The personal observations of several British officers
and enlisted men on Japanese tactics and equipment
as used in the Arakan campaign (Burma) are reproduced
below. Some of the individual comments have been
paraphrased to eliminate repetition. The comments
represent the individual views of the men quoted, and
are not necessarily the official British
thought on the subjects discussed.
2. THE COMMENTS
Staff Officer: On the offensive in the jungle, the Japanese
almost invariably select the most difficult routes by which to
approach their targets. They move in small, self-contained
detachments with their equipment, food, and other supplies. Each
of these detachments sends out its own patrols and "feelers."
The Japanese objectives have invariably been the principal
terrain features—high ground, roads, and strategically located
villages. In order to gain these objectives, the Japs usually
infiltrated into the British positions. Since the British did
not have enough troops to man a continuous line in the area, the
enemy was always able to infiltrate successfully. After
forcing British withdrawals, the Japanese then brought up their
rear units and attempted to repeat the process.
b. Patrol Tactics
Lieutenant: When meeting a British patrol in column during
the day, it apparently was a standard practice of the Japanese
to split their patrol and send one group to the left of the
trail and another to the right. These groups then moved
through the jungle and tried to cut off our patrols from the rear.
These tactics were successful when our men tried to go back
toward friendly troops over the same trail by which they had
come out. The Japs usually failed, at least in a large
measure, whenever our men stealthily took to the jungle
to wipe out the enemy, or forged ahead on their mission, without
regard to their line of communications.
Platoon Sergeant: Shortly after the Japanese had launched
a night attack—by throwing a few hand grenades, firing a few
machine-gun bursts, and setting off some firecrackers—they sent
a column marching down a hill by twos. When challenged
by a sentry, the Jap leader made some evasive remark in a native
Burmese dialect and kept marching. We fired on the
column at a range of 10 yards. It immediately split left and
right and charged our troops, using hand grenades and bayonets.
Staff Officer: On two occasions when the Japanese attacked in
small groups, they drove herds of buffalo ahead of them. This
tended to confuse our forces as well as to cover noises of the
enemy approach. The Japanese followed the buffalo at a distance
of about 20 yards, and thus were able to close with the
d. Use of Artillery
Staff Officer: All the Japanese artillery pieces fired to date in
a certain area [in Burma] are believed to be the 75-mm mountain gun, which
has a maximum range of about 9,000 yards.
To fire this gun, the Japs usually hauled it to the top of a hill. The
high position is chosen because the enemy prefers simplicity
in the conduct of fire, and because, it is thought, the
gun is not very well adapted to clearing crests.
These guns usually fire only one or two shots for adjustment
before firing for effect. They usually are fired singly or in
twos or threes; except in one particular battle, more than four
guns were never fired at any one time. In this instance the fire
converged from separate localities.
The Japs frequently fire artillery and mortars at the same
time, not only for the combined effect but to confuse our forces
as to the location of enemy heavy weapons.
We know that some Japanese artillery ammunition is of an
incendiary nature. The explosion of this shell produces an
orange-colored burst with a large volume of black smoke.
The Jap high explosive shell has both a delayed-action fuze
and one in which the fuze is only slightly delayed.
e. Use of Mortars
Sergeant Major: Time and time again, our troops, after
having captured a portion of an area defended by the Japanese, were
driven back by intense mortar fire which began as
soon as the position was penetrated. The Japanese remaining
in the area were not very much affected because they
were dug in.
Staff Officer: It is known that the Japanese fire their mortars
on fixed lines, the range to which is determined in advance. In
firing on their own positions which have been penetrated or
captured by opposing forces, the Japs in some cases have placed
their mortars in deep holes, which were kept covered when
the weapons were not in action. It is certain that from such
positions the radius of mortar fire is limited. From the
holes, a mortar could have been focused on one of the enemy's strongly
constructed overhead-covered pillboxes.
f. Night Attacks
Platoon Leader: In the only Japanese night attack in which
I participated, the enemy opened by firing a single heavy machine
gun at us from a distance of about 100 yards. When
our Bren guns returned this fire, the Japanese gun continued
to fire straight ahead as usual, as a feint. At the same time, Jap
infantry infiltrated between our guns—which had revealed
their positions by firing—and attacked my platoon from the
flanks and rear.
The Japanese are proficient at sneaking forward at night
and, at dawn, lobbing rifle grenades on our positions from a range
of about 200 yards.
Private: Japanese snipers are often covered by another
rifleman, who usually is a short distance to the rear. Most of
the snipers we encountered were located in small pits dug under
fallen trees, or under the roots of certain types of trees.
Company Commander: As means of signaling at night, the
Japs have sometimes crowed like roosters and barked like
hyenas. They also have frequently used red lanterns, and, in
rear areas, red Very lights.