In his continuing rambling across the German and Dutch countryside, Dogwood and his boys find themselves rushed to an industrial district just outside Essen in the Ruhr. The force remains largely unchanged, but a new officer has been assigned to his staff.
Captain Dogwood strode up and down in front of the abandoned mechanic's workshop his boys were camped out in. He had set McLellan and second platoon up in a steelworks factory to the east of the little town, overlooking the road in, the intelligence had suggested the Soviet spearhead into this area would be arriving shortly.
At that moment, the familiar rumble of light engines signalled the return of the Queen's Dragoon Guards, and the lanky English officer; Bridgewater-Smythe. Dogwood scratched the back of his head as the Scimitars pulled up behind the hedges and the crews began to dismount.
"Captain Dogwood, sah! Always a pleasure to see you!" The cavalryman greeted him warmly, snapping off a smart salute as he stepped up towards him, removing his beret and dusting down his fatigues.
"Smythe, we dinnae need ye here... We've got this one." Dogwood gave a wry smile as he pointed out his Milan positions. "We've been given a holding task, not a push. So sorry lad, yer boys will just have tae sit back and watch." He almost sounded apologetic.
"But sir, we have our orders." Bridgewater replied, a little frustrated sounding, waving some papers in his face. Dogwood casually took the papers off him, pretending to give them a read, before ripping them in half.
"Oops, sorry lad, I didnae see any orders." He shrugged, turning back to his men, leaving the young officer dumbstruck by the lack of procedure.
"I mu-..." Birdgewater began, but his words were cut off by a sudden sound, one that could only be described as a 'skirl'. Dogwood's ears perked up as he scanned beyond the hedges, an FV432 pulling up and unloading a few men for reinforcing the company. The last man out carrying, and playing a full set of highland bagpipes.
"Moray? Moray! Ya auld bastart!" Dogwood jogged up, gretting the newly arrived Pipe Major with a firm, almost brotherly grip. Some of the men noticing the strange handshake that passes between the men.
"Dogwood, ah thought ye were deid!" The tall Scotsman chuckled, being led to the mechanics shed to be introduced to the others, but a crackle on the radio interrupts them.
"Sir, McLellan here, we have incoming. Over." The Irishman reported curtly.
"Ach, sorry Moray, nae time for the pleasantries... time tae get tae it..."
Peeking round the corner of the mechanic's workshop, Dogwood could make out the shape of the usual T-72s which led the advances. He winced as he saw a lovely old BMW being crushed under the tracks of an overzealous BMP driver, the car buckling under the weight of the 13-ton vehicle.
"Ready lads, and then give them what for!" Dogwood muttered into the Comm, a few stray shots from the lead tanks clipped the factory where McLellan was hiding out, but nothing too serious as the gunners didn't seem to have a proper bead on the platoon.
Behind him, Dogwood could hear the revving of engines. He snatched up the Comm again.
"Bridgewater! You dare move yer arse from that position, and ah will personally come up there and kick it, dae ye understand me?" He snapped down the Comm, no reply coming through, but the engines dying out as the MCTs instead wheeled around into position and fired off some leading shots, sending retribution the way of the BMP that crushed the vintage car.
Dogwood's elation was tempered slightly by a slightly worried chatter through the comm.
"Mike-Echo to Whisky Command... failed to range in, over."
The cluster of T-72s and BMPs huddled round the petrol station surrounded by smoking artillery craters, but not a single one even scratched by the miss.
Sensing the impending artillery strike, Dogwood watched as the T-72s and BMPs split up, heading different directions to give them more of a chance of survival. The tanks heading for the Steelworks factory, whilst the BMPs burst through the hedge ahead of their position. or rather, one BMP burst through the hedge, whilst the others ground their gears and revved their engines, stalling on the lush greenery of the German countryside.
Dogwood knelt up in his foxhole, looking round at his men, they were itching for a scrap. They'd been tossed from Hamburg to Amsterdam and almost back again with little to no action, and now it was time.
