Into the Fire - the "Minor" nations of WW2 strike back

Should Chapter 40 stand?

  • Yes

    Votes: 14 51.9%
  • Yes, but with further changes

    Votes: 10 37.0%
  • No

    Votes: 3 11.1%

  • Total voters
    27
What did the Western Allies did with the captured Italian equipment? In most ATL's, they are given to the Greeks, but since in this one they are supplied with British equipment (with a bit of US-made in the mix), what's they destination? Rear units in Greek islands? Dutch East Indies? China?
Maybe the Australians and New Zealanders for local defence work come Pearl...? Maybe even India to push back against what I presume will be ITTL invasion by the Japanese as in the original?
 
Probably China for artillery and the rest to arm Greek/Yugoslav partisans or garrison units.
The reason why such question was that some Carcanos and Breda 30 lmg's end up in Dutch East Indies - it would be ironic if we see either Dutch or Aussie-operated Fiat tanks vs Type 95 Ha-Gos XD
 
I know it is months away in this timeline, but if the Pacific heats up as it did for real, will we get to see the Bob Semple tank actually go into action?
 
I know it is months away in this timeline, but if the Pacific heats up as it did for real, will we get to see the Bob Semple tank actually go into action?
I become death the destroyer of worlds.

Bob Semple after his tank sank the IJN Yamato

memed-io-output.jpeg
 
I know it is months away in this timeline, but if the Pacific heats up as it did for real, will we get to see the Bob Semple tank actually go into action?
On a more serious note, I hope Australia's tank program gets off the ground better and their domestic models get to see combat. Unlike New Zealand, THEIR wagons were actually pretty good.
 
On a more serious note, I hope Australia's tank program gets off the ground better and their domestic models get to see combat. Unlike New Zealand, THEIR wagons were actually pretty good.
I was being serious... Bob Semple Tanks suffered no losses during their time in service which, amusingly, makes them the greatest tank ever made
 
Chapter 38: Preparing the East (1941 – South-East Asia)
Chapter 38

January - December 1941

South-East Asia


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Ever since the cessation of hostilities during the Franco-Indochinese incident, the Allies had started reinforcing the Far East, and quickly. Catroux, in Saigon, knew that the Japanese had knocked once and would come knocking again. The Hanoi-Kunming railway was too important to be left open for the Japanese. In Downing Street, similar worries were raised. The Japanese were going to come for Indochina, but also Malaya, Singapore, the East Indies and Burma…

Thailand was one particular focus of the Allied command. With Pridi Banomyong at the helm, Thailand had taken a pro-Allied position, but internal politics prevented him from showing it too openly. The Japanese were already angered about Pridi’s refusal of letting them station troops and aircraft, and had begun a large propaganda campaign to discredit Pridi’s government in the face of its people: cutting deals with the colonialists was of course at the forefront…

Thus, Pridi had to toe a fine line. He wished for his country to go towards the West, but also knew that the political sensibilities prevented him from doing so. There were trade agreements, and covert promises. Notably, when Pridi flew to Calcutta for a meeting with Marshal Robert Brooke-Popham (C-in-C Far East), Britain promised Thailand its “full support in case of foreign aggression”. However, Pridi was unable to promise the British any transit rights as long as Thailand wasn’t at war.

There was, however, the understanding that if Thailand was invaded, Britain would rush to its defence. The secret Anglo-Thai agreement would also put the 14th Indian Division at the disposal of the Royal Thai Army in order to ward off the Japanese, though Brooke-Popham had little faith in being able to defend more than the northern quarter of Thailand. A similar agreement was reached with Catroux during a visit to Phnom Penh to discuss the defence of the Cambodian area, and the status of the Thai navy. Isolated in the Gulf of Thailand, it would have to rush through a Japanese blockade in order to reach Singapore, thus abandoning Thailand. Something that Pridi was more and more aware of as most sailors would likely not accept to run away from their country... Thankfully, under the leadership of Phraya Songsuradej, named commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army, most of Phibun’s loyalties had waned as he was sidelined from power and eventually sent to Japan.

In addition, while the Japanese now refused to send fighters to Thailand, the Americans were willing to send old Buffalos and P-39s to the Thais, who gracefully accepted. Churchill did offer Hurricanes, but once again, politically, accepting a colonialist aircraft was not something palatable for Pridi.

And in the meantime, the Allied strategy in the Far East took shape. With the reinforcement of the Hanoi-Haiphong railway and the creation of the Burma Road, aid rushed into China. Old Italian equipment, such as artillery, tankettes and even armoured vehicles, were sent to Burma and then to Yunnan, equipping a Chinese army that slowly started to resemble a fighting force, and would be able to secure the Allied rear in Southeast Asia.

