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"You'll never take me alive said he...You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!"
Waltzing Matilda

A unit of Colonial Military Administration troops during the coup

Operation: MATILDA was a coup that occurred on the colony of Eridanus II in May of 2513 as a joint operation between the rebel forces of Colonel Robert Watts and the overwhelmingly pro-rebel Colonial Military Administration forces on the planet. While the coup had initially been planned for the August elections of that year, with allegations of election rigging by the Terran Loyalist Party to give it an air of legitimacy, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Ponder's botched attempt to neutralize one of Robert Watts' seconds forced the coup to be sprung earlier than anticipated.

Due to this earlier than anticipated start, the coup was initially miscarried, with UNSC forces, although shocked, still managing to respond. Despite this, thanks to the overwhelming and almost-unanimous support of CMA troops on the planet and the overwhelming numbers of Watts' forces in space, the colony was under United Rebel Front control.



Execution and Miscarriage

"And here's a song dedicated to our brave pioneers and colonial troops on the frontier to this day, waltzing their matildas across the vast expanse"
―Radio Eridanus codephrase immediately preceding the playing of Waltzing Matilda, the sign to begin the coup
"From CO: Waltz, repeat, Waltz."
―Transmission to the Eridanus Armored Corps

With Lieutenant Colonel Ponder's botched operation on May 10th having made it obvious to the Insurrectionist elements on Eridanus II that, even if the UNSC was not aware of the coup plans, they were attempting to neutralize rebel leadership, Colonel Robert Watts and the CMA commanders of the Eridanus Colonial Armored Corps decided it was high time to act. The morning of the decision, Radio Eridanus, a popular morning talk show listened to by the planet's residents as they drove to work played the Australian bush ballad Waltzing Matilda, indicating to the colonial and rebel forces to prepare for the official start of the coup. While the coup was supposedly months out, the CMA and URF forces understood precisely what the signal meant. As a result, throughout the day, they performed the necessary preparations, attempting to keep them a secret from UNSC loyalists.

While for most colonial and rebel units, these preparations involved going over the plan one more time before the official execution the next morning and inserting agents into the major population centers, respectively, the most preparations and caution was needed in the squadrons of the Eridanus Colonial Armored Corps. Having been stationed in various locations close to UNSC Marine Corps FOBs in order to provide armor support on convoys or operations, the Marines would now be their main targets. To facilitate this they were required to prepare their armored vehicles with a full combat load, unload their Quick Reaction Force tanks from their transporters that they were perpetually on in case they were needed at various locations, as well as brief the various squadrons on the plan for the next day. Despite their best efforts, it was impossible to keep it a secret, and rumors began quickly spreading that the rebels were planning a large operation of some sort. Although these rumors were taken seriously by the local UNSC Marine units, they did not intervene. In part, this was due to the disastrous consequences of Ponder's operation only days before, as well as the fact they believed that the operation was far enough out that the Office of Naval Intelligence and SOCOM operators would be able to halt it before anything happened. As a result, they simply upchanneled the rumors and put their forces on alert.

A tank of the Eridanus Colonial Armored Corps and accompanying infantry during their attack on 2nd Battalion's FOB

However, their assumptions that the operation was still days or weeks out would prove wrong. The next morning, May 14th, Radio Eridanus signed off its programming at 1100 hours local time in Elysium City with with a carefully worded codephrase before once again playing Waltzing Matilda to indicate the coup was to begin immediately. As the song was still playing on the radio, the first movements of the coup started. At the Forward Operating Base of the 2nd Battalion, 21st Marine Division, the tanks from B Squadron of the Armored Corps crashed through the gates and began firing indiscriminately at the Marines. Minutes later, URF commandos arrived, providing accompanying infantry, mopping up after the tanks. The Marines, taken completely by surprise, were decimated, and the aviation units stationed with 2nd Battalion were completely rendered combat ineffective.

The other squadrons (A, C, D, and E) of the Armored Corps saw similar success attacking the remaining FOBs. While their main battle tanks were outdated by UNSC standards, the total surprise meant the Marines were not able to effectively respond. Despite the undeniable success of the Armored Corps, this left the URF militias and remaining without heavy armor support in their fight for Elysium City and Luxor against the loyal CMA forces, consisting of the Eridanus Colonial Legion and Colonial Militia. By May 16th, with fighting still occurring, Colonel Watts, by that point in overall command of the coup, began to fear there was a possibility of a full miscarriage of the coup, and ordered in the entirety of the space forces from Eridanus Secundus to destroy the UNSC orbital presence and force a surrender. This presence, consisting of only a few transient UNSC transports and Gladius-class heavy corvettes, was quickly dispatched by the rebel fleet.

In the aftermath of this crushing defeat, the structure of the CMA forces began to collapse, with most soldiers shedding their uniforms and attempting to reintegrate into civilian society to avoid the wrath of URF forces. Soon enough, reckoning that discretion was the greater part of valor, the majority of the UNSC Marines still planetside decided to surrender to the URF.