Japanese Player Turn

Out of partience with a deeply divided Tokyo government, Japanese troop
commanders in Manchuria took matters into their own hands and staged
massive raids into the Beijing-Tientsin District of China. Clashes
snowballed, and all-out war sems at hand, faster than the hotheads may have
wished, for the monsoon season is far from over and the going or rather
slushing in deep mud is agonizing.

The main Japanese thrust was launched into Tientsin by the elite 20 Light
Infantry Divison with ample support by siege artillery, railed right into
the city under the noses of the feeble Chinese “peacekeepers.” Additional
forces and supplies were shipped into Tientsin’s port, the city was quickly
cleared, and the vaunted 20th secured the railway bridge over the Hai and
gained a solid foothold on the far bank.

A secondary thrust was directed into Peiping from Chengte. Here,
resistance was a bit stiffer. The downtown and industrial areas were
secured, but scattered Chinese remnants are still clinging to the
northwestern suburbs.

The week has not been kind to the National Airforce. Bombers from Weihsien
in Shantung Province on patrol failed to spot the Tientsin-bound convoys
that were ducking in and out of rain squalls, but aircraft from the
escorting carriers followed them home and bombed them out of existence on
the ground (overkill: 2 hits on a 1-capacity base). At Tientsin’s Hai
bridge the KMT fly-boys attempted to provide air support. Japanese fighter
pilot superiority exacted a fierce toll: Half the escorting KMT fighters
went down in flames, as did some of the bombers (1K, 2A for no Jap losses).

While having gained firm control over the Peiping-Tientsin district, the
invaders now face quite a slugging match through mud and flooded rice
paddies if they wish to continue their advance. The moderates in Tokyo are
distressed. If at all, they would have preferred to see the war started
after the monsoon season was over.

Meanwhile, the small Japanese naval troop contingent in Shanghai’s
International Concession have kept their peace. They feel reasonably secure
under their mighty ships’ guns, but are not strong enough to risk expanding
their perimeter, nor are they encouraged to do so by their superiors, who
have enough other problems.

Chinese Player Turn

A rude awakening for the National government! But Generalissimo Chiang
Kai-Chek took matters into his hand very quickly. His first order of
business was to appoint his trusted advisor Chen Jia-Ming as infrastructure
Tsar and accord him first call on transport, rear-echelon troops, and
resources. Rolling stock and river transport were used to the utmost to
ferry administrators and small contingents of KMT troops to cities and
production centers throughout all of China to build up a nation-wide supply
net as quickly as possible and shield it against local warlords’ appetites
(a small KMT unit can “control” a city even if it shares it with any number
of factional troops that meet “garrison” requirements.) Except in the
southermost provinces this job is now all but completed. Also, railway
engineers have begun upgrading the strategically important Nanking-Tientsin
rail line, starting from Nanking.

At Tientsin and Peiping the poorly equipped and incompetently led
divisions controlled by a plethora of local warlords reeled under the
Japanese onslaught, but managed to reestablish a coherent front. Rail lines
were damaged and some bridges were blown. The best ally proved to be the
monsoon weather.

Whatever rolling stock was not requisitioned by Chen Jia-Ming was used to
rail some first-line infantry divisions of the “Generalissimo’s Own” elite
from the Nanking area forward in anticipation of a continued Japanese
advance from Tientsin. They will come too late for setting up a defense in
the rice paddies, but even in open terrain they might prove a hindrance to
the Japanese, who will have to contend with supply problems when advancing
into Shantung and Kuangsi.

In Shanghai, KMT and other troops, no longer shackled by treaty
obligations, cautiously felt they way into the city. However, they are
still under orders not to attack the Japanese in the International
Concession and to avoid any provocation.

Far west in Shensi Province, the strong, well disciplined Communist 8
Route Army under Lin Piao started quick-step marching northeastward. Their
suspected goal is to set up guerrilla bases in Honan and Hopei Provinces
and to threaten the lines of communication of any Japanese advance
southward from Tientsin.

Appeals for help went out from the National government to the Western
Nations and the Soviet Union, but so far only France has lent a sympathetic
ear and is channeling some shipments of aid to be picked up at Haiphong’s
port in French Indo-China. Britain and the U.S. seem loath to get involved
as long as their direct interests are not threatened, and Stalin may be
well pleased seeing a hostile Japan getting embroiled into what promises to
be a drawn-out conflict with the Chinese Nationalists, for whom he has no
sympathy either. But someone is not satisfied and intends to do something
about it: Claire Chenault, the Generalissimo’s chief air advisor and an
avid wargamer is rumored to work on constituting his own private airforce
of American volunteers, to be called the Flying Buffalos.