Faced by the loss of the northern province, the various Warlord leaders of the MSF recognise their mistake of breaking with the KMT and announce their desire for a united front in the face of ongoing Japanese aggression. The announcement is warmly received in Hankow, with the curt message “We told you so” being sent to the MSF leaders huddling in the damp mountains in western Chekiang.
Japanese Player Turn
Cursed and thrice damned Rain continues throughout the month, showing the gods surely favour the Chinese, obviously must be something about Yang and Feng Shu! The weather frustrates the offensive south of the Yangtze, but the Rough hex behind Hangpu and bordering the Yangtze is seized, breaking the defence line once and for all. Finally the last city in Chekiang falls (Chuchow), allowing the setting up of a puppet regime, with Anhwei hopefully due to fall in the next month or so, this should see a puppet natioanl government being established by the beginning of 1940.
Chinese Player Turn
North of the Yangtze CA forces pull back to Anking and a major construction program begins of building forts behind every tributary river running from the north to the Yangtze. A mass of CCP Guerillas go active around the Tapieh Shan, inflicting annoying mosquito bite attacks on rear echelon units, unfortunately IJA units refuse to respond. At the Wuhu line CA forces fall back towards Chinchow and rough ground north of Hweichow. The 6th War Front becomes active at Shangjao with armoured units and spted XX’s sent into the line here to bolster the defence and the approach to Anhwei and Kiangsi from this area
The action in the north died down early in the year once Shangtung and Hopei had fallen, but the rapid changeover of Shansi forces to the Japanese kept action going in this region longer than was expected and caught the Chinese on the hop (and the IJA who were busy winding down troop numbers to commit further south). The Shansi switch was potentially disasterous for the Chinese, with the loss of a lot of units and territory. Luckily a line was reestablished fairly quickly using MNF troops and some arty IIIs. The inevitable diversion of the Hwang Ho river also significantly contributed to a slow down in activity in the region, protecting the MNF province of Honan for the immediate future (and the fact the IJA saw no value in advancing in this direction while the CA heartland along the Yangtze remained intact).
Along the Yangtze, the battle for Shanghai and the advance to Nanking was bloody for both sides. The IJA enters 1939 on a shoestring budget of RPs and every EX and HX result hurts the cause. Although it is easy to gather the big XX’s together to over run or ensure high odds results, the subsequent weakening of other positions meant the CA could attack the flanks and isolated garrisons. Although Chekiang and Kiangsu eventually fell, it wasn’t as rapidly as planned, hampered by the rice growing season and unexpected rain at the end of the year, which broke the offensive at critical times. Added to this was the withdrawal of several light divisions at crucial periods in time that required shuffling of remaining forces to maintain the offensive. For the Chinese in this area, the battles could be judged a Phyrric victory, although the CA stood toe to toe for over a year only grudgingly giving up terrain, it is now a shadow of its former self. A handful of Spted XX’s remain, and a breakout by IJA forces into favourable terrain will mean the CA will be gobbled up. Able only to replace six divisions a year to supported status means a long careful defensive campaign in this region, hoping the IJA will wear itself out like it did around Shanghai and on the road to Nanking. Alas the terrain ahead does not look promising, and the Southern region will soon be opening up, putting greater pressure on the stretched Chinese resources.
Coming up in 1939:
- Guerillas in the Mist, or “Where the hell did you come from?”
- The White Russians March!
- The Great 6th War Front Offensive, or “The Charge of the Light Tank Brigade(s)”
- The Empire Strikes Back!
- A horse riders guide to the coastal ports of Fukien.
- A Bargain Hunters Paradise – the top places to visit in Kwangtung Province in a Landing Craft
- Shanghai Mk II – Canton Cantonment
[Editors Note: As nearly three years have passed, we have to assume the game was unfortunately broken off at this point, which is especially sad as I personally find few game reports so readable and interesting as Bobs.]