"We fight to preserve the memory of those lost. Every brother who falls for the cause will live on forever! Never Forget!"
― Chapter Master Griffith Vander speech given at his inauguration to chapter master
The Grave Bearers are a Successor Chapter of the zealous Black Templars, created during an Unknown Founding. However, their have been confirmed sightings of them fighting in various Imperial campaigns as early as the 36th Millennium.
" With every victory our deeds shall live on forever! Through our surviving brothers we will endure! Never forget, Never forgive!"
― Chaplain Xaphen, at the defense of a Hive City during the Mourning Crusade
The Grave Bearers derive their name from the ritual practice of engraving the names of fallen brothers on the inside of their armor. The battle brother is cremated and the armor is past on to the next. Since there is no body to bury and no headstone to mark, the armor itself becomes the grave for the fallen brother and the new owner has to carry the burden and honor of those that wore it before him. For this reason, the Grave Bearers will go to great lengths to recover armor from the dead. It is not uncommon to find veterans with armor covered in names as the inside runs out of room. Veterans see this as the highest honor to carry past brothers with them into battle.
This practice was started by the second Chapter Master Griffith Vander. He was born on a hive world and having survived an invasion of a Chaos Warband when he was seven years old, started a gang of lost orphans. Vows set not to forget or forgive the atrocities beset upon them by the dark gods; they took pieces of the mass graves of family and friends with them. Carving the names of those lost onto them so wherever they went, they would remember the ones lost along the way. When the Grave Bearers were sent to quell an uprising on this planet, Griffith came to the rescue of Captain Bismoth of the 3rd company, and after the slaughter of his gang at the hands of a demon was taken to become a space marine. After rising through the ranks and finally becoming Chapter Master through determination and his charismatic approach towards brotherhood, he vowed to never forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the Emperor and never forgive those who took their lives.
The Grave Bearers are a Codex-compliant Chapter with a few variations. Due to their founding chapter, the Black Templars, the Grave Bearers despise Psykers. They also have a unusual amount of dreadnoughts because of their beliefs in carrying their graves with them and to recover every battle brother.
After the loss of most of the first company during the campaign of WAAAGH Gray Skull, the shame of defeat has lead them to not replenished their ranks. Therefore the Grave Bearers are few in veterans and have very limited access to terminator armor.
With most veterans killed the 2nd Company is called to be the vanguard of the chapter. Where the rest of the companies are content to build defenses and let the enemy come to them, the 2nd mounted on bikes and accompanied by speeders, strike swift and fast.
"There is no need to engage the enemy in close combat...because they will never reach us."
― Master of the Forge Argos at the last stand of Takkow
The Grave Bearers usually find themselves in a defensive engagement. Fortified emplacements with rank of tactical squads in front of devastators. Dreadnoughts patrol the perimeter while jump infantry man the rear waiting to counter charge the enemy.
The Grave Bearers prefer a defensive position whenever possible. They will plan meticulously before deploying to the field of battle to minimize casualties. To some chapters the Grave Bearers are to overly cautious and are not ideal to spearhead an attack. However, as with their progenitors, they are masters at siege warfare and can smash a defensive line against even the most ruthless opponents.
One notable tactic used by the chapter involves sending elements of the 2nd company bike squads to bait and goad the enemy. After the initial contact, the bike squads will fall back and lead the enemy into waiting counter attacks of perfectly coordinated firing lines.
WAAAGH! Gray Skull (567.M36) - The First company was sent to quell a Waagh led by warboss Gray Skull. Unbeknownst to the first company captain, the orks where being culled by an Eldar Farseer to attack the planet because of a vision that it would save a craftworld in the future. The first company suffered horrible casualties at the hands of the Orks and Eldar with only 20 veterans and the captain surviving.
Mourning Crusade (568.M36) - With the shame of his defeat and the loss of so many veterans, the first company captain Raldoron and the remaining veterans set out on a crusade to bring the Eldar to justice for their crimes.
