DB099 The Gin Drinker’s Line AAR

During the night of 9 Dec, Japanese troops mounted a massed attack on the western portion of the defensive line, and the Gin Drinkers’ Line collapsed by 10 Dec. On 11 Dec, as Japanese troops advanced southward along the Kowloon Peninsula, Maltby ordered the evacuation of all troops to Hong Kong Island.

– C. Peter Chan, Battle of Hong Kong, World War II Database

The Gin Drinker’s Line

This latest scenario is from Dispatches from the Bunker, dated Dec 10 1941 and centered around the breakthrough of the western part of the “Gin Drinker’s Line” which led to the siege of Hong Kong island.  (Hong Kong surrendered on Christmas Day, 1941.)

British Turn 1

Erwin played the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and I the Rajputs of the British Indian Army.  The above illustration is the British Turn 1.  The IJA had already initiated their advance from the west.  The IJA’s winning condition was to amass more “victory points” (ie kill more) than the British and to occupy 5 or more huts (“the village”) on the top right of the map.  The two “TI” units you see are a mortar unit and a medium machine gun (‘MMG’) unit trying to dig foxholes in a grain field, looking to dominate the depression and to slow the IJA advance to the huts.  You can see also where the mortar bore-sighted  (the semi-transparent marker on the top left) and where the MMG bore-sighted (bottom right).  The IJA could choose to have reinforcements coming in from the top left of the map in Turn 2 or from the bottom right of the map in Turn 3.  In retrospect I should have weighted my defence more toward the top of the map where the approach to the huts was shorter.

IJA Turn 2

This is IJA Turn 2.  The IJA was already rushing the Rajput trenches.  There was a Banzai attack on the top left of the map where 2 IJA squads and a leader ran through all defensive fire and into a trench with a solitary Rajput squad.  These Rajputs fought valiantly and with their last gasp took ALL the offending IJAs with them in brutal hand to hand combat.  (Note to self: never put too many squads into a HtH, kill odds for BOTH sides are good.)

British Turn 2

The British Turn 2.  The IJA had already crumbled the top side of the Rajput trench defence but now it was clear that the IJA reinforcements would not be coming from the top left but from the bottom right on Turn 3.  The Rajput mortar squad fired off a smoke round to block the IJA mortar crew and the MMG crew on the opposite side of the depression.  The Rajputs from the trench line were in full retreat, desperately running across the depression.  The orchards in the depression provided a fair bit of cover.  The MMG squad was still trying to dig their fox holes amidst all the action upfront.  You should also see a British squad pinned on the bottom left before it could get into the depression.  These guys won’t survive the engagement.

JT3a-proc

IJA Turn 3 : The IJA was going for blood!  The IJA reinforcements appeared on the bottom right of the map.  The orchards provided good hindrance for them. In the meantime, the mortar and the MMG squads were busy firing away, as did the retreating squads in the depression.  The IJA arrived at the edge of the depression.  They were also on the verge of overrunning the routing Rajputs in the woods on the top of the map.

IJA Turn 4

IJA Turn 4 : the Rajput mortars took out an IJA 9-1 leader and a crew in the preceding British turn from across the depression with an airburst and so the IJA decided that it was time to lay a smoke round on them.  The MMG squad finally got their foxholes in the preceding turn.  You can see the IJA reinforcements coming to the woods line immediately south of the village (on the right of the map) where the IJA sniper broke the LMG crew in the hut on the south-eastern tip.

British Turn 4

British Turn 4 : this was the last chance for the Rajputs to prepare for the inevitable IJA onslaught.  The game teetered on a balance at this point.   In the middle of the village, the IJA smoke round actually protected the Rajput mortar as it relocated to prepare for a last turn IJA rush.  The MMG in the foxhole kept the 3-hut cluster relatively clean (it would kill the injured IJA leader).  You can also see the IJA already moved into the Rajput LMG position on the south end of the village.

IJA Turn 5

Final IJA Turn : The good news from the last British turn was that the IJA fired at the broken stack in the hut on the north-west tip of the village and granted the Rajputs a battle hardened élite squad!  In this last IJA turn you can see all the residual fire on that corner of the village, evidence of the élite Rajputs (and the mortar squad) fighting hard.  The IJA broke into the south side of the village unfortunately.  Even though the Rajputs routed some broken squads forward in the last turn as speed bumps, they weren’t much good in the IJA Advance Phase (having routed off already).   The IJA won this scenario when the dust settled with a 1 point lead in VP and five huts secured.

To be honest, I didn’t read and understand the Victory Conditions properly.  I thought the IJA had to get more than 5 huts so I biased my defence towards the northwest of the village.  I was going to let the IJA have five huts but deny him the rest.  I succeed at that but unfortunately all they needed was 5.

