It’s 2245 on 25 December 1941, and 1st Platoon is finally in possession of Horseshoe Ridge, but for how long is anyone’s guess. Yesterday afternoon Captain Moon led 1st Platoon, with a big assist from a National Guard M-3 Stuart, in a successful assault to take Horseshoe Ridge. Once the Japanese were evicted, Capt Moon and Sgt Carlson consolidated into a small, 360 degree perimeter. But later that evening Major Ford, their Company Commander, came up, with good news and bad news. The good news was that 3rd and 4th Platoons were stood down, and their men were fed into 1st and 2nd Platoons to bring them back up to strength. With that, 1st Platoon was ordered to hold the entirety of Horseshoe Ridge. The bad news was that General Parker, the US South Luzon Force commander, needed his tank back. Also, Major Ford was taking 2nd Platoon and heading west, assuming a defensive position on a small hill overlooking a bridge, with the understanding that the Marines were not likely going to be able to hold for long, and would soon need to retreat to the west, making their way to Cavite and/ore Manila, to link-up with the rest of the South Luzon force and maybe even the rest of the US troops on Luzon, now withdrawing into the Bataan Peninsula.
With that, you need to understand we’re reaching a dark time in the campaign: in real life, the main US force on Luzon is about to voluntarily bottle itself up in the Bataan Peninsula, where it will put up a brave and dogged defense, but ultimately will fall back until there’s no more room to fall back, then capitulate. Immediately following that, the Japanese will pound McArthur’s headquarters, the island fortress of Corregidor (across from the Bataan Peninsula, in Manila Bay), then launch an amphibious assault that, for all intents and purposes, ended the US resistance in the Philippines in April 1942.
So, the 1st Platoon is but a microcosm of this overall situation. They have taken Horseshoe Ridge and been reconstituted, victories at the tactical level. But the overall situation is that their time in the Philippines is coming to a violent close. While they have a full complement of troops, the food, ammo, and medical supplies they have on hand is all they’ll ever have; the platoon is severely outnumbered, surrounded, and cut-off. The only reason they’ve even lasted this long is because the Japanese have, in the overall scheme of things, been ignoring them, rushing past them from, east to west, to capture Manila.
The time is drawing near where the Platoon will cease to be a coherent fighting force, and more a band of fugitives searching for a means to escape the Philippines.
Overview, north is to top left, the entirety of Horseshoe Ridge is displayed, the mass at center, running west (bottom left) to east (top right). The previous three fights took part on the eastern end of Horseshoe Ridge, at top right, and with the Platoon assaulting the west end of the ridge, at center. The Platoon linked up with the Company CP off camera to bottom center several miles, then came back and finally took the ridge. The Marines, as per their orders (and due to the uncertain disposition of the enemy) are occupying the ridge in its entirety, in a 360 degree perimeter, though it is not a continuous line as they don’t have enough troops. The Japanese will be attacking from all points of the compass. The table is, once again, 6′ x 4’s, and my son and I are playing co-op as the Marines against the Japanese in 15mm, using Ivan Sorensen’s rules, “No End In Sight.”
Overview of the table, with all forces placed on the table. The Marines are on the ridge at center, and everything on the perimeter of the table is Japanese. The Marine position is simple: 1st Squad is at the west end of the ridge (center left, fanned out just below the clump of trees at center). 2nd Squad is in the center, facing north (top), sitting between the two clumps of trees. They have the 60mm mortar team sited in right behind them. The Command Post (Capt Moon, Sgt Carlson, and the sniper) are just to their right (just left of the third clump of trees, at center right top). 3rd Squad is on the east end of the ridge, just on the other side of the clump of trees from the CP, facing east (right). Lastly, the MG team is just right of 3rd Squad, on the finger jutting out to the south (center top right).
In the west, the blinds have been cooperative with the Japanese, allowing them to mass a significant force, with support. They have three rifle squads (bottom left, far left, and just to the right of the village at top left), their 70mm Howitzer (top left), and a sniper (on the left side of the tree clump at top center). They are supported at bottom center and far right, by two MG teams, a Lieutenant, and another sniper.
They also have a decently powerful supplementary attack force on the top right (northeast) corner of the table (top center right), where they have a rifle squad, an officer, an MG team, and a Type 95 tank!
If you haven’t figure it out yet, the Japanese are serious about taking Horseshoe Ridge 😉 The Marines either need to hold the ridge, or escape the ridge.
At the east end of the ridge, the Japanese tank (center) pounds 3rd Squad (top left), while a Type 92 machine gun (far right) lays into 2nd Squad (top center).
Looking from east to west, the Marine MG team bottom center finds itself with no targets, but 1st Squad is being overrun in the west (top center), so they take up a supplemental position, facing about to support 1st Squad. To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
I will say that the Marines still have some semblance of a platoon left, and are moving southeast (away from the Japanese thrust to the northwest), trying to find a way out of the Philippines. But a Japanese patrol stands between the Marines and their means of escape, so stay tuned.