The Last Stand of Takkow (849.M37) - Takkow was a lonely planet on the fringe that had called for aid. The Cruiser Redemption was in the sector and responded. The Tau had made a tactical strike against the planet. Master of the Forge Argos was the ranking officer and deployed his dreadnoughts. The final battle came as an entire Tau tank company attacked a hive city and Argos mustering a defense so the citizens could escape. Suffering heavy losses, Argos manages to hold them off until the citizens where safe.
Chapter Master Griffith Vander - A relatively new chapter master, Griffith rose to the rank after witnessing his former master fall at the hands of a Ork Warboss. After avenging his chapter master Huron Fal, Griffith was voted in as the new chapter master. During his time leading the chapter, Griffith instituted the tradition of writing the names of the fallen into the inside of the armor, starting with Huron Fal after receiving his artificer armor.
Chaplain Xaphen Cane - After the loss of so many brothers of the 1st company, Xaphen was permanently attached to the 1st company terminators. He was appointed this position to counsel and uplift his comrades and is now on the Mourning Crusade with the rest of 1st company.
1st Company Captain Raldoron - After the loss of 80 1st Company veterans during the Waaagh! Gray Skull campaign, Raldoron bares a hood to hide his face and shame. He is currently on a never ending crusade with the remaining 1st company to seek revenge for those lost under his command.
2nd Company Captain Zeed - 2nd company is the vanguard of the chapter. While most other companies prefer the defensive battles, Zeed's company is the tip of the spear. Mounted on his bike and accompanied by a bike squad. Zeed leads precision strikes into the enemies heart to win swift decisive victories. Captain Zeed was promoted from 7th Company after a daring push through a Tau offensive to kill the Tau commander sending the rest of the forces into disarray.
Master of the Forge Argos - Argos was deployed during a Tau incursion into the sector. He was instrumental in combating the Tau tank commander with his arsenal of venerable dreadnaughts. The two commanders had quite a rivalry between them which lead to many drawn out engagements. The Last Stand at Takkow was a defining moment for the Master of the Forge and cemented his name as one of the best siege strategist in the chapter.
Venerable Dreadnought Huron Fal - Huron Fal was the first Chapter Master and lead his brothers in battle for many centuries. A strict but fair commander, he was respected by all the chapter for his loyalty to his brothers as well as his duty to humanity. During a Ork Waagh on a nearby agri world, which he lead the defense of, he was challenged by the Ork Warboss in hand to hand combat. The Warboss was a big as a dreadnought and they fought for many hours but sustained a blow that cut him clean in half. Griffith Vander (1st Company Captain at the time) came to his rescue and as the Warboss was laughing and celebrating the victory, Griffith cut the beast head off. After the battle was won they found his body and to his chapters surprise, Huron Fal was still alive but had slipped into the black coma. The apothecaries could not find a way to repair him and so Huron Fal became the chapters first Dreadnought.
Much like their founding chapter the Black Templars, the Grave Bearers have quite an extensive fleet. Although not as numerous in marines as their brothers, the chapter fights along side many Astra Militarum regiments, most notably the 1960th Gryphonne IV Regement (The Gryphonne Claws), and fight on many small crusades.
Battle Barge - Angel's Redemption
One of the chapters oldest ships, bestowed to the chapter from the Black Templars upon their founding, the Angel's Redemption is the command ship for the chapter's fleet. Currently it is leading the Mourning Crusade in the hopes of finding the Eldar that murdered the first company veterans.
Battle Cruiser - Traitors Punishment
This cruiser is home to the chapters second company. Often charged with breaking enemy blockades, the prow on this cruiser was designed with this task specifically in mind, and is slimmer and the decks behind completely filled with solid ceremite.
Grave Bearers wear all black armor and gold trim on the shoulder pads/knee plates/boots and face masks. Veteran Sergeants wear white armor with black helmets. Although this may seem counter intuitive, they wish to be picked out in the heat of battle and challenged by their enemies to prove their worth to the chapter.
Assault marines of this chapter have cross bones instead of the traditional X for Assault markings.