Keynes' Cruisers Volume 2

Finally, a good use for the Alaskas. More impressive than a heavy cruiser like Wichita, and the battleships are better employed against Japan.
I've already used ALASKA for this mission about a year earlier TTL-- she is effectively the fast Presidential yacht at this point.
Story 2734
Jersey, Channel Islands, January 24, 1945

The coal fired steamer Vega was stuck. The ship was aground next to the small dock where she had unloaded tens of thousands of Red Cross packages and mail to the English civilians on the occupied island. More importantly for both the civilians and the German garrison, a dozen footballs were delivered.

Five hours later, the master was not happy as his mistress had been refloated but would likely need at least a week if not two in drydock once she made port in Lisbon.
Story 2735
Willow Springs, Illinois January 25, 1945

If it would have been safe to have beers in the control room, the team would be clinking brown glass bottles for each other. They had made quota with four hours to spare today and tomorrow they would be well on pace to meet quota before the end of the second shift. Success would soon start to build upon success. The key materials for the war time project were finally being produced at near mass scale. And the team inside the room would not have a beer to celebrate until they each left the gate and headed to their homes where no one would know why anyone had a Cheshire smile on their face as they sipped a beer or enjoyed a rye on the rocks.
Story 2736
Shinan, Republic of China January 26, 1945

A white flare bathed the the small village in its eerily light as it descended. Closer to the coast, a brigade of the 19th Indian Infantry Division was demonstrating on the bank of the small river that the Japanese were using to anchor a yet another blocking position. A regiment of twenty five pounders had been firing harassment and interdiction fires all night at the positions that the Ghurkas had found during their aggressive patrolling over the past three days.

Another flare went up. This time it was red.

The forty five functional Vickers medium machine guns of the 11th Sihk Regiment opened up. The gunners were firing one in three tracer. Red lines reached out and ripped open anything that resembled cover on the far bank that a mediocre strike could place a ball in the top corner from the Indian held bank. A minute later, five regiments of artillery began to fire. One regiment began to lay down smoke, while three field regiments started a rolling barrage moving one hundred yards back every two minutes. Finally the heavy regiment searched for the second and third line of Japanese positions. Ten minutes later, the machine gunners were still firing three seconds bursts as the ammunition carriers tried to keep up with demand.

Whistles blew and the Royal Berks began to cross the river in rubber rafts. Japanese machine gunners had already started to pelt the smoke with pre-registered fires, but as soon as their traces could be seen, a machine gun platoon attempted to at least suppress if not kill the gunners. A few rounds hit a few boats and riflemen in the middle of the sixty eight foot journey but by midmorning, the blocking position had been destroyed.

The advance would slowly continue.
Story 2736
Okinawa, January 27, 1945


A fresh faced private who was a recent replacement to the infantry after having been trained as a clerk for divisional headquarters scurried over a few steps to the LT. A burst of machine gun fire missed both men by a few yards. Riflemen were already laying down counterfire as the BAR teams were switching magazines and the machine gunners were busy setting up. The advance had stalled. The LT yelled a short message back to the private and had him repeat it back to him before slapping him on the back as the nineteen year old from Appalachian North Carolina went to the rear to find the captain. Even as he began the hazardous journey, the radio operator was almost set up to begin calling in artillery and perhaps air support.

Within an hour, the rest of the company was starting to maneuver off of the base of fire that had been accidentally established and the guns attached to the battalion had already shot three fire missions while the Thunderbolts flying from the airfield near Naha had dropped napalm along the contact line.
Story 2739
Eastern England, January 28, 1945

Airfields were busy. Today was the first day in over a week that was at least marginally safe flying weather. Nine hundred heavy bombers escorted by six fighter groups had launched just after dawn. The fighters had started to land over the past two hours as the forward most squadrons had shot themselves nearly dry in the sweep ahead of the bombers against the dying Luftwaffe fighter arm and turned for home. Other groups and squadrons turned around later once they were out of ammunition while the last fighters had accelerated once the bombers were over friendly lines or the North Sea. Now the bomber fields were expecting their crews to becoming home any time now. All had ambulances and fire trucks on standby with several already expecting casualties, mechanical and human.

When the four hundredth bomber landed, half a dozen photo recon birds were clawing for altitude to assess what exactly the bombers achieved in the early afternoon strikes.
Story 2740
Southeastern China, January 29, 1945

A dozen Mustangs flown by Chinese pilots circled overhead. The pilots continued to scan the sky, up down, left, right, forward, and backwards, as they searched for the Japanese fihgters that they all hoped to spot and pounce on like cats waiting for incautious mice to emerge from the corner of a barn. Below them a dozen American crews bombed a crossroads that was the primary supply line for a Japanese regiment that had held up the attack of three Nationalist divisions for two days. An hour behind the medium bombers was two squadrons of Chinese P-40s that would strafe, rocket and napalm that road if the saw any traffic on it.
Story 2741
RAF Boscombe Down, January 30, 1945

The twelfth pre-production example of the new De Haviland fighter had arrived at the testing facility. The aircraft was painted differently as the Fleet Air Arm had responsibility and funding to run the prototype ragged. The first eleven examples as well as the prototype were extraordinary machines, the pinnacle of a line of development that would soon be surpassed by the new jet fighters, but the combination of cost, reliability and ruggedness promised a use for these stallions for years to come during and after this war.
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Story 2742
Pusan, Korea January 31, 1945

Three little coasters, heavily laden waited for the boom control vessel to open up a gap in the defenses for them to leave for their short journey across the treacherous waters to the Home Islands where their cargos of coal, rice and ore could be consumed by the factories that had not yet been bombed in the production of the weapons needed to defend the Imperial core.
Story 2743
Halifax, Canada February 1, 1945

Eight ships, six of which had been built since the war started were low in the water as they followed the corvette past the anti-submarine nets and through the swept channels. Forty seven thousand tons of supplies would soon be joining the massive HX 336 convoy where these ships would be just one of a dozen columns that would be escorted by two dozen warships and a dozen aircraft before unloading at Liverpool, Portsmouth and London. Another half a dozen ships would depart the convoy on the last day for Lock Ewe before travelling onwards to Murmansk.