Wow! That “blue northern” from the Gobi has hit! Winter weather with
massive storms has moved into north and central China with a vengeance and a
foot or so of snow in many places. Gale-force winds along the entire coast. In
the south, the monsoon season got off to an untimely early start with fierce
rain storms (weather roll “6”).
Japanese Player Turn
Oh my! The troops of Divine Wind ashore at Canton still have not secured a port and, because of the gale, “surf is up” and the landing craft cannot get to the beaches. Worse, wallowing in high swells the ships in the estuary can’t fire accurately [in storms, no non-amphibious landings at beaches even from LCs, and NGS quartered]. Divine Wind? My foot, more like a blast from hell. Well well, the best-laid plans of mice and men …… (or was that cabbages and kings??). Actually, the rain is a blessing in disguise: While having not that much effect on the fighting in the city, it will make it a lot harder for Chinese reinforcements and supplies to get through across that rail break! The troops ashore, though, don’t quite see it that way.
Despite the weather, Adm. Nagumo ordered an all-out attack, but not on the strongly defended harbor district (hit them where they ain’t!). Against weak opposition his troops seized the downtown area and the northeast. Moreover, 3 Division advanced beyond the city limits to place itself astride the railway from the interior [in exploitation], the defender’s lifeline. This may seal the fate of the city, but at a price: Ammunition is now almost completely exhausted. However, relief is in sight: The Shanghai Marines crossed the main arm of the Hsi river on coastal barges and, supported by fire from
the gunboats, stormed the river port of Sunwul [G4:4607]. [I am assuming the port to be in the hex where printed and on the great river side, not in the adjacent hex to the east into which that little arrow is pointing. The garrison missed blowing the bridge while the opposite shore was still Chinese-owned, so it could not move to the adjacent hex to block the crossing without leaving the intact bridge unguarded]. Finally a port, and the overworked landing craft can now be released. [The plan should in the first place have included a landing at Sunwul on D-Day with support from an RF if needed.] The gunboats then moved upriver to block any barge traffic from the west. Canton is now cut off from the supply net. Weather prevented any major air activities here and elsewhere.
Meanwhile up north on the Shansi border, 14 and 108 Divisions continued cleaning up around the Ladies’ Pass. By good fortune, 5 Mountain Division was close to Peiping, available for quick rail transport to south of Shihkiachuang to deal with that impertinent CCP brigade. In accustomed efficiency the 5th
wiped it out.
2. Army, hamstrung by supply problems, managed to bring forward one ammunition convoy. This made it possible to conduct a limited but highly successful operation against the west wing of the troubled KMT 1 Army: another KMT Corps outflanked and decimated. Meanwhile the Japanese 1 Army, able to rail ammunition forward after the Yellow River bridge at Tsinan had been rebuilt with help of civilian labor, concentrated on Tungshan and overwhelmed its brave defenders. The city remained quiet: too cold for rioting! [no garrison required].
[We are changing Optional Rule 44.F. The idea, based on what historically happened to Nanking, is a colorful touch, but a two-thirds chance of rampage is apt to make it occur more often than warranted. We’ll give the roll a +2 modifier. So far that would have made no difference as past rolls
never included a “3” or “4.”]
A reserve division was rushed by sea to Tunghai to prevent the Chinese from reoccupying the important ports. Another is tangling with the few Chinese brigades that attempted to advance into the open left flank of 1 Army just east of the Grand Canal.
Along the Shanghai-Nanking axis another limited attack was made and succeeded in forcing the defenders back a few miles onto fortified Chengchiang. Both sides here lack ammunition and supplies for any major operation.
In Chekiang, 9 Division force-marched toward Yungkia [major port and last still Chinese-held Chekiang dot city] and is closing up to the defenses at the Wu river gorge about 20 miles short of the city [yes, Wu, not Han as I misstated earlier]. One brigade of 9 Reserve Division continued unopposed
southwestward and reached Kinhwa, the other followed its parent toward Yungkia. An MG battalion and artillery regiment secured Ningpo and Chinhai.
Chinese Player Turn.
Gen. Wu in Canton sees his chances fade. To add to his troubles, the move of 3 Division to the Changsha rail line threatens his line of communications. As a riposte, he moved one of his precious few divisions out of the city [to G4:4107] to block a further envelopment by 3 Division and so forestall isolation [with the Hsi blocked by gunboats and 3 Division on the railway to Changsha, Canton is no longer part of a supply net, but not yet isolated as a 14-hex LoC can still reach a point in general supply traced to a port on a Yangtze tributary]. While preparing for a last stand in the harbor district and having materiel and industrial installations destroyed, Gen. Wu has ordered Swatow to be reinforced against another amphibious landing.
