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THE ISLAND OF MALABASCAR

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Gen. Pettygree's Kokoda Track Battle Story


A GENERAL PETTYGREE BATTLE STORY

Location: Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
Date: July 1942 (2022)
Situation: Japanese Overland Attack on Kokoda Village
Rules: Home Rules
 
Played Solo 16-18 July 1942-2022
Miniatures: We Use What We Have --- Geography Is Imagineered
By The Way: The table covering simulates tall grass providing cover

Click on photos to enlarge them

39th Infantry Battalion, Kokoda Village
0630 Hours

"That's all Miti Buka reports Colonel."

"Very well Sparks. Stand by."

"I'm now reporting from Kokoda, Papua, New Guinea. You just saw Colonel Shears, the Australian commander in these parts. He has received news radioed by Sergeant Miti Buka commanding the Papuan Advance Guard Screen to the north. He is falling back before advancing Japanese forces on the Kokoda Track." 

"Let's listen and observe developments."

"Battalion! --- Stand --- at Ease."

"Well men, the enemy is finally waltzing up the Kokoda Track. They'll be here on our plateau this afternoon. They mean to use Kokoda Village and its airfield as a base to attack Port Moresby behind us to the south and then Australia."

"She'll be right, Colonel! We'll cut 'em up!" (Laughter and approval from the ranks.)

"That's the spirit Duncan. --- Now men, everyone fill your tucker bags with three days rations. Officers, in thirty minutes, march your platoons to pre-designated positions, take cover and keep your heads down. --- Questions?"

"None. Then that is all. --- Good luck. --- Dismissed."

Colonel Tsukamoto's 1/144 Infantry Regiment
1400 Hours

Near 1400 hours dense jungle vegetation began to open in the distance as Colonel Tsukamoto's column neared Kokoda Village. The thinning canopy meant they might be close. He therefore ordered a temporary halt to rest the men and receive reports from scouts up the track before attacking.

Imperial Japanese soldier Hiroto Tanaka was thankful for the respite. He was hungry, exhausted, soaked in perspiration, feeling symptoms of malaria and possibly a little delirious. He longed to return home. While staring vacantly into the forest, his eyes blinked several times and finally focused on something instantly terrifying.

"Alarm! An ancient Kaiju has raised its long neck and is peering at us. Run!"

"Private, what terrorized your idiot friend?"

"After believing he saw a Kaiju, Hiroto fled back down the trail. Then he tripped over a vine, hit his head on something and was rendered unconscious for a time."

"Show me where this apparition occurred."

"Here Lieutenant. It resembles a dragon and..."

"A tree? Enough! Get back to your squad. We're leaving in ten minutes."

Soon two enemy squads supported with medium machine gun and mortar sections moved out arriving three hundred yards short of the village.

More infantry hurriedly (per doctrine) arrived as three reinforced squads deployed to the right (west). Surely they wondered where the enemy was.

"Men, the village, our objective, is just ahead. Rush on."  

"A --- haaaa!"

"Two Australians have raised their heads for us. We'll attack forward on my order when..." 

"The other squad comes up on our left. Here they are now."

Japanese Far Right Flank

Three Japanese Squads move forward.
We shall concentrate on the rightmost group.

Opposed by Sergeant Miti Buka 's Papuans. "Fire brothers!"
 
With creditable effect.

"Retreat my friends. The infernals are going to charge. We'll draw them in."

"Banzai!"

Japanese Right Flank Nearest the Track

"The Australians are in cover just ahead of us."

"Be ready!"

"Advance!"

Fire was soon exchanged with the left-most Australians. But....

"I radioed Col. Shears, Sir, t
he Papuans to our left have pulled back, our mates to the right have suffered cruelly and are...."

"Incapable of further defence."

"The Colonel says pull back to the village joining him there."

"Alright men, we're done here. 

"Follow me."

"Halt, line the bushes. Fire at will to stop 'em."

It's not working, Sir. Too many of 'em!"

"Right. Fall back."

"Fire again!"

"No good men. Run for the track and into the bush. We're outta here mates!"


Japanese Far Left Flank
Australian Far Right Flank

"Radio the Colonel the enemy is not in sight anywhere to our front. New orders?"

"He says withdraw back to the village. Quick march. Our left flank has collapsed."

"Tell him we'll leave now."

"Pull back. Colonel Shears wants us in the village fast. No dithering."

"The enemy is just on the other side of that hut where Colonel Shears is standing. He's a cool one, he is, without a care. We're in it now!"


The Center
Battling Up The Track

"There's the village. Forward. Don't stop."

"Wait for 'em mates and fire."

"We're taking hits, Sir. Then we'll charge straight in. BANZAI!"

Hand to hand combat in the village as....

The Australians from the Right Flank arrive.

"We beat them. They run!"

"Fall back men."  

"Form a new line here. More are coming."

"Help has arrived."

"Fire!"

"That's all men.  Back down the track now."

"But Colonel...."

"We can't stay Duncan. Off we go lads."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


CLOSING REMARKS


"Before Colonel Shears ordered the retreat from Kokoda Village, he suggested that I fly back to Port Moresby in my Lysander to report what I had seen." 

