April 1942 Alternate Indian Ocean

0900 Hours, 1 January 1943, Ramree Island, Burma – The OS2U Kingfisher assigned to HMS Albatross glided to a landing off the north coast of Ramree Island and taxied to the small seaplane anchorage where Lieutenant General William Slim stepped off into a lighter that took him to shore. Slim was visiting Ramree Island to meet with the on scene Allied commanders to discuss upcoming operations.

Slim’s immediate concern was the mental state of the 14th Indian Division’s troops. Japanese spearheads were attempting to exploit a seem between the Indian troops pushing down the coast and the East African and Indian troops of the 11th East African Division at Akyab. If successful this would cut the 14th Indian Division off from the rest of XV Corps and operations the previous spring during the Japanese invasion of Burma showed that Allied troops had a tendency to panic when cut off.

What Slim needed the 14th Indian Division’s leaders to understand was that this was part of his plan. He wanted the Japanese to breakthrough to the coast south of Akyab. This would extend their lines and bring them within easy range of guns of the cruiser Georgis Averoff along with any other warships the fleet was willing to detach for shore bombardment. During the training Slim put his men through over the months of the rainy season he stressed that getting cutoff was not a reason to panic because it meant the enemy was overextended. His orders to the 14th Indian Division were to halt their attempts to move down the coast toward Ramree Island and instead dig in and hold in place while any Japanese advances toward the coast were dealt with. Slim was also hoping that if the Japanese thought they had an entire division cutoff and vulnerable then the Japanese troops dug to the south of the 14th Division’s positions might come out of their coconut log bunkers and dugouts and attack. Slim assured Major General Wilfred Lloyd that if this happened, his troops would be supplied by air and sea and his staff was already working with the RAF and the Eastern Fleet to make sure this happened.

Slim also discussed his plans for an amphibious landing with Lieutenant Colonel William Sanguinetti. He wanted No. 5 Commando moved by sea to the Burmese coast south of Ramree Island where they would attack the Japanese troops in the rear areas on the coast near Ramree Island. Recent reconnaissance missions by Riain’s Raiders indicated this sector was held by lightly armed second line formations. Once they began their assault, the 29th Infantry Brigade would attack the Japanese troops dug in on the coast opposite Ramree Island. The plan that was taking shape in Slim’s mind involved allowing the Japanese troops advancing on Akyab to overextend themselves and then defeat them and the troops dug in opposite Ramree Island and push them back across the Arakan Hills. It would not be easy or quick, but for the first time, Slim could envision a successful series of operations that impose a substantial defeat on the Japanese.

During his visit, Slim also inspected the growing Allied position on the northern tip of Ramree Island and was pleased to hear the airfield would be ready for basic fighter operations in another week. The effort begun by the Japanese and then continued by the initial wave of Allied assault troops was now under the expert control of the troops from the 808th Aviation Engineering Battalion’s company now on the island. Plans were already in place to detach Wildcats and Martlets from the carriers to the island as soon as possible. While ultimately RAF Hurricane squadrons would operate from Ramree Island, the Allied experiences on Guadalcanal and Christmas Island clearly demonstrated the rugged Wildcat/Martlet was the best Allied fighter for austere field operations.
 
You know, this TL has actually ran longer than WWII. Like, the actual physical war finished faster than this fictional written story... It's been 1942 for six years.
 
You know, this TL has actually ran longer than WWII. Like, the actual physical war finished faster than this fictional written story... It's been 1942 for six years.
Yes, and it didn't start until 5 Apr 42, so it has only been eight months of 1942. Still, it has been one hell of a trip.

Best wishes for your continued patience and good health Zheng He.
 

