The Battle of Changlun 11th December 1941 AAR
Dean and I started the Malaya campaign that I have been planning since 2007. We started with the Battle of Changlun which was a smaller action in the larger Battle of Jitra, which was a village further south down the main road. The Japanese had already moved through northern Malaya after the beach landings at Kota Bharu on the 8th of December and had engaged the British defenders in several other actions before this one. However, in the Battle of Changlun, a Japanese armour and infantry force faced the 1/14th Punjab battalion supported by two 2lber A/T guns.
The Japanese attackers consisted of a battalion of infantry, with the tanks: 4 x Type 95 (Chi Ha), 4 x Type 97 (Te Ke) and 4 x Type 95 (Ha Go), all supported by two 70mm Infantry guns.
As we only had one battalion each we decided to have a house rule that morale would be taken by company rather than by battalion, so when a company reached 50% casualties they would do a test, with a +1 for being close to the headquarters.
The source book (Sayce, A.M. Japanese World War II Scenarios) I've been using is slightly confusing and it stated that the battle began at 09.00 of the 11th of December, yet later states that the overall battle of Jitra started at 03.00 on the 11th of December, so we took 03.00 as the starting point for Changlun as well as the Japanese would have had to fight their way through these first line defenders before heading south (in this I could be wrong though...). With this in mind, we decided that the British would have to hold the Japanese for eight full turns to win, the first two turns being conducted at night, with the reduced observation and movement which that entails. The source book stated that the battle was over by noon on the 11th so that was our cut off point as well.
I took the British defenders and spread them across the plantations to the south of the board, the two AT guns were placed at the southern end of the road. Dean put his tanks in the centre with the infantry on his left.
The view down the main road, the Japanese tanks were out of observation distance for the moment, but that would soon change.
The darkness slowed the tanks advance to a crawling pace, the heavier Type 97 used the road to get further towards the British positions.
It was harder for Dean to spot my forces in the woods, but as he got closer he moved in automatic observation range for my guns and I opened fire!
But the aim was off, it must have been the dark night and the tanks remained unscathed... This also allowed him to spot my guns and they returned fire.
Dean's fire was more accurate and I lost a gunner to his shelling.
The sun then rose and the Japanese attack quickened pace as the Type 97s barrelled down the road straight at the AT guns, firing as they came. My return fire was completely ineffective, again!
I'd moved my headquarters into the woods to cover the road, this unit had the Boys AT rifle attached and this opened fire at the rear of the Type 97s, but again to no effect!
In the centre of the field the other Japanese tanks began firing at one of my companies holding the plantations.
This fire was very effective and caused five casualties out of the eight men in the unit, causing my first morale test, which thankfully was positive. The only thing that was positive!
Elsewhere, things were looking grim, the Type 97s were causing more casualties on the AT guns and they still couldn't hit a barn door at twenty paces!
The Japanese infantry slowly moved across the left flank, they had yet to contact my infantry, which was frustrating as I had yet to cause a single casualty!
Despite the Type 97s being caught between two AT guns and an AT rifle not a single one had even been lightly damaged, instead, one of the guns was destroyed and the other rendered non-operational by the loss of the crew.
The first company to come under fire was still soaking up shells form the tankettes, their morale was holding but the casualties were mounting.
The central view from above about half way through the battle:
The infantry moved closer to the village of Nangka, still suffering no opposition at all!
Then finally! The headquarters AT rifle scored a hit and a kill on one of the Type 95s! My first kill of the game!
This couldn't help the situation though as I had just lost my second AT gun.
The Type 97 tanks moved to my left flank to start attacking my other infantry company. The remaining tankettes closed in on the headquarters and remaining company in the centre.
The Japanese infantry continued their march towards the village.
Casualties mounted in the headquarters, with the loss of the AT rifle I had lost any chance of damaging the Japanese armour.
Berlin of the East!
I could do nothing but keep trying to move my forces out of sight of the tank guns, but they were able to keep pouring it on.
I was losing more and more men each turn, but the clock was ticking down.
And tick down it did. We reached the eighth move and assessed the situation. I had lost two full companies but the 2" mortar and CO had survived the fire from the tanks.
Three men remained in the third company, so I was still present on the field at the end of the game.
I argued that it was a draw but Dean said it was a victory for me, as I had held his forces up for eight turns. On the other hand, after rereading the source book, the victory conditions held that the Japanese would win if they had an unengaged unit on the southern line of the board. This had occurred when his infantry reached the village, but as it happened at the end of the game we still reckoned it up as a draw.
It was a hard fought game and incredibly frustrating at times when the poor dice scores saw my AT gun's shells bouncing off his tanks. However, it was a delaying action on my part and I knew that the Japanese would break through anyway, it was only a matter of time. Interestingly in the historical encounter the 1/14th Punjabs fell back with only 200 men remaining of the original battalion and I also had about a quarter remaining at the last turn.
In the next engagement the Japanese move south down the road and hit the Gurkha Rifles at Asun!