ASL145 - Shanghai in Flames

Back to the pacific and an infantry only scenario that I have wanted to play for ages.
July 1937 and Shanghai erupted in flames as a lost (presumed visiting a whorehouse) Japanese soldier (A private Shimura Kikujiro) caused an eruption of fighting. Initially the Chinese army piled reinforcements in and was doing well against the mainly sailor/marine forces of the Japanese Navy Landing force. Losing face somewhat the Japanese reinforced heavily with a new Shanghai Expeditionary Army and started to push the Chinese back. Fighting was still ferocious as the defenders started burning down large sections of the city to delay their opposition but the end could be seen. Chaing Kai Shek decided to leave a rear guard behind to allow the majority of his forces to escape and  after the 88th Divisions commander (Sun Yuan Ling) and his Corp commander (General Gu Zhudong) had successfully argued that it was a waste of elite troops this was pared down to an understrength battalion/regiment.
The regiment chosen was the 524th. Now the 88th Division regarded themselves as elites – ‘the Generalissimos own’, though it should be noted the entire Chinese army at this point was around 1.7 million strong and the ‘Generalissimos own’ forces were almost 80,000 strong. The 88th had been both German armed and trained and had already suffered in the fighting for Shanghai.
Anyway a LtCol Xie Jinyuan volunteered to command the forlorn hope and they prepared to resist.
Their position was based around the concrete Sihang warehouse ( 4 Banks Warehouse – named because a consortium of four banks had built it) which was a very solid defensive position. The initial defence was very successful as the Japanese threw attack after failing attack forward. Their defence was so successful that a crowd of up to 30,000 civilians started watching the engagement from the relative safety of the international settlement just across the river. These civilians were more than just observers though as they also started (through enormous character cards) signalling the defenders any Japanese movements they observed. They also helped smuggle fresh food, ammunition and supplies across the river to assist the defenders.
The defenders were now getting an international reputation and lt-Col Xie-Juan was asked to provide a list of the defenders to honour them just in case all were killed. Suspecting this would be helpful to the Japanese he cunningly provided a pre-war list of the regiments strength that listed it as eight hundred strong as to the current 411 men and 16 officers. From this the defenders were called ‘the 800 heroes’ as opposed to the ‘427 heroes’ which admittedly sounds a bit exact.
The Japanese were also getting a reputation and one they were keen not to foster. The attacks were now interspersed with huge artillery barrages though the real heavy guns were not used due to the proximity of the international settlement. Extreme measures now had to be taken on the defence including one notable incident when a Chinese defender wrapped several bandoliers of grenades around his person and jumped off the roof towards a Japanese assault force pulling the pins on a grenade as he fell. Apparently he unsurprisingly killed himself but also around twenty attackers foiling that particular attack.
The Japanese never succeeded in taking the building by storm with the defenders eventually being permitted to retire to the international settlement (where they stayed for the remainder of the war). The Japanese did try and rake the bridge as they left  – an action which so enraged the International Settlement defenders from Britain’s Royal Fusiliers that at least one pill box shot back neutralising a Japanese machine gun position though not creating the international incident it might otherwise have caused.
The unfortunate subscript is that the valiant Xie Jinyuan was assassinated in 1941 by three of the ‘heroes’ and their nco – Sergeant Hao Dingcheng –  on the orders of the collaborating Chinese government the Japanese installed in Shanghai led by a Wang Jingwei. Wang had previously tried to tempt the heroes to serve in his army and offered Xie the position of chief of staff. Xie had refused with the comment, “my parents are Chinese and their son also is Chinese. Chinese are never slaves”.
Setup
The Chinese appear to have used their concealment to cover actual units. Having counted visible counters there will be possibly one to no dummy stacks.  The key thing is that they have setup to dominate the roads. M4 , B4, N8 I3 are all likely to be the medium and heavy machine guns. The remaining units are screens to block Japanese forces approaching outside of the roads. For my part I have enough strength to multi task so I plan on sending a strong right/central thrust and a much weaker left flanking thrust. The left flank will have some small subterfuge where I shall HIP 2 squads and an officer next to the active stack (I will also deploy 2 squads to ‘cover’ the missing counters) so hopefully causing my oppo to think he can get away with shots allowing easy egress into the position.. The deployed half squads will be even more suicidal banzai versions. I suspect all these will die horrifically and fast but their purpose is to soak shots that would otherwise hit my more active units. Hopefully my left flanking force can ‘obstruct’ the side fire lanes allowing my slower moving right flank force less counter fire.
The second Japanese stack from the right has a visible 10-1 officer and underneath it two HIP squads. When playing skype with boards I usually mark these
with a different colour concealment counter..
The center of the board looked like it would be soon eaten up by flames so there would be no hanging around!.
Early Turns
My plan seemed to work well. I charged forward several of the useless half squads and second line squads to draw the worse of the fire and then sent forward first line to try and drag out a fpf shot. This worked well and in the first turn the Chinese squad in O2 (on the right) was surrounded then broke being ‘captured’ in the rout phase with C1 breaking and routing upstairs. Since I planned more of these infiltration tactics I wanted to keep the captures going.
The great Shanghai ‘resid’ wall. The situation at the end of the movement phase. The intensive fire counters in the rear
are actually being used as opportunity fire counters as I cannot seem to find any.
