|Axis and Allies Campaign|
|PTO: Part 5 Results|
|by David Devere & Tom Maertz|
Pacific Theater of Operations: End of Fall – Winter 1943
Japan takes on the British in French Indo-China and the American fleet off the coast of the Caroline Islands and wins, but losses in Siam, the Celebes, Java, Borneo, Palau and Mariana Islands make for hollow victories.
Woe for the Imperial Empire. Reverses and losses for the Japanese are not unknown to the players of the Campaign Game. But in PTO 5 the Japanese were actually able to win a few engagements that will make for a very interesting 1944.
First let’s look at the battle results:
Battle No. 46 was a major commitment by Japanese High Command to do whatever it takes to stop the British Army from completely over running South East Asia. If you recall, the ticket was 190 points Japan to 152 points UK. After all the results were collated the Japanese won by just a couple battles. Luckily for the Japanese they did win, otherwise the entire assault force would have been thrown back into the sea or captured. Despite the win the Japanese paid a heavy price, losing a bomber, an infantry and artillery division. The British managed to retreat an artillery division to Yunnan province.
Battle No. 47 was Japan’s opportunity to capitalize on a successful landing in French Indo-China and to retake its lost territory, Siam. However, Blitz battles are inherently risky for the attacker. Does the Field Commander try for the quick strike to win or do they use their 25 point bonus to overpower and defeat their enemy through conventional means?
British commander Lt. Col. Roadkill reported,
“The Japanese Blitz kept the British from fielding mortars and artillery, but the wily UK pushed out almost entirely tanks and literally ran down the attackers. The Valentine II kept its reputation as the "Tiger of the East," especially while backed by a mob of Stuarts. The Japanese clearly planned to attempt a win by blitzing past the defenders, but they were unable to claim the objective.”
The attack on Siam was a loss for the Japanese. They retreated back to Malaya with an infantry and artillery division while the British maintained control of Siam with an artillery division.
Battle No. 48 represented more than just control of the Celebes island group. It reflected on Japan’s ability to maintain control over all of the resource rich island of Indonesia. Initial reports received by Japanese High Command seemed to foreshadow another Japanese victory.
“After Action Report transmitted by HQ 7th Sasebo SNLF to HQ 2nd South Fleet –Celebes, October 1943 –Enemy landed troops on main island, allowed to proceed inland away from supporting naval vessels. SNLF forces counterattacked in jungle terrain and destroyed 80% of Australian infantry battalion supported by light armor. Fighting was fierce with both the battalion commander and second-in-command killed. Remaining enemy withdrew in disorder. Our losses were heavy, but each man remains ready to lay down his life for the Emperor. Banzai!”
Despite victories like these the Japanese were unable to blunt the English attack with enough force to prevent them from taking the island. A subsequent loss in Java put almost all of Indonesia back under control of the Allies. Only Sumatra is still controlled by the Japanese.
Battle No. 49 is the continuation of an old duel between belligerent Navies that started in 1941 and still isn’t resolved. The balance of power in the Indian Ocean has swung back and forth throughout the Campaign. The British want to free up their convoy zones and open up the sea routes to attack the islands while the Japanese are fighting for the exact opposite. This round the Japanese came out on top.
Admiral Cho Nagate reports:
“Another attempt by the Allies to stop a small Japanese convoy with a swarm of destroyers and light cruisers ends in failure. The Allied flagship, under control of Admiral John Farid of the Free French cruiser Gloire, was struck at close range with 16 successes from 13 dice by the Kongo – enough to obliterate any vessel afloat. By the end of the battle, the Allied commander was cursing his ill luck as an undamaged cruiser succumbed to a single long-lance torpedo at maximum range…while British submarines could not score a hit from over a dozen attempts. Such are the vagaries of battle.”
Battle No. 50 was the Japanese attempt to destroy the huge American transport fleet stationed at Dutch New Guinea. Only through the quick response of the British Navy was the fleet spared. Japanese High Command sent two fighter squadrons to the sea zone with the orders to sink the transports. In the end, the American Navy prevailed, destroying one Japanese fighter squadron to the loss of a British destroyer. While the destroyer was removed from play, remaining Allied points were enough for the Americans to reconstitute all their transports and for the British to make a transport out of the points remaining from the destroyer.
Most of the other action around the PTO was inconsequential. The Americans took a bunch of islands, the Chinese moved closer to Shanghi and a Japanese armored division attacked inland China in what will amount to nothing more than a diversion. However, one battle that was rolled out did prove to be interesting enough to report. The American Carrier group out of the Gilbert Islands (6 fighters, 2 carriers) attacked the Japanese Carrier group (2 carriers, 1 sub, 1 transport) in the Caroline Islands. The battle at first looked hopeless - as the Japanese had no fighter cover - but upon closer inspection the Allies had nothing to counter the Japanese submarine except the carriers which attack on a 1 only. A sub can’t hit aircraft and aircraft can’t hit subs unless a destroyer is present. This meant that each hit the sub achieved sunk a carrier. It only took one hit for the Americans to call off the attack. In the end the Japanese lost both defending carriers and the transport but were able to sink an American Carrier and force the fleet back to the Gilberts, a tactical loss that resulted in a strategic victory for the Japanese.
So what’s the big picture? If you remember, the Axis win if they can take 10 victory point cities. The current count for the Axis is Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghi, Manila, Rome, Berlin and one virtual city for a total of 7. In the ETO this turn, Paris and Leningrad will be decided with only Stalingrad possibly going another turn. If the Germans take all their objectives they could secure the win for the Axis. But the PTO would have to be played out one more time and the Americans are close enough to the Philippines to try and wrestle it from the Japanese.
There are a lot of ifs, but believe it or not, we could be on the cusp of an Axis victory. Certainly the Japanese haven’t won all their battles but they have been delaying the Americans just enough to make the outcome questionable.
Next week we will show the results for ETO 6 and move onto orders for the PTO in Spring / Summer 1944. Battles in France and Russia now hold the fate of millions in the Pacific – the outcome is in your hands.
Previously in the Axis & Allies Campaign: