From: La Salle, Colorado
May 31, 1942
Battle off Enggano--Day 5
Just don't know how to describe watching these turns. Another excellent day for the Japanese:
My little STF of CL Sendai and 2 DD encounter picket DD USS Balch and sink her during the night.
Morning Air Patrol shows that the Allied CV TF CLOSES the range and positions itself a few hexes from Sumatra. Distance is just far enough away from the Japanese Carriers not to invoke the reaction move. Too BAD! I had it set for the full 6 hexes but they were at about 9.
GOOD NEWS: The Japanese unify their Carriers in the morning and four TF settle into their cruising disposition with mighty Yamato leading SIX Battlewagons. Five CVs and 3 CVL commence daily operations along with 4 BC and 6 CA. Nearly 30 DD scurry around their larger charges. The BAD NEWS is that weather is terrible in the morning so no strikes fly from the CVs for the early air phase.
This is OK because EVERYTHING else flies and goes after Allied shipping in and around Benkoelen. A total of 11 strikes fly and they sink an AP and damage another 19 vessels. Major targets hit include BBs New Mexico and Idaho, CL's Hobart and Emerald as well as DDs Pakenham and Morris. There are troops casualties listed with nearly every strike.
The afternoon sees the Carriers throw their full weight into the attack. The result is a massacre. Nine ships are sunk (DD Foxhound, a large AMC, an AKV (with a Wellington Squadron on board!), 3 large AP, and 3 AK) with another 12 damaged (CL Dauntless, BB Ramilles). The key part of these strikes is the masses of troops killed on the sinking and damaged ships. Nearly 6,000 men are massacred while trying to get to the deathtrap that Benkoelen shall be.
The Allied CVs make their presence felt by throwing two strikes causing the first Japanese casualties of this very lopsided battle. CL Sendai finds itself and 2 DDs only 60 miles from the carriers so they get struck by 15 Fighters, 17 SBD, and 35 TB. Sendai takes 3 Bombs and each DD gets tagged with a single bomb. Pretty lousy results. All three ships look OK and are ordered to Oosthaven. The second strike is important. I have dangled a couple of AK at Padang while basing one of my best Oscar Sentai there. The Allies attack and my 32 fighters jump 8 Wildcats, 16 SBD, and 6 Albacore. Excellent results are achieved with the Allies losing 7 Fighters, 6 SBD, and all the TB. NICE!
1. My CVs are together and I still have a good load of Torpedos. Time to attack. Order Nagumo and Yamaguchi to move due north and try to engage the Allied CVs. The 8 CVs carry 450+ Planes with solid pilots. CAP is between 60-70%. Any strikes that come in shall be destroyed. If he moves away then the CVs are still positioned to hit Benkoelen as a fallback.
2. It is time to commit the BBs. Order Tanaka and Komatsu to bust up the shipping at Benkoelen. A total of 6 BBs, 4 CLs, and 14 DDs will attack tomorrow night and then head for Oosthaven. It should be delightfully BLOODY!
3. Michael may be right that he wants Palembang. Some armor is present and it moves into the hex east of Benkoelen. Order my 3 Sentai of Sally--Lily to concentrate on troops and the Port. Bring up 60+ Lily to Soerabaja and prepare to add them to the land side of the battle.
4. Shall begin loading 2/3 of the Imperial Guards ID at Port Blair and all of the 33rd ID at Rangoon to go to Palembang. Another Brigade and Regiment are already on the way. Should be enough to hold for the moment...