Sunday 21 February 2021

Sen Toku part 2 - the horrors of haiku

 (report by Tim Gow, poetry by John B & Simon W)

On Wednesday we were joined by the Admiral who entertained us with a haiku – as it turned out the first of many.  Cultural wargaming eh?

Heroes sail to fate

Seeking honour and glory

Women weep salt tears

Once the Admiral had decided on a plan - to destroy the Pacific lock gate of the Pamama Canal – he recited another inspirational haiku.

Like lotus blossom

On a bright spring mountainside

We shall smite our foes

We then executed the mission.  The plan was to use all four subs, three each with 3 bomb-equipped seaplanes and the fourth packed with explosives and with a hangar full of 10 manned torpedoes.  Each also carried a 10-man Marine party.  I’d originally hoped to have another two players at this point for the ‘walk on’ parts of the captains of I-402 and I-404.  The Admiral asked for volunteers at which point several players remembered urgent appointments elsewhere.  Capt. Yamamoto and Cdr. Fujimori eventually agreed to take the roles.  Cdr Sugai decided to command his Marines in person and sailed aboard I-400.  Major  Takada joined hist manned torpedoes on I-404.  Needless to say the Admiral’s sealed orders included a further haiku.

We shall overwhelm him

The enemy who lurks offshore

Like a wrathful shark

The mission was then resolved by a combination of dice rolls and umpire invention.

When the target area was reached, three subs surfaced and prepared to fly off aircraft and launch the Marines in their little rubber boats.  I-404, known by now as the floating bomb, carried on submerged.  A combination of mechanical failure and navigational errors meant that only five of the nine seaplanes approached the target.  One succeeded in bombing and setting ablaze a ship in the lock.  Two seaplanes were lost to enemy fire while more mechanical and navigation issues meant that only one was hoisted back aboard.  While I-402 was thus engaged it was spotted and sunk by US aircraft.  The Marines were something of a mixed bag.  One party blundered around and got utterly lost.  A second ran into a US patrol and perished in a hail of .30 cal fire.  The third heard this exchange, ambushed the patrol and after causing further mayhem took to the hills.  The last survivor is confidently expected to surrender in about 1974.

And what of I-404?  Having crashed gently into the lock gate, the Marine party secured the immediate area while Capt. Yamamoto came ashore trailing wires behind him, triggered the demolition charges and……nothing happened!  The courageous Captain returned to the sub and detonated the charges in person.  The subsequent bang warped the lock gate but failed to destroy it.  At this point Major Takada remembered the manned torpedoes still aboard I-404 and heroically exploded them, finishing off the lock.

Both I-400 and I-401 made it safely back to Japan where, as well as medals all round there was the inevitable haiku from Adm Osami:

Noble Samurai

Like the dawn on Fuji San

Their honour is great

As with all such games it was made a memorable event by the enthusiasm of the players.  I will leave the last words to Capt. Kuroshima….

While friends shed their blood

I am with my geisha girl

Kuroshima smiles


Brad DeSantis said...

I love the combination of poetry and wargaming! Haiku was one of the lessons that my students used to love in my English classes. It was fun, easy, and very creative! Thank you for the flashback!

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Poetry: It brings history to life ;)

Pete. said...

Great game- I hope my sacrifice by exploding the torpedos goes unforgotten.



Tim Gow said...

Brad DeSantis
Happy to oblige! I suspect the players will be having flashbacks too!

Tim Gow said...

Perhaps it’ll become a regular feature of our games?

Tim Gow said...

I’m sure that Major Takada will long be spoken of in reverential terms.

Simon said...

I like to think that my Capt. Kuroshima persona is a Japanese Naval version of Harry Flashman.

Tim Gow said...

That certainly explains his lack of selfless courage or devotion to duty!

Simon said...

... and his fortuitous survival!!

Archduke Piccolo said...

'Victory goes not
To the brave or the clever,
but higher dice rolls.'

'Silent, still, waiting
The prey unaware above
"Torpedoes away!"'

I enjoyed the story!

Martin Rapier said...

Great stuff Tim. I shall salute the fallen and get on with writing my memoirs of a submarine commander.

Simon said...

I suspect that the book (and most likely film) of Kuroshima's "advntures" will be more popular!

Tim Gow said...

Archduke Piccolo
Just when I though I was safe from the danger of Haiku!

Tim Gow said...

Martin Rapier
I'm sure your memoirs will help the Emperor to final victory!

Funny Little Wars said...