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Wings



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MessagePosté le: Jeu Mar 21, 2024 16:13    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

loic a écrit:
Wings a écrit:
Pas d'incident avec le rocher pour l'Indomitable.

Pas très logique, car le navire va s'entraîner au même endroit, mais bon... J'espère que tu vas éviter au Mutsu son accident !

Wings a écrit:
Pour le cas francais, c'est qu'il n'y a pas grand chose que le gouvernement d'Alger peut faire de plus, apart la brigade blindée et un bataillon de la LE...

Si, envoyer de l'infanterie mal équipée et peu expérimentée (tirailleurs), il peut le faire, l'empire a les effectifs. Ca ne tiendra pas pas le coup face aux Japonais, mais pas d'autre choix. S'il ne le fait pas, son prestige en Indochine est compromis et ça il n'en est pas question.


- Bien sur!
- Pour l'infanterie, tu as une idée de quelle unité serait affectée a l'Indochine? Faut que je la rajoute a l'OdB.
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MessagePosté le: Jeu Mar 21, 2024 16:49    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

Pas évident, il faudrait avoir un OdB français global et savoir dans quelles opérations la France s'engage.
Par exemple, si tu penses exécuter Torch (Sicile) bientôt, j'aurais tendance à penser que la sauvegarde de l'Indochine serait prioritaire ou en tout cas que cela donnera lieu à un débat féroce ! Prendre la Sicile permet certes de sécuriser définitivement l'AfN et à terme faire tomber Mussolini et se rapprocher de la métropole.
Mais perdre l'Indochine serait un très gros coup dur.

Par ailleurs, tu peux difficilement imaginer (et planifier) qu'en Indochine on va se replier sur les hauts plateaux et y tenir le coup si les Japonais nous débordent. On voit ça avec notre regard du 21e siècle, mais les acteurs de 1940 ne peuvent pas l'imaginer (même si les chefs militaires sur le terrain vont prendre cette option parce que c'est la seule qui leur reste).
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MessagePosté le: Jeu Mar 21, 2024 17:26    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

Le soucis c'est que le gouvernement francais met l'Europe en priorité, surtout ce qui permet de revenir en France le plus rapidement possible. Avec la Sicile dans pas si longtemps, et le devoir de tenir en Europe, il y a peu d'unités qui peuvent etre envoyées la-bas.
Apart quelques unités de la 191e DI peut-etre...
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"It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue." Sir Andrew Cunningham, Mai 1941
"Let me soar! [...] I need no great host, just [Tyene]" - Nymeria Sand, AFFC II
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MessagePosté le: Jeu Mar 21, 2024 21:01    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

Encore une fois, tout dépend de ton ordre de bataille global, qui lui même dépend (en partie) des achats de matériel de 1940, puis du Lend-Lease à partir de 1941. Cela dépend aussi du périmètre de la France libre selon les années (je ne sais plus si tous les territoires ont été acquis à la cause dès l'été 1940). L'Indochine est une très grosse colonie, il est difficile de tiret un trait dessus.
Y a-t-il eu l'incident de printemps avec la Thaïlande ?
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MessagePosté le: Jeu Mar 21, 2024 21:52    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

loic a écrit:
Encore une fois, tout dépend de ton ordre de bataille global, qui lui même dépend (en partie) des achats de matériel de 1940, puis du Lend-Lease à partir de 1941. Cela dépend aussi du périmètre de la France libre selon les années (je ne sais plus si tous les territoires ont été acquis à la cause dès l'été 1940). L'Indochine est une très grosse colonie, il est difficile de tiret un trait dessus.
Y a-t-il eu l'incident de printemps avec la Thaïlande ?


Non, la Thailande penche coté Allié.
Au final ce sera la 191e DI qui ira en Indochine.
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"It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue." Sir Andrew Cunningham, Mai 1941
"Let me soar! [...] I need no great host, just [Tyene]" - Nymeria Sand, AFFC II
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MessagePosté le: Mar Mar 26, 2024 03:22    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

Chapter 39: South-East Asian Campaign – Part I: First Blood (December 1941 – Indochina)

In the early hours of December 7th, 1941, tragedy struck Hawaii as the conflict finally caught up with the United States of America. Suddenly, thousands of Americans were dead, and the conflict truly went global. As president Franklin Roosevelt gave his “day that will live on in infamy” speech, it was said that many people cheered, watching from Algiers, London or Athens. However, half a world away, some were not cheering, far from it.

