[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR - Episode 5: One Foot Forward

Author: bigwoods
Published: 2017-03-18, edited: 1970-01-01

Part of the campaign:

[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR

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Game: Hearts of Iron III

[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR - Episode 4: The Onslaught

Images: 86, author: bigwoods, published: 2017-03-18

Welcome to Episode 5 of my Republic of China AAR in the BlackICE 8.6 mod for Hearts of Iron 3. If you missed the previous episodes, they are linked below:

Episode 1 - Prelude:
Reddit | https://redd.it/5p14j8
Imgur | http://imgur.com/a/hdPRd

Episode 2 - Southern Expedition:
Reddit | https://redd.it/5pe5b9
Imgur | http://imgur.com/a/NfIPE

Episode 3 - Buildup, Betrayal, and the Drums of War:
Reddit | https://redd.it/5px153
Imgur | http://imgur.com/a/6Gg7m

Episode 4 - The Onslaught:
Reddit | https://redd.it/5t02ux
Imgur | http://imgur.com/a/P97vc
The National Revolutionary Army (NRA) has taken great leaps and strides from just 20 months ago. From a ragtag group of militia and conscripts, who were barely armed with enough rifles and ammunition, the NRA has become a fierce power that has all but decimated the initial Japanese advance.

The general staff estimates over 100,000 Japanese and collaborator troops have met their end on the northern front, while another 120,000 have been encircled by the foot of the Shandong peninsula.
The generalissimo and head of the Kuomintang, Chiang Kai-Shek, has started a great revolution in China. Warlord adventurism, kleptocracy, and infighting are now put in the past. From the seat of the government in Nanjing, to Yunnan and Qinghai and along the coast, the bureaucracy has begun to unify China as one single and strong entity. Of course some dissidents and communists remain, but they will be taken care of soon enough... especially the communists
The Japanese launch another major assault on the northern line, with over 150,000 men. Like those that crossed the river before them, they will be crushed!
In Yongqing, where the bloodiest battles have taken place over the last few months, troops have dug and constructed a complex series of trenches and bunkers in between Japanese attacks. Artillery grids made by army clerks in Nanjing have been drafted and barrages are swift, accurate, and deadly. The defenders only have to focus on a select few river crossings and bridges over the Hai River, and any frontal assault is extremely costly for the Japanese.
The assault is called off after the Japanese lose another 40,000 men. The fields of Yongqing are more reminiscent of a graveyard than a battlefield. River water, rain, and blood have turned the approach into a deep swamp of mud, and Japanese stretcher-bearers do not even dare head back across the river, as our machine-gunners are trained to shoot anything that moves.
On the coast of Kenli, a new plan, Operation Frogfoot, is drafted by the general staff. The Japanese invaders are to be cut off from the beach by the coastal guard infantry, and herded into a pocket in Dezhou. They are then to be encircled and destroyed. We will not let the Japanese escape back into the sea!
While our troops in Dezhou feint a retreat, nearly 100,000 men of the coastal divisions pinch the Japanese by the coast
The invaders, failing to capture an adequate supply port, have run dangerously low on munitions and other vital supplies. Japanese infantrymen are issued 3 bullets a day, while their artillery are only allowed to fire 5 shells per day. The armored cars and light tanks of the invasion force have already drained their fuel reserves, and are now used as static defenses.
The Yongqing meat grinder claims yet another Japanese division
(Sorry the picture and text are broken for this and the next event...)

The NRA and the Kuomintang, who have been helped immensely by German advisors, military equipment, and economic aid over the last few decades, have been approached by the German ambassador and he brings bad news. With the growing animosity between the Nazis and the Soviets, Hitler has chosen the Japanese over the Chinese for fighting the Soviets in the East. The ambassador expects all government-funded aid to withdraw over the next few months. A few German trade companies have promised to stay and continue operations, however.
Despite the pleas from the diplomatic corps, the withdrawal of German advisors begins the next week. Chiang delivers an impassioned speech denouncing the betrayal of the Germans and the Japanese. China will stand strong, with or without foreign aid!
The first snowflakes fall in Northern China on December 2nd, and the North Command expects the Japanese attacks to end for the winter.

