Norfolk Island Bridgehead.
The word spreads out among the grunts. “Whatever you are doing, at midnight, drop down, dig as deep as you can, and under no circumstances raise your head.”
There is no need for translation. The battlewagons will give the yellow ba$terds another touch of softening up before the Marines attack in the morning. The news is welcome; infantry loves any help it gets. At midnight, each grunt is in the vicinity, or actually inside, the deepest hole to be found, or dug. Knowing that, at night, they will see the flashes on the horizon some seconds before shells arrive overhead, the men keep their eyes fixed on the distant, almost invisible moonlit line beyond where the allied ships perform their intricate dance.
The first flashes of light throw all the men to the bottom of their foxholes where they wait for the thundering crash of heavy shells flying overhead, but they hear nothing. Cautiously, they raise their helmeted heads over the rim of their foxholes. The sky continues to show flashes, many flashes, flashes galore. A constant rumble, like that of a distant thunderstorm, accompanies the lightning.
“A battle,” someone says, “a naval battle.”
A naval battle. Yes, an old fashioned one. And one where the Japanese excel at.
Two enemy battleships, the former battlecruisers Haruna and Hiei, with four heavy cruisers, the 8400 ton Furutaka and Kako, and the heavier Nachi and Haguro, with six escorting destroyers, came to hit the invasion fleet but met instead the far superior bombardment force.
Two old battleships against the not quite as old twenty seven thousand ton Nevada, the thirty one thousand Pennsylvania, thirty two thousand Mississippi, California, Maryland, and West Virginia, and the two Pensacola class heavy cruisers, Pensacola and Salt Lake City, and four destroyers, Jarvis, Hull, Peary, and Brooks.
Allied radar gives the US Navy the first salvo at 8000 yards, but the enemy responds with fast and accurate fire. The enemy destroyers head for the allied formation at full speed and launch their torpedoes. Five of them will find their targets; California shakes under the impact of two fish, and twenty one shell hits. Salt Lake City founders under fifteen armor piercing shells and a final coup de grace by a torpedo. Nevada takes a torpedo and several shell hits but steams on, while it only takes one torpedo to put the Clemson class destroyer Brooks under the waves.
The final score is one 1913 vintage battleship, Haruna, for a 1926 heavy cruiser, a destroyer, and a heavily damaged battleship that may not survive.
BB Haruna, Shell hits 9, and is sunk
BB Hiei, Shell hits 5
CA Haguro, Shell hits 3, heavy fires
CA Nachi, Shell hits 1
CA Furutaka, Shell hits 8, heavy fires, heavy damage
CA Kako, Shell hits 12, heavy fires, heavy damage
DD Akebono, Shell hits 1
BB Maryland, Shell hits 4, on fire
BB West Virginia, Shell hits 4
BB Nevada, Shell hits 8, Torpedo hits 1
BB Pennsylvania, Shell hits 10, on fire
BB California, Shell hits 21, Torpedo hits 2, heavy fires, heavy damage
BB Mississippi, Shell hits 7
CA Pensacola, Shell hits 2, heavy fires
CA Salt Lake City, Shell hits 15, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk
DD Jarvis, Shell hits 11, heavy fires, heavy damage
DD Hull, Shell hits 14, heavy fires, heavy damage
DD Peary, Shell hits 1
DD Brooks, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk
Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.