[Swatow is the only Kwangtung dot city, so its fall after that of Canton would trigger
the formation of a Kwangtung puppet government].
What did Marechal Foch say in World War I? My center is giving way, my right is pushed back, situation excellent, I shall attack! Alas, poor Gen. Wu has nothing left to attack with.
Meanwhile up north, Lin Piao in Hopei, unfazed by the defeat of his regulars near Shihkiachuang but deeply concerned about the plight 1 Army is in, decided to launch his long-planned Tet Offensive one month early. This is a massive effort to wreak havoc with Japanese supply lines through Hopei and attempt to topple the puppet government of that province by capture of at least one of its cities. Most of the guerrilleros from the three CCP and one KMT bases in the mountains and the canal country came out of the woodwork and are threatening to take over several weakly guarded or unguarded cities along the Peiping-Chengchow and Tientsin-Tsinan rail lines, much to the consternation
and near-panic of the local authorities. Will this coup succeed?
Around the Ladies’ Pass, factional troops too far off to join Tet have taken to the relative safety of the mountains. Also, the remnants of CCP 120 Division have been kept back as a reserve. Yanku has been reinforced by loyal factional troops (MNF).
All quiet at 4 Army [should really by 3 Army, took the wrong HQ counter], which was under no pressure and kept its positions, absorbing reinforcements sent by still loyal warlods. It was able to do so because the Japanese concentrated on hapless 1 Army while leaving only a screen to shield Kaifeng and Chengchow. This battered Army suffered further blows on both its right and left wings and is now in serious danger of being encircled. The snow slows the attackers, but impedes a retreat even more if there is no rail line or road to the rear. As a desperate measure, two KMT divisions were left
behind to delay the Japanese and gain time for the main body to attempt to extricate
The operation to push into Japanese 2 Army’s open flank east of the Grand Canal and seize the ports had to be given up. It succeeded only in compelling the enemy to divert some forces and shipping that he could have used better elsewhere.
Forward of Nanking, KMT VII Corps engineers have started to dismantle rails along the Shanghai-Nanking line. No combat actions here, but reinforcements and ammunition have been promised.
In the face of the threat posed by Japanese 9 Division, the Chekiang port city of Yungkia has been reinforced with new draftees.
When invading a port with rivers and river ports around, as at Canton, never omit to take along your RFs and RTs. They can tread where TFs can’t and NTs can only if there is a port upstream. Moreover, once riverbanks have been secured, the RTs can function as ferries and as poor-man’s landing craft.
True, a supported Chinese division can block access to a river, but the Chinese
rarely have one to spare (artillery stacked with an unsupported division will not
As the Chinese, when an invasion threatens, do take care to have either such a supported division at hand or an RF that blocks access to the river by sitting on a river hexside near the estuary (can be dislodged only by air attack).
As the Chinese, don’t forget that your engineers and construction workers can “dismantle” rail lines. It takes a little longer than just to break them, but you gain 1/3 res pt per hex and your opponent must first “repair” them and then spend 1 res pt per hex to rebuild. Not a bad deal at all!
The idea of a guerrilla “Tet offensive” is to build up massive strength, then start a saturation attack on the rail lines and cities when weather has turned poor and Japanese might has moved far out of the area. The hope is to swamp Japanese security and achieve success at least at one point. If a city (even a reference city) in a Japanese puppet province is captured, the puppet government falls and all puppet units are lost with it. The government (or another one) reappears in the next turn if all major and dot cities are still held by the Japanese, but the lost units do not return. Moreover, a strand in the rail net is cut at that point, possibly breaking the net into sections and leaving an army at the front with little or no rail capacity until the city is recaptured. Since the guerrilleros must be placed after the combat phase and not on rail lines or in cities, the actual attacks cannot be made until the next turn, however. Here, the Tet Offensive was started earlier than planned, in an attempt to stave off the threatening encirclement of 1 Army in central Honan. To see whether the guerrilleros were already strong enough to achieve the planned saturation, we must await the next Japanese turn.
The game map of the Canton area does not quite correspond to the maps I have seen (e.g., in Encyclopedia Britannica), but sure makes for challenging play. And then, I’ve never been there myself, my maps are all more recent, and floods may have seriously altered the lay of the land after 1937-41. I suspect the Hsi road bridges really are ferries. Anyone with first-hand knowledge?
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