Tag: War in the Pacific
Last year I put up a piece I wrote for the War in the Pacific let’s play I’ve read. I thought it was time for a complete story. This is battle that raged for nearly eighteen months (in-game and real-time, as the player is doing one turn per day). It was a titanic struggle and I really enjoyed going back through the thread and working out the casualties and major events.
On February 18 1942, 33,000 Chinese infantry smashed the defenses of the heavily entrenched Japanese who’d held the city since 1938. Ever since the Chinese have dug in and driving back wave after wave of enemy assaults. The greatest threat to the Chinese came on the 28th of February, when 66,000 élite Japanese troops, with 600 guns and 50 vehicles in support smashed into 54,000 dug in Chinese conscripts and 300 guns.
This was the bloodiest day early in the battle of Sinyang, with 6,728 (2707 Japanese, and 4021 Chinese) troops dying in the span of a few hours. All Chinese fortifications were smashed aside, and the city seemed poised to fall, and more Chinese soldiers died on this day than any other day of the Battle for Sinyang. However, the Japanese could not capitalize on this success. Almost four hundred of their elite squads were destroyed or disabled, compared to only 200 squads being put out of action on the side of the Chinese (although their non-combat units suffered heavily).
The Japanese never mounted a full on assault on the city again that year – the stubborn Chinese defenders became true heroes of the pacific overnight. In other places, entire armies were surrendering wholesale to the Japanese onslaught, but at Sinyang the previously unstopped Imperial Army had been ground to a halt. Japanese honor prevented them from pulling back from the blasted out city, but they would never mass a large formation of troops to attack as they did on the 28th of February.
There were 100,000 Japanese troops in the vicinity of Sinyang during mid-March, these were never massed for an all out assault to try and pry the city back. Japanese honor prevented them from backing down, but the battlefield situation prevented them from actually committing to a large assault. Chinese offensives elsewhere meant that any major defeat at Sinyang would result in losses the Japanese couldn’t afford. The large Chinese concentration in the city meant that the Japanese couldn’t leave even if they wanted to, or they’d risk a breakout from an army of battle hardened, blood thirsty Chinese veterans, further splitting their forces.
So, constant small assaults, never rising above 20,000 men (less than half the number of defenders) were launched throughout 1942, with horrendous losses. The Japanese killed more defenders than they lost only 5 times in the months of assaults, and many times lost entire thirds of the attacking force.
Fighting continued sporadically into 1943. The Chinese thinking on many occasions that they had the numbers, attacked the Japanese positions. It ended in disaster and in November ’42 alone the Chinese lost nearly 20,000 men to the Japanese’s 4,000. It resumed again in January, with losses being even further in Japan’s favour.
Similar results in February and May of 1943 led the Japanese to launch several attacks in June. June 10th had the Japanese break through the Chinese defenses and threatening to cut the railway line. However the Japanese attack petered out and stopped.
The battle lulled until August, with only one major attack by the Chinese in June. After a preparatory bombardment, the Chinese launched their last attack on the 21st of August 1943. After initial setbacks and heavy casualties (10,000 killed, wounded and captured in 3 days) the battle shifted on the 26th as Chinese reserves breached into the Japanese supply areas. A massive encirclement ensued with few being captured. By the 2nd of September the Japanese had been expelled from Sinyang. The day before the Japanese surrender was the bloodiest in the battle, 11,000 Japanese casualties were inflicted, many of the deaths when the Chinese detonated mines underneath the Japanese lines. Fewer than 700 Chinese were reported killed, wounded or missing on this day.
It had been a brutal 5 years for the civilian population. Nearly one in three had died in course of the occupation, with many being killed in the nearly eighteen months of fighting.
Just as a small aside, I thought I might post some of the writing I did for the War in the Pacific LP. I’m hoping that it reads like a Wikipedia article! This is an article written about in game events put in my own words. It isn’t exactly what happened, since the reports are a little sparse.
Operation Castration began on the 15th of October 1942 after meticulous planning by Secretary of Defence Grey Hunter, Chief of Staff Farraday and their commander in the field, Chester Nimitz.
Four US carriers, USS Enterprise, USS Yorktown, USS Wasp, and USS Long Island were sent north to the Solomons to find, engage and destroy any Japanese opposition. Several Japanese carriers had operated in the area, so confrontation was thought likely.
Action of October 15
The Japanese likely spotted the carrier force first from coast watchers or spotter planes. It was the afternoon before any combat occurred in the Solomons, and as a result of their recon the Japanese were the ones that got in the first attack. Their huge wave found the American Carriers steaming between Santa Isabel and Choiseul islands. Consisting of thirty Type 0 Fighters (Zeros), forty-nine Type 97 Carrier Attack Planes (Kates) and sixty-four Type 99 Carrier Bombers (Vals). One hundred and forty-three aircraft then tangled with the American CAP of fifty-three Wildcats.
