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"Miscellaneous (Japan)" from Intelligence Bulletin, June 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following article covering miscellaneous Japanese tactics and equipment was printed in the Intelligence Bulletin, June 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data June 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.]



The following short reports by U.S. observers cover a number of unrelated topics and are grouped in this section for purposes of convenience.


a. Bangalore Torpedo

The Japanese Bangalore torpedo (used at Milne Bay) consists of a split bamboo pole (with the parts held in place by several wrappings of cord) explosive charges, a primer cord, a fuze, and a detonator. Five to seven charges, depending on the length of the pole, are placed in the hollow spaces of the pole and connected by means of a primer cord. At one end of the cord is a short length of fuze, which is attached to a detonator. The use of the detonator causes the charges to explode almost instantaneously. The torpedo is operated by igniting a short length of safety fuze, which is attached to the detonator.

Each of the charges consists of a cylindrical cake, 6 inches long and 3 inches in diameter, and composed of Japanese Model 88 explosive wrapped in paper. The explosive has the appearance of finely ground thermite, and has an oily feeling. An analysis of a sample charge proved its composition to be as follows:

(1)Ammonium perchlorate (NH4CLO4), a mild explosive with about the same sensitivity to detonation as picric acid75.5  
(2)Silicon carbide (sic), which is not commonly found in explosive; it was probably added as a gritty substance to increase sensitivity to detonation14.6  
(3)Wood pulp5.9  

b. Antimosquito Cream

The Japanese soldier usually carries a glass tube of antimosquito cream in his first-aid kit. The tube is 3 inches long and 7/8 inch in diameter, and has a cork stopper. The cream itself is in the form of a soft, green, and wax-like stick, which has an odor similar to oil of citronella.

A paper label on the tube gave the following directions for use:

"Mosquito cream--spread the preparation over the exposed skin, particularly when out of doors at night. After use, always put the cork back in the tube."

c. Blotting Paper

This paper, found on Japanese soldiers, is somewhat like an ordinary blotter, except that it is heavier and more absorbent. The paper, 4 3/4 inches long and 2 3/8 inches wide, is apparently used to remove liquid vesicants (chemicals that cause blistering) from the skin.

The reaction of the blotter to various tests gave no evidence that it might be an indicator paper. It was tested with various blister gases but gave no reaction or color change.


On Guadalcanal, the Japanese employed well-equipped and organized units for cutting paths and removing obstacles so that routes could be established for troop movements. One such outfit, known as the Clearing Unit or Terrain Obstruction Unit, reconnoitered the terrain of proposed routes and planned the work.

This type of unit was a component part of the Guiding Unit, which included an 8-man Covering Squad, a 10-man Route Squad, a 10-man Course Squad, a 5-man Siting Detachment, a 10-man Reserve Squad, and a Command Unit (with a medical man attached).

The equipment of these units included the following: compasses, protractors, course instruments, whetstones, lighting apparatus, sickles, axes, hatchets, oil cans, pole-climbers, sketching board, and marking materials.


a. Seeking Documents and Equipment

In searching for hidden Japanese documents and equipment, the following is a list of places where they may be found:

(1) In the thatching of hut roofs, and under dirt which has been thrown on roofs;

(2) Under floor boards of huts and dugouts, and in holes dug under the boards;

(3) In bedding, including grass and mat beds;

(4) In weapon pits, in false graves, and in real graves;

(5) Under logs (generally in holes dug and then filled before the logs are rolled back in place);

(6) In log roofs of dugouts, and in boxes used as cross-members of pillboxes (the documents often may be on the bottom of the boxes, which are completely full of dirt);

(7) Behind blankets tacked on walls of huts and dugouts;

(8) In the steel helmets of soldiers; and

(9) In garbage dumps.

b. Identification Disks

These are worn in a variety of places, for example:

On the wrist, around the neck or waist, attached to the outside or the inside of loin cloths, in hats, in haversacks, and in purses. Not all Japanese carry disks. Some of the disks observed were defaced and some were blank.


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