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

21st May 1943

Acting on intelligence garnered from the monitoring of radio traffic to and from Singapore the Royal Navy has just carried out its  most glorious action of this war to date. For several days in the last week radio messages have been full of information of the movement of several Indian National Army units to Port Blair. A thorough search of the intelligence files revealed that the last known garrison on Port Blair was the IJA’s 4th Infantry Division. The enemy was no doubt redeploying this prime fighting formation to counter the move made by I Australian Corps in Eastern Burma. As such the Royal Navy at Colombo gathered its cruiser squadron and ordered to a holding position just to the North West of the Andaman Islands.

Confirmation that something was definitely up came from HMS Trusty that reported sighting and attacking a heavily escorted convoy heading Northwards at a position some 100 NMs due South of Port Blair. Orders were immediately dispatched and the RN Squadron was told to steam directly into Port Blair and to try to get the Japs with their pants down. The presence of enemy carriers could not be discounted but no solid intel on their location was at hand. As History was to prove sometimes luck plays the decisive role in war!

The Shropshire and the Dorsertshire led in the RN and RNN ships whose radars immediately gave alive with repeated and numerous contacts. It seemed a large loading operation had been caught unawares. The Japanese were not seen to react until the first shells began to land among the numerous transport and escort vessels gathered at the Port Blair anchorage. The wolf had most certainly been let loose among the sheep as 8 inch shells tore into ship after ship. The escorting destroyers sped ahead of their larger sisters to deliver a point blank range torpedo attack. At such distances, the battle was largely fought at 2,000 yards, and with such a plethora of targets it was impossible to miss! A large ocean going liner took two successive torpedo hits and she was soon sinking, the fires caused by the exploding warheads hissing as the water engulfed the stricken ship. Another brace of troop transports also succumbed to the destroyer launched torpedoes. As the order ‘fire at will, engage all targets’ was given the massacre was complete. 19 enemy vessels had been sunk, the fires of the burning ships illuminating the human catastrophe in the water as burning oil and sinking ships took the lives of thousands of men that would now not see home. Little thought was given to them by the sailors. If they had caught the INA soldiers then they got a traitor’s due. If they had caught the 4th Infantry Division boarding then it was less bayonets for the Aussies to face! As the sun crept over the horizon the Royal Navy was well away from the scene. An hour later a Catalina from Trincomalee reported sighting a large force of enemy carriers in the Bay of Bengal. Luck indeed had been the bedfellow of the Royal Navy that night.

Night Time Surface Combat, near Port Blair at 46,58, Range 3,000 Yards

Japanese Ships
DD Shiokaze, Shell hits 16, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk
E W-13, Shell hits 17, and is sunk
E W-24, Shell hits 5, and is sunk
PB Musashi Maru, Shell hits 2, and is sunk
PB Akagane Maru, Shell hits 17, and is sunk
PB Bunzan Maru, Shell hits 9, and is sunk
PB Shinko Maru, Shell hits 20, and is sunk
PB Syozui Maru, Shell hits 34, and is sunk
xAK Daigen Maru, Shell hits 20, and is sunk
xAK Syunsei Maru, Shell hits 24, and is sunk
xAK Kinkasan Maru, Shell hits 22, and is sunk
xAK Uga Maru, Shell hits 7, Torpedo hits 2, and is sunk
PB Hakka Maru, Shell hits 9, and is sunk
PB Heimei Maru, Shell hits 13, and is sunk
xAP Tatsuta Maru, Shell hits 5, Torpedo hits 3, and is sunk
xAP Keihuku Maru, Shell hits 13, Torpedo hits 3, and is sunk
PB Suyozai Maru, Shell hits 17, and is sunk
PB Fuji Maru #3, Shell hits 7, and is sunk
SC CHa-9, Shell hits 2, and is sunk

Allied Ships
CA Shropshire
CA Dorsetshire
CA Exeter
CL Kenya
CL Newcastle
DD Buchanan
DD Lansdowne
DD Van Galen
DD Tjerk Hiddes

