Sunday, February 9, 2020

Australian Milne Bay, New Guinea Counterattack

New Guinea Campaign From The Studio of General Pettygree
Mission: Link air, naval and land action in a campaign and story context
"The currency of friendship is time."   Dr. Mark Miravale.

Game #8

February 1, 1942/2020
Australians Counterattack 
The Japanese Foothold at Milne Bay, New Guinea

Prelude Concludes (See previous story)

Joey Flight searching for the Japanese now gone to ground. 
Joey 1: Flight Officer Horne in the left-hand Gloster Gladiator.
Joey 2: Lt. Riley is to his right.

"Joey 2, this is Joey 1. We'll turn to the right passing along the hedgerow."

"Right Sir. --- Hell-loooh. --- I've spotted the enemy below at one o'clock."

I see them Joey 2. Well done. More are popping up like toast."

"Tracers com'n in." 

"Sir my engine and tail section are hit. Fire and smoke erupting forward."

Joey 2. Head for home immediately. These crates can't take much punishment.

"I'm too low to bail out, Sir."

"Joey 2, I know. I'll follow along and also radio mum."

"Mama Roo. This is Joey Flight. Are you there?"
"Repeat. --- Joey Flight for Mama Roo!"
"This is mum Joey Flight. What's your situation?"
"Mum, we're returning for breakfast. Joey 2 is smoking but able to fly.
"We spotted a few of  the enemy east of the village bush line. Send regards to dad."
"Well done Joey Flight. I will. Mum out."

Morning Attack Commenced Soon Thereafter

Australian Left Flank 
Colonel Ballard's regulars advanced out of  the village toward the same hedge line.

Resistance was light and overcome.
The right of the line was "refused" in case of trouble from that quarter and....

It came almost immediately. (Photo courtesy of Bill K.)

Mortar fire, infantry and the sole surviving Ha-Go tank....

Pushed into the refused wing which.... 

Initially stood its ground but withdrew before the onslaught.

To the left at the hedge, Ballard's regulars stood their ground but were soon fired upon by soldiers from the beach. The Australians pulled back deeper into cover and halted to trade fire. 

The Japanese attack was next supported by an ineffectual air attack.
The two Ha-Go tanks shown were destroyed in the battle of 25 January.

Ballard then counterattacked with three Stuart tanks.
This with stiffened resistance from the regulars stopped the enemy attack.
The front was restored but reorganizing would be needed.

Rule: The Australian called a halt or reset. Both sides were allowed to redeploy in logically controlled areas, recover stragglers, return lightly wounded comrades to their units and bring up reinforcements for our afternoon session. 

Afternoon Attack
Left Flank

This time Colonel Ballard led with three Stuart tanks preceded by smoke to obscure enemy fire.
The rear-most Stuart bogged down as a light rain started.

The leading tanks stopped on either side of the road covered by the hedge. 

Awaiting two universal carriers, a 37mm anti-tank gun in tow and the still bogged down Stuart.
The IJA Ha-Go tank was knocked out days ago.

Then Ballard ordered his regulars forward again.

When time was right....

 They crossed into the open area....

Toward the foe.

Awaiting them behind log breastworks....

Captured earlier on invasion day.

Farther back more of the foe patiently waited.

Right Flank --- Jepson's Bar

Australian militiamen advanced out of the bush toward the hedge.
Hidden Japanese held this flank near and within Jepson's Bar.

The Australians pushed through
out onto the beach under continuous rifle and mortar fire.

They secured the bar having influenced defenders to hastily leave.

The Japanese reestablished a line to the east on the beach.

The Australians reacted by bringing up Stuart tanks and a universal carrier.

Which deployed onto the beach firing upon the enemy.

 The Japanese Special Naval Landing Force rushed to counter the Australian thrust.
Some even charged out onto the beach causing a serious bother.

The Australians shown would pull back due to losses.
No photo of this.

Back To The Left Flank

Newly arrived Japanese infantry banzai charged the Australian Left Flank.

It did not work. After two turns of hand to hand combat the charge failed.
Something was up.

The End

"Crikey. Nothing backed up that banzai charge Collin."

 "Captain, I don't see anyone to our front now. --- Wait!"

They are boarding a landing barge and...

Setting up a blocking force to....


A general retreat!

"Ballard. We did it!"
"The two last attacks by the Japanese on both our flanks covered a retreat."

While a lone Zero flew air cover.

Slowing the advance toward the embarkation area.

A new artillery position was established
with newly arrived Papuan New Guinea allies in reserve.

Closing Remarks

In our four sessions these companions participated:

Japanese: Dan E., Jim H., Dave G., Kurt D. and Todd B. 
Australians: Morgan E, Greg B., Bill K.,  and yours truly Bill P. 

Well-played by all participants. Japanese players were particularly startling in aggressiveness.

We used miniatures we like and have though some were not present historically. It works.

Thank you for looking in.

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Friday, January 31, 2020

Australian Counterattack Prelude at Milne Bay, New Guinea

New Guinea Campaign From The Studio of General Pettygree
Mission: Link air, naval and land action in a campaign and story context
"The currency of friendship is time."   Dr. Mark Miravale.

Game #8

February 1, 1942/2020
Australians Counterattack 
The Japanese Foothold at Milne Bay, New Guinea


"Colonel Ballard, Sir, Major Duncan just checked in. He reports, the Japanese remain under cover east of the native village and behind the beaches north of Milne Bay. They're waiting for us sure."

"That's why we need more information before we attack in the morning. I hope Flight Officer Horne and his two Gloster Gladiators will scare 'em up."

 "Tell Major Duncan...."

"The Glosters are on the way to look for the enemy and to not shoot at them!
Repeat it twice!" 

