The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Author: Robert Williams (page 2 of 17)

Game Report Balkan Front 1: Jan I 41

Axis player Turn

North-west of Ioaninna – the Greek battle group is finally destroyed, but not before aborting a Z-506B flying GS and inflicting a HX result (5:1 -3). This only opens up the road to Ioaninna and the Italian footsloggers shamble through the mountain passes onto the next Greek defensive position.

Allied Player Turn

The Greek and British Air Forces make a joint effort to shut down the sea supply route by taking the port of Valona out of action. Italian Cr-42s chase away the Blenheims while the Mixed Bomber force of the Greeks return to base some disorganised CR-32bis aircraft. Despite making it through the fighter and AA barriers, the Greeks drop their payloads well off target and return to base.

Game Report Balkan Front 1: Dec II 40

Axis player Turn

Determined to spend Christmas in Ioaninna, the Italian Expeditionary force launches it’s biggest offensive to date through the snow filled passes on the annoying little battle group blocking its path but again fail (5:1 -3 = AS). Benito rolls about a bit and tells off Clara for laughing at him. Kastoria and Arta are reinforced.

Allied Player Turn

By clever movement Arta is placed out of supply by the Greeks although an attack to dislodged from the town fails (2:1 -2 = AS). At Kastoria four Mountain Divisions fail to shift the Italians (AS). What are they putting in their pasta?

Game Report Balkan Front 1: Dec I 40

Axis player Turn

Bad weather slows the Italian drive to beef up the defenders in Arta with cavalry and Artillery caught short of the town. Elsewhere the foothills on the west of the Pindus Mountains are occupied by the invaders, providing a buffer to the defence. In the mountains around Ioaninna, Alpini and infantry try to drive out a small battlegroup of cavalry, mountaineers and artillery with 200 planes flying ground support overhead. Despite relatively good conditions for the attack, the determined Greeks dig in and hold the line (4:1 -3 = AS).

Allied Player Turn

The gutsy Greeks refuse to allow the Italian incursion to pollute the scared Hellenic soil for a day longer than necessary. Arta is attacked again but the Italians hold (2:1 -1 = AS). Southwest of Kastoria another attack fails (3:1 -3 = AS). Some good news is received when south-east of Egoumenitsa the 19th and 47th Divisions are destroyed in a HX result to attacking Greeks forces (3:1 -2).

Game Report Balkan Front 1: Nov II 40

Axis player Turn

Italian reinforcements arrive from the mainland at Valona and Durazzo. In the eastern frontline, Koritsa is occupied without a shot being fired to the chagrin of the Greeks. The effort towards Egoumenitsa continues with the shattered defenders being chased further from the front line (5:1 -1 = DR). The town is seized and in the exploitation phase Bersaglieri Motorcycle units and the Centauro cadre race down to seize Arta just before the Greek 4th Mountain Division advancing from Patrai can enter the town. Viva Il Duce!

Allied Player Turn

In desperation the Greek 4th and 5th Divisions attempt to drive the unsupported motorcycle and tankette troops out of Arta but are rebuffed (2:1 -1 = AS). A 1.5:1 -1 odds attack is launched against the neck of the Italian breakthrough at Egoumenitsa but the combined might of artillery, infantry and cavalry beat off the attackers (AR). The attempt to regain Kastoria fails badly (2:1 -2 = AR). The government in Athens is sent a reassurance from Britain that help is available if required

Game Report Balkan Front 1: Nov I 40

Axis player Turn

Mussolini’s vision of a new Roman Empire is given birth on the rocky slopes of the Pindus Mountains as the might of the Italian Army begins its march to Athens. The immediate targets are Ioannina and the western coastal strip. In the mountains the Alpini divisions and supporting Infantry rabble are held by a stubborn Greek Mountain defence (AS) of the 9th Division and 42nd Ev Regiment. Along the coast the Greek 8th Division is shattered but not before taking its toll on the tanks and armoured vehicles of the 131 Centauro Division with Infantry support (HX). The object of the drive in this region is Egoumenitsa.

