NOVEMBER II 1937
Weather remained pleasant, even on Formosa, but a cold front with
sub-zero temperatures moved into the Gobi Desert.
Japanese Player Turn
The scene of the most dramatic events was at Canton, which, as expected,
was the objective of the Japanese 5th Fleet executing Operation Divine Wind, led
by Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. This time the fleet had no patrolling enemy aircraft
to contend with as the just-arrived little Soviet-Chinese airforce bided their
time. The Chinese small naval craft in the Hsi estuary were quickly dealt with
[both LCTF and RF sunk on first roll]. The plan had called for a main landing
near Hsaiolung in the delta south of the city [G4:4505] and subsequent attack
directly on Canton’s port. However, surprise had been lost [one turn in South
China Sea needed in order to arrive with enough MPs for amphibious landing] and
troops had been moved to the approaches as a reception committee. Nevertheless,
the landings went ahead. Seeing where the main blow was falling, the Soviet and
Chinese pilots took to the air. A furious battle ensued with the fighters from
the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. Many planes went down in flames. None of
the SB-2 bombers got through, but the carrier fighters are severly battered,
and so are the Soviet volunteers [Jap 2A, Soviets 2A]. With minimal support by
the ships’ guns and with long-range aircraft from Formosa chiming in the main
landings south of the city were a cake walk [no attack supply expended], as
were those near Tungkwan on the opposite shore [G4:4404], but the attack on
Canton harbor had to be postponed. With heavy artillery, headquarters, and
supplies landed after the beaches were secured [in exploitation after transfer
to LCs] the invaders are ashore in strength, but have not secured a port and so
have to keep relying on their landing craft [next turn out of general supply
and isolated unless they convert their attack supply to GSPs].
[The landings had been planned for Nov II as the time with best chance
of good weather and calm seas after the end of the rice-growing season. No
opposition or an overrun at G4:4505 was hoped for, but overrun would have
succeeded only against a single unsupported 1-4 or 0-1-4 not in general supply.
In fact, surprise was impossible, G4:4505 had been manned by two 1-4s, and the
net and one ASP at Canton converted to GSP provided general supply for all
defenders. G4:4404 on the opposite shore was included to keep the approach to
Canton harbor open for ships and allow for shore-to-shore shifting of troops
across the narrow straits. Its 0-1-4 stood no chance. With no attack on Canton
itself, no ASP was needed and only one RF and the weaker TF were used for NGS.]
Meanwhile in the north, 5 Mountain Division in accustomed efficiency
cleared the Jehol mountains of Chinese bands [by overrun] and started back to
At Yanku, 2 Army’s 14 and 108 Divisions ran smack into the CCP 120,
battering it but not without suffering serious losses to themselves [EX, CCP
120 and 108 cadred]. The Japanese now have the city in sight.
In southern Honan, the main body of 2 Army closed to the Yellow River
opposite Kaifeng and Chengchow after rolling over the left-behind Shansi
cavalry rearguard. At one point east of Kaifeng the river was crossed and the
Siking-Tungshan rail line was cut. To the east, 1 Army closely pursued the
retreating KMT formations, mauling a straggling force of one KMT and several
factional divisions north of Tungshan. However, no other large attacks could be
staged because of delays in bringing supplies forward across the Yellow River.
Farther south, 101 Division [nicknamed the Dalmatians] crossed Lake Weishan
while troops from the Shantung peninsula closed to the Grand Canal southeast of
the lake. The only combat action here occurred when a Chinese rearguard tried
to block a river crossing, but was brushed aside [DR].
At the Shanghai front, 9 Reserve Division attacked eastward from
Hangchow to initiate an advance along the coast toward Ningpo [parent 9
Division still on a rampage in the city]. A stronger force advanced westward
across the Grand Canal between Hangchow and Lake Tai. At the north shore of the
peninsula, KMT troops were forced back along the main rail line to Nanking. One
KMT division was wiped out. The shore of Lake Tai was reached and Wuhsien,
evacuated by the Chinese, was occupied. [Chinese travel brochures aimed at
hard-currency western tourists like to call this city, also known as Soochow,
the “Venice of China” for its being criss-crossed by little canals. Any denizen
of the real thing would scoff at the comparison and probably call the canals
oversized ditches with muddy banks.]
Chinese Player Turn
Canton is being strengthened by whatever troops can be scraped together.
Yangtze shipping and trains from Changsha are kept busy around the clock. An
airlift from Changsha has been initiated. Gen. Wu Xing-Yang assigned the best
contingent of reinforcements, from Kiangsi, to the harbor district, obviously
the enemy’s key objective. He now wishes his Kwangtung Army had been
concentrated in and around Canton instead of being spread out to protect at
least some of the many ports along the long coastline. He who defends
everything defends nothing. Hindsight! But then, no enemy foray so far south
was expected so soon, and the coastal ports would have been difficult to
In Shansi, factional troops moved quietly along mountain roads to close
the Ladies’ Pass and cut the communications of the Japanese forces near Yanku.
This should put a damper on their ambitions to seize the provincial capital.
Also, seeing that the threat of an advance on Yanku from the north had
disappeared, Lin Piao dissolved his CCP 129 Division and sent its soldiers into
the mountains to set up yet another guerrilla base from where to raid the Hopei
plain in the Japanese rear.
Farther south in Honan, 4 Army with KMT III Corps fell back from the
Yellow River, an excellent defense position but now completely outflanked.
Kaifeng and Chengchow were abandoned without a fight. One division was split
off and sent west to block the road and rail line to Loyang [with Kaifeng and
Chengchow one of the only three Honan dot cities, so a Japanese provicial
puppet government would be installed if it were to fall also; After Shantung
and Hopei, Honan would then become the third North China province with Japanese
puppet government, and thereby trigger the set-up of a regional puppet
To the east, KMT 1 Army struggled in its retreat, fighting against being
increasingly squeezed on both flanks by strong Japanese forces. For probably a
last time, defenses were beefed up by supplies railed forward from Nanking
through Tungshan, already almost within Japanese reach.
The Shanghai front remained relatively quiet. North of the lakes KMT VII
Corps held its positions while engineers prepared to dismantle the main rail
line. In the hill country south of the lakes, only picket lines face one
another. A KMT guerrilla base was established in the Tienmu Mountains.
At Yunkia [Chekiangs last remaining dot city], troops moved out to block
the gorge where the Han river and the road along it emerge from the mountains
[G3:1909; the road follows the river rather than running across the mountains,
as it may seem from the game map].
The Canton operation might make or break this game. Once the harbor is
taken, the Chinese have no chance of holding the rest of the city. They would
in fact fold now if the TFs were allowed to enter a river hex, from which their
NGS against the city would be doubled. With Canton gone, the loss of supply and
rail capacities, production, and possibly factories would be devastating not
even to mention the destabilization points for loss of a multi-hex city. As to
factories, the dilemma is whether to keep up production or dismantle to attempt
transfer; and if transfer is still possible, whether to use scant rolling stock
for it rather then for reinforcements. The Japanese, on the other hand, are
scraping the bottom of the barrel with res pts. For them, the Canton adventure
proves to be very expensive because the LCs needed two turns to reach the
target, and at least some must now be retained until a port has been secured.
For Japan, the conflicting demands on res pts—attack supply, landing
craft, extra shipping, rail capacity, bridge repair at major rivers, and
possibly restoration of dismantled rail lines—cause headaches no end.
Napoleon was want to say that, in warfare, morale is to numbers as three to
one. Had he played War of Resistance, he might have said logistics instead of