Saturday evening at Cold Wars 2015, I ran a Battleground scenario called “The Fight on Wilkes – 23 December 1941”.
The basic scenario description: On the morning of 23 Dec 1941, under cover of darkness, Japanese forces landed on Wilkes Island. Although the US Marines defending the island were spread thin and outnumbered, they were still able to mount a counterattack. “At this time,” states a Japanese report, “Wilkes Island was the scene of a fierce and desperate battle.” The Marines completely eliminated the Japanese landing force. Unfortunately, the Marines on Wilkes Island were forced to surrender when the rest of the Wake Island defenders capitulated later that same morning. (Adapted from a Jim Keats scenario from the Iron Ivan Games website)
|A view of the gun position looking south towards the landing beach|
|A view of the gun position looking from the west|
The Japanese set their three squads in defensive positions around the guns; not knowing the direction of the Marine
The Marine attack consisted of four elements: CPT Platt, two MMG teams, and a reinforced squad from the west; Battery L crewmen from the north; and Lieutenant McAlister and a squad
from the east.
|CPT Platt and others move through the jungle towards the Japanese position|
The Japanese Naval Landing Force didn’t have any heavy weapons but as it turned out, they didn’t need them. On the west side, CPT Platt, his MMGs, and the other Marine squad poured a lot of ineffective fire into the Japanese. The Japanese return fire was a little better. The Marines decided if fire wasn’t working, then a taste of clod steel might help. So out of the jungle they charged.
|Despite their superior marksmanship, the Marines take more casualties than the Japanese|
As the Marines charged toward one of the Japanese positions, the Japanese managed to blow up a 5” gun ammo bunker. The resulting explosion took out 3 Marines. Most of the remaining Marines were then cut down by a LMG – ending the Marine’s heroic charge.
|One Marine survived the charge against the Japanese LMG position|
|CPT Platt engages the Japanese Commander|
|The Japanese Commander defeats CPT Platt|
It was at this point, with around the loss of CPT Platt and 50% casualties, the Marine decided they didn’t have enough combat effectives to continue the attack. They fell back, leaving the Japanese in possession of the gun position.
Although the game ended early, all involved had a good time. And with the time change that night, getting to bed early was a bonus.