Like much information on tactics and the performance of equipment in
the Burma campaign, these notes on artillery consist simply of comments made
by British officers who participated.
The standard British field-piece, the 25-pounder (88-mm) gun-howitzer, is not
suited for jungle warfare; although in all other theaters it proved to be an
excellent weapon. Medium and heavy mortars and light and heavy howitzers are
much more satisfactory for this type of campaign. One officer recommended
that, rather than the present organic division artillery of three regiments
of 25-pounders, a division participating in such a campaign should have one regiment
of pack howitzers and one battalion of 25-pounders.
The Japanese used their infantry howitzer in the campaign, and although
this is an effective gun, it was handled poorly in this fighting. For example, the
Japanese would often adjust and then fail to fire for effect. They also seemed to
fire a great deal at random.
For firing, the British had to use a 1:63,360 map. While not entirely
satisfactory, it was found that the map could be used to give better than fair
results. The pack howitzers which were used were extremely effective and
entirely satisfactory. One regiment, using the 3.7-inch medium howitzer broken
up into 8 loads, fought and marched 1,300 miles from the 1st of February to the
20th of May and gave an extremely good account of itself. The following reasons
were given for this: (a) The enlisted man was an excellent type of Indian
soldier; (b) the training of this artillery, which had taken place on the northwest
Indian frontier, insured a larger amount of peacetime action and marching in
rough country; (c) The officers had often been sent on isolated missions with
small units and were well-trained and competent; (d) the mule required no
gasoline and could live almost entirely off the countryside.
It was found that the wire supply of 16 miles per artillery battalion was inadequate.
One light machine gun for each battery was provided, but the latest opinion was
that four per battery were needed. Here, as in all campaigns, it was
once more demonstrated that troops must be trained in each others jobs, for when
casualties come, this is one of the most difficult problems which a battery or
even a gun crew must face. In the case of units where this training had been
insufficiently stressed, the period of reorganizing and providing the necessary
minimum training was far too long.
A small car, such as the jeep, was unanimously desired by all officers and men. Many
of the trucks used were too unwieldy and unmaneuverable. Some officers
recommended that at least one per battery be assigned as a reconnaissance
vehicle, and that it also be utilized as a prime mover for the 2-pounder antitank
gun, 3.7-inch howitzer, and 40-mm Bofors.
The British officers felt that distribution of ammunition should be based
on 85% HE, 10% shrapnel and case shot, and about 5% smoke.