(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. Majot 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:
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