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At the Shanghai front north of Lake Tai, from where a regiment of heavy artillery had to be withdrawn, the troops held their positions at the Grand Canal.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.
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.)