Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

TDDH: Allied Feb II 42

As noted during the Japanese half of the turn, there are no more Allied reinforcements coming. All American reinforcements are going to north Australia, so they are immaterial.

The Allies have been severely weakened and are reeling, the Philippines division having been decimated during the Battle of Malolos. Manila is surrounded, and a new Japanese infantry division has landed on the north side of the island, creating a new threat from the north.

I think Manila is safe for the moment. The Japanese, dealing with their own casualty levels, do not have the strength at this point to take the city. It could conceivably hold out for months, before the Japanese can gain enough strength to take it out.

All units in Manila are in supply, as it is a supply terminal. The few units to the north are in supply via the northwestern port of San Fernando, via naval supply to Cebu City.

There are 3 replacement points currently trapped inside Manila, while an additional 4 replacements are outside the city. If the two can be combined, there are enough replacements to rebuild the 1st Filipino infantry division. There are 2 replacements in Cagayan, and 1/2 replacement point in Zamboanga, both on Mindanao. Since there is not a non-naval supply line between the two (there are miles and miles of trails between the two), these cannot be combined. One set must be moved where they can trace a non-naval supply line between each other.

Before I get to Luzon, I should deal with the other islands first. Like all good CINC’s, I’ve been putting this off. But I need to start dealing with it before it gets to be too late.

In order to deal with things, all available barges (except those at Cebu) are called up for operations. Japanese airpower is nonexistent, and the missions are too far south for the Japanese navy to react to.

Defending the Visayan Islands (as they are collectively known) (Panay, Masbate, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar) is a difficult task because there are so many of them. Of course, it is going to take some time for the Japanese to conquer and control them, considering that they only have two landing craft available, and only two or three assault transports.

Consider the islands of Leyte and Samar. The two are accessible to each other via a narrow strait. But both islands and ports of significance are in weather zone 12, and this weather zone has had rough seas pretty much since the beginning of the game. Rough surf increases the chances that the landing craft get damaged during a landing. It looks like the best chance of a break in the weather is in March, then the sea likely starts getting rough again. This is the best window for the Japanese to get a foothold on one of those islands.

Which of these islands should be defended? Should the islands be abandoned altogether in favor of defending Mindanao?

Cebu City is the most valuable target on all of the islands, but one of the hardest to defend.

Just like Luzon, not every port can be defended. Once the Japanese land, they can easily establish a supply line.

Cebu has three ports that need defended against invasion.

Negros has 5.

Panay has 3.

While Cebu City is by far the most important port in the Visayan islands, the island of Panay is worth the most victory points, and also has the fewest ports to defend. It starts to play right into Japan’s lack of amphibious capabilities and air support. While I don’t want to just hand victory points to the enemy, I don’t want to leave troops spread out and isolated all over the map.

Which brings me to Mindanao.

Mindanao is a large island, but the interior is pretty dense. The interior can be defended pretty easily, but there is no access to supply.

I had been trying to decide between defending Cagayan, a supply source, and defending Zamboanga, a standard port and supply source at the tip of the long peninsula. There is also an airfield there.

For a while, I was highly influenced by The Fall of the Philippines by Louis Morton. From chapter 28: The Southern Islands:

The Zamboanga Peninsula jutting westward from the center of the island into the Sulu Sea is virtually indefensible and easily cut off at its narrow neck from the rest of Mindanao.

I took these words to heart, and was determined to abandon Zamboanga. But to where? Cagayan? I have never been fully enthusiastic about the terrain in the area. I felt holding that port, was a fool’s errand, but the only option available.

As I was writing this (and I know I’ve been rambling for awhile), it suddenly dawned on me that Zamboanga has to be where the last stand will be made.

If the observation has been made that Zamboanga is not worth defending, then why defend it?

Because it is more valuable. It has greater airbase capacity. It is a bigger port and better terrain than Cagayan. It is a supply source. If it can be fortified, it may prove more difficult to take.

There is no general supply line to the rest of the island, given that the terrain is made up of mostly trails.

Granted, that does not mean that supplies cannot be landed on a beach further up the peninsula, but the general supply state may degrade over time, because in bad weather, the Japanese supply line will be shortened, making those forces vulnerable.

Why defend only one port and let the Japanese run roughshod over the rest of the island?

Central & southern Philippines naval operations (click image to enlarge)

Central & southern Philippines naval operations (click image to enlarge)

The Allies no longer have enough strength to wage an offensive war. At this point, it is all defensive. They do not have the strength to defend everywhere, either. One place has to be chosen.

The Zamboanga barges can only carry a single RE at a time, so several trips are going to be required to move troops from Cagayan to Zamboanga.

