Sunday, 22 November 2020

Scenario and AAR Donbaik 1 Feb 1943


Battle of Donbaik, Arakan Peninsula, Burma, 1 February 1943

The History

The 14th Indian Division, began advancing south from the frontier between India and Burma, on 17 December 1942. It was commanded by Major General Wilfred Lloyd ,The Japanese defenders of the Arakan peninsula were of two battalions of the 213th Regiment of the 33rd Division commanded by commanded by Colonel Kosuke Miyawaki

Most of the Japanese occupied the port of Akyab, a single Japanese company were sent to block the narrow coastal plain between the sea and the foothills of the Mayu Range 1 mile north of Donbaik, They constructed well-concealed and mutually supporting bunkers protected by a chaung (a tidal creek) with steep banks 9 feet high. The 47th brigade of the 14th Indian Division attacked this line between 7 and 9 January 1943, but were repulsed.

"The next attempt to take the chaung was on 1 February. 55 Brigade, supported by eight Valentine tanks ('C' Squadron, 146 Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps) made heroic efforts but were unable to overwhelm the myriad machine-gun posts now dug in to the chaung. Despite heavy harassing fire from the artillery, the Japanese had clearly been able to reinforce and continue to fortify the chaung, and it is at this point that the notorious bunkers such as 'Sugar 5' (known for its arty target identifier - S5) begin to be mentioned"

This scenario focuses in the attack of the 55 brigade assisted by the tanks brought up with great difficulty from India. These form C squadron 146 RAC.

The Terrain


The Historical forces

Forces chosen from the Japanese Infantry Division (with Burma alterations from Battlegroup-Pacific War) and British Infantry Division list with my own alterations for 1943. The Battlegroup Pacific War suppliment uses infantry organised as fighting patrols - really an innovation brought into being in theatre during the extensive jungle training insisted on by General Bill Slim. In the Arakan in1943 a more regular infantry platoon organisation would be legitimate but I fancied trying the new organisation perhaps an innovative Indian Army colonel?  

"Sugar 5"  

The first army to reach their BR total. The British Indian forces can win an all objectives gained victory.  


The British Indian force start in the North Western corner on the only . Japanese forces are deployed in two mutually supporting strongpoints  along a branch of the chaung.  

Special rules 

 This is a planned attack the Royal Artillery have fired a mixed HE and Smoke barrage against the Japanese Positions therefore for the first two turn aimed fire may only be conducted at short range. At other ranges only suppressing fire may be used. 




British Indian Forces

A Company 17th Punjab  (Dogra) Regiment 
2 Infantry fighting patrols (Assault troops special rule) 
each with
1 Patrol HQ  
1 Tiger patrol
2 Rifle Sections
1 Bren section 3 LMG 
1 2" mortar team

In support 

1Medium mortar team with Bren Carrier
1 Vickers machine gun team

3 Valentine Tanks of C squadron 146th Royal Tank Regiment 
1 Carrier Patrol 

off table 

1 Timed 25 pounder barrage 
1 battery of 2x 25 pounder guns 
1 Pre Registered Target Point "Sugar 5"

552 points  30 BR

Imperial Japanese Forces 

Miyawaki Force from 213th Regiment 

Tatakai! +D6 BR
Wire Team

1 Infantry platoon - (Veterans, Assault troops special rule)
consisting of

1 Infantry Platoon HQ
3 Rifle Sections 
3 LMG teams
3 AT teams
1 Grenade Launcher battery
1 AT gun capture 2 pounder Antitank gun (in bunker)
1 AT rifle team 

Defences including

Well concealed 
1 Heavy machine Gun bunker 
1 Mortar pit 
2 Trenches 
1 Anti Tank Gun dugout + 2 pounder Anti Tank gun (captured) 
1 Command Bunker 
1 Mine field 

Off table 

2 75mmL21 mountain guns 
2 1st Priority requests (3+)

