Monday, November 11, 2013

Battling Bastards of Bataan: Let's run down the history

See, I promised I'd be back with stuff here, and here I am! So, the big non WWPD project I'm working on now is a fan briefing for the Philippines Campaign of '41 and '42. As I've been working through it I've learned a ton of things about the history of the fight and some awesome anecdotes.

I think, when building your own briefing, fluency with the history is necessary. It'll allow you to build accurate, historical lists that you can then balance for play-ability. In other words, research is key. Thanks to a number of folks (including a certain Marine Corps historian) and a ton of online resources I've been able to start hashing out the nitty gritty of the campaign.

So, here I'm going to post a timeline of the fight with some annotated game design notes (in italics) that have helped me shaped my thoughts on how to put the briefing together:

OK, the first big question here is: IS this a mid-war or early-war breifing or does the Pacific really exist in it's own Meta? The Marines on Corregador used a 1930's force organization, the PS and PA units didn't have "modern" equipment and the Japanese aren't much changed from what you'd see in 39 to 40. The major difference would be better air support and some of the better (such as it is) tanks are more available than they would have been in Nomonhan. 

I'm still debating but I'm starting to lean heavily towards early war. What do you think?

Diversionary/Stage Setting Invasions:
7 Dec ’41: Pearl Harbor
8 Dec ’41: Air Strikes begin on Philippines, in 48 Hours half of all US Air Power on the islands is destroyed

This gives me two options. Sporadic Allied air support or no air support. Interestingly, B-17's were used as part of the air support package for allies during the fight. IF I were to add in sporadic B-17, how would that work? It would certainly need its own special rule. 

8 Dec ’41: Japanese Land on Batan (not Bataan) small island build air base
8 Dec ’41: US Asiatic Fleet withdraws from the Philippines due to bombardments
10 Dec ’41: Diversionary landings on Camiguin Island and at Vigan, Aparri, and Gonzaga in northern Luzon, more airbases underway
10 Dec ’41: Guam Surrenders
12 Dec ’41: the Japanese landed 2,500 men of the 16th Division at Legaspi on southern Luzon, 150 miles from the nearest American and Philippine forces. General Parker sent only token forces from the 41st and the 51st Divisions (PA) to meet the invaders.
19 Dec ’41: attack on Mindanao: Japanese troops staged a night landing that met little resistance as the badly outnumbered 2d Battalion, 101st Infantry (PA), withdrew

Main Invasion:
22 Dec ’41: 43,110 men of General Homma's 14th Army entered Luzon's Lingayen Gulf. The 48th Division and elements of the 16th Division, with support from artillery and 80 to 100 tanks, landed at three points along the east coast of the gulf. General Wainwright's poorly trained and poorly equipped 11th and 71st Divisions (PA) could neither repel the landings nor pin the enemy on the beaches as outlined in USAFFE's defense plan. The remaining Japanese units of the 48th and 16th Divisions landed farther south along the gulf, linking up with the other Japanese forces for the march south. The 26th Cavalry (PS), advancing to meet them, put up a strong fight at Rosario but, after taking heavy casualties and with no hope of sufficient reinforcements, was forced to withdraw.

Likely to be the first lists in the briefing. FV Japanese with SNLF support versus 8 million Bayonets-esque Philippine Army force. 

26th Cav PS is awesome. They average trooper had 13 years of experience on the island. I've rated them Confident Vet and have already blocked out their basic force org. They'll have Stuarts from the Provisional Tank Battaltion, PA/PS infantry support, a special character, half track 75mm guns and some arty support. In a later incarnation they'll lose the special character but will have Bren Carriers and White Scout Cars going from horse mounted mech to fully mechanized. 

22 Dec ’41: Wake surrenders
24 Dec ’41: 7,000 men of the 16th Division hit the beaches at three locations along the shore of Lamon Bay in southern Luzon where they found General Parker's forces dispersed and unable to offer serious resistance. They immediately consolidated their positions and began the drive north toward Manila where they would link up with the forces advancing south toward the capital for the final victory.
26 Dec ’41: MacArthur orders Warplan Orange, the defense of the Bataan Peninsula into effect.
Retreat to Bataan:
23 Dec ’41: MacArthur withdraws from Manila and relocates to Bataan
26 Dec ’41: Manila declared open city
Through 30 Dec ’41: . The tenacity of the 3d Battalion of the 21st Division (PA), in particular, allowed the Americans and Filipinos to hold this defensive line until 30 December before withdrawing to their final defensive position prior to entering the Bataan Peninsula.
2 Jan ’42: Japanese Take Manila
2 Jan ’41: Most Philippine forces enter Bataan
6 Jan ’41: Rearguard American forces enter Bataan
Jan ’42: Entrenchment in Correigador

Battle for Bataan:
Jan to April ’42: Fight for Bataan
Early Jan ’42: Experienced Japanese 48th division pulled off the line and sent to Dutch East Indies and replaced by the recalled reserve unit  of the 65th Brigade
2 to 9 Jan: First defensive line established. Wainwright's I Philippine Corps held the eastern sector. His command included the 1st, 31st, and 91st Infantry Divisions (PA); the 26th Cavalry (PS); and a battery of field artillery and self-propelled 75-mm. guns. General Parker commanded the western sector. His II Philippine Corps, including the 11th, 21st, 41st, and 51st Divisions (PA) and the 57th Infantry (PS), numbered some 25,000 men. MacArthur designated the Philippine Division as the reserve force.