On the British side, the calm in Africa and the absence of any upcoming operations before Spring 1942 made it possible to commit several Commonwealth divisions that had been otherwise planned for transfer in Europe. On the other hand, this increased military presence incensed the colonials, who hated the disruption and did not believe in the fact that Japan would invade. The entitled, racist and overall, very rich upper class thus was not afraid to voice their displeasure to London, as well as their very…opinionated remarks towards the Indian soldiers in the area. These Indian soldiers then voiced their protests to Delhi, who passed them on to London.

Churchill felt that Percival had not done enough, and needed someone on the ground that would be able to have a no-nonsense attitude and a defensive mind. Luckily, High Command had just the man. General Harold Alexander had led in France with great skill, and had experience in working with Commonwealth troops before (the 6th Australian being an example). He had a no-nonsense attitude when it came to military imperatives and had brilliantly led the BEF during its fighting retreat from France, being amongst the last to be evacuated at Dunkirk. Harold Alexander thus replaced Percival as GOC Malaya, while likewise, William Slim would replace Lt-General MacLeod as GOC Burma. The latter would have the task of defending Burma on the Salween, and potentially enter Thailand…

The air forces were similarly reinforced. While the British did not commit their Spitfires, the RAAF put their brand new P-40s in Malaya, reinforcing Sqn 21 and 453 with the American fighter, with the New Zealanders similarly putting their new P-39 squadrons on the line in the peninsula, along with bombing units on Bleinheim and Wirraway.

Indochina, for its part, was also reinforced. France knew that it could not hold the area, but it would still need to be defended, for political and strategic reasons. Thanks to British help, Indochina had been reinforced with several squadrons of old aircraft (D-520 recovered from England or Buffalo generously given by Belgium), as well as newer P-40s brought in by the carrier Dixmude. As for troops, France was reluctant to send any more: Indochina was likely to fall, since the Japanese were amassing considerable amount of forces across the border. And more men being poured into Indochina could very well compromise the future operations in Europe.

France could thus only reinforce the existing units with fresh men and Foreign Legion elements.. However, under U.S pressure, Mandel consented to the sending of a Foreign Legion battalion and an armoured group (65 tanks) in October 1941. This was followed by the reinforcement of the Indochinese troops with the 12th of the 191st DI, which had already fought in Libya. The 191st DI would then be sent to Indochina in its entirety in March 1942. France would thus defend Indochina to the best of its ability, and then retreat to the highlands if overrun in the plains, fixing its defence on two points: Luang Prabang and Dien-Bien-Phu.

The Americans for their part had come to similar conclusions. The Philippines could not be defended, except for Bataan and Corregidor. However, General McArthur disagreed. If he could find a force of 200,000 men and had proper air cover, he could hold the area. McArthur managed to convince his hierarchy one by one, and indeed, the plan had merit: but it would take time. It was estimated that the Philippines would only be ready to be properly defended by Spring 1942, but this hope was enough. With Manila Bay secured, this would mean that Cam Ranh and the Gulf of Thailand would stay open, and allow for much more strategical options. Unfortunately, none of these plans came to pass.

However, with the reinforced position in the Far East, it helped the Americans wake up. Reinforcements were sent to the Philippines, with additional armoured brigades and the raising of an extra two native (Filippino) infantry divisions. McArthur also called up on Filippino reserve divisions to “plug the gaps” that were gaping until the arrival of proper American divisions in the Philippines. Likewise, the Dutch East Indies were reinforced, notably, with B-25s and some A-24 Banshee, as well as with modern US equipment.

Finally, in the naval point of view, it was clear that the existing units would need to be reinforced. The British strengthened their Far Eastern fleet with two extra battleships and a battlecruiser, as well as two extra carriers: the Formidable and Indomitable, the latter of which would enter service in October 1941 [2]. The French, Australians, Americans, Dutch and British also formed a unified naval command, headquartered in Singapore, in order to oversee naval operations in the area against the Japanese. The main objective was the preservation of the Malay barrier, extending from Malaya to Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. Led by admiral Thomas Hart (USN), this unified command would be extended to the air forces (Air Marshal Richard Peirse, RAF) and ground forces (LtGen Hein ter Poorten, KNIL), with General Archibald Wavell in overall command.

Overall, the Allied forces in Southeast Asia were considered sizeable, but opinions diverged on whether it was enough. While the British thought their forces were sufficient to repel an invasion, the French and Americans did not share the same point of view. Everyone just had to wait till the fateful day came to face against the inevitable shock. And it came on December 7th, 1941.



[1] Percival sucks and he has to go. Because of the presence of more colonial troops and more disruption to the upper colonial class and complaints by the Commonwealth governments, he’s gone here.

[2] The Indomitable doesn't meet its rock and is thus ready for service early.
 
ITTL, are Yamato, Musashi and Shinano proceeding as per OTL or otherwise?

I honestly could see the IJN, in this timeline, going "Yeah... We'll finish Shinano as a super Battleship after all because we might need it"
 
Well its going to be trickier for the Japanese when they launch their attack. With this being a minor powers overperformance I could see the Phillipines putting up a stronger fight. Add in the French Naval forces and the the combined comand at the Malay Barrier might be able to put up a stronger fight til the Americans and British fully commit their naval forces in the region.

