Battle of the Tenaru
|(Attacker) Japan||vs||United States (Defender)|
|United States||1st "The Old Breed" Marine Division|
|United States||1st Marine Regiment|
|Overall Rating, 14 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 72 of 588|
|Visibility||Day & Night|
|Layout Dimensions||84 x 55 cm
33 x 22 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Guadalcanal||maps + counters|
The American landings caught the Japanese by surprise. The quick departure of the transports after the Battle of Savo Island and questionable reconnaissance of the Marine beachhead from the air convinced Imperial Headquarters in Japan that the landing was not large and prompt action could recapture the airfield. Elements of the Army's 28th Infantry Regiment, under Colonel Kiyoano Ichicki, were ordered forward from Guam. The battalion-sized force, mainly composed of the 2nd, 28th Infantry Regiment, was ordered to land west of the American lodgement and advance on the airfield.
Colonel Ichicki's orders were to retake the airfield or if that proved impossible, to secure positions near the airfield and attack the Americans at night. Departing the Truk on the morning of the 16th August, the more than 900 men were landed just after midnight on the morning of the 19th. Following an encounter with a Marine patrol, the detachment advanced to just west of the Hu River (mistakenly identified as the Tenaru by the Americans) and in the early morning hours of the 21st attacked.
The western perimeter was held by Lt.Colonel Edwin A. Pollock's 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. Defending a line 1,000 yards inland and running a short distance east along the beach, the battalion was reinforced with machineguns and 37mm anti-tank guns. By midnight the Americans and Japanese were exchanging small arms fire and at 0200 the first assault was launched.
The initial Japanese attack captured several posts, but was thrown back with heavy losses. a second attempt to cross the creek met with even less success. The Japanese had been shocked to find a foe that did not retreat when faced with the bayonet. Shocked, but not stopped, the Japanese kept assaulting until daylight. By dawn Lt. Colonel Pollock was reporting that he could not hold. Plans were made to attack and the 1st Divisions reserve was brought forward.
|Make a Solid line!|
0200 (visibility = 1 hex)
Japanese order a full advance! Americans open fire causing a few casualties.
Hidden troops are heard moving south.
0215 – Japanese Banzai attack the Americans across the river while others break past the engaged defenders! Japanese suffer a few casualties, but 7 units have broken through the American line!
Americans call “Shenanigans!” and the scenario is restarted with the Americans forming a solid line this time.
August 21, 1942 – Having captured the airfield at Tenaru, the Japanese Ichicki Detachment was sent, during the night, to penetrate the American lines to recapture it.
The 2/1 Battalion of the 1st Marine division, supported with machine guns and 37mm anti-tank guns was defending the line…
Japanese Goal Get 5 Japanese units west of the American line.
American Goal Stop the Japanese!
17 turns = 4 hours, 15 minutes.
For once the US is on the defence.
The Battle – Take Two!
0200 (visibility = 1 hex)
Japanese order a full advance and suffer 4 casualties!
0215 – Initiative is important. Americans win initiative and get off an initial volley (to no effect!) before the Japanese Banzai!
Five assaults ensue with the Americans “winning” 3 of them and losing 2. Casualties are 3 American steps versus 4 Japanese steps.
Japanese hidden units are “spotted” circling to the south.
0230 – Assaults continue and another Japanese step is lost, although four Japanese platoons breakthrough the broken American line!
(early FOW – refer notes in Aftermath)
0245 – The four Japanese platoons push deep behind American lines while sporadic assault fire claims casualties on both sides.
0300 – Americans sent troops to the west to stop the Japanese from hiding.
(early FOW, again!)
0315 – Japanese suffer 3 step losses “on the line” while they push through the jungle in the south.
0330 – Americans advance against the Japanese intruders and call for artillery support. Assaults begin in the jungle to the south.
0345 – Fighting ensues behind the lines. Americans fire as Japanese counter with a banzai charge. Casualties are on both sides, including an American Major. HMG nest on the line is demoralized.
0400 – Only one attack each – early FOW.
0415 – Americans take heavy losses (3 steps, Lt and Cpt) as the center of the line collapses. Behind the lines the Japanese continue to hit hard.
0430 – early FOW hits after one activation per side.
0445 – Japanese get hit hard by American artillery (2X and Major).
0500 – Fighting continues in sporadic pockets as the Americans try to repel the invaders. Losses are obtained on both sides.
0515 – Japanese in the south push north under heavy fire, losing half a platoon. Early FOW (1 activation aside).
0530 (visibility 2 hexes) – Americans must attack hard to rid the west of Japanese presence before 0615.
0545 (visibility 4 hexes) – FOW (15) rolled after one activation per side! The final nail is driven into the coffin.
0600 (visibility 8 hexes) – The morning is dawning. Americans deliver a last ditch attempt by assaulting the Japanese, losing two steps and a Lt in the process.
