Marston Airfield – A Crossfire Battle Report in the Pacific

Brett Simpson sent through another Crossfire Battle Report in the Pacific, this time a Bridgehead scenario at an Australian defended Marston Airfield. Marston was the type of portable matting that was used to make these airfields. The game feature’s Brett’s brand new Japanese Special Amphibious Landing Company (SNLF) and, of course, his new airfield feature. All words are Brett’s.


Introduction

We played the Bridgehead scenario today using a Japanese Special Amphibious Company straight from the Rulebook (1943 – ‘45 list) and a reinforced Australian Company.


Orders of Battle

The forces are outlined below:

JAPANESE (Attacker);
SNLF Company (+1 CC)
– 1 x Rifle Squad (attached to CC)
– 2 x Squads with ATR
– 2 x FO for 2 x 81mm Mortars (12 FM each)
– 4 x HMGs
– 3 x Rifle Platoons (+1 PC)
– 3 x Knee Mortars (6 FM each — no smoke)
89 points

Airfield-02 Special Amphibious Landing Company

Airfield-02 Special Amphibious Landing Company

AUSTRALIAN (Defender):
Reinforced AIF Company (+1 CC)
– 1 x Rifle Platoon (+2 PC)
– 2 x Rifle Platoons (+1 PC)
– 1 x 2-inch Mortar (12 FM)
– 3 x Vickers-guns
– 1 x FO for 25-pounder Gun (10 FM)
1 x Fortifications Package
Reinforcements:
– 1 x Rifle Platoon (+1 PC)
85 points

Airfield-01 Australian defender including reinforcements and fortifications package

Airfield-01 Australian defender including reinforcements and fortifications package


Reinforcements and Victory Conditions

As outlined in the Bridgehead Scenario from the Crossfire Rulebook (page 32).


Deployment

Airfield-03 The Battlefield

Airfield-03 The Battlefield

The Australians held the airstrip to the south, and the eastern part of the village. 3rd Platoon, two Vickers-guns, and the 2-inch mortar were ordered to protect the airstrip, which was formerly of Japanese construction, but had been overlaid with Marston Matting by the Australians. The Vickers were housed in a 2-squad bunker. 2nd Platoon set themselves up in the large HQ Building by the Creek, and 1st Platoon occupied the corrugated iron building closest to the road. The 3rd Vickers and FO for the 25-pounder were positioned in the field to the east of the road and south of the Creek.

Airfield-04 Japanese Company Command

Airfield-04 Japanese Company Command

The Japanese occupied the area just to the north of the Creek in a long line behind a thick wall of bamboo, but had sent their 2nd Platoon and a HMG south to spy on the airstrip.

Airfield-05 Japanese Forward Observer

Airfield-05 Japanese Forward Observer


The Battle

The Japanese began their assault by dropping smoke to obscure the LOS to the HQ Building with 3rd Platoon sneaking across the Creek. Once there, they came under heavy fire, but leaving their wounded where they lay, it wasn’t long before they occupied the hill to the southeast.

Airfield-11 Japanese 3rd Platoon takes the hill

Airfield-11 Japanese 3rd Platoon takes the hill

Meanwhile, the Australians began dropping 25-pounder shells and opening up with their Vickers-gun on the Japanese to the northwest of the Creek. They successfully suppressed one Japanese HMG, and pinned down another, but the Japanese called in 81mm mortar fire and the Vickers was finished.

The Japanese 1st Platoon withdrew and made its way under the cover of smoke across the Creek. They wasted no time occupying the orchard to the south of the HQ Building, but came under continuous fire from the Vickers-guns guarding the airstrip.

1st Platoon and the FO for the 25-pounder also opened fire on the Japanese 1st Platoon, but any who could had gone to ground by that stage, and were unwilling to raise their heads after the greeting they had received from the Vickers.

Two squads from 3rd Platoon were sent southward to occupy a storage shed to the northeast of the airstrip, and these were opened fire upon by the Vickers-guns. Meanwhile, the Japanese command platoon made its way across the Creek and captured the 25-pounder FO, moving into the field beside the road.

Airfield-07 The shadowy figures of the Japanese enter the storage shed

Airfield-07 The shadowy figures of the Japanese enter the storage shed

The AIF 6th Platoon had been on patrol nearby, and came to investigate. They entered a small wooded section just east of the storage shed, but were fired upon by the Japanese HMG on the hill. Before long, all but one section were suppressed.

Airfield-08 The Ill-fated Australian 6th Platoon

Airfield-08 The Ill-fated Australian 6th Platoon

The Japanese 2nd Platoon, HMG, and knee mortar then opened fire upon 3rd Platoon, and one by one the Australians fell. Members of 2nd Platoon rushed forward to bayonet the 2-inch mortar team, running straight through a booby-trapped section of the Marston Matting without really knowing.

Airfield-09 A Japanese squad of 2nd Platoon runs straight through the minefield

Airfield-09 A Japanese squad of 2nd Platoon runs straight through the minefield

The Vickers kept firing, and the Japanese bombarded the HQ Building and the one of corrugated iron with 81mm mortar bombs.

The sounds of tanks could be heard rolling forward in the distance, and an entire Battalion of Japanese approached from the north. The Australians had no choice but to admit they had lost the airstrip…

Airfield-10 The Aftermath of Battle

Airfield-10 The Aftermath of Battle


(note the number of pinned and suppressed units — denoted by yellow and red markers respectively).


Conclusions

A great game, although I don’t know that this report does it full credit. The Japanese Special Amphibious Company is a formidable force. With so many riflemen and HMGs, the Japanese Commander seemed quite comfortable to leave pinned and suppressed units where they were and advance forward. The Japanese 81mm mortars caused their fair amount of damage, and the smoke rounds were extremely useful to the Japanese.

I quite liked the table setup and the scenario, and wanted to play a second game, but we were out of time.

Best wishes.
Brett.

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