Japanese ground losses:
3408 casualties reported
Squads: 63 destroyed, 79 disabled
Non Combat: 27 destroyed, 8 disabled
Engineers: 30 destroyed, 22 disabled
Guns lost 123 (94 destroyed, 29 disabled)

Less gratifying were the news in the Solomon Islands. 16 Betty Bombers had been able to evade a CAP of 75 Hellcats and hit the Battleship South Dakota with three torpedoes. The second time the South Dak had been wounded in these waters. She was still afloat and damage control teams had had steaming solidly. Her guns would be missed during a landing planned the next day but she was now steaming away from the battle zone. Suffice to say 15 of the bombers were splashed by the Hellcats on their way home. Little consolation for the sailors on the South Dakota!

Burma

I Australian Corps, XV Indian Corps and the NCAC had been marching through the Eastern Burmese jungle with the ultimate aim of bringing the fight against the Japanese back into Burma. The intial targets were Warazup and Myitkyina but the first obstacle to surmount was secrecy. Units at the other end of the line manoeuvred to keep Japanese divisions pinned to the river line while the RAF and the USAAF  fought to keep Eastern Burmese skies clear of enemy aerial eyes. Lightnings and Hurricanes shot down a large number of enemy recon planes and also kept the skies free of enemy fighters. The enemy Ki-43, ascendant for so long could not match the P-38 and as such was blasted from the sky in large numbers. Heavy and light bombers plastered the enemy units stationed at both targets and it seems that surprise was total when the 6th, 7th and 9th Australian Divisions blasted out of the jungle and quickly took both objectives. Immediate enemy reaction was slow with several night raids carried out by Ki-45’s and daylight raids by Sally’s.  Yet short and long range has detected movements both North from Lashio (33rd and 55th Infantry Divisions) and the West (8th Infantry Division among other units) heading towards Myitkyina. Surprise had been achieved quite easily, the hard fight was about to begin.

 

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

End of June 1943 Submarine Warfare Report

36 enemy vessels were either sunk or damaged during June. The most successful boat was the SS PomPon that accounted for 6 ships for a grand total of 12,950 tons all confirmed sunk. Disappointment was felt across SUBCOMPAC as no enemy capital ships were hit during the Battle for Munda despite a target rich environment and 25 boats on station. A lot of boats have gone in for repairs and the latest search radar upgrades and several new enemy convoy routes have been discovered and attacked. The SS Grenadier and the venerable SS-46 were both lost to depth charge action during the month.

 

Reuters, Changsha, 30-6-1943

Chinese forces have confirmed they have forced Japanese units out of Changsha. It appears that 20,000 dead in one assault has made the Japanese Generals think twice before engaging Chinese units in urban warfare. Colums of Japanese infantry were seen marching East and they were harassed by planes of the USAAF supporting the Chinese Army. Messages intercepted by our radio listening stations confirm that units have been ordered to march during the day as casualties on the march begin to mount. Both the CAF and USAAF fighters around Chagsha have gained local air supremacy thus giving our bombers a free run.

In further war news…

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

Reuters, Changsha, China

For two days now the better part of two Japanese armies have been bombarding the outskirts of the city. The news from the West was not much better as the holding corps was routed by three enemy divisions supported by armoured elements. Civilians had been leaving the city for the past week or so but now the city was under martial law and no one else is leaving. This reporter is as close as one can get to the Front. USAAF bombers and fighters have made the skies over Changsha deadly for the Japanese, that have clearly had to reinforce their aerial units. Yesterday morning a full blown assault was carried out by the Japanese. Harassed by American and CAF planes the Japanese made a determined attempt to take the city. Yet they did not count on the courage and bravery of the average Chinese soldier. His tenacity in action matched by a desire to rid his land of the aggressor. The line held, not only did it hold but it solidly repulsed the enemy who is estimated to have left over 20,000 casualties behind him. Changsha could become the Stalingrad of the Orient for the Japanese.

 

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

The Solomons Campaign, Chapter 14: Munda

By the evening of June 13th all Japanese opposition in Munda had been eradicated and the runway had almost been repaired. 24 hours earlier the place had been awash with thunder and fire as no less than 5 on Japan’s main battleline pounded the soldiers on Munda. The actual battle had started a few days ago with both the Pennsylvania and the South Dakota claiming 3 light cruisers that had tried to disrupt the landings. Despite the loss of the old carrier Long Island, Nimitz was relatively pleased with the news. Especially when USAAF and USMC planes flying from Rossell Island and Lunga kept the skies clear, other than the Betties that did the Long Island. Losses were light and the Army’s 27th Regiment was ashore with three tank battalions for support.

The second day of the battle saw the second wave hit the beaches and, in a master class of amphibious landing deposited all support units that included the 14th Marine Defence Battalion and two artillery regiments before the arrival of Japanese carrier planes. Yet further to the south 5 transports of the first wave were savaged by a pack of enemy submarines. The brave merchant mariners had done their job in the teeth of the enemy only to robbed of life by submarines so close to home. The first aerial attacks were easily defeated and nearly 40 enemy planes were reported shot down. But these were just a first wave to exhaust our CAP. Catalina’s and PBY’s, who’d been savaged in an attack over enemy carriers, landed on Lunga at midday with reports that the sea to the north of Green and Island and Shortlands was a grey mass of Japanese shipping. Indeed Japan had brought the mass of the Combined Fleet to bear, amid a carpet of submarines as 25 subs were moving against them. Against it Nimitz had the CVE Sangamon! Orders to depart Munda were given but landings were to continue. The Arizona and her battle group were sent north from Guadalcanal to add their AA batteries to the defence.

Providence however smiled on the USN. As morning turned to afternoon a very heavy weather front came in from the West. According to Japanese sources some of their carriers could not launch their planes and this may have averted a major disaster. The weather however also affected our CAP. Thunderbolts and Corsairs were grounded at Lunga while Lightnings got lost in the weather. The only fighters to meet the IJN crews were the Hellcats of the Sangamon and a battered flight of Marine F4F-4’s from Rossell. As it was they did a sterling job of engaging the enemy fighters who suffered heavier losses than we did. Yet numbers told and 6 ships were sunk by the enemy carrier bombers, the heaviest a destroyer escort. The Arizona, whose guns blazed until they glowed from the effort, took 8 bombs from Vals and Judys but it stood proudly at sundown to escort the now fleeing transports south.

Day three dawned bright and by 8:15 50 Thunderbolts and 16 Corsairs were flying LRCAP over Munda and several task forces. Today however it was time for revenge. USMC Dauntless bombers and USAAF A-24’s and B-25’s were shocked to receive news that Japanese cruisers were within range and without top cover. Though the battlewagons that had hit Lunga were long gone three enemy light cruisers and one destroyer would not get home. Plane after plane dove and swooped down on the Japanese ships as bomb after bomb tore into their structures. As the sun settled over the horizon oily plumes marked the resting place of sunk Japanese ships. The days action were complete when VMF-214 reported its arrival at Munda. The only sour note on Nimitz’s desk was the report from the skipper of the SS Gurnard that had attacked and missed an Akagi class carrier with a spread of 6 torpedoes. Though the loss of the transports and one submarine were hard to take, Japan was six cruisers down while America had hundreds of transports waiting to join the fight.

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

11th June 1943

04:02 Radar CONTACT CL Santa Fe. Covering Force moves to intercept two enemy cruisers entering Munda anchorage from East. South Dakota fires first 16inch salvo 04:09. Enemy cruiser seen to sink at 04:35.

04:13 SS Seadragon reports sighting and engaging enemy heavy cruiser on a south easterly heading to the East of Kavieng.

04:46 SS Blackfish engages destroyer escort of two battleships near Lihir. Enemy task force on southerly heading.

05:23 Visual CONTACT CA Quincy. Damaged enemy cruiser spotted and engaged, enemy ship sunk 05:57.

