MAY II 1938
Beautiful spring weather continues except in the south, which is drowning in monsoon rain. Seas are calm except again on the South China Sea and in the Formosa Strait.
Japanese Player Turn
The puppet governors of Kingsu, Chekiang, and Anhwei have decided to form a Central China Regional roof organization in Shanghai.
In northern Shansi, Formosa Mountain Division hunted down the volunteers from Ningwu before they could fade into the mountains. For a rare change and for lack of anything better to do, 5 Mountain Division took a rest near Yanku. Near Linfen, three regiments of 8 Division advanced south along the rail line to Tungkwan and struck hard at the leading elements of a factional corps from Shensi [DE], then pulled back into the rice paddies forward of Linfen. That city remains garrisoned by the fourth regiment of the division.
A new mountain brigade from Manchukuo was railed into Hopei and made good use of the excellent weather to seek out and destroy the Shansi troops that had been lurking in the Wutai range near Peiping.
In the Yellow River valley, 27 Division retreated from Shanhsien on orders from up high even before the Chinese masses could make contact. The minds of the mighty are inscrutable.
16 Division and its assigned armor retreated all the way back from the Hwai to the Sha river, giving up the city of Chuning. The division overpowered the adventurous Chinese that had come to threaten its supply line and is now deployed in and around Hsuchang on the rail line to Chengchow.
In the Big Bend, 26 Division retreated from its blocking position at the north end of Lake Po Yang to set up defenses upstream of Hwaining. Two other divisions are forming a screen to protect that important city against attacks from the west. On the river’s other side the divisions of the Central China Army made short shrift of the Chinese rearguards, but advanced no farther: In the just beginning monsoon and rice growing season, the rice paddies to the south are no place for Japan’s elite to get mired in, especially since ominous rumors about an impending new Tet have begun to circulate. A further advance into the flank of the Chinese masses pursuing 9 Division on the Nanchang-Hangchow road was a tempting alternative, but was deemed unwise at this time.
9 Division retreated farther along the Hangchow road. Giving up Shangjao without a fight, they dispensed of a KMT brigade from the mountains in their rear, then took up new positions blocking the narrowing valley of the Kwangsin river forward of the pass that leads into Chekiang.
Security was strengthened in Anhwei and southern Kiangsu. The towns of Ningkwo and Hweichow were belatedly garrisoned. Little can be done at this time for northern Kiangsu (north of the Yangtze) and Chekiang.
The major port city of Foochow in Fukien capitulated. Last food and ammunition had been used up and no relief was in sight. [This really was an automatic DE on 9+:1 -2 surrounded, guaranteed even without attack supply; there is no U4 and no death by starvation in this game!] Dead tired, starved, and fed up with the war and the KMT, the citizens even welcomed the Japanese, who wisely distributed some meager rations of rice [no rampage].
In Upstate Fukien, the Kure Marines and mountain artillery stocked up again on ammunition ferried to Nanping’s river port, then tracked down and disposed of the last factional troops [DH; the river port allow them to trace a supply line to Japan].
The night terror raids against the KMT capital Hankow continued with good success. This time the AA gunners brought down a few bombers [1 A], but all returning aircraft landed safely.
Chinese Player Turn
The guerrilleros in the northern mountain ranges still hold their peace, though chafing at their bits.
The Shensi troops continue their two-pronged advance into Honan and Shansi. Abandoned Shanhsien was occupied and contact with the enemy was reestablished. Some troops were shifted to strengthen the drive into Shansi toward Linfen. News of the recapture of Shanhsien has forced the Honan puppet government in Taifeng to resign.
In central Honan the advance of the masses continues. Troops pressing forward from the Hwai river have reached the vicinity of deserted Chuning. Farther east and ahead of the main human wave, several forward detachments are force-marching through the thinly populated countryside in a northwesterly direction without encountering resistance. Forward elements have passed through Chowkiakow, only 60 miles from the strategic Taifeng-Tungshan rail line. The drive appears to be headed into the wide gap that has developed between the Japanese security forces in northern Honan and southern Hopei and Japanese 1 Army in the Nanking-Shanghai area.
In the Big Bend, factional forces are cautiously following up on the surprising Japanese retreat. No combat actions here.
A new defense line in the rice paddies and anchored on the east shore of Lake Po Yang is being formed to shield the flank of the advance along the Nanchang-Hangchow road. On this road, abandoned Shangjao was occupied and contact with Japanese 9 Division reestablished. In Chekiang, KMT brigades from the mountains have now reached the road and rail line at two places in the rear of that division, cutting it off from its supply.
The withdrawal from Shanhsien has brought the Honan puppet government down, but not the North China Regional one since Shantung, Hopei, and Shansi are still in the fold. As with Sunwul in Kwangtung, better to give up such an outpost sooner than later. Against the human wave, its defense would have called for reinforcements not readily available at this time. The Honan government can be reformed at any time since Loyang, Chenchow, and Taifeng are still held (and will certainly be strongly defended).
That the Japanese gave up the Honan reference cities Shanhsien, Chuning and Chowkiakow without a fight might seem surprising, but was prompted by a slick tactical consideration: It gave the Chinese two poor options: to occupy now and topple the Honan government, but see it reinstated before the July I stability check; or to bypass, only to see further advance obstructed and the road or rail supply line blocked. The Chinese made the best of it, occupying Shanhsien and Chowkiakow, but not Chuning, whose capture can now be used to bring down the Honan government in the critical June II turn. Again, a probably unintended artifact of the victory conditions.