31st December 1941
A new year beckons and some interesting developments are, erm, developing.
Two important convoys are heading south through the Pacific, supply convoy WB-01S and the SOPAC support squadron are both on their way to the South Pacific. Between them these two convoys will provide the basis for the support of the Allied war effort in 1942. The plan is to drop supplies and fuel at Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland and Melbourne. USN support ships (AV, AVP, AD, AS, AR, AE, AG) will be based in either Australia or New Zealand to provide forward operating bases when the time is right. There are currently no plans to station any USN oilers in the area, the fast ones will be operating with the carrier TFs and the slower ones will be attached to convoys to keep the destroyers operating.
A further convoy of troop ships escorted by Pensacola and Le Triomphant is at Fiji, where they were to pick up one of the US Base Forces. However, they have been spotted by a Japanese float plane. Given the distance from the Japanese lines, and the fact my ships are still afloat, this is most likely a commerce raider rather than a carrier strike, but I'm not hanging around to find out. The convoy is going to make a break for safety whilst the NZ strike squadrons have been readied for action.
Strong SCTF are departing Pearl Harbor to escort the two vital convoys through the South Pacific, even though they should be routed safely away from any surface raiders it's probably best to err on the side of caution.
NEW GUINEA AND THE SOLOMON ISLANDS
Japanese soldiers have seized Vanimo on the Northern coast of New Guinea. A strong force of cooks and mechanics stormed ashore under heavy backpacks, the total lack of opposition did not go unnoticed by the Japanese commander who seems to have ordered some of his own men shot. Because, as we all know it's dishonourable to go home without any casualties...
Japanese carriers have been spotted 120 miles NE of Batavia, somehow the reported three carriers, two light carriers, a battleship and several escorting destroyers and cruisers has managed to slip past the Allied submarine picket line. Despite a reported five plus carriers the Japanese attacks were on a small scale, either due to the reports being wrong, a lack of targets or some other issue.
The carrier based aircraft launched two dive-bomber raids against a troop convoy on Sumatra's western coast where several small troop ships were attempting to evacuate the last few support troops of the Indian 11th Division.
In conjunction with the carrier raids several land based Betties and Nells launched from Borneo, sinking one small troop ship and a coastal minesweeper.
The KB is now in a position to either sweep down the Java coast or to make a dart into the Indian Ocean. No matter which option he takes GBL is not going to find many targets. A few small freighters are tucked up in Soerbaja along with three tankers, but most Allied ships left the region last time the KB turned up just in case they went for a course reversal. A raid into the Indian Ocean is not too likely at this point, the potential for coming away empty handed is probably not worth the waste of fuel.
Japanese forces now control all of the Malay peninsula north of Kuala Lumpur. With the RAF fighters gone the aerial defence of Singapore now rests entirely in the hands of the anti-aircraft batteries. Strangely it turns out that they are better than the Buffalo squadrons, shooting down one bomber for no losses to themselves. There were quite a few bombers damaged although they all seem to have got home safely.
BURMA AND INDIA
The elite 7th Hussars (xp 75) have arrived in Aden. Fresh from their exploits chasing Italians across the vast expanses of the Western Desert they arrive full of excitement, ready to sit still and guard lots of jungle. With their high experience and tanks they will form part of the garrison for Southern India and be based in the Madras area. From there they should be able to rapidly shift to new positions and shoot any Japs who try and invade from the sea. The general carpness of Jap tanks means the 7th may be a decisive weapon if they're called into action, despite the pretty poor quality of their own tanks.
The soon to arrive 2nd Royal Tank Rgt will be deployed to the Calcutta area in order to provide a similar role in the event of a Japanese overland drive or landing near Chittagong, unlikely though it may be.
Not much else to report, plans are afoot to fully move the Royal Navy HQ from Ceylon to Bombay in order to reduce the chance of the IJN catching the RN at anchor. There's plenty of excess transport capacity in the Indian Ocean right now so it'd be easy to do, any thoughts?
Prince of Wales is going for a refit tomorrow, gaining an extra 100 in AA value. Priceless for when she finally forms some sort of integral element to an RN taskforce... Still, Force Z lives on and will incorporate the RN carriers when they arrive.