Allied Player Turn

In Athens, the call to arms goes out. Troops hurriedly report to their designated depots and march bravely to the front line in the Pindus Mountains. The Metexas Line is manned to prevent the Bulgarians getting uppity about Thrace and a series of blood curdling speeches are made about drenching the Albanian valleys with Italian blood. To show their resolve, the Greeks High command launches a fierce attack on Koritsa across the border. Unfortunately the Italian and Albanian defenders are well dug in and the Greeks are sent reeling back beyond their start line (AR). Hanging his head in shame, the Greek commander sulks for a bit.

MARCH II 1938

Too good to be true? Sure was, and is fickle as ever: A wave of furious cold fronts has hit. Temperatures in the north have plummeted and torrential rains have pelted central and southern China. Seas are rough all along the coast.

Japanese Player Turn

A Japanese-sponsored provincial government of Honan has been installed at Kaifeng. The governors of Hopei, Shantung, and Honan now plan to discuss the formation of a regional governement of North China [see comment at end].

Don’t count your chicks before …, oh no, that was that eggs, wasn’t it? 11 Army, all posed to storm south from Yanku to take Linfen [last unconquered Honan dot city] and thereby “liberate” Shansi, had to hold their horses and buggies so as not to get stuck in mud. Didn’t get very far. Well, at least it now matters little that one entire division is still tied up restoring order in Yanku. Wait for another day! Not wait did 5 and Formosa Mountain Divisions, who defied the weather and conducted another successful guerrilla sweep in the Taiheng Mountains [3 pts eliminated].

After conferring with the supreme command, 2 Army in northern Honan opted against a Shensi offensive. Only one division pushed forward to the Shensi border to interdict the rail line to Linfen, the others were redirected toward the Yangtze [West China now no longer has a supply base as Lanchow and Linfen have ceased to be “connected.”]. One elite division was released and railed to Tunghan, where it is embarking.

In northern Kiangsu a merry chase is being enacted. A few Japanese reserve units now reinforced with more artillery are hunting down Chinese stragglers, only to find new gangs being recruited from the villages. Although the Japanese command had hoped to avoid this, it may become necessary to “pacify” the entire province to put a stop to such annoyance. [Kiangsu has a relatively high replacement rate that can be used to raise new KMT units in reference cities not yet conquered, of which there are quite a number. To conquer them is easy, but they must then be protected against recapture by guerrilleros or CCP regulars lest the new provincial government topples.]

Mop-up in the great Yangtze bend west of Nanking continued at its pace. A small KMT contingent is still holding out at the south shore of Lake Chao, its retreat route cut. Only a few stragglers now are left north of the river between Nanking and Hankow. Weather made it impossible to catch up with and
bag the greatest remaining prize: 5 Army HQ with two tank battalions and an artillery regiment that are racing for Hankow. River barges have been moved to a point upstream of Nanking so they can be used as ferries.

Severely hampered by mud, the Japanese troops facing Nanking found themselves not strong enough for a direct attack on the city. Instead, they bypassed it and reached the river on its upstream side, riding roughshod over a motley collection of KMT brigades, engineers, and factional rabble. Nanking is now completely isolated. Farther upstream, the way to Wuhu from the southeast is still blocked at Lake Ta Nan by a Corps of Chiang’s finest divisions.

On the road to Nanchang (in Kiangsi) the advance has run out of steam. Beefed up and well-supplied, the defenders are just too strong to be taken on by a single reinforced division at the end of a long, long supply line. How does one say no pasaran in Chinese? The Kure Marines stormed ashore again at the Fukien coast, seizing the little town of Putien with its magnificent harbor, easily evicting an overmatched garrison. The port will provide an excellent basis for an advance on Foochow. A serious mistake not to have had that port destroyed!

Chinese Player Turn

The respite provided by the weather made it possible to beef up the defenses of Linfen a bit more. On the other hand, the rains interfered with guerrilla sabotage in Hopei, making it ineffective.

