A Sunday battle - on a damp December evening. The location, the Pacific in mid 1942. The Rules - Rapid Fire
The premis - an American Marine Regiment with supporting armour and weapons companies assaults a Japanese held island. The orders - take two hill top positions in order to allow SEABEES to build an airfield.
The American commander had never commanded troops in battle before. It was to be a baptism of fire.............
The Allied troops landed at dawn and quickly moved inland. Their intelligence was poor, a previous attempt to have a reconnaissance flight over the island failed, the plane was intercepted by Japanese fighters (this was played out using the wings of war game system and miniatures).
So, a brand spanking new commander (and war-gamer) found himself on enemy territory with no intelligence on the enemy.
The US Marines had two full strength infantry battalions, including weapons companies (with HMG, mortar, flamethrower and bazooka equipped troops). Added to their order of battle were 15 Stuart light tanks.
The Japanese commander had one Imperial Japanese Army Battalion, supported by 10 light tanks and some fairly robust fortifications - he had no heavy weapons, and had no mortars or medium machine guns. He had only 2 heavy machine guns (in two fortified bunkers).
Neither side was able to call upon naval gunfire support, or air assets due to a major engagement at the larger nearby island.
The game was scheduled to last fifteen game turns, with turns 12-15 being classified as night (dark) - all visibility halved, and re-spotting required. The spotting rules had a significant effect on the outcome of the battle.
An overview of the battlefield - the Japanese fortified positions to the right - the flat terrain (ideal for an airfield) to the left, within easy reach of Japanese interference.
The Japanese strategy was one of defense. Dug in, and waiting for the inevitable assault. His only real option for an offensive were the 10 light tanks...............They were kept out of view behind the two hills. To be unleashed at an opportune moment.
The US Marine armoured support would prove a bit more impactive
A view of the Japanese positions - even though they were outnumbered by more than 2 to 1, and their armour was very poor compared to even the light tanks of the Marines, the troops and positions were excellent.
Turns 1 to 3 saw the US Marines moving cautiously inland, without a peep from the defenders - perhaps the rumours were true? (there were no Japanese forces on the island.....the spotting rules were religiously enforced, and although the American troops could not see the Japanese forces, the IJA were very much aware of the American force). Still, they held their fire.
The Japanese command post was on the right hill (Hill 202 as referred to by the Marines) as you look towards the flat land. The IJA Colonel was no fool and had picked his positions carefully.
Turns 3-6 saw a fierce fire fight between the Marine right flank battalion (supported initially by five Stuart tanks) and the forward defensive position of hill 201 (named by US Marines). The Japanese had built two fortified bunkers, as-well as the infantry positions in a covering ark on the lower to mid area of each hill. These were to cause the right flank in particular over 130 casualties in the first 6 turns.
These casualties would grow to over 315 at the end of the 15 turns (first day). The vast majority caused to the right flank battalion by a single well dug in IJA company. This company was wiped out to a man but delayed the right flank assault for 8 turns - this was to prove significant.
A further five tanks were despatched to assist the right flank. The final five being held in reserve. Meanwhile, the American left flank moved to a ravine and dug in. The plan was to roll up the Japanese line using the right flank assault. In front of the left flank was open ground. The Marine commander was being cautious - he did not know if there were any IJA troop positions in front of his left flank - he had not spotted any.
The right flank battalion commander was urgently requesting further armoured support - his assault had been stalled by a fanatical IJA company in the first layer of defensive works..
It was at this point the Japanese commander hurled his tank company into an assault on the faltering right flank attack of the Americans.
Almost immediately, five of the Japanese tanks were destroyed by their American counterparts - forcing the survivors to withdraw from contact
Another assault on the Japanese positions by the right flank.
Slowly but surely the hidden Japanese emplacement opened fire in defence, or were spotted by the advancing marines. The stubborn IJA company holding the the right flank was finally eliminated and its positions taken by US forces. The attack was further stalled by a defensive bunker. The right flank battalion weapons company started to edge toward a flanking move - only to note a further defensive position atop the hill (202). Their progress slowed.
Meanwhile on the left flank, a superb bit of mortar 'ing' saw one troublesome bunker explode into flames.
A further attack by the Japanese armour saw the remaining tanks obliterated with no loss to the American light tanks.
It was around this time that the left flank probably saw the worst disaster of the day for the US forces. B company of the second battalion stormed toward hill 201 - no Japanese forces had been spotted. The company had started to scale the lower part of the hill when all hell broke lose. Three separate Japanese positions opened fire and caused in an instant 75 casualties - leaving only 45 effectives in the company. These men found themselves isolated and pinned.
The American commander found himself fighting against time. The day was drawing to an end and it would soon be night. This could not come soon enough for the plucky Japs - they were close to 50% casualties and a moral dice roll would probably see a suicidal Banzai charge.
The fifteen American tanks started to take their toll of the Japanese infantry men and their fortifications, one bunker had been destroyed and the heavy weapons company was closing in on the right flanks.
It went dark, and everything changed. The US forces could not see the Japanese positions, their mortar support was stopped in an instant. The tanks could not support the assault on either hill, they could not climb the hills, and could not see the targets.
The American commander admitted defeat, he would have to wait until day to continue the battle - he had run out of time. Both hills were still in Japanese hands (albeit, Hill 201 was looking shaky due to losses).
Decisive Japanese victory.
IJA - 240 men and ten light tanks, one bunker destroyed
USMC - 315 men
Final positions - you will note that 15 tanks and three companies were assaulting hill 201 (American left flank) - and were faced by the IJA battalion HQ, and a two weakened infantry companies (one down to 30 effectives).