On the European front, keeping the toehold in Greece gives Churchill that front on the underbelly of Europe that he loved so much and means Stalin has less leg to stand on for complaining about the Allies not fighting hard enough against Europe. I imagine British and Commonwealth force will be focused in that area leaving an alt Overlord and Dragoon to the Americans and the bolstered French. Maybe the Belgians too. With all those extra troops gathered by the Western Allies that need to be reequiped that does mean there is less equipment that can be lendleased to the Soviets.
 
Does this mean that the worst tank we've never heard off will see action as well?

In all likelihood, it probably will.

ITTL, are Yamato, Musashi and Shinano proceeding as per OTL or otherwise?

That's going to depend a lot on the performance of the IJN ITTL. I expect the first two to be developed as OTL, but unsure on the last one.

Well its going to be trickier for the Japanese when they launch their attack.

Not only trickier but it means they're spreading their already reduced resources over a larger area.

On the European front, keeping the toehold in Greece gives Churchill that front on the underbelly of Europe that he loved so much and means Stalin has less leg to stand on for complaining about the Allies not fighting hard enough against Europe.

Not to mention Sicily coming up soon...

I imagine British and Commonwealth force will be focused in that area leaving an alt Overlord and Dragoon to the Americans and the bolstered French.

Political imperative means that British forces will be launched into France whatever happens. No way the British Empire won't be at the forefront of the fight when the Allies invade Germany!

With all those extra troops gathered by the Western Allies that need to be reequiped that does mean there is less equipment that can be lendleased to the Soviets.

Not to mention the fact that the Kirov railway is cut right now. Which honestly benefits Churchill and the Allied governments quite well: "well look at the Soviets, they can't get it, so might as well just give us the equipment so we can arm another Belgian or French Infantry Division, and we can reinforce Indochina and Malaya, and we can give these old planes to the Dutch...".
 
With a front in Greece, would the allies invade Italy or just build up for Overlord after Sicily?

Mussolini's government being shaky, the Allies would have the political and strategic imperative to invade Italy in the hope of provoking a collapse of both Italian forces in the Boot and in Greece.
 
Order of Battle, South-East Asia, December 7th 1941
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Order of Battle, South-East Asia

December 7th, 1941



Allies



Land Forces



Far East Command (CinC Marshal Robert Brooke-Popham)

Malaya Command (GOC Harold Alexander)


18th Infantry Division (Beckwith-Smith)

9th Indian Division (Barstow)

11th Indian Division (Murray-Lyon)

17th Indian Division (Lewis)

7th Australian Infantry Division (Vasey)

8th Australian Infantry Division (Bennett)

1st Australian Armoured Division (Northcott)

1st Malay Division (Simmons)

Strait Settlements Volunteer Force (Key)



Burma Command (GOC William Slim)

1st Burma Division (Scott)

6th Canadian Infantry Division, incomplete (Potts) [1]

8th Indian Division (Russell)



Hong Kong Garrison (Gen. Christopher Maltby)

Hong Kong Infantry Brigade (Rose)



Indochina Defence Force (Gen. Georges Catroux)

1st Indochina Division (Cazin)

2nd Indochina Division (Bourdeau)

3rd Indochina Division (Rendiger)

191st Infantry Division, incomplete (Sarrade) [2]

Indochinese Armoured Battalion (Touzet du Vigier) [3]

Kouang-Tcheou-Wan Defence Force (Eissautier)



Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Gen. Hein ter Poorten)

1st Division (Schilling)

2nd Division (Cox)

3rd Division (Ilgen)

North Sumatra Division (Gosenson)

Middle Sumatra Division (Overakker)

South Sumatra Division (Blogg)

Borneo Garrison (Mars)

Celebes Garrison (Schilmöller)

Moluccas Garrison (Kapitz)



Royal Thai Army Command (Gen. Phraya Songsuradej)

Phayap (Northern) Army (Gen. Charun Rattakun Seriroengrit)


2nd Infantry Division

3rd Infantry Division

4th Infantry Division

Cavalry Division



Burapha (Eastern) Army (Maj.Gen. Phin Choonhavan)

1st Infantry Division

7th Infantry Division

12th Infantry Division

37th Infantry Division



Isan (Southern) Army (Maj.Gen. Boonmark Tesabutr)


5th Infantry Division

38th Infantry Division [4]


United States Army Forces in the Far East (Gen. Douglas McArthur)

North Luzon Force (Gen. Jonathan Wainwright)


11th Infantry Division (PA) (Brougher)

21st Infantry Division (PA) (Capinpin)

31st Infantry Division (PA) (Bluemel)

71st Infantry Division (PA) (Selleck)

4th Marine Regiment (Howard)

Philippines Armoured Battalion (Pierce) [5]

Manila and Subic Bays Defence Force (Moore)



South Luzon Force (Gen. George M. Parker Jr.)

