Wednesday, March 13, 2019

1937: Desperatu Island

Captain Kotaro Shimoda 
"My battalion will land on Desperatu Island, march easterly overland and capture Port Morgan."

"I must not dishonour my family." 

Date: March 1937/2019
Location: Fictional Desperatu Island, Philippines
Situation: Plan Orange Land Action
Scenario: Japanese Invasion and USA Defense

Plan Orange
The USA and The Empire of Japan had a contingency plan to go to war versus each other in the 1930s. Our what-if finds a build up of naval, amphibious and land forces in The West Central Pacific.

Orange #1
Last October we fought the opening naval battle as Orange #1 solely using warships northwest of The Philippines. Naval air power was not part of the plan. Understanding it's potency was still in the future. The IJN won a resounding victory.

Orange #2
Given the IJN naval win, the next part of their strategic plan was the occupation of The Philippines. The following tells part of that story.


Japanese Aerial Recon Photo #1
Kopani Village apparently deserted. Bridge intact.
IJA Mission: Move east and secure the river line.

IJA infantry advance to the left of the village.

As others closely approach the bridge.

And enter the village.

More Japanese pass along the right side of the village and....

Take cover behind a hedge.

Japanese far right flank. The river is just ahead for these men who....

Next advance to the river's edge. The enemy is absent or
waiting for the right moment to open fire.

As IJA soldiers began fording the river, hidden Filipino villagers opened fire. Two enemy soldiers were felled. Moments before shots were fired a crocodile surged out of cover to attack the first men wading into the water. Japanese fired at the villagers and the croc. It was amazing fun to see numerous shots missing the reptile until the very last one finally struck.

Realizing the enemy was too powerful, the Filipinos retreated back into cover.
The foe crossed without further incidents all along the river and took the bridge.

Day #1 ended. Time for lunch and resetting for....


During the early morning, players reorganized, repositioned in controlled areas and received  reinforcements. Casualties received medical care at 1xD6/man. A 5-6 returned a wounded man to his unit. The rest were KIA. Plus, we took a break for a thirty minute lunch. 

Seated left to right: Morgan E., Dan E. and Jim H. Standing left to right: Jim P. and yours truly Bill P. (Adventures of General Pettygree Chronicler).  IJA: Morgan, Dan and Jim P. USA: Jim H. and Bill P. 

Players acted historically on Day #1 moving cautiously. Outnumbered natives were understandably reluctant to uncover and engage the Japanese without a significant reason. It was better to snipe at them and wait for American soldiers already en-route to help.

The IJA was always visible advancing and spotting or spotting and advancing. Kudos to all IJA players patiently experiencing very little fire except at their left flank ford. They had the experience of advancing into the unknown and did so quite properly I thought.

Japanese Aerial Recon Photo #2
Bridge intact at next river line.
IJA Mission: Secure the next river line.
Keep moving east.

Aerial recon reported defenders still unseen.
Time for the IJA to advance.

Across the wide open field shown in Aerial Recon Photo #2. 

As mechanized reinforcements arrive.

Japanese spread out into the open plain and....

Approach the next bridge.
Fire has erupted along the river line.

USA reinforcements not shown: 
37mm anti-tank gun, half track mounted with a French 75mm cannon

And one of two units of their emboldened and diminished allies.

Day #2 ended when it was certain the IJA would capture the river line.


During the early morning, players reorganized, repositioned in controlled areas and received  reinforcements. Plus, all casualties received medical care at 1xD6/man. A 5-6 returned a wounded man to his unit. The rest were KIA.

Japanese Aerial Recon Photo #3
IJA Mission: Cross the small river below the bottom of this photo.
Keep moving east and capture Port Morgan.

 IJA Right Flank: Time to cross the stream just captured.

Here they come.
USA infantry have finally arrived to stop the foe.

Supported by the half track and 75mm which arrived yesterday.
However, heavy IJA fire and maneuver ruined the USA Left Flank.
All USA and allied natives retreated back into the harbor area.
The way was open into Port Morgan.

IJA Center and Left Flank: Spread out and keep going was the order.

These chaps fell to....

