From: Lone Star Nation
July 18, 1942
Approximately six hundred nautical miles SSE of Adak Island.
Warrant Officer Chishu Fumio of Carrier Hosho was irritated. For once, it was not the northern Pacific weather, which was behaving surprisingly well today. Nor was it the fact that standing lookout was beneath him, although it was unusual for a relatively senior man to draw such an assignment. No, the annoyance, or more accurately, annoyances, stemmed from the seemingly constant stream of officers that had "just stopped by" while morning wore into afternoon. As if a man of Fumio's experience couldn't use a pair of binoculars. The task force was on high alert for air attack today, but given the game of cat and mouse with the American carriers of late that was no different than any day of the past week.
"All clear, Chishu?" intoned a familiar voice. Fumio almost bit his tongue to forestall an exasperated curse. Captain Umetani Karou himself had joined the unofficial meeting of the Hosho officer's club. Fumio's station was getting quite crowded.
"No contacts, sir. Quiet since first light."
"Carry on, then" said Umetani.
The Captain turned to go, but in his haste was already barking orders to the loitering brass. "Gentlemen, it appears that the Admiral was correct. Make ready for the next phase of the operation."
Fumio's deep bass carried over the rush of excited voices. "Captain, signal from the Flag!"
Horrified faces turned toward him as the veteran Warrant Officer waited a moment. Total silence fell.
"Sir, Flag to all ships. Make course 270, cruising speed."
The group of the Emperor's finest below erupted into cheers like schoolboys watching a baseball game.
Finally, Captain Umetani bellowed over the din. "Gentlemen. We have our orders." The crowd dispersed.
As the ship's engines revved and his view swung toward the setting sun, Fumio reflected that going home was a wonderful cure for all sorts of irritations.
With 17th Army, outskirts of Kweilin, China
Colonel Ozawa Eiji watched from his command post as the 230th regiment of the 38th Division prepared for its second attack on KMT positions protecting the strategically important city of Kweilin. He often complained of a lack of artillery support, but had to confess that today he was impressed. The enemy controlled ridge line to the north was hard to see given the constant shelling, which had begun in the pre-dawn hours. Slowly the gunfire tapered off, and as the smoke cleared the Colonel waited for the next hammer to fall.
Twenty minutes later he was still waiting. "Any word, Major?" he uttered in clipped tones.
"No, sir." Major Horri Kansuke quickly replied.
Ozawa tried to keep his temper out of his voice with limited success. It wasn't his staff's fault that the air force was late. "Damnit, Horri, I'd commence the attack if I wasn't worried the bombers would show up late and hit our own men."
The Major offered no reply other than a guttural cough that Ozawa correctly interpreted as "Sir, I am not a member of the Imperial Army Air Force, and you are the one to decide whether to risk our troops in this difficult situation."
To the relief of the entire CP, the next words were carried away by the loud drone of aircraft engines. Wave after wave of Japanese bombers swept overhead, dropping high explosives on the Chinese positions.
"Signal the attack, Major," said Ozawa.
As the airplanes departed, a line of men rose up from their positions and surged forward. Even high on a hilltop, the Colonel could clearly make out the repeated cheer: "BANZAI!"
Horri spoke with concern and surprise in equal measure. "Sir, the enemy is moving on the ridge!"
Ozawa swung his glass toward the north, but was greeted with a very welcome sight - the backs of KMT soldiers fleeing, weapons dropping by the wayside. A smile crept over his face.
"Inform 17th Army HQ that Kweilin has fallen, Major."
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