41st Infantry Division (PA) (Lim)

51st Infantry Division (PA) (Jones)

91st Infantry Division (PA) (Stevens)



Visayan-Mindanao Force (Gen. William F. Sharp)

61st Infantry Division (PA) (Chynoweth)

81st Infantry Division (PA) (Fort)

101st Infantry Division (PA) (Vachon)

102nd Infantry Division (PA) (Morse)







Naval Forces




Force “Z” (Adm. Tom Philips)

CV Formidable [6], Indomitable [7]

CVL Hermes [8]

BB Prince of Wales, Resolution, Revenge

BC Repulse

CA Dorsetshire, Devonshire, Exeter

CL Perth (RAN), Hobart (RAN), Sydney (RAN), Emerald, Enterprise, Mauritius

DD Arrow, Ashanti, Encounter, Eskimo, Express, Foxhound, Hotspur, Jersey, Jervis, Jupiter, Nubian, Paladin, Panther



Far East Fleet (Adm. Emile Lacroix)


CVL Dixmude [9]

CA Dupleix, Suffren

DD L’Agile, Le Fier, Léopard, Le Triomphant, Ouragan



Force “B” (Admiral William Tait)


BB Malaya, Ramillies, Rodney, Royal Sovereign

CA Canberra (RAN), Cornwall, Frobisher, Hawkins, Jacob van Heemskerck (RDN)

CL Caledon, Danae, Despatch

DD Active, Amazon, Ambuscade, Electra, Decoy, Diamond, Diana, Napier (RAN), Nestor (RAN), Norman (RAN), Vampire (RAN)

DE Atherstone, Cattistock, Garth, Holderness



Penang Naval Group (R.Adm. William Dovers, RAN)


CL Adelaide (RAN), Dragon

DD Sabre, Scout, Stronghold, Tenedos, Thanet, Thracian



Indo-Pacific Submarine Force (Cmdr. George Menzies)

SS Clyde, Grampus, Oberon, Olympus, Osiris, Otus, Otway, Proteus, Severn



Indochina Light Attack Force (Adm. Régis Bérenger)


CL Boise (USN) [10], Lamotte-Picquet

DD Bouclier, La Cordelière, La Flore, Milan



Indochina Submarine Force (Cmdr. Jean L’Herminier)


SS Agosta, Casabianca, La Bayadère, La Favorite, La Praya, Le Tonnant, Ouessant, Sidi-Ferruch



Royal Thai Navy Group (Adm. Sindh Kamalanavin)

CD Thonburi, Sri Ayudhya

DD Phra Ruang

TB Chandaburi, Chonburi, Chumpohn, Pattani, Phuket, Rayong, Songkla, Surasdra, Trad



Royal Thai Submarine Force (R.Adm. Phraya Wichanworajak)


SS Matachanu, Wirun, Sinsamut, Phlai Chumphon



Philippine Support Force (Adm. Thomas Hart)

CA Houston

CL Concord

SS Porpoise, Pike, Shark, Tarpon, Perch, Pickerel, Permit, Salmon, Seal, Skipjack, Snapper, Stingray, Sturgeon, Sargo, Saury, Spearfish, Sculpin, Sailfish, Swordfish, Seadragon, Sealion, Searaven, Seawolf, S-36, S-37, S-38, S-39, S-40, S-41



DesRon 29 (Lt.Cdr John Hourihan)


DD Paul-Jones



DesDiv 57 (Lt.Cdr E.M. Crouch)


DD Alden, Edsall, John D. Edwards, Whipple



DesDiv 58 (Lt.Cdr A.J. Miller)


CL Marblehead

DD Barker, Bulmer, Parrott, Stewart



DesDiv 59 (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Smith)


DD John D. Ford, Peary, Pillsbury, Pope



East Indies Force (R.Adm. Karel Doorman)


CL De Ruyter, Java, Sumatra, Tromp

DD Banckaert, Evertsen, Kortenaer, Piet Hein, Van Ghent, Van Nes, Witte de With



East Indies Submarine Force (Adm. Conrad Helfrich)


SS K-VII, K-VIII, K-IX, K-X, K-XI, K-XII, K-XIII, K-XIV, K-XV, K-XVI, K-XVII, K-XVIII, O-16, O-19, O-20



Air Forces

Burma


Sqn 5 RAF: Hurricane

Sqn 67 RAF: Spitfire V

Sqn 146 RAF: Hurricane

Sqn 1 BVAS [11]: Buffalo



Sqn 99 RAF: Wellington

Sqn 139 RAF: Hudson

Sqn 214 RAF: Wellington

Sqn 8 RAAF: Hudson



Dutch East Indies


VLG-4: P-36

VLG-5: Buffalo



VLG-1: B-10

VLG-2: B-10

VLG-3: B-10



Indochina


EC 40: D-520 & P-36

EC 42: P-40



EB 62: Baltimore

EACCS 52: Po.63-11 & Wirraway

EC 5: Loire 130

EF 29: Hudson



Malaya


Sqn 21 RAAF: P-40

Sqn 30 RAAF: Spitfire V

Sqn 453 RAAF: P-40

Sqn 488 RNZAF: P-39



Sqn 34 RAF: Blenheim

Sqn 36 RAF: Hurribomber

Sqn 60 RAF: Blenheim

Sqn 62 RAF: Blenheim

Sqn 1 RAAF: Hudson

Sqn 7 RAAF: B-24 [12]

