DAY TWELVE: 13 September 1938
As the Giza attack force stood by waiting for status reports on the polar bombing groups, intelligence reports continued to flood into Committee offices detailing Martian ground operations and limited air attacks around the world.
These reports included information on continuing bad weather conditions most notable on this day across the plains of North America reporting on at least 400 destructive tornados touching down along a weather front from Forth Worth to Memphis. Cyclones continued to pound India from Mangalore to Madras; the entire area now under Martian control. One particularly strong cyclone was beginning to hit the Arabian Peninsula with winds up to 160 miles per hour with devastating rains. The few intelligence reports coming from that region indicated even the Martians were having a good deal of trouble operating under those conditions. Most of Western Europe was being hit by snow storms dumping upwards of 15 to 20 feet in many areas. Across Eastern Europe into Mongolia and China snow was even heavier driven by winds of 60 to 70 miles per hour in many places.
Science stations were also picking up movements on several fault lines along a north/south line near the central Atlantic sea floor as well as several large aftershocks on the other side of the world off the coast of Japan and the Mariana Islands. Several powerful quakes had also hit the west coast of California and Chile.
In the south the Martians were consolidating their ground war efforts at several locations. Forces already engaged in areas where the fighting had ended or vastly weakened were re-routed to re-enforce active areas. In Africa their forces in control of the middle of the continent had linked up with their ground units which had invaded southern Africa. They now occupied over 2/3rds of Africa. Martian forces which had landed near Morocco were within 50 miles of Martian units which had landed at Giza and were expected to link up at Tripoli within 12 hours. The Martians now controlled the southern half of India holding a line from Bhavnagar on the west to Calcutta on the east. Ceylon was now in Martian ‘hands’ and our base at Colombo had been evacuated and destroyed in order to keep it out of Martian control.
In South America Martian ground forces had linked up at Lima in Peru and now occupied the entire west coast of South America. La Paz and Sucre are under heavy ground attack and was expected to fall at any moment. In Central America enemy forces have fought north and south linking up at what is left of Panama City. Since the link up in Panama nothing has been heard from our Committee center in Panama City. It is feared lost.
All of the southern island of New Zealand was now under Martian occupation as is 80% of Australia. Heavy fighting continues by re-combined Australian units along a line from Halls Creek to Burketown in the north. We expect to lose most of Australia within 48 hours. Sydney and Brisbane continue to fight off Martian assaults and have not been completely overrun. Reinforcements are being brought into Sydney via the underground port still in Committee hands. The fighters desperately holding on in Brisbane are being supplied by air flown in from carriers off shore. Both cities continue to be supported by naval units off shore operating in very rough seas.
Committee forces prepare to advance in New Zealand
Along a line between the north and south islands of New Zealand, 35 Australian and New Zealand warships including two carrier groups have been formed as a blocking force against expected Martian landings aimed at northern New Zealand. Warships are also pounding Martian positions at Nelson, Hokitika, West of Kingston, Dunedin, Timara and Christchurch. Martian casualties are reported as heavy and they had as yet made no attempt to invade the northern island. Air attacks by Martian Flying Machines have had some effect on the combined fleet but as of this time casualties have been relatively light. The capital at Wellington was attacked by several flying machines dropping Black Smoke and mid-level Heat-Ray attacks which started thousands of fires but most of the damage was quickly contained.
Committee and combined Australia/New Zealand forces land reinforcements at the northern coast of New Zealand
All of Borneo and Indonesia were now under Martian occupation as the Martians continued to push north. The southern islands of the Philippines had also been lost to the Martians, even as submarines landed marine raider units continuing to engage Martian rear units.
In the north despite continued low levels of Martian air cover their ground forces continued to advance. The enemy had pushed north across China into the Soviet Union along a line from Vanavara, Olekminsk, Khandyga, Atka, Kamenskoye to Anadyr in the east. In Canada the Martians had fought along the west coast north to Sitka and Juneau; in Central Canada to the Great Slave Lake and along Hudson Bay to Eskimo Point. In the east, Ottawa and Montreal were surrounded and cut off as fighting continues. Toronto had been overrun and fighting had begun in Windsor across the river from Detroit, Michigan. Martian advance elements had crossed into the United States at Cleveland, Buffalo and Bangor. Quebec on the St. Lawrence River was bracing for attack.
