|Axis and Allies Campaign|
|Pacific Theater of Operations: Part 3 Results|
|by David Devere & Tom Maertz|
Pacific Theater of Operations: End of Fall – Winter 1942
Can the Japanese Army win a land engagement? They don’t seem to be able to. Losses in Hong Kong, Sumatra and Siam add to the dishonor of a once proud army. The Imperial Navy is fairing better but battleships and carriers are harder to replace than infantry and artillery.
Battle No. 26, which is Part III of the assault on Hong Kong, resulted in another defeat. The Japanese have now attacked Hong Kong three times - once with more troops, giving them better odds, and twice in even fights and each time the British defenders along with their allies have won. Japanese High Command has removed the army general in charge of subduing Hong Kong. A new general is in place and a new strategy is planned for 1943. A field report from Lieutenant Hiroshi reads as follows:
“Most Honorable Sirs, We are still attacking Hong Kong. We attacked the city from the southeast but saw heavy Chinese resistance. They had 6 machine guns and 8 infantry. British Paratroopers dropped behind our lines and harassed our rear guard and mortars. Our paratroopers were destroyed immediately upon landing. We successfully outflanked the Chinese with a couple of our armor divisions. However, our armor was destroyed by Chinese machine gun fire! We never even caught a glimpse of our objective and were lucky to have anyone survive. We need reinforcements. Send armor and air support.” A British field commander simply noted in their After Action Report – “Salvage: Many, many samurai swords...”
Japanese High Command held high hopes for Battle No. 27. This was an even fight –winner takes all- bout for Sumatra. The Imperial Army assured High Command that Japanese infantry was superior to British infantry and they would prevail. Initial reports looked promising:
“After Action Report from HQ 3rd Yokosuke SNLF to HQ 25th Army– Koeta Boeloebenteng, Northern Sumatra, August 1942 – A forward company of the 3rd Yokosuke SNLF infiltrated the enemy lines near Koeta Boeloebenteng under cover of darkness. This was followed up by an assault on the enemy by the remainder of the regiment supported by the 2nd Tank Regiment. 2nd Tank Regiment, particularly the 75mm self-propelled Ho-Ni were successful in crippling the British armored force, knocking out four tanks for the loss of four of our own. The infiltrated company delayed the enemy long enough to allow the bulk of the 3rd Yokosuke SNLF to reach their objectives on the high ground dominating the battlefield. Fierce close quarter fighting ensued with heavy losses on both sides. When the last two enemy tanks were destroyed by our infantry, the few remaining enemy infantry withdrew.” In the end, despite Japanese heroics, the British remained in control of Sumatra, but the Japanese were able to inflict enough loses to leave Sumatra without defense. The island is still in English hands but if the Japanese can quickly send troops to occupy it next turn the sacrifice of their brothers in arms will not be in vain.
Battle No. 28 was always going to be difficult for the Japanese to win. This battle was more about the strategic outcome than the capture of Siam. The British knew they could easily take Siam but what they wanted to do was catch the bomber which was stationed there and destroy it. In the end, the Brits won convincingly with 1242 points remaining (59 points averaged) vs. the Japanese 333 (16 points averaged). This gave the British 3 points to reconstitute and left the Japanese with just 1 point to retreat. Fortunately for Japan a bomber defends on a 1. Therefore the strategic target for the English, the Japanese Bomber, was able to just slip through their hands and retreat to French Indo-China.
Battle No. 29 was Japan’s only victory but they paid a high price to win. To blunt the American attack the Japanese fielded 7 fighters, 4 carriers and a submarine for a total IPC value of 142. The Americans fielded 2 carriers, 3 destroyers, 2 submarines, 6 fighters and 2 bombers for an IPC value of 162. The battle resulted in the Japanese keeping 2 carriers and 3 fighters worth 62 IPCs. The Americans retreated 2 carriers, 3 fighters and 2 submarines worth 78 IPCs. The Japanese won the battle but it cost them 80 IPCs to do so; the Americans lost at a cost of 84 IPCs. The Japanese victory was a strategic defeat because Japanese can hardly keep pace with American production – Japan is producing 33 IPCs per turn where the Americans are producing 72. American High Command has committed themselves to a battle of attrition and field commanders are taking note and implementing the strategy. Admiral Carl Gothin reports, “Notes: US adopted a strategic view of inflicting as much damage as possible on the Japanese fleet, while minimizing their own losses. This meant conceding nearly all victory points – the IJN claimed four VPs to win the game. However, 4-of-5 Japanese carriers were sunk, along with the super-battleship Musashi. Ten Japanese air units were shot down, compared to only four US air units (mostly luckless TBD Devastators).”
The outcome of Battle No. 30 came as a shock to the IJN. They were outnumbered but the Japanese Navy had been openly dismissive of British naval prowess and had assured High Command of success. The English finally got their revenge. The Japanese were not able to retreat enough points to reconstitute their battleship and it went to the bottom. Now only 2 Japanese destroyers contest the Coral Sea and inevitably they will be redeployed rather than committed to a new attack. The British now control the sea zone which puts their army at Papua in supply and next turn they will definitely be retaking New Guinea.
In other action around the theater, the Japanese continue to lose to the Chinese in mainland China. Assaults into the Chinese interior are increasingly ineffective and the Chinese now field more forces in China than the Japanese. The balance of power in China is shifting. The Japanese were able to take the Celebes but the strong American forces at Guadalcanal will put all the Japanese positions in Indonesia at risk in the coming year. The war isn’t going well for the Japanese. The Allies are pressing in on multiple fronts. The Japanese have sent an emissary to Berlin asking for assistance in India. The results of ETO4 will definitely dictate German High Command attitude toward helping Japan.
Next week we will report the results of ETO4 and issue new orders for the PTO. Remember to keep reporting your ETO results. The war is at a turning point and its outcome depends on you.
Previously in the Axis & Allies Campaign: