From: Northwestern Georgia, USA
Operation Roller Coaster: Another very good (but not perfect) day in the Marshalls. The day begins with more "TF X merges wtih TF Y" messages, just like ordered (embedding capital ships with amphibs heading to Wotje). Bombardments take place on schedule at Maloelap and Wotje. The latter, which I thought might prove pretty darned stiff, seemed relatively light, which served as a good omen. Then landings commenced at Wotje, even as additional troops and supply came ashore at the other islands (Mili, Maloelap, Ailinglaplap, and Jaluit).
Modest enemy air strikes, mainly from Tarawa, sink a patrolling YMS south of Jaluit.
No enemy combat ships or carriers showed up. PBYs from Jaluit showed a few small TFs out around Ponape (confirming SigInt yesterday that an AA unit is inbound to that base). Recon from Mili showed that Eniwetok airfields is empty and that the base is not strongly held.
The shock attacks at Ailing and Maleo failed to take either base, though the latter attack dropped forts to 3. My troops on both islands need to rest a bit. I can reinforce them with reserve troops, but I don't want to divert them from their primary missions yet, because those just might be open (more about that in a moment). The shock attack at Wotje succeeds, taking the base. The facilities are in good shape, so now the Allies have a level four airfield on the northern perimeter. A P38H squadron then moved here from Johnston Island, and one of the three PBY squadrons at Jaluit moved here.
John is in a bit of quandry. The Allies have the potential to move foward strongly if he doesn't contest what's going on. He and I have both learned that his atols are vulnerable, even when garrisoned by CD units. The Allies have the ability to rearm ships now (though I can't do that until I pull my carriers back to Jaluit to offer CAP since that island doesn't have a field yet). The amphibs with troops slated for Roi Namur and Ponape are present and those slated for Kusaie are just a day or two east. Meanswhile, the Allies will continue to land supply and builld facilities to bring in more land-based fighters. If John doesn't send a stout KB this way, there is a chance that the Allies could move on Roi Namur, Kusaie, and even Ponape before moving south to handle Tarawa and Baker (the latter two are definite targtets while the first three are more "target of opportunity" types, though I do intend to move on Roi Namur unless KB is sighted tomorrow).
In these particular circumstances, the Marshall are very imporant. A concentration of strong, interlocking Allied bases there and in the Gilberts creates a massive bulge along the Japanese perimeter. Suddenly John sees that his shore guns aren't performing well and that the Allies have open lines of attack towards Lunga, Rabaul, New Guinea, and even Truk. He'll know he has to move to counter. Does he pull Half KB North from Attu (where it is again today)? Does he move Half KB South here to face a strong Death Star? Does he do both?
Tomorrow, recon will focus on Ponape and Kusaie. I need this information, but it's also intended to push John towards the conclusion that his interior is threatened now.
And, if John reacts strongly to counter the threats in CenPac, the Allies shift back to NoPac.
Operation Circus: Allied fighters sweep Amchitka to good effect and bombers then strike hard, closing the airfield (100%, per mouseover). Half KB North remains at Attu.
Battle of Sumatra: I agree that John's message seems aimed at Sabang. Today five BBs bombed the tiny Allied garrison on the west road (the strongest unit is an Aussie engineer at 40 AV - total AV is about 100). Then bombers hit this hex hard. Then two IJA divisions shock attacked...and achieved 1:1 odds, failing to dislodge the defenders.
At Sabang it was quiet today except for modest bombing raids. Supply down to 4.5k. As I wrote once before, "Here at the end of all things...." I won't begrudge John the forthcoming "Banzai!"-Fest. He's earned this one.