On December 8th, 1941, the Empire of Japan led a coordinated strike on Indochina, the Philippines, Malaya and Thailand.
In Indochina however, the Japanese encountered a first major setback. After the Franco-Japanese incident, Catroux knew that the Japanese could try something like that again. He thus ordered that the airfields be protected at all times, and had received the reinforcement of 3rd Squadron, Hell’s Angels, of the American Volunteer Group, operating from “Base 116” [1]. A large network of spotters also helped warn the airfields of the impending assault. As such, when the Japanese thought they would strike the airfields of northern Indochina with impunity, they would be faced with almost thirty fighters, French or American, modern or old! It was a carnage, as the IJA’s planes were caught completely unaware and ripped to shreds before they could reach their targets. Only the carrier strikes around Tourane had some effect [2], since the French did not think that a strike could come from there, and as such their CAPs were weak compared to the larger ones in north Indochina, not to mention the absence of a network of spotters. However, warned, the airfield at Hue had time to react and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese before being annihilated.

The sheer devastation of the attack at Tourane left the French no doubt: carriers were involved, and likely many! This led the French to believe that the next likely attack would come to Cam Ranh’s naval base, which was deserted of heavy units. These ones had been ordered to sortie a few hours earlier, to avoid being caught like the ones in Pearl Harbor. With this in mind, the French decided to ambush the force coming to bomb Cam Ranh, which was met with partial success. Although the Japanese were shocked by the volume of the reaction, the French aircraft paid a heavy toll for their attack, as the escort provided to the naval bombers was still strong. Their sacrifice did ensure minimal damage to the French naval installations and fuel reserves in port.

In the early afternoon, Japanese forces started to land south of Tourane. The choice made by the Japanese command was simple: the French were simply not expected to have stationed units there, the area had several airfields, and it would cut the Hanoi-Saigon Road, therefore severing Indochina in two.

Here too, they were duly disappointed. The Tunisians of the 12th RTA, stationed at Hue and Da Nang, fought back with ferocity. Well-trained and experienced after fighting the Italians in the desert, the 12th RTA held firm despite heavy aerial bombardment, alienating the Japanese. In fact, while the French held doggedly, the Tourane airfields would thus not fall until December 11th.

In the meantime, the Japanese also assaulted the fortifications on the border. Lang Son and Cao Bang were thus relentlessly struck, but did not break. The reinforcement of these fortifications, which had taken the whole year, had paid off. General Kita’s divisions found themselves breaking their teeth on these jagged rocks, with the air force incapable of harming the monsters of concrete.

The Japanese command was getting worried by this point. They thought that the French had only very small units in the area, and that the Tourane airfields would fall within 24 hours. This meant that their fleet carriers would need to stay in the area much longer than planned, stopping the Japanese from reinforcing Malaya, where things were likewise not going according to plan.

As for the French, the first few days had been encouraging, but they still had massive problems. The beachhead at Tourane was expanding, and the imminent fall of the airfields would mean that the French air assets would get overwhelmed. And there could be no question of receiving the reinforcement of the other AVG squadrons, since they had been routed to Moulmein to cover the Thais, which were in much more dire straits. In Saigon, local battalions had started to be formed from the local population and the Chinese, with the rice reserves being evacuated while the sea lanes were not completely under Japanese control.

Catroux thus had no choice. He needed to dig in and hope for air reinforcements from France, and quickly! In fact, his pleas had been heard, and French and British alike had planned a massive convoy for the Far East…but it would take time to reach there. At Lang Son and Cao Bang, however, pressure continued to mount on the French (mostly Foreign Legion units reinforced by local battalions). In both these cities, the French experienced the first banzai charges of the war, to their shock and horror.

