[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR - Episode 7: Summer Miracle

Author: bigwoods
Published: 2017-03-18

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[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR

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Game: Hearts of Iron III

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

Images: 98, author: bigwoods, published: 2017-03-18

Hey friends, welcome to Episode 7 of my Republic of China AAR in the BlackICE 8.6 mod for Hearts of Iron 3. If you missed the previous episode, 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

Episode 5 - One Foot Forward:
Reddit | https://redd.it/5ttevv
Imgur | http://imgur.com/a/K5J6r

Episode 6 - And One Foot Back:
Reddit | https://redd.it/5v4r4r
Imgur | http://imgur.com/a/pwyGE
Previously, in the Spring of 1939, A series of concentrated Japanese landings overwhelmed our Coastal Guard, who had been steadily peeled off in order to deal with a series of coordinated offensives on the Northern Front. The result was mobile divisions breaking through our line and roaming the countryside. 30,000 troops were trapped in the Rizhao pocket on the foot of the Shandong peninsula, and the port of Qingdao had been cut off from the main army as well, leaving another 50,000 troops cut off from the mainland.
Generalissimo Chiang is badly struck by melancholy, as the gains he had made in years past is now in danger of being wiped out. He begins to cede his personal command over the armies to his trusted staff of generals, and begins to focus more on domestic and anti-communist issues.
Chief of Staff Bai Chongxi and General Pang Bingxun (pictured) have largely taken over the responsibilities of planning major operations. Generalissimo Chiang departs for a tour of the interior, with the goal of raising money and men for the upcoming campaigns. Our reserves are dwindling at a rapid pace, and more men are needed for the long road ahead.
Although the pressure on the Northern Front continues, an entire army's worth of troops is moved from the reserve to counter the landings. Over 300,000 men are rushing down to the Shandong and Jiangsu regions. Although the Northern Line is still being badly battered by the Kwantung Army, they will have to make do for now.
Speed will be of the essence as many of our forces are nearing their breaking point, and are at risk of being encircled and destroyed. Here, troops of the 15. Shanxi Juntuan march double time in order to reach their objectives nearly 300 km south.
Luckily, the Japanese do not hold any major deepwater ports in the region, and are having major supply issues. The defense of Qingdao will be instrumental if the Japanese are to be defeated here. The general staff estimates that Qingdao could potentially supply over 80% of the invasion force alone. For that reason the port's garrison is ordered to defend it to the last man, and destroy the port with explosives if their defense fails.
Japanese armor divisions rush across the Grand Canal, but they are lacking infantry support, and have left their rear areas vulnerable. Recently arrived troops from the Northern Front are ordered to cut off the advancing armor from the main invasion force.
Meanwhile, the First Battle of Fengchen, which had lasted over 6 months, finally ends as Japanese and puppet troops retreat back behind their trench lines. Nearly half a million troops lay dead or wounded in both sides, for what was the bloodiest battle of the war so far.
The battle was truly reminiscent of the calamities on the Western Front in WW1. Artillery barrages and aerial bombings have reduced the once thick forests of Fengchen to ashes, and thousands of troops from both sides perished in mass attacks only aimed at taking land meters at a time.
Nearly 1,000,000 troops in over 80 divisions have taken part in this battle at one point or another. Troops are stationed in a section of the line for 1-2 weeks, where they are then pulled back and allowed to rest or take a short leave.
Meanwhile, in the East, the 6th Route Army begins its push into the former lands of the Ma Clique, now held by the communist CPC. Although the roughly 150,000 troops in the east are badly needed on the coast and as reserves, Generalissimo Chiang considers the communists to be an even greater threat than the invading Japanese.
In Dezhou, our troops put up the first real resistance against the Japanese invaders, They put up a valiant fight, but our troops are no match for Japanese armor on the open fields. They are ordered to pull back across the Yellow River and the Grand Canal.
As the rest of our military convoy force has been sunk in the Yellow Sea, the defenders of Qingdao must make due with what supplies they have on hand. The Japanese, instead of assaulting the well-defended port city, have instead settled in for a siege, and intend to starve the city out. Citizens of the city are put to work immediately by digging anti-tank ditches and erecting pillboxes on the city's outskirts. They are also instructed to paint over road signs and building numbers, in order to confuse the Japanese if they enter the city.
