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|Ninth Battle of Iserlohn|
|Date:||20 November 798 UC (489 IC / 3598 CE) – 9 January 799 UC (1 NIC / 490 IC / 3599 CE)|
|Result:||Imperial victory, Alliance abandons Iserlohn|
The Ninth Battle of Iserlohn (Japanese: 第9次イゼルローン攻防戦) was the first phase of Duke Reinhard von Lohengramm's Operation Ragnarök, a diversionary attack by the Galactic Empire against Iserlohn Fortress to distract the Free Planets Alliance from the Imperial invasion through the Fezzan Corridor. The operation was launched in response to the kidnapping of Emperor Erwin Josef II in the summer of 798 UC (489 IC / 3598 CE) and his reappearance in the Alliance at the head of a "legitimate" government-in-exile. The plan of Ragnarök hinged on the bulk of the Imperial Fleet passing through and entering the Alliance using the demilitarised Fezzan Corridor, but an initial assault on Iserlohn Fortress was launched to ensure that Alliance politicians continued to believe that the Imperial invasion would be through the Iserlohn Corridor. After holding off several waves of Imperial attacks, fortress commander Admiral Yang Wen-li decided to abandon Iserlohn to join the fight against Reinhard's main force.
After several previous failed attempts, in the spring of 796 UC (487 IC / 3596 CE) the Alliance 13th Fleet under Yang Wen-li captured the Empire's Iserlohn Fortress. But over the next two years since then the Alliance Fleet was severely weakened in a failed invasion of the Imperial Territory and later the Alliance Civil War. Thus by 798 UC (489 IC / 3598 CE) the defence of the homeland relied entirely on the Alliance's control over Iserlohn Fortress. The Alliance National Defence Council and the head of state, Job Trunicht, believed that any Imperial invasion could only come through the Iserlohn Corridor, as the only other route, the Fezzan Corridor, had always traditionally been demilitarised. (LOGH: 'Iserlohn Captured!', 'New Trends', 'The Arrow Is Released', 'A Departure', 'Operation: Ragnarök', 'Invitation to a Requiem')
The summer of 798 UC (489 IC / 3598 CE) saw the kidnapping of the young emperor Erwin Josef II in a scheme organised by Fezzani leader Adrian Rubinsky and the creation of a government-in-exile of former high nobles in the Alliance, with the aim of overthrowing Duke Reinhard von Lohengramm's regime in the Empire. The Fezzanis convinced or persuaded Trunicht and his administration to accept the exiles. As Rubinsky intended, this gave Lohengramm popular support for and a pretext to declare war on the Alliance. The Imperial dictator's invasion plan, Operation Ragnarök, called for a diversionary attack on Iserlohn while the majority of the Imperial Fleet annexed Fezzan and proceeded to invade the Alliance through the Fezzan Corridor. This way they could avoid dealing with Yang Wen-li and Iserlohn Fortress directly. With the assistance of defected Fezzani ambassador Nikolas Boltik, Lohengramm decided to enact the plan. (LOGH: 'Lost Things', 'Determination and Ambition', 'The Arrow Is Released', 'Operation: Ragnarök')
On 5 November 798 UC (489 IC / 3598 CE), in accordance with the Ragnarök Operation, Imperial High Admiral Oskar von Reuenthal, along with admirals Helmut Lennenkampf and Cornelius Lutz, led a fleet of 36,000 warships against Iserlohn Fortress. Their departure from the capital was leaked via Fezzan to the Alliance government. Despite the warnings of the Space Fleet Commander, Admiral Alexandre Bucock, most of the Alliance's political and military leaders, including Admiral Rockwell and Defence Secretary Walter Islands, believed the Empire would only invade through Iserlohn. (LOGH: 'Invitation to a Requiem')
Order of battle
The Empire mobilised 36,000 ships for the operation.
- Reuenthal Fleet, under High Admiral Oskar von Reuenthal, flagship Tristan
- Lutz Fleet, under Admiral Cornelius Lutz, flagship Skirnir
- Lennenkampf Fleet, under Admiral Helmut Lennenkampf, flagship Garga Falmul
Iserlohn Fortress was defended by the Iserlohn Garrison Fleet, under Admiral Yang Wen-li. Two squadrons under the command of Rear Admirals Edwin Fischer and Dusty Attenborough took part in operations outside the Fortress itself, while the marine infantry forces were led by Fortress defence commander, Brigadier General Walter von Schönkopf.
The Imperial fleet under High Admiral Reuenthal reached the Iserlohn Corridor on November 20, positioning their formation outside of the Thor Hammer's effective range and preparing for a battle of attrition. In response Admiral Yang ordered Rear Admiral Dusty Attenborough to a lead a squadron to lure them in, but the Imperial fleet advanced too quickly and entangled itself in the Alliance formation, making it impossible to use the Thor Hammer without hitting friendly ships. Around that time the Hyperion, Yang's flagship, left the fortress and approached the formation, and was soon identified by the crew aboard Reuenthal's flagship. Reuenthal falsely believed that Yang was aboard and ordered the fleet to close in on Hyperion, but in the process made it possible for an Alliance boarding ship to attach itself to his flagship's hull. Alliance soldiers fought against the crew of Tristan and there was a duel between the Alliance infantry commander, General Schönkopf, and Reuenthal, which ended inconclusively. After the failure to kill Reuenthal the Alliance soldiers abandoned the ship, at which point the Imperials temporarily withdrew. (LOGH: 'The Sounding of Gjallarhorn')
There was a short break in the fighting. The Empire began the next attack by launching hit and run raids on the surface of the fortress, damaging turrets and the outer wall of fluid metal. On Yang's orders, the Thor Hammer and regular gun batteries fired back and caused a significant amount of damage to the attacking Imperial ships, but not before they also broke through parts of Iserlohn's outer wall. Gun turrets firing from inside the liquid metal surface on Yang's orders put some of the metal liquid armour back in place. At that point, Reuenthal called off the attack and temporarily withdrew again. The Imperial government leaked information through Fezzan that ostensibly Reuenthal failed in his plan and requested reinforcements from Fleet Supreme Commander Reinhard von Lohengramm, who dispatched a large armada under High Admiral Wolfgang Mittermeyer. Unbeknownst to the Alliance government and Fezzani leader Adrian Rubinsky, in reality, after leaving the capital on December 9 these forces secretly proceeded to the Fezzan Corridor instead of Iserlohn. Admiral Yang predicted that this would happen but his warnings had been ignored by the Alliance government. (LOGH: 'The Sounding of Gjallarhorn')
The Empire's attack on Iserlohn succeeded in occupying the attention of both the Alliance and Fezzan, making the Imperial annexation of Fezzan in December 798 UC (489 IC / 3598 CE) a surprise.