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Damocles Crusade

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Damocles Gulf Crusade
Tau and Space Marine forces battle in the Damocles Crusade
Conflict Second Sphere of Expansion
Date 742-745.M41
Location Damocles Gulf
Outcome Indecisive, negotiated settlement
Imperium Tau Empire
Admiral Jallaque
General Wendall Gauge
Chapter Master Durian Raevor(POW)[12][13]
Iron Captain Maarkol Rumann[11]
Captain Ledo Atheus (KIA)
Other Space Marine Captains
Commander Puretide
Admiral Kor’O’Li’Mau’Teng
Commander Coldfire
Commander Sha'kanthas[12]
See Order of Battle See Order of Battle
Heavy Heavy

The Damocles Crusade, also called the Damocles Gulf Crusade, was a major conflict fought between the Imperium of Man and Tau Empire in late M41 around the Damocles Gulf region of the Eastern Fringe.[5]



By 742.M41, members of the Tau Water Caste had established trade agreements with Imperial Worlds on the frontier, near the Damocles Gulf, and exchanges of goods and technology were common. Alarmed by this, Inquisitorial investigation of the worlds in question indeed found evidence of Tau activity. The conclusion was that they represented a major threat and Cardinal Esau Gurney of Brimlock called for a Crusade to purge the aliens. The Crusade was based around a dozen capital starships of the Imperial Navy, five provisional companies of Space Marines, and nineteen Regiments of Imperial Guard, seven of them from Brimlock. The first move was towards the Timbra Sub-sector where human colonists had coexisted with the aliens. The Crusade first reasserted Imperial rule in the rebellious Garrus and Kleist colonies. Individuals implicated in dealing with the Tau were seized and punished at a special assize held before the furious Crusaders. The Imperial colonies secured, the Crusade forces moved on and engaged the Tau for the first time on their own territory in the uninhabited Hydass System.[4a]

First Actions

At the Battle of the Hydass System, the Imperial Navy would face seven Tau Cruisers of the Air Caste. Initially surprised by the range and power of Tau torpedo salvos, the Imperial forces eventually emerged victorious with the help of a Space Marine Strike Cruiser and the discovery that Tau ships lacked heavy broadside firepower. Space Marine forces from the Scythes of the Emperor supported by the Brimlock Dragoons then landed on Sy'l'kell, a Tau world of seven million inhabitants. Finding the Tau forces to be extremely well-equipped mobile infantry and that the Hammerhead grav-tank was a close match for the Imperial Leman Russ Battle Tank, Imperial forces took heavy losses but intervention by the Scythes of the Emperor not only led to victory but avoided an outright massacre. After overcoming the Tau defenders and exterminating the alien populace the crusade moved on to their next target. As Imperial forces now made preparations to cross the Damocles Gulf, Imperial ships launched an orbital bombardment of the Tau world of Viss'el after finding it had no strategic value. The world's polar ice caps melted and all life was purged.[4a]

The Dal'yth Campaign

After a five month journey across the Damocles Gulf, the Crusade fleet finally reached the major Tau Sept of Dal'yth. Assuming that Tau orbital defenses would be no more formidable than what they encountered at Hydass, Imperial forces were shocked to find a far more powerful Tau fleet supported by an array of powerful Orbital Stations as well as Kroot Warspheres. Had it not been for Admiral Jallaque's flagship, the Retribution Class Battleship Blade of Woe destroying the Kroot Warsphere Imperial forces would have faced destruction. But while the Crusading fleet had emerged victorious, their triumph had been a Pyrrhic one: four Capital Ships and fourteen Escorts had been lost at the battle over Dal'yth.[4b]

Operation Pluto

The action over Dal'yth had earned a new respect for the Tau among some in the Imperial command, and some advocated turning back. However Dal'yth proved too tempting a target in the end. Breaking through the system's Orbital stations in a much more cautious fashion than had been seen previously, the ground assault quickly commenced. Taking advantage of the well-made Tau roads, Imperial forces initially advanced rapidly using Titans and armored forces as the spearhead. However as they advanced into the rugged hills and woods of the world Tau resistance became more stubborn and their missile fire began to take a heavy toll.[Needs Citation]