A gap in the lines is seen in the 8th Infantry Division is ordered to attempt to relieve the besieged Rizhao pocket.
Another invasion is spotted south of the major port of Lianyungang. The Japanese need supplies, and they are making an extreme effort to acquire one. The Shanghai Coastal Guard is sent up to deal with this new threat. Plugging these gaps, however, only leaves the rest of our coast even less defended.
Our troops fail to reach the beaches on time, and another army sized invasion force makes landfall in China. Only two divisions of the coastal guard are expected to defend the Shanghai Defense region against this force of over 120,000 men.
Our garrison at Lianyungang, only armed with rifles and a few anti-aircraft guns, are expected to hold out against two Japanese armored divisions for another week before more reinforcements can arrive.
An overzealous Japanese armored force is cut off and surrounded south of Jinan. Their overconfidence will bite them back soon enough!
Meanwhile, in concert with the naval invasion, the Kwantung Army is again applying pressure on our Northern Front. This time, they are making steady progress as our lines have been depleted of defenders and reserve divisions.
Our encircled troops at Rizhao near their breaking point, while our relief force is a mere 50km away. Only a small strip of land separates the two main forces of the invasion.
One month into the siege of QIngdao, and our troops have begun to run out of bullets and artillery shells. Small amounts of supply reaches the defenders via. civilian and fishing boats, but these small acts of goodwill cannot feed an army and a city.
Food in the city is already running scarce, and ration cards are issued in order to prevent a famine. Supply ships who dare to run the risk of Japanese aerial and naval raids seldom reach the ports in Qingdao, but their small contribution is needed in order to keep the city supplied and well defended.
More ground is gained at Zibo, and a division of troops is now encircled at Tai'an. The mopping up of the trapped division in Juye also continues, but they are putting up a greater fight than anticipated.
To the south, the Japanese have cut off the port of Lianyungang, but one of our divisions has bravely rushed through the line and arrived to help defend the port.
The situation at the beginning of July is looking much better for the National Revolutionary Army. The NRA still has pockets of surrounded troops, but the supply-starved Japanese have found it hard to mount any effective attacks. The breakout to the south facing Nanjing has also been plugged, and the NRA is steadily pushing back.
Pictured above are german-trained NRA troops pushing back counterattacks by the Japanese. Our commanders, used to static battles on well-defined defensive lines, are finding new challenges with a more liquid and fast-moving battlefield.
Another Japanese armored division, which has outrun its supply lines and infantry support, is surrounded.
The attempt by the Kwantung Army to break out of its positions north of the Hai River has ended in another disaster. Our thinly spread troops have suffered immensely too, and they are constantly harassed by Japanese bombers and close air support.
An attempt is made to relieve the defenders of Lianyungang, by attacking from the area from the west. Our ports must hold if our defense is to be successful.
Newly built convoys bring life to the defenders at Qingdao and Lianyungang. The NRA does not abandon its men, and the Kuomintang does not abandon its people! We will hold fast against the Japanese imperialists.
Another 10,000 IJA soldiers are brought into captivity after their surrender at Tai'an. The completed encirclements means more of our troops can join the efforts to break out our beleaguered defenders at Rizhao.
Captured equipment is quickly catalogued and doled out to our divisions and the civilian population. Although we do not plan to lose this territory again, it will be useful to have well-equipped partisans and saboteurs operating behind enemy lines.
Our commanders spot a weak point in the Japanese lines at Guangrao, and elite troops of the 15. Infantry Corps are sent in to take the crossing.
Militia and partisan units also operate behind enemy lines, and cut vital supply and communication pathways in order to divert more Japanese troops from the frontline. They prioritize destroying Japanese supply dumps and ammunition caches, and their successes have already hampered the offensive capabilities of many Japanese units. IJA troops do not even feel safe in their bivouacs or their field kitchens.
Oh no