By now, some divisions have been in the same trenches for over 4 months. During lulls in the battles, barracks, kitchens, and even recreation rooms have been built into the trench network. Although basic winter clothing is issued to the troops, most will not need them.
The invasion force at Kenli buckles and only a few armored divisions remain.
Another wave of upgrades for our infantry divisions is moved forward by the general staff. The NRA started as loose and unregulated groups of infantry, with some equipped locally, from warlords, or the Kuomintang government. Now, troops are issued standardized equipment, and some brigades are even undergoing more advanced training.
In the final stages of Operation Frogfoot, the NRA failed to encircle the invaders and the Japanese, through costly delaying actions, held the beach while the rest of the force evacuated by troopship. Although the operation ended in a failure, the Japanese had paid a hefty price for this invasion. 14,000 men were killed in the evacuation and another estimated 10,000 did not make it off the beach. Large stocks of equipment were also seized by the NRA.
They will certainly think again before attempting another invasion of that scale.
...or not. Lookouts on the Shandong peninsula report a small contingent of marines heading for the town of Penglai.
The troops of the 2nd Army, who had just crushed the pocket at Kenli, are given no time to rest. They are sent to the peninsula immediately.
The marines land with little resistance and head for the port of Weihai. They must be stopped before they can secure a supply line
They are caught before they can reach Weihai, and are forced to defend against our assault.
On the northern line, another attack is ordered by the Japanese. Lately, less Japanese regulars have been taking part, and instead local militia and collaborators from Manchuria and Mengjiang have taken the brunt of the casualties. They have grown tired of dying themselves, and now their puppets do the dirty work for them!
More armaments factories are approved for construction in the interior.
The marine division is now trapped at Yantai without support, and face immediate destruction. Every Japanese soldier that touches their feet to Chinese soldier will taste their own blood!
The 200th Division (Di 200 Shi) is put together from a motley of the best foreign equipment the NRA has to offer. Although Generalissimo Chiang does not often get involved in smaller military matters, he has taken the matter of creating the 200th Division into his own hands. Only the finest troops, and the top of the class from Whampoa academy were allowed to serve here.
The Italian-made CV33 tankette is lightly armored but gives our troops and reconnaissance elements an extra punch if they run into enemy positions.
The bulk of the 200th Division's power is with a tank brigade of 70 T-26s, which are armed with 45mm guns, and built/developed on the reliable Vickers 6-ton chassis. These, the general staff assures Chiang, are equal if not better than the light tanks fielded by the Japanese!
The 200th Division is deployed in Southern China, along with the semi-motorized 1st Honor Division, and the New 22nd Division.
These troops are moved up to the border of Shanxi for reasons unknown to the troops themselves...
The marines who landed at Penghai earlier are nearing their breaking point. They are surrounded by nearly 50,000 troops of the coastal guard.
...and lacking any escape into the sea, they surrender to the NRA. The prisoners are marched into the interior where large POW camps have already been set up and made operational.
It seems the winter frost and snow has not yet deterred more suicidal advances from the Japanese and their allies. Another 30,000 Manchurian militia are gunned down or surrender to NRA forces. It is a common sight for Japanese collaborators to sneak across no-man's-land at night and defect to the NRA. They tell stories of retreating troops being tortured, and mutineers in their ranks being executed on sight. Soon enough, all of their troops will refuse to fight!
Meanwhile, in Europe, Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP successfully push for the Anschluss with Austria. The Soviet Union looks worryingly to its border and buffer states...
The Spanish Civil War, once a mess of enclaves and encirclements, has settled into a long front along the Iberian Peninsula. It seems at the moment the Republicans have the upper hand, but foreign intervention could turn the tides of war.
Just days after the Anschluss, border tensions along the Czechoslovak border have forced the leaders of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy to meet in Munich about the fate of the Sudetenland. Chamberlain and Daladier, in a cowardly and back-stabbing move, agree to cede the Sudetenland to Germany without even consulting the Czechs themselves!
In an effort to boost officer recruitment, the three-year draft period is made indefinite for the time being, while the fate of our nation is at stake. Intellectuals and students are encouraged to join the ranks of the army staff, and NCOs are given extra ration cards as an added incentive.
The training period for our troops is also boosted from 3 weeks to 5. Chiang does not plan to defend the Northern Line and the coasts forever, and when an offensive is called for, skilled troops will be needed.
With most of their forces still dying in the lowlands, 2 corps of the Kwantung Army attack the northern line at Zhoulu. For the first time since the start of the war, the garrison at the mountain fort at Zhoulu experiences some action.
The winter offensives by the Japanese and their puppets meet a disastrous end, yet again. Spies and deserters talk about mutiny behind the lines...
Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy suffers horribly at the hands of Japanese bombers. With no where else to hide, the ships are abandoned by the sailors by day, and by night they return to repair what they can.
Unfortunately for some ships, it is too late.
Although NRA troops stand almost unopposed on the ground...
They are most vulnerable from the air. The land reports tell one story, while the air reports tell another. NRA troops are still suffering high casualties when they defend against Japanese attacks as a whole. The general staff estimates a loss of 60-75,000 men, dead or wounded, since the start of the war nearly 7 months ago.
Nonetheless, our recruitment offices swell with men from the countryside who wish to fight the Japanese on the northern front.
Stalin continues his purge and strengthens his grip over the country, with fear as his primary weapon. Nikolai Bukharin, an original Bolshevik, former ally of Stalin against Trotsky, and a fierce defender of Lenin's New Economic Policy, is arrested and executed.

