A small detachment of Marines moved cautiously through a grove of palm trees towards a suspiciously unoccupied looking village. Above them a jungle covered hill loomed pregnant with malice. Insects droned lazily in the moisture laden sky. A heavy metallic clatter filled the air causing every Marine to wince and look desperately around for the enemy.
"In the name of Christ will you stop typing," snarled one Marine.
The war correspondent paused, fingers hovering over his combat typewriter.
"Sorry but I need to get all of this down."
"Ever heard of a pencil?"
The correspondent stared rapturously at the hill dominating the landscape.
"What's that hill called?"
"How should I know," replied the Marine, "I've literally been here as long as you have."
The metallic clatter started again.
"The Marines moved silently towards the Nameless Hill," said the correspondent.
"I didn't say it was nameless," protested the Marine, "and silently would work a lot better if you weren't typing all the damn time."
"I'm not typing," replied the correspondent.
"Oh shit," replied the Marine and dove for the nearest piece of cover.
With my usual opponent still in self imposed exile in a foreign land Richard Weilly kindly stepped up to ensure my run of defeats would continue without interruption. At his suggestion we played Scenario AP168 - Nameless Hill from a recent action pack. Here US Marines are trying to capture an apparently nameless hill and the collection of hits that shelter at its foot. Complicating the situation is the fact that the lead platoon has walked slap into the Japanese positions and is now more concerned with surviving than capturing anything.
I shall command the Marines attempting to simultaneously capture the huts and the hill and, if possible, extract their comrades from the mess they've walked into. Despite being on the attack the Marines set up first and move second. My at start force consists of a pair of 668 Marine squads, three half squads a 9-1 leader and a medium machine gun. These all have to set up in a narrow area near the huts and overlooked by most of the Japanese force. On the first turn come my reinforcements, eight more 668 squads, two half squads, a trio of leaders led by another 9-1. Collectively they are carrying a pair of dismantled medium machine guns and a pair of dismantled 60mm mortars.
Richard's Japanese consist of twelve squads, five first line and seven second line plus three crews. The crews are to man a pair of medium machine guns and a 75mm infantry gun. Defences are present in the form of two pillboxes and two foxholes (which by SSR cannot be HIP). Two officers, a pair of lmgs and a single 50mm mortar round out the Japanese OB.
I made my first mistake immediately when I did my initial set up. I placed a squad with the mmg and leader up on a hill (not the nameless one) in the hopes that I would be able to suppress some of the Japanese firepower I correctly thought would be on the (nameless) hill across the way. Below them the rest of my at start force huddled under palm trees. In actual fact my machine gun team simply made themselves a target for most of the weapons in the Japanese arsenal and while this did take a little pressure off their comrades among the palm trees it didn't bode well for their life expectancy.
Below is the scene at the end of the Japanese first turn. Richard has dispatched units to cover likely entry points for my reinforcements while simultaneously raining steel down on my hapless machine gunners and occupying all of the huts I need to capture. Not a good start for yours truly.
|End of Japanese turn 1|
Now however my reinforcements would arrive. Thanks to Richard's skillful positioning they had the option of entering directly under the noses of the defenders or probably too far away to be useful. I chose a combination of both. The bulk of my force would enter from the west pushing towards a hill mass known I think as the Hill Behind the Nameless Hill. From here I hoped to drive down towards the victory locations on the anonymous hill itself. Another force entered on the southwest to try and drive east through his defenders on the hill line. Finally a token force of a squad or so would enter from the east and try and occupy the defenders attention. It didn't occupy them for very long, the handless clowns blundered straight into an ambush and died. From my at start force a squad and a half tiptoed through the palm trees to take up positions behind his eastern defenders (and very close to the victory area). The rest of my at start force was doomed. By the end of the turn my mmg stack was reduced to a single broken officer weeping in the trees.
Things went better in the west. My southwestern force entered without lost and made its way to the hill without exciting the attention of the defenders who were too busy carving up the remnants of my at start force. Further north things went even better. I had hoped to deploy a squad but apparently 8 morale with a -1 leader modifier wasn't good enough so my OB provided halfsquads would have to be the scouts despite carrying dismantled mortars on their back. One halfsquad and leader charged straight at the squad Richard had in the vicinity. Defensive fire broke the halfsquad but the leader went berserk and promptly took the halfsquad with him. Newly enthused for battle they jumped into the Japanese squads hex and slaughtered him in close combat. The way was clear and the rest of my force swept forward.
|A bit of a disaster in the south but things look better in the north|
Richard's second turn saw him reposition troops to ward against the threat from the north while simultaneously virtually annihilating what was left of my at start force. To add insult to injury he pushed forward and captured my mmg as its sole remaining guardian a broken 9-1 fled howling into the jungle. Speaking of howling into the jungle I dropped concealment on my troops near the victory location to take a shot at his border guards now returning but gained nothing but a pin result. His mortar was plastering what I now referred to as my "victory stack" but so far without result.
|Once again Richard has managed to insert a squad directly where I need to go|
|Hmm, could be better|
I had also tried my halfsquad/leader charging at the enemy tactic again but it didn't work so well this time and Richard took them both out although an adjacent squad did managed to stripe his squad. For the rest Richard pulled back, tightened his lines and presented me with a wall of concealed troops to plough through. Oh yes and the squad and half squad I sent against his second line squad? I finally managed to kill the squad and in return Richard killed a full squad of marines. Not really a good return on investment.
|Time is running short|
|Progress is now being measured in single hexes|
It was true that Richard's force was starting to look a little tattered but nowhere near as tattered as mine and while he reluctantly gave ground on the hill his grip on the victory hexes was as tight as ever. For me I could find no alternative to simply pushing forward into his locations and hoping CC would be kind. Sometimes it was, sometimes it really, really wasn't but what it certainly wasn't was rapid movement. I conceded at the end of turn 4. With one turn left to go and only one victory location captured it was obvious that barring a sudden outbreak of plague in the Japanese ranks I wasn't going to win. Oh yes, and I had taken none of the huts which also needed to be captured for an American victory.
Congratulations to Richard on the victory, he handled his troops well and fought a good defensive battle. I did a couple of stupid things (particularly the early set up of that mmg team) but basically I just didn't do enough smart things to win. In fact I'm not sure I did any smart things at all.
|The end, one victory location is all I would get|
A group of Marines clustered round the figure of the war correspondent stretched out on the ground.
"Is there any hope?" asked one of them. A second shook his head sadly.
"Five rounds straight through. No chance of surviving that."
The war correspondent opened his eyes and looked around.
"Hey guys, what's happening?"
One of the Marines stepped forward, "We have bad news about your typewriter."