In September 1941 the Japanese were believed to have had three battalions and two companies of parachute troops. In only one instance, at Palembang, Dutch Sumatra, have the Japanese used parachutists on a large scale.
Each battalion consists of a headquarters staff and supply section (not air-borne) and three companies. The total strength of a battalion is about 670 men. (See organization chart on page 49.)
|Figure 5. Organization of Japanese parachute battalion.|
15. QUALIFICATIONS AND PERSONNEL
All have to attend special courses in foreign languages and map reading. All officers are drawn from the air arm and must not be over 28, with the exception of the battalion commander, who may not be over 35. The battalion commander usually is a colonel. Enlisted men must not be over 25.
Officers and enlisted men are provided with special clothing which includes fur-lined jackets, trousers, and a hood with goggles. Officers also carry an electric torch and a wallet (brief case ?) containing maps and writing material. Each enlisted man carries a barracks bag containing the following:
Each battalion is believed to include approximately the following:
|Revolvers||_ _ _ _ _||360|
|6.5-mm. machine carbines (probably similar to submachine guns)||_ _ _ _ _||300|
|Hvy MG's||_ _ _ _ _||42|
|13-mm. AT rifles||_ _ _ _ _||55|
|Arisaka1 "cannon"||_ _ _ _ _||9|
18. PALEMBANG OPERATIONS
A total of about 700 Japanese parachute troops were dropped in an area about 12 miles square in the vicinity of Palembang on the morning of February 14, 1941. These parachutists had only light equipment, which included some motors and machine guns. They were dropped from about 70 transport airplanes.
Immediately upon landing, two groups of about 200 men each were formed for attacks on the two large oil refineries south of the Moesi River near Palembang, and another group of about 300 men was formed to attack the Palembang Airport, northwest of the city.
The Japanese plan was to seize and occupy the refineries, prevent their destruction, and to capture the airport. The plan failed and practically all of the parachutists were killed by defending Dutch and British forces. The next day, however, a strong Japanese landing force proceeded up the Moesi River and captured Palembang, but by this time both refineries had been destroyed and the airport considerably damaged.
The failure of the Japanese attack can be ascribed to the relatively small size of the Japanese force and its lack of immediate support, the vigorous resistance by the Dutch and British defenders, and the rapidity and efficiency of the defenders' demolition work.