If I play this scenario again, I will bias my trench line defence to the top of the map.  It’s also important that the trench line Rajputs retreat as fast possible to help with the village defence.

This was a tight scenario all the way to the end.  The action was brutal, the fight was desperate and the body count high.  For those who wants to experience PTO without the PTO terrain, this is a top notched scenario.

By 13 December, the 5/7 Rajputs of the British Indian Army commanded by Lieutenant Colonel R. Cadogan-Rawlinson, the last Commonwealth troops on the mainland, had retreated to Hong Kong Island.

– “Battle of Hong Kong“, Wikipedia

jaL80

English: Entry of the galleries from Shing Mun...

English: Entry of the galleries from Shing Mun Redoubt, part of the Gin Drinkers Line in Hong Kong Français : Entrée de l’une des galeries souterraines de la Shing Mun Redoubt qui faisait partie de la ligne fortifiée Gin Drinkers de Hong Kong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rajput Regiment

Rajput Regiment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Moment in ASL: Imperial Japanese Army in Hand-to-Hand Combat

Dead Japanese personnel lie where they fell on...

Dead Japanese personnel lie where they fell on Attu Island after a final “banzai” charge against American forces on May 29, 1943 during the Battle of Attu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So here we were, right at the opening of DB99 The Gin Drinker’s Line. Indian troops were sitting in trenches on a windy mountain pass, staring down advancing IJA troops bent on breaking through the last defence line between them and the capture of the entire Kowloon peninsula (Hong Kong).

At a particular trench, defensive fire broke and routed two Indian squads from the trenches. A squad nearby advanced into the trench hex. IJA troops kept moving in and it was too late to get into the trench. One IJA squad broke through the grain fields straight up front, our squad pinned it down with First Fire. Good. Another IJA half squad raced by to the right and Subsequent First Fire failed to bring them down. The Indian squad was now out of guns and wishing for the enemy Movement Phase to end.

From the swirling mist to the left, an IJA 8-0 leader at the tree line thrust his sword into the air and screamed : BAAAANNNNZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAIIII!!!

Two IJA squads pour out of the forest with the 8-0, running straight for our Indian squad.  Staring Death in the eye, the Indians invoked Final Protective Fire, survived the Morale Check but failed to knock back the IJA horde.

The Indians were locked in Close Combat with two IJA squads and a 8-0. With 2-1 Hand-to-Hand odds and the IJA -1 DRM, a DR of 10 would wipe the Indians out (92% probability). Sure enough, IJA rolled a 7.

With death being a certainty, the Indians decided to take on all comers. Hand-to-Hand combat at 1-2 odds calls for a dice roll of 6. Since they were fighting the IJA, they needed a 5.

Our squad rolled 1 & 3. 

They took the 2 IJA squads and the 8-0 leader down with them.

Brian Youse pointed out the dangers of Hand-to-Hand (HtH) combat in his article “The Case for Infiltration” (ASL Journal 3).

It is not a good idea to commit too many IJA troops to a HtH combat because of the high chance of mutual destruction. In our case H-t-H allowed the “dying” Indian squad to take out 1 IJA squad with a die roll of 6 (42% probability) vs 4 in normal close combat (17%), or 2 IJA squads with a die roll of 5 (28%) vs 3 in normal close combat (8%).

This is an important note to self.

jaL80

 

A Moment in ASL: LMG vs Tankette

Type 94 TK tankette captured at Battle of Okinawa

Type 94 TK tankette captured at Battle of Okinawa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I perched on the side of a skating rink today, returning a PBeM log on BoF01 The Marco Polo Bridge Incident.

Two IJA (Imperial Japanese Army) tin cans drove down the bridge on Turn 3 to stop the Chinese from threatening their rear. As the lead tin cans drove around the woods, a Chinese squad unconcealed and started up with their light machine gun (LMG).

The range was 6 hexes.  I needed to roll a 10 to hit. Moving target and the brief appearance added 4 to the dice roll (Case J), the size of the tiny Type 94 tank added 2 (Case P) .. I needed a 4 and I rolled 2,2!  PPOONGGGGGGGGG!!!

So I got a hull side hit where the armour’s zero. I needed another 4 or less to kill it (2 rolls of 4 or less is a 2.9% probability).

It was a 1,2 – BOOM!  The Chinese LMG took out a Japanese tankette!!

JUST HOW COOL IS TTTHATTTT?

A110 Shanghai In Flames

West wall of Sihang Warehouse, Shanghai, China, late Oct or early Nov 1937

Chinese soldiers on the roof of Sihang Warehouse, Shanghai, China, late Oct 1937

It was October 27 1937. The Imperial Japanese Army had already been in China for years. Manchuria and Beijing were already under Japanese control. Chiang Kai-Shek, the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party and a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy had been until then, conceding to Japan’s demands at every turn while building up an army with the Germans (see the German helmets in the photo? The Tripartite Pact wasn’t signed until 1940.) The 88th Division was the elite of the Nationalist Chinese forces. Its 524th Regiment held out against IJA’s 3rd Divison at Sihang warehouse situated across the Whampoa River from the “foreign concessions” long enough to sway western opinions about IJA’s aggression on Chinese soil. (Here’s a GamesSquad Forum thread with a great writeup about the battle.)