The massed troops at the Shensi border spent most of their time glaring into empty space from their bunkers, waiting for attacks that didn’t come. Much like the Maytag man?

In northern Kiangsu, some of the hunted KMT troops went underground to form a new guerrilla base in the rice paddies near the big lakes. Now hide-and-seek has been added to the merry chase. When capture seems imminent, the hunted can just disappear from the face of the earth. It won’t win the
war, but it sure is sure fun to tweak noses of the mighty.

In the Great Yangtze bend, all but a few remnants at Lake Chao have reached the safety of the river. The debris that flooded back is being integrated into a strong defense front that follows the river from the vicinity of Nanchang to Hankow, which is being turned into a heavily fortified
bridgehead.

Farther downstream the retreat to Wuhu along the river continues, its eastern flank shielded KMT VII Corps, the victors of Lake Ta Nan, now absorbed by the reconstituted 1 Army. Another batch of supplies [GSPs] was brought in by barge from Hankow.

The garrison of Nanking stoically awaits its fate. A night air lift from Hankow brought in some badly needed supplies [3 GSPs].

At Yukiang in Kiangsi on the Hangchow-Nanchang road, a stalemate has developed. The Japanese thrust has been stopped cold, but a counterattack would require further reinforcements.

At Foochow, one brigade advanced toward the new Japanese Putien beachhead to delay any advance on the city from that direction. The best fighters of the resurrected Chinese-Soviet airforce have been stationed to cover Foochow and Amoy. They are still missing the favored I-16s, however, whose repair requires more spare parts from the Soviet Union [they were elim, need 2 ARPs for repair]. All quiet at the Canton front.

Comments

The North China regional government probably should have been installed long ago, last November. I had overlooked the geography rule 3.E.3 that makes East Hopei part of North China, letting its provincial government qualify as one of the three needed for formation of the regional government. I had gone by the Japanese Replacement Chart, on which E.Hopei is not listed in the North China puppet block. In game terms, no harm done. The Japanese would just have had one more destabilization point in January when the level dropped anyway, and would now have two or three more puppet brigades on the board. I still
feel the game works better not counting E.Hopei for the regional government, so as not to give the Japanese too much of an advantage with the stability level rolls early on. Perhaps Mark Royer will comment.

If this has short-changed the Japanese, I made a more serious mistake with my Chinese by not systematically destroying the sea port facilities in Chekiang, Fukien, and Kwangtung. In particular, the port of Putien should long have been demolished to remove a danger to Foochow. Even the ports of Swatow, Amoy, and Foochow should have been destroyed except for a 1 or 2 RE capacity to make it harder for the Japanese to evacuate their strong landing forces after a successful amphibious assault. In game terms, The Japanese can now capture Foochow with troops in supply through Putien. However, they could also easily take Foochow by direct amphibious assault, though at the expense of ResPts for landing craft.

I also see I overlooked a rule that gives the Japanese an advantage here and there, especially in guerrilla sweeps in the mountains: a +1 DRM for light divisions in attacks in some terrain including mountains. Still on a learning curve with this complex game.

MARCH I 1938

Glorious spring weather and calm seas in all of China! Too good to be
true?

Japanese Player Turn

A Kwangtung provincial puppet government has been installed in Canton’s City Hall. In the backwoods, however, Kwangtung troops under Gen. Qin Yong keep the faith and refuse to lay down their arms. The puppet government’s control is not likely ever to extend beyond Canton and its immediate vicinity and the port and city of Swatow.

The Shanghai Marines landed at Tsinkiang on Fukien’s coast. Supported by gunfire from small craft (1 RF) they easily overwhelmed the lone brigade that defended city and port. However, in the air over the city a Chinese squadron of obsolescent Hawk fighters scored a glorious victory: Evading the screen of escorts they descended like the hawks the are named for on the lumbering bombers from Formosa and shot down most of them at no cost to their own (one K). Revenge for the humiliating defeat in the air over Canton a while back!

