After a week of heavy showers across Indochina, a launch date of 15 October begins to look unlikely. But, on the 13th the weather breaks for low wind and clear skies and holds for two days. Looks like a great day for an invasion!
Task groups and transport flotillas sail in the morning of 15 October, arriving at the Mekong Mouths very early the next morning. The Royal Marines being their assault against Saigon and Phan Thiet, as aircraft from 2 Carrier Group zoom overhead to strike airfields and defences around Saigon.
Airborne divisions begin their assault a few hours into the amphibious attack, landing to north and west of Saigon to both delay any potential reinforcements from farther inland and help encircle the city. So far, so good: defences at Saigon are minimal – less even than what the recce indicated – and the transports flying back and forth don’t spot any enemy forces inland.
Beleaguered and exhausted, the Vichy French divisions in the city appear to have no interest in fighting their former allies. With the few Japanese defenders routed, the nearly 9,000 French soldiers left in the city step aside and allow the Royal Marines free passage. Saigon is captured shortly before midnight on 16 October at a loss of only five Marines. Victory!
As expected, Japanese ships soon show up on scene, with the battleship Mutsu
with destroyer escort approaching the landing grounds from the north. With the Royal Marines safely aground, aircraft from 2 Carrier Group are recalled, hastily rearm and refuel, and deploy to engage.
The first engagement sends a destroyer flotilla to the bottom. Late the following morning, my fleets are hit by a second wave, led by the aircraft carriers Chuyo
. By now, however, battleships King George V
and Prince of Wales
have arrived to support. Recent AAA upgrades have made my ships quite a bit more hardy against Japanese aircraft. The attack is repelled after a few hours, and my fleet gives chase. Off Phan Rang, the big guns sink the cruiser Maya
and set a Japanese carrier ablaze.
Back on land, things are going quite well. The only real resistance we’ve encountered so far has been a garrison division at My Tho. The Marines push them out by 20 October, and all other divisions are on the march to gobble up territory as quickly as possible.
The Japanese naval group fleeing from my fleet has taken refuge at Cam Ranh, defended by the 104th Infantry Divison. 3rd and 4th Marines have made quite rapid advances up the coast, and are poised to capture the port where the Japanese are probably trying to make some hasty repairs. Though Cam Ranh lies on the other side of a river, the engineer brigades attached to 3rd and 4th Marines make the crossing a piece of cake. Meanwhile, my ships are patiently circling off the coast and are still very much in fighting condition…
Cam Ranh is captured on the evening of 24 October. The Japanese steam out of port to meet my task groups. The battle that ensues makes the slaughter that happened back in the Adriatic look like a walk in the park. In Phan Rang Bay, the Japanese lose the carriers Shoho
, the battleship Mutsu
, the cruiser Nachi
, and too many destroyers to count. Has Japanese dominion in the China Sea seen its zenith? I think so.
Back on land, the Japanese are beginning to feel the hurt of losing major ports and supply centres. Frontline troops further west are thrown into disarray. Some withdraw east, presumably to counter-attack the invasion force at Saigon. With Japanese defences crumbling, 3rd Army begins a rapid push eastward.
Divisions from 3rd Army and 1st Special Operations Army meet at Kampong Chhang on 9 November. With the two fronts finally linked, the noose begins to tighten around a large Japanese pocket towards the northeast. Those divisions not holding their ground inside the pocket are frantically (and wisely) withdrawing north to avoid being pushed into the sea.
The situation in Indochina as of December 1:
Still no luck getting the Americans to agree to a formal alliance. Diplomatic pressure by our government, Hitler, and Stalin seems to have Roosevelt torn three ways. For now, the US seems perfectly content to carry on their own war against the Japanese, and stay far away from Europe.