The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Month: March 2001

SEPTEMBER I 1937

SEPTEMBER I 1937

The monsoon season has finally run its course: Sunshine has dried the
ground in all of China and the seas have calmed.

Japanese Player Turn

With improved weather conditions, fighting has accelerated. The 5 Mountain
Division, victors of Tsingtao, was ferried to Tientsin and hurriedly railed
north to take a leading part in the fight in the Wutai mountains that is to
open up and protect the rail connection into Chahar. Also moved north was
the Senda Mechanized Division Group, which pressed forward through the
Yungting gorge along the rail line itself. Its leading elements made first
contact with those of the 1 Infantry Division from Chahar not far Badaling
at the Great Wall where in ancient times a handful of Chinese are said to
have stood fast for weeks against a whole army from the north. Now, the
factional Chinese are being battered from north and south and squeezed into
the northermost part of the Wutai mountains. Many prisoners were taken. One
Chinese division, the 218, has been cut off east of the gorge and driven
into the mountains of Jehol.

Substantial reinforcements were landed at Tientsin and other nearby ports
and railed south and west to strengthen the thrusts along the
Tientsin-Tsinan and Peiping-Shihkachuang rail lines. Along the former, the
Chinese front for the first time has been brought into serious disarray;
along the latter, resistance has just about dissolved. The small city of
Tsingyuan has been overrun and the way to Shihkiachuang is open. Blown
bridges and rail lines now are more of a hindrance than is the enemy.

Over objections from the naval command, parts of the so-called Shanghai
Expeditionary Force were diverted to Tsingtao and Kaiohsien to fan out from
the beachhead. Tanks of a spearhead reached the sea on the north shore of
the peninsula, cutting off most of the Shantung forces to the east.

All quiet at Shanghai, where the small garrison of the International
Concession holds out under the protection of the ships’ guns. A major air raid against the main railway station of Tsinan remained unsuccessful.

Chinese Player Turn

In a dramatic frenzy of political maneuvering, Shantung’s wavering warlord
Han Fu-Chu has broken with the central government and allied himself to
Japan! (violations by KMT, first entry of Japanese troops from Tsingtao, 3
res pts bid by China, 5 by Japan, 2D6 of “3” gives downward shift of
cooperation level, 1D6 of “5” results in puppet status, Chinese buy-off
attempt with 3 res pts fails on 1D6 of “5”). Most Shantung troops just melt
away, a few join the Japanese. All other provinces remain faithful.

In Chahar the surviving factional forces that had fought in the Yungting
gorge retreated westward into the mountains. Still farther west, whatever
can still move is attempting to flee in a general direction of Yanku. The
CCP 129 Division is set to block a Japanese advance here. The cut-off
Chinese 218 Division has sought sanctuary in the mountains of Jehol.

The defection of Shantung and the rapid expansion of the Japanese Tsingtao
beachhead has compromised the Yellow River position, and a retreat from
Hopei all the way to the Yangtze river has been ordered. On the
Peiping-Chengchow rail line the major city of Shihkiachuang is being
prepared for a delaying defense to gain time. This strongpoint shielded by
the Hoto river with escape routes to both the south and west is expected to
hold for one to two weeks (one player turn), but will be evacuated as soon
as the Japanese have concentrated for an attack. To the east, the position
of the remainning factional units defending astride the Tientsin-Tsinan
rail line has deteriorated beyond hope. They will be sacrificed to shield
the withdrawal of the main force to the Yellow River and beyond.

On the Shantung peninsula, a hasty and temporary defense has been
organized to shield the flank of the forces flooding back from Hopei to the
Yellow River, but cannot be expected to hold in the face of any determined
Japanese attack.

Additional troops were moved into Shanghai, and dismantling of the
factories for transfer has begun. In another air raid on the Japanese
vessels in port, several bombers were lost to Japanese carrier-borne
fighters, and again no hits were scored. Fearing Japanese retaliation in
the form of a sea-borne landing, the small Chinese Navy bravely sallied
forth from their ports in the Yangtze estuary to patrol the harbor entrances.

With Chahar gone for good and Inner Mongolia for the time being, Shantung
defected, the Hopei front in disarray and outflanked from Tsingtao, the
threat of an enemy landing at Shanghai at any time, and still oodles of
fair campaign wheather to come, the overall picture looks grim. Kung Fu,
Charley Chan, the Flying Buffaloes, where are you when we need you?

AUGUST II 1937

AUGUST II 1937

The brief spell of fair weather in central China is over. The entire
country is again flooded by monsoon rains, except only the extreme north
and west. A typhoon is passing over southern Formosa (Taiwan). Seas
elsewhere are mostly stormy.

Japanese Player Turn

Tsingtao has fallen after only a token resistance of its small and
disheartened garrison. The city is quiet (pacification roll 5). The cruiser
taskforce that had supported the Orca beachhead returned to Shanghai, ready
to shield the small contingent of naval troops against the mounting Chinese
threat.