The fights were gruelling, but on December 13th, Cao Bang broke. Catroux ordered the remaining units to withdraw to Bac Can, the last real obstacle in the area before Hanoi. If this one fell, Lang Son would need to be evacuated as well. Luckily, there was more than a hundred kilometres of mountain roads between Cao Bang and Bac Can, and the Japanese were human. Hanoi was safe for the moment.

At sea, things were developing. French submarines had reported the presence of a large task force in the South China Sea, and there was mounting pressure on the navy to do something about it. Admiral Bérenger knew that he had no chance against three carriers, but these seemed to have been withdrawn northwards after the fall of the Tourane airfields. On December 12th, the French fleet sallied towards a convoy bringing in reinforcements to the beachhead, but it had sailed right to its doom.

In the night, Admiral Bérenger’s squadron had encountered Admiral Tanaka’s light attack force, led by the cruiser Jintsu. Like their comrades on land, the seamen were about to come face to face with a deadly asset: the Long Lance torpedo. In night combat, the Japanese seemed to be everywhere, and even Bérenger’s experience couldn’t help. The torpedoes executed almost every vessel of the Far East Fleet, including the American cruiser Boise. Out of the massacre, there were only two survivors: Bérenger’s flagship, the cruiser Lamotte-Picquet, and the destroyer La Flore, which both dashed southwards to Singapore. However, it had all not been for naught. In the fighting, the destroyer Kuroshio was sunk, and the cruiser Jintsu was damaged. While limping back to Hainan, this one was intercepted and sunk by the submarine La Favorite, taking admiral Tanaka with it…

In Tourane, while the situation had turned to the advantage of the Japanese, progress had been slow. The 12th RTA had hunkered down in Hue, so the logical axis of attack for the IJA was now southwards towards Cam Ranh and Saigon. Something that the Imperial Army was fine with, until they realized that it would not be a triumphal march southward. At Quang Ngai, barely one hundred kilometres south, the Japanese trucks were ambushed by French armoured vehicles, who sent them running.

Thinking they were just facing a couple trucks with a mounted gun, the IJA sent their Ha-Go light tank, feeling that they would just brush aside any resistance. Unfortunately for them, the first tank to roll towards the town blew up…and the one in the back of the column too! Trapped, the rest of the light tanks of the column were completely annihilated one by one.
In the bushes, captain Pierre Billotte grinned. The veteran of Sedan and Stonne had managed to rally Algiers and had just done to the Japanese what he had done to the Germans back in May 1940. Except then he was in a clunky and heavy B1bis, and now he was in a much more manoeuvrable but no less deadly S-50 “Arcole”. The Japanese column was completely awestruck. Never in their wildest dreams had they thought that the French could bring armour to this fight.
With the Tourane airfields having fallen however, Cam Ranh was now too exposed. The French submarines were thus ordered to withdraw to Singapore once their patrol was over. Their submarine supply ship had in fact already left the place following the Japanese raid.

On December 18th, the Japanese launched a dual assault. One on Bac Can, which they had finally been able to reach, and one on Quang Ngai. In fact, while Bac Can held on, the Japanese managed to punch through Quang Ngai without any issues. General Touzet du Vigier had refused to risk his precious tanks under the threat of aircraft from Tourane, and had angled his resistance southwards, towards An Khe and Quy Nhon. Worse for him, he could not expect any support from the 3rd Indochinese Division, which was initially promised to him, but which now had to run towards the Cambodian border, as the situation in Thailand continued to degenerate. In fact, with the fighting at Bac Can, general Catroux also had no choice but to redeploy the 12th RTA from Hue northwards, leaving the Imperial City toothless against the Japanese, who seized it on December 20th, committing their usual exactions in the process.

However, everywhere else, the situation seemed to stabilize despite increasing air pressure. The Japanese effort in the north had been blunted and Lang Son continued to hold out. While the situation in the centre of the country was poor, the Japanese still had yet to reach Cam Ranh, and Saigon was not yet threatened. Only the situation in Thailand gave cause to worry, with the fall of the airfield at Don Mueang and the progression of Japanese soldiers towards Battambang and Siem Reap.