 542pts    26+ d6 BR

AAR  The Battle of Sugar 5 

This was an attack defence scenario so under the battlegroup rules the Japanese army deployed all of its defences from the list and all of it troops into those defences. They were deployed  to represent 2 mutually supporting strongpoints. The furthest toward the British Indian deployment zone had half the trenched and a MG bunker and the Artillery OP bunker placed in the jungle edge with good visibility but hopefully difficult to spot. The second strong point had the rest of the trenches and the mortar pit and an Antitank bunker. The mortar pit is tucked out of site beside the Chaung and the AT bunker with it;s captured 2 pounder AT gun again just within the Jungle but with good visibility. The final piece of the defences was a marked minefield 10" in front of the forward strongpoint. Positioned to force any attacker to move in front of the bunkers as they approach. The infantry were deployed to protect the bunkers I would rely on the excellent cover save that the hardened bunker would provide to keep the Machine gun and anti tank gun firing.  Most of the infantry are in the trenches but one rifle section in each strongpoint  along with the 50mm mortar battery and the antitank section (using lance mines for suicide attacks) where a mobile reserve. 
The Dogra regiment would lead there attack with the valuable tanks. The three Valentines historically all ditched on the  paddy field bunds and were not recovered. The paddies where difficult ground for the tanks and they made heavy going here but none where immobilised. Historically the humidity also jammed their BESA machine guns and they did get a breakdown chit later in the game. The tanks slipped and slid forward out of range of the AT bunker for now the Japanese defender held there fire and waited.  
The attackers brought a great weight of Mg and artillery fire against the first strongpoint of sugar five. The MG bunker was able to pin the attacking infantry but the tanks used there own machineguns to pin the supporting infantry. The constant barrage really limited what the defenders could do and a series orf disastrous communications role deprived the defenders of there own mountain guns. This allowed just enough freedom for the determined men of the 17th Punjab regiment to close and assault the position.
The battle ended in a series of hard fought close assaults in the jungle around the defences. A last minute drought in orders convinced the Japanese to call the Banzai! as it gains a d6 extra orders. However the Dogra's had sufficient support in place and the deadly fire of the Bren gun section broke the Japanese force just as the Bunker objective fell. 

The Valentine tanks of the 146th RAC begin there attack. The filed represent the rice paddies. The bunds between them provide cover to the infantry.

This initial defences at Sugar 5 The Machinegun bunker id well camouflages amongst the trees the Artillery observation bunker just behind. The barbwire marks the minefield.

Japanese Inantry in there hidden trenched. Behind in the trees the 50mm mortar battery

Another rifle group covers the flank from more hidden trenches

The artillary OP bunker with an officer 

The antitank bunker also hidden. Close by the reserve rifle group and behind in the trees the mortar position

The Dogra advance begins with the Tiger patrol moving through the thick cover beside the Chaung 

The Japanese send there reserves to counter the probe from the Dogra's tiger patrol. A tense firefight ensues in the thick jungles with both side struggling to spot the other. 

A carrier patrol advance across the top of the chaung to take cover and call in mortar fire aginst the Japanese bunkers.

The reserves from the second strong point move through marshy ground to support he first strongpoint 

Twenty five pounders of the Royal Artillery pound the registered target. Despite the cover of the bunker the relentless british bombardment killed one officer early on  and pinned infantry 

Dogras deploy from the Universal carriers to take cover 

The Dogra's begin their advance. Supported by the tanks machineguns. Behind the bund to the left a Vickers machinegun and the Bren section bring the Japanese under fire. Behind the platoon HQ are observing for the 3" mortar

The rest of the platoon emerge fro the jungle at the start line 

the 3" mortars arrive in their own carrier

The attack develops under a barrage mortars and 25 pounders
As the Valentine III  approaches the bunker the first attack with a lance mine. This one unsuccessful 

The Dogras fix bayonets and charge."Jwala Mata Ki Ja"  The knee mortar battery give a good account of themselves and fight to the last man.   

The counter attacking charge catches the Dogra platoon pinned down. But by now the pressure is building and a second charge by another section clears the infantry,

Banzai! The chit for Banzai is draw by the Japanese all the moral condition met. The commander ordered a general assault in a last ditch attempt to drive off the Dogra's 

The counter charge. The battle would be decided by these visceous hand to hand combats with bayonets and grenades 

The second platoon in support take cover behind the bund 

The Bren section cover the advance. The fierce Japanese banzai charge would run into these guns 

The antitank section take on the Valetine III despite attack by Anti Tank rifle and  mine lance the distaserous role aginst the side armour the powerful mine fails to penetrate the armour. The Valentine pases it's moral check to add insult to injury. The attacker is of course killed in the attack.
The final score for the British Indian forces with the bunkers firmly in the hands of the Dogra regiment

The Japanese total despite taking Tataki! for a fantaical defence the dice role only added one to the BR total 

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