Liberation of Singapore
The Royal Marines continue to push down the Malay Peninsula. With most Japanese divisions on the peninsula overrun and defeated already, it is a smooth and steady march towards Singapore. The dense jungle does slow my divisions down quite a bit, so much so that they can only manage a couple of kilometres a day. Nevertheless, by 15 July Kuala Lumpur is taken by the 3rd Royal Marines.
On 26 July, 3rd Marines arrives on the outskirts of Singapore with the 5th Marines close behind, and launch their attack against the defending Japanese 4th Infantry Division. The first wave of attacks by 3rd Marines lasts for three days, but between intense rainstorms, the urban terrain, and well-prepared defences, they’re ultimately beaten back at the cost of over 800 men.
2nd and 4th Marines arrive on station by 1 August, and rally for a second wave of attacks. The weather is much more cooperative this time, and despite a few strafing runs by Japanese land-based planes flying out of Singapore airfield, the city is liberated on 2 August.The Gulf of Thailand
On 29 August, naval bombers from 1 Coastal Group flying out of Singapore spot a very large Japanese surface group moving south-west into the Gulf of Thailand. The group is comprised of fleet carriers Hiryu
, escort carrier Unyo
, battleships Ise
, and Hyuga
, battlecruisers Kongo
, and numerous other small cruisers and destroyers. Most alarming are a fleet of transport ships in tow. Recognizing this is probably an invasion fleet, I sortie any and all combat groups I have available. Admiral Andrew Cunningham’s 2 Surface Group, led by HMS Hood
and recently redeployed from mid-Atlantic patrols to Rangoon, is the first to make contact. Though hugely outnumbered, Hood
, and their entourage of cruisers and destroyers go in guns blazing. They inflict sizeable damage against the Japanese battlewagons before Cunningham is forced to retire.
Carriers Glorious and Ark Royal
next make contact further south in the Gulf of Thailand. Their aircraft get a few blows in, but they too are forced away.
Japanese transports get through to the Malay peninsula. One division each of marines and infantry land and capture Kota Bharu unchallenged.
The Royal Marines deploy from Singapore back up the peninsula. My air attacks have forced the Japanese battle group to take refuge in Kota Bharu harbour. With Japanese sea lines of communication out of Kota Bharu exposed to the harassment of my surviving surface groups, the two divisions aren’t fully supplied, and so fight at a diminished level. By 13 September, they are pushed back into the sea.
The Japanese fleet withdraws northeast back towards the China Sea. Fortunately, my battered fleets have been making hasty repairs at sea, and re-engage as soon as the Japanese leave Kota Bharu. Our fleets trade blows all the way up the Gulf: ultimately, the Japanese lose a pretty serious portion of their battleship fleet: Ise
, and Kongo go to the bottom. We lose light cruisers Southampton and Achilles. I was really hoping to get one of their flattops, but no such luck. Not an easy victory, but one I’ll be happy to take.European Theatre
New activity on the Austrian front. The Germans launched an attack on my positions at Treviso on 18 September. Luftwaffe dive-bombers hit us hard, and the escorting German Fw 190s outmatch my fighters on intercept duty out of Venice. The Germans definitely have air superiority in this sector.
The line at Treviso holds, and we retaliate by launching an all-out attack against Lasa. German bombers shift their focus to my attacking divisions in Salo, but the defences at Lasa are just too thin to hold up to my attacks. By 24 September, Lasa is taken.
German defences rapidly redeploying to cover the thin sections in their line up north. It looks like we can safely advance northeast without increasing the overall width of front to defend, so I take advantage of their disarray by conducting major attacks across the entire frontage. Good success all around, and by 30 September we are within striking distance of Innsbruck. I don’t intend to advance much further without major reinforcements, as doing so would widen the front and require me to spread my forces thinner, weakening our position against a potential German counter-attack.New Deployments
Another five divisions of marines are deployed back home. I order up three groups of coastal bombers – Bristol Brigands. Hopefully they’ll give me an edge over the Japanese fleets where my surface groups have so far been getting pounded.