AP99 - Barefoot Beating

Prior to this another pacific scenario had been played but has been lost for ever. This was posted early 2015 and was the last game I played against my Czech opponent. FargoGamer had already stopped play and Rosta was very unwilling to play anything that was not ‘simple infantry scenarios’. He was wanting to play more but would rather I played him more than he found other opponents himself to fill his slots. Apparently he had had a local opponent who dropped out and that meant he only played fortnightly against myself. It came to a state that I basically said – we can play weekly as long as you make an attempt to use or let me use tanks plus the game has to start at 8pm as my younger son needed the attention and my Rosta games were 7:30 starts which was pushing bath time for my youngest. Rosta was happy (well maybe happy isn’t the word) to learn tanks but demanded the game not only did not start at 8 but would have to start at 7 and go on for a minimum of 4 hours. I thought about it and said ‘no, that’s not acceptable as I am not prioritising you over my children and wife’ So we stopped playing. I wonder how many gaming partnerships do eventually collapse in such fashions. As its base is the fact that if you want to play ASL then (currently at least) you can play almost whenever you want (caveat as long as you don’t mind VASL or PBEM) Anyway the last game was fun!

Remaining in the PTO we picked ‘Barefoot Beating’ an Action Pack scenario with the unusual prospect of Elite Chinese with surprisingly good leadership levels attempting to swamp a much smaller Japanese defensive force. I am taking the Chinese.
For this engagement I have one of the best units of the Chinese (KMT) army. The 114th Infantry Regiment of the 38th Division was an very competent formation led by a very aggressive (especially for the KMT!) leader who were noticeably successful. As the book ‘The U.S Army in World War II’ put it
That within thirty days the Chinese 114th Regiment should have hacked a way through defences the Japanese had been six months preparing and have accomplished the feat with artillery and air support that was slight in comparison with that at the disposal of Allied forces elsewhere reflected the greatest credit on the unit and its commander.
Unfortunately just after the attack Stilwell was replaced and lethargy replaced drive (or perhaps the more traditional KMT aim of not cornering Japanese troops whilst endeavouring to retain as much fighting force as possible to take on the Communists once the other allies beat the Japanese). Anyway these soldiers have been both trained and equipped by the Americans so I not only have a lot of 5-3-7’s (with 8 rally morale!) but also two of the squads are both assault engineers AND fanatic (5-3-8s…) and  four officers (possibly reflecting the historical leadership provided to this unit) along with a healthy mixture of medium machine guns light machine guns and mortars.
The Japanese defenders were a rear guard designed to hold up the Chinese advance and as is usual were given fairly unequivocal instructions
As it was with the heroes of Myitkyina, so it must be with the Bhamo garrison. . . . Do not expect additional aid. . . . Each man will endeavour to defend his post to the utmost–to the death . . . If, for the success in the large sense, units in dire straits are overlooked in the interests of larger units do not expect to be relieved, but be cognisant of the sacrifice you as an entity will make to insure the success of the whole
The Japanese have an artillery piece plenty of fortifications and light support weapons along with the usual HIP possibilities.
Japanese set up
The Japanese setup with a couple of aggressive outliers who are either dummies or speed bumps to delay my advance. I shall therefore rush them and hopefully overwhelm them before they can pull back. Both combat engineers will be with the flanking force to provide extra cover and allow them to pressurize the defenders into some ‘bad’ decisions.
Initial Assault
My attempt to swarm the two lonely outliers was only partially successful. They soon revealed themselves as 2nd line squads with mortars and the right hand squad missed the attackers before succumbing to an advance fire shot which left the mortar on the floor and them running away. One down… Unfortunately the other squad had liberally drunk all the Sake and was an entirely different prospect. Firstly it rated repeatedly and hit low (along with some appalling morale rolls on my part) and broke the entire left flank with two squads and an officer down. Grimacing I pushed up the center only to lose my best officer and another squad broken to a revealed crew plus medium machine gun along with a Japanese 9-1 protecting the central road.
The Japanese mortar on the left proves ‘difficult’
Mortars ho!
