Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gaming, Tarakan 1942

The title should probably read 'based on Tarakan', as we had to substitute certain units or models that we could not represent entirely accurately, also half the Japanese took the board half painted. Still over the course of about eight hours and a few dozen beer, this is what we ended up with.

The game began with the advance units of Japanese over-running the oil refinery, which led to the survivors fleeing back to the settlement to raise the alarm that the invaders were closer than reported.

The airfield defences were put in order and the Dutch air force began to make reconnaissance patrols around the refinery area. We didn't have the required Brewster Buffalo so the Bristol Bulldog did the honours as a stand-in.

This shows the Japanese RHQ reaching the edge of the refinery, which had already been cleared of oil workers and security forces by the leading elements of this force.

This pictures shows what became a massive part of the battle. The Dutch (me) attempted a small counter attack, with two platoons of armoured cars and a company of engineers to give the settlement defences more time to organise.

The Engineers ended up being attacked by Japanese aircraft the turn before the counter attack went in, so the AFVs ended up making the assault alone. The Dutch company you can see behind their trucks were deployed to cover the retreat of the AFVs but ended up being stuck here fighting it out for five turns.

This shows the western side of the settlement which was subjected to more or less constant air attack, and the Japanese forces in the background had cut the road leading to the harbour area so there was no assistance going to or from there.

Here the Japanese navy fires in support of the second assault wave to attack the harbour area.

This is the junction linking the harbour with the settlement. The Dutch enjoyed some small success here with one of the Japanese tank platoons being knocked out by anti-tank gun fire from extreme range, and the 'cover company' decimated the leading Japanese infantry with sustained and accurate small arms fire.

Meanwhile the Dutch coastal defence units were starting to buckle under the weight of further Japanese landing forces.

The Japanese naval landing units had a really hard time on this side of the harbour, with the Dutch gunners destroying several landing boats before they reached the shore.

This is about turn seven or eight, and the company deployed to cover the retreat of the earlier counter attack is still holding out, although now their line of retreat is blocked and their numbers have been reduced by half.

A small detachment of Dutch sent from the settlement area managed to open a gap in the Japanese lines for this unit to finally pull back from their precarious position into the safety of Tarakan.

However, it ended up being for nothing because once clear of their defensive positions their morale suffered just as they were about to escape, and the survivors surrendered to the Japanese.

This shows the lead Japanese companies forming up for a human wave assault on the outer defences of the settlement. They had cleared their side of the coastal artillery and began to put serious pressure on the Dutch.

Here the last of the port defences are over-run. They actually held out a lot longer than expected, but in the end changed nothing.

This is the beginning of the end for the Dutch. The airfield defences had not been as bothered as other areas initially but once the Japanese attacked here they did so in huge numbers, and the perimeter defenses were quickly over-run.

The airfield garrison fought desperately to hold this position as their air force was still flying ground attack sorties, but the Japanese were able to concentrate two reasonably undamaged battalions against them, and they had run out of mortar and infantry gun ammunition and were down to small arms as a result.

With the oil refinery, port and airfield more or less dealt with the Japanese could and did concentrate most of their forces to the taking of the Tarakan settlement. Three human wave assaults (Banzai Charges) finally cracked the Dutch perimeter on the western side and the Japanese easily had enough men left to exploit this.

Last one shows Japanese armour about to capture the Dutch commander. There was still quite a bit of house-to-house fighting going on but the Dutch could not concentrate enough of their remaining forces in one place to make much of a difference. In the end the Japanese captured all of their objectives in twelve turns, out of the fourteen they had to do this in. It was an excellent game to play, and would only have been different if we had had access to all the minor bits and pieces needed to make it really historically accurate, such as Dutch AFVs, aircraft, oh and another two battalions of Japanese infantry, not that they were needed!


  1. Excellent game report and the photos are very atmospheric. I've never used the rules you play but on a game this size how longs does each turn take? Good stuff!


  2. Thanks Ian, glad you liked it. For a game this size the turns usually start short, about ten minutes, and then gradually get longer as the games progresses, so about about thirty minutes by the time everything is in full swing. It would undoubtedly be a lot quicker if we did not drink beer and talk history while we're at it!


  3. Good game, I particularly like the wacky mix of kit

  4. Thanks, yeah some of the kit had to be used out of necessity, especially the Dutch stuff which is a bit obscure, lucky I'm not a purist.


  5. Great post Al, good to see the wargame did not interfare with the drinking...hic

  6. Yeah, drinking and gaming just seem to go together.