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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

ViperhawkZ

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I, for one, cannot wait.
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 278

Sergeant Saigo hated his life, but at least he was not off on some Island digging trenches. Driving the lorry that carried mortar shells forward to the siege line was a damn sight better than than duty on the Islands where you were either bombed by British Carrier aircraft or shelled by American Battleships, whatever the Kempetai liked soldiers to think.

In this part of Malaya there were few locals hence why the convoy had only a light escorts. The Militias that had at first seriously fought against the Sino-Japanese Occupation forces were long gone now and the Kempetai had the cities and towns sown up tight. If not for the blistering ulcer at the tip of the peninsula. But that didn't bother him, his Division had been rotated out of siege duty two weeks ago and wouldn't go back for at least another four so it was far from likely he would see any combat.


The forward most lorry then rolled over the trigger line that removed the pins from two bundles of hand grenades and seven seconds later the peace and quiet of the Malayan countryside was shattered by an explosion that showered the first three vehicles with lethal fragments and detonated the fuel tank of one of them. Before Saigo could even process what was going on two machine guns, one on either side, started to fire into the convoy and the rearmost lorry was exploded by an IED that was flung by a member of the long-believed gone Malayan militia. The Convoy was in complete disarray by this time. The six lorries that still were in running order were boxed in by the burning wrecks while at the same time the weak Infantry escort was pinned down by the two machine guns. At the same time British sharpshooters began to pick off anything that moved while two mortars had now joined the fight and began to pick off the lorries.

Saigo jumped from the cabin and took cover behind the wheels of his lorry, his rifle at the ready. However in the total chaos there was no target for him to shoot, and he was a mediocre marksman at the best of times.

He still fumbled with the action and chambered a round, but by the time the long and unwieldy M-38 rifle was ready to fire he realized that the battle was over. The British militia had hit hard and fast, taking out more than half the lorries before melting away into the countryside.


Thirty-six miles away British regulars belonging to 25 Special Air Service Regiment and a patrol from the Special Boat Service were preparing a similar ambush on a better protected convoy. Being regular Special Forces operating out of Singapore instead of a remote jungle clearing they were far better equipped, not being forced to rely on home-made bombs to stop the convoy dead in it's tracks. That was a good thing because the convoy was escorted by what the British Army would class as 'death traps' at the best of times but what the Japanese Army listed as Light Tanks. Major Mallory was personally leading this one and had directed the PIAT gunnery team to concentrate on the back of the convoy while the Vickers MMG would hose the tankettes' paper-thin armour. Mallory himself was armed only with a Webley and a set of binoculars as his job was to make everything work and then extract his men with the least number of casualties possible.

He saw the convoy draw closer along the curvy road that just so allowed him to see them coming around a corner about a mile and a half away. The Militia and thus by extension the Special Air Service had contacts among the semi-voluntary local workforce the Japanese were using at a lot of their installations and so Mallory knew exactly what was awaiting him, and by the looks of it the information had been correct. Now the almost seven months he and Lieutenant Colonel Drake had used to set up this network were about to pay off in a big way. “Stand the men to.” he ordered.

Six yards away Sergeant John Edward 'Dusty' Miller, serving with Mallory since the two had gone through selection at Hereford, was waiting with the detonator. As the designated Engineer he had taken it upon himself to wire a little something special for the Japanese, taking less than ten minutes to bury several specially wired and placed charges. He prided himself with being probably the best Engineer the Regiment[1] had this side of Suez and he intended to live up to his reputation. The Japanese convoy drew closer at a considerable speed, the heavily laden lorries barely able to keep up with the Type 94s and stringing it out a bit by the time they drew up to where the British were hiding.

When Miller pressed the button a dozen medium-sized charges dug in on each side of the road exploded sequentially, showering the first half of the convoy with fragments as the explosions wandered along the road. One of the tankettes tried to evade towards the shrubberies at the side of the road and was torn to pieces when a charge of Composition B exploded underneath, another one was thrown into the air and fell onto a lorry. When the explosions subsided half the convoy was destroyed or on fire, making it easy to pick off the rest of the shattered and demoralized Japanese who hadn't expected anything like this.

