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"How Japanese Raiders Demolish Artillery" from Intelligence Bulletin, December 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following U.S. military report on Japanese raiding-demolition parties was originally printed in the December 1943 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin.

[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.]



During the course of fighting in the South Pacific, the Japanese have developed what they call raiding-demolition detachments for the purpose of destroying United Nations artillery and mortars. The organization, equipment, weapons, and tactics used by these detachments are described in a Japanese treatise which is quoted below. The introduction to the treatise explains that the methods of destroying hostile artillery and mortars vary according to the situation at a given time. However, this "guide" deals with "the accomplishment of the mission in a short time by a raiding detachment."


a. Organization

The organization and strength of the raiding-demolition detachment depends on the number of guns to be destroyed and whether we [Japanese] attack with surprise or by storm. However, we usually attack with surprise and suddenness. The detachment generally consists of a demolition section, a reinforcement [reserve] section, and a covering section, in addition to the commander.

When the raid is against a hostile battery of four guns, the basic strength will be as follows:

(1) Demolition section—15 men, in 5 groups of 3 men each; 1 group is assigned to each gun, and 1 is held in reserve;

(2) Reinforcement section—one section of riflemen, who act as reserve for the demolition section; and

(3) Covering section—one section of riflemen who protect the flanks.

However, if an insufficient number of personnel are available at a certain time, it may be necessary for one section of riflemen to execute all three tasks—demolition, reinforcement, and cover. Only a demolition section was used during the early part of the Buna battle, and it gained success by surprise attacks. Later, when the hostile forces guarded their guns more closely, we used all three sections.

b. Personnel

Personnel of the raiding-demolition detachment must be especially calm and fearless. Each man must be quick-witted and always ready to take advantage of opportunities. Therefore it is not necessary that the leader be an officer. A noncom, or even a private, may be preferable. (During the Buna battle most of the raiding personnel were volunteers. Some of them were so earnest about their work that, after accomplishing their set mission, they searched out other guns and destroyed them with left-over explosives.)

c. Weapons

It is necessary that each man of the detachment carry three or more hand grenades.

Members of the reinforcing and covering sections carry rifles.

The demolition section carries 12 hand grenades (preferably tied together in groups of 3); 8 armor-rupturing mines; 8 to 10 explosives (igniters and slow-burning fuzes included); about 12 matches, or cigarette lighters (these must be moisture-proof); 4 picks; and smoke candles, if available.

d. Supplies and Equipment

Although the amount of rations depends upon the distance to the objective, normally it is necessary to carry a week's supply.

Preferably, the regular type of ammunition is carried.

All men are equipped as lightly as possible.

e. Training

The detachment must learn as many pertinent details as possible about its mission by studying intelligence reports and maps, and, if possible, by first-hand observation.

The commander selects an assistant, and then rehearses the plan of attack with the detachment. This includes the route and disposition of the men during the approach, their disposition during the attack, and the training in demolition methods to be used. Each man must thoroughly understand his duty and its application to the objective as a whole.

f. Approach

The essential point in approaching the objective is secrecy. Therefore, the men must be prepared to take a roundabout way and cross difficult terrain without complaint.

It is necessary to refer to tall trees and other prominent landmarks en route in order to facilitate movement to and from the objective. All movements must be made with good judgment, and with the proper security measures in force.

Should the detachment be discovered by hostile forces, it would be advisable to withdraw at once and change the route of advance to another direction. Discovery by opposing forces usually will cause a delay in reaching the objective.

One raiding-demolition detachment, dispatched to a distant objective, made a detour and moved through a jungle area with the aid of a compass. The detachment usually concealed itself by day and collected information. Then, after searching and marking the next line of advance, it approached the objective at night.

g. Main Points in the Attack

When the objective has been approached, it is necessary to ascertain conditions and wait persistently for the opportunity to attack with surprise. Just before attacking, it is advisable to destroy the communication net in the vicinity of the line of guns. Unless circumstances make it necessary, do not attack while the guns are in operation, because practically all defending personnel will be available at that time.

When it is necessary to attack by assault, the reinforcement section should fire and subjugate the gun crews. Each of the three-man groups of the demolition section except the one in reserve will approach a gun and destroy it. At this time the covering section will protect the flanks. If possible, it is advisable to activate smoke candles to cover the demolition section while the guns are being destroyed.

When the attack is made at night, it is advisable to throw hand grenades at the main groups of hostile forces in an effort to cause panic.

Under certain circumstances, it is best to attack and annihilate the hostile gun crews before destroying the guns. Remember that artillery is weak in close combat.

The following information concerns the destruction of enemy [United Nations] guns and mortars:

(1) To destroy a trench mortar, drop one ignition hand grenade into the barrel.

(2) To destroy a cannon [any artillery piece], throw a Kessoku [presumably several hand grenades tied together] into the bore of the gun. To make the destruction absolutely sure, it is advisable to demolish the gun barrel (in the vicinity of the muzzle) with explosives or armor-rupturing mines. If possible, it is also advisable to destroy the gun cradle. The tangent sight and other laying apparatus should be crushed with picks.

(3) If time is available, it is advisable to drop the entire gun into the sea or a river, or bury it in the ground. The same holds true for the ammunition for the gun.

(4) The lenses of the panoramic sights should be brought back as proof of successful destruction.

(5) When attacking a hostile artillery observation post, capture and bring back as much observation equipment as possible.


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