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Monday, February 13, 2017

The Battle of Crossmaglen

On 12th of July 1937, while the annual commemoration marches of the Battle of the Boyne are keeping the organized Protestants of Northern Ireland busy, a new battle is started at the borders of county Armagh. After the successful distraction of the 1st (Experimental) Parachute Regiment by the feint attack on Checkpoint Meigh, the main column of the Irish Citizen Army PAC marched on the bordertown of Crossmaglen to establish a bridgehead in the North and liberate it from British rule.
ICA commanders Peadar O'Donnell and George Gilmore
The ICA is equipped with Mosin-Nagant rifles, SMGs, mortars and other Soviet surplus equipment, kindly supplied by the comrades of the Comintern, along with some locally raided Vickers/Maxim HMGs. The essential supply train is provided and protected by the local Ulster Farmers Union cavalry militias.
Nora Connolly-O'Brien supervisizes the positioning of her battalion, mortars, and supplies.
British resistance to the attack is expected to be relatively low, possibly only some small Protestant militia units, but no real threat compared to British Army Regulars with heavy weapons. But as the PAC gets in position for the attack, they recognize several companies of Ulster Home Guard manning the border checkpoints, including a depot of fuel supplies, building barricades and estalishing a fortified HMG position on top of the church tower.
Company of Ulster Home Guard manning the border checkpoint.
UHG and Craig's Bicycle Dragoons defending the fuel supply depot
Commanding the British brigade that defends Crossmaglen is the infamous Brigadier General Ormonde Winter, called "O.", a notorious member of the British Fascists and former head of intelligence during the Anglo-Irish War.
Brigadier General Ormonde "O" Winter awaits the attack of the Irish Reds.
During the ICAs initial offensive moves, heavy rain sets in, leaving the ground muddy and hampering the observation distance. But the socialists continued their attack nonetheless and tried to open a gap in the British defensive lines at the checkpoint. The devastating shots from the SMGs of an ICA assault unit eliminated a whole company of UHG at the checkpoint.
Whole company whipeout after SMG fire by ICA assault company.
A British 18 Pounder gun of the 17th Heavy Battery, RA, starts a creeping barrage to slow the communist assault.
British artillery barrage fails to hamper the approaching ICA battalion.
But the assault is advancing as planned towards the checkpoint and fuel dump. The rifle fire is too much for the Uster Home Guard, which decides to retreat back into town.
Beaten up Home Guard leaves the checkpoint and retreats to Crossmaglen. 
Meanwhile the bicycle dragoon take heavy losses and are reduced to a single soldier.
Last remaining member of the Bicycle Dragoons irritated by the lost of his unit.

But the day is still not lost for the British defenders, as reinforcements in form of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, commanded by Lord Lovat, arrives and wades slowly through the heavy rain and muddy ground, much to the liking of CO Brigadier-General Sir Ormonde Winter. Now he sees a chance of holding the border.
Reinforcements from the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment arrive.
Brig.-Gen. O. Winter and Lt.-Col. Lord Lovat consult their defensive strategy.

In the meantime, the Irish Citizen Army storms and successfully takes the border checkpoint in a frontal assault, bravely lead by Nora Connolly-O'Brien and Cpt. Ita Feeney, a veteran of the 1916 Easter Rising.
ICA storms the border post
With no other option than to watch the fall of the border post, the Orangemen militia begin to dig in and build barricades in Crossmaglen town. Nearly desperate, they have to see how the PARA artillery gets stuck in the heavy mud, unable to move towards the enemy at all.
Orangemen build barricades on the outskirts of Crossmaglen
Para Artillery gets stuck in the mud
Therefore Col. James Craig rallies the retreating Home Guard and, with little hope to hold on to Crossmaglen, prepares his half-hearted defense of what will soon become the centre of Communist Bandit Country!
UlsterHome Guard rallies around Col. James Craig

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