0000 December 9th 1948.
Central Asia Army Headquarters. Sevastopol, Soviet Union.
The Western Front was still far from stable even though the situation had improved greatly as additional Japanese troops arrived and the weather had deteriorated. The Winter was going to be a hard one for Hata's forces but they had survived the Russian Winter before.
The arrival of Lt. General Hoshinato and his Armoured corps in Lida covered one hole that had been appearing in the Japanese line, but he would need at least a week to be combat ready.
The arrival of dawn saw the Imperial Japanese Airforce attacking across the northern part of the front. Nakajima pursued the large enemy formation in Alytus with his Dive bombers with Shimoyama attacking Brest Litovsk further south. Obata's Tactical bombers had taken over the attacks in Memel which were now against American Mechanised forces. The Allies continued to mass troops in the center and north and appeared to be concentrating on moving around or through the Prippet marshes. Itabana's North African bomber wing continued to attack Allied troops to the south of the Suez Canal.
0400 December 9th 1948.
Africa Army Headquarters. Abadan, Persia.
The fragile state of the Japanese defences around Suez was well known but Itabana had managed to keep them fairly well covered for over a year and Higashikuni was confident that the situation could be contained even though there was an Allied build up in the region.
The loss of As Suwayz to the south of Port Said weakened Higashikuni's position but he had no choice but to order Kozuki to withdraw after coming under attack from three British controlled divisions. Forcing a withdraw was nothing special for the Allies, actually managing to advance and capture the vacated province was something that they were yet to master. Itabana would make them pay as usual.
1900 December 9th 1948.
North China Army Headquarters. Stalingrad, Soviet Union.
Kanin had little to do as a commander of a defensive Army but there were several housekeeping jobs that required his attention. He was himself moving south to quell an uprising as news arrived from Finland.
Mj. General Numata had captured Helsinki from the Americans and had begun to move west towards Turku to complete the destruction of the invasion. The lack of support for the invasion was becoming normal for the Allies, as they continued to struggle to be able to move large numbers of troops by sea after their Merchant fleets had been decimated off Burma during 1944 and 1945.
0200 December 10th 1948.
BB Division 1 Flagship. IJN Fuso, Mouth of the Tsiribihina.
Ozawa's main two Battlefleets had been on station for several weeks by now and there had been no signs of any major threat to them arriving anytime soon. The small Soviet Battleship fleet had never really been any source of concern but the next enemy fleet detected off Madagascar could very easily sink Japanese ships if it could find them.
Someone in the American Naval Command had decided that it was a wise choice to allow Admiral Spruance to command American Aircraft Carriers. Spruance was an expert at finding Japanese Armed Forces with any fleet he commanded and could always be counted on to do so quickly and decisively. He had chosen to sail along the eastern Madagascar coast where there were no Japanese ships on patrol, but he could always turn east and encounter BC Division 1 protecting Reunion Island. Spruance's luck at finding Japanese forces continued, and as with just about all of his luck thus far, he found bombers not ships. Lt. General Itou radioed the sighting back to Ozawa before beginning his bombing run against Spruance's fleet. Ozawa's reaction would be predictable.
Sixteen Tactical bomber squadrons began to hunt and attack Spruance's Carrier Task Force. Twelve hours after the first sighting Kondo led his bomber wing over Cape Masoala and found what he was looking for. The attack increased to twelve squadrons by 1600 hours with the Light Carrier USS Bataan and Fleet Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln taking most attacks and suffering as a result. Rain was hampering operations and Spruance would slip away into the night. The hunt would resume on December 11th.
Ozawa had been concerned as Spruance had arrived in Cape Masoala as he could have launched a port strike agianst Tananarive. Ozawa was also given a choice during the approach of Spruance. Clearly Spruance had not wished to bomb the port but if he had he would have discovered the entire Japanese Carrier Force. Troops and ships had been mustering in the port for a future operation which could easily have been halted if substantial damage had occured to the fleets in port. Carrier Groups C and D and two Transport fleets avoided combat and Ozawa refused to send his Carriers after Spruance.
Spruance was found again at 0300 hours on December 11th as he continued to head north. Tsukahara's Tactical bomber wing, still operating from Tananarive, began their attack in the East Mascarene Basin with other wings looking further north in case the Carrier Task Force managed to move faster than was anticipated. The USS Abraham Lincoln had suffered the majority of the damage during the last twenty four hours but was still capable of moving at full speed.
0300 December 11th 1948.
Central Asia Army Headquarters. Sevastopol, Soviet Union.
Hoshinato had hoped to be able to rest for at least a week before he came under attack which would also allow him to entrench his newly arrived Armour somewhat. He would not be given enough time.
Field Marshall Hansen assaulted Lida soon after he had captured Grodno. His seven divisions, one of which was badly damaged, were more than enough to force Hata to order Hoshinato to withdraw north towards Molodeczno. Hata was still happy to allow the Allies to determine the movement around the center of the line but he was not prepared to allow them to force his flanks.
By 1000 hours air attacks had broken out all over the Western Front as other Japanese bomber wings continued to prosecute targets in North Africa and conduct Naval attacks against Spruance's fleet.
Obata continued his attacks against Memel as Nakajima began to reduce the enemy forces in Grodno that were advancing towards Lida. Shimoyama had moved back to the south where he concentrated on the single division in Iasi before moving on to Beltsy to prevent an enemy build up along the Romanian border. Allied bombers began a new set of attacks against Hata's Headquarters in Sevastopol.