To Embark Upon the Great Crusade 15

The two marks (Mark and Marc), continue their chronological newsreel AAR series thru the sands of time  with Combat Commander as the metaphor of their exploration of squad level combat in WWII.

Autumn Heats Up in the South Pacific!

While fighting rages in the city of Stalingrad, Australian and Japanese forces clash in the sweltering jungle and hills of New Guinea.

Templeton Crossing is Crossed, October 17, 1942

ANZAC forces have a tough trail ahead of them as they outrun their supply lines and catch the retreating Japanese who are ready to delay them as long as possible. Here, the Japanese are dug in on the ridge line waiting for our Australian allies to advance.

The Japanese immediately get a radio but the jungle is so dense there are only a few good lines of sight. ANZAC forces advance slowly. On the left, Sgt. Philips is bringing HMG and LMG fire to harass the Japanese up on the hills. They encounter them far enough forward to hit them, but the wily Japanese scoot in and out of sight. On the Australian right, they manage to engage the units but are cut down in fierce hand-to-hand fighting.

Philips uses the gully for his approach until he can finally gain the winding trail up the hill. The Japanses manage to decimate the ANZACS on the Allied right but instead of coming forward (the Aussies could have stopped their advance most likely) they moved to the center. Endo is trying to hold things together as Philips’ men approach.

Lt. Payne manages to gain the central crest, rushing in to a lone Japanese squad. Sgt. Endo, sliding away from Philips’ men rush into the same melee. But the Aussies are ready and with a determination born of their bitter struggle up the hill, they kill the Japanese to the last man and secure the crossing!

The Aussies are Up a Creek and Bitterly. Eora Creek, New Guinea, October 22, 1942

ANZAC forces again engaged determined Japanese defenders as they attempt to cross Eora creek in the mountainous jungle of New Guinea. We can’t imagine the heat, the humidity, the utter torture of fighting and moving through such jungle terrain and while in combat. We must take a moment of silence to remember our brave allies.

The Japanses, it seems, turn out to be well emplaced to repel any defenders. Their medium machine gun and battalion gun sit on a high ridge, commanding the creek bed and the surrounding slopes. Here, they are shown ready to thwart the Australian advance.

The ANZACs moved forward cautiously. On the left they would eventurally get men along the edge of the battlefired, across the treacherous waters and out through the other side of the area. But it wasn’t to be enough. The Australians fought to get their men moving and flank the Japanese but what had seemed like a retreating force turned into a well emplaced defense. At nearly every turn, the Aussies stumbled into tangles of wire and minefields. The chatter of one medium machine gun was joined by another and then a heavy machine gun. As the Aussies fire back, the Japanese defenses, a trench and pillbox were made visible.

To gain the bridge was to be cut down. To stand along the high ground on the allied side of the creek was to take hits from the Japanese weapons. Try as they might, the Aussies couldn’t make enough headway and had to regroup to fight another day. A bad loss for the brave ANZAC troops!

Game Notes

Scenario M4, Templeton’s Crossing, is a Combat Commander: Pacific scenario from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #4 – New Guinea. The battle was nip and tuck and I worried on my right when all my men were killed. The Japanese have so few units, however, that it almost makes the default strategy to eliminate them all. As always the Japanese are horribly deadly in melee. This battle saw a slow but steady advance from the Aussies up the slopes, using fire power to break the Japanese and harass them. There were some deadly melees on the right which cost me all of a group of forces.

I was surprised he didn’t make a run for the board edge since exit VPs were +1. (We both had hidden points for Objective 5 but that turned out not to matter). Here was the clincher, however. He brought his last two units into the melee in the center. It was 11-7 FP in favor of the Japanese. He rolls for a total of 18. I have the Initiative Card. My only hope is…boxcars! And I get them! That’s the last three of the Japanese units and so the Allies win! That was such a nail biter and my wish came true for that twelve! 

Scenario G, Bitter Creek, is also a New Guinea fight, this one running across a dangerous creek. The ANZACs need to get moving and quickly. Even with bonus movement on the other side of the creek, it’s just so slow to get through the jungle. The Japanese had terribly good draws with two Hidden Units to score another MMG and then an HMG. Lots of Defender Actions helped slow me down. It was just a matter of fighting the clock in an effort to get around that trench full of red-hot machine guns. They were chewing us up all over.

While I managed to get several units off, it wasn’t nearly enough to whittle away his lead in VPs. The Japanese win at Sudden Death with 15.

Another even trade day of battling in the Combat Commander Series. This is a portion of our Chronological Playthrough. Current standings are Allies to Axis at 13-21. As Marc keeps reminding me, it’s the time of the war when the Allies were pretty losing. We’ll see if we can reverse it once the Americans appear in earnest!

One of the cool things to ponder, as I might have mentioned before, is how very different battles are being fought across the same days of October 1942, in Stalingrad and on New Guinea. It gives, even for the briefest moment, an appreciation of the scope of what was happening during World War II.

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