I am playing another scenario around this battle at the same time – AP54 800 Heroes. You will certainly see an AAR here once that’s done. By the way, there was only 423 men and 16 officers defending the warehouse but they reported their numbers to be 800. Hence this incident is known to the Chinese as “800 Heroes” or “八百壯士”.

The interesting bit about A110 Shanghai in Flames is that the Blaze is the 3rd player. Both players need to work around it and even with it, as you will see.

I am fortunate enough to be playing the Chinese. Here’s the IJA Turn 1.
End of T1 Axis
The Sihang warehouse is the factory on the lower left of the screen. Three hexes within were fortified. I find the row house in front to be incredibly useful in providing blind hexes against IJA machine guns situated in the multilevel buildings at jump-off (top part of the picture). The IJA could slide down the far left, come through the row house (using the big stone building in the middle) or swing around the far right. I made sure that I got fire lanes down some of the streets and the leaders (there are only 2) sited to keep the chaps from cowering. I also made sure approaches to these machine guns were covered even if it’s the inherent firepower of lone squads, FFMO+FFNAM (penalties for moving on open ground and not using assault movement) is a deadly thing.
Axis Turn 2 - Chinese squad volunteered routing on the left to avoid CC
The above was the IJA turn 2. IJA pressed down on the left and the middle. A Chinese squad broke voluntarily to avoid close combat on the far left. The mission was to survive long enough to delay the IJA onslaught for as long as possible! The IJA machine guns from the top of the map were pretty threatening but my opponent had the worst of luck with the dice. They broke repeated and finally knock themselves out of the game!

The best thing I did was to lit the building on the bottom left of the screen above the factory (see the “flame” blow the broken unit?) up early. It soon developed into a blaze that denied the IJA use of a terrific jump off point for the final attack on the factory.
T5 Axis Move-proc
Okay, this is the Axis Turn 5 where the Chinese took the wraps off their heavy machine gun (lower left, “First Fire”) from within the factory and laid a fire lane down the street. Unfortunately it malfunctioned not long after. A light machine gun in the row house did the same joined by the medium machine gun from the bottom right at the end of the long street.

You can also see that the big stone building the middle was pretty much engulfed in flames. The IJA was forced to come through its immediate right. The Chinese was able to put a HS up the wall and laid out some pain as the IJA squads came towards it on open ground.

This is what I mean by the Blaze being the 3rd player. Time and time ahead the Chinese had to rout out of buildings as their hex bursted into flames but it also denied the IJA some really great positions.
T5 Allied AFPh - Sulking-proc
Two more IJA turns to go, the Chinese troops skulked like the best of them. The MMG on the bottom right should have went down to the other side of the row house and prep for the last fire lane but had to scoot upstairs instead to avoid the pesky IJA half squad hanging around the streets. The row house defence line was collapsing at this point.
T6 Axis Move-proc
IJA Turn 6 – the legendary IJA step-reduce steamroller! I was careful about planting each residual fire right but it’s awe-inspiring to see them running through the bullet storm.

The board’s on fire ..

After the Final IJA Movement PhaseThis was the scene immediately after the last IJA Defensive Fire Phase.  The Chinese saw no less than three Banzai attacks after waves of feints from reduced-strengths/half squads.  You can see where they were from the red “Human Wave” markers.  The Chinese heavy machine gun had already malfunctioned and their medium machine gun was out of place, so no fire lanes were possible.  They had to be careful about their shooting so they don’t run out of bullets before the IJA run out of squads.   The focus of course was to build a “wall of fire” in an inverted “v” immediately north of the factory.  The top three factory hexes in that “v” was fortified and was invaluable in stopping two out of three banzai attacks.

You can see the two places where the IJA broke in as well.  The Chinese could only spread out inside the factory so that the IJA couldn’t engage them all in close combat before time ran out.  Oh, stacked underneath the broken squad on the bottom end of the factory right next to the IJA squad was a 8-0 leader holding out his corner with a light machine gun!

Both players had to account for and in the Chinese case, “ally” with the Blaze.  The triangular cluster of houses top left of the factory should be lit up as soon as possible, as should the big stone complex (H2) in the middle of the board, top of the row house in the picture .  Blazes in these locations denied the IJA important jump-off points for attack.  The row house top right of the factory was a terrific defense line that allowed routs back into the factory (especially when the  left cluster of buildings were on fire).

Overall, an awesome scenario and I had an awesome opponent!

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