The Politburo is now stacked with yes-men and appeasers, who are too afraid to anger Stalin and face retribution. This is the kind of corruption that comes with communism, Chiang declares in a speech. Down with the CPC, and onwards with the Kuomintang!
With the northern front more or less stabilized, plans are drawn up to pacify the rogue warlord state of Shanxi, under governor Yan Xishan.

Governer Yan, a fierce advocate for modernization, has declared his neutrality in the unification of China, as well as in the recent Japanese invasion. Yan had evaded a Japanese invasion by feeding the Kwantung army supplies and food through his territory, and shifting his alliance between Chiang, the Japanese, the Soviet Union, and the Chinese communists (CPC). Now, his selfishness and dishonesty will be paid in full.
Chiang and the general staff prepare Operation Yellow River, which has three main objectives:

1: Seize the industrial city of Taiyuan and the line of the Fen River. If possible, push towards the communist base of Yan'an and the Yellow River.

2: Capture the city of Hohhot and force the surrender of Yan Xishan

3: Secure the resources of Shanxi, the new border between the communists, and the Japanese line at Zhangjiakou.

The new 18th Route Army is to be formed from the Coastal Guard of the 2nd Army, reserves from the 1st Army, and newly deployed mobile units such as the 200th Division and 1st Honor Division. Almost 200,000 men are to be slated for the invasion of Shanxi and the eventual defense of the new front in Inner Mongolia.
As the preparations for Operation Yellow River continue, the Japanese assault on Zhoulu starts to falter, and initial beachheads across the Hai River are lost to NRA counter-attacks. Japanese divisions are now at 50% of their starting strength, which is now not unusual for divisions on the northern front.
After a month of bitter fighting, the 1st Battle of Zhoulu ends in a massive Japanese defeat. Nearly 80,000 Japanese regulars (not crappy militias or puppet troops) end up dead, missing, or captured in the mountains. The rest are sent running back with their tail between their legs...
The Great Wall of China, which was once built to keep Mongolian and Manchu invaders out of China's heartland, now serves the same purpose against the Japanese marauders. A stretch of the Great Wall in Zhoulu was instrumental in beating back the Japanese assault.
The 18th Route Army reaches their starting positions...
And on 0400, on April 8th, troops are given their objectives and ordered across the border. Yan Xishan is not given any diplomatic ultimatum, as the warlords of the South were given in the Southern Expedition. No quarter will be given to rogue bureaucrats, warlords, and cronies! The Kuomintang alone is China's path to victory and the future!
Yan's troops, who are expected by the Kuomintang's intelligence ministry (the NBIS) to mostly lie along the northern border with Mengjiang, are thoroughly caught off guard by the invasion.
The first line of provinces is taken within 3 days, with little to no resistance.
Our troops reach the outskirts of Taiyuan and immediately receive a counterattack from Yan's militia and the city garrison.
The Ma Clique (Xibei San Ma), led by Ma Bufang, Ma Hongbin, and Ma Hongkui, and who were former allies of Chiang against the communists, take sides with Shanxi and Yan Xishan. The invasion of Shanxi has ignited fears of the loss of their autonomy, and they promptly declare war on the Kuomintang. These pesky warlords will be crushed under the boots of the NRA!
Ma Clique cavalry clash with NRA light infantry in the hills and dunes of Qinghai, where NRA troops previously protected the Ma family from a communist incursion.