Driftless

Donor
You know, this TL has actually ran longer than WWII. Like, the actual physical war finished faster than this fictional written story... It's been 1942 for six years.
And the M*A*S*H TV series ran for eleven years, while the Korean War lasted 3+ years. Good art takes time to mature.... :biggrin:
 
Last edited:
1200 Hours, 1 January 1943, Colombo Harbor, Ceylon – New Year’s Day 1943 was not a holiday for the Eastern Fleet and by and large it passed without much notice by the busy crews of the warships and logistics ships tasked with keeping the Allied war effort in the theater supplied. Departing from Colombo were the oilers USS Brazos and USS Trinity, and the RFAs Pearleaf and British Sergeant along with six loaded freighters and the dredger ship Edward Jackson escorted by the corvettes HMS Erica and HMS Primula, sloops HMS Falmouth and HMIS Jumna and the merchant cruiser HMS Carthage. British Sergeant and Edward Jackson had their sailing delayed two days while the waited for the rest of the convoy. The American oilers were heading north to support Admiral Somerville’s task force while the RFAs were going to fill the expanding tank farms at Chittagong and Akyab. The convoy was scheduled to pickup additional escorts assembling at Trincomalee and would also have a PBY in attendance for most of its transit

Arriving at Diego Garcia was the merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi and the Free French aviso Savorgnan de Brazza and 11 freighters with five freighters dropping anchor in the atoll’s lagoon and the rest of the convoy turning east for Port C. The freighters unloading at Diego Garcia would sail independently for Ceylon and Australia once they were unloaded. At Trincomalee the empty RFA Athelstane escorted by the destroyer HMS Duncan and the sloop HMS Egret arrived after their mission supporting the Eastern Fleet’s carriers. The ships were due replenish and then join the convoy bound for the Arakan coming up from Colombo.
 

Driftless

Donor
Where is the dredger going? Akyab, Ramree, or elsewhere?

One of those often overlooked, but critical grunt workers
 
Last edited:
1600 Hours, 1 January 1943, Ramree Island, Burma – As Lieutenant General Slim was preparing to depart Ramree Island, the supply and reinforcement convoy from Chittagong arrived. The landing ship RFA Derwentdale and the assault transports MS Sobieski, and SS Duchess of Atholl escorted by the destroyers HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, and HMS Javelin, the cruiser HMS Ceres, and the Dutch destroyer HNLMS Karel Doorman dropped anchor and unloading operations commenced immediately. The other pressing issue was getting the men of No. 5 Commando loaded on transports for their upcoming mission. Fortunately, preparations were underway before Slim arrived and gave the final approval for the operation.

Since No. 5 Commando was a light formation, it was decided that fast warships were the best option, similar to how the unit was employed during the invasion of Madagascar in May 1942. The destroyers HMS Laforey and HMS Lightning, the minelayer HMS Manxman, and the destroyer transport USS Waters were selected to transport the assault force with a departure time set for 1800 hours on 2 January.
 
Last edited:
1600 Hours, 1 January 1943, Ramree Island, Burma – As Lieutenant General Slim was preparing to depart Ramree Island, the supply and reinforcement convoy from Chittagong arrived. The landing ship RFA Derwentdale and the assault transports MS Sobieski, and SS Duchess of Atholl escorted by the destroyers HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, and HMS Javelin, the cruiser HMS Ceres, and the Dutch destroyer HNLMS Karel Doorman dropped anchor and unloading operations commenced immediately. The other pressing issue was getting the men of No. 5 Commando loaded on transports for their upcoming mission. Fortunately, preparations were underway before Slim arrived and gave the final approval for the operation.
Since No. 5 Commando was a light formation, it was decided that fast warships were the best option, similar to how the unit was employed during the invasion of Madagascar in May 1942. The destroyers HMS Laforey and HMS Lightning, the minesweeper HMS Manxman, and the destroyer transport USS Waters were selected to transport the assault force with a departure time set for 1800 hours on 2 January.
HMS Manxman should be minelayer not minesweeper, slight difference in size/speed :)
 
As far as I know several warships managed to clear mines while moving at high speed. Now to be honest they cleared the water after they found the mines but you know semantics.
 

Viper91

Donor
It’s good to be back writing again. RL got difficult there for awhile.
Will you be doing anything covering the winding down of Guadalcanal? You really didn't do much recently, unless I missed a post or three.

I'm particularly surprised you haven't covered the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.


The Japanese lost two battleships, a heavy cruiser, 3 destroyers, and 11 transports.
 
Top