The Iloilo barges move first. The barges have enough movement to pick up the cargo at Bacolad on Negros (0.5 replacement points) and at Cebu City (1 replacement point and the 61d infantry brigade). All are returned to Iloilo. The replacements from Bacolad are put ashore via the beach, due to capacity limitations at the port of Iloilo.

Down south, the Zamboanga barge makes way to Cagayan, where it picks up a 2-3-6 infantry regiment, and returns to Zamboanga with it. Putting the regiment ashore, the barges then return to Cagayan where they load another 3-4-4 infantry regiment. The phase ends with the barges still in port.

Manila Bay naval operations (click image to enlarge)

Manila Bay naval operations (click image to enlarge)

The 3 barges are also called up at Manila.

Two load up with resource points, and the three transports load the mechanized battalion, a transport counter and the three replacement points, and move them across the bay to hex 1724, and deposit them on the beaches there. The IJN does not react, because Batangas is just out of reaction range of Manila Bay.

The final barge crosses the bay to the rice fields (hex 1823) and loads the remnants of the Philippines division, returning to Manila with the cadre, greatly strengthening the defenses there.

The units that have been transported from Manila have some leftover movement that they can spend.

All three Allied divisions have been cadred, so why did I move the replacement points out of Manila, instead of shipping replacements into the city? Because of the Japanese Zones of Control, replacements inside the city are useless, so they have to be removed. They cannot be used until next turn.

Allied movement on Luzon (click image to enlarge)

Allied movement on Luzon (click image to enlarge)

The 1PGp light armored cadre hustles north to the port of San Fernando and to block the advance of the 4th Japanese infantry division that just landed at Vigan.

The transport counter carries a resource point to Corregidor so it can be used by the construction battalion to builds an airfield.

Clark Field is completely repaired, as pristine as the day before the invasion.

The 26PSr mechanized battalion swings around behind the Zambales Mountains, and recaptures Olongapo and Iba. it continues to move north towards Dagupan.

The 1st Filipino infantry cadre staggers to Clark Field, at the base of the Zambales Mountains, while the 71d infantry brigade crosses the Pampanga River and into the town of San Fernando (southern) to protect the approaches to Marivelles and Corregidor.

Allied movement on Visayan islands and Mindanao (click image to enlarge)

Allied movement on Visayan islands and Mindanao (click image to enlarge)

Six infantry battalions leave Iloilo, three by rail, then west to Kalibo, while the other three hoof it to Roxas to cover that port. Not a lot of strength, but hopefully replacements will make them stronger.

On Mindanao, the last remaining troops at Del Monte and returning from Malabang make their way into Cagayan.

The rail lines from Lucena and Batangas have become problematic. Bombers are dispatched to try to tear up some of those lines, to make the movement of attack supply more difficult.

It’s now time to show the power of the B-17s. For the most part, the B-17s have been using their tactical strength trying to sink ships, a task really not suited for them. The Japanese have a rail capacity of 2, and it is past time to start hitting it.

USAAF bombing targets (click image to enlarge)

USAAF bombing targets (click image to enlarge)

The B-17E squadron is dispatched to Legaspi to hit the marshalling yard there. The B-17C is sent to San Pablo to hit the yard there. It is escorted by the lone P-40 squadron. The B-18s and A-24s also target San Pablo, but attempt to destroy the rail line there.

Of course, the Ki-27s are in the area, one squadron based at San Pablo, and the other at Lucena.

The Ki-27s intercept, one engaging the escorts, one going after bombers. The escorts and interceptors dance, but fail to hit each other. The other flies into the bombers, targeting the B-17Cs, and force the squadron to return to base. The Ki-27s return to base unharmed.

The B-17Es, having a strategic bombing strength of 16 easily hit their target, reducing Japanese rail capacity for the next turn. The B-17s return to the Zamboanga airfield on Mindanao.

Luzon exploitation (click image to enlarge)

Luzon exploitation (click image to enlarge)

The other bombers at San Pablo try to destroy the rail line, but fail to hit their targets.

At Cagayan, the Zamboanga barge takes and delivers the 3-4-4 infantry regiment, then it is stood down until next week.

On Luzon, the 26PSr mechanized battalion crosses the Agno River twice, and ends the turn at Tayag, watching the eastern side of the island in case the 4th division tries to make an end around, but it can also retreat quickly. The 1st Filipino infantry cadre moves from Clark Field into the Zambales Mountains.

That’s it. Just movement, no combat. As I’ve said here ad nauseam, the Allies no longer have any offensive punch. Even if the 1st Filipino infantry is rebuilt, it is unsupported and weaker than a brigade.

Everything at this point is being considered for defensive purposes only. Manila is on its own (for now), so the idea here is to withdraw into the mountains, protect the approaches to Corregidor as long as possible. The supply line can run through Iba or Olongapo, and although the armor cannot go into the mountains, they can protect the ports behind the mountains.

Until next week.


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