By 21 May, the southern front was witnessing intense battles as what remained of the army did what they could to hold back the tide of infection.
Cornwall and Devon had a significant military presence, mostly troops that had been unable to evacuate to the north. Remaining police forces and hastily created civilian milita's manned barricades to slow down the spread of infection.
The clogged roads of the M5 led the infected all the way from Bristol right down to the south west of England.
Exeter was the scene of a massive conflageration as RAF jets based on the HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier in the Irish Sea launched airraids on the city as it succumbed to infection, the inferno burning to death many hundreds, if not thousands of infected, and completely gutted the entire city.
This, unfortunately, only worsened the situation, as it drove the infected out of the city and even further towards the uninfected areas.
Dartmore National Park became a refuge for over 15,000 people from Southern England, as surviving army units and British Red Cross volunteers built a large tent city, miles away from any towns. Conditions in the camp were rather bad, with food supplies low and on ration, and sanitary conditions absolutley abhorent due the quarantine enforced on the UK ending food and other goods being imported to the UK.
Torquay fell to the infected without a shot being fired, as the entire army presence there had withdrawn hours earlier to a defensive line established between Plymouth and Bideford.
But the inevitable collapse came as the army began to run out of ammunition, no longer being resupplied by NATO or by the now abandoned arms depots and factories.
The Channel Massacre occured on 23 May as over 15,000 people tried to flee Plymouth by sea. There were a few ferries, some barges and tug boats. Fishing boats and even rubber dingies. Some people even tried to swim, most of those desperate poor souls drowned in the cold waters. The English Channel was clogged with refugee boats trying to cross to France, ignoring the quarantine, accepting that death by drowning or at the hands of a missile is preferable to being savaged by rabid lunatics.
In an event that would become as controvesial as the atomic bombings of Japan in World War 2, NATO air and naval forces, in this case, mostly from the French Navy and Air Force, but also several USAF jets, began activley bombing the Refugee Flotilla as it fled Plymouth.
The exact death toll is not known, but over 4,127 bodies were recovered, and 10,000 or so others who successfully crossed were placed in quarantine camps.
The Interior Minister of France resigned from his job in protest at what had happened, and the chief of the French air force resigned also, and commited suicide a few days later, wracked with guilt. Norway, Greece and Portugal withdraw their military personnel from the quarantine in protest also, declaring the attack on civilians "mass murder".
Many of the military personel involved in the Channel Massacre would need counciling for years afterwards, several would commit suicide, and one shot his commander in the head with his side arm when he returned to base, disgusted with what he had ordered him to do.
Plymouth fell that very day. One refugee who escaped recalled in an interview with Paris newspaper Le Monde.
"There were twelve of us on the boat. Me, my wife and two sons, and the captain and his family and a few others too. It was about eight at night, the sky was clear, only the moon and the lights of the boats illuminated the area. I took a look back at Plymouth, the power had been cut off for days by that point, but i could see the darkened buildings, and the orange glow over the city, illuminating the sky. Huge fires had broken out when the army tried to hold off the infected to give everybody time to escape. It was an eerie sight, watching Plymouth burn as we headed out to sea. I dont think anybody noticed i was crying as i looked back, i pretended the tears were just from the waves splashing over the boat. Rough sea that night you see, lots of swimmers drowned. We saw the lights in the distance, it was jets. We thought it was rescue coming. Then we saw those missile streak towards the sea. The screams....watching that cruise ship sink, after the missiles slammed into the side of it, it toppled on its side and sunk within maybe five, ten minutes at most. Hundreds, maybe a thousand people, jumped into the water. Most of them drowning, the other boats were too full to pick them up. We watched helplessly as the other boats near us exploded and sank, people screaming in the darkness. The jets eventually left, having run low on fuel or ammunition i assume, i know a few returned because they were refusing to follow their orders. They didnt come back, there was no way they could sink every boat before we reached the coast. When we arrived, we were pushed around and shoved into "quarantine camps", which i guess is the new way of saying concentration camp. It was horrendous, but the public outcry across France finally forced to the government to relent and release all the refugees. Now we're living in this UN run camp, much better than at Calais, but i yearn to return home one day, to see if there's anything left."
Interview of Paul Henderson at the Brest Refugee Camp , 23 July 2002.
By 25 May, three weeks after the outbreak, all of south west England had been overrun, barring a few isolated villages, military bases and the Dartmore National Park Refugee Camp.
Next : The fall of Scotland