Here's where I'll detail the Philippine Division, the only regular army division on the island and the Provisional Tank Regiment (stuarts), 26th Cav fully Meched, A CT Japanese regiment (the 65th), a japanese tank regiment and the Philippine Scout infantry company (CT) with some special morale rules. 

9 Jan: Assaults begin on eastern & western portion of defensive line
17 Jan ’42: Philippine Division commited to western portion of defensive line under General Parker.
17 Jan ’41: Japanese forces establish solid salient in Western portion of defensive line at Abucay Hacienda.
22 Jan ’42: Japanese break through first defensive line by crossing over Mt. Natib, a feat believed unthinkable by Army planners
22 Jan ’42: Japanese units attempt to outflank the now falling back Americans with an amphibious attack in the southern portion of the Bataan pennensula. Enemy infantry landed in the service command area held only by an assortment of headquarters and service units, the 1st Constabulary Regiment, and the grounded airmen of five pursuit squadrons. Between 22 January and 2 February, in what became known as the Battle of the Points, the Americans turned back successive Japanese attempts to gain a beachhead. The Japanese suffered heavy casualties in these actions, a total of about 900 men, or two full battalions, of the 20th Infantry. The defenders suffered approximately 750 casualties, about a third of these killed. Two Scout units were particularly weakened: the 3d Battalion, 45th Infantry, lost 60 percent of its effectives; Company B of the 57th Scouts, 40 percent.

Here I'll be featuring the SNLF and a really neat mixed American company of all sorts of pilots, sailors and cooks led by 4th Marine Sergeants. 

26 Jan ’42: Evacuation of first line completed establishment of Orion-Bagac line
26 Jan to 7 Feb ’42: Japanese assaults on the Orion-Bagac line. The enemy renewed the offensive against the 4,500-yard Orion-Bagac line on 26-27 January, attacking the II Corps' Sector C along Trail 2. Brig. Gen. Clifford Bluemel had organized his defense of the area on the assumption that he would have most of his 31st Division (PA) and what was left of the 51st Division (PA) to put into the line. In the midst of the fighting Bluemel discovered that two of his regiments had been moved to defend Sector A, leaving no defenders east of Trail 2. The Japanese, also severely debilitated by the continuous fighting, failed to take advantage of the situation, and when the attack finally occurred, Bluemel's hastily reorganized force was able to drive the enemy back. The Japanese were more successful in the I Corps area, but they were again unable to exploit the opening.
8 Feb ’42: Homma orders a general withdrawl of the 14th Army to lick wounds and rebuild
9 Feb to 2 Apr ’42: Defenders rations cut to starvation levels and they continue to dig in while Japanese receive reinforcements for 16th and 65th and reinforced by newly arrived 4th Division from China (in March). Artillery bombardments and infiltration raids are the order of the day during this period. 
12 March ’42: MacArthur leaves Philippines, Wainright put in charge.
3 April ’42: Homma resumes the attack. after a sustained aerial and artillery bombardment. The strongest enemy push, spearheaded by the 4th Division and the 65th Brigade, was directed against Sector D on the II Corps' left flank. The exhausted, malnourished, and dispirited defenders soon gave ground, and the entire line began to crumble. In thirty-six hours the Japanese succeeded in breaching the American line. Command and control in II Corps quickly broke down as troops retreated under heavy air attack.
6 April: II Corps destroyed, I Corps flank turned
9 April ’42: Remaining  I Corps troops under General King surrender the Bataan Peninsula.

Siege of Corregidor:
April - May ’42: Siege of Corregidor
1 May ’42: Initial preparatory bombardment for invasion of Corregidor begins and lasts 5 days.
5 May ’42: Invasion of Corregidor. On the night of 5-6 May, two battalions of the 61st Infantry landed on the northeast end of the island. Despite a strong resistance, they established a beachhead that was soon reinforced by tanks and artillery. Artillerymen and other miscellaneous Army and Navy personnel fighting as infantry joined the 4th Marine Regiment to meet the invasion. The defenders were quickly pushed back toward the island's Malinta Hill stronghold where their position became untenable. President Roosevelt had personally authorized General Wainwright to decide if or when surrender was proper. Late on 6 May, Wainwright broadcast a message to General Homma asking for terms.

The 4th Marines are the other list I've got mostly fleshed out at this point (along with the 2 26th Cav Reg't lists) though I'm still waffling between FT and FV. Thoughts? They'll also have a special rule regarding their use of machine guns and the list will incorporate ad-hoc units that made it off Bataan and, likely, coastal artillery. The Japanese will have access to captured stuarts, off board artillery and another trick or two. 

6 May ’42: Corregidor Falls

9 May ’42: Mindanao falls



  1. I would suggest this to be EW or EW/MW briefing due to the timeline and fact, that there are US MW briefings and US players are missing the EW lists.

  2. Hi, I'm aiming to do a pdf briefing on US forces on Wake Island and Philipines, maybe you would like to join forces? I would like to get it under review by BF, so it would become official untill BF decides to release their book on this part of the world. If you would be interested, please contact me at: mn (at) grf .pl Marcin