And on the Japanese side, things were infuriating. The Navy had been unrelenting in its shaming of the Army, which had failed to achieve even the most basic objectives against the colonialists, while they had annihilated three enemy fleets since then! In fact, Admiral Kondo wished to prove that the Navy was superior to all by annihilating the threat of the pesky French armour stuck at An Khe and Quy Nhon. He sallied his fleet southwards with his carriers, and struck French positions with his “Val” and “Kate”, claiming “twelve tanks destroyed and many more damaged”. In fact, the French reported two M3s destroyed and M3s and S-50 damaged but repairable. The effect of the bombardment was more crushing to morale than anything else, as it was done with barely any opposition from an air force too preoccupied to defend Saigon’s airfields and the Hanoi area.

However, such a move was still risky for Kondo. His ships had strayed southwards, right into the Allied submarine line. And in the evening hours of December 20th, as his fleet steamed back northwards towards Formosa, the inevitable happened.
An explosion shook the night sky, and as sailors looked on to see where it came from, they were struck with a horrid sight: the carrier Shoho, in flames, sinking to the bottom of the ocean along with 700 crew and 50 aircraft. The submarine Casabianca had claimed its first victim. And the Japanese were now left with one less carrier.


[1] Now known as Dien-Bien-Phu.
[2] Tourane is today known as Da-Nang.
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"It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue." Sir Andrew Cunningham, Mai 1941
"Let me soar! [...] I need no great host, just [Tyene]" - Nymeria Sand, AFFC II
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loic
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MessagePosté le: Mar Mar 26, 2024 09:59    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

Citation:
destroyer La Flore

C'est un torpilleur classe La Melpomène, il est douteux qu'il ait été envoyé en Indochine.

Citation:
Base 116

C'est une base en France (Luxeuil-les-Bains).

Citation:
the other AVG squadrons, since they had been routed to Moulmein to cover the Thais, which were in much more dire straits.

Comment les Japonais peuvent-ils attaquer la Thailande à ce stade ?
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MessagePosté le: Mar Mar 26, 2024 16:20    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

loic a écrit:
Citation:
destroyer La Flore

C'est un torpilleur classe La Melpomène, il est douteux qu'il ait été envoyé en Indochine.

Citation:
Base 116

C'est une base en France (Luxeuil-les-Bains).

Citation:
the other AVG squadrons, since they had been routed to Moulmein to cover the Thais, which were in much more dire straits.

Comment les Japonais peuvent-ils attaquer la Thailande à ce stade ?


- Hum bien vu, je vais sans doute le changer pour un autre. Le Bouclier peut-etre.

- Ah. 308 alors?

- Comme OTL, débarquement vers Singora.
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"It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue." Sir Andrew Cunningham, Mai 1941
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MessagePosté le: Mar Mar 26, 2024 16:46    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

La question, c'est quels navires ont pu aller en Indochine. Je dirais plus des DD que des TB.

Pour le numéro de base, aucun idée et ce n'est important, je pense.

Un débarquement vers Singora sans bénéficier de la couverture des avions rebasés en Indochine, c'est plus que risqué. C'est pour cela que plus l'Indochine tient, plus la Thaïlande et Singapour gagnent du temps.
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MessagePosté le: Mar Mar 26, 2024 17:02    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

loic a écrit:
La question, c'est quels navires ont pu aller en Indochine. Je dirais plus des DD que des TB.

Pour le numéro de base, aucun idée et ce n'est important, je pense.

Un débarquement vers Singora sans bénéficier de la couverture des avions rebasés en Indochine, c'est plus que risqué. C'est pour cela que plus l'Indochine tient, plus la Thaïlande et Singapour gagnent du temps.


