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"Japanese Night Attacks" from Intelligence Bulletin, May 1944

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following report on Japanese night attacks was originally published in the Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 9, May 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



Night attacks have been stressed by the Japanese. These are more likely to come at a time when the enemy's tactical situation is desperate, or when it is very favorable; however, such attacks may be anticipated at any time.

A Japanese treatise which gives some night-attack tactics not previously disseminated is presented below. In connection with this article, reference should be made to "Small-unit Tactics Used by Japanese at Night" (Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 5, pp. 64-72).


All officers who will be engaged in the operations carry out a thorough reconnaissance during the afternoon of the night preceding the attack. From commanding ground or edge of a woods, they make a thorough study of the terrain, and lay out the plan of attack. The attack is ordered to follow well-defined terrain features which permit easy control and maintenance of direction in approaching hostile positions.

After dark, a reconnaissance patrol, consisting of three to five men under an officer or a clever sergeant major, is sent out to reconnoiter the routes of advance, mark the turns with bits of paper or white cloth, and determine the disposition of hostile troops. This reconnaissance is carried out as stealthily as possible to maintain surprise. While this reconnaissance is going on, the attack units are moved forward of the Japanese main line into an advanced position from which previously selected routes of advance can be found easily. Generally, machine guns are not carried; firing is avoided, and reliance is placed upon the bayonet.

Initially, a night attack aims at hitting both flanks of a position at the same time. After the hostile flanks have been rolled back, the two attacking prongs continue on beyond and behind the hostile front lines and meet at a prearranged rendezvous point. The direction of attack of these two elements of the attacking force is generally at an angle to the opposing front line so they can meet. After effecting the rendezvous, the attacking forces reorganize, and launch another attack against the center of the hostile line, from the rear. If the attacking force is to seize and to hold the enemy's position, they dig in to await a counterattack. If the unit which sent out an attacking force is on the defensive, the attacking force retires to its own lines after inflicting as much damage as possible upon the opposing forces.

Squads assemble in one or two columns with each man close behind the man ahead. All elements of the attacking force try to maintain visual contact with adjacent units. Security to the front, rear, and flanks is sent out. These security elements also maintain visual contact with the main body. Security elements to the front of a platoon normally consist of an officer and two or three men. Individual soldiers provide flank and rear security.


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