In the following turn my 9-1 managed the impressive feat of a snake eyes rally attempt but then berserked and being an incredibly persuasive chap managed to get the squad with him to go berserk as well. They then stormed a full eight squares (approx.) laughing off all the incoming mortar fire until they arrived on top of the mortar squad. I was slightly ‘meh’ at this point as this was a Japanese opponent but at least as it was my turn so it would not be hand to hand and I would have 2 to 1 odds. This proved to be an entirely artificial sense of protection as elsewhere on the board a hit against another Japanese unit (that did nothing) awoke their Sniper and guess where he landed? Yup right on top of my unit and casualty reduced the squad so now it was 1 to 1 odds. Naturally we both failed to kill each other and in the following turn the little Japanese defenders killed all my troops in hand to hand naturally surviving itself.
The clash of swords..
In the North on turn two my reinforcements rolled in. The Japanese had not kept any  ‘eyes’ on the Northern entry hexes so I was able to enter concealed and get close to the enemy in two stacks with concealment retained. In the enemies turn I decided to reveal to take an eight up two which failed to strip concealment. In the following turn I then tried a twenty up two (the Japanese had revealed themselves with an assault fire shot), which failed to do any damage. Since I had left the officer concealed I decided to move into combat and look for the ambush with me with a -3 and the Japanese with a -1. As seems to be standard this game no ambush was gained and neither side damaged each other in combat (with me with 3 to 1 odds and -1 on the dice). The Japanese were obviously not confident in their hand to hand so had the neighbouring squad firing in point blank at everyone. It will surprise no one at this point when their seven morale half squad laughed maniacally at the one Morale check and both my officer and the non-fanatic squad broke on my side. This made the combat a little more interesting as my brokies would have to try and retreat and my oppo decided to try and kill them and not the active squad. Needing a seven he rolled an eight and I let of a sigh of relief. This increased when my fanatics became furious at this attempt to do over their mates and killed them. I think a better ‘choice’ might have been to try and kill my live squad in combat then Banzai onto of the withdrawn troops the next turn. With that high die roll that would have still failed but with luck it would have stabilised that entire flank.
The IJA were protecting the road through the village aggressively and that machine gun led an (almost) charmed life. A box cars morale check took out the officer but did not dent the crew’s ability to rate repeatedly and the center was thoroughly blocked up with a further squad and a half of mine broken. My oppo was not skulking though which did allow me to use my massive strength differential in firepower and of the central defenders a squad was striped then killed and the broken mortar squad arrived in safety only to be erased itself due to nasty shooting.
The village combat hotting up
The Swarm
The Japanese were in trouble now. With few places to skulk they were up close and personal to a lot of Chinese firepower and I steadily pursued a policy of fire grouping point bank fire getting usually between 12 and 20 shots at the IJA which either striped or pinned them and then advanced into combat when I had at least four to one odds in my favour. This allowed me to steadily take over the South end of Bhamo and to finally wipe out the mortar on board 70. The machine gun gave more trouble managing to break a further two units and pinning another but the same approach eventually wiped out most of the Japanese defenders and left the gun along with two concealed and a striped squad.
The enormous stack by the Kunai contains both broken fanatics and another squad. The machine gun has finally succumbed and the artillery piece is now in place.
The IJA had misplaced the gun to protect the far North and spent their turn four furiously manhandling it down the road but once placed it proved annoyingly accurate. It firstly broke both my fanatic squads (who fortunately had a safe rout path at this point to my 8-1 officer with one coming back the following turn) then another squad and then a further squad in successive turns. By this point my heroic Chinese were all over the Northern part of the village and with the rest of the Japanese succumbing to even more 4-1 (and in one case greater than 10-1) combats they were striped then broken by fire in the last turn allowing the 114th to take the village and win the game.
I enjoyed the scenario. These Chinese are a lot more effective than the standard KMT troops and it gives me an idea how the US Marines must play. For the Japanese the placement of that gun (and any attached spotter) is key really and not easy as most of the approach is covered by terrain so there are few obvious killing grounds. The Japanese need to skulk a lot to survive the incoming fire and perhaps when they do get down to one firepower to try the odd Banzai against single squads to try and hand to hand them to death.

The end, all the defenders are dead or running.


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