Sqn 8 RAAF: B-24

Sqn 22 RAAF: Wirraway

Sqn 100 RAAF: Wirraway

Sqn 454 RAAF: Beaufighter

Sqn 458 RAAF: Beaufort





Philippines


24th PG: P-40

35th PG: P-40 & P-35 [13]



19th BG: B-17



Singapore


Sqn 27 RAF: Defiant

Sqn 132 RAAF: P-40



Sqn 14 RAF: Wellington

Sqn 97 Strait Settlements RAF: Manchester [14]

Sqn 223 RAF: Wellington

Sqn 248 RAF: Beaufighter

Sqn 253 RAF: Beaufighter

Sqn 415 RCAF: Beaufort

Sqn 489 RNZAF: Beaufort



Thailand

1st Wing: P-39

5th Wing: P-36 [15]



61st Wing: B-10

90th Wing: Ki-21







Japanese

Land Forces

Southern Expeditionary Army (Gen. Terauchi Hisaichi)

6th Army (Seiichi Kita) – Indochina


7th Infantry Division (Nobori)

21st Infantry Division (Tanaka)

23rd Infantry Division (Kanji)

1st Armoured Brigade (Yasuoka)



14th Army (Gen. Masaharu Homma) – Philippines


16th Infantry Division (Morioka)

48th Infantry Division (Tsuchihashi)



15th Army (Gen. Shojiro Iida) – Burma & Thailand


33rd Infantry Division (Sakurai)

41st Infantry Division (Tsunenori) [16]

55th Infantry Division (Hanaya)



16th Army (Gen. Hitoshi Imamura) – Dutch East Indies


2nd Infantry Division (Masao)

48th Infantry Division (Tsuchihashi) [17]



23rd Army (Gen. Takashi Sakai) – Hong Kong & Kwang-Cheou-Wan

38th Infantry Division (Sano)

104th Infantry Division (Hamamoto)



25th Army (Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita) – Thailand & Malaya


5th Infantry Division (Matsui)

18th Infantry Division (Mutaguchi)

56th Infantry Division (Watanabe)

Guards Infantry Division (Nishimura)




Naval Forces

2nd Fleet (Adm. Noboru Kondo) – South China Sea


CV Junyo (A5M4 “Claude”, D3A1 “Val” & B4Y1 “Jean”), Shoho (A5M4 “Claude” & B5N2 “Kate”), Zuiho (A5M4 “Claude” & B5N2 “Kate”)

BB Fuso, Haruna, Hyuga, Ise, Kongo, Yamashiro

CA Atago, Takao

DD Arare, Arashio, Asashio, Kagero, Kasumi, Michishio, Oshio, Shiranui, Tokitsukaze, Yukikaze



3rd Fleet (V.Adm. Ibo Takahashi) – Philippines


SC Chiyoda, Kamikawa Maru, Kamoi, Kimikawa Maru, Mizuho

CA Ashigara, Maya

CL Kuma, Naka

DD Asagumo, Asakaze, Harusame, Matsukaze, Minegumo, Murasame, Natsugumo, Samidare, Yamagumo, Yudachi



4th Fleet (R.Adm. Takeo Takagi) – Mindanao

CV Ryujo (A5M4 “Claude” & B5N2 “Kate”)

SC Chitose

CA Haguro, Myoko, Nachi

CL Jintsu, Nagara

DD Amatsukaze, Hatsukaze, Hayashio, Kuroshio, Natsushio, Oyashio, Shiokaze





Air Forces

Naval assets


23rd KS: A6M2 “Zero” - Formosa

21st KS: G4M1 “Betty” & G3M2 “Nell” – Formosa

22nd KS: G3M2 “Nell” – Paracels



IJAAF assets

Indochina, Thailand & Malaya


3rd HD: Ki-43

6th HD: Ki-43

10th HD: Ki-27

12th HD: Ki-27

7th HD: Ki-21, Ki-43 & Ki-48

9th HD: Ki-48

15th DH: Ki-15

83rd DH: Ki-51



Philippines


4th HD: Ki-27

4th HD: Ki-21, Ki-30 & Ki-48


[1] OTL “C” Force which was used to defend Hong Kong. With Thailand’s entry into the war, British high command felt like it needed an extra division there, and “C” force would thus form the 6th Canadian Division.

[2] Only two RTAs are available at the time of the Japanese invasion.

