austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Although there are oceans we must cross

I finally got some time to resume my Hearts of Iron II game, and can report on what 1946 in this very different Second World War was like. When last we left, the war between the Allies and the Japanese Empire was in its second long year, with Allied forces having liberated most of mainland China and finding themselves stalled getting into Korea.

January saw the capture of the last pieces of Mengkukuo, removing the last ally Japan had in the world. But with the failure of another raid into Korea and a rather nasty defeat at the hands of the Japanese Navy I had to re-think some important things. In this naval battle they lost two escort carriers, one light carrier, and one regular carrier, to the United States's four carriers (!). That's much easier for the United States to make up, particularly as the lost carriers were obsolete a couple generations over, but they're not that easy to make up. That's obviously not the way to go, here.

What I realized was that I no longer needed to be chasing the Japanese Navy for a titanic engagement. I needed to to convoy-hunting, to block the supply and reinforcement chains to soldiers in Korea. Somewhere in the liberation of China my objectives had shifted from convoy-raiding to big-engagement, and that's not what I needed then. With the Pacific Fleet now focused on attacking convoys I gave the forces surrounding Korea some time to re-organize and re-supply, producing one of those lulls in the action, at least in my theater. Meanwhile the Canadians lined up along the Yalu river, ready to join that invasion heading south; and the British plunged farther into the deep western lands of China, which they could have.

On the 2nd of March, 1946, the British announced the independence of India and Pakistan (here including Bangladesh). This seems like an odd thing for the British to deal with while they're still in the midst of the war with Japan. I believe this indicates that the prerequisite trigger for the Independence of the Subcontinent is the British not being at war with the Axis for a year or more, and in this game, the Japanese never joined the Axis so therefore ... It's curious the trigger isn't based on war-with-Japan instead of war-with-the-Axis, though. But they were declared independent, and not part of the Allies, which would frustrate the supply chain into western China.

While the British dealt with this, the United States launched an amphibious assault on the Korean southern tip in Gwangju, and tactical bombing begun in the northern provinces. This was finally proving successful, showing that I might have wrapped the war up a lot earlier if I'd focused on supply lines instead of headline-grabbing battles, as ever happens.

The start of April seemed like it'd be a good month to organize governments in Chinese territory, and so on the 2nd of April the United States granted independence to the Xibei San Ma government, in northwestern China; and on the 3rd of April organized Shanxi, in the northeast. This would beef up the count of Allies, at least, and not quite too soon either: on the 6th of April, 1946, the Soviet Union and its allies --- Mongolia, Romania, and Bulgaria --- declared war against Japan. The Comintern did not join the Allies; this was just a side war which I'm sure was not at all opportunistic.

Well, assuming the Soviets were looking for the chance at at a quick Japanese land grab, I could do what I might to frustrate it. And thus on the 12th of April, with the provinces of the southern half of Korea just barely secured, the United States organized the Korean government. The game's weird sense of who should claim ownership of which province, though, meant that while Wonsan, when conquered, would be assigned to Korea, Pyongyang was made United States territory (until later on when I would trade it to Korea in exchange for some rare minerals, done so that the swap looked like a normal deal rather than charity to the Korean government).

Over the course of May and early June, the United States and Canada occupied the rest of Korea and, finally, one piece of Manchuria --- Jilin --- where a Japanese redoubt had proven it could fight on against all logistics, not to mention logic. This would not bode well for the scheduled invasion of the Japanese mainlands, would it? On the other hand, the Soviets were blocked from making any territorial gains in Pacific Asia, though they were grabbing some of the Taklamakan Desert provinces in western China. (I admit my instinct is to say if someone wants to invade that for some reason then fine, that's their mistake, but it did leave some British troops stranded in a zone which could be supplied only by airlift.) But following my policy of creating puppet states^W^W responsible local government I promptly reorganized Manchuria into Allied Manchukuo, which gained its autonomy on the 14th of July.

The Soviets apparently concentrated their efforts on attacking those tiny islands ringing Siberia which the Japanese held, although the biggest news I got out of them was the retirement of Mikhail Kalinin. A couple days later General Eisenhower received the Leadership Trait of being a Hills Fighter, though, so that he'd be the person to put in charge of forces trying to invade hill or mountain terrains. Apparently he'd been tromping around Korea enough to get the hang of hill fighting.