In Ireland Irish and Committee forces were fighting along two fronts from Belfast in the north and Dublin in the south. In England Martian forces have stalled on a line from Cardiff to the north and north east of New London where heavy fighting was underway. Scottish units had joined with Welsh infantry in support of Commonwealth and Committee units west of Cardiff but were being slowly pushed back.
On the continent of Western Europe Martian ground forces supported by a few dozen flying machines were moving west from Amsterdam attacking European armies on a line from just north of Paris to Bonn, Germany on to Berlin and east to Vilnius in White Russia. Additional Martian forces were now occupying an area around 1000 miles wide roughly centered on Moscow. As these forces began to move heavy fighting was reported in Kharkov northwest of Stalingrad. Stalin had ordered Martian advances stopped at all costs. It had been 12 hours since Moscow had made contact with London. No wireless traffic was getting through and the cables were not operational.
Across the Mediterranean Sea Martian forces moved north from Africa into Spain, Portugal, Sicily, Italy, Greece and southern Turkey. All of these new fronts counter-attacked by national forces were losing ground. Naples, Seville and Athens had already fallen while Lisbon was reporting heavy fighting in and around the city. Nevertheless, strong national and Committee naval forces were pounding Martian positions along the western coast of Italy around Naples as well as in strong support south and east of Lisbon. A score of ships were lost in the engagement. Generally Martian air cover in the Mediterranean area was limited but when used was still very effective especially when dropping Black Smoke in Sicily and southern Italy.
Committee and national air forces mostly in the northern hemisphere were having good results on not only front line Martian units but several attacks had been successfully made on rear area supply points. These efforts were clearly slowing the enemy advances but had not stopped their attacks on most front lines. Our air forces were taking advantage of limited Martian air activity along as many fronts as possible but with so many areas under strong ground attack our air resources were stretched to the limit. Clearly this war would be won or lost on the ground.
MARTIAN COMMAND BASE ATTACKS
When word was received that both polar attack groups had passed 80 degrees north and south the Giza attack group took off. A few days earlier as this combined operation was being planned the Mediterranean Sea was mostly under human control. Now as we launched our forces to bomb Giza the area had become a Martian Sea. These air forces would be flying over Martian controlled territory for much of the flight.
From air bases north of Rome and just east of Belgrade heavy Whitehead B4 jet bombers, Phoenix IIs and Thunder Jets took off for the Giza complex. Just forming up would cause difficulties as continuing bad weather made contact in the air and close formation flying a very dangerous business. The western group out of Rome flew a low level path which took them over waters between north Africa and Sicily, both Martian occupied, and on into the Mediterranean. The eastern group flew south over the Aegean Sea intending to meet up with the western group at a point just south of Crete. In total the bomb groups numbered 310 heavy bombers, 118 Phoenix IIs and 150 Thunder Jets. They encountered high winds, a heavy atmosphere and 28 Martian Flying Machines which had flown up from Giza to meet them.
Just after the link-up off Crete the lead Phoenix IIs came into contact with the Martian machines. If possible none of the Thunder Jets were to dogfight with the Martians, rather they had been ordered to bypass the Martians and fly directly to Giza and take out as many of the ground based Heat-Rays as they could before the bombers arrived. They were to leave the dog-fighting to the superior and better armed Phoenix IIs. The Martian flyers seemed to be agreeing with these plans as the Thunder Jets flew on to the target.
Seemingly not wanting to engage the Earth fighters the Martians did their best to Heat-Ray their way past the Phoenix IIs and on into the three levels of Whitehead B4 bombers which had formed into two bombing streams at high, medium and low levels. Gunners onboard the bombers were making that work difficult. Nevertheless, in only a few minutes the Martians had managed to down 22 bombers and six Phoenix IIs. The fighting continued much of the way to the target until the Martians suddenly broke off their attacks on the bomber formations staying with the Phoenix IIs which cost the Martians ten more of their machines.
