Guided by PIB, the surviving Aussies abandon the track to avoid being cut off at Pitoki.
Having to go the long way around, they are yet to emerge from the bush and make it to Deniki.
To find out just where the Japs are and how close they may be to Deniki, several patrols of PIB with accompanying 39th sections were sent out. Doug took the right flank at Fowani Creek and I took the left at Naro, very gingerly probing our way forward. The Japs were doing the same and it wasn't long before we ran into one another!
PIB patrol carefully feels their way forward through the jungle
Crafty Jap commander Greg concealed (or rather didn't commit) his larger section to the patrol, but rather sent a two man scouting party forward to find us. It didn't take long. While I have an issue with ANYBODY spotting motionless Papuans in the jungle (as its been my experience you just don't unless they want you to see them!) at the end of the day, my dice rolling with additional factors for PIB failed to spot the Japs before Greg's better rolling enabled his scouts to spot me!
Contact at Naro!
Perhaps it was the clumsy white man with the Papuans that gave the game away (all PIB sections have Australian NCOs in command) but we all opened up on each other, the Japs missing their targets and the Papuans hitting both Japs but only killing one. The Jap predictably failed his 'gut check' (morale) and charged the nearest Papuan. Amazingly the Papuan stood his ground and a short but indecisive melee ensued. The Papuans can actually fight as well as shoot as long as their NCOs remain alive but once he's killed, their fragile morale means they usually break and run into the nearest jungle - an all-to-familiar occurrence in the campaign so far!
Bit of 'cut and thrust' in the jungle!
After the brief encounter in which the brave Papuan didn't run - the PIB were ordered to fall back on the second PIB section immediately behind them. I fully expected a full section of Japanese to appear on top of my position by the canny Greg did not oblige, his scouts having done their job of spotting us, withdrawing themselves. It was a smart move as we had several sections of PIB and even an ANGAU (Australian New Guinea Administration Unit) section waiting to ambush any significant force of Japs that should appear. The mutual withdrawal signaled the end of the first patrol action at Naro.
PIB carefully withdraw from the contact
The second patrol action at Naro was an even shorter affair with my PIB stationary in the native gardens north west(?) of Naro and once again spotted first by the Japanese (absolute bollocks I say - but them's the rules and I only have my own crappy dice rolling to blame!) This time Greg had pushed forward a few snipers, one of whom my PIB did manage to spot!
PIB in the native gardens managed to spot a Jap sniper
The Jap sniper also spotted the 39th section next to the PIB and firing soon commenced. Here Greg's usual good rolling deserted him and the sniper hit nothing whereas the PIB managed to 'pot' the sniper - huzzah! One up for the (usually) luckless PIB! At this point Greg announced he had seen all he needed to see and was withdrawing whatever he had back toward Pitoki. Our PIB scouts had performed well and we assessed that a platoon-sized Jap patrol had probed the northern (flank) approaches to Deniki.
Aggressive patrolling - the Japs decide to show themselves at Fela
The real action was between the more aggressive Japs under Cameron at Fowani Creek and the more 'European oriented' (ahem) Australian commander Doug. Here the PIB and Japs once again ran into each other without the 'extra' factors in the jungle helping the PIB to spot the Japs - both the Allied commander's rolling for this was consistently appalling. Doug managed to account for about one section of Japanese and about nine PIB and five Australians he lost (so the 'honours' roughly even). I'm sorry to say I didn't get any pics of the action.
I was pretty happy with my PIB who accounted for two Japs without loss themselves. As a result of these actions, the Allies have assessed platoon-sized patrolling by the Japs but no sign of the main force. We think they may be digging in around Pitoki or even Kokoda itself to await Horii's main Jap force which historically arrived mid August - in our campaign its only the end of July - so there's a long way to go yet!
Just to make things difficult, we have just received a rocket from Blamey (Australian commander under MacArthur) to retake Kokoda. Just great. The Allied High Command who had absolutely no idea of the conditions on the ground in New Guinea are ordering exhausted, ill-equipped (Allied logistics were a disaster) out-numbered and inexperienced militia to attack the 2,000 veterans of the Jap advance force who now appear to be digging in. They also ordered a road to be built over the Own Stanley's to Kokoda - they really had no idea that it was an impossibility. Nearly seventy years on, there's still no road to Kokoda!
The Allied commanders contemplate yet another rotten situation at Kokoda
(earlier game, Yours Truly closest to the camera)
I've just noticed this blog has now passed its 50,000 hits milestone - yaaaay! Anyhow, enjoy the pics (click to enlarge) and feel free to leave a comment.
Now back to some yard work before the real Supreme Commander (aka She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, Minster of War & Finance etc etc) grants permission to paint some more Prussians!