Ma Clique and NRA soldiers, who camped together in Tianshui and defended the city against CPC attackers together, now turn on each other. Luckily they are outnumbered, and our surrounding troops close in on the lone Ma division.
Tianshui is pacified, and Ma troops are given the opportunity to fight for the glorious NRA instead.
Taiyuan is enveloped and NRA light armor moves into the outskirts of the city. Only a lone garrison division protects the city. Yan's divisions from the north attempt to relieve the city, but they are held in place by NRA holding attacks all across the front.
Although the German advisors have long been gone, they have left a clear mark on the NRA. Our troops trounce the warlord militia, with both superior equipment and tactics!
A month after the invasion, Taiyuan is captured, the Fen River is secured, and the first phase of the invasion is complete. The next phase relies on our troops making a breakthrough across the Hai River to the north, and must do so through the hills of Shouxian.
Taiyuan's factories and its famed arsenal will be of great use to the Kuomintang. Although it is treacherous that Yan had put the needs of his cities over the rest of China, Chiang does not complain about his spoils of war.
Although Chiang hates communists with all of his heart, and will keep doing so until his dying breath, he is a pragmatist above all else. The Soviet Union now sees itself wedged in between the imperialist Japanese and the fascist Germans, and sees a natural ally in Chiang and the Republic of China. The first shipments of Soviet equipment arrive through Central Asia and Xinjiang.
The general staff quickly organizes militia around the donated equipment, and with the help of Soviet advisors, the troops begin training.
Donated equipment includes the BA-3 and BA-6 armored cars (pictured here), T-26 and BT-5 tanks, as well as numerous artillery pieces and field guns.
Soviet tanks are reorganized in the north, near the frontlines, but will require some more training and refitting before they are ready for battle.
The NRA marches from victory to victory! Morale among our troops, especially those honored to be a part of the 18th Route Army, is at an all-time high.
Pictured here are NRA light troops assaulting a position across a field in Shuoxian, approximately 50km north of Taiyuan. They are securing a river crossing that will be vital to the advance of the NRA to their secondary objectives in phase 2 of Operation Yellow River.
Shuoxian is breached, and the path to the city of Hohhot, and Yan's backlines, is open to our troops and tanks.
The Japanese launch yet another attack in the (former) forests of Tongxian. What was once a serene woodland to the south of Beiping is now a treeless, battlefield, pockmarked with artillery shells, crashed airplanes, and the smell of rot. The foliage had been long destroyed by airburst shells used by both sides, and the only safe place to hide is in the intricate trench networks.
Our mobile divisions cross the Hai River and storm forwards
Meanwhile, in the west, Ma forces have taken lands bordering Tibet and the British Raj. We do not yet have the resources to mount an effective offensive on this front, so the troops there will hold the line for now.
The advancing troops of the 18th Route Army shatter the defenses and a proper breakthrough is achieved. Yan's warlord militia are in full retreat. The semi-motorized 1st Honor Division may even take the city of Hohhot by surprise.
An attempted breakout across the Fen River at Quwo by Yan's forces is stopped quickly.
The Datong river crossing is taken after heavy casualties from both sides
While further north the path to Hohhot is opened up by the 1st Honor Division