Il y a un gros complexe aérien a Singora d'ou la tentative de débarquement Japonaise: ils misent sur l'appui depuis les PA avant de prendre le terrain. C'est aussi pour cela que le débarquement de Kota Bharu va lamentablement échouer: les Thailandais n'ont pas rompu aussi rapidement que prévu.
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"Let me soar! [...] I need no great host, just [Tyene]" - Nymeria Sand, AFFC II
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DMZ



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MessagePosté le: Mar Mar 26, 2024 17:12    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

Wings a écrit:
loic a écrit:
La question, c'est quels navires ont pu aller en Indochine. Je dirais plus des DD que des TB.

Pour le numéro de base, aucun idée et ce n'est important, je pense.

Un débarquement vers Singora sans bénéficier de la couverture des avions rebasés en Indochine, c'est plus que risqué. C'est pour cela que plus l'Indochine tient, plus la Thaïlande et Singapour gagnent du temps.


Il y a un gros complexe aérien a Singora d'ou la tentative de débarquement Japonaise: ils misent sur l'appui depuis les PA avant de prendre le terrain. C'est aussi pour cela que le débarquement de Kota Bharu va lamentablement échouer: les Thailandais n'ont pas rompu aussi rapidement que prévu.

Ce qui pose un problème pour Pearl Harbor.

OTL, l'armée était contre cette opération qui distrayait les porte-avions du théâtre Sud-Est. Elle n'y a consenti du bout des lèvres que parce que les terrains indochinois étaient à disposition et que les Zéro pouvaient, en volant à la limite du régime moteur, atteindre Singapour à partir de ceux-là.

Sans l'Indochine, les opérations en mer de Chine sont terriblement risquées, même les bombardiers seront à la limite, et il est peu probable qu'elles se fassent sans les porte-avions.
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MessagePosté le: Jeu Mar 28, 2024 04:06    Sujet du message: Répondre en citant

Chapter 40: South-East Asian Campaign – Part II: the Kota Bharu disaster (December 1941 – Malaya & Thailand)

With the eye of today, one might think that the actions that led to the Kota Bharu disaster were frankly reckless, if not outright disastrous, but that would be disregarding the vision of the Imperial Japanese forces of the time. The oil embargo by the United States following the Franco-Indochinese incident and the occupation of the Paracel Islands had been dangerously close to shattering their war effort, and with every passing moment, the Chinese were getting better armed thanks to the Hanoi-Kunming railway and the Burma Road.

Japan was thus on a timer. It needed to strike fast, and that is why so many divisions that were usually affected to tasks in China were rerouted to Southeast Asia. It is also why several aircraft carriers were finished with larger capacities, at the cost of training, armor and other considerations.

It must be said that the Japanese also grossly overestimated their capabilities, and downplayed their opponents. To them, the United States were weak, and their army feeble. Taking the Philippines and annihilating their fleet at Pearl Harbor would have them come cowering to Japan’s feet. Similarly, Japan held the Europeans in no less contempt. The French were already defeated, had lost their mainland and could not properly supply their colonies. The British relied on their unmotivated local and Indian troops to protect their colonies, and would surely break at the first sign of fighting. For the Dutch, more of the same…

One could thus see how the Japanese mounted confidence during the fateful days of December 1941: defeat was simply not an option for them. As for the Thais, Japan actually did not expect to have to fight them. Phibun, ambassador to Japan, had explained that the local government was deeply unpopular amongst the army, and that it would refuse to fight against the colonialists. In fact, Japan had maintained a large network of collaborators in Thailand, which is why they expected little resistance.

Despite this, courage alone couldn’t win wars. Japan expected this, and knew it had to strike hard and fast. Everything had been timed: the strike on Pearl Harbor would bring the death knell of the American fleet, and then the IJN would sweep the South China Sea, taking the airfields at Tourane, allowing the Japanese to attack Singora and take the airfields there, and finally moving on to Bangkok, Malaya, Saigon, Singapore, Burma…

The issue with this plan was simple: Japan did not expect failure. And when the airfields at Tourane did not fall, it set in motion a catastrophic chain of events.

On December 9th, Japanese troops of the 5th Infantry Division landed at Singora, with the clear objective of seizing the airfield complex in the area. At that point, these troops did not know that Tourane still held, and that the promised imminent air support would not come. Later that day, elements of the 33rd Infantry Division landed along the Kra Isthmus.