As Miller surveyed his handywork, Mallory came walking up as he began to round up the men for immediate extraction.

“Miller, you are an incurable show-off!” he yelled with a grin on his face.

“Right you are, Sir!” came the reply from the Sergeant who merely smiled and picked up his things before placing them in his signature attaché case and preparing to move out.


Overall the peninsula where over eighty percent of the Special Forces Group Singapore operated convoys were attacked, Officers killed and generally targets of military value attacked, either by the SAS and SBS regulars or the British-Malayan Militia. The Malaya Volunteer Forces, then only classed as Militia, ambushed no less than seventeen different Sino-Japanese Convoys and installations, the Regulars being no less threatening on this first day of the offensive that would eventually lead to the liberation of Malaya and even farther into the future the establishment of the Malaya Volunteer Force as a regular Division of the British Army. Short term however the Japanese response was swift and brutal but as it had been and still was the case in China this did little to decrease the frequency of the attacks.

Japanese authorities were also quick to denounce the Special Forces and their Militia Allies as British hirelings and traitors to the cause of asiatic freedoms, but as was the case with the Japanese puppet regime in Burma the attempts at installing something similar here fell on deaf ears, mostly because then it was felt that the British were offering the better deal, once again the saying of “The evil British are oppressing us by giving us the vote!” went round the dwellings and minds of those that remained loyal to the Queen. Still, the Japanese response had the opposite effect of what was intended and by the time the siege was broken in Summer 1943 the countryside was seething with discontent and in effect all the pacification efforts of the occupation forces did was to keep a tenuous control on the larger cities and elsewhere pacify everything within range of their rifles.

Still, the Japanese had fought this sort of war before and were determined to react to it by the book they had written in Northern China, whereas at the same time the British Special Forces, while unaware of Operation Drumbeat knew that the offensive in the jungles could only mean that Air Vice Marshal Browning expected the siege to be broken sooner rather than later and morale, still relatively high, soared.


~**~~~**~​

The main base of the Japanese Combined Fleet was not, as originally envisioned, at Truk thanks to the relative proximity of the Commonwealth Carriers out of Australia but rather at Cavite Naval Base in the Phillipines where the central location allowed the fleet to strike wherever it was needed. Mainly for the last few months the fleet actions had been a series of indecisive clashes with the American Pacific Fleet where either side had been frustrating the efforts of the other to to inflict significant damage, in fact no ships larger than a Light Cruiser had been lost by either side for the entirety of the war since the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Ironically the current correlation of forces and the placements of the front meant that the Japanese couldn't force the Decisive Battle on either the Americans or the Commonwealth, the Americans still being concerned with rebuilding and just weakly contesting the waters in the central Pacific, more to keep the Japanese from probing towards Hawaii than anything else.

Against the British the problem was that to strike at their carrier Forces meant either to catch them in the tiny window that lay between the edge of air cover from New Guinea and the Mandates which was nigh on impossible given the speed with which Admiral Cunningham's fleet dashed in and out of the area, whereas the Allies could not force the Japanese into Battle without running the gauntlet of Japanese shore-based air even more than they had to already. The Commonwealth Carriers were far too valuable for that, and anyway the Allied Grand Strategy required other moves that the Japanese weren't aware of yet.[3]

Still, the Japanese were determined to force either of their foes into open battle. For that reason Admiral Yamamoto had been closely following the development of the Malayan front in particular. He had correctly deduced that if a credible threat against Singapore could be made the British would be forced to respond, with luck they would even send their Carriers.


This was why Isoroku Yamamoto was travelling to Malaya in person. There was no reason to believe that the Allies or the Americans had cracked the Japanese Naval and Army codes,[4] but as a Navy man Yamamoto did not trust the Army an inch, so he had decided that since the Combined Fleet was currently at base and no new sortie was planned for another month he could be spared. Morale among the Naval establishments in the area was low after months and months of constant losses and nothing to show for it except a few Allied Submarines and freighters from their convoy runs. The Japanese Light Forces also suffered from a shortage of skilled personnel as most of the best men ended up in the Combined Fleet, especially now that the Shinano had joined the Fleet. The ship was something of an anomaly within the Japanese Navy, she had been designed to accompany the Yamato-Class Dreadnoughts, originally being envisioned as the Third one, but since the balance of the Battleline was kept in reserve in the Home Islands she had instead been sent to the Combined Fleet.