06:34 SS Billfish reports two attacks by carrier planes to the East of Kavieng. Sub proceeds to shadow. COMSUBPAC orders all boats to attack. Be aggressive!

08:23 Lt Phillips sends message ***SIGHTED***ENEMY CARRIERS***

09:15 Second confirmed sighting of enemy flattops. Estimated two days out of Munda.

10:00 Enemy float plane shot down by CAP over Munda.

11:23 LRCAP scrambled as enemy planes detected incoming. Ki-43’s and D3A2’s. 30 enemy planes shot down. No loss.

13:45 TF 186 reports unloading completed, withdrawing.

15:09 CAP scramble as incoming raid detected from NW. 3 D3A2’s dive on CVE Sangamon, no hits. All enemy planes destroyed.

18:09 US I Corps receives message ***HAVE MADE EDGE OF AIRFIELD***TWO LINES OF BUNKERS DESTROYED***ENEMY HANGING ON***ATTACK TO CONTINUE TOMORROW***

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

9th June 1943

 

10th June 1943

04:53 Report from SS Sailfish. Spotted enemy ships leaving Truk

06:02 Report from SS Hoe. Attacked by carrier torpedo plane.

06:34 Report from SS 0-21 sighted enemy carrier dive bomber.

07:45 First wave hits Munda. Armoured units spearheading landings after effectiveness of tanks against Japanese infantry at Tassafaronga

08:56 First sightings of enemy search planes over target beaches. Chased away by LRCAP.

09:15 Radar CONTACT on USN Pennsylvania. Enemy ships approaching from North. Covering force moves to intercept. Two enemy CL’s engaged. One Kuma Class cruiser sunk by Pennsylvania.

11:34 Enemy air raid spotted. CAP and LRCAP engage over 40 enemy fighters. 20 at least shot down, but bombers get through.

11:42 Attack on CVE Sangamon unsuccessful. New Hellcat performs admirably.

11:54 Fuel storage explosion on CVE Long Island sinks ship in 5 minutes. 430 missing presumed killed. G4M1 launches torpedo.

14:34 Catalina’s returning from morning patrol confirm visuals of Japanese ships heading South just to the North of the Solomons Chain.

16:00 Covering Force ordered to Lunga to rearm. BB South Dakota heading North to relieve station.

18:09 Direct attack ordered by commander US I Corps to troops on Munda.

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

9th June 1943, Reuters, Chungking

China Holds

Changsha is quickly becoming a city coming under attack. First the assault came from the skies and the bomb bay doors of the IJAAF. Then the IJA joined the fray. A small recon unit cut off the railway to Kweilin and Hengyang to the West of the city on the 7th. Chinese infantry contained this weak thrust awaiting reinforcement. Supporting them were B-25’s of the USAAF. Transferred in from Burma this reporter was taken to the frontline along with other members of the International Press to see the Allied effort against Japan. 15 bombers had carried a low level bombing attack on advancing Japanese units yesterday. The scene that greeted our arrival, some 12 hours after the attack, was one of carnage. The smell of burning oil and petrol still hung in the air along with a too familiar smell of charred meat, only this time it wasn’t a burger on the barbecue. Dark plumes of black, oily smoke arose from the plains marking the funeral pyre of an armoured vehicle. 13 wrecks lay in front of us. Weak skinned armoured cars that had virtually disintegrated under the pounding of 500lb bombs dropped by the Mitchells. Grinning Kuomintang troops smiled toothy grins for the photographer and the compulsory unit photo with a captured enemy flag was taken amid the backdrop of destroyed Japanese vehicles. Morale was up and many a Chinese soldier was seen to give a thumbs up for Uncle Sam! In further news reports were also coming in from the South of the city were an enemy probing attack in Brigade strength was held back by units of the 30th Group Army.

 

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

6th June 1943, Reuters.

China in Peril?

