It's 1517 on 21 February 1942, and Captain Moon's platoon had almost got away. They'd had to halt in order to force a crossing of the river to the east, and while they'd pulled that off with only a few casualties, the halt allowed Japanese patrols pursuing form the north to close in. This is the last game of a four fight operation played out in 15mm using Eureka Minis (plus a Peter Pig Japanese MG team) and Ivan's "Five Men at Kursk" rules. The games were all solo fights, and the action all happens within a 20 minute timespan as the Marines fight for their lives against superior numbers of enemy forces.
Overview of the entire battlefield, north is up. This is a 4' x 4' table, but each of the four fights will be fought out separately on a little piece of the above table. Here's the lowdown: at left center is Sgt Carlson, the porters, and the wounded, sitting tight, while Cpl White and the base of fire team is at center top, looking to lay down fire on the Japanese MG position (just right of the river and above the trail, at top right), while Captain Moon and the assault element (center bottom) has moved up and is ready to cross the river. But the first fight happens as they cross; they didn't have time for a proper reconnaissance, so they moved up to the river unaware a Japanese squad was patrolling on the other side of the nearby knoll (far right), and Cpl White's base of fire element didn't know the Japanese MG position contains more than just the MG team, there's another five Japanese riflemen behind them, just waiting to make life more difficult. And once the fighting breaks out, the noise draws Japanese from the north out of the woodwork, and they begin moving up the trail (top left), closing in on Sgt Carlson, the porters, and the wounded.
In the first fight, Captain Moon signaled Cpl White's team, then assaulted across the river and took the knoll, losing one man (Pvt McNair) to a wound in the groin. They are now forming up on the hill at bottom right to assault the Japanese machine gun position. As soon as Captain Moon signaled, Cpl White and his men opened fire on the Japanese MG position to keep it pinned down, or at least distracted, so Captain Moon and his boys could cross the river and flank it.
In the second fight, Cpl White and his base of fire element opened up on the Japanese machine gun position, but were surprised when enemy rifleman tried to flank them on the left. They put up a spirited defense in the river and the jungle nearby that saw them stop the enemy push cold, but at the cost of losing Pvt Jennings and having Pvt Cofer badly shot up. The remaining three Marines took cover and plinked away at the Japanese MG team to keep their attention while waiting for Captain Moon's assault element to flank the enemy gun.
In the third fight, Captain Moon and his assault element moved up and made quick work of the Japanese machine gun team, taking the position in close combat without suffering any casualties. But just as things were looking up, trouble presented itself in the Marine rear.
At far right you have Cpl White, Pvt Allen, Pvt Irvin, and the badly wounded Pvt Cofer. At bottom left, from left to right, you have: Cpl Bussey, Pvt Mathews, Sgt Carlson, and Pvt Mitchell, with more Marines behind (below) them. Behind the Platoon Sergeant you have Cpl Duncan, PFC Seals, Pvt Fontes, and Pvt Rozier, taking care of the wounded: Sgt Spielman, Pvt Sanders, Pvt Skow, and Pvt Roberston.
While Marine marksmanship hasn't been up to its usual standards, the Japanese fire has been devastating...
He doesn't know who is still in there, but he can see Marines lying on the ground, so he cuts loose on the two Japanese soldiers moving into the defensive position (top center left).
With Japanese hot on their heels there was no time for rest. Captain Moon pushed his men to the brink of exhaustion; they continued moving south and west to make their way to freedom. The remnants of the platoon moved for another three days straight before encountering some natives near another jungle river. These kind souls took pity on the vagabonds and took them in, hiding and caring for them for almost two weeks. It was nearly 10 March 1942 before Captain Moon got his men moving again, heading for the west coast of Sumatra. It seemed like the Japanese had lost interest, with very few sightings of enemy activity. A few days later they were able to board a fishing trawler that delivered them to Ceylon. From there, under the care of the UK/Commonwealth, they made their way to India and then, through a very circuitous and month-long route they found themselves stepping ashore in Perth, Australia!
To review, here's who finally made it to Australia in decent shape (11):
Private First Class Seals
Private First Class McNeil
Private First Class Jamison
They carried with them (7):
Private McNair (he was carried out but was so badly wounded he was medically retired)
They lost the following men killed in action (11):
Private First Class Kozerski
Private First Class Kozerski
And the following men were taken prisoner (2):
There they were well looked after, allowing their wounded minds and bodies to heal, moving north to Darwin to find themselves guests of General MacArthur's headquarters staff. By June 1942 they were as well patched up as they were going to be, even being reunited the two Marines wounded in the Philippines and evacuated to Australia as soon as they set foot in Java (Privates Blades and Walter)!
They were then, finally, returned to the Marines, where they were personally introduced to General AA Vandegrift, Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division. He heard their remarkable story, and they were soon outfitted with replacements, new uniforms, and new weapons, finding themselves practicing beach assaults for four days at the end of July 1942 in the Fiji Islands, in preparation for Operation Watchtower, the invasion of Guadalcanal, Gavutu, and Tulagi.