Up north the attack on Yanku shifted into high gear. Railed forward, 11 Army HQ and the Formosa Mountain Division joined the fray. The city was surrounded and stormed, the renowned 5 Mountain Division once again in the lead. Many prisoners were taken. Perhaps no wonder after the tumultuous weeks gone by, a free-for-all of diverse factions ensued and Japanese soldiers merrily joined in [another rampage roll]. It will take time for order to be restored.

With the might of 11 Army concentrated on the attack on Yanku, only garrison troops were available for guerrilla sweeps in the mountains. Despite favorable weather they remained futile.

In northern Honan the offensive along the Yellow River continued. Loyang’s brave defenders, two elite KMT divisions and factional troops, were short of ammunition and could not hold the city [the scant supplies had been allotted to Yanku as more important]. Preparations for the formation of a provincial puppet government are under way in Kaifeng [all Honan dot cities now Japanese-held].

In northeastern Kiangsu an ad hoc taskforce of 1 Army veered eastward from its advance to the Yangtze to outflank the small contingent of Chinese that is retreating from the Old Yellow River. Isolated, out of supply, and about to be trapped, their fate seems to be sealed.

At Chao Lake in central Anhwei, two elite divisions of 1 Army caught up with a retreating KMT Corps and eliminated it as a fighting force. The way to the Yangtze is now open here, too.

At the Shanghai front the two-pronged offensive continues. In the north on the Yangtze south bank, fortified Chenchiang was stormed and Nanking, still strongly held, is in sight. Railway engineers and resources have been moved forward by river barges to cope with dismantled tracks. In the south the offensive fared less well. At Ta Nan Lake the advance on Wuhu was stopped dead by the heroic resistance of a KMT division with factional support [AS]. This small Chinese victory may gain enough time for the retreat of the strong forces still in and around Nanking.

Short of Yukiang on the Hangchow-Nanchang road, reassembled 9 Division smashed into rearguards that had blown bridges and forced them to retreat with losses (DH). However, the tempo of the advance has drastically slowed, with still 60 miles to go to Nanchang.

At Swatow on the Formosa Strait coast, 11 Division was shipped home on higher orders and was replaced by a reserve brigade, much to the furor of the local commander. However, the reservists arrived full of spunk and, with naval gunfire support, destroyed a hapless Kwangtung brigade west of the city.

Dive bombers from 5th Fleet carriers attacked the port of Amoy and sank the left-overs of the once proud Chinese Navy. Only a few coastal and river barges remain, almost all of them bottled up on the Yangtze and Hsi.

Chinese Player Turn

Having learned from bitter experience, Chiang Kai-Shek showered most of his provincial governors with gifts generous enough to guarantee their loyalty.
[2 Res Pts each except where defection would no longer matter. Since the Japanese are too short of Res Pts to counter-bribe, this ensures success].

Far up north in Shahar, the Shansi forces kept up their waiting game in the mountains in anticipation of the time when the guerrilla bases have again built up enough strength for another Tet-style offensive. However, their Muslim comrades, who had broken all rules by advancing beyond their territory, were ordered home to Ningsia and Lanchow. [I had overlooked their home territory
restriction, but no harm was done.]

In Shansi, whatever could be scraped together was rushed to Linfen [last unconquered Shansi dot city] for a last stand. South of the mountains, the covering forces west of Loyang were pulled back to the Shensi border, where the KMT and factional garrison of that province is setting up a very strong
defense to block the way to Siking.

North of the Yangtze, the few scattered remnants scrambled for the safety of the Great River. Most of them reached the vicinity of Hankow, where the remainder of the KMT elite forces has now been concentrated. Rearguards destroy all bridges.

In Nanking a strong rearguard has been left behind. All else is attempting to escape the noose by hurrying as best can along the Yangtze toward Wuhu, already threatened from the southeast. Whoever cannot make it will be trapped with his back against the river. The rail ferry at Wuhu has been destroyed in anticipation of attempts by Japanese to seize it and cross over from the north bank to link up with their brethren advancing from Shanghai.