Facing Tau jump troops equipped with cloaking fields, the Imperial spearhead was broken up into three separate wedges in the woods of Gel'bryn. The first wedge was made up of Titans from the Legio Thanataris, who found themselves countered by missiles launched from Tau Manta gunships.[Needs Citation]

The second wedge was predominately made up of veterans from the Rakarshan Rifles, whose intelligent use of cover kept them out of harm's way but who still found themselves bogged down by Kroot warriors at close range.[Needs Citation]

The third wedge were made up of Space Marines from the Ultramarines, Iron Hands, and Scythes of the Emperor chapters, who found themselves bogged down by the Tau's own elite shock troops: Crisis Battlesuits. All three fronts in the Imperial advance now found themselves stalled in the woods of Gel'bryn.[4c]

Their advance stalled, Imperial forces under General Wendall Gauge advocated digging in to avoid the worst of the Tau firepower. However, superior Tau night-vision equipment led to heavy losses in night raids that only Space Marine patrols could alleviate. This was compounded by the constant worry that a new Tau fleet would arrive, the Crusade fleet was badly damaged and could barely protect its transports as it was. As the siege ground on, more Tau forces arrived each day.[4c]

Operation Hydra

General Gauge concluded that the Crusade had stumbled onto a major Tau world and the resources allotted to the Crusade were insufficient for the task at hand. As arguments over what to be done emerged in the Imperial command, including those advocating Exterminatus, General Gauge acted. Forming his Titans up with the Brimlock Regiments, he was able to strike at the Tau right flank and trap them against the sea as Imperial Navy fighters struck Tau airfields in costly but effective actions that kept Tau air support from the front. The Imperial strike force achieved their primary objective in the first few hours - capturing a town containing a bridge. The Tau responded with Battlesuits deployed from Manta Gunships and for the rest of the day a running battle ensued that resulted with the Imperial forces a mere five miles away from trapping tens of thousands of Tau troops. Overnight the Tau forces withdrew and Imperial forces secured the town's starport.[4c]

Making use of the newly acquired starport, General Gauge began to evacuate his forces from Dal'yth. Resistance from the Inquisition and Space Marines was overruled by Inquisitor Kryptman, who had an express order from Brimlock to return with all forces. The Tau sensibly realized the time to negotiate was now and the Water Caste began to negotiate a settlement under parlay. The negotiations were successful and the Imperial fleet withdrew from Tau space, primarily due to the impending approach of Hive Fleet Behemoth.[6]


In the end the Damocles Gulf Crusade had resulted in the Imperium gaining a healthy new respect for the fighting abilities of the Tau while the Tau Empire came to understand the true scale of Humanity's power in a Galaxy they had previously thought theirs for the taking.[4c]

In the aftermath of the campaign the Inquisition descended onto Human worlds that had interacted with the Tau. Harsh punishments and purges were carried out against any who had collaborated with the xenos.[9]

998.M41 The Revelation of Kauyon

Two hundred and fifty years after the crusade, Commander Farsight finally achieved mastery of Puretide's way of war. In doing so he came to the belief that the entire Crusade was an execution of the Kauyon by Aun'va and the Ethereals.[7a] They deliberately goaded the Imperium into attacking the Tau before the humans were aware of the full scope of the Tau Empire; so as to achieve a victory over them that would hearten the Tau in the face of Humanity's sprawling galactic dominion. Farsight added this insight to the secrets which, for the greater good, he must keep from the Tau population.[Needs Citation]


Imperial Forces

Imperial Guard Regiments of the Damocles Crusade

Imperial Navy Ships

Space Marines

Rogue Traders

Tau Forces

Air Caste Forces

Air Caste Cadre under the command of Admiral Kor’O’Li’Mau’Teng [7b]

Fire Caste Forces

See Also

Related Publications