War in the Pacific Admiral’s Edition. Game vs Herb

11th-12 March 1943 contd

12-3-43

Operation Tully was a go. It had been obvious since the capture of Mili and Majuro that an attack on the central Marshall Islands was soon to come. Twice before the operation had been called off as enemy carriers snooped into the area of operations. The last cancellation averted a major disaster thanks to the SS Trigger and her attack on the Shokaku and subsequent location of the main enemy fleet. Third time was as charm. The main carrier fleet was suspected in home ports, well the Kaga and Shokaku were in dry dock for sure. Other elements of the enemy carrier force were spotted two days ago in a cover position near the southern Solomon Islands. Large number of fast transport vessels were seen coming into Lunga, the carriers no doubt providing aerial cover. Ship sightings at Ponape were proved to be ACM’s, sunk by the SS Silversides.

The plan called for simultaneous landings on Roi-Namur and Kwajaelin. The 1st USMC Paras would carry out their third combat jump of the war as they dropped into Roi-Namur in support of the the Army’s 35 Infantry Regiment. The main landings on Kwajalein would see two USMC tank battalions in support of the 15th Marine Defence Battalion and the 5th Marine Regiment. The 1st Marine Regiment would act as floating reserve should it be needed. The operation against Kwajalein also saw the baptism of fire of a new landing vessel, the Landing Ship Tank (LST) that would deliver the tanks right onto the beach!

The Bombardment force was led by the New Mexico that bombarded the main enemy positions on Kwajalein prior to the arrival of a force of minesweepers leading the LST’s in. It proved to be an awe inspiring and fearsome sight for the tankers as the big guns on the battleship lit up the coming dawn. The 3rd USMC Tank Battalion was going into action for the first time and it was many a trooper that emptied their breakfast into their tanks.

The New Mexico leads the Bombardment Force

 

As it turned out the fireworks just made a lot of noise and smoke as opposition was negligible as it was obvious the Japanese had pulled out a while ago. Several enemy companies did put up some sort of spirited last ditch defence but the outcome was never in doubt. Indeed Roi-Namur was bereft of enemy troops and it was only US Marine Paras that met the GI’s on the beaches. Whatever the case several units did gain the experience of their first amphibious landings and the LST proved more that capable of the task it was designed for. Furthermore two importbant bases had been acquired that would soon be able to project American power further into the Central Pacific

War in the Pacific Admiral’s Edition. Game vs Herb

11th-12th March 1943

11-3-43

IJN destroyers tried on the 11th March to repeat the stunning success their cruisers had achieved a few days earlier in sinking 13 transports vessels sailing in and out of Calcutta. Three Fubuki Class Destroyers, sleek prows digging into the waters of the Bay Bengal, used a dense fog to steal in under the eyes of aerial search planes scouring the area. The Royal Navy, smarting from the earlier attack and willing to restore some lost honour and some faith in the the hearts of the Merchant Marine had similarly posted a patrol under the auspices of the heavy cruisers Exeter and Shropshire and were steaming into the path of the enemy ships. Fog may hide you from human eyes but not from the mechanical one of radar.

Shropshires radar mast was the first one to start reporting contacts. Soon the light crusier Dauntless was also tracking three enemy vessels at an extreme range of 22,000 yards. Full battle speed was ordered and armour piercing ordinance was started to move to the turrents on the Royal Navy task force. Solid contact via visual was first made by the Exeter than soon opened up with a full broadside of eight inchers. She was soon joined by the Shropshire as the light cruisers and destroyers sped forward into torpedo range. With shells flying over their heads at supersonic speeds it was the crew of the RNN Tjerk Hiddes that scored first blood when two four inch shells tore into the number one turret on the IJN Murakumo. Highlighted as she was by the sudeen strike the Exeter found her range and struck three telling direct hits that first slewed the enemy vessel to a stop and was then followed by a tremendous explosion that caused the ship to sink.

The flames cast light on two other destroyers that were starting to make smoke and speed away from the righteous vengeance of the Royal Navy. A full torpedo salvo scored no hits but once again superior gunnery on the heavy cruisers were able to cripple another of the enemy ships as the stern of the IJN Shinonome disappeared in fire and smoke. This vessel then swerved again to face the oncoming British wall of steel and thus buy her sister time to further increase range. The pummeling she took was not worthy of a battle…

The Murakumo disappears under the waves as the Shionome starts to burn

Reports also came in from the DE Decoy that she had engaged and sunk an enemy submarine off Diamond Harbour