From: NYer living in Boise, ID
27-28 Oct 43
Highlights – Troops ashore at Ponape; IJN pulls back from Babar to replenish(?) at Ambon while counter-landing at Damar Is
Jpn ships sunk:
DD: 1 (Natsushio)
Allied ships sunk:
SS: 1 (Gunard - succumbs to damage from ASW a/c while eroute to port)
Jpn: 0 Attacks, 0 ships hit
Allies: 2 Attacks, 0 ships hit
Jpn Amph Inv:
Damar Is (SWPAC)
Bases lost: None
Bases Liberated: None
SIGINT/Intel: IJN is now concentrated at Ambon; I’m assuming this is to replenish aircraft, rearm ships and perhaps load additional troops and supplies for Babar.
West Coast/Admin: NSTR.
In NOPAC, NSTR.
In CENPAC, Ponape landings go in better than expected. Remaining mines are cleared by minesweepers in the Amph TF (so my lesson learned is to keep more minesweepers in the Amph TF rather than separate mineseweeping TFs), although BB Pensy takes mine hit for 1 float dam. CD guns are active during the lands and naval bombardments, but as planned BB Pensy absorbs the majority of hits, taking 13 sys dam, but no critical systems lost. CA San Francisco, part of the bombardment TF, also takes 14 sys dam, but again, nothing critical. CD guns otherwise did not interfere with the landings, well under 500 troops lost/disabled in the division sized landings. Troops ashore are fatigued, so any attacks are on hold for a turn or so. LBA bombings will continue to pound ground targets and the port. All but two AKAs are fully offloaded, so the fleet less BB Pensy and some escorts with the two AKAs, as well as the CVE TF, will withdraw. Overall, I’m pleased with the outcome of the landings. I feared worse. That said, defenders are as expected, fairly robust, with four Naval Guard units and the Ponape Naval Fortress. I expect it will be a tough fight ashore, although the defenders should be low on supply from the prep the LBA has been handing out. This landing culminates the Marshall campaign, much of the assault shipping will head to SOPAC for operations on the New Guinea coast, leaving enough to lift a Bde plus support sized landing to clear the remaining few islands - or if things go poorly on Ponape, to bring in reinforcements.
In SOPAC, little activity on Umboi as neither side bombards or attacks. US Task Forces arrive back in the Solomons at Vella and Shortlands where warships re-arm and transports begin loading the US 33rd Div. They should depart next turn to Umboi. Shipping is also being made available for smaller landings on the New Guinea north coast, to be supported only by DDs, which will continue to conduct patrols along New Guinea. Also at sea, a barge convoy wonders into the Umboi area and loses 12 of about 18 barges in two engagements. On the ground, the IJA’s 38th Div in the jungles at Salamaua continues to be a tough nut to crack, and continues to hold off attacks of the composite NZ Div - this time 263 IJA loss to 643 Allied. Allied troops also need to rest. This division looks like it will be able to withdraw back to Lae despite the Allies holding both Salamaua and Wau. If so, we’ll leave Lae alone and let starvation take its toll.
In SWPAC, the US LRCAP over Babar does surprisingly well - largely due to the IJN withdrawing back to Ambon during the first night. Two IJN TFs (2CA, 2CL, DDs / CA, 3CL, DDs) bombard Babar during the night with no effect. In daylight, Jpn LBA with Bettys and Frances, unescorted, hit the USMC Def Bn with no effect, but fly UNDER the P-47 LRCAP which I had set at 25k and 30k thinking they would be battling fighter sweeps which never came. Opportunity missed! P-47s did manage to intercept IJN Jills, also flying unescorted (likely from CVs at Ambon) with good results, splashing 13. Hopefully some good torpedo pilots were killed! The P-38 squadron I sent to sweep Koepang, engaged a robust Zero CAP, downing 26 for only 4 P-38s. A good day in the air! Last item from the turn was curious, landing what appears to be a single IJA Co sized element at Damar - defended by a USMC Para Bn. Not enough to take the island, so not sure what’s the intent here. For next turn, with the IJN at Ambon at start, I’m going to send two DMs to lay fresh mines at Babar, and hope for the best there. Will also continue LRCAP over Babar, as I’m sure the IJA/IJN air will be back in force. Stacking CAP this time with three squadrons (P-47s, F6Fs, and Spit VIIIs), but the 6 hex range will still minimize effectiveness and limit solid numbers. Will also sweep Koepang again, this time with F4Us. Remaining air strength continues to replenish numbers, so by the time the IJN returns to Babar, it will be ready to resume the fight.
In China, NSTR.
In Burma, the big news is really a small admin move - Heavies now basing at Magwe and Prome as the majority of the bomber force is moved out of India. This will greatly increase effective strike range in the coming months - and will start small by hitting Moulmein next turn. Elsewhere, the two attacks on the Lashio front are held, but the IJA force continues to be ground down. On the Paoshan road front, I need to shift out two Chinese units to make room for the arriving fresh US and Brit forces coming from the Lashio side due to stacking issues. The bloody IJA’s 65th Bde is still being painfully stubborn. On the Bhamo road front, the US 27th Div’s attack is held, but losses were minimal and rest is needed before the assault can be resumed. On the Rangoon/Moulmein front, forces still need to shift and move into place before an any assault can happen; by that time, I’m pretty confident L_S_T will have pulled back across the river to the Moulmein line proper and we’ll have a good stalemate for a while. I have a small chance to force the river upstream near Chiang Mai, where I try to move a Division across to a hex defended by a single battalion - but I’m pretty sure that unit will be reinforced before I can get a division across. I’m really in no rush here as I want to clear the road to Paoshan first, and the supply and troop buildup via ship to Rangoon has just started.
In the IO, the Canadian Bde finished loading at Trinkat and is enroute to Colombo. One Bde to go at Car Nicobar, as well as an engineer regiment at Trinkat, with shipping enroute. So far, its quiet other than the occasional sub nuisance. Once the shipping has completed its troop transfers, airpower in the Andamans will look to reach out more offensively, starting with fighter sweeps of the primary IJA active airbase in range, Victoria Point.