18th March 1943
Interesting times in China as the IJA seems to have launched a Northern Offensive coupled with moves on the Southern Front. Chinese positions to the East of Nanyang were assaulted but held dealing the Japanese a somewhat bloody nose. Six Japanese divisions supported by strong artillery elements assaulted defensive positions manned by the 2nd and 26th Group Armies. It is clear that Japan intends to surround the Loyang/Chengsha position by throwing her armoured units into the the plains to the North East of Nanyang and run into the rear of the Loyang position. The attack on Nanyang makes sense as it clears the left flank of the Japanese attack. Chinese redeployments have begun to take advantage of the wooden terrain behing Nanyang and to the South of Sian in order to counter the enemy superiority in armour.
Elsewhere Japanese cruisers bombarded the forward base at Bathurst Island causing moderate damage to the base there. Something must be done to counter the Japanese cruiser menace to the bases at Merauke and Bathurst.
Interesting events around Ponape as well. For a number of days Japanese transports had been seen snooping around Ponape. Earlier actions had seen submarines sinking several support craft there but these transports were soon identified to be troop carriers. As such DESRON 45, stationed at Tarawa, was ordered to try a high speed sweep of the atoll as submarines staked out the approaches. The last visual of the enemy transports was at last light on the 17th. DESRON 45 swept in and found the atoll bereft of enemy vessels. What they did fin however was a rain of bombs and torpedoes courtesy of D3A2’s and B5N2’s from a Japanese carrier hitherto unidentified somewhat to the North of Ponape. Thankfully no destroyers were hit or damaged but the call was too close for comfort!