FOW is rolled after two activations per side.
Japanese manage to get 10 units (require 5) west of the American line for a decisive victory.
A very important factor was the large number of short turns. FOW rolls were made after 1 activation per side, success on a 14+ (because of night). Many times, this limited the American firepower and robbed them of their OBA strikes.
Casualties were VERY high:
Troops remaining on the battlefield (losses)
5 and a half MAR platoons (4 lost)
3 HMG platoons. (2 lost)
(37mm battery lost)
5 and two half INF platoons (8 lost)
1 and a half HMG platoons (half lost)
3 ENG platoons (1 lost)
Overall, I loved this scenario. It was extremely enjoyable and entertaining and comes highly recommended for 2-player or solo play. As the Japanese were advancing, it was virtually impossible to stay “hidden”. Also, as the American defence (for the first few turns at least) was static, it was easy to play the hidden units one-sided.
|Guadalcanal, scenario #8: Battle of the Tenaru|
I wasn’t sure how this scenario would be, as it was a night scenario and a lot of palm groves and elephant grass, some jungle on the edges, a river and sand bar, so the terrain would be fun. I setup the American iron wall, dug-in, no Japanese will be able to pass! Well the problem is, it’s night, some Japanese units are hidden, and I don’t have enough American units to cover their right flank.
The Japanese are able to concentrate their forces in a couple areas and they punch through by the sand bar, then the Americans move to counter this and become too weak in the middle and another group of Japanese sneak through but what really put a nail in the coffin, the larger Japanese flanking group emerges from the Jungle and the Americans are not strong enough to track them all down on their side of the river but must regroup themselves.
The Japanese won this one but it was really more fun to play then I thought and for this, I rank it high. Having a higher morale and four engineer units really aided the Japanese in assaults on this one.
|Different Method, Same Result|
The US set a line all along the river. The Japanese tried a hook around the US right flank and did manage to flank the line, but the US shifted troops from the mouth of the creek to their right and managed to form an L. The Japanese assaulted the line and caused some losses, but the US battled back well, and dropped several danger close fire missions that severely disrupted the Japanese attack. The Japanese were nearly wiped out in the end and didn’t have enough units to hold on for a victory. US win.
|Rumble at Alligator Creek - Ichicki leads by example|
The marines distributed their forces as best as possible to hold down a very long line on the west bank of the Ilu. The Japanese advance into a hail of bullets suffering a few losses but are able to keep the chain of command intact. Two units of Japanese INF are easily able to circle past the American lines early on but pause in the jungle by the border of the American lines to see how the main attack fares. The Japanese are unsuccessful in softening up the marine positions with DF so at 03:00/turn 5, the first Japanese assault is made on the southern flank. American first fire is ineffective and they lose a step of HMG. A half platoon of marines are sent in to reinforce the position but it is also soon eliminated but still, the remaining reduced marine HMG unit is able to hold out and hold the line for a while. The next assault on the American lines comes from the northern sandbar area at 03:45/turn 8, and again the American first fire is ineffective but this time the American position is taken and the Japs break through. Soon after this the Japanese INF units that had circled around the American southern flank move past the lines and there are now 4 of the 5 required units past the Ilu. At 04:15/turn 10, Colonel Ichicki, not to be outdone by his subordinates, leads an assault smack in the center of the line and once again, American first fire is ineffective. The central line is breached and the defenders along with an American Major are eliminated. The marines do what they can to eliminate the Japanese that have broken through their lines conducting assaults of their own and have limited success but too many Japanese have broken through. Desperate measures are taken by calling down OBA into the assault hexes but even that is not enough. Colonel Ichicki and some platoons continue to advance and mount another assault pinning American forces down and raising the spirits of his men and fulfilling his promise of smiting the Americans with a "mailed fist". By the time the sun had risen at 06:00/turn 17, 7 units had made it through the American lines and a Japanese victory was secured.
This was an intense battle and there were very few, if any, dull moments. The Americans had crap luck in defending against the assaults on their lines; three times in three different assaults with all their units in good order they failed to even so much as disrupt the attackers with their higher morale. The marines did what they could once the lines were breached and did manage to eliminate a lot of Japanese. The Japanese lost 19 steps and one leader; American losses were 8 steps and three leaders. In other plays perhaps the Americans may do better in defending against assaults with the first fire advantage for being dug-in and/or in jungle hexes but this time around they got rolled. Despite that this scenario may favor the Japanese a bit it still gets a solid "4" rating for it's intensity and I don't think scenarios should be rated by balance of play alone. This scenario has rekindled my interest in pursuing more Pacific theater PG games and scenarios and have decided that 'Kokoda Trail' is next on my PG supplement wish list. Just about every turn of this one was packed with action and could really feel the desperation of the American attempts to fend off the Japanese assault and also the thrill from the Japanese side of breaking through the American lines
|Bloody battle along the creek|
In this scenario an outnumbered Marine force must hold a river/creek (scenario is bad at defining which) line against a determined Japanese assault. Victory is based on whether the Japanese can get five units across a specific line of hexes. While the Japanese can end-run the landward side of the line, they must come back into the Marine rear to count for victory. Fog of war is brutal, forcing rolls with a plus one after each side receives a single activation. With only seventeen turns that is going to put real time pressure on the Japanese.