 37mm AT and machine gun fire.
Nearby more USA infantry and native allies stopped the IJA advance.
Port Morgan is in the background. Not much room or time left to stop the IJA.

It was also near our 4:00 pm quitting time. Play was therefore suspended.

Played 12 March, 1937/2019
Two hours of gaming: Bob B. as the IJA and Bill P. as the USA.

During the early morning, players reorganized, repositioned in controlled areas and received  reinforcements. Plus, all casualties received medical care at 1xD6/man. A 5-6 returned a wounded man to his unit. The rest were KIA.

USA Right Flank

Two weakened Filipino units converged to form one large unit. 
Port Morgan is in the background.

Behind them are USA infantrymen.

The IJA advances in open order led by a British armoured car acquired in the mid-1930s.
An artillery observer is well-positioned to spot the foe ahead. 

 The IJA fires upon the Filipinos.

 And Banzai charges. The Filipinos fire 1/2 and evade the charge.
The IJA now occupy the tree line on Port Morgan's northwest outskirts.

Meanwhile, USA infantry pull back out of harm's way. Previously they were locked onto by IJA artillery fire. They had to retire or be decimated. Some occupied the upper building floor to fire at the enemy. This stalled the IJA advance at the tree line mentioned in the last image.

The SS Theodore Roosevelt was moored behind the USA infantry just seen.
The Japanese reinforcement for Day #4 was air support by a die throw. 

Two crewmen were hit in the first pass.
A second pass did not injure anyone. The pilot then returned to base.

USA Left Flank

Port Morgan is off image below the photo. IJA infantry occupied and
hunkered down in woods and buildings on the edge of town.

Their advance was stalled by USA infantry
and a half track with a 75mm cannon.

The IJA attack stalled along the front. Survivors on both sides pulled back to regroup.

Later on Day #4
Captain Shimoda asked, "Is the tank platoon coming or not?"

"No Sir but more infantry arrives tonight.
The Colonel says they will have to do.
You must take Port Morgan tomorrow." 


(1) All soldiers are 28mm. The Japanese are from just about every manufacturer there is. Khaki-clad USA infantry are (shhh!) Perry Miniatures 8th Army in battledress uniforms. The two half tracks are Solido die cast.

(2) Bill! Why is there a British universal carrier on Desperatu Island? Simply because there were two in Manila en-route to Hong Kong in 1941. General Mac Arthur commandeered them in December and so....here they are!

(3) Eighteen turns were played from 10:00 am to 3:40 pm on 9 March 1937/2019. Bob and I played five turns on 12 March.

(4) Bill! There's a Japanese mono-plane in the story. I know they did not exist in 1937 but here on Desperatu Island, they do. Afterwards I remembered my British Gloster Gladiator biplanes. A judicious photo angle might have hidden British markings. And there we are....

(5) Captain Shimoda will be featured in General Pettygree's first book due later in 2019.

(6) Both sides had six reinforcements numbered 1-6. During reorganization, 1D6 was thrown to select  a reinforcement. If a number came up previously, the D6 was rethrown until a new reinforcement happened. There was always something arriving at night for both sides. I've found that it is best to keep new units entering games. Reason: Nothing arriving can hurt a scenario. Depends though.

IJA players groaned when the only reinforcement for Day #4 was a fighter plane. They like Shimoda wanted the tank platoon which probably would have won Port Morgan by the end of Day #4. But, the USA has tanks too. Funny how D6 throws ignored them.

(7) Day #5 is scheduled for 20 March 1937/2019.

(8) Comments welcome. Click on the word "Comments" in the yellow bar below here.


  1. Bill, one can barely read the bar where you click on the Comment box. It has black font on a dark blue background. Perhaps you can change the font to white.

    A very entertaining story supported by great pictures. Question, why would the Japanese airplane only make two passes?


    Jim (Der Alte Fritz)

  2. Thank you Jim,
    Changed to yellow.
    The Japanese aircraft made two passes based on rules and dice throws made up by the Japanese player, Bob B. at the time.

  3. What an awesome looking game and an amazing write up. These are the kinds of games we all aspire to run and to love to play in!
    Sgt G