The battle for Kokoda East saw a very tough close combat in this second part of the Kokoda game.
Japanese troops move through Native Gardens towards Kokoda Village
Elements of the Japanese 4th Company, 1st Battalion, 144th Regiment with support form the Mountain Howitzer 55th Mountain Regiment assaulted the east of Kokoda which was defended by weakened elements of the Australian B company 39th Battalion supported by elements of 39th Battalion HQ .
Kokoda East Map - Japanese start 15 inches to the east
from the escarpment - area in grey
The Japanese started the assault 15 inches from the entrenched Australian positions in dark and misty conditions. The first round resulted in a mixed effort by the Japanese forces, on the southern flank three charges got off and made contact with the Australian trenches early with the Australian as this point managing to hold out the chargers. While in the North the Japanese forces edged forward cautiously against Kokoda.
The second round saw the initial charges in the south break the entrenched positions with the added assistance of star shells and the beginning of the Japanese mortar fire hitting the village. Despite the initial positions becoming over whelmed the Australian position held as one by one their hidden troops began to level fore on the advancing Japanese.
The Japanese command seeing that their initial efforts although having some success were not progressing to plan deployed their heavy machine guns and opened a heavy breaking fire on the front lines.
Round three saw a change in the Japanese tactics. Their forces slowed down adopting a supporting fire advance rather than their previous charging assault tactics. The Australian command at this point realised that if they were to hold their current positions they would become cut off as advancing Japanese forces had become dangerously close to their southern escape route. Japanese supporting fire continued to harass the Australian lines.
Round four saw the beginning of the Australian withdrawal. In the south Australian troops were deployed to keep the escape route open against an advancing platoon of Japanese who were attempting to seal the Aussies fate. In the north the Japanese had gained a foot hold on the ridge but despite encouragement by their officers were failing to advance past the first line of habitation. However the Japanese had at this point managed to get one of their snipers in position on the edge of the village. A second sniper was also now in position in the centre of the Japanese advancing forces, seeing the emergence of the 2ic 39th Battalion Major Carrow took a snap shot killing him as he began his withdrawal.
Australian troops begin a backward retreat covering
their front forces withdrawal
Lt Colonel Owen C-in C 39th battalion now found himself in the middle of retreating Australian forces. He was busy attempting to restore troop order to the retreating militia men even fired off a pistol shot killing a closing Japanese soldier but was finding that panic was beginning to set in. the crew of the Australian HMG had been killed a section close to the HMG send off three troops to rescue the gun which was indeed saved by the end of the battle.
Round five and six saw the Australian retreat continue, sections began to rout, Lt Colonel Owen continued his attempts to order the troops he was spotted at the end of turn five by the positioned sniper and killed as he stood in the open issuing orders to his troops.
The Australians managed to get a few troops of the south end of the board by the end of the game, those troops joining up with the others retreating from the Kokoda West game heading for the safety of Deniki.
Japanese forces reach the escarpment and begin a charge up the hill
under the light of a star shell
The result o f the game was as follows:
Australians 56 soldiers killed, two left the field in panic away from the safety of Deniki opting to hide in the jungles of the Owen Stanley’s. Lt Colonel Owen and Major Callow, C-in-C and 2ic 39th battalion both killed.
The Japanese lost 95 soldiers in the attack including a platoon 2nd lieutenant who was the last member of his platoon standing on the north side of the village during the failed Japanese advance in the north.
Game factors – the Japanese suffered higher losses due to consistent failed attempts to get their troops to close with the Australian positions and a high failure rate of support weapons to find accusation on targets. The Australian troops started their retreat to late resulting in higher than expected losses
Game considerations – At the end of the game all players were in agreement that an over watch house rule would be trialed in the next game.
OVERWATCH RULE - Over watch is announced when a side has the chance to active. The rule means that the selected unit will adopt a wait and see position, indicating the area that they are watching at the time of the rule being activated. This unit will not participate in any other action but will instead take opportune fire at any enemy that either approaches or crosses their allocated target area before that enemy unit has the opportunity to conduct their normal turn