The Second World War, Chain of Command, 28mm
This was another week where we didn’t make it to the club. As two of our regulars were either working or sick, Sean 2 and I changed our plans. Instead of the long trip into town, we played a small Chain of Command game at my place. In this one, set in the Buna-Gona campaign in New Guinea in late November 1942, a platoon of the US 1/128th Infantry Rgt. (32nd Inf Div.) was probing its way up the coast towards Buna. Blocking their way was a platoon of the 1/170 Bttn., deployed near Cape Endaiadere, a couple of miles from Buna itself. We played the game on a 6×4 foot table, showing the beach, the headland and the jungle. In this one, Sean opted to take the Americans, so I commanded the Japanese. the “Patrol Phase” worked smoothly, with both sides establishing their front line in the jungle to the south of the cape. essentially, it ran down the centre of the table, to the sea. Sean went first and began advancing northwards. HE also brought on his one decent bit of support – a Stuart tank. For my part I was keen to hold the front line, but I advanced one squad into the patch of jungle just inland from the beach, in the centre of the table. As the Americans were heading for the same place a firefight erupted, with both sides contesting that little patch of jungle. The firefight there lasted for the whole game. Sean had a slight edge though, as he brought up his Stuart along the beach, which began machine-gunning the jungle. I didn’t have anything to stop it apart form my own tank, but right now I needed the command dice to keep my infantry in the fight. Inland, my right flank platoon faced an open patch, and being on overwatch it acted as a deterrent to any more American advances.By now both sides were taking casualties in the jungle firefight. So, Sean brought up a second squad, which didn’t get far before it was taking hits. So, he went to ground in the open between two patches of jungle. He kept up a heavy fire, but essentially the advance was halted in its tracks. Annoyingly though, Sean made good use of his 60mm mortar (another support point purchase), which popped away at my squad on the flank, and began causing casualties. SO, we’d now reached something of a stalemate. To try and break it I brought up my own tank, a Chi Ha, which sat on the high ground near the cape, which overlooked the beach. It began firing at the exposed Stuart, but clearly the gunner wasn’t too good, and it took a while to score a hit. Meanwhile the fighting in the jungle was still going strong, and Sean calmly ignored my tank, so his Stuart could keep supporting the firefight.So, things were getting tricky. Both Sean and I were taking hits, and so we had to use our leaders to rally those off as fast as we could. That kept the firefight going, but neither of us were really managing to achieve anything. I even began ignoring the American squad ion the open, so my guys on the hill could pour more fire into the jungle patch near the beach.Then, finally, I scored a telling hit on the Stuart. it knocked out its machine gun. By now Sean had decided to fire back, and so a tank duel began. Both tanks were so mediocre though, that causing any real damage was a matter of luck. My next attempt to break the impasse was to bring on my reserve – my light mortar section. It deployed inland of the Cape, at a spot where it had a good field of fire. The trouble was, they then spent the rest of the game not actually hitting anyone! It was now almost time for Sean to up sticks and leave, as he was “Dad Taxi” that evening. So, we gave ourselves another couple of turns apiece, in an attempt to break the deadlock. Both of us then rolled lots of dice, scored several hits and caused a few casualties. However, it was now clear that nothing was really going to change on the battlefield. So, we called it a day. Officially the game was a draw, but Sean inflicted marginally more casualties, and so we decided to call it a borderline American win. As this was the first game in a nascent mini-campaign, this meant that in the future, the Americans will be able to start the game on the same spot, just a few miles from their campaign objective. However, other columns are advancing on Buna from further inland, so next time we’ll see how far they get. “Bloody Buna” will certainly live up to its name!