Japanese air units have suddenly decided that the air space over the Chinese city of Changsha is prime estate. Oscars and Lilys have been contesting the air space and bombing the airfield respectively. CAF units reinforced by several USAAF squadrons from Burma, have been fighting back. Recon of the nearby area suggests that the IJA is also on the move West. Yesterday Kuomintang units holding the river to the East of Hengyang reported coming into contact with advanced elements of a Japanese division. Reinforcements are on their way and it is now clear that the Japanese summer offensive plans revolve around the capture of Changsha whose industries are vital for the war effort in China. The Generalissimo has been reassured by allied commanders that China will not be left alone and that moves to support her have already started and two very far flung theatres of war. For now the USAAF stands shoulder to shoulder with their brave Chinese allies in the face of continued Japanese aggression. The Japs may find a different Chinese army to that they started fighting in 1937 as Uncle Sam is now arming these brave soldiers wanting to rid their homeland of all traces of Japanese occupation!

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

May 1943 Submarine Warfare Summary

 

Another lean month for the Silent Service with barely 100,000 tons of enemy shipping damaged or sunk. There has been a marked increase in aerial ASW patrols off the Timor and Ambon areas of operation and also around the entrances to the Sea of Japan. Several new convoy routes have been discovered but targets have run dry in the previous happy hunting grounds in the approaches to Tokyo. The aim for June 1943 is to seek and destroy his tankers and oilers. If I can stop or hinder the flow of fuel his heavy and carrier units lose some of their mobility. Somewhat unlucky in that there has been a large percentage of dud hits this month. Top scorer is the SS Cisco with 22,500 tons spread over 4 ships. 4 boats were also lost the American Seawolf and Grampus and the Dutch KX and KIX. God speed brave mariners.

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

31st May 1943 Part One

USAAF fighter pilots now have an airplane capable to defeat the cream of Japan’s naval aviation and one that can compare with the Navy’s ugly Corsair, though the Thunderbolt (as so christened by its crews) was also one ugly ‘son o’bitch’ as so colourfully put by 1LT Ward from Texas flying the P-47D2 (its official nomenclature) in the 341st Fighter Squadron from Lunga. The order to scramble had come early. Lunga was now a strong forward base and its radars now command the approaches from the Japanese bases to the North. With the taking of Tulagi and Tassafaronga and the build up of Rennell and Rossel Islands Admiral Nimitz had his eye on Russell Islands to further build another air base to accommodate the massive build up of strength coming in from the States. Bereft of carriers he needed bases that could not be sunk. The Southern Solomons provided them aplenty. Mutually supporting they could act a powerful counter measure to the enemy’s carriers and could provide cover for the USN’s still powerful and almost intact battle line.

The scramble order had come over the airwaves and both the 341st and VMF-214 were soon bolstering the aerial patrol over the transports unloading at Russell. 25 enemy fighters escorted 9 Betty bombers carrying torpedoes. The Corsairs had the high station and they immediately bounced the Zeroes rapidly shooting down two. The Thunderbolt claimed its first air-air kill three minutes into the action. The aforementioned 1LT Ward claimed an A6M3a after blowing out of the sky. The P-47 proved durable and rugged in combat, indeed Ward’s plane was seen to have received 15 hits from enemy machine guns on the tail section alone with no detrimental effect on performance.

1LT Ward makes his kill

Yet the operational bow was meant with sadness as despite the loss of 5 enemy bombers, two intrepid pilots sank their torpedoes into the transport vessel Peisander. She sank later in the day taking a large chunk of the vehicles of the 1st USN Naval Construction Regiment. A second raid later in the day (15 Zeroes and 6 Betties) was completely annihilated by the Corsairs and Thunderbolts. Over 30 enemy planes had been shot down for no loss to the P-47’s. A new and powerful weapon now bristled in the Allied arsenal.

Further good news also landed on Admiral Nimitz’s desk from Australia Command. General Blamey was pleased to report that the 1st Australian Division had ejected all Japanese troops from Buna. Allied troops were back on the Eastern shore of the Solomon Sea for the first time since 1941.