U.S. infantry officers whose units took part in the
successful invasion of Kwajalein Island noted that the
Japanese employed a number of ruses during the battle.
Inland of the beach defenses (described in Intelligence
Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 9, pp. 1-2, and Vol. II, No.
11, pp. 49-51), the Japanese had prepared virtually no
fortifications. Since the landing caught the enemy off
balance, it progressed rapidly, and enemy resistance in
the interior soon dwindled to little more than occasional
sniping. However, it has been found that a Japanese
soldier fighting alone is just as likely to employ ruses
as when he is with his unit.
Three days after the first U.S. landings on Kwajalein,
Japanese soldiers still were sniping from foxholes,
which were covered with a natural camouflage of palm
fronds to blend with the surrounding terrain. Other
enemy soldiers lay prone, and in full view, among the
bodies of Japanese dead. Whenever the opportunity
presented itself, the hidden or camouflaged enemy soldiers
would fire upon U.S. troops--usually when circumstances
enabled the Japanese to fire on a number of men from
the rear while maintaining good personal security.
On one occasion a U.S. junior officer was standing
near the bodies of several Japanese, one of whom was
very much alive and biding his time. (Later this soldier, too, was
discovered and killed.) Although this enemy soldier
had every opportunity to fire on the U.S. officer, he
refrained from doing so, apparently preferring to
wait until a time when he could kill not one
man, but several.
Another sniper infiltrated behind U.S. lines during
the night and hid himself very effectively in a rubbish
heap. This man, too, allowed U.S. soldiers to go by
and then fired on them from the rear. As a result,
there were casualties, and a company advance was delayed.
When the sniper was discovered, he did not give
himself up until gasoline had been poured on the rubbish
pile and set afire.
Japanese artillery attempted to place fire between
the U.S. front lines and supporting artillery bursts
to create the impression that U.S. troops were about
to be fired on by their supporting artillery.
When U.S. forward units signaled to the rear with
colored flares, the Japanese also fired flares of the same
color, hoping to confuse the attackers. However, the
Japanese were unaware of the exact meaning of the
prearranged signals, and the ruse failed.
Since the invasion of Kwajalein was characterized
by surprise and speed of execution, the Japanese did
not have enough time to devise booby traps. Nevertheless, they
succeeded in laying a number of antipersonnel
mines. Inasmuch as some of these were laid
near trees, it is reasonable to believe that the Japanese
hoped to injure attackers seeking cover.