In Kiangsi, one KMT division and artillery have been unloaded from barges at Nanchang and are on their way to stop the Japanese advance along the Hangchow-Nanchang road. Finding the Hsi river blocked by Japanese gunboats, a contingent including artillery and destined for the Canton area was disembarked at
Linchow for a long overland march to where they can be of use.

Comments

The Tsinkiang landing had been planned for February I but had to be postponed because of gales in the South China Sea. The loss of the Formosa bombers in that operation has fairly far-reaching consequences: In the initial phase the ample ARPs were reduced for carry-over, so there is no chance to
rebuild an eliminated air unit until the next batch is received in May. Moreover, the air unit in the elim box in April I will earn the Chinese 1/2 stabilization point!

After the capture of Loyang the Japanese command faces a dilemma. Should or shouldn’t they continue their offensive into Shensi in an attempt to take Siking? The trouble is that an advance into Shensi will have to cope with the very strong garrison that includes six first-line KMT divisions. A massive
army would be needed and would have to operate far from its supply base (using up precious attack supply). The troops would be sorely missed elsewhere. Moreover, they would be fighting an enemy that is tied down on orders to watch the CCP guerrilla base farther north and could be left to wither on the vine. Is Siking worth the cost?

The Chinese command has been facing its own dilemma all along. Should or shouldn’t they liquidate that obnoxious guerrilla base in order to free the substantial KMT garrison for use elsewhere? Enough troops are available, but several sweeps would be required in the difficult terrain (loess hills, -2 DRM even in fair weather), and this would seriously antagonize public opinion (one destabilization point incurred for each sweep); also, the base serves a good purpose as a safe breeding ground for CCP regulars that can then drift into Shansi and Hopei to cause grief for the Japanese or spawn new guerrilla bases where the old ones have succumbed to Japanese sweeps.

FEBRUARY II 1938

FEBRUARY II 1938

The weather proved fickle as ever: Storms and gales have passed and sunshine has melted snow and dried mud. Only the Gobi still has freezing temperatures. An early spring this year?

Japanese Player Turn

The landing craft were at it again, this time at Swatow. Sasebo and Kure Marines and 3 and 11 Divisions stormed ashore right at the city, supported by 5th Fleet’s guns, and overwhelmed the defenders. The Soviet-Chinese Kwangtung airforce was prepared and tried to take on the transports, but took a terrible beating from the IJN carrier fighters and the ships flak (2K 2A versus only 1A, an incredible streak of lucky rolls for the Japanese). 3 Division immediately reembarked [in exploitation] and was ferried back to Formosa.
[To attack Swatow directly was a calculated risk. Even if all accruing new Kwangtung units were placed at the city, good odds seemed attainable in good weather at the time the landing was planned. Rough seas and mud would have necessitated cancellation. Swatow being the only dot or major Kwangtung city besides Canton, a puppet government will be installed next turn.]

Up north, a strong force of three divisions broke the road block barring the advance on Yanku. A sweep headed by 5 Mountain Division routed some guerrilleros in the Taifeng mountains, but their base remained intact, if weakened. 11 Army HQ and the Formosa Mountain Division were transferred to
Tientsin.

In Honan, 2 Army began to concentrate for a new offensive to take Loyang [last unconquered Honan dot city]. Meanwhile, 1 Army continued its advance through southern Honan and northern Kiangsi toward the Yangtze river. Some factional rearguards were overwhelmed. Spearheads reached the river opposite Nanking. Engineers contend with the extensive bridge and rail destructions.

Now under command of the Central China HQ the troops of the Shanghai front surged forward across the Grand Canal both north and south of Lake Tai, inflicting losses and taking prisoners. Railway engineers and resources were shipped to Shanghai in preparation for rebuilding of the dismantled Chengchiang-Nanking rail line.

