SEPTEMBER II 1937
Sunshine and dry weather have returned to all of mainland China, but another typhoon is passing close to southern Formosa. Seas are calm except off the Manchurian coast and around Shanghai and Hanchow (Zones 7 and 9), not counting Typhoon Dominic near Formosa.
Japanese Player Turn
The hardliners in Tokyo have finally won out. Hideki Tojo has been named Prime Minister, and his cabinet has lifted all restrictions on operations in China (2D6 mandate roll “12”)!
Mop-up continues apace in the northern Wutai mountains, where the formidable 5 Mountain Division unmercifully hunts down factional remnants and stragglers. Farther west, the garrisons of Changkaikow and Kweihwating have hunkered down for defense against a possible attack by the CCP 129 Division. Chahar cavalry is moving southward east of the Wutai range in the direction of Yanku.
The 2 Army operating from Peiping toward Shihkiachuang is severely hindered by extensive destructions of bridges and railway tracks. Its vanguards have reached the Hoto river opposite Shihkiachuang, but were not strong enough to attack the strongly held city. Mop-up in the swamps west of the Tientsin-Tsinan rail line has been completed and many prisoners were taken (for the first time, a majority of units isolated when eliminated). The main forces of the 1 Army operating along the Tientsin-Tsinan rail line, also severely hampered by bridge and railway destructions, reached the area just north of Tehsien, about two thirds of the way to Tsinan, their first major objective.
The Shantung beachhead received reinforcements and was extended beyond the Wei river and along the south coast. Shantung forces now allied to the Japanese ‘liberated” the north-coast city of Chefoo, from where renegate warlord Han Fu-Chu hopes to rule the province while Tsinan, the capital, is still full of KMT troops.
The most dramatic events played out around Shanghai. An amphibious landing at the major port of Woosun in the Yangtze estuary just north of Shanghai had been planned, based on speculations that, before the end of the month, Tokyo would lift the restriction of operations to North China (either Chinese “aggressive posture” or a mandate die roll roll of at least “10,” both indeed then having occurred).
This Operation Tradewind was to be staged by a landing of the Kure and Sasebo Marines of Kaiohsien fame and two new first-line divisions (9 and 13), backed by a strong naval force including the carriers Akagi and Kaga and the battleships Mutsu and Nagato. The bold plan envisaged an overrun of the weak Woosun garrison (expected to be unsupported and not in general supply), followed by an attack up the Whangpoo river on northeastern Shanghai proper to link up with the forces in the International Concession. Three factors threatened to compromise this plan: the unexpected sortie of the Chinese mini-cruisers Ning Hai and Ping Hai with a few torpedo boats (DCTF, strength 2) to patrol the entrace to Woosun harbor, Chinese naval air patrol, and the worsening sea conditions (rough). Ning Hai and Ping Hai, pride of the Chinese Navy, put up a brave fight to the last against formidable odds, but were sunk (two naval combat hits needed to clear the hex; the two GCs and one TF were lucky to score them in their three rolls, each with 50% chance of success after modifiers for rough seas and protected waters). A Chinese air strike found the little armada, the carrier-born fighters intercepted and shot down a few bombers (an A result), flak remained ineffective, but no ships were hit. The landings also went well, except for some damage to landing craft from heavy swells, and the troops overwhelmed the defenders. However, the confusion of landing in rough seas had disrupted the troops so badly that they were unable to stage the planned follow-up attack up the Whangpoo (because of halving of strength owing to rough sea, odds upon landing too low for overrun). Still, even if the original objective was not attained, the troops are ashore in strength at a major port right next to Shanghai and will hardly be dislodged. (Whew, what an operation! I just hope I got all the rules right. Do tell me if anything seems fishy.)
In anticipation of the fall of Tsinan, plans were made for installation of a Japanese-leaning puppet government of Shantung. For this purpose an infantry brigade from Darien was shipped to Chefoo, to be the new “capital.”
Chinese Player Turn
In the north the retreat of the few battered survivors from Chahar toward Yanku continued. With the formidable Japanese 1 Infantry Division still in the area, the CCP 129th did not intervene.
In Hopei, KMT III Corps retreated in good order from Shihkiachuang to the next holding position about 80 miles farther south at Hantan behind the Fuyang river. Only a factional cavalry rearguard was left in Shihkiachuang to delay the Japanese advance and blow the railway and road bridges. Communist guerrillas scored their first success by blowing up the rail line from Peiping north of Shihkiachuang. KMT II Corps nearer the coast also retreated about 80 miles to a last blocking position foward of the Yellow River and Tsinan. The latter are prepared for a delaying action to slow the inevitable Japanese advance on Nanking. All but one of the Yellow River bridges downstream of Kaifeng have been blown up
In Shantung a lose chain of strongholds has been set up to delay any enemy forays from the Tsingtao beachhead.
The misguided upgrading of the Nanking-Tientsin rail line was discontinued. The effort would have been better spent elsewhere, perhaps even in obliterating that rail line.
Shanghai’s dismantled factories were evacuated by rail and river transport using all available rolling stock and barge shipping. They are destined for locations in the deep interior. The KMT troops in the city, among them some of Chiang’s best, concentrated in the western districts, leaving only factional rearguards in the east.
The rapid deterioration of the military situation has prompted Chiang Kai-Shek to order his government to prepare a move from Nanking to a safer location, possibly Chungking (with Chengte, Peiping, Tientsin, Tsingtao, Kweihwating, Tsingyuan, and by Oct I inevitably also Shihkiachuang in Japanese hands and no stabilization points to show for Japanese losses, a stability level drop in Oct I is certain, so the move is better initiated before the Oct I check, even though Nanking is not yet in danger).
As if the Chinese command did not have enough to worry about, seeing the hardliners at the helm in Tokyo forces them now to start thinking about how to protect Canton against amphibious landings (Mandate Roll “12” = Level 0 now allows operations even in South China). At present, the city is garrisoned only by the regiments of two KMT divisions, a KMT construction brigade, and a few factional units, no match for a determined assault.
Chiang Kai-Shek is now looking for British advisors to teach him how to win a war while losing the battles. No takers so far: it’s to be kept a well-guarded secret.