As the fighting continued off the coast of North Africa the four Committee submarines which had been standing by just off shore surfaced and launched all eight of their unmanned 2000 lb drones. Seven out of eight headed directly towards their pre-programmed target at Giza. One of the drones seemed to have a mind of its own as it headed out to sea almost due north. Even with that problem adding to the attacking Martian machines the bombing mission on Giza was going as planned.
Almost as soon as the Arctic teams lifted off on their northern flight both groups had run into problems. Even though both teams were being led in by specially designed and equipped Phoenix IIA Electronic Guide aircraft, weather conditions and faulty equipment were making it very difficult for the trailing groups to keep an electronic lock on the leaders. Massive electrical discharges were lighting up the entire area. The Thunder Jet pilots were especially having a difficult time in the bad weather. Many of them would lock on to the signal for a while then the signal would drop off entirely. In the end many of them would fly north using last known positions of the led craft and a ‘gut feeling’ where they were. Because of these problems nearly half of the Thunder Jets never arrived at the North Pole. Many of them simply turned back when they could not get their bearings to the pole and at least two dozen never made it back to their bases running out of fuel and becoming lost somewhere over the Arctic ice.
Those craft able to make it all the way in were surprised by two events they would never have suspected. First was the very light coverage by Martian Flying Machines which numbered no greater than 40. Second was the magnificent aurora displays over the polar ice which had lit up the entire area. In general aurora displays were not unusual but these were so extensive and so bright they lit up the polar ice to a much greater extent than ever before. The Martian Command Center we were hoping to destroy under appalling lighting and weather conditions was so well lit up by the display it almost looked like daylight. Nothing was hidden from view. The bomb group could clearly see hundreds of Martian Walkers lined up in neat rows, at least 50 Martian Flying Machines on the ice most likely being repaired and a great many structures of all kinds mostly round. The ground based Martian Heat-Rays opened up on the flight. Due to the difficulty of arriving on target the original plans had to be thrown out the window. None of the Thunder Jets slated to attack the Heat-Rays first had arrived on target. The first group to arrive was the bombers with their Phoenix II escorts which left open the possibility of being shot down by ground based Heat-Rays or by counter attacking Martian Flying Machines. Flight commanders soon ordered half of the Phoenix IIs to attack the Heat-Rays as the bombers circled once around to line up on the target. The remaining Phoenix IIs were ordered to engage the Martian Flying Machines. The toughest job now was keeping the Martians away from the bombers as they formed up for their run at the pole. This would prove costly as 21 bombers were shot down by the Martians who themselves lost eight of their machines even before our forces could line up on the base. Within minutes the Phoenix IIs had destroyed 28 of the Heat-Rays opening up a small path for the bombers. From high and medium level two bomber streams of at least 180 aircraft each lined up to drop their deadly high-explosive payloads. Better than half of the bombs found their way to the base as row after row exploded on the ice field upon which the base had been built. Ten more bombers never made it away after dropping their loads – hit by deadly ground based Heat-Rays. But their effect on the base had been dramatic.
After the first two bomber groups finished their runs, while the air battle over the Arctic ice continued three groups of Thunder Jets finally arrived at the pole. All three groups numbering some 90 jets coming in from two directions made bee lines for the remaining Heat-Rays hitting several on their first runs. By this time better than half of the deadly Heat-Rays had been knocked out. Several had been destroyed by the bombers themselves.
As the final wave of bombers lined up to drop their seismic devices the Martians could count only 12 flying machines still in the fight and they were far too busy dealing with the Phoenix IIs to focus on the bombers. As the bombers were about to drop their loads a third group of Thunder Jets came roaring out of the clouds heading directly for the eastern side of the Martian facility where most of the remaining functional Heat-Rays were located. In what became an unplanned yet simultaneous attack by Thunder Jets and Whitehead B4 bombers most of the 500 seismic devices hit their targets in and around the base. Pulling out the pilots could see the ice breaking up with massive Martian structures dropping through the ice into the Arctic Sea.