To guard against incursions from the mountains, all Chekiang cities were garrisoned. One impudent KMT brigade that had ventured too close to the Hangchow-Nanchang rail line was wiped out. The troops in Kwangtung have settled to all-around defenses of Canton, Sunwul, and Swatow. A second river flotilla was sent to the Hsi to block it effectively all the way from the estuary to Tsangwei.

Much to the displeasure of the China command, troops including artillery again had to be withdrawn. Strong protests were launched in Tokyo, but so far to little avail.

Chinese Player Turn

In the north, Muslim and Shansi factional troops, finding no cheap targets, holed up in the Wutai mountains within striking distance of Peiping. Yanku was reinforced and is bracing for the inevitable Japanese attack. The Peiping-Chengchow rail line was sabotaged north of the Wei river.

The CCP Shensi guerrilla base sent out a major force that is preparing to form regular CCP units.

In northern Honan the position blocking the road to Loyang and the city itself were reinforced. However, the Japanese 2 Army executed a flanking attack earlier than expected [reaction phase] and is now threatening the city.

Farther south, a general retreat at best possible speed toward the Yangtze is in progress. All important bridges are being blown up. Factional units act as rearguards. Only the fact that the enemy is fully occupied elsewhere has made it possible to avoid serious losses.

A general retreat has also been ordered for the Shanghai front. The best divisions have been pulled out of line while sacrificial rearguards block the roads. A stronger detachment has been left in fortified Chengchiang to delay the Japanese advance on Nanking along the Yangtze south bank.

River and rail transport was used to beef up the blocking position forward of Yukiang on the Hangchow-Nanchang rail line. Unless strongly reinforced, the Japanese will now find at very hard to make any further progress here.

All quiet in Kwangtung.

Comments

An interesting situation is developing in Kwangtung. Japan has installed a provincial puppet government, but the Chinese-controlled Kwangtung faction is still very much alive and will keep recruiting as long as at least one reference city in the province is still unconquered—in all likelihood indefinitely because the Japanese can hardly afford to capture the entire vast province and hold all its cities against incursions from elsewhere and by guerrilleros, for very little return. We might see provincial Kwangtung puppet units fighting factional Kwangtungese. Farther down the line It could conceivably happen, however, that the faction turns puppet as the Chinese will probably not spend scarce Res pts to keep it in line. If so, there will be units of the provincial puppet government and of the Japanese-controlled puppet factions side by side, possibly even fighting jointly, as now in Shantung. [The rules clearly say or imply hat formation of a provincial puppet government does not affect the provincial faction, and Mark Royer has confirmed that this is indeed intended.]

FEBRUARY I 1938

Don’t trust anything that starts with “w,” such as weapons, warlords, wonder drugs, women, least of all weather! Winter gales, bad for Navy Seals, are at it again in the South China Sea, forcing cancellation of what had been planned for the Shanghai Marines. Polar cold and snow in the northwest,
snow or wintry weather in central China, mud in the south, gales or rough seas along the coast. Let’s book a trip to New Zealand (or to the Dolomites, where I had great time just about then).

Japanese Player Turn

To counter the incursion by Muslim and Shansi troops into Shahar, local security forces in that province, Jehol, and northern Hopei were spread out to cover cities and rail lines. This enemy maneuver is little more than a nuisance as even a minimal garrison will suffice to discourage attack. It cannot be disregarded entirely, however, because these gangs might block a rail line needed to counter another Tet Offensive.

Despite the atrocious weather, a maximum sweep was conducted against the remaining, already weakened KMT guerrilla base in the Hopei canal country and succeeded in wiping it out.

On the road to Yanku the next road block was cleared, and the troops are now emerging from the mountains into the foothills.

Farther south, 2 Army concentrated its best west of Chengchow in preparation for an advance on Loyang [last unconquered Honan dot city]. The Yellow River bridges at Chengchow and Taifeng were finally repaired.

1 Army in east-central Honan began collecting its forces that had been widely scattered in the destruction of KMT 1 Army. Vanguards resumed the advance toward the Yangtze and Nanking, tangling with a few factional troops that were too late to escape after destroying rail lines and bridges.