The sixty-four Vals scored no hits and in return lost 10 of their number to flak and CAP. The Kates had more luck, one torpedo hitting USS Yorktown causing flooding and slowing her. USS Enterprise skillfully avoided at least half a dozen torpedoes shooting down almost every Kate that got close. The cruiser Indianapolis was hit by two torpedoes that Enterprise had avoided but managed to avoid sinking. The Kates’ relative success was marred by their losses. Fourteen were destroyed outright during the battle, and many are likely to have been lost on their return journey, only five of the forty-nine returned undamaged. The escorting Zeros lost four of their number and managed to shoot down only one of the CAP Wildcats. USS Wasp and USS Long Island managed to escape unharmed and untargeted.
The American attack is mounted as soon as the carriers were in place. The launched a slightly smaller but better escorted raid. Thirty seven F4F-4s Wildcats escorted sixty-two SBD-3 Dauntless Dive Bombers and forty-eight TBF-1 Avengers Torpedo . Doing their best to stop the raid were sixty-one Type 0 fighters. The Wildcats, although shooting down only one Zero defended their bombers and many attacks on the Japanese task force were made. The IJN Hiyo was hit by two torpedoes and two bombs with the Dauntlesses and Avengers working in excellent co-ordination. The battleship IJN Kongo and the light carrier IJN Shoho had several AA guns knocked out with a single bomb each. Six Wildcats, six Dauntlesses and ten Avengers did not return the US task force.
Action of October 16
USS Indianapolis began her journey home after the severe damage from the day before. Again the Japanese got in the first raid. 31 Kates, 30 Vals and 11 Zeros found the American carriers, now joined into one three carrier force. No damage was inflicted on the American carriers for the loss of two Zeros, nine Kates and seven Vals. Only a single Wildcat was shot down out of the 21 flying CAP.
The 2nd American attack. 26 Avengers, 74 Dauntlesses escorted by 23 Wildcats. 33 Zeros defend their fleet, but up to eighty of the US bombers made their attacks. For the loss of 5 Wildcats, 9 Dauntlesses and 7 Avengers a single bomb penetrated the deck of IJN Kaga. The high ratio of Avenger losses was traded by a torpedo hit on the light carrier Shoho. A single Zero was also shot down by the escorting Wildcats.
Other raids followed, with the Japanese again getting in first. Several carrier attack and bombers were noted to have come from land bases around the Shortland islands, increasing the likelihood of a Japanese carrier being sunk the previous day. Isolated Kate and Val raids were easily dealt with and a Zero sweep before their next attack resulted in four to one favouring the Americans. The afternoon carrier raid consisted of fewer than thirty bombers. However the American CAP was greatly reduced and the heroic Kates managed two torpedo strikes on USS Wasp. All the Kates suffered damage but made it away from the fray. One Zero and two Vals were lost for one Wildcat. American follow up raids all missed their attacks. Kaga, IJN Zuikaku and Kongo all too swift for the now tired Dauntless pilots. 4 Wildcats and 3 Dauntlesses did not return to their carriers.
Action of October 17
Japanese Oscars managed to shoot down a single Wildcat on CAP without taking loss early in the day. Army air force Tojos escorting Vals made an attack, but only a single Wildcat was shot down with no damage to Wasp. Passing almost within visual range of Kongo the Americans launched a raid. Five Wildcats and thirteen Avengers proved no match for Kongo and twelve Zeros. No hits were scored for the loss of seven
Avengers and one Wildcat. Avengers again proving to be vulnerable to the Japanese CAPs and even the limited AA fire.
Three Dauntlesses were lost in a raid on the Shortlands, sinking a cargo ship in the process. Another nine Dauntlesses were caught by ten Zeros attacking the damaged Shoho as she approached Rabaul. No hits were scored and four Dauntlesses failed to return home. A few Kates penetrate the American screen and hit Yorktown with a torpedo, however the bulkheads held and flooding was only minor.
With this the fleets moved out of range of each other and the battle concluded.
Despite the last day clearly in the Japanese favour, only moderate damage was inflicted on the American carriers and at best aircraft losses were equal. The first raid by the Japanese also showed their decline in aircrew quality. In January or February of that year such an attack would have sunk all four US carriers.
I follow a VERY long-term Let’s Play on the Something Awful forums. It’ll probably last for the best part of four years (like the real Pacific War) and has been a huge amount of fun so far. Grey Hunter is the ambitious player of this game, and is willing to devote 5% of his life one form or another playing this game.
Here’s a sketch I made to one of the in-game events.
The story behind the picture is a particularly interesting one. It follows a raid on a small Japanese task force, North of the Solomon Islands. Because of several losses and damaging Japanese attacks, instead of a raid by American carrier planes or bombers, Grey had to rely on his smaller British carriers. Using the obsolete looking Fairy Swordfish and newer Fairy Albacore, HMS Illustrious launched on a distant target. The tiny attack (nine aircraft) managed to find the ugly Japanese Battleship Yamashiro with only one heavy cruiser escorting. The cruiser Tone did not recieve damage in the attack, but Yamashiro was hit by a torpedo.
Because of their older looking aircraft the British naval air arm isn’t considered good for anything. However the preceding month, they had run the gauntlet of Rabaul’s air defences and torpedoed the Japanese Navy’s flagship, Yamato.
After reading the battle report at work, I decided to draw a picture. It was a very simple affair with just a piece of paper, a pencil and my finger to do the work I’m happy with how it turned out. I’m usually an appalling artist, so something like this is something I cherish!
You can read the thread here: