|A Sprint past the Massacre|
After the previous night’s fighting on Gilbert Ridge, the morning of May 12, 1943, brought some warmth to the units of the 7th Infantry Division, but found them far from their goal of Sarana Pass. Heading out at 0600, they marched north along the track through the valley, but were slowed by fire from Japanese troops of the 303rd Independent Infantry Battalion around 0645. Two platoons had headed east, while the remainder of the US force took the western track. The eastern group retreated west to join the others, followed closely by two platoons of Japanese infantry. Japanese units were spotted on the west ridge at 0645 hours, but by 0800 two US platoons were past them and headed north out of the valley toward the pass. Fierce fighting raged in the valley, but three other US platoons managed to pass north by 0930. A major engagement continued on the north central road between combined arms platoons of both sides until 1145 hours, but by that time seven US platoons had made it through the valley to the pass.
The primary objective of this scenario is American unit exit off the north side of the map with eliminated units also adding to the VP total. The Japanese had dug in on the west ridge and central hill to cover both track options for northward travel, but in retrospect, digging in between the two adjacent western tracks would seem a better position for at least one combined HMG/INF group. Because all the Japanese officers were 0-0 with a single 0-1 exception, combined fire from adjacent hexes wasn’t possible, which limited their ability to slow the US surge north. In the end, the US had eliminated 9 Japanese steps while exiting 14 more for a total of 23 VP’s to the Japanese total of two US steps on board and 7 eliminated for a total of nine VP’s, a US victory