Alright ya lovely lot. Well, I volunteered to get some better pictures and fluff done for the company now that I've been more or less 'sold' on what I want the final group to look like. With a 30K League thing coming up, and a few of my mates hounding me to get better pictures of terrain (and make more, of course) I figured I'd make up a WIP log like all the cool kids are doing. So hopefully it'll keep up the motivation even in the absence of a painting event or the like.
Anyway, I'll probably be asking about as many 'what's your opinion' questions for ya lot as I do with everyone else that's sick and tired of my constant barrage of questions (they say 'don't text at two in the morning', but I know they love my questions!). So, this'll hopefully have some painting bits, some fluff, some bat-reps, we'll see what comes of it, eh? I should be updating the cover page with the most 'up to date' army compositions, etc, and replacing photos when I can. And, y'know, I get to test out the B&C's BBCoding to see how stuff looks. All in good fun.
The 65th company emerged as any other line company in the XVIth legion, drawn up in the mid 10th century M.30 as a reinforcement unit from the 33rd battalions logistics base. The 200 strong unit of astartes was constituted during early restructuring protocols and saw intermittent service during the later years of the Great Crusade. The 33rd battalion included the 65th and 66th line companies, as well as the 17th Independent Reaver Company. The 33rd was placed aboard the grand cruiser Judicature as part of the 63rd expeditionary fleet's second line units.
During the Callas compliance of 978 M.30, the 65th was placed on front line combat trials. A series of errors and miscalculations led to heavy casualties for both line companies. Advance elements from the 14th and 17th Luna Wolves companies fought through Callasian lines to relieve the embattled 33rd battalion.
By M.31, the battalion had withdrawn to rear line duties, and come under intense political fire for wishing to incorporate organic militia elements within the Legion's rear echelon structure to supplement their wavering Recon groups and to help with garrison operations on newly compliant worlds such as Tennerak and Davin. While this never emerged, the 33rd battalion's reputation as a primary assault unit was stained by perceptions of other company captains who spurned the Imperial Army as anything more than clean up and support elements. This perception of the battalion would linger until their trial by fire at Istvaan III.
The 65th remained part of the rearguard of the 63rd expeditionary fleet, but did not contribute significantly to the Davin suppression and performed only prefuctory assaults on Interex space installations during the Interex compliance. The mettle of the 65th was untested, but their strength had slowly accumulated over the intervening years. Reconstituted as a 295 strong company, they were given the designation Cerberus Assault Group as the Judicature arrived at the Istvaan III L2 lagrangian point. Marshal Ahazaar's rebuilt company was not called upon to participate in the opening assault, a not un-surprising decision on the surface.
According to recovered logs from the Judicature, the marshal was apprehensive of the entire Istvaan III pacification operation but made no mention of it beyond his confidante and equerry Akkisen Shenzo. In an open conference with the Warmaster, he carefully pledged every asset at his disposal prior to the initial wave. This, perhaps, preempted doubts about the loyalties of the 65th.
The 33rd battalion was locked down aboard the Judicature, Marshal Ahaazar remaining in his chambers under guard while the company's commanding officer, Centurion Ashram Kademius and his honour guard, occupied the command deck of the Judicature. The Grand Cruiser was one of the 63rd expeditionary fleet ships that descended into orbit to carry out the virus bombing, proving the loyalty of the ship crew, though the astartes of the 33rd battalion were still untested.
In the ensuing firestorm, the 17th Independent Reavers were tasked with the capture of the frigate Shooting Star and were successful in their task. The 65th was held in reserve with a sizable contingent of armoured personnel carriers. After the revelation of intentions at Istvaan III, the 65th was dispatched on the 52nd day to suppress elements of the loyalist III and XVI legions who had escaped into the now wasteland countryside outside Istvaan III's capital Khry Vanak, the Choral City. For the next fifteen days, the 65th hunted for loyalist elements amid the ashen wastes, using a mixed doctrine of tank desant and rapid armour assault sweeps to destroy hidden strong points and overrun infantry contingents.
Later analysis notes the lack of anti-aircraft guns, speeders, jetbikes, or other assets that could ensure the safety of the 65th in wide-band sweeps or be used to counteract the 118th squadron's Stormcrows and Fire Raptors who flew alongside ostensibly as air-support. Other sources indicate that the 118th acted as a control mechanism to ensure the compliance of the untested 65th in ground operations. It was their air-wardens who who named the 65th Ash Jackals, or alternatively Dust Jackals in inter-unit vox communication, and the callsign was adopted readily by the 65th as their nom de guerre. Whatever the motives, the 65th completed their tasks with enthusiasm and arrived in the ruined city suburbs to support other actions 16 days later as the Coral City's last bastions of resistance fell.
However, to prove the loyalty of the 65th further, the 33rd released the last of its armour reserves and the 65th was sent in support of Legio Mortis elements at the same time as XIIth legion forces were being recalled from the battlezone. The 65th and 17th were pushed into the breach with straggling elements of the XIIth legion, pursuing loyalist remnants deep into the catacombs beneath the Precentor's palace. After a costly armoured assault that carried into the inner sanctum of the structure, the 65th was ordered to retreat, though the rear echelons and a significant portion of the 17th were caught in the undercrofts beneath the ancient structure and presumably destroyed by the barrage unleashed by Legio Mortis. The last 126 Ash Jackals were extracted by the 118th to the Judicature, bloodied but now proven.
The influx of new Cthonian recruits after Istvaan III had an effect on both the internal culture and combat doctrine of the Ash Jackals. Fresh from the fray, the leadership of the 65th reviewed after action reports, and through a systemic lobbying process on behalf of their marshal, capitalized on the events of the Precentor's Palace assault. Cthonian recruits were typically filtered through into tactical squads, through more emphasis was placed on advanced placement in Breacher squads. Many of the company's Rhino APC's were wrecked and abandoned on Istvaan III, but the Mastadon and Land Raider contingents were retrained and reinforced.
The resultant units were forced to fight on foot in support of heavy armour assaults, favoring medium to close range firefights with an assortment of specialist squads. No one overwhelming combat doctrine was adopted, and holes in the 65ths melee squads was filled by the influx of terminator squads and close cohesive support with the 17th Reavers. The 65th would advance on static enemy positions, attempting to take them by storm, advancing rather than holding ground. At the same time, the first air-support was received as a spoils of war from Istvaan III. An unmarked Storm Eagle gunship was transported back by the 118th, but claims by their captain were undercut by Marshal Ahazaar. Soon after, the Mournful Song was put into service, ostensibly to transport seeker and reconnaissance elements meant to probe perspective targets.
More recent developments has seen the Judicature onloading more Anvillus Dreadclaw Assault Craft and Storm Eagle transports, once earmarked for the 19th Air Assault company, but was overruled by 33rd battalion requisition requests. Now-Praetor Kademius has rallied for the 65th to incorporate a sizable bulk strike transit component, and the Storm Eagles and their escort fill those requirements well, though not without the loss of priority in obtaining more standardized Rhino armoured carriers.
Edited by Vykes, Today, 10:03 AM.