News of the Battle of Liaotung raced around the world. Western Press painted it as a major victory against the forces of Communism - and public feeling in Europe and America turned decisively against the German - Russian alliance. French Press, in particular, adopted a sensationalist stance, painting the Japanese as avengers of the German-sunk liner Lorraine
Oh, how tables turn. Don't they, fromages?
And as February gave way to March, the underwater war raged on - only twice
as brutal. The Japanese struck at German coastal patrols, in their usual opening moves; the Germans, in return, struck an opportunistic blow and sank the destroyer Isonami
with all hands.
This made the Japanese submariners mad
While numbering less than half of their opponents' submarines, the Japanese Silent Service was operating the best boats in the world; and their submariners were hardened veterans. In a single month, the twenty-eight Japanese submarines sank more ships than the submarine fleets of Germany and Russia combined
(which were numbering more than sixty
boats). And the 'Maru boys' didn't fail to draw their pound of flesh from the inexperienced Germans.
On the 17th of March, when the two German destroyers S-20 and S-23 sailed to southern Korea on a shipping raid, the 'Maru boys' were waiting for them.
The Germans emerged out of the morning mists to find themselves in firing range of the Cheng Hai
, a 5k ton grain freighter, which they quickly engaged and sank. Unfortunately for the raiders, the Cheng Hai
got off a distress signal. A few miles away, little Yaeyama
and her destroyer squadron made their best speed to intercept.
They almost didn't make it in time for the party. In response to the Cheng Hai's
Minesweepers and patrol boats rushed to the scene. The German destroyers tried to disengage, but the 'Maru boys' swarmed them like locusts and hung on to their prey like starving piranhas.
By the time Yaeyama
and her destroyers arrived, they could only give the coup de grace
to the German destroyers. The S-20 and S-23 had been hammered to near-Swiss-cheese levels by the 4- and 5-inch guns of the near-suicidal Japanese gunships.
Hilariously, some of the captured German officers protested quite vocally. Minesweepers weren't supposed to seek engagement with destroyers! The Japanese weren't playing fair, verdammnt noch mal!
Shortly after this engagement, the first Sendais
were commissioned. Unfortunately, mechanical problems limited the class to 30 knots, a considerable disappointment for the Admiralty. Thankfully, the engineering department would quickly diagnose the main issues; and a 1953 refit would make the Sendais
perform to the satisfaction of all.
In April, the Silent Service struck again, carving a massive chunk out of the DDR's merchant shipping. Unfortunately, the fleet also lost Hakaze
in a patrol off North Korea.
Not that this altered the overall situation in any way, of course. What was left of the German and Russian Navy cowered in their ports. And the Japanese Army was now advancing quickly in Korea and had landed in Sakhalin.
And, to top it all off, the Unebi
intercepted the German raider Bremen
in the Indian Ocean and drove her off, while, admittedly, suffering considerable damage herself. But, where Unebi
had friendly bases to retreat to, Bremen
was operating thousands of miles from the nearest friendly port.
Aha. AHAHAHA. AHAHAHAHAHA
Long live the Glorious Counter-Revolution!