First battle of the Campaign for Kokoda 1942. The battle represents Capitan Templeton’s attempt to hold his position at Oivi against the advancing forces of the Yokoyama Advance Force striking inland towards Kokoda.
The battle began with the Japanese deploying two companies from the 1st Battalion 144th Regiment, 12 inches in on the southern end of the battle field. One company was deployed to the left in open terrain and the second in heavy jungle to the right. Behind these forces was one 75mm Mountain gun from the 55th Artillery Regiment and two company mortars from 1st Battalion. The Japanese commander had a choice of troops which he chose to deploy his “A” formation troops these are 15 man sections with knee mortar support. The third company was held in reserve.
The Australians were placed on a map in defensive trenches to await the advance of the Japanese.
The second turn saw the Japanese advancing closer (moving quickly at 9”) when the Australians of No 1 & 2 sections open fire they only inflicted light casualties. By the third turn that situation had changed, the Japanese left flank was now in serious trouble through high casualty loss, forcing the Japanese players to commit their third company to the field.
Japanese Troops clear the jungle
By the forth turn the Japanese knee and company mortars had ranged in on the Australian trenches and were bringing down a rain of shells that continued to suppress the Australian and creating a great deal of work for the Australian officers who worked hard to keep the suppressed troops operational.
On the fifth turn the battle turned against the Australian positions, the first and second squads were at half strength and the Japanese 2nd company was now clearing the jungle putting real pressure on those positions through Banzai charges on the Australian left (Japanese right flank). Vicious hand to hand combat ensued.
By the sixth turn the Australian 1st and 2nd squads had began to break through casualty loss. They were now attempting to retire back to their rear positions that were being held by the troops of the Papuan infantry. On this turn the 2nd section had the worst luck of the day. They suffered a ferocious Banzai chare from close range, in their response to this charge, the sections Lewis gun jammed and all closing fire missed. They were cut down to one man, the LMG gunner who began to run for cover and was shot in the back by a Japanese snipper.
Despite this success, the Japanese could not press home their attacks and called a hold to the game. The Japanese announced that they would reform for another attack using the 3rd Company and would send their 2nd company to the right to outflank the Australian position to attack from the rear once in position.
Results of the battle
The Australian Captain Templeton did leave the battle field to look for his re-enforcements and unlike in real life did survive the battle. A big effect on the ability of the Australian to fight was their possession WW1 of Lewis guns in their LMG sections. These weapons are prone to jam and did so on a natural 10 roll – This is a house rules adopted to represent this weapons un-reliability in the field by 1942.
The Australian commanders weighed up their losses against conducting a hold action and decided that a withdrawal to Kokoda was a better option. As night feel the Australian forces withdrew in good order. The Japanese did not advance opting to regroup and reinforce.
Japanese Banzai charge goes home
Australian Platoons – 17 men, with the additional loss of 1 Lewis gun
Papuan Infantry 1 man
Japanese Infantry 1st Company 144th 1st Battalion – 97 men
Gunners 55th mountain Artillery - 3 men