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To Embark Upon This Great Crusade-Part 19

Mark Buetow
United States
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Combat Commander Archivist
Move! Advance! Fire! Rout! Recover! Artillery Denied! Artillery Request! Command Confusion...say what?!
As 1942 Draws to a Close, Ups and Downs on the Island of New Guinea

Both our boys in the Army and our Australian and Zew Zealander allies fought hard in the month of Decemeber. As bitter cold settled in on the European front, there were successes and setbacks on the scorching island of New Guinea in the South Pacific.

On the Sanananda Front, Papua New Guinea, December 10, 1942.

Our Army boys are ready for a fight! With the Japanese army closing from two sides, they must hold out. And they do!

Here you see the approaching enemy and our well-placed and ready American troops.

One can’t imagine the scorching hot and humid swamps our boys have to slog through, the suffocating jungle they must hack a path in, or the relentless enemey which stalks them. But here two Medium Machine guns are ready to repel any attackers.

The fire from the center of the battlefield early killed one of the Japanese leaders, slowing the advance on the lower left. On the upper side, they came but were cut down in time by fire. The men held fast, reloading as fast as they could. Forward units fell back but some, guarding the trailhead, gave their lives to slow the Japanese. In the end, the Japanese couldn’t last and our infantry held on until help arrived. As our country becomes more immersed in this horrible worldwide conflict, it’s reassuring to know they have the will and determination to hold their ground and fight!

Here is the end of the battle:

Setbacks for our Aussie Allies near Buna, on New Guinea, December 18, 1942

Two hard battles are fought by the ANZAC forces against Japanese units near Buna and its airfield. It is a long and frustrating day for the Aussies and Kiwis who attack with bravery but are ultimately stopped.

In the first battle, the ANZACS must advance into the unknown, hidden enemy units popping up all over. The ANZAC forces moved ahead steadily but were eventually cut to pieces in their center. The allies managed to mount some of the small hills but the Japanese continued to pop up with medium machine guns, in caves and pillboxes. There just wasn’t time for the ANZAC men to advance. Here are before and after shots of the fight.

In the second battle around Buna, ANZAC forces arrived from a different direction, this time with support from some emplaced tanks. Our allies swept forward part way but were hit hard by seemingly insane enemy troops, rushing in with knives glinting and bayonets sharpened to razor points. It was horrible and bloody. A couple of units were able to exit the battlefield but Tojo’s troops were able to retake some of the key hilltops. Again, aided by their network of caves and willingness to throw themselves at the enemy, the Japanese worked the ANZACS over until their attack failed. More before and after photos:

Game Notes

All three scenarios today are from Combat Commander: Pacific and Combat Commander: Battle Pack #4 – New Guinea, from the Combat Commander Series.

Scenario M7 is a pretty straightforward fight in which the defenders need to hold out. It’s not easy for the Japanese as the nearlyt the entire area is swamp and the jungle and brush next to the swamp are further hampered by special rules. The key for my Americans was to hold out. Killing the leader on the bottom left slowed him way up and we got some nice fire attacks as the Japanese moved onto the trailhead at Objective 4, though it cost us our units holding that objective. We were far enough ahead and time went pretty quickly for us to pull it off. My mortar was pretty effective hitting the enemy in the swamps. We held out and prevailed. The Americans won at Sudden Death 9 with 23 VPs.

Scenario K sees the ANZAC units trying to sweep across the battlefield. The Japanese have 5 secret objectives and all of their units except their sniper (Sogeki Hei) come in at any instant and just about anywhere the Japanses player wants to put them. So they kept popping up in our path. With four MMGs it was tough to move around. They held the high ground and had caves plus one MMG in a pillbox. I sent squads on mad dashes for Objective 5 but they were cut to ribbons. In the end, we couldn’t pull it off. The Japanese won with 10 VPs at time 7.

Scenario M8 was a drawn-out disaster. I had some good chances at melee but he never wanted for an Advance card to pour more units in to slaughter my guys. Then, when Sudden Death arrived, we didn’t end. I thought, for a fleeting moment, that I could still win by eliminating all his units. But with key leaders in the center and right gone, I couldn’t bring any firepower to bear to and I was shy of melee. Another SD roll failed and I was battling the desire to try to survive and maybe kill more of his men while losing my personal morale check and wishing the game would just end! The private and his squad died in a nasty melee. I could’t kill any units in hand-to-hand fighting. Finally, with only two units to go until my surrender, Sudden Death hit at 10 and it was all over. Japanses won with a whopping 30 VPs after flipping their three secret objectives. I've also never seen so many hidden mines sprung and so many pillboxes everywhere!

Another brutal couple of days on New Guinea! The war now stands at 19-24 in favor of the Axis.
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