At the Shanghai front north of Lake Tai, from where a regiment of heavy artillery had to be withdrawn, the troops held their positions at the Grand Canal. South of Lake Tai, desperate measures were called for. Three divisions destined elsewhere, including the Formosa Mountain Division, were diverted to Hangchow and Chinshiawei and launched into the flank of the KMT forces advancing on Shanghai, smashing them in the process. At the cost of a delay in other plans, a crisis has been averted.

In Kiangsi, the forward elements of 9 Division, now well beyond their supply range, are continuing their advance toward Nanchang. Shangjao was taken with support by aircraft which, despite the weather, delivered what was expected.

Landing craft were dispatched to Formosa and started embarking two infantry divisions at Tainan. The Sasebo and Kure Marines embarked on Marus at Takao. Obviously, something is in the offing.

Chinese Player Turn

Desperate to mend his fences, Chiang Kai-Shek traveled humbly to Chungking bearing gifts to lure the recalcitrant governor of Szechwan back into the fold (8 res pts). In Shansi, his envoy Chan Kit-Yan made clever use of Lin Piao’s being fully occupied with bringing order to the shambles of his failed Tet Offensive to patch up relations with warlord Yen Hsi-Shan by delivering another generous bribe (another 8 res pts). Both efforts bore fruit, and all provinces and factions are again cooperating. [The Japanese had absolutely no res pts to spare for attempting to counter-bribe.]

In Shahar and northern Hopei, the Muslim and Shansi gangs roamed unchecked but were unable to do any significant damage [out and supply and isolated they cannot even break rail lines for lack of sufficient MPs]. The CCP 120 cadre established a new guerrilla base in the northeastern Wutai Mountains within striking distance of Peiping. Sabotage attempts by guerrilleros from the base in the Taiheng Mountains remained fruitless.

In the foothills west of the Ladies’ Pass yet another and probably last road block was set up to delay the inexorable Japanese advance on Yanku.

North of the Yangtze, only screens were kept to protect engineers still busy with dismantling railway tracks. The troops between the big lakes and the Kiangsu coast also slowly gave ground so as not to be cut off. A new KMT guerrilla base has been set up in the rice paddies east of Lake Tasung.

The Shanghai front is in general retreat toward Chengchiang, Wuhu, and Ningkwo. Nanking is being prepared for a last stand to delay the Japanese onslaught.

In Kiangsi, reserves were thrown in to block any further Japanese advance along the Hangchow-Nanchang axis.

The garrisons of the South China Sea ports were strengthened with new draftees. Yet, none of them stands much of a chance against a Japanese landing.

The defenses north of Canton are now in place.

Comments

The landing of the Shanghai Marines that was cancelled because of stormy seas had been planned for Tsinkiang, held by only a security brigade. Tsinkiang with its fairly large port is a good base for operations against Amoy.

The outcome of the Jan I 38 stability level check was even closer than originally thought. I had counted the puppet government of Hopei, installed after the previous check, as contributing a destabilization point, but became doubtful after reading the rules again more carefully. Mark Royer has now confirmed that only factions turning puppet through cooperation rolls are counted, not any provincial puppet governments installed by the Japanese when all major and dot cities in the province have been captured. Unless before April Chiang Kai-Shek is forced to move his government from Hankow or
Loyang is captured and a North-China regional government is installed, the Apr I 38 check will be even closer. (As in Jan I, the Japanese will get the maximum possible points for cities, but the loss of a reserve brigade near Hangchow will contribute 1/2 stabilization point.)

JANUARY II 1938

While the extreme northwest is still suffering from bitter cold, unseasonably mild weather has returned to north and central china. The winds have subsided.

Japanese Player Turn

In Shahar and Mongolia the puppet troops are huddling in their cities. Meanwhile, 5 Mountain Division made good use of the break in the weather to stage a sweep in the Wutai Mountains that found and wiped out the guerrilla base weakened by Tet. The KMT base in the plain survived another sweep, but is now seriously depleted. To add to Japanese strength in Hopei, reinforcements were brought in by rail from 1 Army at Tungshan.