"Lads! This is it, we're doin' it now! Pipe-major! Gies a tune!" He commanded, the pipes starting a slow, durge of a melody. Dogwood rolled his eyes. "Knock it aff! Lads! Drum him in! Blue Bonnets!" He yelled, a few of the troops using their stocks and entrenching tools as makeshift drumsticks to drum-roll the pipes into action...
Dogwood stood up, tracer rounds plucking the dirt around his men's position as he pointed forward.
"Up the Scots! Fix bayonets!!" He yelled, attaching his own, his men following suit, before beginning the charge with the pipes following on behind. The rest of his men picking themselves out of the foxholes. The Commander of the BMP watching in disbelief as the Scots ran at his vehicle, pipes blaring them on to the charge. The back doors of the track opened and confused Russians poured out, just as the attack hit, bayonets, rifle shots and a well tossed grenade hitting them for six as the two sides collided.
Dogwood himself cracking one of them across the back of the head with the stock of his rifle as the stuck BMPs on the hedgerows brewed up from accurate anti-tank missile fire.
The melee settled down a little, Dogwood and his men slipping into the building nearby the rest and recuperate. He could see a few of his boys had taken hits from the charge, the poor bastards wouldn't be seeing the next day, but the Soviet infantry, or what were left of them were in a worse position. He could hear Russian shouts and commands outside the window, and worse of all, he could see a T-72 platoon rolling up the hill towards his unguarded FOO, and beyond him the Artillery battery.
The retaliation from the Soviet infantry was not as expected, the lads had set themselves up in the windows perfectly, a few rattling AK-47 shots and a stray RPG doing nothing to dampen their spirits as they sniped off the last remnants of the Russians trying to breach the building.
"Good job lads! Just the tanks to go now!" Dogwood encouraged, finding a window to watch the perilous action unfold. His fears were abated slightly as the T-72s on the hill crested, but the heavy landing throwing the stabiliser off and the shots whizzing past the extremely fortunate FOO. The lead tank took a heavy hit and ground to a halt, the crew dismounting the tank behind it stalling in place as the Milan troops reloaded and tried to stall their advance.
In the centre of town the T-72s seemed to get stuck for position, driving forward and managing to pick off a hapless MCT, but losing one of their number in return.
From his elevated position in the quaint house he found himself in, Dogwood could analyse the situation unfolding below. On the left flank, the T-72s had closed the gap on the Milans, forcing them to hug cover and hold out, while in the centre, the T-72s were taking a pounding from all sides, the MCTs managing to pick another one off, preventing them from escaping, but not enough to prevent the cowardly Battalion commander slipping past at full speed, leaving his comrades behind.
Dogwood had all but given up on his Milan teams in the forest, until some missiles streaked past, knocking one of the tanks off its tracks, and making the other grind to a halt, the hatch opening and smoke belching out. The Milan operators unholstering their service pistols, the loaders levelling their SLRs at the dazed and confused tankers and encouraging them to dismount.
"I think it's over lads... this is one for the books. Now, let's see if there's a dram or two in this hoose!"
The dust had settled, the surviving Russians rounded up and loaded into a truck for drop-off behind the lines, whilst a couple of field ambulances picked up the squaddies not lucky enough to have made it through the day. A moment's silence was held, with the pipes playing 'Amazing Grace' as one by one the ambulances left and the survivors slung off their packs and settled down to chatter excitedly about what had transpired.
In the larger estate house, the officers gathered, Dogwood managing to find some fine German liqueur for them to share.
"Gents, here's to ye! And even to ye, Bridge-Water, ah told ye to stay put, and ye did, well done." He raised a glass to the disappointed looking officer, whilst the others gave a rather mocking clap. "That's no to say we didn't appreciate ye, it's just this time, none of yer lads were put in danger... tak' the win where ye can get it." Dogwood passed him the bottle to refill the drinks. "And as for the rest of us, let's just be grateful we're no goin' hame in a bag, aye?"
Dogwood finally get his wish of a bloody brawl after missing out for so long.
Once again, the Rapiers were left out of the battle due to no enemy air support, and I totally overlooked the Harriers and their kills on the Carnations and Shilkas near the end of the game, losing one on a suicide run at the AA themselves.