[3] On French M3 “Murat” light tanks and S-50 “Arcole” medium tanks. These ones were developed from the Somua S-35 and specially produced for the French in the United States. They first saw combat during the fights at Lamia in Autumn 1941 where they proved their effectiveness. The Arcoles would be developed into the S-70 “Rivoli” in 1942.

[4] All Thai units are well trained and disciplined but lack modern equipment.

[5] Combination of the 192nd Tank Battalion, 194th Tank Battalion and 199th Tank Battalion, equipped with M3s. These would form the basis of the future 21st Armored Division Typhoon.

[6] Sqn 810: 12 Swordfish, Sqn 829: 28 Martlet II, Sqn 1842: 2 Fulmar. Total: 42 aircraft.

[7] Sqn 800: 12 Sea Hurricanes, Sqn 801: 12 Albacore, Sqn 806: 12 Martlet II, Sqn 813: 4 Albacore, Sqn 880: 12 Sea Hurricanes. Total: 52 aircraft.

[8] Sqn 814: 12 Swordfish, Sqn 1841: 2 Fulmar. Total: 14 aircraft.

[9] AC6: 10 F4F Lynx, AC8: 10 SB2U Rochambeau, AC12: 10 TBD Balbuzard. Total: 30 aircraft.

[10] Arrived on December 1st from Manila to operate from Cam Ranh.

[11] Burma Volunteer Air Service. Formation created to hold the older aircraft on the Burmese front, mostly made up of Indian pilots from Bengal.

[12] These are brand-new B-24s, which the RAAF chose to deploy to the Malaya theatre due to the European theatre already being covered with the French, Yugoslav and Belgian bomber wings (not to mention the unofficial U.S wing…).

[13] As well as some P-26 “Peashooters”.

[14] Half of these aircraft are manned with Malay or Singaporean crews.

[15] And some P-35s and completely outdated BF2C Goshawk.

[16] In reserve, not available until January 1942.

[17] To be committed only once the Philippine Campaign was over.
 
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Just a thought, Wings - the Sea Hurricanes listed in your order of battle above... Are they MK1b and onwards as the Mk1a was the Hurricat and didn't normally return

Also, out of a personal curiosity, has 809 NAS formed as per OTL on the Fulmar?
 
1st - Will the Soviet Union was for some support from Mongolia, even if little - to also train then for possible use against Japan?
2nd - Does the American Volunteer Group (aka Flying Tigers) still formed
3rd - Since the French have Devastators, what else (alongeside other allies) acquired/made with US assistance?
4rd - Could the US Vice-President Henry Wallace ask for more military support from Latin America?
 
Resolution & Revenge are present in both Force 'Z' and Force 'B'.

Thanks for the heads up, they are in Force "Z" only now.

Just a thought, Wings - the Sea Hurricanes listed in your order of battle above... Are they MK1b and onwards as the Mk1a was the Hurricat and didn't normally return

Mk1B.

Also, out of a personal curiosity, has 809 NAS formed as per OTL on the Fulmar?

Yes, on the Victorious.

1st - Will the Soviet Union was for some support from Mongolia, even if little - to also train then for possible use against Japan?

Possible, but won't be relevant until late war.

2nd - Does the American Volunteer Group (aka Flying Tigers) still formed

Yes, the AVG is currently present at RAF Mingaladon for training but it's highly likely that it will be declared operational early and placed on the front. Where it actually ends up going is still up in the air.

3rd - Since the French have Devastators, what else (alongeside other allies) acquired/made with US assistance?

France is pretty much reliant on U.S army stocks so they've got a bunch of American equipment they use: P-40s, SBDs, TBDs, Catalinas, M3s etc...
Only their medium tanks and rifles are "technically" French-made.

4rd - Could the US Vice-President Henry Wallace ask for more military support from Latin America?

Not more than OTL but it remains to be seen if OTL nations contribute more.
 
Not more than OTL but it remains to be seen if OTL nations contribute more.
A small smile just came upon my face at the thought of a certain South American country's dreadnaughts getting their modernisation and steaming out for battle with scout cruisers and some destroyers for escort
 
Chapter 39: South-East Asian Campaign – Part I: First Blood (December 1941 – Indochina)
Chapter 39

South-East Asian Campaign

December 7th - December 20th, 1941


FGXvXT1.jpeg

In the early hours of December 7th, 1941, tragedy struck Hawaii as the conflict finally caught up with the United States of America. Suddenly, thousands of Americans were dead, and the conflict truly went global. The United States was now at war, and with it came Panama, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Cuba and the Philippines [1]. As president Franklin Roosevelt gave his “day that will live on in infamy” speech, it was said that many people cheered, watching from Algiers, London or Athens. However, half a world away, some were not cheering, far from it.

On December 8th, 1941, the Empire of Japan led a coordinated strike on Indochina, the Philippines, Malaya and Thailand.