 "Joey Flight to Mama Roo. We have the village in sight and are going in."

"Joey Flight. This is mum. Acknowledged and good hunting."

"We'll find out what you want so you can turn them into shark biscuits.
Joey Flight out." 

"Alright Riley, follow me down and stay with me.
Look to your front and right. 
I'll look to my front and to the left."

"No enemy fighters in sight Sir. I wish we were flying Kitthawks though."

"Don't worry mate, she'll be right.
Now cut the chatter. Down we go."


Wish 'em luck boys! --- at Remarks below.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Invasion of Milne Bay, New Guinea

New Guinea Campaign From The Studio of General Pettygree
Mission: Link air, naval and land action in a campaign and story context
"The currency of friendship is time."   Dr. Mark Miravale.
Game #7
January 25, 1942/2020
Japanese Invasion at Milne Bay, New Guinea

Merchant seamen patrons at Jepson's Bar flung their chairs aside when they saw what the dogs were barking about. Grabbing their weapons, all rushed outside to get a better look.

"Look at that!"
"This is a dog's breakfast for sure. Good dogs lett'n us know."
Pulp Figures sailors by Bob Murch.

A Japanese maru....

Began to heave to off the point.

While a small warship did the same nearby. Others farther out were coming in too.


Within hours the Japanese Special Naval Landing Force
commenced landings on the southern edge of the peninsula.
Australian militia rushed forward to oppose them.

Half the Japanese went into the coastal underbrush (off to the left)
while others turned west on the beach facing Jepson's Bar.

This caused the seamen to abandon the tavern for nearby cover.

Additional Special Naval Landing Force combatants arrived nearby on the tip of the peninsula.

Soon supported by Ha-Go tanks.

Time for the militia to retreat.
Casualties were so heavy, they withdrew from the battle.

Rule: Our Reaction Test allows for several kinds of circumstances for units sustaining casualties. In this case modifiers were so heavily negative that the militia abandoned the battle. We do not call this a rout. We simply lift survivors off of the combat area and place them in the rear out of commission for the current game session.

Fortunately Australian regulars manned a log breastwork to slow the enemy.

However, they began taking heavy casualties too and would soon withdraw.
Eureka Miniatures Australia - lovely sculpts.

At this point, Greg B. our Australian commander, declared the morning mission over. This allows both sides to advance or withdraw to logical controlled areas, recover stragglers, recover lightly wounded men and reset for a second mission. Greg essentially instituted a game reset without going through all the motions of movement, retreat and so on. This saves an enormous amount of time. 

This is based on the 1945 experience of USA forces assaulting the Shuri Line on Okinawa eleven times before finally taking it. They would advance, fight, withdraw and reset to attack again later.
This is a convenient expedient for tabletop battles.

We next ate lunch.


Our lunch break provided time to reflect on what happened and about what to do next. While talking companionably about this and that, everyone looked at the table pondering plans. Relaxing.

The Japanese reset within the log breastworks.
Their facing indicates the location of their foe; now all re-hidden.

Ditto for the beach area facing Jepson's Bar off the photo's bottom left.
A Japanese Army Platoon (IJA) arrived to reinforce the next push and.... 

Soon advanced towards Jepson's Bar.

And beyond supported by a spotter plane.

Opposing them were the seamen reinforced by a body of 
newly arrived Papua New Guinea natives armed with modern weapons.

Eureka Miniatures Australia Papua New Guinea natives.

The IJA confidently advanced into the bush.

The sailors and natives could not withstand enemy firepower.
Both retreated to their rear deeper into the bush never to reappear.

Meanwhile the Special Naval Landing Force supported by tanks also pushed resolutely forward.

Just at that moment two Stuart tanks arrived and opened fire.

The leading Ha-Go tanks exploded.

Whilst newly arrived militia advanced and fired decimating the SNLF.
Steve Barber (UK) 28mm early war USA infantry. Finally someone produces them!

Right flank of the militia.

Off image to the right is where the seamen and natives engaged the IJA.

SNLF perspective with the militia to their left and front.

There was no way for this Japanese flank to defeat the Australians not even with the victorious IJA nearby. Defenders had tank superiority, an anti-tank gun, artillery and mortars booming away from the rear and an amazing run of firepower luck. Plus, everyone knew there were substantial Australian green-clad regulars in reserve someplace. "Quitting Time" after 3:00 pm was upon us too. So the Japanese commanders declared a reset.

The Japanese withdrew to their afternoon starting positions, collected stragglers and bandaged the lightly wounded. The Australians did the same recovering lost ground and would redeploy for the next mission. 

All casualties recover on a D6 throw of 5-6. At this stage of the war here with these fresh soldiers, poor health was not yet a grave issue. Otherwise a 6 would have been needed.


Resumption is scheduled for February 1, 2020 with a different crew of our local wargame pards. In this fashion a medium-sized game by USA standards can be played on different days by more friends. We are so very blessed to have a lot of space for gaming here.

Some uniforms and equipment are out of time and place. We use what we have  and like because the game is the thing. For example, Steve Barber's USA infantry are imagining themselves as khaki-clad Australian militia. It works.

Historically the Japanese had a very hard time at Milne Bay. However, at this point each side has won one session.

Rain besotted the entire area historically. Our vehicles were often bogged down though not as badly as historically. In the photo of the two Ha-Go tanks exploding, a third tank is farther back because it had been bogged down. All soldiers suffered a movement penalty simulating more difficult movement.

Japanese: Dan E. and Jim H.
Australians: Morgan E, Greg B. and yours truly Bill P.

Thank you for looking in. 

Your comments are welcome below where you see the yellow bar.

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