One of the greatest battles of history and one of the worst kept secrets of the Imperium. It’s the First War For Armageddon!
The First War for Armageddon is the least well known of the three Armageddon Wars, and involved the forces of Chaos and the Imperium. It was the culmination of years of preparation by the Daemon Primarch Angron, favoured of Khorne, to re-unify the World Eaters after their shattering at the hands of Khârn the Betrayer after the Battle of Skalathrax.
The war began within the hated region known as the Eye of Terror. The forces within, being devoted to Chaos, usually fight each other, but occasionally and inexplicably they put aside their rivalries to form an assault on their common enemy, the Imperium. In this case, the unity of the powers of Chaos was triggered by the arrival of the Space Hulk Devourer of Stars around a Daemon World. The Hulk was large enough to carry a huge chaos force to attack Imperial worlds. The capricious currents of the warp drew the invasion force to the Imperial Hive World of Armageddon in 444.M4.
Meanwhile, on Armageddon, a series of strange events culminated in armed rebellion breaking out in half a dozen hives. Armageddon consists of three main landmasses. Most human life is located on the main continent, which is split into two parts, Armageddon Prime and Armageddon Secundus, separated by the thick band of jungle known simply as the Equatorial Jungle. The revolts were quickly put down in Armageddon Secundus, but amongst the more widely scattered hives of Armageddon Prime they proved more difficult to eradicate. As the planetary defense forces seemed capable of dealing with the revolt, no additional units were sent by the Imperium. Armageddon was a very long way from the Eye of Terror, and no one suspected the cause for the revolts was more sinister than simple civil unrest.
Busy containing the rebellion, Imperial forces were caught by surprise when the Devourer of Stars arrived in the Armageddon system.
The Devourer of Stars housed an enormous Chaos army led by the Daemon Primarch Angron. Chaos Marines from the World Eaters Legion, cultists, daemonhosts, mutants, beastmen, and hordes of daemonic creatures poured from the space hulk and descended on Armageddon Prime.
The insidious effects of Chaos were quickly felt as nearly half the Planetary Defence Force went over to the invaders. The bloodlust-driven World Eaters descended upon the planets populous with a fury, butchering millions in the first weeks. The few remaining loyal defenders were quickly routed from Armageddon Prime. Falling back through the jungles in the south, the survivors joined up with the units from Armageddon Secundus and prepared to make a last ditch defence along the rivers of the Styx and Chaeron.
The Imperial defence was well organized. Unknown to the forces of Chaos, Logan Grimnar and his Great Company of Space Marines from the Space Wolves chapter had been assigned to this sector of the Imperium, and they moved quickly to help the beleaguered Imperial defenders. They gained valuable time as Angron raised bloody monuments from the wreckage of the dead instead of pressing his advantage. In addition, his power was dependent on a nearby Warp Storm, and when it lulled the defenders gained precious time to organize a counterattack. When his army emerged from the jungles that separated Armageddon Prime from Armageddon Secundus they found the defenders ready and waiting, and reinforced by the Space Wolves. Grimnar’s commanding presence and charisma rallied the terrified defenders of Armageddon’s.
Huge battles erupted along the entire front. The Space Wolves were outnumbered one thousand to one, but nonetheless Grimnar led the charge. Taking the fight to the Chaos horde, the Great Wolf led an armored assault straight across the River Chaeron into the World Eater horde, inflicting heavy losses on the traitors before withdrawing. The enraged World Eaters pursued the Space Wolves mechanized forces into the jungle, falling into a combined Space Wolf/Steel Legion ambush along the Chaeron and slaughtered. The Space Wolves waded into the river itself and set about the Chaos horde in a mad frenzy, battling for hours and holding the line.
However in the west, the assault along the river Styx was spearheaded by Angron himself and the Cruor Praetoria. The Primarch and his Bloodthirsters smashed through the Imperial lines and led his forces towards Hive Infernus and Hive Helsreach. The Imperial Guard and Space Wolves forces managed to desperately hold the line and bought enough time for the Imperium to unleash the Grey Knights.
It was now that the Imperium unleashed his secret weapon. When Logan Grimnar realized the nature of their foe, he called for the support of the Grey Knights, as only the Chapter Militant of the Inquisition’s daemonhunters had the ability to truly defeat a daemonic entity as powerful as Angron.
The Grey Knights dispatched one hundred and nine Terminator Assault Marines who attacked Angron directly, along with the Cruor Praetoria, his bodyguard of a dozen Bloodthirsters, by teleporting into the center of the daemon army. At the same time, the Space Wolves led a massive Imperial counter-attack. Initially Angron and his escorts decimated the Grey Knights, the Primarch wiping out five Grey Knights Terminators with a single stroke of his Black Blade. However thanks to the psychic might of the young recruit Hyperion, the Black Blade was shattered and the Grey Knights were now at a significant advantage. Soon after, Brother-Captain Taremar Aurellian was killed while personally banishing Angron back to the warp for a hundred years and a day. The loss of their leader, coupled with the surprise assault from the remaining imperial forces, led to the near-complete annihilation of the chaos forces on Armageddon. Though the final battle was a major Imperial Victory, only thirteen Grey Knights survived.
In the years to come, knowledge of the First War for Armageddon was suppressed by the Inquisition, to the point that even the inhabitants of Armageddon itself believe that there have been only two wars for the planet.
Want to learn more about the War For Armageddon? Check out the Lexicanum!
Worst kept “secret” ever.