Yamamoto had objected to this, he saw little use for a ship this large when plenty of other Carrier decks that could manoeuvre faster were available and the Japanese air training scheme could barely keep up with the crew losses such as they were, never mind that if fully loaded the damn thing was too slow to launch planes without a headwind. However cutting a Carrier would have meant yielding scant influence and resources to the Army and that just had to be avoided.


Japan's newest Carrier and the biggest Carrier of the war


The Cruiser Yamamoto was travelling on would soon reach the man Thai Naval Base at Sattahip and there he would disembark, taking a Naval Transport Aircraft to General Kuribayashi.


Half a mile away the Dutch Submarine O-19 was cruising along at periscope depth. They had been following the Japanese cruiser for the last three hours and now the firing solution was laid in.

“FIRE!”

+-+-+-+-

Comments, questions, rotten tomatoes?

Movement in Europe has stopped for the year as both sides need some serious rebuilding.

[1] The SAS is still known as 'The Regiment' and 'Them' even though Officially it's the Special Air Service Brigade by now.

[2] Captain.

[3]


[4] They have, just for your interest.
 

El Pip

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Presumably the 'bumping off Yamamato event has just fired then? Also the Shinano is a bit early, I can only assume she'll be even worse than she was in OTL, and she was pretty bad then.

Dusty Milller was epic though, and I'm glad to see he's kept his attaché case full of explosive death and tricks for showing off with. He just wouldn't be the same without that! :D
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Unlucky Yamamoto... he must have remained in Tokio... A pity that the Taiho -because, as said, it's too soon for the Shinano- goes down so soon, but... c'est la guerre...
 

trekaddict

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El Pip I just noticed when looking through the savegame in Textpad that Yamamoto had died on that date, so I took some liberties.

ITTL the Shinano is the product of the reduced position of the IJN. When the Army defeated Japan they of course had an unassailable position of power, with the obvious consequences for the Naval building programmes. As a result the third and fourth Yamato were cancelled and as the third one was already started she was converted into a carrier. The result of this is that she is different from OTL. While she does have watertight doors and a slightly bigger airgroup, her speed is reduced because fewer boilers were available, hence Yamamoto's disdane for her speed.

Dusty Miller was inevitable from the moment I decided to bring Mallory into this. I maintain that Guns of Navarone is the better film, but both he and Mallory are IMO truer to how we would see them in Force 10, case and so on included.

Kurt_Steiner See above. Ironically the correlation of Forces in the field and the make up of domestic politics leads to the Navy having to make do and somewhat less wastage. No Hybrid Carriers for example. Lacking Midway and the emergency programme this allowed the Japanese Navy to throw all it had at the Shinano, and as a result the Taiho Class will see service slightly later, as will several Army and Navy Paper projects from OTL. More on that later though. Basically it all boils down to no post-midway desperation = more sensible building = no converted Ocean Liners = real CVs seeing service earlier.
 

ViperhawkZ

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Sneaky, sneaky SAS! It's always the scenes of a valiant defense against an overwhelming foe that I like. One of the reasons Fortress Warsaw was one of my favorite parts of this AAR.

Well done, keep it up, etc.
 

trekaddict

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Same here actually. I was always a fan of 'subtle' warfare, and that's something Them have always been good at.
 

trekaddict

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Just wanted to let you know I decided to nominate you Trek for the WritAAR of the Week award.

Congrats man ;) Your AAR is still awesome :)
*blushes* Why thank you, dear Sir!
 

unmerged(241632)

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Same here actually. I was always a fan of 'subtle' warfare, and that's something Them have always been good at.
the part that really sucks for the enemy is the british seem to readily spawn all sorts of these merry little bands of special forces types and as if that isn't enough they also have the ability to give you a terminal case of ghurkas.
 

