and Major Kingsley let fly; the fifty caliber rounds quite nicely diced several smaller trees to bits.

Major Kingsley’s M113 was far from the only vehicle in the area. Indeed less than twenty meters to the rear was the first of fourteen M113s belonging to a company of West German Panzergrenadiers; while somewhere nearby several Leopard 1 tanks made their presence felt with the occasional load bang as their 105mm guns blasted a troop of old M4 Sherman tanks into twisted piles of wreckage. Another racket announced the arrival of half a dozen American UH-1 Huey helicopters… a burst of gun fire and the thump of rocket hitting the ground announced that several were gunships rather than transports.

The M113 suddenly lurched to a halt. In a matter of seconds Major Kingsley was out and on the ground, joining the West German’s commander. Major Kingsley hoisted the unaccustomed mass of the MP-5 Sub-Machinegun and looked around… it took a matter of seconds for his mind to get beyond cursing the lack of a decent rifle –due to being seconded to the jerries for this exercise- but he soon started paying attention to what was happening. Over to his left a pair of West German M48A2 Patton tanks had set about blasting the wood while nearer four M113s disgorged a platoon of Panzergrenadiers.

Then the order came to cease fire; the day’s exercise was over but the major knew the high command had another little surprise in store for the men… rather than return to barrack they were going to bivouac in the field.


On to First Blood


[1] Of cause assuming this lot eventually pull of their objectives civil war is almost inevitable.

[2] The RAAFs F/A-18s were being replaced by F-35 JSFs when the conflict broke out.

Most have since been transferred to reserve and/or newly formed Squadrons.

[3] According to Microsoft Encarta the population was estimated at 812,979 in 1997. An additional 200,000 doesn’t seem too much of a stretch in 18 years.

[4] Currently under development by Pakistan and China.

[5] Currently it is planned to operate STOVL F-35s but it could still change.

[6] The PoD is some undefined point in the last few years.

[7] RAAC –Royal Australian Armoured Corps.

The 4th Cavalry Regiment is currently lumped together with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment as the 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment (which is currently classified as "Light Armoured"… presumably ASLAVs and M-113s). In this TL the two have been separated shortly after the conflict with Indonesia broke out and the 4th Cav has been equipped with three troops (~35 tanks) of Leopard AS1s.

[8] See [7]. After the start of the conflict with Indonesia the 3rd Cav has been reequipped with US equipment.

[9] Currently lumped together with the 12th Hunter River Lancers in the light armoured role. The unit was ‘separated’ later than 4Cav. Equipped with M60-2000s (more or less M1 turret mounted on M60 A3 hull).

[10] The M113 MGS is a fictional variant of the M113 derived from the M113 MRV. Rather than the 76mm turret from a FV101 Scorpion the Auto-Loader and turret assembly from a Stryker MGS is used. Most examples are armed with a 105mm M68 main gun with 25 rounds and a pair of 7.62mm MG3s (one in the coaxial position, the other as an AAMG mounted on the commander’s cupola).

[11] The 3rd/9th South Australia Mounted Rifles is currently classified as "Light Armoured".


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