2. Army at Shengchow and Taifeng stayed in place awaiting repair of the Yellow River bridges, merely contributing a few units to the guerrilla sweeps. 1. Army west of Tungshan, favored by the improved weather, completed the mop-up of survivors of once-proud Chinese 1 Army, truly a “Destruction of Army Center,” but at a cost [high-factor EX and HX]. Two divisions were detached to Lienyunkang and embarked (in exploitation), another was rebuilt from its cadre at Tunghai with replacements that had been flown and shipped in from the home country. The mop-up and the destruction of all bridges in the area prevented more than vanguards from advancing toward Nanking. Pengpu, defended only by factional rearguards, was taken.

In northern Kiangsi between Lake Hung Tze and the sea the a semblance of front begins to take shape along the old course of the Yellow River.

At the Shanghai front, seriously weakened by the withdrawal of 1 Division, the troops north of Lake Tai were taken back behind the Grand Canal in expectation of a Chinese counteroffensive— or is that a transparent ploy to lure KMT VII Corp into a trap from which retreat will be hard when Nanking is captured from the north? South of the lakes, the two reserve divisions in line also gave ground to occupy better defense positions in the line Wuhsing-Hangchow.

At the Chekiang coast, units of 9 Division and its reserve mopped up on the Yungkia road. The bulk of the division headed back inland to catch up with the contingent advancing into Kiangsi toward Nanchang. These troops, now out on a limb, were reinforced by an artillery regiment and pushed on, knocked out in
a bloody fight (EX) a KMT division sent to stop them, and are now approaching Shangjao.

The Formosa Mountain Division at Taihoku [today’s Taipei] was readied for shipment to Hopei.

With improved weather the air raids on shipping in Amoy and Minchow were resumed. Planes from Formosa and the carriers sank shipping and some destroyer escorts. Little is now left of the Chinese fleet.

Chinese Player Turn

Making use of the excellent weather, Shansi and Muslim troops sallied forth northwestward beyond Talung at the Shahar border. In the Wutai Mountains of northern Shansi the CCP 120 cadre also moved northwest, aiming to establish a guerrilla base within range of Peiping. Loyal factional troops set up one more roadblock west of the Ladies’ Pass on the approach to Yanku, which is now strongly garrisoned.

Desperate to achieve at least one military success he can point to, Chiang Kai-Shek ordered his troops around Nanking to attack. One thrust aimed northward in the direction of Pengpu was repulsed (AS), the other and stronger one toward Shanghai took the Japanese by surprise in that it was launched south rather than north of Lake Tai. It rolled over the weak screen of reserve brigades (DH against one of them) and the Grand Canal. The way to Shanghai, just 25 miles away, is open! Meanwhile, dismantling of rail tracks around Nanking continued.

In Kiangsi, Shangjao on the road to Nanchang was hurriedly reinforced in an effort to stop the dangerous incursion, already uncomfortably close to the province’s heartland around Lake Pu Yang.

In the Yunwu Mountains north of Canton a strong defense position is being established. Preparations for a fall-back position 60 miles farther north at Shuichow have been initiated. The ports along the Formosa Strait and South China Sea are bracing for the next amphibious assault, only the Gods know
where.

Comments

Good set-up of guerrilla bases is an art by itself. The base must by within range (10 hexes, with mountains etc. counting double) of the most important objectives, and should be in the best defensive terrain: the mountains if there are any. A die roll modifier of -2 and the fact that attackers except scarce mountain units are halved are the best defense against sweeps! This is very important because once a base far from the current front is eliminated, another one to take its place is not easily established. The best way appears to be to form some regular CCP units from guerrilleros of a nearby base and have these move to the right place, but movement through open terrain makes them vulnerable and is slow in mountains. Also, care must be taken not to activate base before it is strong enough to
withstand a sweep or two.

« Older posts Newer posts »