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Burma Campaign Pt. 1 - The Green Jerboa
by Elindo Castro

Scenario Contest Honorable Mention

This scenario was written by one of our three Honorable Mention entries in our Axis and Allies Miniatures Scenario Contest . Once again, congratulations to Elindo Castro and all our participants. In the upcoming weeks we will be providing the scenarios for the other two honorable mentions.

Background

The 7th Hussars were overrun and almost wiped out in North Africa by the Germans in Operation Crusader, Nov. 1941. After their near destruction, they were withdrawn from the line to Egypt and re-fitted with M3 Stuarts. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese began moving aggressively toward the Burma Road in an attempt to cut off China's lifeline. In Feb. 1942 the 7th Hussars were on their way to Burma, to be one of the few units to fight all three major axis powers in World War Two. The Desert Rats would become the Jungle Warriors. The Brigade had adopted the divisional sign of the Jerboa but had changed its color from red to jungle green.

The British forces in Burma were no match for the Japanese. The Japanese XV Army consisted of two divisions, the 33rd & 55th and was lead by General Iida. The defenders were the 17th Indian Division and the 1st Burma Division lead by General Wavell.

In January, the Japanese had advanced west from Siam, hell bent on capturing Rangoon. In February, the outpost of Mourlmein, 100 miles East of Rangoon, was captured, forcing the Burma Rifles to retreat. On February 23rd, the difficult decision was made to blow the 500 yard bridge spanning the Sittang river, sacrificing a large contingent of allied forces across the river in an attempt to slow the Japanese advance. Unfortunately, the explosive equipment available was sub-standard and only resulted in a partial demolition of the bridge. This desperate act did delay Japanese forces by making them move north to cross the Sittang by ferry.

Just days before the disaster at the Sittang bridge, the 7th Hussars Landed in Rangoon, Feb. 20 1942, and had to hit the ground running. Luckily for the British, the Japanese command was more focused on capturing territory rather than destroying British military power. Their focus was on capturing the port of Rangoon and gaining resupply to continue their campaign. The order was wisely given to abandon Rangoon and retreat to India, linking up with the Chinese 38th Division under the command of Sun Li Jen.

The situation was desperate and the 7th Hussars began their historic retreat northwards using their Stuart Tanks to smash road blocks and cover the withdrawal. Acts of heroism were so common that their value was summed up by Field Marshall Alexander's words:

"Without them we should never have got the Army out of Burma; no praise can be too high for them"

Soon the British had been pushed back beyond Prome and with the start of May 1942 came the monsoon season. The regiment was forced to destroy their Stuarts when they retreated across the river Chindwin. The ferries could not support the weight of the light tanks. The unit walked the remaining 150 miles of the retreat and on 17th May the remnants of the division staggered into Imphal, India. In three and a half months, the 7th Hussars had covered over 1000 miles. In doing so, they earned the respect from all who had met them.

Scenario: Burma Campaign Pt. 1 - The Green Jerboa

B Squadron, 7th Hussars advanced north from Rangoon to the town of Payagyi. Moving through thick mist, the Hussars arrived at their objective only to find the Japanese already in defense of the area. Can the Japanese forces hold out long enough for the fog to clear and reinforcements to arrive?

Aftermath

The 7th Hussars successfully took control of Payagi around 11:00 a.m. and took up positions at the crossroads of the town. As the day progressed, British infantry continued to clear Japanese infiltrators from the surrounding woods until two Type 95 Japanese tanks appeared. The Japanese tanks appeared to be confused and awkward as they remained stationary in an open field. The 7th Hussars quickly dispatched the Japanese tanks before the Japanese units were even aware of their danger.

The 7th was subsequently ordered to retire south to rejoin the rest of the 7th Armoured Brigade at Hiegu. The next few weeks were spent smashing through roadblocks in the historic British retreat north out of Burma.

A member of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment noted that the Japanese weapon that did the most damage during the battle was the Japanese 50mm knee mortar. This was used with extreme accuracy and could penetrate the thin top armour of the Stuart.










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