Advance along the Peiping-Shihkiachuang and Tientsin-Tsinan rail lines has
slowed to a crawl through mud and against stiffening resistance now backed
by a KMT Infantry Corps. Engineers contend with blown bridges and rail
lines. Farther north, the advance out of Peiping along the rail line into
Chahar has reached the foothills and the entrance to the Yungting gorge.

Tokyo has given the go-ahead to General Hideki Tsunoda’s Chahar
Expeditionary Force, a powerful army that includes the elite 1 Infantry
Division, one of the few well-equipped with artillery (most others are just
self-supporting). In a sweeping move favored by fair weather, the stronger
its two columns overran the weakly defended Chahar capital Changkaikow
while the other force-marched into Inner Mongolia and smashed its way into
Kweihwating, one of only two of Inner Mongolia’s settlements that can lay
claim to being called a city. The CCP 129 Division from the 8 Route Army,
delayed by poor weather and terrain, was not in time to save the city from
the invaders. Preparations for formation of local puppet governments in
Chahar and Inner Mongolia are under way. The surviving factional Chinese
northeast of Peiping now find themselves pinched in between the Japanese 2
Army to the south and Tsunoda’s Chahar Force to the north, but they still
cling to the mountains astride the Peiping-Changkaikow rail line that
Tsunoda will need for supply.

Carrier aircraft subjected Leu Force in the port of Lienyunkang to a
fierce attack. Most of the transports were destroyed. For the time being
that removes any threat of a Chinese amphibious raid as the only KMT
Marines are now stranded without transports.

Long-range bombers attacked the marshaling yard of Tungshan and caused
extensive damage. The city is the hub of the Chinese rail net connecting
Nanking, Siking, Tientsin, and the port of Tunghai with one another, and
the destruction of its yard will add to Chinese logistics problems.

Chinese Player Turn

In the north, the 129 CCP Division reached the area south of Tatung and
will pose a threat to the Japanese presence in Inner Mogolia. The other
parts of the 8 Route Army crossed the Wutai range into Hopei. Guerrilla
bases were set up in the mountains and the Hopei plain near Tsangchow. The
III KMT Corps and the 115 CCP Division concentrated in and around
Shihkiachuang in preparation for a delaying action. Farther foward,
factional rearguards retreated to the line Tsingyuan-Tsangchow, backed by
the II KMT Corps.

On the Shantung peninsula, KMT troops prepared for temporary defense at
the Wei river to keep the Tsingtao beachhead contained and gain time for
the Shantung factional forces farther east to retreat to safety. Bridge and
track destruction along the Peiping-Chengchow and Tientsin-Tsinan rail
lines continued apace.

Additional KMT divisions were moved into Shanghai to complete sealing off
the International Concession and protect the crews sent in to start
preparing the city’s factories for transfer to safety. Also, the Hwangpoo
river, the lifeline to the sea for the small Japanese Navy contingent in
the International Concession, was blocked. A half-hearted air raid against
the Japanese warships on the Hwangpoo was unsuccessful. Although no ground
attacks were launched, the Japanese were quick to declare the actions as
“aggression” (more than 7 RE now adjacent to the International Concession)
and threaten decisice retaliation.
Long live double-speak!

AUGUST I 1937

AUGUST I 1937

While monsoon rains continue in most of China, sunshine and a first spell
of dry weather have arrived in the plains of Shantung and southern Hopei
(Zone 8), seas rough.

Japanese Player Turn

Dead set to give the enemt no respite, the Japanese juggernaut ground its
way forward from the Peiping-Tientsin District through deep mud at a
painfully slow pace of about three to four miles per day (2 hexes per turn
in the old one-two of overrun and combat) through hordes of factional
Chinese. Prisoners were taken by the thousands. The main axis of attack is
southward along the Tientsin-Nanking rail line. The tactic is to push
full-tilt along the road and thereby force the defenders right and left to
pull back lest they be cut off. Last resistance by the 37 Division in
Peiping’s northern suburbs was quelled. Some ground was also gained to the
west and northwest of the that city.

Railway engineers were brought into Tientsin to start repairing and
upgrading the Nanking rail line.

A daring amphibious operation code-named Orca, led by capable General
Hwang Yng-Long, was staged close to Tsingtao. Marines and the 5 Mountain
Division landed on the bayshore opposite the city and overwhelmed the
hapless defenders of the little port of Taiohshien. However, even in the
more sheltered waters of the Bay a good number of the landing craft were
damaged because of the high swells from last week’s storm and will require
repair. Orca has cut off the Tsingtao peninsula from the mainland, but the
Japanese foothold is tenuous as long as the city itself has not been taken.
A cruiser squadron and the carriers Kaga and Akagi stand by off-shore to
help repel any effort to relieve the city. Also, a squadron of fighters has
transferred to Kaiohshien to provide CAP.