The Marines set up along the creek, placing a couple spare units to reinforce some spots on the line and a couple ready to extend the line into the jungle. The Japanese set up to the seaward side of the midpoint (by scenario definition) with two strong assault stacks, two large hidden stacks, and several smaller stacks ready to hit the Marine line.
The Japanese immediately begin shifting to the landward end of the line as the defenses on the coast and reinforced hexes in the middle are not appealing to assault. The Marines can only make minor shifts as the hidden units discourage stripping the end of the line. But the hidden units are moving towards the same end of the line, intending to hit the entire right flank, pin them down, end run through the jungle with hidden units while pressing through their assault zone.
The Japanese move into contact, and the Marine opfire is disastrous. No effect on the Japanese. The Japanese follow with three assaults against the extreme right, but their hidden units are all revealed. The Marines now know the entire effort is against their right, and begin shifting troops as fast as possible. As quickly as they can reach the back line of the flank the Japanese are pouring through and assaulting. The Marine Lt Col’s stack is ripping through Japanese units, but in the other four assault hexes the Japanese are gaining the upper hand. The only advantage the Marines have is the new assault hexes are still outside the victory area, and the Japanese units are being tied down due to the Banzai rule. The fact that two of the three original assault hexes are still holding and receiving reinforcements further ties up the Japanese.
Some Marines try to flank the Japanese by crossing the creek on the left flank. These tie down some more Japanese, but the impact is minimal. The real action is still along the river, and the extended flank. Several of these locations are jungle, which help the Marines, but Japanese assaults are ugly and the battle is continuing to shift to the Japanese favor. The Japanese expend twelve turns before realizing they haven’t reached the victory area and time is running out. They make a massive push, trying to beat the FoW assisted clock ticks.
Finally one stack of three breaks its assault hex, while the Japanese commander leads the two unengaged HMG units across the stream, and the Japanese get five units into the victory zone on turn 15. The Marines survive just long enough to prevent any more Japanese from entering the zone, but are unable to engage the Japanese already in their rear. In the end the Japanese have five units in the Marine rear, and have inflicted 20 step losses on the Marines, while suffering 14 step losses of their own. A brutal, bloody battle that came down to the wire.
I did not expect much from this scenario. It seemed and easy Japanese push against a thin Marine line. In reality it was a great slugfest where maneuver was critical for both sides. A few changed rolls could have easily shifted the results in either direction, as the Marine line was much sturdier than I expected. The Banzai rule prevents a Japanese overrun, the jungles slowed Japanese movement long enough to allow the Marines to shift, and the FoW special rules made the clock a huge pressurizing factor. Really pleased with this scenario, although I expect the Japanese do have a slight favor. This one gets a 4!
|Guadalcanal #8 Battle of the Tenaru|
"With one swipe of the mailed fist we shall sweep the Americans aside." So Commander Ichicki predicted. It did not work out that way historically nor did it here.
On the approach during the first two turns 0200-0215 the Japanese attempted to shoot it out with the Marines in order to soften them up for the assault. This was a bad decision. In the exchange of fire the Japanese got the worst of it. At 0230 the Japanese assaulted all along the line but could not bring the entire force to bear because of the step losses demoralizations and disruptions suffered previously. Only at one point, where the Marine position was wiped out, did the Japanese have a clear cut success. They tried to reinforce this success with the Col. leading the way but he was killed on an opportunity fire along with one step. This triggering third edition rules 6.72 & 6.73 decapitation and catastrophic loss. The Japanese then used the remainder of that turn and the next trying to recover units with mixed results. By now the Japanese had two forces over the river in assault and could now send two more platoons into another hex. If all assaults were successful the Marine line would be breached.
The Japanese became bogged down in assaults over the next several hours. They were taking the worst of it in the attrition battle. By 0500 the Japanese only had 7 units left. Two of these were 800 meters east of the river recovering. The other 5 were over the river but three were tied up in assault and the other two were boxed in and at the mercy of the rest of the Marine force who had already eliminated Japanese bridgeheads on the west bank. The Japanese retire. The Japanese had lost 24 steps in this action and the Marines 5 steps. This is actually the third time I have played this scenario. It is the first time I've gotten a Marine victory. Usually the Japanese just steam roll the Marines in assaults getting the leader, morale, and nationality bonuses. Not this time. The decision to try to weaken the Marines first with direct fire cost the Japanese the game.