Saturday, 11 June 2016

2nd September - Attack on the Chu-Kuan Fort

Battle Report 2 of 2!  After weeks of patient sapping and tunneling, at 3AM on the 2nd September, the Japanese detonate a huge mine underneath Chu-Kuan Fortress, garrisoned by the Port Arthur Frontier Corps.  Before the dust and soil has settled, a ferocious banzai erupts from the trenches and an entire Japanese division rises up to assault the shattered defenders.

This picture shows the start of the battle, as well as the overall Japanese plan.  The intention is to overrun the Chu-Kuan fort quickly, before rolling on to Bai-Yan in a simultaneous attack with 22nd Brigade, before continuing on to roll up the line. 

This is the scene ten minutes in.  Things start to unravel straight away for the attackers - the Chu-Kuan Fort's defenders run almost immediately and it falls into Japanese hands, but then the attacking column from the 19th Regiment comes under fire from three directions.  18th Brigade switches its assault to Chi-Nuan on its right, rather than the next fort along to the left as planned.

The 19th retreat in total chaos, having lost a full stand in one turn (ouch!), but their support, thr 35th Regiment, press on with the attack.  They try a different formation, using two successive demi-regimental lines which protects against the worst of the Maxim fire.

The 35th get very close to the 27th East Siberian Rifles garrisoning Chi-Nuan, but not enough to launch an assault.

Meanwhile, you can see here 22nd Brigade are poised to launch their attack on Bai-Yan as planned and the whirlwind of Japanese artillery fire briefly drives one of the regiments back from the defences.

As 18th Brigade's attack pulls back, you can see here the commanding position on the crossroads taken up by the Russian Maxim guns.  The searchlights from the nearby forts allow for a commanding field of fire.

They quickly make themselves a target for the Japanese artillery and are driven off in short order - fleeing right past their divisional commander!

The situation on the Japanese right, shortly after the first assault on Chi-Nuan is called off.

Here, the commander of 18th Brigade sends a message to Tsuchiya requesting support for this attack.  Tsuchiya realises the original plan is now impractical, and instead diverts all resources to Chi-Nuan.

The situation just before the start of the second attack.  22nd Brigade redirect their forces towards Chu-Kuan, and supported by the 18th Brigade reserve there are now five regiments in the attack (19th, 35th, 12th, 34th and the reserve).

The attack goes in.  The reserve regiment manages to get much closer, since the 27th ESR's fire is split trying to deal with attacks from all directions.  34th Regiment diverts to drive straight down the unprotected middle of the Russian defences.

'High Tide'.  The 27th ESR, slowly worn down despite their extensive fortifications, is finally driven out of Chi-Nuan by an attack on both flanks - however, both Japanese regiments take appalling casualties and the arrival of the fresh 28th ESR on the flank signals an end to the attack.

The 34th manage to get within a few hundred yards of the Russian HQ, even firing on Maj Gen Foch's headquarters and wounding him... but flanking machine gun fire from Bai-Yan forces a quick withdrawal.

The end of the game!  The 27th ESR have finally had enough, almost completely out of ammunition and down to half strength.  The 28th ESR arrive to shore up the gap, but Chu-Kuan is in ruins.

An excellent game!  It seemed like the Japanese were constantly on the cusp of a breakthrough which never came, not for a lack of determination though!  18th Brigade bore the brunt of the fighting, and just about managed to get into the Chi-Nuan Fortress by concentrating three regiments onto a front of about a quarter of a mile.  The rapid shift of the objective from Bai-Yan allowed the Japanese to exploit the changing situation, but in the end the bonus morale the Russians got from defending entrenchments was too decisive.  A bloody, hard fought victory for the Russians, but not without great cost!