In Tokyo, the fact of all-out war has been grudgingly accepted. The debate
now centers on the assembly and release of a strike force to relieve the
Navy troops in Shanghai’s International Concession before they are
overwhelmed.

Chinese Player Turn

A heated debate at the Generalissimo’s headquarters over what to do about
Orca. The chances of success of a relief attempt were carefully weighed,
but judged too slim in the face of massive Japanese naval support and
because of the impossibility of bringing enough troops and attack supply in
over the poor roads and the single, low-volume rail line with precious
little rolling stock. A number of the good regular National divisions
heading north from Nanking were redirected to the Shantung peninsula at
least to contain the Japanese beachhead. An air drop of supplies from
Nanking was considered, but was also decided against: even if the
transports survived the Japanese fighters and flak, their loads were too
likely to becomes hopelessly scattered. This leaves the small Tsingtao
garrison in the lurch.

Orca paid an unexpected dividend. Nationalist Navy Commander Leu Rong-Jin
at Tsingtao had been under orders to launch an amphibious raid directed at
the Jehol coast with his destroyer escorts and a Marine battalion on
commandeered coastal barges (an MNF RT). Orca upset the preparations (had
to be cancelled because Leu Force at Tsingtao came into Japanese ZoC).
Considering the situation at Tsingtao hopeless, Leu nevertheless decided to
break out in a moonless and foggy night. He succeeded in evading the
Japanese taskforce off Tsingtao (to react, the TF would have had to break
off its preparation for NGS, without which the beachhead would have been in
jeopardy). Although spotted at dawn by reconnaissance aircraft from the
Japanese carriers, he reached safety in the port of Lienyunkang near
Tunghai (had to cross open sea to reach protected waters, but contact rolls
failed; an escape northward would have emabled Leu to sail in protected
waters throughout, but would have left his Marines out on a limb on the
Shantung peninsula that is in danger of being cut off).

At the Tientsin front, the order of the day is sauve qui peut. Rather than
throwing in fresh troops piecemeal, the Chinese appear intent on merely
gaining time to prepare defenses where the Japanese onslaught will have
lost momentum. Usually reliable sources are quoted as saying the KMT’s
original plan called for a defense at the mighty Hwang Ho (Yellow River),
possibly combined with a delaying action in the line Tsinan-Shihkiachuang.
Now Orca, outflanking the Yellow River position, has given rise to second
thoughts and a retreat to the Yangtze is in the cards.

Thanks logistics Tsar Chen, most of the troops at the wavering Tientsin
front now enjoy supply (can be traced to the net but is limited by the
net’s capacity). This is being put to good use as it enables even the
poorly equipped factional “divisions” to engage in scorched earth. Bridges
and railway tracks are being blown to slow the Japanese advance. Even so,
in the long run their low mobility will spell doom for the bulk of the
factional rabble. Their loss is the price to pay for gaining time to scorch
the soggy earth and set up of guerrilla bases and for forcing the invaders
to expend precious supplies and resources.

In Shanghai city, the Chinese consolidated their positions around the
International Concession and occupied the industrial sections in strength,
in preparation for removal of the factories (still a little too weak here
to risk assuming aggressive posture).

Lin Piao’s 8 Route Army made good progress and is approaching the Wutai
mountains. Its 129 Division is marching north toward Inner Mongolia in
anticipation of a Japanese move into that province.

A KMT guerrilla base has been set up in the rice paddies of central Hopei,
a CCCP. Having failed to obtain material aid, the Chinese government has asked
President Roosevelt personally for the loan of a group of Zuni or Navajo
Indian medicine men to perform rain dances.

Comment

The comments I have seen so far on the list seem to indicate that I am
overestimating the ability of the Chinese to resist forward of the Yangtze
River. This may well be so. But then my Chinese have been rather lucky with
the weather (always mud where it counts), Japanese reaction attempts (none
successful so far), and Tokyo Mandate rolls (always “9,” maddeningly just
short of triggering). It is true that losses of Hopei and MNF ants at the
Tientsin front have been significant, but so far not a single KMT unit has
bit the dust. A few KMT divisions are now in action south of Tientsin, but
only behind overrun-proof stacks of factional units, themselves in stacks
strong enough to discourage direct attack, and so placed that they have a
safe retreat route. However, this tactic will no longer work when the
weather turns dry, and a speedy retreat will then surely become necessary.
Meanwhile, as the old saying goes, make hay while it rains!

Generalstab Updates, 4.3.2001

Here we go again, with four new articles on the Italian Army in World War II in the “Kriegsschule” as well as two new game reports in the Archive. I’m pretty pleased with the amount of material coming in I can say. Unfortunatly my knowledge in PHP is still not good enough to present any new developments of the military History Database, but I’ll keep working on it.

