TDDH: Jan II 42: The Allies
The last turn ended with the Allies facing a major decision. To counterattack and try to force the Japanese back towards Olongapo/Iba, or to fall back and block the road to Manila, to wait for the Japanese withdrawal to be completed, then counterattack.
The Allies are also becoming aware that help is going to be a long time in coming. Australia is a long ways away.
After refueling in East Borneo, the bulk of the combat fleet is called away. Besides the USS Pensacola, the transports are left with a torpedo boat and a gunboat to protect them.
The Filipinos replace the 31r infantry gun battalion (1-4) and the 33r infantry battalion (1-2-5). Both are placed in Manila.
1st Naval Sub-Phase
Naval Group AF, composed of only transports and small craft leaves East Borneo and turns towards Australia. The entire phase is spent travelling to Darwin, and by the end of the phase, they are still 3 movement points from Darwin.
The Allies swing around to the west, almost, but not quite cutting the Japanese forces off from the northern end of the island. (There is a small gap through Dagupan) The American Philippines division, supported by two Filipino brigades and armor approach the town of Tarlac from the north. The town is lightly defended by motorized AA, antitank guns and mortars. The American armor, fortunately, only accounts for 1/8 of the attack force. making the antitank guns useless in defense. However, Tarlac has an occupied airstrip.
The rest of the Allied force closes ranks to close the open road to Manila. The newly replaced infantry gun battalion races north to help protect the TC and resource point, while the 33r infantry battalion moves east to bolster up the defensive position that the Japanese are probing from the south.
All efforts are made to prevent the Japanese light divisions from being able to slip through to the jungles on the Baler Bay coastline. Cabanatuan is wide open, but zones of control abound.
The Allies attack Tarlac.
Once the Japanese discover the attack taking place, the Ki-21 bombers based at Tarlac airstrip take off to assist the defenders with defensive air support. The Allies have no antiaircraft available, and since the target hex is the same hex the bombers were based from, their bombing strength is increased by 50%. The defenders have a whopping 7 defensive factors. The Allies have a division (12 AF), two brigades (2.5 AF each, for a total of 5 AF), and a cadre of light tanks (6 AF), bringing the attack total to 23. Combat odds are 3:1.
Japanese forces are destroyed in a half exchange. The Japanese lose 4 points (the bombers don’t count), so the Allies lose 2, destroying one of the two Filipino brigades (5 point loss). The Philippines division, supported by the Filipino 11d infantry brigade advances into Tarlac, threatening Clark Field from the north.
Second Naval Movement Sub-Phase
The fleet arrives at Darwin, and loads supplies and troops. Because of the limited capacity of the port, only the supplies can be loaded at the harbor. The troops have to be loaded from the beach, costing valuable time. When the loading is completed, the Pensacola joins the naval group, and it leaves for Bali. The phase ends with the naval group 3 MPs from Bali, and short of fuel.
The American light armored cadre retires from the Tarlac area, moving back to Cabanatuan to block the Japanese 48th division.
Why Tarlac? Why not going after the big fish?
16th corps is in a swamp, which really would not have a huge effect on an Allied attack, but the 16th corps still has some strength.
The 19th corps has the 48th infantry division (22 defense) and another cadre in it. I think the best odds I could have got would have been 2:1, and I don’t like making attacks below 3:1.
Tarlac was weak, and now there is pressure on Clark Field from the north, and a lot of Japanese aircraft at the airfield. Someone is going to have to defend it, meaning a pullback of Japanese forces across the river. Plus, at least half of the Japanese ground forces are going to be withdrawn over the next two turns, leaving the remaining forces vulnerable.
This is where these games are too rigid (in my opinion). Had the actual campaign been going like this, I really doubt the Japanese would have been withdrawing troops until the campaign was almost over. But it is what it is.
However, the Filipinos are taking a beating. Many of their forces have been eliminated and are sitting in the replacement pool. In 3 weeks time, some of these units can be replaced again, and the Japanese driven off the island.
We now move on to see how the Japanese react.