Our spies report a massive movement of men and material to the newly opened up northern front. The 18th Route Army diverts all of its available resources to prepare for eventual Japanese attacks on the line.
Meanwhile, a new landing by Japanese marines is attempted again at Penglai. Perhaps they are there to reclaim the honor of their fallen comrades? Or maybe all of the IJA wishes for a quick death.
They are quickly engaged...
...and quickly defeated.
Czechoslovakia, seeing the upcoming danger after the Treaty of Munich, mobilizes their troops for war. It is a shame that they had to cede their mountain fortresses in the Sudetenland...
While the assault on the last holdout of Governor Yan commences at Hohhot, our mobile division is attacked by a large Japanese force to the north at Qahar.
... They are badly mauled by the attacking Japanese and are forced to retreat. More troops are brought in from the south to reinforce the attack on Hohhot. Not one step back!
We just need a little more time to take Hohhot before the Japanese break through....
Another naval invasion is spotted off the coast of Kenli.
They are surrounded, yet again. These piecemeal invasions are simply laughable. Chiang questions the sanity of Japanese commanders.
A large holding force arrives to defend the assault on Hohhot, and the city is nearly taken by the NRA.
The veterans of the northern front, who were specifically chosen to participate in the 18th Route Army, have little trouble picking off the defending warlord militia.
...and on the 18th of June, the city's garrison surrenders to the NRA. Governor Yan Xishan is found calmly writing letters in his residence in the city center, and is promptly put under house arrest by Kuomintang intelligence, the NBIS.
Days later, the Republic of China cements is sovereignty over Shanxi, and the warlord's troops are given the opportunity to join the ranks of the Republic of China, an offer that they cannot refuse.
Our troops quickly rush across the Fen River to secure the border with the CPC. We will not give them an inch!
A new plan is drawn up for the defense of the country against the Japanese. The northern line across the trenches of Yongqing and Tongxian are expected to hold, while the general staff expects a Japanese offensive to try and cut off the 18th Route Army from the 1st and 2nd Armies. Already NBIS reports 150,000 troops of the Kwantung Army preparing for an offensive.
Operations against the CPC are now included in Operation West Sword. The first objective is to seize the opposite side of the Yellow River from our northern foothold. The results of the primary objectives will decide what happens next.

(I can't go through the Ordos or Gobi Desert - as they have less than 1 infrastructure and therefore are unpassable)
Operation West Sword also includes an offensive to retake the city of Lanzhou and take the city of Golmud from the Ma Clique. The 6th Route Army, however, is very undermanned and for now will hold the line until more troops are available.
The situation in Europe is deteriorating. Rumors of war circle throughout, even with Chamberlain proclaiming "peace in our time". France, Denmark, and Czechoslovakia have already mobilized their troops, and Spain is embroiled in a civil war that has quickly turned into a proxy war.
The Republic has weathered the first storm, but Generalissimo Chiang knows that there are many storms to come. China will once again have its day in the sun.
Thanks for reading everybody! Tune in next time, and as always feedback is welcome + appreciated.

Next chapter:

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[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR - Episode 6: And One Foot Back

Images: 98, author: bigwoods, published: 2017-03-18, edited: 1970-01-01

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