ViperhawkZ

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Gurkha Paratroopers, even. Yeesh, talk about your overkill.
 

stevep

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the part that really sucks for the enemy is the british seem to readily spawn all sorts of these merry little bands of special forces types and as if that isn't enough they also have the ability to give you a terminal case of ghurkas.
Ehran

That's a classic.:D:D

All too true but unfortunately with all the defence cuts and government cock-ups I'm not sure how much longer we with have our allies from Nepal.:(

Steve
 

trekaddict

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Not in my Universe. Not only does Britain 'encourage' reform in the Kingdom of Nepal, what the Ghurkas have done so far and will do in the future will endear them so much to the public that especially in the Far East cutting the Regiments will be difficult at best. :D
 

trekaddict

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Ironic and improper as this may sound given the circumstances and the subject of this piece, we would all do well to remember those that died in the earthquake yesterday, on the 11th.


Chapter 279

The 2nd Battle for Rangoon was to be very different from the last one. While there was rough parity in terms of overall numbers the Allies had an ace up their sleeves in the form of the 12th Indian Armoured Division and the fact that two battalions worth of veterans had been pulled out of the Indian Divisions in Europe and been fed into the units here. The merit of this action was controversial, as acclimatization and that the Japanese weren't even half as well equipped as an average German or even Soviet unit of comparable form and size made a lot of their experience useless.

However the presence of the 12th Division was seen as a game breaker for the Japanese. Three Independent Japanese Tank brigades and one Chinese Tank Brigade were there to counter the presence of the 12th which was something the Indians were looking forward to. They had been given their share of veterans, but the Division as a unit had yet to see action.


This was to change soon. The Monsoon season had already all but shut down the front, but General O'Conner and the 14th Army were determined to retake Rangoon before the window set by Field Marshal Auckinleck for operations in 1942 closed, not only because the harbour installations would make the resupply of the Allied Forces easier but also because citizens of the Empire were suffering under a Japanese Occupation Force that thanks to British Light and other Naval Forces found it increasingly hard to feed itself, let alone enemy civilians in the largest city of the region.

The situation of the Asiatic Pact troops in Rangoon was not a good one. Cut off from supply over the sea only the roads into Siam remained, and these were under constant attack by British partisans. Up in the north of Burman the remnants of the 12th and 42nd Route Armies were defending the approaches to the Burma road, even though General Ida, commander of the Japanese Forces suspected that this direction of withdrawal was not so much military necessity as an effort to keep out of reach of the so-called Free China Army while the Chinese Government tried to figure out what to do about this unit. Ida could for the live of him not see why any proud asiuan man willingly fought for the British, but that was none of his concern. The Free China Army was at this point little more than a single Infantry Division and a few Air Squadrons, but if the rumours (unknown to the general originating from British Leaflets and at least partially correct) were true then the British were busy recruiting more from the remnants of the units the 12th and 42nd had lost, and considering that both of them where somewhere near 60% strength, so that meant a lot of units.




General O'Connor was spending most of the 20th September in his forward command post, determined to move it into Rangoon before the month was out. He had four Divisions at his disposal of which two, the 14th Australian and the 26th Indian would be sent straight into the city, while the 12th Armoured, supported by the 82nd West African would circle around to the north, force their way across the river and cut the unfinished Burma Railroad and generally force the Japanese main Army to either withdraw into Siam by whatever means possible or retreat towards the Burma Road that was likely not going to survive long if that was the case. Either way, he would push the Japanese from Burma and prepare for an possible future attack into Siam itself. Possible and future because the Japanese and Chinese were likely to start feeding units into Siam and French Indochina if the forces in Burma failed to hold on. What would likely help to defeat any new attacks into Burma was that there were only so many roads in the area that could be used, and unlike last time the Allies had considerable air assets in the area.

However, both sides plans, such as they were, went completely astray the second the first Australian and British-Indian troops nosed their way into the outer western edges of Rangoon on the 21st.

