AAR Battle for Pitoki July 30th 1942
Setting up the Action
Following the defeat of the Australian forces at Kokoda on the 29th July, the remaining Australian officers scramble to put together an effective fighting force, as they retire back down the track towards Deniki.
Midway along the track between Kokoda and Deniki is the village of Pitoki. Pitoki is seen by the retreating Australian commanders as a vital position from which an ambush action can be initiated with the aim of holding up the Japanese while give time to the assembling forces at Deniki to regroup.
A small section of militia is left at Pitoki along with the larger but under strength A company PIB to establish a defensive position with much hast. The pitoki ambush force is placed under the command of Captain Smith (Promoted from Lieutenant) Papuan Infantry Battalion - a tough ex Papuan constabulary officer.
Japanese Generals Cameron, Greg and George Consult before the game
Pitoki Ambush Force Orders are
1. Actively ambush any advancing Japanese forces that may be following the retreating battalion
2. Where possible effect a delaying action while avoiding heavy casualties
3. The force is to make use of favourable terrain where advancing Japanese troops can be funnelled and cannot circle quickly around flanks. This should be achieved by the defending forces digging in and prepare the positions as much as possible where time allows.
4. If the ambush force comes under significant pressure it is to withdraw to established positions at Deniki.
The Japanese wanting to keep pressure up on the retreating Australian forces and after some re-organisation at Kokoda on the 29th send forward the reinforced 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 144th under commander of 2nd Lieutenant Onogowa.
Japanese troops move along river towards Pitoki
At 7.00am on 30th July 1942 the Japanese forces approach a previously unknown village. Onogowa begins the assault by splitting his troops into three strike platoons, the first to assault the village, the second to skirt around the right flank of the village and the third to be held back in reserve. Attached to first company are the observers of a mortar section and a 75mm Mountain Howitzer section still located at Kokoda to give the force some fire support.
Battle field Conditions
The Australian forces have only been in positions for around 10 hours, most of that time at night. When the Japanese advance on the Pitoki at 7.00am the weather conditions are fine, there is no mist and no rain. However due to the Australian troops being tired and being hampered by night conditions they have only been able to establish shell scraps for protection.
The first two game turns see very little action as the Japanese advance towards the Australian positions and the village utilising the jungle cover along the creek beds that approach their objective.
On turn three from the Australian left flank a section of PIB troops opens fire causing only minor casualties to the approaching Japanese. A section of Japanese that is located directly in front of the to the Australian sections position that has fired and is hidden by jungle now bursts forth, the Papuans fail their gut check and are forced back in retreat as the Japanese charge. The rest of turn three is reasonable quite except for a worrying message received by 2nd Lieutenant Onogowa, that a flight of US P-39 Aircobra’s is conducting areal attacks on Kokoda attempting to take out his artillery and Mortar support.
In turn four the retreating Papuans come under heavier fire losing two casualties, the Japanese that were following them now retreat back into the jungle edge. To support their escape a second section of Papuans hidden in the native garden opens fire causing a few casualties and keeping the Japanese hidden. Meanwhile the other Japanese forces continue to advance attempting to locate other Australian force positions.
Turn five opens with the appearance of one P-39 from the Kokoda Strike mission. The cobra flies down the field from the base line of the Australian position only managing to spot a lone Japanese snipper. The pilot reasoning that a larger Japanese force must be near this man decided to drop his 500ld bomb. The result ….. Nothing the bomb clears the intended target and fails to detonate in the mud of the surrounding country. The Japanese hiding in the jungle hold their positions not firing at the aircraft through fear of drawing attention to themselves.
On turn six the cobra makes a second run this time spotting a group of infantry which is suppresses and takes out one machine gunner suppressing the heavy machine gun. One Japanese section sends forth two scouts to flush out the hidden Australians but as it is moving quickly fails to acquire any targets. Firing between the already exposed Papuan and on the Australian left flank continues but their fire is not enough to stop the fleeing Papuans from the first contact being reduced to now only 4 men who now rout.
Turn 7 sees the Air cobras last attack run, it takes out a few more Japanese including an artillery spotter and some of the flanking troops off board and then leaves. The Japanese scouts that were sent out on the last turn now come under extreme fire from ambushing Australian. The last Japanese observer calls for his 75mm support which causes three casualties and suppresses the Australian position.
The Australian commander seeing that his troops are once again in trouble calls for a withdrawal the next three turns are taken up by the Australians bugging out. On the last turn the flanking Japanese arrive, they capture a lone Papuan who is later tortured to death and the remaining Australian forces manage to flee of the board with assistance from their guides in the PIB taking jungle track back towards Deniki.
On the last turn 2nd Lieutenant Onogowa receives a message that the Air strike on Kokoda has taken out 4 mortar men and the mortar pits are destroyed, while the tubes were not damaged they wil not be serviceable for the rest of this day .
Japanese - A total of 40 men comprising:
55th Mountain Regt - 1 spotter
1/144th HMG Company- 2 gunners,
1/144th Mortar Company - 4 Mortar men
1/144th Battalion – 1 x Sniper
1st coy 1/144thRegiment – 32 men
Australian – A total of 24 men comprising:
A Company PIB – 2 Sections each of - 2 Australian NCO’s, 6 x Papuan’s (8)
C/D Composite Section - 6 Riflemen
C/D Composite Section - 6 Riflemen