With the bomb runs completed and at least 2/3rds of the base breaking up and sinking the flight leader ordered the bombers to turn south and head for home. The Thunder Jets were ordered to escort the bombers as closely as they could. The Phoenix IIs were ordered to continue attacking what remained of the base and sink every remaining structure they could find. As the bombers and Thunder Jets flew south only four Martian Flying Machines were still engaging the Phoenix IIs. All four would soon join their base at the bottom of the Arctic Sea!
Photos taken by one of the last Phoenix IIs to leave the area would show 95% of the facility had been destroyed. The photos did not indicate any of the thousands of humans held hostage had survived the attack. The temporary structures which had held these people had disappeared. This had been a very costly success and no one cheered the victory even though we had been able to destroy a great deal of Martian war making capacity along with one of their primary command facilities. As always the cost for humanity was very high. (Only later did we discover that incredibly 18 people had survived. Their journey of survival as they walked south became the stuff of legend.)
The decoy Phoenix IIs separated from the bomb group over the Weddell Sea just off the coast of Antarctica. From thus point on the five radar absorbing Phoenix IIAs were on their own flying due south to the pole across Gould Bay. From there the bomb group now flying very close to the shifting ice flows flew past Berkner Island which was itself almost completely ice covered. There was very little exposed rock. It was the team’s first back-up geographic ground observation point to be used for navigation if for whatever reason their onboard instruments had failed. They were right on course.
In the lead were three Phoenix IIAs flying a diamond formation with two other aircraft following behind including the atomic bomb armed aircraft. It was cold and clear with not a Martian in sight. As the flight made their way towards Neptune and Forrestal Mountain ranges they picked up a burst radio report from the decoy team indicating that they had been jumped by 12 Martian Flying Machines at the eastern edge of the Weddell Sea. A dogfight was on going. The decoy mission had apparently worked. The bomb team continued south with absolute radio silence. So far so good.
The flight was soon flying “map of the Earth” between the Neptune and Forrestal Mountain ranges when one of the lead aircraft began having control problems. It was not long before the pilot indicated he would not be able to make it to the South Pole. As he pulled away to head north be began to trail smoke. No radio contact was made as the four remaining craft continued on course. No further contact with that aircraft was ever made and it probably crashed somewhere on the Antarctic ice fields.
It was not long before the flight passed Mt. Hawkes, another of their geographic ground points. Still no sighting of any Martian craft and the area they were flying over was still very clear. It was now a straight shot to the target at the pole on the Antarctic Plateau estimated to be situated at an altitude of 9300 feet above sea level much of that was thousands of feet of ancient ice. They would slowly make that climb keeping one eye on the sky and another on the ice sheet below.
The bomber crews could see the unmanned bombs flying below them as they lined up on their bomb run. They could also see squadrons of Thunder Jets coming in behind the bombs for their attack on the ground based Heat-Rays. As Tesla had promised each one of the ‘successful’ 2000 lb flying bombs landed on target with one actually hitting The Great Pyramid at about mid level. It would now sport a rather nice hole on its northern facing side but not for long. This would not be the last attack on the pyramids as each one had their tops adorned with Martian Heat-Rays and these deadly machines needed to be destroyed.
The remaining 288 bombers lined up in three streams as they crossed the IP for their run at the Giza Plateau. Although the wind storms which had plagued the area for days continued to hit the plateau the Martian base could clearly be seen by the pilots.
As the bomb bay doors opened and the final line up began the Martians played their trump card. Flying in a line of at least 30 each from both the east and west Martian Flying Machines came at the bomber streams like a pack of hungry wolves with their Heat-Rays pulsing as fast as they could. The bomber crews did not know what hit them as they flew into the line of Martian machines.