JULY II 37

JULY II 37

Japanese Player Turn

Out of partience with a deeply divided Tokyo government, Japanese troop
commanders in Manchuria took matters into their own hands and staged
massive raids into the Beijing-Tientsin District of China. Clashes
snowballed, and all-out war sems at hand, faster than the hotheads may have
wished, for the monsoon season is far from over and the going or rather
slushing in deep mud is agonizing.

The main Japanese thrust was launched into Tientsin by the elite 20 Light
Infantry Divison with ample support by siege artillery, railed right into
the city under the noses of the feeble Chinese “peacekeepers.” Additional
forces and supplies were shipped into Tientsin’s port, the city was quickly
cleared, and the vaunted 20th secured the railway bridge over the Hai and
gained a solid foothold on the far bank.

A secondary thrust was directed into Peiping from Chengte. Here,
resistance was a bit stiffer. The downtown and industrial areas were
secured, but scattered Chinese remnants are still clinging to the
northwestern suburbs.

The week has not been kind to the National Airforce. Bombers from Weihsien
in Shantung Province on patrol failed to spot the Tientsin-bound convoys
that were ducking in and out of rain squalls, but aircraft from the
escorting carriers followed them home and bombed them out of existence on
the ground (overkill: 2 hits on a 1-capacity base). At Tientsin’s Hai
bridge the KMT fly-boys attempted to provide air support. Japanese fighter
pilot superiority exacted a fierce toll: Half the escorting KMT fighters
went down in flames, as did some of the bombers (1K, 2A for no Jap losses).

While having gained firm control over the Peiping-Tientsin district, the
invaders now face quite a slugging match through mud and flooded rice
paddies if they wish to continue their advance. The moderates in Tokyo are
distressed. If at all, they would have preferred to see the war started
after the monsoon season was over.

Meanwhile, the small Japanese naval troop contingent in Shanghai’s
International Concession have kept their peace. They feel reasonably secure
under their mighty ships’ guns, but are not strong enough to risk expanding
their perimeter, nor are they encouraged to do so by their superiors, who
have enough other problems.

Chinese Player Turn

A rude awakening for the National government! But Generalissimo Chiang
Kai-Chek took matters into his hand very quickly. His first order of
business was to appoint his trusted advisor Chen Jia-Ming as infrastructure
Tsar and accord him first call on transport, rear-echelon troops, and
resources. Rolling stock and river transport were used to the utmost to
ferry administrators and small contingents of KMT troops to cities and
production centers throughout all of China to build up a nation-wide supply
net as quickly as possible and shield it against local warlords’ appetites
(a small KMT unit can “control” a city even if it shares it with any number
of factional troops that meet “garrison” requirements.) Except in the
southermost provinces this job is now all but completed. Also, railway
engineers have begun upgrading the strategically important Nanking-Tientsin
rail line, starting from Nanking.

At Tientsin and Peiping the poorly equipped and incompetently led
divisions controlled by a plethora of local warlords reeled under the
Japanese onslaught, but managed to reestablish a coherent front. Rail lines
were damaged and some bridges were blown. The best ally proved to be the
monsoon weather.

Whatever rolling stock was not requisitioned by Chen Jia-Ming was used to
rail some first-line infantry divisions of the “Generalissimo’s Own” elite
from the Nanking area forward in anticipation of a continued Japanese
advance from Tientsin. They will come too late for setting up a defense in
the rice paddies, but even in open terrain they might prove a hindrance to
the Japanese, who will have to contend with supply problems when advancing
into Shantung and Kuangsi.

In Shanghai, KMT and other troops, no longer shackled by treaty
obligations, cautiously felt they way into the city. However, they are
still under orders not to attack the Japanese in the International
Concession and to avoid any provocation.

Far west in Shensi Province, the strong, well disciplined Communist 8
Route Army under Lin Piao started quick-step marching northeastward. Their
suspected goal is to set up guerrilla bases in Honan and Hopei Provinces
and to threaten the lines of communication of any Japanese advance
southward from Tientsin.

Appeals for help went out from the National government to the Western
Nations and the Soviet Union, but so far only France has lent a sympathetic
ear and is channeling some shipments of aid to be picked up at Haiphong’s
port in French Indo-China. Britain and the U.S. seem loath to get involved
as long as their direct interests are not threatened, and Stalin may be
well pleased seeing a hostile Japan getting embroiled into what promises to
be a drawn-out conflict with the Chinese Nationalists, for whom he has no
sympathy either. But someone is not satisfied and intends to do something
about it: Claire Chenault, the Generalissimo’s chief air advisor and an
avid wargamer is rumored to work on constituting his own private airforce
of American volunteers, to be called the Flying Buffalos.