In Indochina however, the Japanese encountered a first major setback. After the Franco-Japanese incident, Catroux knew that the Japanese could try something like that again. He thus ordered that the airfields be protected at all times, and had received the reinforcement of 3rd Squadron, Hell’s Angels, of the American Volunteer Group, operating from “Base 308” [2]. A large network of spotters also helped warn the airfields of the impending assault. As such, when the Japanese thought they would strike the airfields of northern Indochina with impunity, they would be faced with almost thirty fighters, French or American, modern or old! It was a carnage, as the IJA’s planes were caught completely unaware and ripped to shreds before they could reach their targets. Only the carrier strikes around Tourane had some effect [3], since the French did not think that a strike could come from there, and as such their CAPs were weak compared to the larger ones in north Indochina, not to mention the absence of a network of spotters. However, warned, the airfield at Hue had time to react and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese before being annihilated.

The sheer devastation of the attack at Tourane left the French no doubt: carriers were involved, and likely many! This led the French to believe that the next likely attack would come to Cam Ranh’s naval base, which was deserted of heavy units. These ones had been ordered to sortie a few hours earlier, to avoid being caught like the ones in Pearl Harbor. With this in mind, the French decided to ambush the force coming to bomb Cam Ranh, which was met with partial success. Although the Japanese were shocked by the volume of the reaction, the French aircraft paid a heavy toll for their attack, as the escort provided to the naval bombers was still strong. Their sacrifice did ensure minimal damage to the French naval installations and fuel reserves in port.

In the early afternoon, Japanese forces started to land south of Tourane. The choice made by the Japanese command was simple: the French were simply not expected to have stationed units there, the area had several airfields, and it would cut the Hanoi-Saigon Road, therefore severing Indochina in two.

Here too, they were duly disappointed. The Tunisians of the 12th RTA, stationed at Hue and Da Nang, fought back with ferocity. Well-trained and experienced after fighting the Italians in the desert, the 12th RTA held firm despite heavy aerial bombardment, alienating the Japanese, though the main objective had been reached: the airfields at Tourane had been knocked out, and fighters could now operate from these bases. Kondo's squadron thus turned south...

In the meantime, the Japanese also assaulted the fortifications on the border. Lang Son and Cao Bang were thus relentlessly struck, but did not break. The reinforcement of these fortifications, which had taken the whole year, had paid off. General Kita’s divisions found themselves breaking their teeth on these jagged rocks, with the air force incapable of harming the monsters of concrete.

The Japanese command was getting worried by this point. They thought that the French had only very small units in the area, and that Indochina would fall within a week. As it did not happen, more pressure was put on the naval and air forces to get things done. The transfer of a considerable number of Ki-43 and A6M1 "Zero" from Hainan and the Paracels to Tourane helped the Japanese stabilize their position. During the night of December 8th, a large raid struck the French at Saigon, critically taking out most of their Hudson naval reconnaissance aircraft.

For the French, the first few days had been encouraging, but they still had massive problems. The beachhead at Tourane was expanding, and imminent fall of the airfields would mean that the French air assets would get overwhelmed sooner or later, especially after the Tan-Son-Nhut raid. And there could be no question of receiving the reinforcement of the other AVG squadrons, since they had been routed to Moulmein to cover the Thais, which were in much more dire straits. In Saigon, local battalions had started to be formed from the local population and the Chinese, with the rice reserves being evacuated while the sea lanes were not completely under Japanese control.

Catroux thus had no choice. He needed to dig in and hope for air reinforcements from France, and quickly! In fact, his pleas had been heard, and French and British alike had planned a massive convoy for the Far East…but it would take time to reach there. At Lang Son and Cao Bang, pressure continued to mount on the French (mostly Foreign Legion units reinforced by local battalions). In both these cities, the French experienced the first banzai charges of the war, to their shock and horror.

The fights were grueling, but on December 13th, Cao Bang broke, the same day as the fall of the French concession of Kwang-Tcheou-Wan. Catroux ordered the remaining units to withdraw to Bac Can, the last real obstacle in the area before Hanoi. If this one fell, Lang Son would need to be evacuated as well. Luckily, there was more than a hundred kilometers of mountain roads between Cao Bang and Bac Can, and the Japanese were human. Hanoi was safe for the moment.

At sea, things were developing. French submarines had reported the presence of a large task force in the South China Sea, and there was mounting pressure on the navy to do something about it. Admiral Bérenger knew that he had no chance against three carriers, but these seemed to have been sent southwards after the fall of the Tourane airfields. In fact, the carriers had been sent southwards to support the Thailand landings and possibly save the Kota Bharu beachhead [4]. On December 12th, the French fleet sallied towards a convoy bringing in reinforcements to the beachhead, but it had sailed right to its doom.