The Martians had engaged the Phoenix IIs off the North African coast to keep them busy as Martians prepared to do whatever it took to take out our bombers. The Martians had not taken our bait – it was we who had fallen into their well timed trap!
In less than 60 seconds like a giant vice closing in from two sides the Martians shot down over 160 bombers nearly completely disrupting the attack. In the confusion all around them only 20 bombers made it to the heavily defended target inflicting very little damage. Several more bombers were lost to ground based Heat-Rays. As the bomber formations broke up and the surviving aircraft headed north the Phoenix IIs and Thunder Jets engaged as many of the enemy aircraft as possible doing their best to protect the surviving bombers. In the end only 34 of the original 310 bombers would return to their bases. 42 Phoenix IIs and 74 Thunder Jets were also lost. The mission to destroy the enemies’ command base at Giza had been a complete failure.
Despite this major loss we all knew there was no choice but to plan our next all out attack on Giza as soon as possible.
As the flight crossed the Trans Antarctic Mountain Range dropping towards the Antarctic Plateau the weather suddenly turned treacherous. A cold fast moving fog seemed to cover the entire area as far as the pilots could see. The fog looked natural – whatever that meant at the time – but we could not rule out a possible Martian induced protective fog. There was nothing to look at and no indications of either man or Martian activity. This was truly a whiteout condition.
Above the men could see the Aurora Austrialus; below only ice with no geographic features on which to focus. Only their flight instruments told them they were on course for the pole. With these conditions they could not risk flying so close to the surface as there were known mountain ranges thousands of feet high and most of the area had never been mapped at least by the hand of man. They had no choice but to gain altitude and hope their specially built radar absorbing craft were not spotted by any Martian patrols. As it turned out it was not the Martians that they needed to be concerned with.
In formation with two craft in the lead and two following including the Phoenix IIA with the bomb, the flight was no more than 30 minutes from their target when another of the lead planes began to pull back from its lead position. Closing on the two trailing aircraft the pilot of the plane losing speed flew alongside the two trailing planes indicating he had some type of problem and needed to pull back. He would begin to trail the group. That left one plane as lead, the bomb group following with the fourth craft trailing.
Seconds later the seemingly impossible happened. The pilot of the trailing aircraft suddenly banked behind the atomic bomb craft and began firing at it with rockets! For whatever reason H-George Davis, the pilot of the atomic bomb carrying Phoenix IIA, had sensed something was wrong when the trailing plane moved directly behind his craft. Just before he was fired on he pulled his craft up and to the left in a tight roll as the rockets flew past his right wing. Within seconds his protective wing man was in a life and death dogfight with one of their own – a renegade.
The renegade pilot was attempting to stay with Davis firing his machine-guns as Davis continued his roll. His wing man trailed behind firing his guns at the renegade. None of the pilots could understand why one of their own was trying to shoot down the atomic bomb plane. All they knew was they had to knock it out of the sky before the renegade took out Davis. The flight leader radioed Davis to break south and attempt to head towards the target as he and the wing man fought the renegade. Turning hard and pushing his craft for all it had Davis headed south. Within seconds rockets fired by the flight leader found one of the engines of the renegade Phoenix IIA as he attempted to follow Davis in his roll reversal and exploded ending his attack on the hybrid pilot. The renegade pilot had said nothing to explain why he had attacked.
After the fight the group formed up into a line formation with the commander’s Phoenix IIA leading the way with Davis in the middle and his wing man flying rear cover. One thing was now very clear. The Martians could not possibly have missed the fact they were on their way south. The renegade pilot had sent a high pitch radio signal just before he attacked Davis. With that signal he may as well sent an open invitation to the Martians. Within minutes the Martians would be accepting the invite.
Once again the flight was flying as close to the ground as they dare. They were however not on course heading directly for the South Pole. The flight leader had indicated he wanted the group to follow him close to the ground but away from the pole. Flying directly at the pole was what the Martians were probably prepared for. Without radio calls the team prepared to swing starboard expecting to miss their target by an estimated 50 miles. After passing by the entire flight would once again turn towards the pole and bomb their target from their new attack direction.
