And winter gales and killer whales are bad …” Well, they have subsided to merely rough, but weather has remained wintry in north and central China and the south is still digging out from the storm’s mud.
Japanese Player Turn
The Tet Offensive in Hopei (to stick with the name it was given when being planned) has displaced Canton from the headlines. The Japanese command was quick and efficient with its response to the challenge. 14 and 108 Divisions were recalled from the Ladies’ Pass, reserves were mobilized, and
all rolling stock and air transport were diverted to reinforcing the threatened cities and, where possible, attack the guerrilleros. Then, in accustomed efficiency, 5 Mountain Division and support undertook an anti-guerrilla sweep and found and destroyed the CCP base in the canal country, leaving its warriors floundering helplessly for lack of leadership and support. [A mass sortie is a double-edged sword in that it leaves the bases weak and less able to survive a sweep, particularly if 5 Mountain rolls a “6.”]. The KMT base in the Hopei plain also suffered in another sweep, but survived. Because of the weather, no attempts were made against the bases in the mountains. The surviving guerrilleros still in the open now face well-prepared garrisons. The danger appears averted, at quite an expense in disruption of plans and cancellation of the advance on Yanku that was supposed to be resumed.
Meanwhile at Canton, the tired defenders, desperately short of ammunition and food, were routed [out of general supply, though not yet isolated]. Supplies were landed at Sunwul but, again, Adm. Nagumo, was able to manage without much expenditure of ammunition [only siege guns drew 1RE worth from unused ASP]. The entire city and its harbor are now firmly in Japanese hands. Completely exhausted from the fighting, no one was in a mood to riot [rampage roll negative]. The landing craft have been released, and the fleet has returned to Formosa, accompanying the reembarked 3 Division, Marines, siege guns, and HQ. Gunboats stay posted to keep Kwangtung shipping bottled up on the Hsi river, and Sunwul remains garrisoned. The tiny Canton airforce, on heavily escorted naval patrol but unable to act because of the weather, landed at bases from which they will be able to intervene in any attack on Swatow.
In the far north, commanders in Mogolia and Shahar reluctantly let go of their best toops as ordered by Tokyo. Their outposts are now vulnerable, but fortunately there is no enemy close enough to threaten them.
Disaster befell Chinese 1 Army in the plain of eastern Honan, west of Tungshan. With improved weather the Japanese pincers closed around all but one of its KMT corps. Even the complete shutting down of its supply lines by the Tet Offensive did not prevent Japanese 2 Army from outflanking and battering the Chinese left wing, while 1 Army supported from the ports of Tunghai and Lienyunkang did the same to the right wing. Many prisoners were taken, many more are to suffer the same fate.
Farther south, though, the Japanese were dealt some rebuffs: Two reserve divisions reinforced with artillery were repelled when trying to cross the Hwai river and seize Pengpu, the same fate befell another at the east shore of Lake Hung Tze, and close to the coast still another trying to force its way across the Old Yellow River was even forced to retreat.
To the west in west-central Honan, the weak picket line of 2 Army fell back on Taifeng and Chengchow. Two divisions no longer needed against Chinese 1 Army were sent northwest to this area to discourage any ambitions Chinese 4 Army might develop.
The Shanghai front lost much of its punch when the High Command ordered 1 Division to be withdrawn to Manchukuo, much over the objections of SEF headquarters. As a sop, long promised supplies were finally delivered at Woosung, but the outnumbered troops are in no shape to attack. North of the big lakes the situation has become stationary, and south only picket lines face one another.
In Chekiang, 9 Division had little trouble storming the seaport of Yungkia. One brigade of its reserves stands guard on the road inland, the other continued unopposed toward Kinwha and reached the Kiangsi border.
Navy bombers from Shanghai attacked the Chinese river flotilla on the Yangtze near Chenchiang and sank it. Carrier aircraft attacked Chinese shipping at Amoy and sank some coastal barges [1 RT].
Chinese Player Turn
Recalcitrant General Yen in Shansi was offered and took a royal bribe [7 res pts], but then still refused to resume cooperation with the central government [2R6 “3”, DRM -2 for KMT violations of territory]. Worse, imperious Szechwan Governor Ting Chueh, still miffed for being snuffed by Chiang Kai-Shek and unmollified by a bribe, decided to go his own way [1 pt bribe, DR snake eyes, 3 pt buy-off failed on 1R6 “5”]. His troops at Hankow mutinied; some may join the KMT, others just went home. Bleak times indeed. Are the rats abandoning the sinking ship?
More loyal factional troops moved into Yanku to strengthen the defenses.
In Hopei, direct guerrilla attacks on cities had to be cancelled as hopeless. All guerrilleros not in highly defensible terrain faded away again to reoccupy their bases and lick their wounds. It seems that Tet was launched prematurely after all. But recruitment has shifted into high gear and is expected soon to make up for losses. The survivors of CCP 120 Division are moving north into the Wutai Mountains to set up another guerrilla base [they had been withheld fromTet for that purpose]. Sabotage attempts by the guerrilleros kept out of Tet merely succeeded in causing one rail break near Shihkiachuang.
In Honan, one Corps of 1 Army is still holding out surrounded 50 miles west of Tungshan. Some of its troops have gone underground to set up a guerrilla base. One corps that had escaped the encirclement is struggling trying to reach the vicinity of Pengpu, where friendly forces have taken up defense positions.
In coastal Kiangsu a semblance of front is beginning to develop roughly along the old course of the Yellow River.
VII. Corps forward of Nanking received reinforcements and is now quite a bit stronger than the Japanese troops it faces. However, lack of ammunition precluded offensive operations. This is apt to change when supplies on their way from Hankow reach the front later this month. South of Lake Tai all remained quiet.
In Kiangsi, scraped up reserves were hurriedly sent to the border to block a further Japanese advance along the Hangkow-Nanchang rail line and road.
In Kwangtung, the rail line to Canton has finally been repaired. The troops sent to relieve the city are on their way south to set up blocking positions in the Yunwu Mountains 40 miles north of the city in order to prevent a Japanese advance. They are too weak to attempt retaking the city itself, but
forces strong enough for that cannot be spared.
Along the South China coast the garrisons of Foochow and Swatow were reinforced. At Swatow troops were stationed in the environs to guard against landings in the vicinity of the city.
The fall of Canton is a bitter pill. Not counting foreign aid and imports that arrive at inconvenient locations, the KMT now has only one factory left that can produce an ASP (at Hankow’s full-city hex), and only ASPs can be converted to GSPs. To keep a defense front strong with GSPs railed to a
forward HQ, as was done so successfully early on in Hopei, will no longer be a viable tactic. Also, with Canton’s fall the capacities of both the supply net and the railways have shrunk to less than half of what they were at their peak in August. Meager times ahead indeed!
The idea of a Tet Offensive may be sound, but this one was started too early and bungled at that. Greater strength was needed, and that brigade of regulars from the CCP 120 should have been saved for Tet to be moved onto a rail line to prevent rail transport of security units to threatened cities beyond. True, they had not enough MPs to reach such a hex in the snow weather of Jan I from their safe position, but Tet could then have been started in a later turn.
(The cadre of CCP 115 was held back intentionally to establish a new base in the Wutai or Taiheng Mountains, should one of the existing ones by eliminated by a Japanese sweep. That tactic is probably correct.)