In the night, Admiral Bérenger’s squadron had encountered Admiral Tanaka’s light attack force, led by the cruiser Jintsu. Like their comrades on land, the seamen were about to come face to face with a deadly asset: the Long Lance torpedo. In night combat, the Japanese seemed to be everywhere, and even Bérenger’s experience couldn’t help. The torpedoes executed almost every vessel of the Far East Fleet, including the American cruiser Boise. Out of the massacre, there were only two survivors: Bérenger’s flagship, the cruiser Lamotte-Picquet, and the destroyer Milan, which both dashed southwards to Singapore. However, it had all not been for naught. In the fighting, the destroyer Kuroshio was sunk, and the cruiser Jintsu was damaged. While limping back to Hainan, this one was intercepted and sunk by the submarine La Favorite, taking admiral Tanaka with it…

In Tourane, while the situation had turned to the advantage of the Japanese, progress had been slow. The 12th RTA had hunkered down in Hue, so the logical axis of attack for the IJA was now southwards towards Cam Ranh and Saigon. Something that the Imperial Army was fine with, until they realized that it would not be a triumphal march southward. At Quang Ngai, barely one hundred kilometres south, the Japanese trucks were ambushed by French armoured vehicles, who sent them running.

Thinking they were just facing a couple trucks with a mounted gun, the IJA sent their Ha-Go light tank, feeling that they would just brush aside any resistance. Unfortunately for them, the first tank to roll towards the town blew up…and the one in the back of the column too! Trapped, the rest of the light tanks of the column were completely annihilated one by one.

In the bushes, captain Pierre Billotte grinned. The veteran of Sedan and Stonne had managed to rally Algiers and had just done to the Japanese what he had done to the Germans back in May 1940. Except then he was in a clunky and heavy B1bis, and now he was in a much more manoeuvrable but no less deadly S-50 “Arcole”. The Japanese column was completely awestruck. Never in their wildest dreams had they thought that the French could bring armour to this fight.

With the Tourane airfields having fallen however, Cam Ranh was now too exposed. The French submarines were thus ordered to withdraw to Singapore once their patrol was over. Their submarine supply ship had in fact already left the place following the Japanese raid.

On December 18th, the Japanese launched a dual assault. One on Bac Can, which they had finally been able to reach, and one on Quang Ngai. In fact, while Bac Can held on, the Japanese managed to punch through Quang Ngai without any issues. General Touzet du Vigier had refused to risk his precious tanks under the threat of aircraft from Tourane, and had angled his resistance southwards, towards An Khe and Quy Nhon. Worse for him, he could not expect any support from the 3rd Indochinese Division, which was initially promised to him, but which now had to run towards the Cambodian border, as the situation in Thailand continued to degenerate. In fact, with the fighting at Bac Can, general Catroux also had no choice but to redeploy the 12th RTA from Hue northwards, leaving the Imperial City toothless against the Japanese, who seized it on December 20th, committing their usual exactions in the process.

However, everywhere else, the situation seemed to stabilize despite increasing air pressure. The Japanese effort in the north had been blunted and Lang Son continued to hold out. While the situation in the center of the country was poor, the Japanese still had yet to reach Cam Ranh, and Saigon was not yet threatened. Only the situation in Thailand gave cause to worry, with the imminent fall of the airfield at Don Mueang and the progression of Japanese soldiers towards Battambang and Siem Reap.

And on the Japanese side, things were infuriating. The Navy had been unrelenting in its shaming of the Army, which had failed to achieve even the most basic objectives against the colonialists, while they had annihilated three enemy fleets since then! The Army had collapsed, and even been defeated in Malaya! Only the Navy's valiant efforts, with carriers dashing in and out of the South China Sea, had managed to keep the Japanese offensive afloat. In fact, Admiral Kondo wished to prove that the Navy was superior to all by annihilating the threat of the pesky French armour stuck at An Khe and Quy Nhon, just like it had broken the Thais a few days earlier. He sallied his fleet towards Indochina with his carriers, reinforced by the seaplane task force which usually covered the Philippines, and struck French positions with his “Val” and “Kate”, claiming “twelve tanks destroyed and many more damaged”. In fact, the French reported two M3s destroyed and two M3s and one S-50 damaged but repairable. The effect of the bombardment was more crushing to morale than anything else, as it was done with barely any opposition from an air force too preoccupied to defend Saigon’s airfields and the Hanoi area.

However, such a move was still risky for Kondo. His ships had strayed southwards, right into the Allied submarine line. And in the evening hours of December 20th, as his fleet steamed off the Paracels, the inevitable happened.

An explosion shook the night sky, and as sailors looked on to see where it came from, they were struck with a horrid sight: the carrier Shoho, in flames, sinking to the bottom of the ocean along with 700 crew and 35 aircraft. The submarine Casabianca had claimed its first victim. And the Japanese were now left with one less carrier.



[1] Mexico joined the war in March of 1942.

[2] Now known as Dien-Bien-Phu.

[3] Tourane is today known as Da-Nang.

[4] Covered in the next update. Indochina taking time to fall means that the Japanese do not do well in Malaya at all.
 
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