Of course between the Japanese attack and the speech in Adelaide quite a lot of American and Filipino soldiers had to do a fair bit of dying, something that didn't actually stop after they surrendered. It's fair to say that the Japanese were on a roll, they were invading everywhere and carrying all before them. Now however they may have met an obstacle that will lead them to disaster. I'm going to be commanding them.
This is ASL Scenario AP59, Taking Heads. Set on New Years Day 1942 when MacArthur was still in the Philippines it pits a strong force of Japanese against a somewhat nearly equal number of Filipino army troops backed up with some American weaponry. Ivan Kent having been beaten as the Americans in the past jumped at the opportunity to lead them to victory by playing me. My attackers consisted of thirteen elite Japanese infantry squads, three first line squads with a gunless crew making up the numbers. Support weapons consisted of three light machine guns, three 50mm mortars, a demolition charge and an antitank rifle so heavy those manning it were likely to die of a hernia before they reached the battle front.
Ivan had thirteen second line troops (American 447s) a .50cal heavy machine gun, two medium machine guns, a 37mm antitank gun (why? I don't have any tanks) and two thinly armoured halftracks carrying 75mm guns. He also had wire, a roadblock and foxholes galore. Victory would be determined by victory points amassed. These were gained by the traditional "killing of the enemy" method but there were also two points on offer for each non hut building location (thirteen in all), points for any Japanese who managed to exit off the south edge of the board (fat chance) and points to the Japanese if they can clear the road of enemy troops.
Ivan set up with a few speedbumps forward and a line of foxhole hidden troops behind the road. One half track was over on the far left side of the board and the other was set up to fire straight up the road. A patch of jungle which commanded much of the road was just begging to be occupied by a machine gun.
The left side of the board didn't seem to me to lead anywhere useful with nasty spreads of bamboo so I set up the bulk of my forces on the centre and the right. A single squad plus a half squad with mortar would, I hoped, keep things under control in that area (wrong). My first objective was to secure the road leading to the village. With that under control my middle force would push down the centre more or less along the road while the right hand force would cross the road and push through the huts and approach the village from the right hand side.
|End of turn 1. My guys have come from the top of the board and are easing their way towards the enemy
Since I was almost certain that the .50 cal would be guarding the road (wrong again) circumspection was the order of the day for the first couple of turns. My troops entered and fanned out through the kunai, nervously heading for the defences. The only exception to this was on the extreme right where a sacrificial squad charged straight down the road to tempt his defenders to open fire. This they did with no result. This permitted me to move next to him and when his unit broke on final protective fire a small massacre gained me my first victory points.
Despite the circumspection of the rest of my advance his half tracks swiftly proved their worth killing one of my officers and an entire squad despite having multiple kunai hexes to shoot through. My howls and whimpers probably disturbed the neighbours. Fortunately vengeance was at hand with my hernia inducing anti tank rifle. As my troops oozed closer Ivan decided to relocated one of the half tracks. In a reverse of the low odds rolls he had achieved with his guns my atr crew rolled snakes and set the thing on fire. This was a great result in the short term although the ensuing smoke may or may not be of benefit later.
At the end of turn two I had closed up to the road but my troops and mortar had had no success in dealing with his suspected machine gun position (or even stripping concealment). Still I had Japanese and they're supposed to be able to handle heavy fire so I dashed a squad across the road. It survived but Ivan finally revealed not the .50cal but a medium machine gun with which he set up a fire lane down the road. Undaunted I assault moved a further two squads into the road, one striped but the other survived intact.
|End of Turn 2. I don't seem to have got very far but I am making a bit of a push on the right.
My centre force including a pair of mortars started pounding his mmg position with a singular lack of success. The same cannot be said for his response when he managed to get a K/2 shot which wounded my best leader and halved his associated squad. My leadership has been reduced to a blood spattered mess. One officer is dead and both the others are wounded. How did the third get wounded? My guys who got across the road pushed forward according to plan. An opportunity emerged to take out an isolated squad in some huts and I charged my DC toting 8-0 forward to draw fire. He didn't just draw fire he painted a picture of fire and is now a blood leaking 7+1 hiding behind a wall. However Ivan's squad once again broke himself with some desperate FPF and is now looking very close to death. On the far right an 8FP firegroup has proved utterly incapable of breaking a single squad in a foxhole. I'm going to give them one more turn then its time for some summary execution.
On the left the paucity of attackers has prompted Ivan to thin out his defenders and pull them back to the village. The inability of my mortar and squad back there to take out a single halfsquad is at least partly to blame for this. His surviving halftrack has also moved around no doubt to beat me up if I manage to approach the buildings.
Finally things turned my way when my mortars broke his mmg unit, I scampered a squad around behind them to prevent rout and almost looked silly when his hidden 37mm popped up and shot at them at point blank range. Then for good measure he did it again. I survived and slaughtered the crew in CC but it did give Ivan's squad an opportunity to rout at least a little distance away. Still I'm not in a bad position now but I feel I'm about one turn late in getting there. I have only three turns left to snatch some serious victory points, which means buildings, and I will need to take chances. That means more opportunities for Ivan to kill me and build his own VPs. Plus my slow limping leaders can do little except shout encouragement from the rear, banzai charges will be a little more difficult to arrange. If the dice and the gods go my way I might get lucky. If things play out in their usual fashion then when Ivan and I play the second half of this scenario in a couple of weeks I'll probably finish by beating myself to death with my computer keyboard.