"Fortunately the Lysander was not engaged by Japanese aircraft as I flew back to Port Moresby. However, after thirty minutes or so I perhaps foolishly asked the pilot to return to Kokoda and make a quick pass for a last photograph."

"This is what I saw. The Japanese had formed up on the very parade ground we had used early that morning. The commanding officer even spoke to his men upon the same crates Colonel Shears had stood upon." 
 
"The immediate future of our campaign remains Top Secret for now. However, you will be the first to learn where and when General MacArthur will strike back. Until then, keep calm and carry on."

"One last thing. The following booklet was used to inspire Bill's tabletop solo game."


"We would be grateful for your remarks below."

XXXXXXXXXX

Monday, July 11, 2022

Port Moresby Air Raid


A GENERAL PETTYGREE BATTLESTORY

Location: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Date: July 1942 (2022)
Situation: Japanese Air Attack on Port Moresby
Rules: Foundationally "Bag The Hun" With Home Rule Variants
Miniatures: We Use What We Have --- Geography Is Imagineered
Click on photos to enlarge them

AIR RAID AT PORT MORESBY
Tabletop Game: 9 July 2022

MacArthur's Headquarters --- Brisbane, Australia

"The Japanese air arm hit Port Moresby this morning, Sir. News is patchy because communication was poor due to atmospherics. Here is what we know General MacArthur, first from a Lieutenant Newton flying a Wildcat off Enterprise."

Lt. John J. Newton, (Jay) from Visalia, California.

"Captain Garner and I flew as a pair on a northerly heading east of Port Moresby. Four unescorted Japanese bombers were observed on a southwest course. 

"We banked right, (northeast) then curved northwest [shown] to arrive on their tails firing at one Betty on the left side of the formation." (Photo courtesy of Dave G.) 

"Smoke erupted from the port engine [black and yellow smoke] but the plane was not brought down. Enemy side gunners poured fire into us too. Garner radioed saying, Jay, my cat won't last long. Sorry, but I've got to return to Enterprise or I'll be swimming." (Photo courtesy of Dave G.)

"As he veered away, I wished him luck and a beer on me when I returned home." [That's Bill flying Garner out of the fight. Lt. Newton had not yet moved this turn. In a moment he would zoom 50 cm straight because as he says....]

"Three Oscars appeared on my tail. [Behind the other light blue Wildcat] Luckily I was helped by the arrival of three RAAF Hurricanes. I later learned they brought down two Oscars, losing one of their own." (Photo courtesy of Dave G.)

"By this time the bombers had outdistanced me though I had turned to reengage."

"Soon a fire and smoke plume rose in the dock area. It was then that I noticed my reduced fuel gauge. Returning to Enterprise had become essential." (Photo courtesy of Dave G.)

"At my debriefing back aboard ship, I learned that Captain Garner decided to land at a Port Moresby airfield rather than risk returning to the carrier. Our beer will have to wait."

"What damage did the harbor sustain General Pettygree?"

"The fire and smoke plume I daresay was a destroyed fuel tank at Flashtons."

"We also learned one disabled PBY...." (Photo courtesy of Dave G.)

"Was destroyed in the seaplane bay to the west."

"And an Australian Brigade was strafed traveling north on the Kokoda Track as it reached the lower foothills of the Owen Stanley Mountains."

"An inbound Corvette and minesweeper sustained no damage. Both assisted in the defence of the port with anti-aircraft fire."

"Finally the merchantman J. B. Tucker was not hit. She pulled out of her berth thinking fuel depot explosions and fire might spread to her. Indeed one of the Thatcher Kerosene's tanks was eventually bombed close by. Imagine the potential carnage."

"Well General Pettygree, the enemy is getting his punches in now, but we will counterpunch soon enough. Hard."


CLOSING REMARKS

1. Owen Stanley Mountain foothills on the left and Port Moresby on the right. (Photo courtesy of Dave G.)

2. Japanese Pilots: Greg B. (Left/Tony Fighters) and Dave G. (Right Oscar/Fighters). Port Moresby is bottom center. (Photo courtesy of Nick K.)

Joe G. (Left flew Japanese bombers at first vs Bill P. (Photo courtesy of Nick K.) 

3. Allied Pilots: Rob O. (USA P-40Bs), Nick K. (RAAF Hurricanes) and Bill P. (USA Wildcats) Allied players moved ships and fired AA batteries as needed.

4. Japanese Victory Points: Joe G. 21 and Greg B. 5 (PBY destroyed and strafing attack on the Kokoda Track) = 26.  Joe G. took the prize as "pilot of the game." He scored 19 at the fuel tanks. This was his first game flight too. Well done Joe!

5. Allied Victory Points: Nick 4 points for knocking down two Oscars. 

5. "...a great game Saturday! Had a ball rolling dice again." Nick   

6. "Thanks Bill - I had a great time." Dave

7. You are welcome. Thank you for your sincere interest and help running the game. Bill P.

8. Allied aircraft: GHQ 1/285. Japanese aircraft Raiden 1/300. Ships: Warlord Cruel Seas.

9. Readers! Thank you for looking in. General Pettygree looks forward to your remarks.

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