Contrarily to what they had hoped, the Thais did not welcome the Japanese with open arms against the colonizers. Far from it, in fact. Despite Thai troops being stretched over a large area, landings were opposed here and there with surprising intensity, including at Ao Manao beach, where the Thais of the 5th Infantry Division held against the Japanese of the 33rd Infantry for a day, pinning them on the beaches [1]! At Singora, however, the weak garrison had difficulty in containing the Japanese, who seized the airfields with relative ease. Only…there were no planes to land on it!

In the meantime, the British did not remain inactive. Honouring the Anglo-Thai agreement, British troops of the 17th Indian Division moved into Pattani, lending a hand to the thinly spread Thais, and lending a decisive air support. In the night, the navy would also move in, with the British battleships of the Royal Navy executing a vigorous shelling of Japanese troops at Singora. Admiral Philips would have liked to stay…but he was informed of a large carrier force heading for him. Fearing a trap, Philips immediately turned back to Singapore, something that would be reproached to him later.

In fact, Philips had received the report of the Japanese main fleet moving southwards. Kondo had been ordered to support the troops and protect a convoy leading Japanese troops towards Kota Bharu, in order to flank the Indian troops that had reportedly entered Thailand. In fact, Kondo’s objective was twofold: to support the landing operation and to annihilate the Thai naval forces, which had yet to leave port.

December 11th, 1941, was a day considered to be “Thailand’s Pearl Harbor”. Early in the morning, a swarm of D3A1 “Val” appeared over Bangkok, and plunged on the anchored Thai vessels, wreaking havoc amidst the fleet. There were little survivors: the destroyer Phra Ruang, which was at Ko Samui, along with two submarines and three torpedo boats. The Phra Ruang was ordered to make due haste towards Singapore, with the two submarines in tow [2]. The three remaining torpedo boats did not have the range and would have to stay in Bangkok.

Kondo for his part had received good news: Tourane had fallen and the conveying of aircraft towards Thailand would commence as soon as this afternoon! But this also meant that his navy had to stay in a hostile area for twenty-four hours. And the British submarines surely did not take their presence well. In the afternoon, the destroyer Oyashio was sunk by the HMS Oberon, and the Ryujo itself was taken for a target several times. Kondo was thus forced to withdraw northwards in the night.

But this also meant that precious hours were lost. While the bridgeheads in Thailand were too solid, and the situation in the country too chaotic for them to be pushed out, it was not the case at Kota Bharu! There, the landed Japanese were expected to take the Indians from the rear and destroy them. Problem: while there were certainly Indians in the area, they were also faced with Alan Vasey’s 7th Australian Division! The Japanese were decimated on arrival. The Commonwealth troops had mined the area, and had already placed several traps, including petrol cannisters that were detonated and set ablaze, raising a sea of flames which gave the landscape a hellish feeling.

With no naval support, the Japanese were left to fend for themselves, in a desperate fight for survival. The men of the 18th Infantry Division, when they reached the shore, were faced with machine-gun fire emerging from pillboxes, as well as armored vehicles rushing to them! These were in fact Valentines lent by the Australian 1st Armoured which had come to the rescue. And to add to the disaster, the Spitfires of Sqn 30 RAAF and Beauforts of Sqn 458 RAAF came to hack the landing barges to pieces, massacring the remaining Japanese on the beaches. At night, the Commonwealth troops were victorious: their opponents were tired, and had not even made it out of the beach.

However, there was little time for celebration. The Japanese did not cease fighting, even when it was clear all hope was lost. Japanese troops feigned to surrender, before taking the pin out of a grenade and taking a few Aussies with them. Some, out of ammunition, just limped back into the sea to drown. This was the first contact for the Commonwealth troops with the fanatical devotion of the Japanese fighters. But for these ones, it was a disaster. Nearly five thousand Japanese troops lay dead or wounded, and the beachhead had been completely destroyed.

