Report on the Expedition to Greater Henn Island
|The Brethren lurking in ambush in a patch of jungle.|
Having scouted the enemy positions which appeared to consist primarily of an earth and wood redoubt on a low hill, General Turner sent Brigadier Stoneforte with the Rifles, Green Tigers and Buffs across a ford on our left while Brigadier Spye with two battalions of the Brooklyn Fusiliers was to cross a bridge near the ruined town. The Naval artillery and Rocket battery were to deploy in the middle and pound the redoubt to rubble. The Royal Fusiliers formed our reserve.
|A balloon's eye view of the battlefield.|
Our first attack was repulsed but the men rallied handily and the bridge was soon taken. A gruelling street fight followed and it took most of the day to clear the town and move forward to assault the redoubt.
On our left flank, the Rifles pressed forward to engage enemy snipers in a patch of jungle while the main columns marched rapidly to assail the redoubt. Suddenly a band of ragged pirates armed with cutlasses, axes and clubs burst out of the jungle onto the flank of the lead column. Taken by surprise the Tigers broke and ran, a sight even more surprising than the appearance of the enemy. They bolted back through the Buffs and swept them away as well.
|In the foreground, street fighting rages but in the distance the red columns have skirted the wood and are approaching the redoubt.|
|The final assault|
The last handful of Oberhilse volunteers put up a tough fight but they were too few and soon swept aside. The main body of Brethren fought fiercely but even they started to waver but that old Black Fox was there and held them to their work. Our men had to fall back briefly and when they renewed the assault, the enemy had gone.
Darkness comes fast in these parts once the sun drops below the horizon and to chase these devils into the jungle in the dark is madness. We'll probably never know why they stood to meet us or why they fought so hard to hold us there. Was this only a rearguard to cover the evacuation of stores and treasure? or perhaps to give a larger allied force time to manoeuvre?
In any event, we collected our dead and wounded and retired to the fleet while we tried to convince ourselves that this was a victory because we had eventually taken the ground and driven them off. In truth though, it felt more like they had left of their own free will when their job was done.