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The Second Battle of Kota Bharu-Singora


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#1 W. Clark

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 05:55 PM

The Second Battle of Kota Bharu-Singora

The Japanese won the First Battle of Kota Bharu-Singora by sinking Force Z. Admiral Phillips (RN) went down with HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse leaving RAdm Palliser as the senior RN flag officer in Singapore.

 

The Japanese over the next five weeks had taken Miri, Kuching and Jesselton. But they had gone into full JRT mode over Kota Bharu-Singora and had returned twice like a JRT looking for a rabbit in the same bush. Of course, the need to escort the 2nd and 3rd Malayan Convoys probably also had something to do with their repeated returns. To date they had found nothing; but just like A JRT they continued to hope to repeat their earlier success.

 

All the while RAdm Palliser had been husbanding his strength and taking in reinforcements. He upon receiving the use of HMS Emerald for a short time by a stroke of luck (1 chance in 12) decided to strike while he had six cruisers under his flag. The Japanese, except for being bombed (by RAF LBA who actually hit a destroyer) and attacked unsuccessfully by Dutch subs seemed to have had it their way.

 

That might account for the fact that they had sortied three convoys all in the same tier (3) which allowed the Brits the right (by rule) to pick the order they took the convoys on in. RAdm Palliser being a methodical man chose to take the Japanese on in the order they were presented to him in (1, 2 & 3). It tuned out that 1 was a large convoy to Kota Bharu-Singora, escorted by 6 heavy cruisers and 10 destroyers. There also an AV and 12 transports.

 

The RN Sweep out of Singapore consisted of the cruisers, HMS Exeter, HMS Mauritius (GT2 CD reinforcement), HMS Emerald (1st division), HMS Danae, HMS Durbin and HMS Dragon (2nd division). The destroyers consisted of HMS Electra, HMS Express, HMS Encounter, HMS Jupiter (DesDiv 1), HMS Scout, HMS Stronghold, HMS Tenedos and HMS Thanet (DesDiv 2).

 

RAdm Palliser was flying his flag in HMS Exeter. His other five cruisers were behind him in line ahead. DesDiv 1 was in a division column to his port as DesDiv 2 was to his starboard. Both DesDivs were echeloned back and within 3,000 yards to avoid fratricide.

 

The RN’s heading was 315 degrees at 25 knots. It was dark (new moon and total overcast) but not too stormy night. The wind was a Force 5 Nor westerner. Squalls were expected though none was in sight. Maximum visibility was 17,000 yards but neither RAdm Palliser or his lookouts could see that far.

 

At 2000 hours HMS Electra reported a radar contact at 16,000 yards, bearing R29 relative. At 2006 hours RAdm Palliser ordered all destroyers to 15 knots and his cruisers to 20 knots. He was concerned that he would overshoot when he wanted to cross their Tee. This continued until 2018 hours when HMS Electra sighted an enemy destroyer at 4,000 yards 4 points to Port.

 

2024 Hours, HMS Electra fired her quad torpedo mount at the approaching destroyer. There was an explosion and a flash and the destroyer (later determined to IJS Asagiri) came to a stop and began rapidly sinking.

 

2027 Hours, HMS Electra, HMS Express and HMS Encounter could see 2 more destroyers behind the sinking destroyer. 2030 hours, Express and Encounter fired their quad mounts at those destroyers. Express hit her target but Encounter missed. The second enemy destroyer staggered out of line to her starboard at a crawl (later determined to be IJS Amagiri).

 

2033 hours, Electra and Express and Encounter opened on the 3 destroyers they could now see. Electra hit Ayanami twice, Encounter hit Uranami thrice and Express missed. HMS Jupiter (the trailing destroyer) could now see a second column to the starboard of the column that the E class were flailing. The new column was led by 2 more destroyers.

 

2036 Hours, Jupiter fired her quintuplet mount at the newly sighted destroyers but missed them astern. However, she by a stroke of luck hit the cruiser Maya instead. Adm Palliser had been having the dream engagement so far, but his luck was about to change as a torpedo struck HMS Emerald on her port side, knocking out all her forward guns and reducing her to 15 knots.

 

2039 Hours, RAdm Palliser had his 2nd cruiser division reverse course as well as DesDiv 2 and both had accelerated to full speed (29 & 36 knots respectively). The D class cruisers fired all their starboard side triple mounts (6 altogether). At the same time Exeter, Mauritius and Emerald who had turned to port several minutes earlier also fired all their port mounts (2 triple & 2 quad). Danae hit Isonami while Exeter hit Mikuma. The D class then proceeded to sink Uranami with gunfire.

 

2042 hours, RAdm Palliser was now behind the Japanese escort who had still not seen him (with Exeter & Mauritius). We collectively saw that he had two options. Go back after the escort whose location he was aware of. Or, go after the convoy he knew had to be somewhere to his front. We collectively decided the odds were 2 (1-8) to 1 (9-12) that he would go after the escort, but the die roll was an 11 and he went after the now defenseless convoy.

 

We deemed the convoy aborted and ended the game.

 

The WAF had lost 2 DDs sunk outright. 2 DDs had 2 hull boxes each and another had 4. Maya had 2 hull boxes and Mikuma 3. The Hatsuyuki was already repairing with 2 hull boxes to go so none of these ships are coming back.

 

The RN suffered 2 hull boxes to Encounter and Emerald took 3.

 

The RN had a series of D12 die rolls go their way this GT. First, they got Emerald as a 1 GT theater event reinforcement (a 7 result). Then they got a night engagement (25% chance). Then they got low visibility and a sea calm enough not to hamper their torpedoes. Then they rolled an 11 for their -SW radar and things started to look dicey for them. The 8 they rolled for acquisition seemed to say too bad boys. But the destroyer’s = SW radar came through with 16,000 yards and they perked up again. But when the Japanese got within 4,000 yards and were still on the same heading and at 11 knots, they realized their luck had held (the Japanese rolled a 10 for acquisition). The rest is dice.

 


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#2 simanton

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 10:25 PM

Nice!  Too bad it didn't happen in reality!



#3 W. Clark

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 03:51 PM

The Brits were obsessed with hanging on to a fleet base but did not have a fleet to base there. The head Dutchman had been born in Java and wanted to be the one to save it no matter what that might cost anyone else. The US had devoted its most out dated ships to the defense of the DEI and had no intention what so ever of giving more. The list of players with their own agendas goes on and on. It took too long to form the ABDA and it was on its heels from the beginning. The list of deficiencies also goes on and on. Then there was Murphy who passed out the most atrocious luck. You have to wonder if there any uncharted rocks left, the ABDA hit so many. The American supply line ended at Darwin and they had to go there to replenish everything. It just never stops. But, they were brave men and they never stopped trying to win. Its a sad thing when governments send their soldiers and sailors off to fight a fight that the government does not believe is winnable to start with. And the ABDA is a good (if not the best) example of that.



#4 W. Clark

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 03:54 PM

We are going to start the campaign over with Force Z added to the RN OOB this time. Everyone was very rusty after 5 years of not naval gaming. I believe some lessons have been relearned and both sides will do much better in the next outing.



#5 healey36

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 06:38 PM

Its a sad thing when governments send their soldiers and sailors off to fight a fight that the government does not believe is winnable to start with.


Sometimes events snowball beyond anyone’s expectations (best-laid plans gone awry, and all that). It’s a tragic byproduct of war, one that is sadly not infrequent. Perhaps Churchill’s abandonment of the troops at Calais in 1940 was a first example in WWII. Certainly other examples came eighteen months later in the Pacific. The process of trading territory and assets for time can be horrific, especially for those on the perimeter who know relief is not coming.






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