(Written by: Pete Murray Illustrated by: headzombie)
293rd Alskrech Catrawd “None More Willing”
Entire battles can sometimes be won or lost on the actions of a single quar. The 293rd was part of the general advance along the Meddwyg River valley when they ran headlong into a counterattack by the elite 1st Parnol Guards. With their command in confusion, the 293rd faltered then broke. Several attempts to stand fast were begun by brave is-Caertens and Caertens who knew that the only hope for survival was to stop the rout. One rally point was on a hilltop, where the Syrnol of the 293rd ordered his men to fly the Catrawd’s flag. Unfortunately this encouraging sign was also seen by Parnolese artillery spotters, and a devastating barrage killed most of the senior officers and the braver soldiers.
Even before the last rounds fell, Rhyfler Siloh climbed the carnage-strewn hill, and picked up the 293rd’s standard. Finding its flagpole completely shattered, he made a new one with strands of wire and debris he picked up from the ground. As the smoke from the barrage lifted and the dust settled, there stood Rhyfler Siloh, facing the Parnol Guard and waving his flag. There was a moment of silence across the battlefield, as the Parnolese and Alskrechers stared in amazement at the defiant Rhyfler.
Though he and five other standard-bearers died as the 293rd rallied and held off the 1st Parnol Guard, the bravery of Rhyfler Siloh earned him a posthumous Iron Laurel, and lives on as an example to the soldiers of Alskrech.
33rd Light Infantry “Sword and Volley”
One of the oldest standing Catrawds in the Tokish Army is the 33rd Light, the Sword and Volley. The Catrawd was first commissioned by the Duke of Ivo in 1586, and may have been the first dedicated light infantry Catrawd of the Quar. Ivo’s son, the Marquis of Sleyn, was its most famous field commander, and it was under his command that the Catrawd performed its most famous feat of arms. The 33rd had been assigned to hold a hilltop on the flank of the Tokish Army. A Fidwog reserve division were sent to assault the hill in a pincer attack. The 33rd drove back the first arm of the pincer with three perfect volleys of fire, famously described as “dryll-perfect in theyr executionn.” They then turned to meet the second pincer with their swords drawn, closing to melee before the Fidwog could get off a second volley of their own.
The 33rd has been a great innovator of light infantry tactics in the centuries since. They have traditionally shunned most field fortifications, preferring to draw out their enemies into overextension and then counterattacking, their famous flag serving as a rally point on withdraw and an inspiration on the countercharge.
The Sword and Volley have continued their long tradition of marching on parade without bayonet, and with their ceremonial hanger swords.
454th Light Infantry “Caerrow”
In Crusade Year 2, at the height of the Liberation of Toulmore, the Border Army of Coftyr crossed into Toulmore in full force, their path of advance barred only by a handful of line Crusader catrawds in the middle of a rest and refit period. Forewarned, the Crusaders quickly improvised defenses to meet this new threat.
One of these catrawds was the 454th Light, raised in Lower Barro as a militia formation and one of the oldest Crusader catrawds of Alykinder’s. Their defensive works were situated in a farmer’s field, dominated by a single old Caerrow tree. Caerrows, common in the Barroese highlands, are rare in sunny, provincial Toulmore. As the artillery began to fall, the quar of the 454th began to sing “Come Ye Then to Shade,” an old folk tune about resting in the shade of Caerrows. They were still singing when the first infantry attack came at their line, and held their position that first day. Their commander, when asked if he planned to withdraw in the darkness, replied that he would withdraw only when his men were no longer shaded by the Caerrow.
The next day, the tree and the lines showed the damage of thousands of bullets and shells, but now a flag could be seen flying above the 454th, and on it was the unmistakable profile of a Caerrow. The 454th held for three more days before being relieved.
Though that original Caerrow tree was destroyed in the battle, wood from it went into standard poles for the flag of the 454th, and into a stock for its Syrnol’s Grifkis Double. Unlike other weapons of this type, this Grifkis is passed from commander to commander of the 454th, rather than from father to son. The song “Come Ye Then to Shade” has become synonymous with the quar of the stalwart 454th.
Some of the greatest acts of courage on the battlefield are not committed by heroic officers or famous catrawds, but by quar who find themselves pressed into extraordinary circumstances.
In Crusade Year 5, the 2nd Tok Guards were deployed to Maer Braech to fight the Grand Army of Kings. With the 2nd Guards were several Militia and Line Catrawds serving as flank and reserve forces. The Rynwyllet Militia, native to Kryst, were deployed as the left-most part of the brigade.
Two Catrawds of Royal Maer Braech Foot counterattacked the Rynwyllet Militia. These were veteran forces, well-equipped and rested, and the Rynwyllet Militia were conscripts under fire for the first time. The militia doggedly resisted charge after charge, but unfamiliar with the land and new to combat, they were isolated from the rest of the Tokish brigade. Though isolated, they found and occupied an old fortified manor, and there formed a pocket of resistance which lasted for days, through attacks by armor and infantry.
Every morning the Maer Braech commanders would gaze through their telescopes and see the militia’s simple flag flying over the ruined farmhouse. Finally, heavy artillery was brought up and pounded the position until the manor was completely destroyed. The next morning, incredibly, a makeshift flag was still flying in the ruins. Infantry were sent to mop up. The sight that met their eyes was almost beyond belief.
A few barely-living survivors of the Rynwyllet Militia were still alive in the ruins, but were unable to resist. At the base of the last flag of the Rynwyllet Militia was a single dead quar. He had removed his ID tags and all personal effects, choosing anonymous death to preserve his Catrawd’s glory. His remains were respectfully removed and returned to Rynwyllet, shrouded in that last flag of the Rynwyllet Militia.
105th Light Infantry “Pride of Yan Yarlugh”
Conscription is seldom a happy time in the city-states of the Quar, but most families comply with stoic dignity and hopes that their sons will return safely – and if not safely, then with their honor intact. At the time the 105th Catrawd was conscripted from the small city-state of Yan Yarlugh, there was little to distinguish them from the other light infantry raised at that time.
In their first battle, the 105th were sent over the top and badly mauled by well-entrenched defenders. After falling back, they discovered that their Catrawd banner had been lost. The next morning, it could be seen flying upside-down over a strongpoint in the enemy trenches. It was a disheartening, dishonoring blow to the young 105th.
But some members of the 105th would not bear this insult. Their Catrawd flag had been hand-made by the families of the soldiers, to remind them of their home when far away. Every stitch had been laid by someone’s mother, sister, sweetheart, or daughter, and it was their lasting, visible link to their families. As night fell, a small detachment of raiders slipped out of the line and moved quietly across the no-quars land. They had succeeded in getting as far as the flagpole when an alarm was sounded. Flares lit up the night sky, and the defending machineguns began blindly raking the area.
The rest of the 105th could see the detachment by light of the flares, cutting down their captured flag and racing back towards the lines, but machineguns cut down one after another of the bold soldiers. With a roar, the remainder of the 105th found their courage and came out of the trenches, boldly racing to rescue their comrades. The rescue turned into a counter-attack, and by sunrise, the flag of the 105th flew over the newly-occupied strong point, this time right-side up. Henceforth the soldiers of the 105th could march with their heads high, knowing they had preserved the honor of Yan Yarlugh.