A few fire lanes did manage to get laid and they were effective with at least one kia and one break caused by them but it did not stop my troops sweeping forward. I repated my infiltration trick on B1 plus captured the previous router to the first floor of B2. Casaulties were occurring and I was striping down fairly regularly and starting to generate a smattering of useless broken half squads.
The blazes are starting to take hold but the Japanese pressure continues
The middle section of the boards proved the hardest to take so far. A chinese squad with an LMG in B4 did some damage with a fire lane and went fanatic itself only to be eventually pinned by my (rating) heavy machine gun which allowed a 1st line squad to advance in ambush and kill it. O2 and M4 succumbed to infiltration and surrendered after fire breaks and fpf fails. Finally I launched a banzai charge from my 9-0 and a full squad at a broken and pinned squad in D4. This succeeded in killing everyone (apart from the brokies who routed out) so was a net loss to me.
On the Chinese right flank I managed to get a squad and officer across the road in the teeth of a medium machine squad fire lane but lost a further squad KIA to the same. The squad and officer managed to pin the Heavy machine gun half squad and also then ambushed and erased them for no loss thus securing the Japanese left flank.
Situation after the Banzai of doom (nothing there to see as they are all dead). The 8-1 half squad and mmg on I7
will get broken moving to J7 and the 10-1 officer plus squad in N6 is about to dash across the road
absorb fire and destroy the 7-0 half squad and mmg in N2
We stopped for the week here. I have managed to destroy around half the Chinese order of battle and taken out most of their support weapons. In return the Japanese forces are around 65% of its original strength so we are in good shape. Unfortunately that factory is packed with troops. I expect to spend the next turn (4) dealing with the rowhouse and bringing the machine guns forward so they can help out along with clearing up the remaining brokies on my left flank. That will give three turns for a push into the factory from the rear and front…
The Chinese were in a bit of a bind now. The problem was that the Japanese were approaching from the rear and they could no longer skulk (really) from the front so they had to stand and fight. This meant Japanese numbers started hurting. Japanese turn four the IJA tidied up their left flank by capturing a further half squad and officer prisoner (I actually ran out of prisoner counters) whilst on the left flank the 8+1 officer banzaied to his death to help storm the row houses. His death was not in vane as I broke one of the defenders and eventually advanced a squad into combat where they failed to ambush but still killed their opponents.
The Dm’d Chinese squad in the rowhouse will surrender and the 4-4-7 in D7
move to F9 to cover the flank.
This then caused the surrender of another squad..
Now only the factory remained, some judicious prisoner juggling meant I freed a couple more squads up and started to bring the HMG forward. Unfortunately for me the Chinese sniper was an absolute beast and he really did not like the Heavy crew which was striped half squaded then broken in turn by the keen sniper. On the right flank my 10-1 and triped squad managed to break a squad in the factory (ELRs down to a broken conscript) with the surprisingly effective Chinese Heavy Machine Gun which they had bothered but then engaged an emergency chinese  flanker in hand to hand where everyone died. At this point I was much less bothered by swapping squads so it counted as a result.
The 10-1 is about to advance into F9 and you can see the latest wall of Chinese resid that has
not stopped the Japanese using their numbers to flood round the dfefenders.
I then sent everyone flooding forward which proved relatively successful. I took a lot of stripes but ended with one squad berserked in the middle of the factory and yet another chinese squad surrendered. At this point the broken Chinese Half squad also berserked and ran into my berserker. My lads won. The game was getting distinctly weird at this point as I was rolling permenant 5’s on ambush rolls and the Chinese sniper continued to make merry hell. Things got worse when one of the last two chinese squads (which was dm’d and broken) rolled a double one and rallied, battle hardened and generated a hero. Ouch. Especially as it was in a stack with the Chinese 9-1. Double ouch. Going all in I flooded forward and attempted to encircle the other Chinese squad. First roll was a 4 and a sniper. The Chinese laughed of the morale check and that bloody sniper, no doubt bored after torturing the HMG squad broke one of my ‘guard’ squads who had three full prisoner squads with him. This was getting interesting. I moved my ex-hmg officer and a 1st line squad into combat with the not-encircled Chinese squad, rolled a 5 on the ambush again but was lucky to kill the squad and miss being casaulty reduced by 1. I also moved four squads into combat with the 9-1,hero, elite squad. This was much more dangerous as they would have a one advantage on the ambush. Fortunately I was not ambushed and everyone died (me needing 9 and the Chinese 8). Phew.
The 4-4-7 in C6 will be broken by the fire from the mmgs under the 9-1 (who has left the now broken
hmg squad next door). The striped 3-4-7 is about to go berserk as is a half squad currently in C8
The final factory fight with the remaining Chinese in D9 and D10.
All eyse turned to the guard combat though. Task checks were rolled for the three Chinese squads and one was brave enough to fight. If it won the three squads could re-arm and it was Chinese turn 6 next! They failed and more amusingly the next turn when all three squads had a go they failed again. I can only picture the un-armed Chinese chasing the broken guards around. At that point it was all over but ASL had almost done one of those amazing turnarounds you could not predict or guarentee. A real blast at the end.
End position just to show the valiant Chinese prisoner break and the state of the blazes in Shanghai
For a different view see the HongKongWargamers AAR here

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