NOVEMBER I 1937
Weather remained pleasant. For a change, even plagued Formosa is seeing
Japanese Player Turn
The powerful 5 Mountain Division has been dispatched to the
mountains of Jehol to hunt down the roaming survivors of the Chinese 218 Division before
they can cause serious mischief.
Two divisions of 2 Army with a few tanks in support overwhelmed weak resistance in the Ladies’ Pass and continued their advance toward Yanku, now facing CCP 120 Division.
The main body of 2 Army brushed aside factional rearguards and closed to
the Wei, the last river before the Great Yellow, the “Mother of China.” Although engineers are working overtime and newly enlisted Hopei’s are put to good use, rail traffic problems persist [the now accruing puppet replacements are being taken as construction units].
1 Army pushed forward from Tsinan hard on the heels of the retreating Chinese. Troops from the Shantung peninsula also advanced, approaching Lake Weishan and the Grand Canal. The seaboard city of Tunghai was secured and patrols are heading for the large port of Lienyunkang, where Chinese Commander Leu’s torpedoboats are still holed up.
Around Shanghai the general offensive was continued with two major thrusts. In the north the Chinese position on the neck of land between Yangtze and Lake Tai was penetrated. Forward elements reached the strategic rail line to Nanking, cutting off the best retreat route of the KMT troops still in and around Wuhsien. Meanwhile, 9 Division in the south attacked across the Grand Canal and smashed into Hangchow before hurriedly summoned reinforcements had time to arrive. Among the prisoners: the Marines of Leu Force. Their capture is a set-back for any Chinese amphibious ambitions [fragile, one of only two amphibious units].
Apparently, word of what is happening in Shanghai spread to Hangchow, and events took a similarly ugly turn. It will take time before 9 Division is again in control and can resume its advance [another rampage roll of “1”]. Hangchow with its splendid historic pagodas and palaces, its Xi Hu [West Lake] strewn with little island housing tea pavilions from sumptuous olden times, its green hills on whose slopes they say China’s best tea is grown, is called the
“City of Heaven” and is one of not many Chinese (and American, for that matter) cities with real charm. May its treasures survive this rampage. [Incidentally, the hex southeast of the city should be rough at least: It is hills, wood-covered except for the tea plantations. And war damage was actually less than that wrought by Chairman Mao’s Great Cultural Revolution some decades later. Today, most has been repaired.]
Almost unnoticed over these dramatic developments, the mighty Japanese 5th Fleet has sallied forth into the South China Sea. It includes at least two aircraft carriers, two battleships, a number of troop-laden Maru’s, and a whole fleet of landing craft. Canton bound? Anyone’s guess.
Chinese Player Turn
Despite the grim situation, all provinces and warlords are still toeing the line, though not without some enticements to do so (1 res pt to each of the four most critical provinces). [There have been comments that “3” on 2D6 for downward shift of cooperation level is still too high. In this game it seems to work fine. If the Chinese spend 1 res pt for each province that really matters, the Japanese would need a “2” for a downward shift, a chance of only 2.78%. Any Japanese res pt bids can be offset with 1 pt for every 2 Japanese pts. Lastly, with another
3 res pts buy-off the Chinese have a 50% chance of reversal and an unfavorable result. At a very modest res pt expenditure, the total chance of an important province becoming uncooperative is only 1 in 72, or 1.39%.]
In Shansi, a KMT cavalry division and assorted smaller units have holed up in Yanku in expectation of the Japanese. CCP 120 Division has taken up a blocking position on the approaches to the city. Good cooperation by the Communists, as a rare exception. Seeing that the threat of an advance on Yanku from the north has disappeared, Lin Piao dissolved the CCP 129 and sent its soldiers into the mountains to train for guerrilla warfare in Hopei
[punctiliously speaking, guerrilla already is warfare, and what we call a guerrilla or partisan is a guerrillero).
In Honan, III KMT Corps has completed its retreat behind the Yellow River. The last bridge has been blown. Only a rearguard of Shansi cavalry has been left behind to blow the railway bridge over the Wei. 4 Army has assumed command over this front sector. Guerrilla activity increased dramatically with blowing up of trains and tracks near Peiping, Tientsin, and Shihkiachuang.
South of Tsinan, 1 Army with II Corps is in full retreat to the Grand Canal and Lake Weishan. One KMT division and a collection of factional troops, hemmed in on both flanks, were unable to keep up and face annihilation. The screening forces in southern Shantung are also falling back toward the Grand Canal. The problem developing here is that the Army’s left wing, southwest of
Tsinan, no longer has a rail line straight back to rely on.On the Shanghai front, the northern wing has been taken back to a blocking position on the isthmus between Yangtze and Lake Yangcheng forward of Chenchiang, just 40 miles short of Nanking. A fortress brigade has been left behind as garrison of the fortress of Chiangyin that guards a possible Yangtze crossing site. What is left of the southern wing of the front retreatedwestward into the hills and mountains toward Wuhu. Screening forces still are positioned on the road to Shaohsing and Kinhwa.
Canton is being hurriedly reinforced by whatever can be summoned from near and far. Also, the relatively safe northern districts of the city are being stripped of combat troops to strengthen the ocean-front defenses. Along the Hsi estuary, troops have been posted to stop or at least delay any invaders short of the city proper. The few torpedo- and gunboats stationed at Canton have sortied to patrol the approaches. A timely succor arrived at the city’s airport, courtesy Uncle Joe: I-152 fighters and SB-2 bombers, some complete with “volunteer” Soviet pilots, some to be flown by Chinese. As the Japanese 5th Fleet departed for the South China Sea, Commander Leu’s torpedoboats used the opportunity to sneak out of Lienyunkang (in Shantung) and make for ports in Fukien, just in time before Japanese troops arrived.
Where is, repeat where is, Fifth Fleet? The world wonders (even though not on the anniversary of Balaclava and Leyte Gulf).