Before the turn however the Phoenix IIA piloted by the mission commander had one more trick up his sleeve. He went to 4000 feet alone for a little deception work. In his bomb bay were thousands of metal strips he would use as a decoy for the Martian radars to pick up. Tesla’s team had put together this “bomb package” which also included two small radios which were activated when dropped. Both radios would broadcast emergency reports of a downed aircraft. It was hoped the Martians would focus on the “bomb package” and not on the bomb group. After the drop he returned to the group and they headed towards their new attack turning point. They would not see the ten Martian Flying Machines which had been sent up from the polar base to intercept their original course. What they did see after the turn was the Martian South Pole Command Base directly in front of them. It looked almost exactly the same as the images which had been taken of the Arctic base only twice as large.
The base had three sides and the flight crews estimated it was at least ten miles on each side. Much more detailed than the northern center this base had at least 200 ground-based Heat-Rays on the sides in three rows each (not all of them were operational at the base), twin central towers and row after row of Walkers as well as a good deal of other equipment. It also sported two large deep space radio dishes in two of the corners. There were at least 100 very large round structures within the base which could house thousands of Martians. What looked like large supply containers were stacked along one side of the base. There was also no doubt this base held thousands of captive people in large circular pens much like the ones discovered at the North Pole. The Martians had planned to stay a very long time if this base was any indication.
Almost as soon as the pilots saw their target they spotted several flying machines rise up from the base and turn in their direction. Both sides now had visual contact with their enemy.
South Pole bomb group:
Burst report by atomic bomber to Committee Headquarters: NEARING TARGET. NO TIME TO GAIN ALTITUDE. WILL DETONATE ON CONTACT. LONG LIVE HUMANITY. DAVIS.
Davis knew he would not have enough time to gain proper altitude with Martian Flying Machines coming up fast to meet him as did the other pilots. The flight leader radioed his wing man to the front as they prepared to shoot their way past the Martians. Within seconds both were leading Davis in firing their Heat-Rays, rockets and machineguns. They were firing absolutely every weapon they had. Seconds later the wing man’s Phoenix IIA exploded sending shrapnel into Davis’s aircraft. With one engine out, Davis fired all of his rockets and engaged his Heat-Ray as he and his flight leader flew past the Martians who were turning hard to finish off the team. It would be too little too late as Davis nosed his Phoenix IIA down towards the high Antarctic ice field and detonated the atomic bomb still housed in his bomb bay 1000 feet over the central tower of the Martian base. In a fraction of a second the two Phoenix IIAs vanished along with two dozen Martian Flying Machines and a majority of the Martian South Pole Command Center.
Most of H-George Davis’s burst radio message was received by our New Zealand command group as well as two Committee submarines which had been positioned at points just north of the Antarctic to receive just such a message. Confirmation the attack had succeeded occurred when shock waves from the bomb were recorded at several southern locations.
The costs had been high but Earth forces had succeeded in destroying two of the three primary Martian command centers. These attacks did not end the Martian war but they did give the Martians pause. They would need to change their strategy if their invasion of Earth was to succeed. In a later ceremony Davis and his fellow pilot were honored with Committee Medals of Honor. At the same ceremony the new Prime Director officially removed the “H” from Davis’s name.
APOLLO FLASH: TO ALL COMMANDS: MARTIAN COMMAND CENTERS AT NORTH AND SOUTH POLES DESTROYED. GIZA REMAINS OPERATIONAL. ENEMY MARITINE OPERATIONS LIMITED. ENEMY AIR CAPABILITIES NOW SEVERLY LIMITED. SEEK AND DESTROY ANY AND ALL ENEMY AIR RESOURCES WITH STRENGTH. ENEMY GROUND OPERATIONS REMAIN STRONG BUT ARE SLOWING.
[END PART 69]
Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020
[NEXT WEEK: PART 70: A CALL FOR EARTH TO SURRENDER, WAR CONTINUES; INVASION MAPS 4 & 5.]