The Japanese had the best part of four Divisions in the city itself, all of them Infantry with a detached Tank Regiment supporting them, and the Allies had failed to anticipate this. General O'Connor had decided to ignore reports to the effect that the Japanese Garrison was 'large and well-motivated' as they had not been confirmed by either SigInt or other sources in time to affect his planning, and any way, he was banking most on the encircling move to the north.


Sergeant Ranjid Sing was not looking forward to going into the city, the front in North Africa and later Italy had cured him of any remaining notion of glorious war, but like most of the other Veterans he had seen enough of the Fascists and Nazis to come to the conclusion that the British were offering an infinitely better deal, something that the Indian Army had set out to teach the Japanese the hard way. It seemed like far more than a mere two years since he had left the academy and a father who was probably still insisting that his son was acting above his station and would never bring it to anything.

At least the lads around him were accepting him for the uniform he wore and not who and what his father was. The Stens the company had been issued with in lieu of their rifles for the expected urban combat came out of a factory near his hometown, so it was more than likely one of his brothers had operated the machine that had stamped out the metal parts. The Captain was seconded from the British Army in India after being wounded at the North-West Frontier and..

“Lieutenant?” Ranjid said as he saw the man in question walk up to him through the knots of men that were strewn about along the road, waiting for the orders to attack. The new and fresh nature of the Division were indicated by the fact that Ranjid was the most senior NCO with two years of active service under his belt, but the combat experience he'd had against Italians, Germans and Soviets still but him leagues ahead of the men now expected to fight the Japanese. The Division was a hodgepodge unit if there ever was one, it seemed as if every major religion and ethnic group of the country was represented with a Regiment of its own, but so far everything seemed to work. Who was it that had said that nothing welded ethnicities and religions together like a common foe and fighting this foe side by side?

He shook his head and instead listened to what Captain William Lawford was saying.

Minutes later they were marching down the road past Cromwells and a few precious few Comets[1] that had their barrels aimed down the roads towards the first few houses, ready to support the Infantry if needed. Luckily the point of insertion the gods of war had graced C Company, 1st Battalion, The Bombay Infantry Regiment was one where the houses were only yards from the edge of the fields that surrounded the city, giving them good cover as they fanned out and began to crouch towards the houses. Sure enough, almost immediately after going to the ground Ranjid could hear the woodpecker sound of the Japanese machine guns and the popping sound of their rifles. As if this was not bad enough, the whine of incoming mortar rounds added to his misery, and within minute the advance stopped as the Company was taking cover in a drainage ditch at the edge of the field.


The tanks came down the road and began to fan out, taking pot shots at the houses where the Machine guns were shooting. Then the Japanese upped the ante by unmasking a battery's worth of Type 1 Anti-tank guns that began to fire at the tanks, but both the Cromwells and the Comets shrugged off the 47mm projectiles with ease. While the guns and the Tanks battled it out, the Infantry charged. Ranjid rose with the rest of them and charged the line of houses, grenades in hand and bullets whistling past his body. He used his teeth to remove the pin and lobbed it into a window that had a machine gun poking out. Japanese voices yelled in alarm seconds before the fuse ran out and the room was reduced to splinter of wood and mangled flesh.

Ranjid grinned in satisfaction at that and also because the remainder of the Platoon had closed up to him and soon the Lieutenant detailed the Squads that would begin to clear the houses on this side of the road. Ranjid gathered up his Squad and the battle for Rangoon began proper.


A Squad of the same Regiment a week before the battle. Note the SMLEs still issued to the BIA.

As the Sergeant he was the first one in. Procedure was normally to kick in the door, followed by grenades and then storming the room but friendly civilians were about, so they had been ordered to 'be careful'. So instead it was kicking in the door, taking cover, waiting for any eventual Japanese to react and then, if there were any, to let rip with the grenades. Here there were Japanese but the main room was too large for grenades. So when the explosions of six of them subsided, Ranjid peered around the edge and pulled his head back as bullets slammed into the wall.

“Whose turn is it?”

