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The Invasions of West Suffolk and Sussex in 2010 had greatly expanded the territory under the control of both Southern England and Essex and the two now both looked to Kent as a prime target. The Southern English sought to secure what was left of Kent's infrastructure and the port at Folkestone while Essex was interested in securing farmland and extending its own coast.
Southern English Operations
On the 15th of May the Southern English Federal Army began its operations in Kent, convoys of supplies escorted by Federal Army soldiers and armored cars left the garrison at Rye. These convoys featured politicians as their leaders as there was a hope that it might be possible to negotiate the entrance of various clans into the Federal Republic without violence. The first few hours continued without incident with three different clans agreeing to join the Republic in exchange for protection.
However the rumors of a militia in Kent that opposed the Republic became more prominent the further away from Southern English territory the convoy's got. Then as they approached New Romney they came under fire from men with rifles and shotguns. The Federal army brigade returned fire but without knowledge of the terrain were paying a heavy price.
As the sun rose the Federal Army came under stronger attack from the unknown forces and the brigade called in air reconnaissance from a Islander squadron to locate the enemy forces. The Islanders pinpointed the positions of the militiamen and two Defenders launched bombs to flush them out and allowed the Infantry to advance further towards New Romney.
To the North the other Federal Army Brigade was approaching Orlestone, just four miles from their eventual goal of Ashford. However like their compatriots to the south they were about to find out just how much some of the locals didn't want to be part of the republic. As they entered the village they found it deserted but one of the soldiers, an ex FAA Engineer, heard an unmistakeable sound: that of a Hawker Sea Fury. The Sea Fury strafed the convoy and dropped several bombs forcing them to retreat into open countryside where they could hide.
"Jesus!, The acceleration on those things is phenomenal" - A Southern English pilot talking about an SR.53
The reports from the north regarding the Sea Fury caused the withdrawal of the southern brigade's air support as it was redirected to the north. However this in itself turned out to be part of the opposition's plans as Luscombe Rattlers appeared and began strafing them. This time however the Infantrymen weren't defenseless as the RNV Isle of Wight appeared and shredded the lightweight aircraft with its AA weaponry. The Southern Brigade continued its advance to the village of Dymchurch but met a huge problem, Dymchurch Redebout. Built in the 1800's the fort was protected by thick walls, was garrisoned by over a 400 men and even featured fully operational Land and Naval artillery batteries. Even the Republican Navy wasn't able to approach the fort and when it did try one Destroyer was badly damaged.
The removal of the RAF to cover the northern attack was now made clear to be part of a plan by the opposition to stop the southern advance. Without an effective defense to the Luscombe Rattlers and the Sea Fury at the same time two SR.53s were pulled out of storage and fueled up. Taking off when the Fury's attack was reported the SR.53s intercepted the Fury over Kent and forced it down with machine gun fire.
The establishment of RAF air dominance allowed the Federal Army to resume its attacks. The Northern front advanced quickly and captured their goal of Orlestone but they failed to find the source of the Opposition air attacks.
Essaxon troops entered Kent at 6:00am, with two hundred men crossing from the Isle of Sheppey to the mainland via pontoon bridge. By noon an entire division had moved into the county, moving in three separate columns, the main one led by General Jim Barker-McCardle, who had spent several years in post-Doomsday Kent. Sittingbourne was established as a forward base of operations and used as a landing site for the three Essex air ships. However, in order to more easily land additional troops, more sufficient dock facilities had to be used.
The objective for the first day was to take control of the conurbation of Chatham. Just 20 years prior to Doomsday it had hosted nuclear submarines, but had lost a huge amount of importance following that and by 1983 was only a few months from closure; clearly, Soviet planners had chosen to overlook the abandoned dockyard facilities. Nonetheless, Chatham was expected to be in disarray: Barker-McCardle had escaped from a police state established in Chatham in 1990. Upon arrival on the town's outskirts, it was found that the town had long since overthrown its oppressors in a bloody revolution in 1998, and was part of a trading cooperative based in northern Kent. The troops were warily received by the locals and billeted on the fringes of town, while Barker-McCardle took the lead in negotiations for incorporation into Essex - he was still remembered by many as a vocal resistance member.
Meanwhile, troops moving westwards and southwards found a peaceful but surprisingly populous countryside. They were unsure how Kent had managed to sustain a large population but glad that the locals were friendly. By nightfall troops had managed to reach their objective line of the M20.
Operations in the 16th resumed with continual marching and negotiating with local communities. However, complications occurred at Maidstone: the bridge over the Medway had failed, and pontoon bridges were not yet in place. Therefore several units were moved around the town, in the process making a detailed observation of the state of the town. Having been hit with a 20kt bomb on Doomsday, Maidstone had been more or less abandoned a few years afterwards, and had been extensively overrun with wildlife. The Medway had flooded around the town centre's ruins left by the bomb (targeted at the town's barracks and extensive transport connections) and almost all parts of the city that survived the immediate damage had been burnt down or abandoned to nature. The one sign of lasting habitation in the town was around the hospital on the west side of town, where troops finally managed to meet up after the pontoon bridge was completed; the hospital had been extensively used in the immediate aftermath of Doomsday but according to locals from nearby Aylesford it had been burnt down in violence in the late 80s caused by nomadic refugee tribes from London.
As troops proceeded they encountered the first violence from locals, as they entered heavily-wooded western Kent.