The Imperial command was enraged, but did not have time to linger on this defeat. The fall of the airfields at Tourane meant that Singora could be supplied with fighters, and would be able to lend a hand to the Japanese land forces in Thailand.
The offensive had been met with partial success. Phibun did still have an aura, and some commanders, who disagreed with the pro-West attitude of the government, did agree to switch sides. This led to a certain chaos in the Thai high command, which, combined with the fog of war, meant that resistance took time to organize itself, and a counter-attack could not be executed on Japanese forces. By the time that Phraya Songsuradej finally had a clear picture, it was too late: the Japanese had been able to reinforce Singora airfield and the Kra Isthmus had been lost.

On December 14th, Japanese troops began moving northwards towards Bangkok, finally under friendly air cover. The weak resistance of the Royal Thai Air Force, overwhelmed, meant that the British had to send the two squadrons of the AVG in Burma down to Moulmein to relieve some pressure. Despite this, the Thai army still struggled. The Japanese had been reinforced with armour, and were now coming dangerously close to Bangkok.

Fearing for his government, Pridi Banomyong withdrew to Chiang Mai along with most ministers. This order, while logical, also had the consequence of making much of the army lose heart. Phraya had argued against it himself, but to no avail. In fact, the abandonment of Bangkok had practically meant that for most Thai troops, the war was lost.

Phraya knew that Bangkok could be defended, but facing mass desertions and outright mutiny in some units, he chose not to hold the capital. Taking the most loyal units, those of the Phayap Army, he ordered a withdrawal towards Singburi and Prachinburi, in order to defend the northern half of the country. Phraya did manage to save numerous Thai troops, and rallied a sense of common cause amidst the Thai army, but it also meant several things: Bangkok was open, and so was the road to the Cambodian border.

This meant that Japanese troops entered the capital almost without firing a shot, and that the airfields at Don Mueang fell on December 18th. What’s worse, the IJA captured some brand-new P-39s which the RThAF did not have time to evacuate or sabotage, when they were not outright handed over! In fact, with Bangkok secured, Japanese troops rushed towards Pattaya, but also Sa Kaeo, aiming for Battambang and Cambodia, trying to outflank Saigon. On December 20th, the first units had reached the border.

But while in the north things were going well, in the south it wasn’t much the case. The 17th Indian Division had attacked and repulsed the Japanese from Pattani towards Singora, seriously threatening the airfields there. And while the use of these airfields became less strategic thanks to the capture of Bangkok, they were very important to cover the troops who would push towards Malaya! Despite the reinforcement of IJA planes, these still came in a trickle, and the Commonwealth air forces still held the upper hand, despite the agility of the Ki-43 “Oscar” which often clashed with the P-39s, P-40s and Spitfires deployed in the area by the RAAF and RNZAF [3].

The British command for its part was confident. It had lost only a few irrelevant localities in Burma (most notable of which was Mergui), and Malaya had not been attacked by land forces since the Kota Bharu debacle. As such, Alexander planned to use the 11th and 17th Indian Divisions to surge from their positions at Jitra and Pattani to attack northwards towards Singora and Trang, dislodging the Japanese from their positions and retaking the airfields. Codenamed Operation Matador, this push would be executed on December 21st, 1941. Admiral Tom Philips was thus ordered to sally with his force in order to support the troops with a vigorous shelling of Japanese positions in the area.

Philips, who wished to redeem himself for the mistake he made a week earlier, made every preparation he could, wish a vengeance. This time, if the Japanese came to him, he would be ready. These actions set in motion the events that would lead to the first battle over the horizon in history…


[1] OTL this unit was thrown into disarray when the order to stop fighting came through. With no such order here, they stand their ground.
[2] These submarines were the HMTS Matachanu and Sinsamut.
[3] The Ki-43 wasn’t extremely superior to the P-40 but since it was used in bigger numbers, it gained that reputation. With less Ki-43 in the air against more P-40s, it gains less of a “killer” reputation than OTL and will lead to Allied pilots learning to deal with it a lot faster than OTL.
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"It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue." Sir Andrew Cunningham, Mai 1941
"Let me soar! [...] I need no great host, just [Tyene]" - Nymeria Sand, AFFC II
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