The men in question rose and ran into the room, firing from the hip as they went. The room was a long-ish storage room, actually part of what had once been a factory producing rubber next door, and the men leap-frogged past damaged, wrecked and abandoned machinery towards the back where a dozen Japanese soldiers were firing their rifles as fast as they would go. However the length of their rifles and the fact that the British troops were using Stens led to a massive disparity in fire power that favoured the side using automatics.


It still took them almost half an hour to fight their way across a hall no longer than half a football[2] field and it ended with Ranjid gut-shooting a Japanese Lieutenant who was about to try to use his Katana on him.

The Battle was not developing as expected. That the Japanese were fighting tooth and nail for every inch of ground was nothing unexpected, but the Forces in the Far East had not yet seen anything on this scale, and unlike at Klagenfurt masses of friendly civilians prevented the large scale application of Artillery fire that had solved similar battles in Europe, so the city had to be cleared quarter by quarter, street by street, block by block, house by house, room by room. The Allied Forces in the Far East were learning urban combat as fast as their European counterparts. Losses were heavy and not only on the military side...




+-+-+-+-+-

Comments, questions, rotten tomatoes?

To be perfectly honest, the Battle of Rangoon was a snapshot decision I made while on a walk out one day. I had originally figured to have the Japanese pull out as per OTL, but realized that with the better part of four Divisions in the city this would be rather stupid, considering how the Japanese acted IOTL when significant forces were surrounded and/or cut off. Besides, this all is supposed to feed into what I have already firmly planned out and sometimes even established as Allied and British Grand Strategy and tactical deployments later and also much later in the war. Suffice it to say, the TTL Battle for South-East Asia will be considerably harder than the OTL one.

As for O'Connor, public perception of him outside of those more well informed than most people is that he was one of the great unknowns of the war. Most people don't even know that he, once out of captivity actually commanded forces in Western Europe, and merely regard him as the man who could have wrapped up North Africa earlier. It's hard to figure out how he would have fared in a position where he was supreme commander, and I think I went for an acceptable middle road here, even though I am probably still doing the man a massive disservice.

Anyway, the Battle of Manila is inspiring the Battle of Rangoon.

[1] Here acting as commander's vehicles.

[2] Proper, European footie of course.
 

ViperhawkZ

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You know what I just realized that this AAR needs? Kukri vs Katana melee fights! Good update etc.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Couldn't you just siege the city by all means possible?
 

stevep

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Couldn't you just siege the city by all means possible?
Kurt

Not really. As Trek says it is technically an allied city and already suffering privation. Trying to starve the Japanese garrision out will mean a lot of civilian deaths. Even more than a bloody fire-fight through the city.

Also Rangoon is the port that effectively controls access to Burma, at least by sea. Without it in imperial hands it's much more difficult to liberate the rest of Burma and then gather the resources and supplies to attack further on.

Steve
 

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Ironic and improper as this may sound given the circumstances and the subject of this piece, we would all do well to remember those that died in the earthquake yesterday, on the 11th.

Very true. I just hope it's not 3rd time even more unlucky as following on from the Canterbury quake the ring of fire is being definitely unpleasant this year.:(


As for O'Connor, public perception of him outside of those more well informed than most people is that he was one of the great unknowns of the war. Most people don't even know that he, once out of captivity actually commanded forces in Western Europe, and merely regard him as the man who could have wrapped up North Africa earlier. It's hard to figure out how he would have fared in a position where he was supreme commander, and I think I went for an acceptable middle road here, even though I am probably still doing the man a massive disservice.
It might be that OTL he got too out of touch with developments due to the long captivity. However from what little I know of it his performance in NW Europe in 44-45 seems to have been fairly ordinary. Possibly it was just a matter of circumstances as the relatively small forces and rapid movement in N Africa suited his character.

Anyway, the Battle of Manila is inspiring the Battle of Rangoon.
Ugh! This is going to be very ugly then. Hope a lot of the civvies can get out and we don't lose too many forces. Should still have a good firepower edge, it's just how often we can use it.

[2] Proper, European footie of course.
Is there any other kind? [I don't know why a certain country is so insistent that feet are the things they have on the ends of their arms.:p]

Steve