With Japan now kicked off the Asian mainland, and China restored to a patchwork of local nations (with some terrain still in United States or other Allied control), and convoy raiding and long-range bombing going on around the clock, it was time to organize the invasion of Japan proper.

When it came, under a barrage of tactical bombing, the conquest of Fukuoka, in Kyushu, was almost anticlimactic: 25 divisions set down on the shores drove the Japanese army away between 6:00 and 7:00 (Greenwich Time), 7 August. The United States moved south, taking Kagoshima and the rest of the island as modelled in the game, giving a great base for naval and air operations, and by the 18th of August was ready to focus on either Shikoku or Hiroshima.

I decided to try an invasion of Hiroshima, combining an amphibious assault with paratroopers, and this worked out quite well. Although the battle took nearly two days to complete, it was an Allied victory, and Field Marshal Patton received the Leadership Traits of being an Ambusher and a Hills Fighter, suggesting an easier path to victory against the rest of Japan.

That isn't to say it would be fast, however, since it takes a long while to reorganize paratroop assaults, and the island's geography makes rapid movement in motorized vehicles challenging. Still, going by foot, the various marines, infantry, and mountaineers were by the 23rd of November masters of all of Honshu except for Tokyo itself and the northern area of Akita. It was in this context --- with the United States ringing Tokyo and myself really undecided whether to take Akita and use that to jump off toward the Kurils, or to take Tokyo first; and also, finally, bringing in troops from Los Angeles and Honolulu to take the small South Pacific islands that had been bypassed in the conquest of China --- that the news came down.

At 01:00 Greenwich Time on 24 November 1946, Japan surrendered unconditionally and totally to the United States. The Emperor was deposed, and a puppet government (under Head of State Nosaka Sanzo for some reason --- he'd been historically head of the Japanese Communist Party --- and Head of Government Goto Fumio) established.

Here we again hit the game engine's ``Japan Surrenders'' event making assumptions about how victory would have to look which were at wide variance with the reality on the ground. The first big problem is that Japan was made a United States puppet, which might be a fair description of any postwar Japanese regime, but it also meant that the game transferred all the territories occupied by the United States which had been Japan's at the start of the war back to Japan. Many of these territories had been transferred already to Chinese governments or Korea, but, this still left a weird skeleton of territories, including Shanghai and Taiwan, returned to Japanese control in complete violation of any historically plausible outcome. It also meant that British- and French-occupied Chinese territories were transferred to Chinese governments --- acceptable to me --- or Japan --- ridiculous by any measure --- depending on the impossibly complicated set of rules for these things.

More seriously, as a knock-on to the surrender, the Soviet Union annexed Manchukuo. This would be plausible had the Soviet Union set even a single soldier into that territory, but, that didn't happen and so I don't know where they get off taking all that land. Similarly, in a knock-off event on the 4th of December, the ``joint administration'' of Korea lead to the creation of a North Korean government. Fortunately, as most of the northern Korean provinces were still United States-administrated at the time, the only territory that the People's Republic of Korea got was Wonsan, but it still galled me that the game handed over any territory without a logical cause. The Soviets also got unquestioned ownership of the Kurils, but they at least had actually landed troops there before the surrender.

Still, these are relatively small frustrations. With this happiest Thanksgiving Day, the Pacific War was ended as satisfactorily as one could reasonably hope, with all but a few slices of the former Japanese Empire living under Allied supervision, and no reason to think the Soviets were looking for World War III quite right away. Oh, there would be some issues of reconversion to a peacetime economy, of course, and I'd have to evaluate whether I wanted quite so many men in the armed forces and if I wanted them just where they were, but ... ah ...

Say, why has my reserve of Supplies, representing pretty much all finished products but particularly those which the military needs to function, dropped to zero?

And that's the state of affairs on the 1st of January, 1947.

Trivia: The Japanese Foreign Office proposed that the nation should ``reorient her policy'' and seek a peace settlement with the United States, following meetings in February 1943 which concluded Germany's post-Stalingrad offensive would fail.

Currently Reading: The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning On The Threshold Of Space, Craig Ryan.

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