Another army-sized group lands on the beaches of Dafeng and quickly fans out to the surrounding area. Our garrison at the port of Nantong is only lightly guarded, and is at risk of being cut off. We only have a few divisions to spare, but more reserves are being moved up from our southern garrisons. Chief of the Army, Zhou Zhirou, is hard pressed by Chiang to find reserves on an already hair-thin coastal front.
IJA forces at Huimin, lacking ammunition and food, retreat at the mere sight of our troops. The jaws have closed for another 40,000 men at Cangzhou.
The pressure is never let up on the invading force, as our artillery bombards them day and night. Deserters have reported that Japanese commanders have been denied requests for evacuation or resupply by air. Unable to capture any substantial port or supply cache, Japanese troops now face a slow death of starvation and shrapnel.
Days later 30,000 more men are captured and brought into the interior.
Even with depleted defenders and a superior enemy force, our troops on the Northern Front continue to inflict devastating casualties on Japanese incursions.
The new invasion army at Dafeng has broken out of its beachhead and begun to threaten the Shanghai Defense area. Our garrison at Nantong has been cut off, and are on their own for now. With the recent victories in the north, more troops have been freed up and are on their way to contain this new force.
The Rizhao pocket is finally relieved when NRA troops reach the coast of Junan, and meet the battered troops of the 2nd and 3rd Light Infantry divisions.
For 2 months the men of the Rizhao pocket have lived off the land, been strafed by Japanese aircraft, peppered by artillery, and fought fiercely to survive. Now they will finally be given a chance to rest. Pictured above are the men of the 2nd and 3rd Light Divisions celebrating their rescue. It is a bittersweet victory, however. Only 2 out of every 3 men that entered the pocket walk out alive.
A day later our troops crush the lines at Xinyi and a relief force is able to reach the besieged port of Lianyungang.
The Shanghai Defense Area is being badly hammered by the newly landed invasion army at Dafeng. Our troops execute a series of tactical retreats and delaying actions in order to buy time for additional troops arriving from the north.
Although the Kuomintang government, and other vital institutions have been evacuated from Nanjing many months ago, the city is still of great importance to the party and the country. The quick offensive from the invasion army has caught us off guard, and only a small officer corps is left to defend Nanjing against Japanese armor.
Our garrison at the port of Nantong is also struggling to repel Japanese armor, as they lack proper anti-tank field guns.
The Type 97 Chi-Ha Medium tank is a common sight for NRA troops defending against the recent Japanese naval invasion. Our current anti-tank field guns are not yet strong enough to penetrate the turrent or frontal glacis, and must establish ambush positions in order to strike the tank in its weak spots in the rear or sides. Certain brave troops also attempt to disable the tanks with mines and grenades, but their attempts are usually much less successful.
Guangrao is taken after a long battle, and another pocket of troops has been trapped at Weifang, to the south. The general staff estimates that 75,000 IJA troops are in the pocket, while another 50,000 are encircled to the north at Kenli as well. The defense around Qingdao is still strong, however, as the Japanese recently landed another few divisions in order to maintain the siege of the city.
A massive invasion force is spotted off the coast of Cangzhou, where a few weeks earlier a corps-size contingent of the IJA surrendered. Only a weak headquarters force is present on the beach, but they fight valiantly nonetheless.
The invasion is fought off, but with heavy losses.
Another attempt to relieve the siege of Qingdao is attempted, but NRA troops take heavy losses as they approach the city.
Our convoys who are keeping the defenders of Qingdao fed and supplied take heavy losses every week.
Without proper naval or aerial support, our supply ships are easy targets for Japanese float planes and convoy raiders. Some ships are lightly armed, but machine guns will not stop torpedos from sinking the ship. Our captains have begun to only operate at night, and have adapted unpredictable patterns in order to keep the supply line alive.
Another 30,000 troops surrender at Kenli. Captured troops rarely even have a full magazine of cartridges left, while others have resorted to carrying wooden guns in place of rifles which have been long lost or captured in earlier battles. Some of the Japanese soldiers are happy that they now get to have a meal.
A week later, an entire invasion army hands a letter of surrender to an NRA commander at Weifang. Our troops are given little time to celebrate, however. They are needed to break the siege of Qingdao, as our defender's supplies and men and wearing worryingly thin.
In Europe, Hitler, Stalin, and their respective diplomats have signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which planned the division of their spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. The rest of the world looks on in concern.
Operation West Sword, and the subsequent Xinjiang Expedition has slowly progressed, and our troops are now assaulting the seat of Sheng Shicai, Urumuqi. The warlord is personally leading his armies in the defense of the city, but his days are counted.
Our troops storm the city after a month-long battle, and Sheng is captured and brought before a military tribunal. Sheng's troops quickly pledge their allegiance to the Kuomintang, and only a small devoted contingent continues its resistance in the western sector of the city.
Chiang consolidates his control over Xinjiang, and assures worried Soviet foreign ministers that this is the farthest west China wishes to expand. Sheng's warlord army begins preparations to move east and join the rest of the NRA in its fight against the Japanese.
Sheng's troops are happy to fight the real fight! Little do they know of the horrors in the east...
For a short while, the Siege of Qingdao is lifted, and supply trucks rush through the gap.
But the area of Longkou is taken shortly after and the siege continues. The defenders were able to get a few days worth of food and medical supplies during the gap in the siege.
Elite light troops seize the coast at Sheyang and split the invasion force in two. The jaws are closing in faster than the Japanese can respond.
In the west, Hitler has leveled his final ultimatum against the Poles, and this time he finally meets resistance to his demands. Europe is once again embroiled in a world war. France and the UK move their forces towards the German border...
...while the United States prepares for the worst. Roosevelt and his generals begin the economic preparations for war.
The Republic's Air Force (ROCAF) flies its first sorties over the Shanghai Defense area in the attempt to stop the endless bombings and strafing runs from IJA and IJN fighters and bombers.
... and they find their first victory off the coast of Nantong, scoring 6 kills and driving the bomber formation back to base. This will be the first of many to come!
The Polikarpov I-153 is a simple and outdated fighter, but it can hunt the vulnerable Japanese bombers perfectly well. The ROCAF has already ordered another 2 squadrons, and they are nearly done with production.
A major effort is made by the general staff to increase the number of NCOs and commissioned officers in the NRA. Although much progress has been made to modernize our officer corps, they are still suffering many losses in the deadly battles all across the front.
The US, in its first moves of the war, agrees to lend the Republic supplies, and requires regular payments in turn. We will take all the help we can get!
In just 4 weeks, the Polish capitulate and the government flees in exile to London. The Polish Army fights valiantly on the Vistula and Bug Rivers against the vastly superior forces of Germany and the Soviet Union.
Hitler honors the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and divides Poland in accordance with the earlier agreement. Stalin now sets his eyes on the Baltic Countries, while Hitler diverts his armies to the west against France.
On the Western Front, the Wehrmacht has made significant advances into the Netherlands and Belgium, but has still failed to advance far into France. Fierce battles erupt over the city of Amsterdam and outside the city of Brussels.
After 5 months, the Siege of Qingdao is finally lifted, when NRA troops secure the passage to the city through the fiercely contested province of Jiaozhou. Trucks, trains, and horse-drawn wagons deliver badly needed supplies to the city.
The NRA defenders in Qingdao enjoy their first hot meal in months, and our supply trucks are swamped with citizens who have been starved and deprived for too long. The eastern coast is united once again! Only small pockets of resistance are left on our shores.
The Nanjing pocket has been completely encircled, and the Nantong garrison once again has a supply lifeline. Our convoys have returned to port to refit and rest, while our troops patiently await for the Japanese to starve themselves out.
In the North, battles over narrow strips of territory rage on, but with little results. Reserves pulled to contain the Japanese invasion will soon be moved back up to provide a buffer against concentrated Japanese assaults.
And in the west, the troops of the 6th Route Army advance slowly on the city of Lanzhou. The battles in the mountains of Qinghai are brutal and slow, but our success is inevitable! If only the communists could understand...
Thanks for reading everybody! Check back next Monday for another episode. As always feedback is welcome.

Next chapter:

Game: Hearts of Iron III

[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR - Episode 8: Cleaning House

Images: 68, author: bigwoods, published: 2017-03-18

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